First, the hard news. Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong have signed old buddy Viatcheslav Ekimovas as a director sportif for Radio Shack. Okay, now some amusing background.
Lance Loves Eki. Doesn’t that sound like the name of a great teen movie, the kind John Hughes, director of the Breakfast Club, would do? Yes, Lance has always loved Eki, although let’s cut the hyperbole and go with “greatly admired.” Lance has tremendous respect for the Russian rider because he is the consummate professional.
The stories claim Eki has meticulous training logs that go back to the Russian revolution. Sample entry: Thursday, Oct 16, intervals at Winter Palace. HR 180. Rasputin waved at me — strange guy.”
Armstrong loves the Russian and Belgian hard men that take orders, ride hard, tell dirty jokes and never complain. Eki is a jump-on-the-grenade kinda guy. A man you want in your foxhole when the word comes over the radio: “boys, we’re taking Alpe d’Huez. Kill any Saxo riders you see.”
Eki and Lance have been through thick and thin and a lot of yellow. He finished 15 Tour de France. He’s won a gold and silver medal in the Olympics. And Eki spelled backward is just the letter A short of IKEA, the Scandinavian furniture chain, a fact that may not actually be relevant.
But all that mumbo-jumbo wiki aside, the most memorable story Twisted Spoke ever heard about Ekimov was his fixation with Baja Fresh, the Mexican food chain. Apparently, their burritos were an integral part of his training regime and recovery process.
We’ll leave the rest of the storytelling to Mr. Armstrong: “He came back every day from training, I was like, where’s Eki? Oh, he’s down at Baja Fresh. Baja Fresh is this Mexican place. Every day, he would go to Baja Fresh. I’d come back. Where’s Eki? Oh, he’s down at Baja Fresh. Gone. Baja Fresh. The same place, every day.”
Eki is back in the land of Radio Shack and Baja Fresh. Happy training, fellas. Eki’s bringing the food.