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!
Peter Sagan’s Slovakia kit has barely gone into the laundry after he won his third consecutive world championships, but he’s already talking about 2018. Sagan said it’s possible he could win an unprecedented fourth rainbow jersey in Innsbruck, Austria. To do that, or win hilly spring classics, he admitted he’ll need to lose some weight. I smell a sponsorship opportunity for the always-savvy champ. The wacky European weight-loss companies will be all over Sagan in hopes of marketing their systems. He already starred in some cooking videos for Bora. If you’re channel-surfing late at night and see a smirking Slovak on the screen hocking special powders and freeze-dried foods in rainbow-striped packages, you know Sagan has cashed in — yet again!
Speaking of watching what you eat, Alberto Contador complained this week that the disqualification of his 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia was “a huge injustice.” That was seven years ago, man! I’ve got a bone to pick with Alberto, but it has nothing to do with stripped grand tour titles or tainted beef. My grievance: He hid his singing talents from us for far too long. Imagine if he had belted out this little number atop the Vuelta al Pais Vasco podium, wearing a traditional Basque txapela! Eurovision 2018 is coming up in May. If Contador starts posting Strava rides from the Lisbon area, you can bet he’s preparing for a new kind of competition.
Back in the spring, I was handing out “Belgian guy” awards on a weekly basis. When I heard that Sport Vlaanderen director Walter Planckaert had banned his riders from sporting beards, I knew it was time for a comeback. Citing a need to preserve “the elegance of cycling” Planckaert drew a line in the sand. Classic Belgian guy move. It isn’t about the aesthetics, a potential electric shaver sponsor, or a secret obsession with the New York Yankees. Nope, this purely about draconian control, letting the riders know who’s boss. After all, the storied Belgian development team only won three major races in 2017. Those Sport Vlaanderen riders better watch out — if they don’t start winning soon, Walter might issue some more diktats. Red meat for breakfast! Wool kits! Elegant steel bikes with downtube shifters! The guy won Tour of Flanders during the Ford administration, so he must know what he’s doing.
In a story on Cycling Weekly, our faithful European reporter Gregor Brown wrote that Mario Cipollini is bored with bike racing these days. He criticized rival teams and riders for not taking the fight to dominant stars like Peter Sagan and Chris Froome. It’s hard to get mad at cycling’s most charismatic rider ever, but come on, Cipo, we need some constructive criticism here. It’s not so simple to just attack and isolate Sagan and Froome. Maybe we need other ways to stir up some cycling excitement, less racing-oriented approaches. Let’s put Cipollini in charge of designing race leaders’ jerseys. Perhaps he can give Sagan some hairstyle tips? (That buzz cut… Ouch!) And as always, tasteful nudes never go out of fashion.