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!
The Tour’s white-jersey jinx
It’s customary for teams to unveil new kits before the Tour de France to generate a little buzz. This year, everyone is going white. Team Sky’s jerseys are white. Trek-Segafredo’s are (nearly see-through) white. Katusha-Alpecin put some white shoulders on their usual all-red kits. What’s the fixation with white? Whenever I go out riding in white, it usually ends up raining, and my white kit becomes transparent. (How come it never rains when I pack my bulky jacket?) As far as I’m concerned, Sky, Trek, and Katusha have all jinxed the Tour peloton. If the Tour slogs through days of rainy weather in the Alps, forcing us at home to endure hours of see-through white kits, maybe next year teams will stick to the normal colorful kits.
All the Tour de France team rosters are confirmed, and it looks bad for fans of American riders. Only three Yanks will start in Dusseldorf: Taylor Phinney, Nate Brown, and Andrew Talansky — all riding for Cannondale-Drapac. If you ask me, this is a big marketing opportunity for this team. Maybe they should break up this white-jersey trend and fashion some America-themed jersey. We all know Phinney loves a nice denim jacket! At the very least, the guys in green should roll up to the start villages with a little country music playing on the stereo. Giddy-up!
The defending Tour de France champion only has eyes for Team Sky, it appears. Chris Froome said Wednesday that he would not consider switching teams when his contract ends in 2018. He’s slated to stay with Sky for three more years. Of course he would say that. Froome is counting on his teammates to turn themselves inside-out for him in July. If he tells them he plans to leave, will they still bury themselves for his ambitions? Sky is strong enough to protect Froome for every inch of this year’s course. So if something untoward happens, and Froome is isolated in the high mountains, maybe it’s a sign that he should rethink that extension.
In a pre-Tour press conference, BMC Racing boss Jim Ochowicz revealed the team’s secret training regimen. Altitude camps? Echelon practice? Climbing cram sessions? No — the team has worked hard to get wheel swaps down to a science, should Richie Porte flat (again). We all know Team Sky employs an uber-methodical scientific approach to Tour prep, but I like BMC’s method better. I bet the mechanics like it as well. If they can slowly introduce one basic bike maintenance skill each Tour, then by 2025, BMC might not need to hire any techs at all. Instead, Stefan Kung will simply replace his bottom bracket after each stage, and Greg Van Avermaet will install new brake cables. Think of the cash BMC will save! If you see Porte out hosing down his BMC Teammachine post-stage, know that a few good BMC mechanics might be looking for work soon.
It wouldn’t be the week before the Tour without a pre-race scandal. This one is courtesy of Portuguese rider Andre Cardoso (Trek-Segafredo) who failed an out-of-competition anti-doping test for EPO. Trek quickly replaced him on its tour roster with ageless wonder Haimar Zubeldia. Cardoso’s positive sounds like a story from 2007, not 2017. After all, EPO feels so old-school these days. Want some EPO? That’s like asking a coworker if they’ve seen those viral “Harlem Shake” videos from a few years back. Now, if Cardoso was caught with a motor in his bike, or with a sketchy TUE for corticosteroids, or (gasp) somehow doing that much-hyped and super-gross doping method that everyone was blogging about last week, then I’d say he was ahead of the game.
Also in his pre-Tour press conference, Chris Froome laid on the head-games really thick, saying BMC’s Richie Porte is “the man to beat.” He also sandbagged his form in past Tours. He said it “gets really tough to hang on” in the third week. Okay, sure, Froome lost a little time to Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) in stage 19 last year, but come on. The guy won the climber-friendly time trial in Megeve the day prior. If you ask me, Froome’s bluff is getting a little too obvious. If he stuffs a vest under his white jersey to make a fake beer gut, or starts personally reminding journalists that he has yet to win a race this year, then we can all agree that he’s taking the pre-Tour gamesmanship a little too far.