Posts Tagged ‘Radio Shack’
Gumby is back. Yes, he breaks but he always comes back strong. Veteran American rider Chris Horner showed everybody in the Tour of Sardinia he’s feeling few effects from his five major crashes last year.
The bald headed rider from Bend, Oregon put on an impressive display in the queen stage, finishing 2nd to Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) in an uphill finish on Monte Ortobene. Radio Shack fans should note Jani Brajkovic also jammed hard, taking sixth place.
Horner, who last season crashed out of the Tour of California and Tour of Spain, is definitely feeling better this year. Which is good because his health plan practically cancelled him. “I feel good, very good. Even yesterday I could have won if the profile in the race book would have been correct,” said Horner.
Dimwit race books — who writes those things anyway? Horner was gracious about the Liquigas winner –“Today Kreuziger was stronger. The climb was long but not so steep. Not steep enough for a real climber like me. We had the wind in the back. It was more a finish for riders with the real power in the legs.”
Nice to see that Mr. Horner has his form back in form. He practically had his own Astana MASH unit last season — they ran out of surgical wrap and had to to use duct tape.
He’d broken so many bones he looked like an old G.I Joe doll some kid had mangeled to death. You know, foot twisted backwards, one arm gone, face half melted after torture over barbecue grill flames. Rough stuff, baby.
A month ago in interviews he was still saying his body hurt and that basically at his age and with the number of crashes he’d survived, he was always going to hurt until he hung up the bike. But who wants to give up “The Bike With The Thousand R Logos?”
With three stages to go and Horner only four seconds away from the leader’s jersey, Sardinia is gonna get spicy — like mafia spicy. Chris Horner, ride fast, but mostly keep the bike upright — the boss needs you in July.
Gert Steegmans of Radio Shack suffered a concussion five days ago in stage three of the Volta ao Algarve. Not surprisingly his participation in this weekend’s Omloop Het Niuewsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne is questionable.
Perhaps even more questionable is the reaction from Radio Shack Directeur Sportif Dirk Demol, who told sporza.be “The headache must be completely gone, otherwise I won’t let him start.” Uhh, we’re dealing with far more than a headache here — gobbling a few extra strength Aspirin is not the solution.
This kind of quote reminds Twisted Spoke of the old school football coaches — “get the hell back on the field, kid — you just had your bell rung, ya pussy.” After years of stonewalling on the subject of concussions, the National Football League is finally taking it more seriously. The same can’t be said for professional hockey which is witnessing the early retirements of star players afraid of the long term consequences of multiple concussions.
We can appreciate Demol’s Belgian hard-man attitude. Top athletes are genetic freaks blessed with incredible physical capacities including recovery. Their bodies can simply do and in this case undo things mere mortals can’t. After a crash like that we’d be in full traction mumbling like a vegetable and eating food from a baby jar.
The International Symposium on Concussion in Sport defines a concussion as a “complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces.” Like slamming into a parked car then smacking your brain on the road like Steegmans.
Experts say recovery time is variable depending on the severity of the concussion and the individual althlete but they all agree on the symptoms associated with ‘post-concussion syndrome.” The after effects include “dizziness, fatigue and problems with concentration and memory, which can persist for weeks, months or even years after concussion.” Given that timetable, a physically grueling bike race sounds like a bad idea even if the “headache” is gone.
Is dizziness an asset when riding at high speed over brutal cobblestones? Is lingering fatigue a plus for handling the rigors of Omloop Het Niuewsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne back-to-back? Isn’t a problem with concentration a serious liability when racing for hours and hours in a tight pack of aggressive riders going full gas? Another bad crash would put Steegman’s entire Spring campaign in danger, besides the scary consequences of a second concussion.
Seems like Gert Steegmans and Dirk Demol should agree to skip this weekend’s races. A no-brainer, really. Sure, that’s a headache for Radio Shack but the alternative sure sounds worse.
Yeah, Sebastien Rosseler, soak it in.
Sebastien Rosseler invited to Austin for summer barbecue with Lance Armstrong. Sebastien Rosseler invited to Lance’s Livestrong party in Vegas or Paris or Buenos Aires. Sebastien Rosseler invited to Hollywood shindig with Matthew McConaughey and a bevy of impossibly beautiful starlets. Sebastien Rosseler invited to ultimate honor of baby-sitting Lance’s four kids while he, you know, whatever.
