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!
Slipstream Sports and its Cannondale-Drapac team are in trouble. After a key potential sponsor pulled out (rumored to be Unibet), the American WorldTour team will fold this year unless it can find a replacement. What will save the Argyle Armada? Thousands and thousands of cycling fans donating small amounts to a 21st century crowdfunding bake sale, that’s what. Pro cycling teams always show off sponsors on their kits, so how will this work for Slipstream? Is there a font small enough to write 10,000 names on a kit? Certainly seems unlikely for the little guys like Andrew Talansky. What if they swapped kits regularly with a new list of donor names for each race? Cannondale’s kit sponsor POC is an innovative company. Maybe it can devise a fabric that is essentially a mirror — that way any donor who comes out for a race will see themselves on the jersey. Added bonus: The material will reflect the sun’s harmful rays.
With all this talk of Cannondale-Drapac’s demise, our man in Spain Andrew Hood couldn’t resist asking Chris Froome about the disparity in budgets between pro teams. The four-time Tour champ came back with a strong take: What are you, a communist!? Of course, some teams have more money than others. Who would have thought a pro cyclist would veer into a debate about political ideology? I like this academic approach. Let’s see… Froome winning both the Tour and Vuelta reminds me of Game Theory, a non-cooperative zero-sum game, of course. Maybe Sky’s rivals will take a cue from Froome’s comments and we’ll see some riders and directors auditing political science courses at their local universities this off-season.
Team Sunweb kicked Tour de France king of the mountains Warren Barguil out of the Vuelta last weekend. What a terrible move, right? The team said the Frenchman (who is not-so-coincidentally leaving the team at end of year) wasn’t being a team player. Maybe true, but this move could have been a subtle mind game to motivate GC rider Wilco Kelderman. Without Barguil, Kelderman is riding without a safety net. It’s all on the Dutchman to deliver a result in the Vuelta overall. Lo and behold, Kelderman was the only guy who could follow Froome and Nibali in stage 11’s summit finish Thursday. If he keeps moving up in the overall, maybe Team Sunweb should send another rider home. This could become cycling’s version of “Survivor!”
Remember Kayle LeoGrande? He’s the ex-pro who was on Rock Racing, got busted for EPO and was part of the tangled Lance Armstrong saga. Well USADA banned him again. This time, he was caught at the Dana Point Grand Prix with a cocktail of banned substances in his system. Either the guy never learned his lesson, or the lure of amateur cycling glory was too strong. How many sock primes would take for you to dope? Would you pop some raloxifene if it meant you’d be ranked top-three in your ZIP code according to USA Cycling? Amateur doping remains one of humanities biggest mysteries — right up there with the Bermuda Triangle.