Daniel Benson is the managing editor of cyclingnews.com, and he graciously allowed me to pester him with emails over an extended period of time, here is what transpired.
schmalz As the editor of a site that has a forum attached to it, have you ever posted something that hasn’t been described as "the worst piece of biased junk ever written"?
Benson You mean have I ever posted a story that didn’t generate opinion? Lots and lots, I’m sure.
I’m a bit of a ‘lurker’ when it comes to the CN forums and especially the Clinic. Any time I do have for the forums is spent talking to the great moderators we have in there.
Back to the question though, I’ve certainly seen comments relating to my own copy that have called me biased, and the like. As the editor I’m the first port of call for complaints. I remember one reader emailed in their reaction to the fact we were running an Ivan Basso blog back in 2009. ‘You don’t deserve to have kids’ was one line from the email. That’s probably true, but at the same time you get a pretty thick skin when it comes to reporting cycling. It’s a sport that people love and with passion comes divided and sometimes fierce opinions. You just have to shrug your shoulders at that sometimes. It’s always nice to have praise for your work, whether it’s from cycling fans or your colleagues but at the end of the day it’s all fleeting. On CN we write so many stories that the last one is quickly forgotten.
So to pick up on a story I wrote about Armstrong some time back, I had emails saying I was ‘a joke for going after him’ and then I’d receive another email saying ‘nice job’.
schmalz Well done, you redirected my question to a format more amenable to your bias—you sir are a master manipulator! I think you deserve many children.
It seems that the future of journalism will be online, but do you think that having direct and immediate input from readers is helpful? Does that reader feedback ever affect your take on a story?
Benson Ha, thanks. Now I feel bad for my future children Ivan and Elisa.
I still think that’s a really bold statement to make with regards to the future of the media. The landscape is certainly shifting but the generation or age of readers who prefer picking up a magazine is still immense. Example, if I ask my staff if they’d rather receive a copy of Procycling in the post or view it online, they’ll all pick the glossy format that drops through their letterbox (at a great rate too) once a month. And, some of the best writers, within sport at least, have a writing style that’s still designed and tailor-made to magazine, broadsheet style journalism. And long may that continue.
But of course, realism comes into play and as I said the landscape of journalism is changing, and print is dying—and you can look at twitter, facebook, blogs, niche of niche websites. That side of growth and development is fantastic and you’ve got to embrace part of that but at the same time journalism and readers aren’t one and the same. So lets say there’s a really controversial story doing the rounds in private circles: a guy or girl with a blog can pick that up, run the most superfluous story without out any fact checking or real insight but because it’s controversial it can be seen as hard hitting journalism (by some). They won’t get sued but that’s not journalism. So as much as you want to put faith in the people that bring you the news, you want that relationship to be mutual.
And I like reader feedback. I have a folder in outlook that has all the responses to our redesign from 2009. I kept them all and some (in fact most) of the feedback wasn’t pretty. You have to keep that with you though so you don’t make the same mistakes twice and secondly because they’ve taken the time to write to you, appreciate that! Sometimes when we’re about to change elements on the site I go in and look at the feedback.
Before I go off on even more of a tangent—user/reader feedback can honestly be very helpful. Sometimes forum users are the ones in the know, they know more than us sometimes. There’s maybe a perception that because we’re in the press and we see the riders all the time that we know more than we’re letting on. Okay, sometimes that is actually true, I know of one team boss who turned up drunk for a team presentation a year or two ago and it wasn’t reported, but at the same time we (the press) are sometimes one step behind the fans, the bloggers, the readers. And that’s why embracing the changing landscape of journalism is uber important.
schmalz Ivan and Elisa will be fine, but they will be a little jealous it when little Lance comes along.
Personally, I predict that certain publications will disappear or be radically changed. Printed newspapers, for example, cannot keep up with the internet as far as news goes, but I think longer form writing and reporting will stay strong (or get even stronger) in the world of "paper". I also predict that we will have some really great flying cars in about 3 years also, so take any of my predictions with a grain of salt.
Cycling News gets a lot of heat for translating and using other foreign publications as sources for stories, is there an official company stance on using other publications as sources?
