It’s Radioshambles for Radioshack-Nissan Trek at the Tour

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    It is not often fact follows fiction, but in the case of cycling team Radioshack-Nissan Trek, fans of the TV series The Office will agree there are certainly more than a few parallels between the two.

    Have your boss unable to actually attend ‘work’ and do what he’s paid to do, check.

    Pass over more suitable office candidates for a position in favour of ones that leave everyone scratching their heads on the decision process, check.

    Have your team leader publicly state he doesn’t actually want the job, check.

    A lawsuit meaning the whole office is at risk of being shut down, check.

    Even have an employee have an unjustified fear (think Gareth and the jelly/Frank and Andy and descending), check.

    Fact is this year, for the majority of the time, has been more like a ‘How not to run a Pro Cycling team’ for Radioshack-Nissan Trek than anything approaching even what you could call a mediocre season.

    Certainly losing their star rider in Fabian Cancellara, the only rider showing any sort of form, during the Tour of Flanders did not help. From there though things have just gone from bad to worse for riders and backroom staff alike.

    The first big issue to follow is of course the very public spat between the brothers Schleck and Johan Bruyneel. What kicked it off, whether it was an insistence from the brothers to Johan that they must be raced together or Johan making the decision that for him to get the best out of them they needed to be separated is not rightly known.

    The fallout, however, saw Andy going to the media and state how unhappy he was with the lack of communication and professionalism shown by the team, Johan in particular. Bruyneel denied this, a claim that would be a lot more believable if not for the events that followed.

    Frank Schleck withdrew during stage 15 of the Giro, claiming a shoulder injury from a collision with Alex Rasmussen during stage 11. Johan then publicly states his disappointment with Frank, calling in to question his commitment and chastising him for letting the team down.

    For some reason Bruyneel felt the need to air the teams dirty laundry in the press. Which, given Frank’s reaction (primarily one of anger) and his need to “silence his critics” (nudge, nudge Johan) during the recent Tour du Suisse we can again only assume the first Frank knew of this was via the media.

    This brings us nicely to Chris Horner and his non-selection (and subsequent re-selection) for the Radioshack Tour de France team. Going from what we the press are told (which given the clear lack of communication within the team, it would be safe to assume is as close to the truth as the riders are probably getting too) because Chris did not participate in either Tour lead up race, he ruled himself ineligible for selection. According at least to Johan’s (again media stated) selection criteria.

    That Jens Voigt also failed to race either the Criterium du Daphine or Tour du Suisse, yet still made the squad, was never mentioned.

    Yet Horner claims that the first he was told of his missing out was from his wife, who had read it online. He himself had not spoken nor heard from Johan.

    Sound familiar?

    Finally there is Jacob Fuglsang. Initially meant to ride the Giro as the team leader, however prevented from starting due to injury. Winner of the Tour of Luxemburg (one third of the teams wins for the season!) and building form nicely, only to be omitted from the final nine man Tour de France squad. With instead riders such as Tony Gallopin making the cut – a selection that looks for all the world to only have nepotism as the only explanation.

    Again, nothing from Bruyneel to the rider. Kim Anderson was instead the one who informed Jacob.

    Not that Kim is innocent throughout all this, as he too is on record this season for publicly stating that he “can’t explain (Andy) Schleck’s performance problems”. Slating the rider at a time when he most needed the support of his director sportiff and friend.

    Of course none of this even touches the mystery disappearance of Bruyneel during May, his barring of Anderson in attending and working as a team director sportiff at the Tour and his subsequent self-omission from the Tour.

    Not to mention the Armstrong investigation and its possible implications for the team, riders and staff not being paid and the already very active rumour mill of riders already seeking a new team for next season.

    Armstrong conjecture and possible enhanced performances aside, Johan still managed to run a tight ship back in the US Postal/Discovery Channel days. He was in fact, for quite a while, viewed as the ultimate director sportiff. A Vince Lombardi of cycling.

    How he could now be looking like a complete rank amateur is staggering. And if so many livelihoods and careers were not caught up in it would almost be funny.

    Whatever the case, Radioshack-Nissan Trek is in all kinds of trouble for this year’s Tour de France.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • June 21st 2012 @ 11:42am
      sittingbison said | June 21st 2012 @ 11:42am | ! Report

      Perhaps it is synchronicity – Bruyneel and Lance were perfect for each other. Two abrasive stubborn driven personalities.

      Since Lance retired Bruyneel has struggled. He had Contador win the Tour with Astana, however that was a farce from start to finish, Bruyneel basically sided with Lance on his comeback and Contador rode the Tour on his own against team orders. Now he has to operate with the Schleck sideshow, which would never be a match made in heaven. They are as different to Lance as its possible to be.

      • Roar Guru

        June 21st 2012 @ 3:17pm
        Tinea Pedis said | June 21st 2012 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

        That’s a good point.

        Johan looked better than what he really was as he and Lance were ‘soul mates’ with regards to how to run a team.

