Twisted Spoke

My twisted take on the world of pro bike racing.

Posts Tagged ‘Rock Racing

Michael Ball and Rock Racing. License to say goodbye, pro cycling.

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These complicated UCI contracts bug me.

Wassup with designer jeans mogul and Rock Racing cycling team CEO Michael Ball?

Confusion reigns. Not, like, which hot models to hire for the new photo-shoot, not what crazy stitching to put on the back of the jeans pockets, not how much cocaine to order for the babes. That’s fun stuff.

No, it’s the damn cycling team. Can’t Ball just concentrate on his business model? The man is trying to make bank in a comatose economy — he has enough worries. And these freakin’ UCI lawyers with their paper work, Continental, half continental, super funky continental, who can keep up with that crap? Is that a category or a hotel breakfast? My boys wanna ride the big races, what’s with the forest-killing paperwork?

The cone of silence around Rock Racing leads us to believe the crazy merger plans and South of the Border license tricks have failed. There will be no Rock Racing Murcia Mexico Mozambique Mars arrangement. Which on comedy alone is a bummer for yours truly. Twisted Spoke is already on record: cycling needs Rock Racing because every sport needs a bad-boy team in black with a skull on the chest. Just basic marketing. Floor tile and ceramic dinnerware are okay sponsors but where’s the sex in that?

What the holy hell cakes — what is going on with Rock Racing? Nobody knows, apparently not even Michael Ball. He’s on a yacht off Tunisia partying hard. He’s at his New York digs looking at Fall 2011 designs. He’s in Milan or Croatia looking at fabric or deep in the denim mines of Central Mongolia. He’s treating his team like a new Rock and Republic concept for socks: he’s interested but it’s strictly back-burner.

Read the bottom, folks.

A team dangles in the wind. Are they holing up with Murcia, merging with Mexico or trading international felon Floyd Landis for a Protour license? Are they auctioning off Patrick McCarthy and a few other American riders in an attempt at a fast and cheap Mexican make-over?

Oscar Sevilla is wandering around Colombia with a pregnant wife wondering where his next pay check is coming from. Rock riders Tony Cruz, Freddy Rodriguez, David Martin, Florentino Marquez, Mauro Richeze, Patrick McCarthy and Jose Enrique deserve far better. Floyd Landis, well, really hard to say what he deserves at this point — ask FakeFloyd. (Interesting to note, there is no FakeArmstrong.)

Michael Ball, issue a statement.  Something like “I tried to bring my rock and roll show and my sexy babes to this tired tradition-bound sport but the suits kept wrecking my party. I’ll miss my boys but adios.” Something, anything.

Ball cannot fundamentally understand what is wrong with these UCI people. Have they never been to a party where people had sex in the bathrooms? Don’t they ever have so much fun they puked in the hot-tub? Have they never tried mixing crystal meth with a White Russian just to see, you know, what happens?

Michael, say goodbye to the sport, give your riders a nice severance package and move on. Twisted Spoke is gonna miss you, man.

Special note of thanks to Patron Saint of Twisted Spoke, James Raia at the SFExaminer cycling desk. For his amusing insights on Ball and Rock, click on over.


Written by walshworld

February 22, 2010 at 9:12 am

Floyd Landis has his anger back! First the Bahamas, then the world!

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Angry again? Let's hope so.

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.

Written by walshworld

January 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm

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

Tyler Hamilton. May he retire in peace.

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I’ve been thinking about how sadly Tyler Hamiliton’s career ended, with a whimper, not a bang. Such a checkered, bittersweet ride through pro cycling. Hamilton’s mountain stage win in the Tour de France was one of the most inspiring things I have ever seen. It was as powerful a testament to will power and guts and fortitude as you can imagine. You can say whatever you want about blood doping, anyone who wins a tour stage in that kind of agony has a pain threshold most humans can’t even comprehend. Tyler was the definition of bad luck; every crash Lance seemed to avoid with a 6th sense brought Tyler down hard. For every triumph there were a dozen disasters.

You can’t help but feel that Tyler, like many other American riders, suffered in the SOL. The Shadow of Lance. If you look at Hamilton and Landis and riders like Danielson, the burden of trying to keep up with Lance seems to have broken them. What riders wants the title, the next Lance? Hard to carve out your own identity and expectations. And it’s sad to see the suffering and the damage: broken marriages, bitterness and financial ruin for both Hamilton and Landis. It must irk them no end to see how Lance has sailed through relatively unscathed. They once called Reagan the Teflon president–no criticism ever stuck. Lance has that same charmed quality.

I hope that Tyler will find some measure of happiness and peace now that his cycling career has ended. He deserves it.

Written by walshworld

May 1, 2009 at 4:17 am