A bike race is a war.
This is the Kazaks versus the Texan and the Belgian. The latest and perhaps final round goes to the Kazaks. This may be checkmate.
First, it was Armstrong and Bruyneel stripping the Astana roster clean like ghetto boys taking a BMW apart in the projects. Round one, Radio Shack, big time.
But you don’t mess with the Kazaks. Especially not the volatile and vindictive Nicholai Proskurin, president of the Kazak Cycling Federation. It was he who fired back a strong message to the Texan, sending a paramilitary unit deep into Austin to break into Radio Shack headquarters and steal a $10,000 Livestrong time trial bike. That was bold and bad ass. It was like the decapitated horse head in the mafioso bed. The message was crystal: enough is enough. Round two, Kazaks.
Suddenly, it was round three and the gloves were off. Clearly ticked and fighting mad, Bruyneel played hard ball behind the scenes to sabotage Astana’s bid for a renewal on their UCI license. Proskurin was furious, working the press, frothing with rage, accusing the Belgian of manipulating the process. The Radio Shack saboteurs were trying to destabilize an already shaky team. Score another round for The Shack.
But then the Kazaks went full bore, scorched earth. French police already had some suspicious “transfusion kits” they’d fished out of the trash during the ’09 Tour De France. There were DNA fingerprints for seven Astana riders on the illegal merchandise. So Proskurin makes a few phone calls, reveals some damaging facts and suddenly seven riders are in deep doping doo-doo.
The casual cycling fan says, uh-oh, Astana’s in big trouble. Just the opposite — who do you think those riders work for now? Radio Shack. The evil Kazak Proskurin is taking Radio Shack down and it’s a chess master move. His thinking: They took our riders and now we destroy those riders. This is the kind of brutal logic and guerilla tactics that wiped out the U.S. in Vietnam and Iraq.
Suddenly, it’s Radio Shack with the weaker roster, the team barred from the 2010 Tour de France and Alberto Contador and Alexander Vinokourov taking first and second place.
Think Twisted Spoke is crazy? Think again.