        Lucky they avoided nearly being cell mates too eh? 😉

        • June 27th 2012 @ 6:29am
          mitt romney said | June 27th 2012 @ 6:29am | ! Report

          oh, not the “he favored lance” bs again. all that happened was the race sorting itself out on the road.
          Johann’s brilliance was never more obvious when astana got the invite to the vuelta a week before the race when his top riders were on vacation. Contador actually took the call on the beach and wasn’t training. or the 2008 Giro where he managed Contador’s energy and allowed his lead fall first to 41 seconds then dwindle to a mere 4 seconds when Johann told him to let Ricco go and managed his pace, ever so slowly giving back 37 seconds down to 4 seconds knowing ricco stood little change of making time in the final stage time trial. that is what being a great director is. never race faster than is needed to win. he let contador save his legs for the time trial. we love great attacks but winning 3 week races is about energy management.

          I never though andy schleck was serious about winning the tour. he has had a glaring weakness that he has made absolutly no progress on year after year after year. johann took him because he was the best available challenger at the time. johann has not taken any of their guff. it hasn’t worked, not because of johann, but because andy is a poser and a loser. he won’t do the work. to win he’d have to ride away from evans and wiggo in the mountains and manage his losses in the time trials. he stands no chance of doing that and i don’t see that he’s even tried. there are not vids i know of showing him training his ass off this spring and impressing anybody, and every time he’s been on a time trial bike he looks pathetic. and what radioshack gets for their money is not a professional, but a spoiled pouting poser that thinks he’s great because he’s a local hero. he makes me want to lose my lunch.

          Until now Johann has been blessed with riders that look at losing as death. andy could care less. how is this Johann’s fault?

          • June 27th 2012 @ 10:33am
            sittingbison said | June 27th 2012 @ 10:33am | ! Report

            I know this is satire, but I cant stand letting it sit as some poor sap might not get the subtle nuances. Well done mitt.

            Imagine bringing in a Contador vs Ricco debate about Bruyneel. hahaha who’d a thunk it. A drug cheat who transfuses himself with spoilt blood from the back of his fridge and destroys his liver. A drug cheat who transfuses blood still containing a masking agent from pre-race microdoping to help him win the defining climb against that spoiled pouting poser (albeit through riding away when said poser has a mechanical incident). And the DS who has presided over the greatest number of TdF winning dug cheats who get stripped of their titles in history. Brilliant!!

            And what you really meant with the summation mitt was “Until now Johann has been blessed with riders that look at losing as death so juiced themselves to the eyeballs under the Thugs direction. andy could care less”

    • Roar Guru

      June 21st 2012 @ 1:27pm
      Bones506 said | June 21st 2012 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

      I would have picked Jens – quality rider and you know what you get. You do not have to race the pre races to be eligible.

      Spartacus will be a top 5 contender to takeout the prologue and hence yellow and if he does the post conference will be interesting as they will ask him everything about the recent issues.

      • Roar Guru

        June 21st 2012 @ 3:15pm
        Tinea Pedis said | June 21st 2012 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

        The issue isn’t whether Jens is a quality rider, nor is there an official ‘you must compete in certain races to ride the Tour’ from the UCI.

        The stipulation for the team, from Joahn, was that in order to make the short list of riders he would look to choose from for their Tour squad they would need to race either the Tour du Suisse or Criterium du Dauphine.

        Horner didn’t do either, but neither did Voigt. However one made the squad and the other didn’t.

        To me that sends all sorts of wrong messages to the team and makes Bruyneel look like having double standards. Not something you want to appear to have when you’re in charge.

        • June 21st 2012 @ 3:36pm
          sittingbison said | June 21st 2012 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

          what gets me TP is Bruyneel has always been renowned as a real hard case. I just cant see this happening in the glory days of USPostal. Anybody not pulling in the Lance direction was shown short shrift

          • Roar Guru

            June 21st 2012 @ 4:00pm
            Tinea Pedis said | June 21st 2012 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

            Absolutely agree.

            Not sure how the wheels have fallen off so badly.

    • Roar Guru

      June 21st 2012 @ 4:40pm
      Mat Coch said | June 21st 2012 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

      As much as I like the Schlecks and wish I could climb half as well as they can, the pair do seem mentally weak compared to their rivals.

      Can you imagine Andy at Omega Pharma and the crap the team put Cadel through? What about Frank riding at Astana with Lance in place of Spanish Meat? Physically they are supreme and the measure of most, if not all, current cyclists. Mentally I don’t think they’re up to the job.

      I’m not convinced it’s all mismanagement on Bruyneel’s part. a Good director sportif doesn’t turn bad overnight.

      • June 23rd 2012 @ 2:21am
        frankenthal said | June 23rd 2012 @ 2:21am | ! Report

        Mat,
        i disagree on the Schlecks not being mentally tough, you suggest that Frank ride in place of AC for Astana and how that situation would work out, but Frank did have to go through something like that when with CSC and supporting Sastre in 2008

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