How much hair does Johan Bruyneel have left? After this mornings’ news that Jakob Fuglsang will not ride the Giro d’Italia because of a knee problem, Bruyneel must be yanking his hair out.
The RadioSHack-Nissan Trek boss had gone on record saying that Fuglsang had a good shot at a top five in the Giro and maybe a podium. Now team doctor Andreas Gösele has ruled out Fuglsang due to left knee inflammation.
It’s just the latest blow and bad luck for Bruyneel’s merged RadioShack and Leopard squads. Their top contender for the classics, Fabian Cancellara crashes in Flanders, snapping his collar bone in four places. Cobbled classics over for the new Shack.
In the Ardennes classics, the Brothers Schleck accomplish nothing and in the aftermath of a lousy performance in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Bruyneel blows his stack. In a rare bit of public criticism, he labels the team results a major disappointment.
Even more disruptive, there’s a argument with Andy Schleck over the decision to kick his long time mentor Kim Andersen out of the team car for the Tour de France. Perennial tour runner-up Schleck admits that his preparations for Le Tour are “behind schedule.” Bruyneel writes off the entire classics season and says it’s time to go back to square one. This from the man with nine Tour de France titles as team director. Square one = failure in his book.
You know things are bad when even the eternally optimistic Jens Voigt is sounding negative. “It’s been a tough start to the year for the team, and while I don’t like to complain, I really think we had a lot of bad luck,” said Voigt.
The arrival of May was supposed to be great news for RadioShack Nissan-Trek. It’s stage race time and the team is stacked with guys who know how to deliver wins. While the Schlecks had failed to produce anything, Bruyneel looked to Fuglsang to break the cycle of bad luck by putting on a show in the Giro. Even Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) had the Dane down as a top rival.)
“I am very disappointed,” said Fuglsang. “The Giro was my big objective for this year. Yesterday I had so much pain in the last 40K, I was just miserable.” Not as miserable as Johan Bruyneel, we’re guessing. If it wasn’t too late, he’s be calling old man Lance Armstrong and asking him to ride the Giro.
Cancellara crashed out, Schlecks missing and Fuglsang sidelined, Spring classics and Giro ruined. This is not what the super rich and super impatient Flavio Becca planned on when he brought Bruyneel in based on a lack of results at Leopard. It’s not what Bruyneel imagined when he looked at his high powered roster at the start of the season.
Who is going to get the RadioShack Nissan-Trek machine back in gear? The 40 year old bald guy, that’s who. Yup, the Giro hopes are gone and now the pressure falls on the ageless Chris Horner to deliver a victory in the Tour of California.
With main rival Levi Leipheimer still recovering from injuries, the odds of Horner winning went up significantly. Twisted Spoke doesn’t want to jinx one of our favorite riders but if Horner goes down, Bruyneel may finish the season just as bald as Chris.