Yes, Sebastien Rosseler just hit the Radio Shack big time. Lance likes winners and when Gert Steegmans did zippo in the Tour Down Under with the sponsors looking on, life got a little testy. Then when Gert, the early season promise for the Shack, crashed out of the Volta ao Algarve, the vibe at Radio Shack got bleak. He was not living up the the blog props of Johan. Nothing to tweet about, basically. Sure Lance in Kona waxing lyrical about training rides was a nice media appetizer but what about, you know, podiums, glory, destruction, world dominance?
Sebastien Rosseler is the man of the moment and the uber-man, Lance Armstrong knows it. Bonus in his paycheck, free yellow Livestrong bracelets for life, multiple mentions in next Armstrong book, the list goes on and on. The world of Lance’s love opens up for Sebastien. All the Texas steak he can eat shipped to his Belgian home 3 times a year. An art gift from Lance’s private art collection and yes, maybe, inclusion in Johan Bruyneel’s Tour de France early March project roster. Which would mean nothing but it’s another thoughful gesture of thanks.
If you don’t think Sebastien Rosseler gets the seat next to LA at the next training table get-together, think again. Lance might even consider loaning Sebastien Rosseler some of his media luminosity for a weekend out. Some glow to go. But that is negotiable an dit depends on what disco Senastien plans on going to.
This is a big deal and it was long overdue. That big budget Team Sky was winning but Radio Shack was off the media radar. Somebody had to race “the bike with a thousand R logos” across the finish line in first place. Sales of electronic gadgets were plummeting worldwide. But now, marketing life is good again. Customers are coming in, buying a new cell phone and saying, hey, nice ride by Sebastien Rosseler the other day in the VOlta ao Algarve. Yeah, who doesn’t know about the Algarve in the United Stares? After the Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix, the Algarve is HUGE.
Sebastien Rosseler, you da man. That Gert dude is on Lance’s poop list but you answered the call, Belgian frite. You put the smack back in Shack.
Scary, bewildering, genius, medically possible?
First, there were was the startling news that Armstrong had ordered up some bizarre body scan work. Why, for what purpose? Was this another competitive edge he was trying to find, another high tech way to perfect his aerodynamic position on the bike?
Knowing Lance is relentlessly focused on the destruction of Alberto Contador, what was the scan really about? Then Nike released the new “human chain” video and the pieces began to fall into place. The conclusion was at once terrifying and brilliant.
Since the end of the 2009 Tour de France Armstrong repeatedly said he can’t beat Contador man-to-man. Even best friend and Radio Shack director Johan Bruyneel said it would be nearly impossible.
We thought we understood the new strategy when Radio Shack stripped Contador of all his best tour riders. If the Spaniard was dominant then make his team weak– a game of nine against one.
That appears just a smoke screen for the mind blowing tactic the Texan now has in prototype form. As the Nike video made startlingly clear, Armstrong has decided to clone himself and build a super team of Armstrongs to win the 2010 Tour de France.
Once the shock wears off the logic and bold thinking seems inevitable. Since his battle with cancer Lance has become an expert in bio-chemistry and physiology and a master at evaluating the best protocols and what cutting edge procedures give him the best odds.
Then consider his close and long standing relationship with pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb. There should be no doubt whatsoever that Bristol is deep into gene splicing and chromosomal manipulation. Wen Lance asks Trek to build a faster time trial bike, they jump. Did he ask Bristol to clone him a dozen indentical tour winner copies — a fair question, we think.
There are even rumors that Armstrong plans to put his body into cryogenic hibernation for unfreezing in the year 2103. He wants to win the 200th anniversary edition of the Tour de France. Bold, brilliant and cool in more ways than one.
And finally, admit that the seven time tour winner is a master of psychological games designed to confuse, weaken and destabilize his opponents. The mere threat of cloning of an army of Armstrongs, multiple copies of Lance, hangs over the tour and Alberto Contador is a seriously worried man.
Setting aside the ethical questions and Tour regulations, imagine a Radio Shack squad with nine Lance Armstrongs. Who to follow, who to chase and half of them are always rested — a nightmare for Alberto’s weak Astana team.
