I’m wondering who’s more surprised about Ricco’s move to Vacansoleil—fans, journalists, or the rider himself. Ricco seemed pretty sure about going to Quick.Step only a few short days ago, but as press agents anywhere can tell you, the great advantage to leaking information rather than making an above-board announcement is plausible deniability.
That said, the not-so-recently-returned Italian’s marriage to either team hardly represents particularly deep planning. Quick.Step is where GC riders have repeatedly gone to die; while plenty of fans and many in the peloton seem to think that wouldn’t be so bad, I’m doubting Ricco is particularly excited about the prospect. Vacansoleil and Ricco do each have an interest in getting invited to higher-profile races, but I just don’t see how an ostracized ex-doper make a second-tier squad with a history of being snubbed improve each others’ appeal.
But then again, maybe I’m not giving the value of a big-name signing the weight it truly deserves. Despite a lackluster season and advancing age, Carlos Sastre still makes a newsworthy title signing for a new team sponsor. Robbie McEwen, 38 years young and barely managing a footnote of a win this year, claims to have at least interest from other teams.
I hesitate to mention Vino’s recently-announced re-signing; unlike Sastre and McEwen, he’s had a fantastic season, and I think most fans were aware the Vino-4-Ever jersey wasn’t merely a statement of Astana’s faith in their homegrown talent, but also the official terms of his contract.
But as a larger trend, it seems that retirement has been going out of style as of late. One wonders if the popularity of Comeback 2.0 didn’t play something of a role in that; Armstrong’s performance at the 2009 Tour certainly may have emboldened a few riders to try and compete at a higher level than they’d otherwise planned, and he certainly didn’t hold back in exploring new technologies to achieve that end.
Lance’s small-door exit at this year’s TdF may have attracted additional interest as well; after years of suffering at the Texan’s hands in head-to-head competition, a generation of riders may find a measure of revenge in being able to carry on with high-level performances at an age where Armstrong was forced to unceremoniously throw in the towel.
Regardless of the motivations of riders and teams, though, one thing seems certain: a second post-Lance recession is unlikely. Fourteen applicants are competing for the remaining eight ProTour spots—a number that does not include Cervelo TestTeam, who will continue their thus-far successful strategy of circumventing the expense and frustration of the UCI’s red tape by focusing on producing results instead of bank guarantees.
Given the runty performance and unsteady funding delivered by the ProTour structure thus far, it’s a model the UCI might want to consider encouraging in the future.
thoughts on “Longer-Term Investments”
Thank goodness the “Doper” didn’t get into Quickstep !
Too many “Dopers/Sport Fraudsters” are being given 2nd chances !
You rob a bank , get a prison sentence and you are marked for life, but “Dopers” are given a two year holiday and come back fresh as a daisy and so shove the “Clean living Athletes” off the podium. Cycling Fans are not very vocal about this but there are many like the “worm” who protest too much knowing that their fans are gulible and don’t want to accept they were misled.
Vacansoleil complained they missed out on some Grand Tours this year, what are they doing now other than giving a two finger salute to the organisers who chose not to issue invitations. Will the “Sponsors” be happy with their team management’s explanation/justification of this serious mistake ?
“Dopers/Sport Fraudsters should be allowed a second chance after a four year suspension reduced if they make written a public apology naming sources of supply and encouragement BUT they then should only be rehired at two steps lower than where they left the sport. Lost income and four years outside the sport( no employment in any form connected with sporting activity) will serve as a major disincentive to those considering short cuts !
When teams fold or fail to find “Sponsors” there are honest hardworking team workers put out of work , they may take the job of another in a different team but there are still losers through the ill conceived actions of a selfish “Smart arse low life” !
Pro tour teams should be chosen on the basis of how they build the Cycling Industry and any being considered should be tipped off the list of candadates if they are employing more than one recent returnee from “Holiday” !
“I just don’t see how an ostracized ex-doper make a second-tier squad with a history of being snubbed improve each others’ appeal.” My thoughts precisely.
I can say I was one of those in the wings hoping to see Vacansoleil make the Tour bid since they rode their legs off and seriously over-performed themselves. Real up and comers they ‘were’.
But, now…to have a snub, and pick up Ricco who is not your most penitent doper and one whom the public and race organizers dis-like…to hope for Vacansoleil to have a bid next year…is now non-existent.
What are they thinking
(I though that jersey *was* Vino’s contract. My bad!)
Bahati Foundation takes Floyd, Vacansolei takes Ricco. The outcome for the former is now established: a little press, then a catastrophic sequence of events for the squad. For the latter we are in the ‘a little press’ stage. Apon announcement my reaction to both was the same: this will not work. But who knows, maybe Ricco gets bonuses for keeping his mouth shut and will test clean next year. Then after cleaning up at a few lower level week longs the squad will HAVE to be invited to the big shows in 2012. I just bet no rider on Vacansolei was giving a toast to the prospect of hours of training with Ricco for the next 2 years.
The more I think about it, the more this bums me out. I was really looking forward to Ricco riding the Tour next year because he’s virtually the only cyclist who simultaneously A) can potentially challenge Contador and Schleck at their own game and B) has a “colorful” personality. Cycling is low on talented, prickly jerks at the moment and I still hope that Ricco and his big mouth can change that. 🙂
Apparently Ricco’s relationships w/his agents and those around him aren’t even good. He broke a contract apparently w/his agent, who was smartly recommending him be on a Italian Conti team, but Ricco broke rank, went w/another agent and bada-bing, here we are.
That also speaks to me of a person who either has an utter disrespect for a contractual law or at least relationships or secondly one who places themselves above that all.
Either way, he is a mess.
“Apparently Ricco’s relationships w/his agents and those around him aren’t even good… ..That also speaks to me of a person who either has an utter disrespect for a contractual law or at least relationships or secondly one who places themselves above that all.”
It’s scary how much Ricco wants to be Pantani…