Tough Times in Cycling
One rider tries to secure a contract while another symbolically cuts away from it.
I was reminded of something when I saw the photo on the cover of the book “Wheelman: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever.” It is taken from his crash at the 2010 Amgen Tour of California. The day before the crash, which caused him to drop out of the race, Floyd Landis’ “leaked” email disclosed team-wide doping within the Postal Team. The morning of stage 5 Armstrong stood outside the RadioShack team bus and said the now infamous phrase to the press scrum, “We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility.”
Armstrong crashed later in the stage and received stitches in his elbow and cheek. However, before he climbed into the team car and abandoned, Armstrong tried to continue. He had a rolling conversation with team director Johan Bruyneel on what his options were: finish the stage and evaluate the damage or quit immediately. All of this was captured by a videographer working for Bicycling Magazine. They had a cameraman in the passenger seat and he got it all. I saw the footage, just once, and it portrayed Armstrong as confused and not knowing what to do next. I don’t blame Armstrong - he’d taken a good fall to the ground and was bleeding from multiple locations. If you had seen the recent Frontline story “League of Denial” and knowing the damage that can be done to the brain you might think the RadioShack captain had suffered a concussion.
The video was posted on Bicycling Magazine’s website, but was soon removed. I was told by someone working for Bicycling they had removed it because they were getting heat from RadioShack. As we know, Bicycling was tight with the Armstrong camp and you can’t bite the hand that’s giving you pageviews.
Initially I thought that footage was filed away like the Lost Ark of the Covenant from the Indiana Jones movie. However, thanks to the hive mind of Twitter (and specifically @Dimspace) the YouTube footage of that moment was found and it is posted on YouTube. It’s fascinating to watch as Johan Bruyneel is trying to decide what to do. You know in the back of his mind he’s wondering how this will affect Armstrong’s Tour de France preparation.
Why Horner Doesn’t Have a Contract
We all know these are challenging economic times and as a result professional cycling teams, like Euskaltel-Euskadi, have been forced to disband and others like Saxo Bank were scrambling for additional sponsors (their title sponsor Saxo Bank stepped up with additional funds). This has left a glut of top ranked cyclists - truly a buyers’ market. However, you’d think that if you’d just won a grand tour you wouldn’t have to search too long to find a fat contract for the following year.
Chris Horner also thought that and I don’t blame him. Riders have sewn up a contract renewal with a lot less on their palmarès. Sure, they may have had to take an 80% reduction in their salary, but these are tough times. So