Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Posts Tagged ‘Landis

Rock Racing denied Pro Conti license, Placebo Galicia approved.

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Babe, we lost our Pro Conti appeal.

“If I had a heart, I’d cry”

The home page of Michael Ball’s Rock & Republic jeans begins with that bold declaration, followed by another slick statement of youth and stylish anarchy, “go big or go home.”

The UCI just double nixed Ball and his Rock Racing team for a Pro Continental License so both statements apply. Somewhere a skinny Asian model in one of Ball’s black mini-dresses is crying.

Floyd Landis and Gilberto Simoni won’t be too pleased to hear the news, either. Both were on the verge on signing with Rock Racing, the only hold-up, a valid Pro Conti license. Simoni has a fall back offer with Lampre but Landis doesn’t. Ouch in more ways than one.

Michael Bell is now between a rock and a hard place. And that’s a sad thing because the sport needs Michael Ball more than it needs another dull Italian team, especially one sponsored by a toy manufacturer. A team coming off the embarrassing suspension of its top rider Davide Rebellin for doping. Fashion models may do drugs but that’s part of their job and they don’t race bikes, right?

Cycling needs Ball’s flamboyance, his rock n roll mentality, his brash pontification and sexy girls. Just ask Giro impresario Angelo Zomegnan about creating spectacle and passion. You can bet Crazy Z wants Rock Racing at his race. He puts on a show, Cirque de Soleil on wheels.

Sure, Ball tends to play loose with the payroll but that’s the fashion world, baby. It’s a rolling party and everybody gets what they need in the end plus a closet of designer jeans and free passes to every disco on the globe.

Meanwhile, the strange Basque outfit, Placebo Galicia,  was approved for their license. Last year, the UCI used this squad to test the difference in fan reaction between a real pro cycling team and a fake one with no active ingredients. Having previously announced the test was over, the inclusion of the Placebo team was a major surprise.

Twisted Spoke is listening to Michael Ball’s favorite music by Band of Skulls and thinking about the final line we saw on the Rock & Republic web site: “Nothing is held back.” Yeah, except a license to race.


Written by walshworld

January 8, 2010 at 9:38 am

The conspiracy farce. Danilo Di Luca joins the implausibility parade.

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I'll sign this autograph if you come up with a good conspiracy theory.

I'll sign this autograph if you come up with a good conspiracy theory.

Lies, denials and attempts to discredit labs and testing methodologies are one thing. But far too often accused riders who’ve failed drug tests stretch the limits of credibility by blaming their positive tests on a conspiracy.

Names are never named, theories are never explained, facts uncovered or witnesses produced. There is never any legal or logical plausibility to these conspiracies. They just exist in an ether that is almost supernatural or science fiction.

Today, Danilo di Luca, he of the failed A and B sample taken on two Giro stages, turned desperate with the “conspiracy” theory. Said Di Luca, “I just can’t explain the two positive tests at the Giro. I’m not ruling out a conspiracy but before I can confirm it I have to be sure.” Good luck with that.

There is a long line of such laughable behavior. Alexandre Vinokourov blamed a vague conspiracy to “tarnish our image” and derail his tour de France preparations.

Floyd Landis insisted there was a “conspiracy” at the Chatenay-Malabry lab to discredit him and strip him of his fairly earned Tour de France victory. He spent two million dollars on his defense but very few people believe that yarn.

Following his suspension for doping, Iban Mayo, the Basque super climber, ranted that there was a conspiracy at the UCI. The Saunier Duval rider believed they were out to discredit him for reasons he never made clear, supported or proved.

Marco Pantani, a man filled with delusions of grandeur and the habit of referring to himself in the third person, felt he too was persecuted. The rider once referred to as Mr. 60% for his sky high hematocrit level, alleged he was, you guessed it,  “a victim of a conspiracy.”

Lithuania rider Raimondas Rumsas, third in the 2003 Tour de France, reacted to his doping suspension with an extra twist: the conspiracy was perpetrated by his own team. He followed that outlandish claim with this gem: “It could be that (Lampre) wants to get rid of me…” He had no explanation for the large quantity of doping products the French police found in his wife’s car.

Richard Virenque, the rider at the center of the infamous Festina doping scandal, denied his guilt for years even when three of his team-mates admitted to a whole host of illegal drugs. Before eventually confessing, the winner of seven Polka Dot jerseys went on tv in tears to proclaim his innocence and that yes, he was a victim of a conspiracy.

One thing seems clear: the bigger the ego, the more likely the conspiracy excuse. This far-fetched explanation requires the kind of out-of-control ego that’s lost all concept of truth. The kind of person who believes they operate in a separate universe where all rules and regulations are theirs to twist with no regard for meaning.

Conspiracy theories work well for presidential assassinations, Wall Street financial scandals and Hollywood back stabbing. But it strains credibility in the world of professional cycling. Danilo di Luca is like the kid who claims Nazi frogmen stole his homework.

Next up, Alejandro Valverde. After being banned for two years in Italy, the Spanish rider will most likely have that extended to the rest of the cycling world. Expect a conspiracy explanation from Alejandro very soon. But don’t expect any facts to go with it.

Written by walshworld

August 27, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Bruyneel jumps to Radio Shack with Armstrong. Is Floyd Landis next?

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First, I finish this beer, then I sign with Lance.

First, I finish this beer, then I sign with Lance.

It was a forgone conclusion: Lance without Johan? Ren without Stimpy? Siegfried without Roy? Unthinkable. Astana is now a sinking ship, gutted of riders, rudderless and shamed by the return of the unrepentant son, Alexandre Vinokourov.

There’s no love lost between Bruyneel and the oil barons of Kazakhstan who had constant problems writing the pay checks. Bruyneel will steal a few more riders heading out the door. The next few months will determine how foolish Alberto Contador is: riding for Astana with Vino and without Bruyneel spells disaster in any language you choose.

The real excitement is the hinted return of the second best American tour rider: the disgraced Floyd Landis. When questioned about the possibility, Armstrong said “I wouldn’t rule anything out,” Floyd is a great rider, a tremendous story.” Twisted Spoke is thrilled by the possibility of the mad Mennonite returning to the european peleton and perhaps even attacking the tour once more.

Put Landis at the front heading up Alpe d’Huez or the Tourmalet with Lance in tow and Contador will beg the Schleck brothers for help. It’s an intriguing scenario filled with redemption and revenge. A motivated Landis will rip the legs off anyone Lance points a finger at. The man has a new hip and a huge ax to grind. His natural, non-synthetic testosterone will be off the charts.

The only question will be the Tour itself. Landis has served his time, he’s street legal, but the French have no fondness for the only Tour champion stripped of the yellow jersey. They didn’t appreciate Vinokourov’s blood doping and Landis is in the same boat. He didn’t do himself any favors with a long, bitter and costly defense either. The old Fairness For Floyd slogan doesn’t play well in Paris. Still, with Lance pulling some strings, perhaps, just maybe.

We firmly expect to hear Landis cranking the ZZ Top in the Radio Shack bus in 10 months. Hey, the Tour of Utah was fun but it’s just not the Champs Elysees — even with the silly dunk contest.

Written by walshworld

August 25, 2009 at 11:28 pm