Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings, plus my own garbage opinions on each. Much like my gambling advice, these takes are for entertainment purposes only!
This week Chris Froome finally broke his silence regarding embattled Sky chief David Brailsford. Here’s the quote from Froome’s statement: “With respect to Dave Brailsford, he has created one of the best sports teams in the world. Without Dave B, there is no Team Sky. He has supported me throughout the last 7 years of my career and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities and the experiences I’ve had. By his own admission, mistakes have been made, but protocols have been put in place to ensure that those same mistakes will not be made again.”
OK, so I follow Froome with the “He has created one of the best sports teams in the world,” as well as “mistakes have been made” statements. Yet I don’t see a “Brailsford is innocent” or “I’m confident his name will be cleared” kind of sentiment in there. Do you?
Remember the 2015 USA Pro Challenge, when Brent Bookwalter was kinda-sorta the BMC team leader? Do you remember what happened next? Bookwalter was dropped by teammate Rohan Dennis, who won the overall, while Bookwalter went back to domestique duties. With BMC staff hinting that Dennis has potential to ride for GC at the Giro, I’m having flashbacks to that week in August. Tejay van Garderen is BMC’s stated leader for the grand tour. So what happens if Dennis starts dropping people?
Honestly, I find time trials to be quite snoozy to watch. Sure, there are days when a close race for GC produces some nail-biting action in a race against the clock, but usually we cycling fans just gawk at men on ungainly pieces of carbon fiber. Tuesday’s final time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico got an injection of action when Peter Sagan dodged a hapless dog-walker. Here’s my idea: Let’s add more everyday obstacles to spice up ITTs! Maybe we add a group of power walkers, some joggers, and a guy on rollerblades. “American Ninja Warrior” seems to have a winning formula for exciting TV.
Aspiring riders should heed the advice of Alberto Contador, who dosed out the wisdom after his 50km solo attack at Paris-Nice. “Sometimes you are at the front, and sometimes you’re not, so each day you must look at your position, and try to be more in the front,” Contador said. I think it’s sage advice. Just go to the front. Attack with about 50km to go, and just hold everyone at bay. Sounds simple, right? Don’t forget to bring your aero gear.
‘Belgian Guy of the week:’ Boeckmans the enforcer
Did you catch this crazy moment at Nokere Koerse on Wednesday?
Lotto-Soudal’s Kris Boeckmans laid down the law at the front of the peloton. The story gets weirder. The guy he pushed backward, Justin Jules, reportedly spent three years in jail for bludgeoning his stepfather to death when he was 18. The only thing I’ll say here is that, if there was one guy in the peloton that I would not want to mess with, it would be the ex-con.
Fun fact: The last Belgian to win Milano-Sanremo was Andrei Tchmil in 1999. Greg Van Avermaet’s BMC Racing team is confident in its team leader, and team brass have said that they have utter confidence in the Belgian. Is all of this confidence a good thing? Van Avermaet, Belgium’s “nearly man” had some of his best results when skeptics doubted him. I suggest BMC reveal that its team leader is now Aussie champ Miles Scotson. That will give Van Avermaet a winning chip on his shoulder. Or perhaps BMC can publicly rally behind Daniel Oss and his OSSome hair!
This week we saw the triumphant return of Sergio Henao, who won Paris-Nice seven months after he crashed out of the lead group at the Olympic road race. Henao says the disaster has driven him to perform. I believe him. He just beat Contador at Paris-Nice. Henao looks strong enough to lead Sky at the Giro d’Italia. Of course, given Sky’s awful luck with the Giro — Richie Porte in 2015 and Mikel Landa last year — I’m not sure he wants that honor.