Picture this scenario in the Alps: three to four Armstrongs pacing Armstrong up the mountain, relentless attacking the Pistelero who is out of bullets because there are too many Lances to shoot. Which one is the original Lance? Kill one and Lacne simply pulls another version out of the Shack bus. Things may get crowded on that top step of the podium, but rest assured Lance will fit them all on.
From what we saw in the Nike propaganda piece, Lance Armstrong now has a working prototype version of himself, in fact, according to our count, at least 20.
The implications boggle the mind: are they ready, can they talk, are they up to the rigors of a three weak tour? What generation are they and how close is Armstrong to unleashing them all? Radio Shack replicants, is what we’re dealing with here.
All we know for sure is that when Alberto Contador saw the Nike video of twenty Lance Armstrongs riding at warp speed in a tight pace-line, he nearly choked on his tapas.
Yes, we’re feeling mystical.
Asked to predict his chances of winning this year’s Tour of California, Levi Leipheimer had this admission: “I don’t have a crystal ball so it’s hard for me to tell…”
This is where Twisted Spoke comes to the rescue — because we have six crystal balls — which give us the definitive answer on how Leipheimer, a three time winner, will fare in the Cali tour that kicks off May 16th.
The crystal ball at astrocenter.com was extremely confident about Levi’s chances. When posed the question, the answer from the cloudy orb was a clear: “definitely.”
At the horoscopes and astrology site, the Leipheimer query meet with a generally positive response. “It will happen soon.” Vague but reassuming for the Radio Shack stage racer with the shiny head.
However, it was bad news for the Santa Rosa rider from the crystal ball over at the Portrait Corner. “Don’t count on it” was the gloomy assessment.
The odds looked equally bleak at e-tarocchi.com where the gypsy woman and her glowing bowling ball said “expectations may not be met.” Sounds like a deal breaker to us –why bother even showing up when the situation is that psychically hopeless.
We had to respect the honesty of the crystal ball at onlinecrystalball which took a long minute to answer. The ball apparently ran all the variables and hypothetical situations and came back with “I can not answer that yet.” We plan to check with that ball in a few months because we appreciate the ball feeling that its powers were not up to the task of predicting a ProTour race.
Then we asked the crystal ball oracle at Grandpasgeneral and the mystic oracle gave the immediate thumbs down on poor Levi: “The mystic says no.” Whoa, we thought Phil Liggett was the mystic.
And finally, as we round out the chances of Levi to hop onto the top step of the podium, we put the question to mistichouse. Rosy was the response, a solid “outlook is good.” That should make the training rides just a little easier for Levi — “Johan and the crystal ball are behind me! More hill intervals, baby.”
Too often we put our faith in so-called experts, prognosticators who lean on logic and reason and the smoke-screen of science.
Yet cycling is a profound mystery that opens us to the other doors of perception. The magical universe beyond cycling journalists and those who grovel before fact and numerical data.
We seek the spiritual channel to the other world that reveals all possibility.
In other words, we have Levi running about 50-50 on the repeat.
What a rockin’ Monday morning.
Twisted Spoke crawled out of bed Monday on a cold, wet rainy Belgian kinda day to discover we’d landed one of the two biggest fish in the cycling ocean.
Jonan Bruyneel is now following TS on twitter. Holy moly. I held the iphone mail up to my wife to show her the fantastic news and she said “Who’s Johan Bruyneel?” Just kidding. Even my wife, who has a low interest in cycling personalities, knows who the famous director sportif is. Which is proof the flash cards I made her for christmas are yielding results.
My son gave me a monotone “that’s great dad” before burying his face in a bowl of Honey Nut O’s. Jesus, did I somehow end up with the wrong family? This is Bruyneel we’re talking about! (We note he has 50,500 more twitter followers than us so we’re in catch-up mode.)
Bruyneel, along with Sir Armstrong and Phil Liggett form the holy trinity of cycling sainthood in my part of the world. Some people in Norcal stick a small buddha shrine in the corner for spiritual grounding –me, I got Bruyneel’s picture next to a sacramental bowl of Cytomax.
