Rigo to Cannondale-Garmin?
Reading the news that Cannondale-Garmin was perhaps planning to sign Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-Quickstep) and maybe even Pierre Rolland (Europcar), I had to ask myself, what’s going on? Is this a smart rebuild and reload move or some strange, misguided, grab-bag fail?
Because it sure feels grab-bag. Then again, maybe we’re just stuck on old associations that are no longer hold true and aren’t worth crying over. Teams change, rosters turn over, shit happens.
Still, the latest news feels like the end of the road in terms of style and personality. Garmin — because they will always be Garmin to me — had a unique personality. They were quirky, oddball, funny, loose, clean, a breathe of fresh air in the old school peloton.
The team was led with great wit and sartorial charm by Jonathan Vaughters. Their kit featured a freaky argyle pattern that set them apart. They had the cryptic and comedic Dave Zabriskie and once upon a time, the brilliant and hilarious Bradley Wiggins. Not to mention the immensely stylish David Millar and the spiritually well-read Tyler Farrar.
The team had a decidedly American flavor that fundamentally changed with the Italian marriage to the lovely Miss Cannondelli. Although Vaughters was quoted saying the merger would go more smoothy than the last shotgun affair with Cervelo, the rumors since speak to a team having a bit of trouble getting in sync.
It’s been an underwhelming year for the team. Ryder Hesjedal bombed on his Giro d’Italia though he was impressive in the final week. Dan Martin never seemed to get going and he and Andrew Talansky both had a disappointing Tour de France. Yes, the Pitbull almost cracked the top ten again but it felt like both guys were playing catchup most of the Tour.
That’s without even mentioning the Tom Danielson bust for synthetic testosterone. The clean team had their first doping positive and suddenly Cannonade-Garmin looked like any other squad with a win at all costs attitude.
All that speaks to a loss of identity and with Vaughters off in MBA land at Denver University, the perception might be that nobody is running the show, oversight switched off.
Now maybe all this is just inevitable transition with a few unavoidable hiccups. Then again, what’s the thinking with Uran and Rolland? Rolland is always near the top ten in a grand tour but never gets much higher and we wonder if he ever will. Uran is also a consistent performer in grand tours but is Cannondale-Garmin going to be better at getting him to the top podium step? Not sure we’re buying that one.
What’s the plan? Is this just a plug Uran into Giro with some help from Hesjedal? Is Pierre Rolland supposed to help Joe Dombrowski once the kid has the Vuelta — his first grand tour — in his legs? I dunno.
Dan Martin is headed out the door and the jury remains out on just how far Tolansky can climb in a grand tour. Crashes took him out two years ago in France and several off days in the first weeks of this year’s Tour put him out of contention.
This Uran-Rolland gambit feels like the NFL team that doesn’t have any high draft choices and very little cap space. So they bring in a few mid level veterans who may or may not have one last great season in them. Or more probably, not.
Cannondale-Garmin will now sport an Italian, French and Colombian style and the argyle diamonds are history. Just wondering where they’re headed.