Once upon a time just four years ago — we’re picking 2009 — Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel were considered by many the two most powerful men in pro cycling.
Throw in vindictive and corrupt hack Patrick McQuaid, the now deposed UCI president and the three big patrons of cycling are now kicked out of the sport.
Today in an interview with RTL, Bruyneel issued a pre-emptive statement before his December 16th arbitration hearing, saying he was “pretty much done with cycling.” Bruyneel has a book in the works entitled Poker Face and apparently decided he didn’t like the Vegas odds on winning his case.
That was a massive “duh” and really, what family man wants to be dragged through the mud and used syringes and bloodied cotton balls right before Christmas? The legal hearings cut into the holiday shopping and the kids just don’t want to hear about bad daddy. No holiday cheer when you’re forced to listen to a long list of dirty deeds and personality flaws.
How the mighty have fallen off the map. Lance Armstrong and his army of $1000 an hour lawyers are fighting off tens of millions in lawsuits and scheming how to get his lifetime ban can be reduced. (Sadly, that means he has to meet with the man he hates, USADA CEO Travis Tygart.) That Lance still hasn’t figured this out is another sign in a million that his ego constantly gets in the way of redemption. As Lance-killer David Walsh has said, Armstrong is a smart guy but lacks emotional intelligence.
Bruyneel, once self-described on his website as a “genius,” who at the height of his fame sold his own line of Bruyneel hats and t-shirts and gave high price leadership lectures all over the globe, will soon be barred from any involvement in cycling. That is an extreme shortage of paychecks.
The house of cards has collapsed including the one owned by the UCI in Aigle, Switzerland where former UCI president McQuaid used to issue his foot-in-mouth pronouncements. McQuaid, who always seemed like he issued soundbites with a whiskey glass in his hand, is all without a high profile job. New president Brain Cookson won the election, seized McQuaid’s computer files and fumigated the Irishman’s office.
Which brings us to the big question that Twisted Spoke has been pondering: now who’s the most powerful man in cycling? It sure ain’t Bjarne Riis, Patrick Lefevere or Chris Froome.
A year ago we might have said that on a purely visionary level, Garmin’s Jonathan Vaughters was the top guy. But the clean team suffered a PR meltdown when Ryder Hesjedal was outed for doping by Danish nut-ball Michael Rasmussen. His belated admission, coming after the confessions of Zabriskie, Vande Velde and Danielson, has Vaughters on the back foot. How he must prefer his Denver University MBA program to the slow-motion hari-kari of cycling.
Right now, in the aftermath of the USADA Reasoned Decision, the most powerful man in pro cycling might still be Travis Tygart.