If I were a political blogger, it would be like Al Gore following me. If Twisted Spoke was about Hollywood titillation, it would be like landing Brittany Spears. You want more analogies — of course you do. Let’s try this — Michael Jordan-Pele-Bono-Mandela-Clooney is following you on twitter. We tremble with excitment.
So, a big, hearty, twisted welcome to arguably the greatest DS in cycling. Our first memory of Bruyneel was watching the ’95 tour when he basically drafted behind Indurain for what seemed like 50 miles, the Spaniard doing the entire workload, until Johan came round to steal the stage win. I remember thinking, wow, that guy has balls to just sit on King Indurain’s wheel like that. Sounds like a book title — “we might as well win,” right?
That stage showed a part of the ruthless drive and modus operandi he would later employ as director sportif for US Postal, Discovery, Astana and now Radio Shack. Bruyneel will do whatever it takes to win a bike race. Eight Tour de France wins on his resume and he’s in the hunt for nine.
Now your winning percentage tends to shoot up when you have Armstrong on the roster but who’d argue with Bruyneel’s many talents. The man can say “guys, ride at the front” in six languages. Someone once said that famous Alabama football coach Bear Bryant could beat you with his players, then switch and take yours and beat you again. Same deal with the battling Belgian.
There’s a glut of top line director sportifs these days — although most have moved into upper management. Bruyneel, argyle genius Jonathan Vaughters, egghead Bjarne Riis — and we’ll throw in Eusebio Unzue for kicks and Scott Sunderland of Sky because he’s trained under the masters. But Bruyneel, along with Armstrong, still has the most influence. As new Astana DS Giuseppe Martinelli observed recently, they are “the two most powerful men in cycling.”
This year Bruyneel crossed over from famous team director into pure celebrity status. Bruyneel taught Armstrong how to win a grand tour and the Texan returned the favor by showing Johan how to become a glittering brand name. Bruyneel now works all media channels with his tweets, facebook fan page, website, youtube channel, sports marketing company and on and on. You wonder how Bruyneel manages all that? Same way The Man does — he has his people, the B-b-boys.
And despite the 24/7 celebrity lifestyle, Bruyneel is still a master tactician. After discovering last year that Alberto Contador isn’t psychologically fragile, he and Armstrong have switched strategy. They realized you can’t beat the man but you can take a crowbar to his possessions — so they stripped Astana of every rider with a decent VO2 max.
If you can’t destabilize the warrior, destroy his army. This is classic Sun Tzu, straight from the Art of War. Generations from now, some young DS will study Bruyneel’s moves like a military strategist studies Napoleon Boneparte. (Johan, I threw in that massive chuck of flattery as twitter payback, buddy.)
Okay, Bruyneel is the Twisted Spoke boat and we just cast the hook back in the water. Still have to land the biggest fish in cycling. This may take a while and it won’t be easy. Everybody knows the Texas Tarpon is a real fighter.
Radio Shack without star power?
Spanish website and Johan Bruyneel mind reader Biciciclismo.com has listed the Shack riders on the long list for this years’ Tour de France.
There are no surprises — Kloden, Leiphiemer, Horner, Zubeldia and that immensely famous Texan who does well in the long stage race held in France in July. What’s his name — Larry, Lucas, Leroy? No, that guy Lance Armstrong. Sorry, we had a momentary twitter blackout.
The startling omission was no celebrities or Hollywood types for the Shack tour armada. Previous tours have included Ben Stiller and Robin Williams to keep the team psychologically loose. Brought on for her evocative country western music, Sheryl Crow was a powerful addition to the 2005 squad.
Jake Gyllenhaal has coached Armstrong on “method cycling,” as a way to get deeper into his yellow jersey character. Johan Bruyneel have always been proactive on getting whoever they think will give them an edge — and Hollywood is the mother-lode of star power and motivation.
So who are the stars Armstrong will invite to Le Shack for the Tour de France? The rumors circulating at this time have the Texan amping up the mind games with Alberto Contador. This is psychological warfare and Armstrong is going with the heavy guns on the A-list. He’s already stripped the Astana roster bare, now he’s about to attack Contador closer to home.
The plan is to bring in top Spanish celebrities this year to root for Lance and by implication to critically undermine the support for Contador in his own country. Actresses Paz Vegas and superstar Penelope Cruz have indicated they might be joining Lance on the Shack bus.
