We asked the studious question: wassup at Liquigas-Cannondale? One news story and one surprising omission caught our eye this morning and they both fell under the corporate heading “short-sighted.”
First, Velonation reports that star stage racer Vincenzo Nibali and team management disagree on the race program for the Worlds and Olympics. Nibali prefers to ride the Vuelta — which he won in 2010 — but management including their American Cannondale bike sponsor — prefer that he race in the United States at the Tour of Utah and US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado.
The team is taking the same hard-nosed approach that they took with Nibali’s recent contract negotiations: a cycling version of “my way of the highway, we made our offer, take it or leave it.” (With the BMC Racing National Bank and Astana reportedly offering the Italian 2.5 million, the low ball 1.8 from Liquigas isn’t that attractive.)
The irreconcilable difference is clear when you read these two quotes: Nibali — “What I never liked at Liquigas is that the view the rider has of his program never counts for much.” Liquigas — “Vincenzo should not complain.”
We watched Nibali up close at the Tour of California as he performed his “obligations” in the states. While pre-race jabber had him as a strong contender for the overall, Nibali did absolutely jack. He turned in a sub par time trial in Bakersfield and on the queen stage up Mount Baldy he rolled in 43rd almost 15 minutes behind winner Robert Gesink of Rabobank. Lime green yet invisible.
In short, if that’s the kind of performance Nibali turns in when he’d rather be somewhere else, then Liquigas-Cannondale should have him ride the Vuelta instead of soft-pedaling through Colorado. If the sponsors want attention, bring the popular Ivan Basso to the states instead of having him grimace his way around France.
The second item we filed under short sighted is the fact that there’s no mention on the Liquigas Cannondale cycling team website about Timmy Duggan winning the USA Cycling Professional Road National Championship. That’s a shocking admission, bad marketing and just plain clueless. In fact, the last “news” on the website is the Giro rest day thoughts of Ivan Basso about ten days ago. This from a team that is telling Nibali about the importance of their US sponsors.
You’d think that bike sponsor Cannondale would be all over the Duggan news: loyal domestique from Boulder, Colorado pulls off magical ride, wins race in solo breakaway and slips on the stars and stripes jersey. But while Peter Sagan and his five stage wins in the Tour of California get the full Cannondale home page photo treatment, Duggan’s win merits two paragraphs and doesn’t even include a photo.
When you compare Cannondale’s “race wins” marketing to rivals like Specialized and Trek, you have to wonder. When you compare the media savvy of Garmin-Barracuda and RadioShack Nissan Trek with the folks running Liquigas-Cannonsale, you have to wonder again.