The Season of Talking Tough

Dec 7 2009

396010042_79edb64cd5_oOh yes. After weeks of mind-numbing backroom dealing (Will Contador go to Astana? Will Astana get a UCI license?) the trash talking is finally here.

And who better to kick it off than the psychological master himself, Johan Bruyneel, who recently cast Contador as a superstar unable to come to grips with his meteroic fame—in words that seem more suited to Lindsay Lohan than the TdF champ—in an interview with the Belgian magazine Knack.

Thing is, I’m not sure exactly what “changes of character” the newly-appointed RadioShack director was trying to curb. Contador hasn’t succumbed to periodic coke binges. No one’s remixing voicemails to his mistresses on YouTube. And he seems quite a good distance from anything resembling reality TV.

In fact, unless someone out there took special offense when the sharply dressed Spaniard excused Andy Schleck from the stage at the TdF presentation, I don’t think there’s anything you can point to that would indicate the Spaniard has handled his fame with anything but grace and aplomb—except maybe that atrocious hat.

Yes, you’d think Bruyneel would be in a better mood, given that he seems to have snatched away Garmin-Slipstream team “guru” and sometime Versus commentator Allen Lim. Lim, if you’ll recall, formerly worked with Phonak, helping Floyd Landis to his 15 minutes, before brand reinvention of sorts, guiding squeaky-clean Slipstream to better riding through starvation.

Then again, maybe Lim still hasn’t suitably explained this comment (via @SSBike), which seems to cast the oft-cited figure of 6.7 watts-per-kilo—repeatedly confirmed as the power output at lactate threshold attained by a certain Texan—as something that is unequivocally outside the range of human ability. That’ll put a kink in the spine of anyone building a business on Armstrong’s accomplishments.

At any rate, Brad Wiggins, one of Lim’s former charges at Garmin—at least until he isn’t—seems more or less unfazed by Lin’s departure. “I still think I’m a better rider than Lance“, the Brit recently told Cyclingnews, before putting some distance between himself and the quote on Twitter.

I’ve got to say that the spin corrections, meta commentary, and occasional drunken outbursts make Wiggins’ Twitter account one of the most interesting to follow—certainly a step up from Pistolero’s. Maybe that’s the behavior of Contador’s that the Twitter-happy Bruyneel has taken issue with.

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