RadioShack’s season is in shambles!
A bad bidon bounce here (Fabian Cancellara) and a bad wind gust there (Andy Schleck) and a very bad doping controversy over there (manager Johan Bruyneel). Chris Horner’s not going to France. The rumors are swirling about the Schleck brothers bailing. There’s a fuss about paychecks not coming in.
Yes. It’s safe to say that RadioShack-Nissan’s season is in shambles.
RadioShack’s season is on the mend!
Cancellara wins the Tour de France prologue, the maillot jaune stretched across his broad shoulders. He’s had the lead of the Tour since it began Saturday, and displayed a patient grace. He asked that people move one morning so he could take a photo with a few kids hanging outside the bus, before clipping in and down the start, shouts of “Fa-BIEN” chasing him along.
Horner is in France, helping Fränk Schleck get to the mountains in one piece. The team is working every day on the front, controlling the race and flying the flag for the sponsors.
Cancellara, the closest thing this peloton has to a patron, embodies the race leader to the core. Witnessing his attack on stage 1 — even in vain — was everything this season hadn’t been for the Shack: aggressive and glorious.
“I think the boys are doing an amazing job,” Cancellara said after he retained yellow into Rouen on stage 4. “Everyone is proud to come to the dinner table. We are tired. We laugh. We have fun. This is what we want, and what we need.”
Yellow, it turns out, is the best medicine.
RadioShack weathered a devastating early season. Cancellara lost out on a very good chance to contest the classics when a water bottle took him down in the feed zone at the Tour of Flanders.
Bruyneel was named in the Lance Armstrong investigation, and ultimately took himself out of Tour de France leadership.
Horner was left off the Tour roster, upsetting American fans, and it was a management decision he publicly questioned.
Andy Schleck was thrown to the ground by a wind gust at the Critérium de Dauphiné. Horner was named to the Tour team. All this, before Le Grande Boucle even commenced.
Sport director Alain Gallopin noted the shift in winds earlier this week.
“It’s time for us to do it. It’s good when the luck changes sides. Because we were not lucky,” he told VeloNews. “The main problem of the beginning of the season was the crash with Fabian at Flanders. The team was OK.”
Added Horner: “There’s no reason to give up the yellow jersey. Fabian’s riding really good. And it’s good exposure. That’s really what we’re here for, too, is win bike races and win yellow jerseys.”
Earlier this week, Fränk Schleck told VeloNews, simply, “The morale is very good.”
Now, Cancellara has held the jersey for 28 days in his career, including Friday. Barring catastrophe, he should wear yellow into Saturday, until the bunch hits La Planche des Belles Filles, a category 1 climb and summit finish.
He joked on Thursday that, rather than mention belles filles — beautiful girls — the climb should note the hurting legs. His days in yellow are tops among riders who have never won the Tour.
The early season seems distant at the RadioShack bus indeed.
“You can have a few months bad luck, and suddenly you find a way back and you win races,” Cancellara said. “I think RadioShack is back on track. The Tour has started. The sponsors are happy. Everyone is happy.
“The team, we will go on and fight for more. … That’s what we want. We want to win races. We want to get the best out of us.”
And yellow, as we’ve seen, certainly helps with all of that.
Reporter Matthew Beaudin files his Notes From the Scrum from time to time, offering up the insights of a Tour de France rookie.