WorldTour Wrap: budget blows, big spenders and biology lessons
Cannondale-Drapac struggle for money as Team Sky splash the cash
The first full week of Vuelta madness tossed up plenty of exciting, dynamic racing, as well as some oddball moments along the way.
And outside of those stages, we saw one team splashing the cash on some fresh talent, while another is desperately fighting for its survival…
Just as things were looking up…
Poor old Cannondale-Drapac, they go ages and ages and ages without winning any races at WorldTour level and then, just as they finally get their mojo back, they lose a huge sponsor leaving a smoking crater in their budget.
That’s right, the US-based team that used to be called Garmin, but also is kind of called Slipstream and is simultaneously referred to as ‘rideargyle’ on Twitter, even though there isn’t much argyle left in their kit – the guys in green, basically – are $7million short of the budget they need to compete at WorldTour level next year.
At the time of writing, team bosses are working on the launch of a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, while the team themselves frantically begin calling their agents to get them to sort out a team for next year.
Big names like Rigoberto Uran will be confident of moving into another team quite easily, while those on the lower rungs of the roster face a huge amount of uncertainty about their futures.
Not one to bow to the pressure, Joe Dombrowski tweeted this on the morning after the announcement.
To all you journos outside the @Ride_Argyle bus @lavuelta right now, I’ll sell you interviews. Small price of 7 mil.
In all sincerity, we hope the team continues. They brought us the wisdom of Taylor Phinney for god’s sake, as well as one of our all-time favourite gifs.
You can register your interest for their crowdfunding campaign here.
How the other half lives…
And while Cannondale boss Jonathan Vaughters is frantically searching down the back of the sofa for change, well, Team Sky have decided now is the perfect moment to show just HOW MUCH MONEY THEY HAVE and signed everyone. Yup, everyone.
Winner of the Tour de L’Avenir, Egan Bernal? Signed him mate. Pavel Sivakov, champion of the Baby Giro? Got him in swaps. How’s about a sprinter, Sky never has the top sprinters. Sorry to disappoint, but they bagged Kristoffer Halvorsen just this very morning, current U23 world champion. Monaco striker, Kylian Mbappé? Well… maybe not, actually.
Oh, and did we mention their new moonbase, I mean, ‘race hub’?
Yes, in a quest to distance themselves from their image as pantomime baddies who travel everywhere in a ‘Death Star’, they’ve gone and bought themselves a gargantuan portable lair. Like a retired Bond villain going on holiday.
One can only assume the team’s principal, Sir Dave Brailsford, has completely run dry of ideas when it comes to marginal gains and is going to greater and greater lengths, just to see what he can get the Murdoch media empire to fork out for next.
Rupert Murdoch: Now, Dave, are you absolutely sure the new ‘race hub’ needs a make-your-own ice cream sundae station? That doesn’t seem like the sort of food our pro athletes should be eating…
Sir Dave: Well, ummm, err, actually we found that two or three mouthfuls of vanilla ice cream can be really good for the… errr… the hyper-glutimus muscles.
RM: Ah, very well. And, these “lasers” you’ve drawn on your sketch of the ‘race hub’. Are these used for body mapping, to determine the optimal riding position?
SD: No, those are actual lasers, sir, like in Star Wars.
RM: I see, and what are they for, precisely?
SD: For keeping Daniel Benson away from my lair, I mean ‘race hub’, sir.
The “Chicken of Messina”
Vincenzo Nibali won the third stage of the Vuelta in the race’s first high mountain stage in Andorra and he had enough time as he crossed the line to pull off a little celebration.
Did the Italian Tour winner go for the classic arms thrown aloft, the single-arm air punch, or the demostrative kiss of the logo of the jersey sponsor favoured by riders in need of a contract? Not our Vincenzo.
Instead Nibali played to his nickname, ‘The Shark of Messina’, by making a little fin out of his hand and putting it on top of his head to, y’know, pretend to be a shark.
Lord knows, we like our riders to show a bit of personality, but a few spectators have pointed out that there’s an inaccuracy in Vincenzo’s representation of a shark.
Sharks don’t have fins on their heads, they have them on their backs.
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