The Hell of the North is hard on man and machine and as we learned this morning, hard on contract. Garmin-Cervelo’s Thor Hushovd will be negotiating his new contract during the Tour de France.
Unlike most deals, this won’t be the usual wrangling about financial support. Hushovd wants a big fat raise in terms of team support. The dirty lycra coming out in public: he’s not happy with team tactics, roles and results.
The surprise win in Paris-Roubaix by Johan Van Summeren was a huge boost in morale for Garmin-Cervelo but a personal disappointment for Hushovd. Now he’s casting a few stones about who is riding for who.
“In some cases it has been fine. But, yes, I wish I had more opportunities to go for the win. I still have a lot of big goals that I would like to achieve. I have no intention to end my career as an auxiliary rider,” said Hushovd. Auxiliary is the Norwegian definition for Van Summeren.
While head honcho Jonathan Vaughters has been preaching the team approach to winning from day one, Hushovd isn’t quite satisfied with how this plays out on the road in races like Roubaix.
“It was not determined enough. We were not concrete enough on how to work and who we were racing for in each race. I think there should be a clear strategy before the start, and none of that ‘the best rider on the day is the one we will race for.’ That only causes uncertainty,” Hushovd said.
Hushovd summed up his disappoint with an ominous statement: “In some cases, it has clearly not been good for me to be on this team.” This is sort of like the kid’s game Rock, Paper, Scissors and yes, paper contract does beat cobbstone.
This is how Thor Hushovd sounds on boil because he’s a classy rider, understated, professional, a leader for the team and the sport. So he’s got to be pretty unhappy with the classics super-team approach with Farrar, Haussler and now Van Summeren. He’s even stopped laughing at Vaughters’ jokes.
In terms of personal horror, we now know Thor’s particular form of Hell: wearing the rainbow jersey while sitting on wheels watching a lesser man win. That’s Dante’s Inferno, a true classic.
Paris-Roubaix has a storied history of destroying things: bikes and riders and dreams of victory. In this case, the queen of the classics may also have shredded a contract.