Last year, I pondered Andy Schleck’s future and apparent credentials as a one-day-likely Tour winner. Okay, so technically he is a Tour winner after the Contador saga finally played out but – let’s be honest – that doesn’t really count, does it? Over the last few weeks some fairly gaping wounds have opened up over at Johan Bruyneel’s hit factory, Radioshack, Aitken and Waterman. Early season malaise suggests that the dream team may be suffering from artistic differences as its star duet are taking what can only be described as the pure hump as Bruyneel’s production values differ widely from theirs. So what’s the solution?
To continue my tedious musical analogy, we must go back to July 1969 when, as well as Eddy Merckx stamping his authority all over his debut Tour win, a popular beat combo known as the Beatles convened for the final time to record Abbey Road.
To understand the genesis of Abbey Road, one has to – ahem – get back to the death of Beatles manager Brian Epstein in 1967. The “Beatle-making Prince of Pop” as one obituary described him, Epstein’s untimely passing is largely seen as the catalyst for the bickering that would blight the Fabs until their own demise in 1970. After recording what would eventually become Let it Be, Paul McCartney approached producer and “Fifth Beatle”, George Martin suggesting that the group make an album “the way we used to”. Of course, being party to the in-fighting and long hours of studio noodling that went into the likes of The White Album and Let it Be, Martin insisted that were such a project to see the light of day, it would have to be done under his rules. And so was born one of the finest albums of all time.
So where am I going with this? In 2010 the Brothers Schleck announced that they and a cast of almost literally dozens would be leaving team Saxo Bank, and the steady hand of Bjarne Riis to be part of a new project. Funded by Luxembourg businessman Flavio Becca, this would become Leopard Trek under the stewardship of former Saxo Bank PR man Brian Nygaard and subsequently RadioShack Nissan Trek, officially not in any way under the stewardship of 9-times-Tour-winning-DS-Deluxe, Johan Bruyneel. Just stick the Maillot Jaune in the post, will you, Monsieur Prudhomme, and it’ll save us all a lot of trouble in July.
But the collision of 2 cycling supergroups has so far been more Spinal Tap’s Jazz Odyssey than Blind Faith’s eponymous offering. While Bruyneel has sought to impose his will and methods upon his start turns, they in turn have gone all diva, first Frank dropping out of the Giro d’Italia with a – cough – shoulder injury and Andy taking exception to some of Bruyneel’s comments in the media by in turn making some comments to the media. To rub salt in the wound, Andy’s performance so far in the Criterium du Dauphine, is being taken by some observers as more petulance than mere lack of form.
Baby, You’re a Riis Man
You can apportion blame in any number of directions over the unravelling debacle at RSNT. Bruyneel must go! The Schlecks must be told! Becca doesn’t have a clue! But it’s worth remembering that Johan Bruyneel isn’t the only World Tour directeur whose sorrows need not be sought right now. Picture the scene, late September 2012: Bjarne Riis is momentarily distracted from his worries about finding a sponsor and riders for his team for 2013 by a knock at the door. He rubs his brow and wearily gets up to see who could be bothering him at this hour. On the doorstep stand 2 brothers, eyes averted and shuffling awkwardly before asking if they could once again make music “the way we used to do”.
Image (c) Daniel Benson, via cyclingnews.com
Tags: Andy Schlek, Frank Schleck, Road