Spanish actor Javier Bardem will apparently fly in and reprise his role as the homicidal killer in No Country For Old Men. An informed source says Bardem will take a position outside the Astana bus in an attempt to unhinge El Pistelero. And Soccer star Fernando Torrez had already agreed to kick a few balls with Armstrong on the rest day.
Lance Armstrong always brings the strongest team to the Tour de France and Hollywood plays a decisive role. This year it’s El Hollywood.
Has Floyd Landis finally tapped back into his fiery core, the dark maelstrom of vengeance, indignation and plain orneriness?
And why, after so much time lost in post suspension Hell, has Floyd relocated his furious mojo in a sun-drenched, happy-go-lucky tropical island in the Bahamas? Strange meets weird and they’ve got some explaining to do.
First, the story: Landis won the time trial in the sunny island — which given the relatively weak field and oddball location might seem un-newsworthy. Except for two things.
One, Landis broke the record his pal Dave Zabriske set two years ago on the exact same course and two, he’s pissed off about it. His exact words were: “I was on somebody else’s road bike with clinchers and no aero clothes. Take that f@*#ers.”
Fast and angry is the two word personality profile of Landis back in his super-human days, when he led Armstrong up the mountains of the Tour de France. It was what drove him to win the 2006 tour when his hip joint was rotting away in a sclerotic mess. (We’re discarding that synthetic testosterone charge just for story flow.)
So, maybe, just possibly, you-never-know-with-Floyd, his anger is back. Hooray.
Now, Landis needs someone to channel and focus his anger and that man is Armstrong. Give the man a Radio Shack jersey, a free Trek race bike and point him at Alberto Contador and say the words “kill.” Floyd will froth, steam will blow from both ears, tires will screech and the Spaniard will be chasing the mad Mennonite up the Alps.
The Tour de France begs for this scenario. It’s mandatory story telling and people should refuse to buy any gizmos from Radio Shack until the corporate sponsors cry uncle … Floyd. Lance needs every high powered weapon he can get his mitts on to even have a shot at El Pistelero. Landis is a shotgun filled with buck shot and nails.
Twisted Spoke has plans to convince the stiff shirts at the Tour de France to accept Floyd back into the fold. But one faux pas at a time. First, Bahamas, then Radio Shack, then world domination.
Now, Landis was wearing his freebie Rock Racing kit down in the Bahamas. But Michael Ball’s team just whiffed on their UCI license and nobody knows what’s happening to the team. The jeans looks great and the strung-out hipster models are cool but, skull logo aside, is this really a home for the Pennsylvania farm boy?
Consider the core fact: Floyd is on record that he simply can’t motivate himself unless he’s back in Europe raising havoc — and do you know why? Landis doesn’t hate Americans; it’s not in his DNA, he can’t get worked up about nice domestic American races and friendly competition from easy-going American riders.
Landis hates pretension and regulations and snobs and strange food and little tiny cars: he hates Europeans. That’s what makes his volcano blow and the lava explode down the mountainside. Floyd needs Europe for motivation — it’s the only place that makes him train like an animal and ride like a demon.
So where are we? Open letter to Lance, that’s where. Strike against Radio Shack until invitation is issued. Then we’ll work on France — and as a French major, I promise the full package of carrots and bull whips. The ship has left the Bahamas and it is heading for France.
Man the Twitter machine. We have much work do to between now and July.
Numbers, baby, it’s all in the numbers.
Who believes Lance Armstrong will beat Alberto Contador and win the 2010 Tour de France? If you read the cycling press, it’s a long shot for the creaky rider who will be almost 39 when the tour begins in Rotterdam.
His Radio Shack master tactician and best friend Johan Bruyneel says Contador has no weaknesses on the bike. The Belgian claims to have little idea how to beat the Spaniard beyond psychological warfare and throwing cobblestones at Alberto.
Saxo Bank mastermind Bjarne Riis had much the same opinion of Armstrong’s odds. “I think he can do well, but it will be difficult for him to get on the podium,” said Riis. “So he must really do much better, and I do not think he can. He is getting older.”
