The basic story is that neither of the two riders (Tom Southam and Charly Wegelius) followed the team orders, so they got sacked. That part is simple enough, but there has to be something more to this story, otherwise John Herety would probably still have his job. A man of his experience shouldn’t have to resign just because two riders ‘refused’ to take orders…
But there are many ways of looking at this issue:
• Did Southam and Wegelius understand exactly what they were supposed to do?
Tom Southam and Charly Wegelius are experienced continental road pros who should understand road racing well enough. Apparently they have said that the communications weren’t working that well. But the fact that they have admitted some fault, makes me think that they just didn’t fancy it.
• So did they think more of themselves than they did of Hammond’s chances?
Well possibly, but there is no glory in working on the front for 100kms just to show your face. Then when the backlash specifically names the riders as being at fault… well it can’t be good for their image, any team manager would see this as disloyalty – not a trait regarded very highly in pro cycling.
• Did somebody ‘buy’ team GB off?
Rightly or wrongly it does happen a lot in the pro peloton, but it’s highly unlikely as they are a small team so GB wouldn’t be able to make much difference to another team’s chances. It would explain why they got fired though.
• Did John Herety ‘loose the dressing room’?
Quite possibly. This could be why there’s been so much fuss.
• Is it a storm in a tea cup?
Well yes and no. Herety has lost his job and (apparently) Southam and Wegelius will never ride for team GB again. Pretty serious stuff.
A selection of opinions from the RCUK Forum:
“I think this is 100% the correct course of action. I’ve long respected both riders but if you can’t fully realise the honour of pulling on your national colours, in my opinion you are not worthy of wearing them.” Chris
“Jeremy [Hunt] and Russ [Downing], as well as a couple of others, would have given anything and everything to be in that team.” Jez
“These guys are young, they are scraping to make a living in a tough industry, there actions to me are not particularly savoury but definately understandable.” OBM
“I think the key word in your post OBM is “team” – without being too harsh Charly and Tom need to look up the meaning of that word in a dictionary” Thrusty
“It was complete nonsense the way they were riding. Good riddance to the pair of them” Steve
So, What next?
Let’s look at the bigger picture. To re-establish the UK road scene we need to have bigger and better races. I have no doubt that riders like the Downings and other talented (but inexperienced) UK based pros could do a job for Roger Hammond for the first 150-200kms, but we have to use the “premier league” riders because they have the legs and the experience. But I think it would be better for everyone if riders could experience the worlds who will give it their all – regardless. I remember Mark Lovatt hanging on for grim death for lap after lap a few years ago… that’s the sort of ‘spirit’ we will need if we are going to win medals. And when Tom Simpson won, as the Cycling Weekly retrospective a few weeks ago showed, the riders rode their heart and souls out for Tom.
Surely a road medal would be worth a little more to BC’s kudos than ‘another’ track medal? But to get there the whole racing programme needs a revamp. Less small races and some cracking big ones for the Elites – less calendar clashes and more Tour of Britain type finishes. We can’t be sending track riders to the road champs and we need riders who want to ride for each other.
All the good that the track has done BC’s image can be undone by such a shoddy road performance and that is perhaps why David Brailsford is making such a stand – he wants us to be the best on the road so we need to be organised disciplined and, above all, a team.