The Armstrong Legacy
Can the Armstrong legacy take another hit and will cycling in America be able to survive?
rides a bike from an American company, it is having a more and more European centric feel. The Americans are no longer the marquee riders. Chris Horner has publicly stated that he's backing the Schlecks for the Tour de France and that a win by them is better than a top five on the general classification for him. Levi Leipheimer has left the squad for Omega Pharma-QuickStep. It's been rumored that Leipheimer and Armstrong's relationship has cooled and the Belgian outfit will be riding Specialized bikes whose headquarters are in California - not too far from Leipheimer's home base of Santa Rosa. Regardless about inter-team squabbling, RadioShack-Nissan-Trek was focused on a Tour win and QuickStep is offering their support in the Amgen Tour of California and the Pro Cycling Challenge Bike Race in Colorado or whatever it's called. For Leipheimer it's a move that makes sense.
And that leads me to another point that got people stirred up regarding RadioShack-Nissan-Trek - the name. According to the UCI it's too long. The rules state that there can only be two title sponsor names in the title. As a result Trek was flicked from the title, so don't be confused when you see RadioShack-Nissan (RSN) listed on any official results or communications from the boys in Aigle. However, that hasn't stopped the team from using their own version of the team name in their press releases or Twitter account. Many people saw this as another example of Bruyneel thumbing his nose at authority. Sure, that authority was the UCI, an organization which probably didn't get many Christmas cards from team mangers or fans, but to many it was another example of how Bruyneel thinks he is above the rules. Speaking of Bruyneel...
The Belgian director has been a fixture in the team car during all the Tour de France victories his team has earned. So it was with some surprise that he wasn't mentioned or shown during the team launch. He made an appearance at the press conference beforehand, but that's it.
If you look on the team website he is no longer the director but the general manager. On the RadioShack-Nissan-Trek company organizational chart there are six "sport directors" below him. If you've been watching any of the YouTube footage of the team camp in Mallorca it seems that sport director Alain Gallopin has taken the reins - leading the team meetings in the parking lot prior to the boys rolling out on a training ride. Is Gallopin the new man behind the steering wheel of the team's Nissan? Perhaps - but I fully expect Bruyneel to be riding shotgun come July.
Those of you who have been a fan of professional cycling for long can remember the early days of the Postal Service Professional Cycling Team. We were all wide-eyed with excitement for an American team, led by an American winning, no, dominating the Tour de France. Sure it morphed into the Discovery Channel team, but damn it, it was still American! Yeah, there were those two years when the team was