Benson In a few years time we’ll all be holograms. That’s my prediction for the day.
Seriously though, it’s really tough out there for print publications and publishers. They’re forced to simply give away their content now online. For free. If you stand back and think about that it’s a pretty incredible situation.
Back to CN, do we really get that much ‘heat?’ I’ve seen a few comments but just a few. Our policy is that if there’s news out there to be had we either want to be first to it or post it as soon as we can. Often news is first in other countries and I don’t see any problems with us translating quotes from that and sourcing where it came from. We always source where we’ve got news from. At the end of the day we’re a service and between us two right here we can barely claim to know one single language, let alone 2, 3 or four, so our service lies in providing English-speaking cycling fans with the best news possible. If that comes from a story in Gazetta that’s fine, we’ll make sure that’s clear in the text. No news website out there provides solely original news, look at the BBC, The Post, etc, etc. We want to provide a complete service. I think our readers want that too.
There’s this myth that we’re this huge team too. I remember Tan Man talking to me at the Tour last year and he was really surprised by how small our team is, considering the amount of work we push through. That’s really flattering, actually. We’re a really small team but we all bust a gut for each other and work really hard. Too hard sometimes.
schmalz You do get heat for the translating, but mostly from internet people, who may or may not be holograms. I think you get the attention because you are the biggest cycling website in the world (you are, don’t be modest), and with that size comes a lot of attention. And you guys are disappointingly small, I was expecting legions of writers, but that’s not the case. Your office parties must be really lame.
How big is the pressure to be first to post on big stories? Is there any pressure at all?
Benson Our office parties can be hit and miss. Not like the good old days at Rodale, when it felt like any deed could be backed up with saying ‘I’ve got diplomatic immunity’. But they’re still good. Last year Future had one of guys from Massive Attack DJ for our xmas do. My, how the mighty have fallen.
Back to work: There’s pressure, yes, but I don’t know how you quantify that. We don’t set ourselves targets per month or have an office bell for when we break stories but there’s an ingrained philosophy within the team that being the first publication to break a story is important. We have steps we take for covering major races but it only comes together and works well when we communicate. We’re dotted all over the world so it’s imperative that the teams talks. Very rarely that slips—mainly because of me—but 95% of the time we’re spot on.
At the end of the day, there’s always big stories and the next one is just around the corner. So, for example, Velonews beat us to the Armstrong comeback news in 2008 and that had huge global exposure but we’ve given them a few back since then. The really big stories that involve the FDA, Hamilton and Landis, we’ll always struggle with simply because we don’t have the expertise, time or recourse that the WSJ or NT has.
You’re always going to miss the occasional story. There’s no point in getting shitty about that. You just have to think, okay where’s the reaction piece, what’s the next angle to take?
schmalz I’m sure you’re a hit with all the bartenders at your office parties (that’s an inside joke readers…).
I think the "first to post" thing really only lasts about 20 minutes. For example, we beat Velonews to the punch about the Armstrong comeback, but that was only because we had a mysterious source tip us off (who we still don’t know the identity of).
How much cloak and dagger goes on in your world? How much of what you hear can you write about? And, please tell me who the drunk DS is that you mentioned before…
Benson These off topic bits are part of the interview?? I just thought you were just buttering me up.
So here’s an example… the 2008 Tour has finished and there’s a buzz that a number of Saxo Bank and HTC riders were going to get popped for CERA. It never happened and was barely touched on but there were a lot of names being thrown around at the time. You hear a lot of info about riders in transfer talks as well. So for example, Riis trying to negotiate with a Sky rider during the Worlds in Copenhagen at the back of a nightclub. That may or may not be true but I choose to believe it is.
But you do hear a lot of information that you can’t use. Whether it’s extra information a source has given you or simply things you choose not to print because the information supplied hasn’t got anything to do with the sport cycling.
