Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Radioshack not welcome in Spain shocker

So Bruyneel is "speechless" that his golden boys haven't been welcomed with open arms to the Vuelta. Well, when he say's speechless that doesn't include copious tweets and a very long press release on the subject.

 Here's his speechless reaction in full:

“I am not only surprised, I am speechless. At first I  thought it was a mistake so I called organizer Javier Guillén for some explanation. He told me that the other teams offered him better options on a sporting level. I had to ask him to repeat it as I could not believe this but I heard right:  we didn’t offer a good enough team. I cannot accept or understand this decision. With Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner and Jani Brajkovic we had four potential Vuelta WINNERS on the roster we sent to Unipublic. Our 2010 Team goals were the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain. That’s why -  together with the need to perform well in the Tour of California – we skipped the Tour of Italy this year. ”

"Up until now it has never been accepted that a Team Manager stands on a soap box to defend the rights of the teams and the riders. We always have to accept; we don’t have many rights. After what I heard today, I take it as a personal mission: from now on I will fight for the interests of the cycling teams. It will be more than just a goal.  I will work for it as hard as I’ve worked for my own team. It is really urgent that action be taken now as this is the time that the organizers will listen to the opinions of the teams. I will do everything that I can to bring all big teams to one level.   What happened today is only a detail.”

“In cycling there are three parties: UCI, organizers and teams/riders.  Unlike in other professional sports, the teams and riders are the main actors who are never heard. I will fight for our rights and for other things that rightfully belong to us but we never get.  There is an abuse of power. Some organizers take away the hunger of potential sponsors to invest in our sport. It is unjust that a new sponsor, coming into cycling with a lot of enthusiasm, is not rewarded for their financial input. For me it is hard to explain to my sponsor that 21 other teams are apparently better than us.  Especially when it isn’t true.  These actions are unfair to our sponsors as well as a blow to our fans.  “

“It is high time for ‘professional’ cycling to become professional. The structure of our sport needs to change towards a model of other successful professional sports like soccer, tennis, Formula 1, etc. Today, this is happening to our team and sponsors, tomorrow it could be any other team.  Even if some parties don’t like to see or hear this, I will do anything which is in my power to contribute to making this happen.”

What is he on about?

What model is he suggesting exactly? I always had the impression that F1 and Tennis are totally dominated by the governing bodies/organisers. Is it not an annual event that the F1 bodies (ie Ecclestone and Mosely) change the rules to restrict the cars in some way, followed by the bleating of the teams for a bit, followed by yet another boring, processional season of races where the best machine (not driver) wins. And is that not why the TV audiences are turning off in droves? Don't get me wrong, I'm not for a miinute suggesting all is well in the world of cycling but if Bruyneel is going to go on a rant he could at least be a bit more specific.

As far as it being unjust to his sponsor, again you have to ask, what is he on about? RadioShack are a US focussed company, with little or no European presence. The last I heard, the Vuelta is not a major feature on US TV, nor for that matter is the Tour when Lance isn't manufacturing some controversy. So how can it possibly be a blow to the marketing plans of RadioShack to miss the Vuelta? In contrast, Garmin, Sky, Katusha and Cervelo are all sponsors with a significant European presence. If RadioShack were to get in, one of them would have been excluded so how would that not have been "unjust" to an equally valuable sponsor?

Also, although everyone is denying it, is the long term good of the sport really served by pandering to a team and a manager with such a huge black cloud hanging over them, at the expense of other teams who, at least for now, appear to represent the clean, open, honest, unambiguous future we all want?

 The best bit is where he says he will fight to defend the rights of his riders. Cast your mind back to July last year when a certain manager was very publicly trampling all over the "rights" of his best rider while favouring the "rights" of his not-quite-so-good best mate and meal ticket. Now think about where the out of favour rider came from? That's right, Spain. Is that a co-incidence? Could Bruyneel be getting a taste of his own medicine from Contadors compatriots?

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