20% unemployment. Massive cutbacks in public funding. A looming credit downgrade. There’s no question that “La Crisis” marks a major threat to the fortunes of the Spanish peloton. But if recent history is any indication, the increasing internationalization of cycling will force a near-total collapse of the Spanish peloton in the next few years, if the nation can’t take the management of its doping cases more seriously.
Let’s start in Germany in 2010: after some 14 years at the forefront of the sport—reference Erik Zabel’s 6 green jerseys, Team Telekom’s two Tour wins, and the perpetual candidacy of Jan Ullrich—the most powerful nation in Europe found itself without a single top-level squad. There are plenty of fingers to point, but the German economy, having recovered smartly from the Crisis of ’08, seems an unlikely culprit.