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!
Mark Cavendish has had a miserable year so far. The Manx Missile has suffered from Epstein-Barr, and has thus been away from the races for months. He’s back at it in Tour of Slovenia this week, but his Dimension Data team is quick to say his participation in the Tour de France is uncertain. This isn’t the first time a fast man has been kept away from France due to sickness. Marcel Kittel missed the 2015 Tour because he was not fit enough after suffering from a virus. Kittel missed the race after having won three stages the previous year. So Cav won four stages last year, and may sit out this year. Am I the only one seeing a pattern here? Perhaps Cav needs to give Kittel a call for advice on how to survive a TDF non-selection letdown. If we start seeing chummy photos of these to on Instagram, then my guess is Kittel is providing some much-needed moral support. If we see Cav adopting Kittel’s Iceman haircut — you know the one I’m talking about, “Top Gun” fans — then I suppose he’s taken the advice a little too far.
After the Dauphiné, defending Tour champ Chris Froome was quick to downplay expectations, assuring us that he’s on a slow, steady build to the Tour. We also talked a lot about how he put Porte in the hot seat as a favorite in July. I watched Froome at the Dauphiné, and it is true, he was not 100% on the climbs. But I also watched him cannonball down those harrowing Dauphiné descents like Evel Knievel, so I am not worried about Mr. Froome. Consider this little piece of scouting: Three of the seven Tour mountain stages finish with descents. My guess is that Froome will be on the attack this Tour, and it might happen where we least expect it (shhh… it’s on the downhills, guys). After all, descending is so hot right now in pro cycling. Did you watch Thursday’s Tour de Suisse stage? Domenico Pozzovivo won with a daring descent in the rain.
BMC boss Jim Ochowicz went to great lengths after the Dauphiné to tell us that no, Richie Porte is not the Tour de France favorite. The Australian looked supremely strong in the one-week French race, so the team has some work to do if it wants to truly downplay expectations. I suggest they take a page out of Chris Froome’s book. The defending Tour champ often tweets photos of himself hanging at the beach, wake surfing, or chilling at the Australian Open with Cadel Evans, and generally NOT training like a Tour champion. Yeah, it’s the old redirect trick to convince us he’s a regular guy, and to convince his rivals that he’s just taking things easy this year. I think Porte should launch a social media campaign that proclaims a similarly lackadaisical attitude. Training? No way bros, I’m just crushing some nachos and hanging with my pals in Monaco! Intervals? More like late-night cocktails at the discotheque. Perfect!
Porte should try for more of this:
… And less of this:
The gears of justice grind slowly in cycling. This week the UCI suspended Bardiani-CSF for 30 days for two failed anti-doping tests by team riders on the eve of the Giro d’Italia, way back in early May. The fellas in Switzerland sure threw the book at this Italian team! In lieu of an off-the-wall take, let’s simply run through the timeline:
April 25 and 26: Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni submit anti-doping samples.
May 4: UCI reveals that those two rider’s samples tested positive for growth hormones. Bardiani kicks them off the Giro team, the night before stage 1.
May 19: “B” samples confirm doping positives. Pirazzi and Ruffoni are fired by Bardiani.
May 28: Giro d’Italia concludes.
June 13: UCI suspends Bardiani-CSF from racing for 30 days.
So, Bardiani-CSF won’t be able to start the Tour de France. Oh wait, they weren’t invited anyway. The team was kicked out of Tour de Suisse — oops, no they weren’t in that WorldTour event either. But hey, they still got to race the Giro. That’s this week’s big old “hmmmm.”
We’re still months away from the U.S. Federal government’s “whistleblower’ case against Lance Armstrong, but already both sides are lobbing word bombs at each other regarding which “experts” will be allowed to give testimony during the trial. Armstrong’s team has some guy named Douglas Kidder who estimates the U.S. Postal Service got $257 million in media exposure during the lifetime of the team’s sponsorship. I tend to agree with this metric. After watching the Posties duke it out at the Tour, I personally canceled all of my email accounts and got rid of my fax machine and stopped texting on my phone, and went back to corresponding only by snail mail. Sorry I was late for dinner, honey. I guess my letter explaining that I was gonna get beers with Fred after work didn’t get to you in time.
The feds have a star witness of their own, who says that Lance’s bad press from his doping story generated 1.5 billion media impressions and another 154 billion online impressions. I suppose this explains why VeloNews’s circulation spiked to 1.5 billion a few years ago.