“I can’t say I know why he’s not on top of his game.”
That was Jonathan Vaughters talking outside the Garmin team bus after a disappointing Tour of Flanders. The rider he was talking about was his biggest acquisition in the Cervelo merger, the man in the rainbow jersey, Thor Hushovd.
“I don’t know why he’s not on top of his game” isn’t exactly a vote of confidence. It’s not a lashing Patrick Lefevere critique or Andre Tchmil dumping on Filippo Pozzato but it raises some issues.
Is Vaughters questioning his rider’s preparation, training program or motivation? Is there a breakdown in communication between the two? Is Vaughters disappointed in Hushovd, underwhelmed or miffed?
Perhaps Vaughters is getting a little testy and irritated by a lack of results and feels like he needs to light a fire under some guys. Maybe Vaughters decided that the thoughtful encouragement and witty banter weren’t motivating the boys anymore.
All Twisted Spoke can say is that Vaughters sure sounded let down by his team’s performance with the notable exception of Tyler Farrar. It’s April, classics time, Paris-Roubaix a week away and the boss says “None of our guys have been 100% on top of their game.”
The video interview with Vaughters was pretty revealing. Watch his facial expression, the shrug of the shoulders, the tone in his voice as he says, “When you have two riders and one says he doesn’t have it, what can you do? All you can do is sit in and hope for the best.”
That was World Champion Thor Hushovd he was talking about. Didn’t have it in the Tour of Flanders. Vaughters is not the kind of guy who likes to just sit and hope. We’re not suggesting there’s a sudden riff between the Norwegian and Vaughters but there’s no question that the arygle boss is displeased.
Things better improve at Paris-Roubaix or Vaughters is going to escalate.