Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Posts Tagged ‘Radio Shack

Radio Shack’s Horner takes 2nd in queen stage in Sardinia and breaks nothing.

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No crashes, please.

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.

Written by walshworld

February 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Gert Steegman’s “headache.” To race or not to race post-concussion.

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My brain hurts.

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.

Rosseler gets first Radio Shack win in Volta ao Algarve. Lance happy.

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Lance loves me.

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.

Written by walshworld

February 20, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Armstrong: first the body scan, is cloning next?

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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.

The multi-Lance attack.

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.

Written by walshworld

February 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Leipheimer on Tour of California: “I don’t have a crystal ball.” Uh, we do.

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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.

A ball with better news.

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.

Not so good, Levi.

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.”

An honest ball.

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.

Written by walshworld

February 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Bruyneel hooked. Still casting for Armstrong. A twitterific day for Twisted Spoke.

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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.

Bruyneel in Da House!

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.

Written by walshworld

February 1, 2010 at 9:45 am

Bruyneel names Radio Shack long list for Tour. What, no Hollywood?

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Penelope in the Shack?

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.

With Vegas, the odds go up.

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.

Contador's nightmare.

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.

Written by walshworld

January 27, 2010 at 9:24 am

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