Thursday, 18 October 2012

Thursday Shorts: Cavendish Joins OPQS, Armstrong Dropped, Team Sky Interviews, Phinney On Pain Killers...

It's been a busy old few days in cycling once again, an unusual scenario for this time of year though most of it is once again down to Lance Armstrong. Sky have been at the fore again this week, partly thanks to the departure of Mark Cavendish but more so an untimely reiteration of the anti-doping mission from Dave Brailsford. Here's all the latest...

Cavendish Joins Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Finally
Speculation concerning who Mark Cavendish would be riding for next year finally ended today as he confirmed he was off to Omega Pharma-Quickstep after all - it was always looking set to be the case though other teams were in the running - He links up with his former director sportif Brian Holm and several former HTC team-mates in what looks to be a three year deal, where he will 'share' leadership with Tom Boonen and Tony Martin (we will wait and see how that one pans out!). Interestingly his Coach Rod Ellingworth who has worked closely with Cavendish since 2004 looks to be staying put at Sky, as will Bernie Eisel - a man Cavendish one said he wanted 'to ride with for the rest of his career', how this will effect the Manxman remains to be seen. Unfortunately for Cavendish the announcement came 24 hours after Dave Brailsford issued a statement to say that Sky riders would have to sign an anti-doping declaration in the coming weeks if they wanted to remain on the team, which prompted much pant-wetting on twitter and elsewhere as the inevitable 'Cavendish has left because he didn't want to sign the declaration' link was made (mostly by morons). It was some unfortunate timing for an already struggling Team Sky PR machine...

Team Sky Interviews
Following Brailsfords statement last night asking staff and riders to sign a declaration confirming that they have no past or present involvement in doping. Anyone who does not sign the declaration will leave the team, as will anyone who does sign but is subsequently found to be in breach of the policy. The team will also terminate contracts if individuals admit to any doping in their pasts, it appears Dave will be interviewing every rider individually over the coming weeks at the end of season training camp. Look out in the coming weeks for the possible exit of Sean Yates, Mick Rogers and Bobby Julich. Or not. If there are no exits this could serve to lead to further problems at Sky's PR base.

Armstrong Dropped
He spent over a decade riding at the front but Lance Armstrong has been well and truly dropped this time: Nike (finally), Trek, Radioshack, Anheuser-Busch are just a few former Armstrong endorsers who have pulled the plug, the full list is quite long but noticeable by it's absence is Oakley who are awaiting a UCI response before making the decision to terminate contracts with Armstrong or not. Nike did finally leave lance adrift - but we are not forgetting about that $500,000 Coverup just yet...

Phinney Speaks Out On Pain Killers
In an interesting interview with Velonation rising American star Taylor Phinney spoke out against the widespread use of caffeine pills, painkillers and 'finishing drinks' within the peloton as a way of enhancing performance. Phinney said  “You see so many late-race stupid crashes that I almost wouldn’t be surprised if some or most of those crashes are caused by people taking these hard-hitting painkillers at the end of races. There is widespread use of finish bottles, which are just bottles of crushed up caffeine pills and painkillers. That stuff can make you pretty loopy, and that is why I have never tried it. I don’t even want to try it as I feel it dangerous. Another issue is taking something for an improvement, getting into that mentality. You have to ask why are you taking a painkiller? You are doing that to mask effects that riding a bike is going to have on your body…essentially, you are taking a painkiller to enhance your performance. But the whole reason we get into sport in the first place is to test our bodies, to test our limits. If you are taking something that is going to boost your performance, that is not exactly being true to yourself, not exactly being true to your sport.”

It's nice to hear somebody as level headed as Phinney taking such a stance on issues like this, he added “If it was up to me, I would say if you need cortisone, you shouldn’t be racing. You should get that injury fixed and then you can come back, but you are not racing any more in the meantime. It is the same thing with painkillers or something like Sudafed. If you wake up with a fever and you need to take some sort of painkillers to be racing, then you probably shouldn’t be racing in the first place and your team doctor should be worried about your health and send you home.” I'll be taking a more in depth look at 'finishing drinks' and worse in the coming days, and it won't make for pretty reading! You can read the full Velonation interview by clicking the link above.

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