The rift between RadioShack Nissan Trek manager Johan Bruyneel and star rider Andy Schleck has now become a rip.
According to least one imaginary witness, Bruyneel went to Schleck’s hotel room shortly after the rider had received his booby prize yellow jersey for the 2010 Tour de France and ripped the jersey to shreds.
“He was shouting at the top of his lungs that Schleck hadn’t won anything, Contador or no Contador,” said Felix Lechat, assistant manager at the Hotel Albert Premier. “Then he came out into the hallway and tried to light the jersey on fire. When he couldn’t, he started ripping it apart with his bare hands.”
Only hours before in a special ceremony, ASO had presented the jersey to Schleck as the new winner of the 2010 Tour after the Court for Arbitration in Sport had stripped Alberto Contador of his victory for the prohibited substance clenbuterol.
Relations between the bothers Schleck and Bruyneel have been rocky almost from the beginning and have become worse in recent weeks. Against Bruyneel’s wishes, Frank abandoned the Giro d’Italia due to injury. Andy had engaged in a ugly public disagreement with Bruyneel about the tour participation of his long time mentor Kim Anderson. A compromise was later reached with female rapper Lil’ Kim signing on to help guide Schleck to a win in Paris.
When contacted by journalists, ASO boss Christian Prudhomme was both surprised and upset. “That does not sound like Bruyneel — surely this is a bad joke,” said Prudhomme. “Nevertheless, we have hundreds of yellow jerseys here at the office. We can send him a few extras.”
A few new jerseys may not be enough to repair the damage done. Bruyneel has already stated that neither of the brothers are guaranteed a Tour de France start in Liege. According to the Belgian, only classic superstar Fabian Cancellara has earned a place on the tour squad.
Bruyneel has tried every tool and motivational trick to light a fire under Schleck but so far the returns have been disappointing. The attempt by Lance Armstrong’s personal fragrance consultant to develop an “uber-masculine” scent for Schleck was a failure. The same goes for the boxing lessons that Bruyneel forced on Schleck — that only lasted several rounds. Then in desperation, the team engaged the tough ass, street smart rapper Lil’ Kim in a final attempt to snap Schleck out of his comfort zone. The results have been mixed at best and rumors of Lil’ Kim’s departure grow louder.
The latest incident with the ripped jersey signals more difficulties for the RadioShack Nissan-Trek squad with the Tour de France now just a month away. It’s perhaps a disturbing irony that Schleck lost his 2010 Tour de France yellow jersey only a few hours after he received it.
“It is difficult to rip that jersey,” said Lechat. “Bruyneel tried tearing it with his hands but the seams are strong. So he had to use his teeth.”