Johan Bruyneel threw out a smokescreen the other day in talking about the possibility of Andy Schleck riding both the Giro and the Tour.
Not only did he offer it as a distinct possibility but he also stated that should the Luxembourger ride in Italy, it wouldn’t be for second place.
“If it is decided (that the Giro is possible), it will be for the win,” he told L’Equipe. “It will not be incompatible with the Tour. We seem to forget that in 2011, the Giro was extremely hard, which is not the case in 2012.”
Thus, Bruyneel jumped into the off-season debate about Schleck the Younger giving up on the time-trial heavy 2012 Tour and trying to win his first grand tour over in Italy.
Not surprisingly, a good number of famous Italian riders thought that was a terrific idea. Francesco Moser, Felice Gimondi, Giuseppe Saronni, Paolo Savoldelli, Gianni Bugno and Gilberto Simoni all said great idea, yeah, dump the Tour and win the Giro.
Then non-Italian Sean Kelley jumped into the fray and said that was nonsense. “I would say the Tour is the one he wants to go for. I don’t think anyone is going to say, ‘ah, I won’t bother doing the Tour, I will do the Tour of Italy,’ he said. “I think he will be keen to do the Tour de France, and that is what he will be preparing and focussing for.” Keen is right and Kelly is right.
Andy Schleck will ride the 2012 Tour de France to win and will skip the Giro and the reason has very little to do with the skinny climber.
The fact is, this call is driven primarily by Johan Bruyneel’s huge ego. Cycling history will call judge him one of the greatest grand tour director sportifs of all time. He’s directed Armstrong and Contador to a total of eight Tour de France victories.
His ego demands that he show the world that he can win the tour with three different riders and he wants to prove how much smarter he is than the people who ran Leopard. They couldn’t get Andy to the top step but Bruyneel needs to show his immediate impact.
Remember, this is a man who is described on his own website as a “genius.”Whatever stupid fantasies people have about the Giro-Tour double, everybody from Ivan Basso to Cadel Evans to Alberto Contador knows that’s a dumb move.
Second, the Giro means little to Bruyneel. Sure, he pushed Paolo Savoldelli to a win in 2005 and he was in Italy when Armstrong did his “ride-it-one-time-before-I-retire Giro. It’s a grand tour but compared to the prestige of the great and grandiose Tour de France, a Giro is a booby prize. Bruyneel doesn’t do second best.
Like Lance Armstrong, Bruyneel knows that the Tour is all that really matters in the eyes of the world. He has major American sponsors in Nissan, Radio Shack and Trek. For the majority of cycling fans in the United States, the Tour de France is king and everything else is low on the attention scale. A Giro win in Italy isn’t what the team sponsors have in mind.
Third, despite the 100 kilometers in time trialing, the 2012 Tour de France may yet be a good tour for Andy Schleck. There’s at least a 50-50 chance that the best rider and his constant nemesis won’t be there. In January (maybe) the Court for Arbitration in Sport will rule on Alberto Contador’s failed test for clenbuterol. That leaves the 35 year old Cadel Evans as his one true contender at this point.
Twisted Spoke says there’s a lot of noise and nonsense floating around about Andy Schleck and the Giro. Ain’t going to happen because all Johan Bruyneel cares about is the Tour de France.