Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Posts Tagged ‘Lance Armstrong

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.

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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

Bootsy Collins and Lance Armstrong. Closer than you think.

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Men in yellow.

When Twisted Spoke signed up for twitter we were given the option of following some famous people right away. The starter celeb kit.

Cycling being our particular obsession, we naturally chose Lance Armstrong. But there was another name on the list of possibilities that caught our eye: the funkster himself Bootsy Collins.

We couldn’t resist the comedy in following just two people with such contrasting personalities as the 7 time Tour de France winner and the bass player for James Brown and later the genius behind arguably the greatest party band of all time, Parliment Funkadelic.

So it’s been a few months on twitter, each day reading with amusement what the famous Lance and funky Bootsy were up to. Gradually, we began to see similarities and started doing research. These fellas have plenty in common:

The JB connection. Lance Armstrong toured the world and rode for master tactician Johan Bruyneel while Bootsy toured the world and played for groove-king James Brown.

When Booty formed his Rubber Band, he brought in the Horny Horns. Lance is a big fan of the Texas Longhorns.

Bootsy hob-knobs with fellow funkateer George Clinton while Armstrong has hung out with ex-president Bill Clinton.

Bootsy has been at the top of the R&B charts many times and Lance is usually at the top of the UCI charts.

Collins has several alter egos including Casper the Funky Ghost and Bootzilla — “the world’s only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll.” Lance is known to some as Mellow Johnny, The Boss and Juan Pelota.

Bootsy did a TV commercial for the Motorola ROKR phone. Armstrong is sponsored by major cell phone re-seller Radio Shack.

Collins has his a signature Bootsy Collins model bass called the “Bootzilla” made by Traben.  As cycling fans know, Trek makes a special time trial bike just for Armstrong.

Bootsy served as “Heineken’s Amsterdam 2005” curator and master of ceremonies. Lance is of course a Michelob Ultra pitchman.

Parliment Funkadelic was THE dominant funk outfit in the world in the 70’s. US Postal was THE dominant cycling squad from ’99 to 2004.

In 1997 Bootsy was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. When Armstrong does retire for good he’s a lock for the Bicycling Hall of Fame.

Bootsy survived 11 months playing with the volatile and violent James Brown. Not to be outdone, Armstrong survived cancer.

Bootsy claims to be the “P-Master of the Universe” and has a legion of “funkaholics.” Armstrong is the most famous cyclist on the planet with an army of followers.

Allegations of drug use surround both Bootsy and Lance — however Bootsy is happy to report that yeah, he was funked up most of the time.

Bootsy has a crazy yellow suit and hat for stage shows. Armstrong has a closet full of yellow jerseys from the Tour de France.

Bootsy contributed to the movie soundtrack for Superbad and Armstrong did a cameo in Dodgeball.

In some deep, cosmic sense, Bootsy and Lance are soul brothers, separated at birth. One is funky and the other is hyper fit. In their own way, they’re both freak-azoids, baby.

Written by walshworld

February 1, 2010 at 2:19 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

Workin’ for the Man. Livestrong now hiring writers.

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Will I pass the test as a Livestrong writer? Not likely.

Meet my new boss, the boss, Lance Armstrong. Well maybe.

Count me among the, what, suspected legions of Armstrong tweet followers who responded to his job posting. Livestrong is looking for writers who are experts in the fields of health, fitness, sports, senior care, diet and nutrition. Look at me write, right now, it’s like instant proof.

Is Twisted Spoke not a serious and irreverent writer in the athletic domain of cycling, a sport in any definition of the word? In fact, in the eyes of the boss, my future boss, it is THE sport. I’m already half way in and I could bring over some of my people.

Plus, I’m 52 and have an AARP card so I’m right in the senior care demo despite my deceptively youthful appearance and excellent health. And there is nothing in our Norcal fridge that isn’t certified organic, so I’ve also got diet and nutrition covered. I’m off to a good start and that probably puts me mid pack in what is likely 100,000 resumes.

Still, I can dream. A bi-weekly paycheck for all approved articles! And I’ll “receive exposure on one of the web’s top health destination sites.” All the yellow livestrong wrist bands I can fit on my arms and initiation into the World of Lancedom. As a fall back position I’ve also applied to work for Johan Bruyneel’s sports marketing company. I got my fingers crossed but I’m keeping my day blog.

You know Armstrong will run for president someday. This could be a ground floor opportunity. This year I could be writing about fitness and in another four years I could be Lance’s personal speech writer. “A yellow jersey in the White House” would be my campaign slogan.

That’s how it goes with my future boss, Lance. Loyalty is everything and once you’re in, you’re in all the way. Trusted circle, part of the team, running flack, getting crap done, moving mountains, killing cancer, destroying Alberto, tweeking the planet’s orbit. You work with Lance, you’re in The Show.

I’m hoping the HR person on this candidate search just happens to be a Twisted Spoke reader. It’s really my only hope of rising to the top.

Written by walshworld

January 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

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

Passage du Gois back for 2011 Tour de France. Bring the Speedo suit.

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The Passage du Gois. Pedal fast boys -- the tide is rising.

News that the Passage du Gois will be on the route of the 2011 Tour de France reminded us that it’s not much of a passage. Various accounts describe it as wet and slippery and dangerous and even seaweed-covered. You could call it the Passage du Gall, as in who would dare pull this kind of stunt?

Imagine crashing out of the tour on the passage because your tire slid on a beached sardine or pelobate cultipede — the local species of toad. Sacre blue, mes amis. This place is for sailing and not cycling.

A balise. Climb up fast.

It’s also proof that the Gallic sense of humor does exist. The term passage would be generous and a part-time lie — twice a day the 4.5km cobblestone paved sandbank causeway, which connects the Noirtmoutier island to mainland France, is under water thanks to the Atlantic tides.

The tall post you see in the distance is called a “balise.” There are a good number and they serve as a self-rescue option — if you’re trapped by the fast rising tide, you climb up and wait a few hours for the waters to recede. The passage is better suited to snorkel gear than a titanium race bike.

Armstrong started as a triathlete so the man can handle a potential swim portion of the Tour de France — if he’s still unretired. But what about Schleck and Contador? How will they deal with swimming their way to Paris? There’s been much talk about practicing for the cobblestone sections that open the 2010 tour. The year after promises a new menace –beware the water park excursion.

Twisted Spoke says, bring the speedo. And stay on top of this passage du gois deal — it even has a facebook page.

Written by walshworld

January 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm