One more reason Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis remains ticked off about the Brothers Schleck stealing his team: the bib shorts theft.
Today the Luxembourg Mystery Cycling Project announced that the team will be wearing gear by Craft Performance apparel. The Swedish company will be dressing them for the race and apres-race, both technical and casual wear.
Bjarne Riss must have steam coming out his ears. You see, Saxo Bank and Craft worked together all last year developing this line of cycling apparel. But when Andy Schleck and brother Frank said adios in Danish they also swiped the Craft gear. Not only did they raid the Saxo roster, they emptied the closets, too.
Twisted Spoke has read occasionally that Riis takes these betrayals personally. He’s apparently still angry about Cervelo leaving a few years back and taking the bikes they developed together -emphasis on the they part. Riis probably feels he helped launched that bike brand.
You have to feel for Riis and wonder what the hell really happened. You lose a big name rider or two, that’s the business. You lose the majority of your top riders and something personal happened. When a disgusted Johan Bruyneel gave the Astana Kazaks the finger and took the entire Tour de France roster (minus Alberto) to Radio Shack, at least he left some bib shorts behind.
Not team manager Brian Nygaard. “We see this as a key component in the successful development of our project,” said Nygaard. Yup, meanwhile Saxo has to scrounge around for something nice to wear and comes up with a company called BodyFit.
It’s deja vu all over again. Riis must feel that once again he helped along the innovations in the Craft line only to lose out to those two skinny kids from Luxembourg. For Riis, the word is Luxem-burglar.
This is a story we’ve seen several times this year. Just this last month Pearl Izumi announced they’re suing Slipstream Sports, the company behind Garmin-Cervelo, for failing to return their proprietary skin-suits. The basic counter argument from Slipstream: we’re just as responsible for developing and testing this technology so we’re keeping the stuff.
The extra bad news for Pearl Izumi is that the skin-suits are now apparently in the hands of Garmin-Cervelo’s new apparel sponsor and Pearl rival Castelli.
Jonathan Vaughters has been outspoken in saying the rider transfer system must be improved to protect teams. What about safeguards for sponsors who hand over their most expensive and heavily patented products?
In any case, the Luxembourg Mystery Project puts down another piece to the puzzle. They have a Craft jersey — now they just need a sponsor logo on it.