Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Geting down and dirty.

The wrong trousers.

Looks what happens, I go away for a week and on my return all hell has broken lose, what did I miss?

Well mainly what I missed is the Rabobank riders spiting the dummy out about the in-house fines that the team was imposing.
In-house fines are quite common in pro sport, it's supposed to help with team bonding, assist with the development of professional attitudes and lighten the mood. Bizarrely for a sport that is often at the cutting edge of technology and stupidity cycling has been a little slow on the uptake. So you can imagine my excitement when Rabo announced that they would introduce a series of Euro sapping fines for acts of high treason.
Amongst the list were fines for
Having an uninvited guest in your hotel room (and I quote 'Guest / relationship in hotel without permission'!),
Having unauthorised web links!,
Unauthorised 'medical shopping',
'Improper clothing' (I assume that means owning Improper clothing and not just wearing it)

Plus all the stuff you'd expect about not going to Mexico, missing tests etc. But best of all and my personal favorite is 'Action without permission', what the hell does that mean? No wonder the riders are pissed off if they have to ask permission to have a dump.

The bicycle thieves.
Amongst all the razzmatazz at the Tour de Cali, in fact overshadowing the razz and almost equaling the matazz was the theft of Lancey boys TT bike. Now I don't know much about the world of international crime, but I'd have thought that if you were going to nick a bike from a race then nicking the most high profile bike belonging to the most high profile rider in your countries most high profile race has to be one of the dumbest moves in criminal history. Who exactly are they gonna sell it to? Striping down for ebay parts is one thing, but what do you do with the frame? Perhaps there's an international market in illegal bikes as there is with stolen art? Perhaps secret collector in Zurich will pay millions for an Armstrong iron to hang alongside their Coppi Bianchi ?

And so to the life of the coach.
My life has been brightened this week by some SRM incidents. No I haven't been measuring my power output, but have been observing others doing the same and very entertaining it is.
This week I have seen a juvenile (U16) rider with the full SRM that was bought by indulgent parents. But just as I was finished scratching my head from that I got talking to a senior rider who had just forked out close on two and a half grand for what he told me would transform his cycling. When I asked how he was using it in training I was told he was only using it on the bike he rode on the turbo and when he did his traning would consist of going flat out for an hour and then looking at the power trace to see what power he layed down. I suggested that it could be beneficial to do some sort of analysis on the data provided and maybe adjust his training as a result and he looked at me as though I was crazy and informed me that he 'knew what he was doing'!
So many idiots with so much money puts a smile on the face of a coach, it really does.

The rain in somewhere other than Spain.
It's cold and wet in California, but don't let that worry you. The off the bike entertainment is red hot and full on.
First up we had Lancey boy and Kimmage going at it full pelt at the press conference, wow. If you ever thought that these two hate each other you were so wide of the make you should be hanging your head in shame. They have transcended hate and are now in a very odd place indeed. I found the exchange scarey, well actually, very scarey. And this was only round one, ther'd better be good bouncers come July or blood will be spilt I really believe it.

Then we had Rock, Rock and more Rock. I've spoken in the past about my admaration (grudging I'll admit) of Mr Ball and his merry band.
I like his in yer face attitude towards cycling (God knows it is at times well needed), I like the publicity driven antics, I like the fact it gives bloggers and fans something to moan about, I like the way he employs young US riders and gives them a chance to shine and prove their worth on a big stage.
I don't like his employment of ex-dopers (whom I think should have been banned for life), I find the constantly changing kit, seemingly for the sake of pissing people off, a little tiring. And I get the impression that the actual team organisation is a little vague, witness this years license fiasco and not having spare bikes at the Tour de Britain last year.

But ultimately whatever he does will always be overshadowed by the riders he has signed. So when Mancebo grabbed a stage win the headlines were as you'd expect, which I don't doubt is what Ball had in mind. When you're about to run out of cash and have publicly stated that there's only six months cash in the kitty a little publicity goes a long way (as does a little stage winners prize). But that's just the problem, (in my opinion), stage wins are good for attracting sponsors, stage wins by a convicted ex-doper from a team with several ex-dopers is not to the majority of potential investors a good selling point.

Look at the teams that have signed big co-sponsors recently, Slipstream and High Road, for example, both have a strong anti doping stance and whilst Ball may talk the talk, he fails for whatever reason to walk the walk, as a result what was once his USP, is when the chips are down more of a hinderance than a help.

It's a shame, there are some good riders on the team, riders that would clearly relish the chance to race at a 'higher' level and who, I feel, would go well and are well capable of good results. However their future chances are going to be severly affacted by a lack of a new sponsor.


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