So many topics - So little time
Thanks to everyone who read last week's column, “What Direction Will The Winds Of Change Take?”. I thought it would get the conversation rolling regarding Change Cycling Now (CCN). What surprised me was the amount of feedback I received regarding the inclusion of Scott O'Raw, co-founder of the Velocast podcast and Festinagirl, a passionate cycling fan, and until very recently, an anonymous Twitter account, as guests of the CCN meeting.
My Twitter timeline blew up with comments from a few people and suddenly I was in a vortex of answering questions that I thought I was included in...but maybe I wasn't, but my Twitter account name was included... It was all very confusing and exhausting. I have no idea how Jonathan Vaughters manages to have a meaningful debate limited to just 140 characters. It's like standing in the middle of a room while people shout questions at you all demanding an answer.
The now not anonymous Festinagirl emailed me explaining her position at the conference, outed herself as Suze and why she was anonymous on Twitter. A reader of my weekly column might note I have no problem with anonymous accounts and gave thanks to RaceRadio and the UCI_Overlord a couple of weeks back. I realize people have day jobs they need to protect or in some cases being unknown can be leveraged into gaining more information.
I appreciated her email and I still stand by my original thought that CCN is a great start and will have some growing pains like any organization does. I know Suze and Mr. O'Raw will continue to be passionate fans and drive the sport forward for a clean future.
Another email I received was from someone I have immense respect for – Paul Kimmage. I want to take the time to pat myself on the back as he said my Roadcycling.com column was “well written as ever and a lot of valid points.” This quote is now a bullet-point on my resume and I'm adding it to Vaughters stating I was an iconoclast.
However, Mr. Kimmage pointed out that I had written everyone on the board of CCN had made money in the sport, which to quote myself, isn't a bad thing. However, he assured me that wasn't the case for him.
Mr. Kimmage was a professional cyclist for Fagor up until 1989 and from there he has written for various newspapers (The Sunday Times-Dublin, The Sunday Independent - Dublin, The Sunday Times - London) and has had five commissions since losing his job in January at The Sunday Times. He asked me at the end of his email if I'd confused him with Paul Sherwin. Ouch!
I definitely had not confused Mr. Kimmage for Paul Sherwin. If that was the case it would be time for me to hang up the keyboard and spend my time puttering around the garden yelling at squirrels and lawn gnomes. So I stand corrected – Paul Kimmage hasn't made money off of cycling like I inferred. To be clear I don't think it's wrong for journalists or writers to make money from cycling by publishing a book. That's their job and how they make a living. My only problem is when they conveniently hide or ignore the truth about their subject so they can sell more copies. I have a HUGE problem with that.
I'll finish up this portion of my column by basically repeating what I said last week – CCN is a great idea and this is a watershed moment in the sport of professional cycling.
Moving to a different topic - we're starting to see teams solidify their rosters. Mark Cavendish joins Omega Pharma-Quickstep. While I enjoy watching Cavendish and it will be interesting to see him racing with Tom Boonen, this year the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team will get nothing but a polite golf clap from me. They have enacted some type of “not quite zero-tolerance” policy for the team.
According to Levi Leipheimer, his team Omega Pharma-Quickstep knew he was going to admit to doping in the past and was supportive. However, when the news came out the team suspended him and then terminated his contract. That's kind of harsh as it doesn't give anyone on the team a reason to admit to past doping offenses. Instead it continues to enforce an omertá policy.
To cynical people like me it appears that Omega Pharma-Quickstep saw a way to increase their budget by eliminating Leipheimer's salary and using that, along with some additional money, to bring the Manx Missile into the fold.
For me the real kicker and the reason Omega Pharma-Quickstep will get nothing more than a courtesy clap from me is the Belgium-based squad hired a doctor with a dodgy past - Dr. Jose Ibarguren Taus.
The Cyclismas website has an article outlining the Spanish doctor's past which includes stints at Banesto, Lampre, Saunier Duval, and Lotto - to name a few. I'm not saying the doctor was running an organized doping program at each and every team, but after reading, “So just who is Dr. Jose Ibarguren Taus” it gave me some pause.
Without a doubt we'll see Cavendish and Boonen on the top step of a podium in 2013 and I'm hoping that Dr. Taus' reputation doesn't sully those victories.
My last point of this post is the breaking news that the UCI announced the final list of WorldTour teams for 2013. No big surprise Argos-Shimano made the cut, but just like in a M Night Shyamalan movie there was a twist at the end.
A team we thought was going to be stuck begging for entries into the big races, Saxo-Tinkoff, got the WorldTour nod. Looks like we're going to see the Contador versus Chris Froome battle in the Tour de France this July after all. But that's not the twist I'm referring to. At the bottom of the UCI press release was the “I see dead people moment” - Team Katusha was denied a WorldTour license.
Wait...what??? You'd think a team which features current WorldTour leader Joaquim Rodriguez and which finished the 2012 season in second place in the standings would be a lock. Right now the UCI is being coy as to why the Russian team got flicked.
“In accordance with UCI regulations, this team’s application has been forwarded to the UCI administration, so that the latter may assess the possibility of registering this team as a UCI Professional Continental Team.”
Could Katusha's rejection be due to an ethical or administrative reason? At this point it's all speculation, but the squad does have the chance to race as a Professional Continental Team, which is better than the alternative – not racing at all. Perhaps there was an “I” that still needed to be dotted or a “T” waiting to be crossed. In a few days Katusha will know the reason why and, I'm assuming, be given a chance to correct it. If not, the only riding they'll be doing in July is the bench.
Every off-season I always think there will be a lull in the action, but 2012 continues to captivate with continual plot twists. I have to remember that this is only the second week of December and who knows what might happen next? The only thing I can recommend is stay tuned as this soap opera we call professional cycling continues to turn.