Team manager Johan Bruyneel, how presiding over the merged Radio Shack and Leopard-Trek squads, has already made his first authoritarian move.
At the first team get-together in Francorchamps, Belgium, Bruyneel laid down the law: no scarves on the new RadioShack-Nissan formation.
“He made the announcement first thing in the morning,” said Maxime Monfort. “He said we must move forward and that the Leopard dress scarves were a sign of weakness.
According to a source at the hotel, director sportifs Alain Gallopin and Dirk Demol conducted a room by room search and confiscated five scarves.
“Andy was the real culprit — he had two scarves and Frank had one,” said Demol. “Johan was angry and spoke to the assembled riders immediately after the raid.
“He started yelling, ‘this is not how you win a grand tour, wearing scarves like a girl,'” said Monfort. “He tore one of the Louis Vuitton scarves up in front of Andy. Things got quite heated. Andy insisted it was simply a fashion accessory but Buyneel called it a failure of will — he said Andy needed to start dressing like a man.”
Bruyneel himself refused to comment on the scarf incident. “We had a conversation about goals for the season and there is only one: yellow in Paris,” said Buyneel. “I told the team that everything we say and do and even wear must support that goal.”
Noted sports psychologist David Cravat doesn’t disagree with Bruyneel’s approach. “Psychologically, a scarf is a noose around ones own neck, a hangman, an admission of guilt,”said Cravat. “Schleck is sending himself a subliminal message that he deserves to be punished.”
In addition to the offensive scarves, the room search also turned up several scented handkerchiefs, a silk kimono style robe, some fuzzy slippers and surprisingly, an extra large pair of woman’s lacy underwear.
“All this stuff went in the hotel dumpster,” said Demol. “I think Nygaard was a little soft with these guys and maybe that’s why they didn’t deliver the wins. Johan is not going to put up with that crap. Cancellara — he’s a tough guy, a hardman — but some of the others … well, that is a attitude we will change.”
According to one person in charge of hotel house keeping, Andy Schlecks’ two suitcases were given a thorough going through and several personal care products confiscated.
“That was Lance’s idea,” said Demol. “He suggested to Johan that the Schlecks needed to man up, not walk around smelling like fashion models.” The Texan is reportedly sending his personal fragrance coach to Luxembourg to work with the two brothers on developing a more overtly masculine scent.
“We are getting there, already we have made great progress,” said Bruyneel. “We are starting to look like a team that knows how to win the big races.”