In an interview with Spanish daily Marca, Armstrong himself questioned his chances. “If I were Contador I wouldn’t be afraid of Lance,” he responded.
The odds look daunting but maybe it’s time to poll the real experts, the guys with big money on the line. In other words, the bookies.
Sites Blue Square calculates Armstrong at 11 to 1 odds while William Hill has him on the board at 8 to 1. The “Lance Armstrong Special” at Skybet has him at 7 to 2 to finish ahead of Contador and 7 to 4 to finish on the podium.
Over at BetBrain, Lance is at 10 to 1 and 9 to 1 at BetInternet and Iasbet. SportingBet puts his chances at 6 to 4 to finish on the podium. Do you have your credit card ready because finally you canmake some money with your cycling addiction.
And remember, these are professional gambling experts who spend their lives in dark smokey rooms figuring this out — they’re not just lowly cycling fans or deluded director sportifs. This is gospel.
It’s also important to understand that odds mean nothing to Armstrong except as motivational fuel. After beating cancer and winning seven tours, anyone else’s diagnosis is just misguided and uninformed speculation.
In his mind, Lance Armstrong will start the 2010 Tour de France at 1 to 1 odds. “This Tour is different. It’s technical and I’ve already said that I can win it,” said Armstrong recently. The boss has spoken.
The Twisted Spoke line: put your savings on Contador but throw some bones down on Lance, just in case.
Andre Geipel spent the last few days before the 2010 Tour Down Under telling journalists he wasn’t the favorite and had no idea what his form was.
This fabrication despite the fact he’d won the 2008 edition and was well positioned to win in 2009 before he crashed out. The HTC-Columbia sprinter practically gave himself a new twist on his nickname: Andre the Not-So-Giant.
Consider the downplay over. The German rider from Rostock out-sprinted Gert Steegmans (Team RadioShack) and Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) to take the opening day honors. Add the 141k stage from Clare to Tanunda to Greipel’s haul of six Tour Down Under stage wins. He starts his season off in high lycra style with the yellow jersey of race leader.
“We came here to win a stage and now we’ve won one, so our main goal has been reached. Everything else is now on top of that,” said Greipel. “We waited and spoke with the other teams but nobody wanted to ride with us, so Bert Grabsch chased them down just like he does in time trials.
“Of course it’s just the first stage, we have to take the responsibility to win every race now as we have in the last two years. So for sure that’s the focus now again. And no crashes,” said Greipel, referring the the collision with a parked police bike that forced him out of the race last year.
Not a mechanical, a technological.
Defending champion Allan Davis had a rough day out, the out being any hope of winning the general classification. The Australian had a technological break down. His Astana team neglected to bring radios so when the peloton split on the Megler climb, Davis was in the dark.
“It was just a bit of a miscommunication, we didn’t have radios,” said Davis. “I was just riding within myself up the climb and found myself 50 meters behind my teammates and they didn’t realize. They just started pulling and I didn’t realize I was on the back so it left me behind.” Twisted Spoke notes that the Post-Bruyneel Astana is already off to a disorganized start.
Radio dispatch from The Shack: “Almost.”
Lance Armstrong made it clear he had high expectations for his new team. Corporate sponsors flew in, expensive brunches were served and the Texan talked up the fitness level of their sprinter, Gert Steegmans.
The former Katusha rider hadn’t raced for six months but after the Shack training camp, Armstrong had declared him ready to rock. Well, almost. Steegmans was well-positioned for the final sprint but was no match for Greipel.
The 38 year old Armstrong finished the stage in good spirits and more importantly, in one piece.
The Rocky Rainbow.
World Road Champion Cadel Evans had a decidedly rocky start to his season. Riding for his new team, BMC Racing, Evans wasn’t as lucky as Armstrong. Barely 300 meters into the race, an Euskaltel-Euskadi rider went down taking out half the peloton with him.
“I started on the front row and still managed to get in the middle of it, but that happens and from there on in everyone was a bit nervous of course,” said Evans. “I had a one in two chance of being in it.” Perhaps Evans was distracted by trying to memorize the names of his new teammates.
A massive crash, forgotten radios, a favorite who pretended not to be. The 2010 racing season is off to an exciting start. Andre the Still Giant is as fast as ever.