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!
Chris Froome did it! He won the Tour and Vuelta in the same season, like he’s always wanted to. Are we done hearing about the Brit until next July? Of course not. Froome is generating buzz for his attempt to win the world time trial championships next week. Froome’s clearly got a hot hand (er, legs) right now. So, I think he needs to go big. I mean REALLY big. The Tour/Vuelta/worlds triple is great, but it doesn’t move the needle in mainstream media. He needs to orchestrate a wild publicity stunt, like Michael Phelps did in July by “racing” a great white shark. Here’s my plan: Froome races a rhinoceros. Froome already advocates for wildlife conservation, and he already sports a cool rhino decal on his bicycle. Can he drop a charging rhino like he dropped Nibali on the Angliru? I think Wout Poels will need a significant bonus to sign up as super-domestique for this project.
Vincenzo Nibali is not done racing this season. Even though he suffered a cracked rib at the Vuelta, the Italian still wants to race. He plans to target Il Lombardia and other Italian one-day races this month. For a guy who’s won all three grand tours, 2017 was a bit of a dud. Sure he won a stage in the Giro and one at the Vuelta, but he must feel a bit disappointed to have only one GC win, at the Tour of Croatia — not quite as prestigious as the Tour. So I have to admire his gumption to just keep hammering away, trying to collect a few more victories. Now if we find him slugging it out in ‘cross races in December, maybe we can all agree he’s taking it a bit too far and could use some R&R.
Retirement bug bites Americans
Two notable American pros retired in the last week. Andrew Talansky and Tyler Farrar both announced they were moving on. First off, I salute both of them for their successful careers, as well as for their classy retirement announcements. Talansky put up a sentimental post on Instagram. Farrar quietly spread the news at Grand Prix de Montreal. I can’t help but worry. With Flu season upon us, I’m curious if retirement is also contagious. If so, then we need to protect our American WorldTour riders. BMC Racing needs to put Tejay van Garderen in a social-media quarantine until New Years. Jonathan Vaughters should make Taylor Phinney go on an epic bike tour with nothing more than a denim jacket and a bespoke handkerchief. (I bet he’d actually enjoy that.) At this point, the U.S. only has 10 WorldTour riders on contract for 2018 — we shouldn’t take any chances.
Our man in Spain Andrew Hood pointed out that Alberto Contador is one of the last big Spanish stars to retire. Who will take the mantel after Contador’s swashbuckling final victory on the Vuelta’s Angliru finish? Many ex-pros go on to start coaching companies. If Contador takes that route, he can kill two birds with one stone. He’ll have a new gig to keep him occupied in retirement, and he can foster the next generation of Spanish cyclists. Imagine some of the workouts he’d design. “Okay Pedro, go out and find the steepest climb you can and sprint up it out of the saddle, 20 minutes minimum! Can’t find a climb that’s steep enough? Lay some planks down on the stairs at your local stadium.” “Carlos: You need to attack tomorrow’s group ride, but make sure you’re covered in bandages first, that way you simulate a horrible first-week crash in a grand tour.” If in 2027 every Spanish rider is climbing out of the saddle like a marionette, we’ll know El Pistolero has left his mark.