Joking aside, there are doping cases still in the pipeline that you get wind of but you can’t immediately run. An example being a former Fly-V rider that was busted last year. That was an ongoing piece that I couldn’t print right away but in the end it all came out. Our Australian Editor Jane, who you’ve met, spent a lot of time uncovering stories about Fly-V and Pegasus too. That took a lot of time and effort.
schmalz It must be a bit maddening for you to have sift through all the innuendo stuff (how would you prove Bjarne tried to negotiate in a night club? Maybe he was just asking the rider in question to teach him how to Dougie…), you covered other sports (I think)—are they as full of rumors as cycling is?
Benson I worked at Runner’s World but we barely touched international sport there. Bjarne invented the dougie.
schmalz OK, since you are the most powerful man in internet bike race reporting (shut up, you know you are), you had contact with many racers. Personally, I think it’s rare to find a racer that is interesting, and that’s fine, they are paid to race bikes, not to be good copy. Was there any particular racer you had a really hard time talking to?
Benson Mainly because I’ve messed something up. For two year’s running I went up to Monfort and asked him how pleased he was to be the top French rider at the Tour de France during the race. The first year there was a long pause before he looked at me and said ‘I’m Belgian’. I think the second year he just looked at me and asked ‘what’s wrong with you?’ Saying that, he’s really polite, friendly and helpful. And most pros are, I should add. It’s rare that they can be difficult or hard to talk to and they’re like all of us—they have bad moods, they have ideas about certain journalists and they don’t like to be messed around. I mean, just imagine how many times Cavendish is asked the same question, how many times he has to repeat himself. Yes, he’s paid a substantial salary but that’s because he’s the best in the world at what he does, but he’s still just one of us essentially and everyone has their levels of tolerance.
It’s sometimes about timing too. I remember a stage of the 2009 Tour when Wiggins lost a few seconds to Armstrong, Frank Schleck won the stage. I was the only journo to wait for Wiggins at the finish and I was sprinting in order to get a quote from him. He was just freewheeling to the bus I asked him about the stage and he just ignored me. I asked him again and all he would say was ‘I don’t know, you watched it on TV’. That was it. Fast forward a few months later and I had 25 minutes with him at the team camp and he was friendly, interesting and insightful. You just have to accept that sometimes riders aren’t going to make your job easier. But that’s what makes athletes so fascinating to talk to, isn’t it? The fact that you can ask them a question and you don’t know what you’ll get back. I don’t bear any grudges when I’m talking to a rider and even if a rider hasn’t been great or has remained silent in one instance, I’ll always try again another day.
There are riders that just won’t talk though and there’s no point in naming them. There’s a rider who refused to shake my hand once—fair enough I guess, I do look like a hobo.
schmalz I would like to have Ted King at every race, just so I could read what he had to say about the race afterwards, but I think he’s the rare racer who writes well. How do you go about finding riders to write journals for cyclingnews? And how do you deal with them after they’ve lost interest in writing their journals in about April or so?
Benson Ah, you asked me about riders who had been difficult, not riders who I enjoy interviewing. Same Tour in 2009 and Vande Velde has lost major time on a mountain stage. Some riders would be so pissed they go to the team bus, shut the door and you don’t hear from them again—and again fair enough to them. But this guy goes into the bus, has questions fired at him from the door and says, ‘can I just get a coke first and then I’ll come out?’ he then just sits down and gives us 10 mins. The press are just there to do a job, get quotes and stories and file them asap. Times like that make it so much easier.
With our journals, or blogs as we like to call them, we pick based on a number of elements. We have strong audiences in the US, Australia and the UK, so chances are some of the writers will come from there. Secondly, we ask riders who we think will entertain our readers. I know what you’re saying about the motivational elements. So we try and select riders based on races. For example, Rogers during the 2010 Tour, Haussler during the Classics, Pinotti during the Giro. There are some longstanding bloggers like Rory and some very good ones from our MTB coverage and we’re really grateful to all of them for the effort they put in. Sitting down after a race which you’ve probably not won, and have probably had your arse kicked in, and then having to write about it for a global audience isn’t exactly easy.
schmalz I just assumed that everyone already knew that VDV was dreamy. It must be hard to continually find interesting things to say throughout a three week tour, it gets monotonous just watching them sometimes, not to mention trying to write a journal after a 6 hours day on the bike. I would like to see a Vino blog though, just to read what goes on in his mind. I wonder if he has delusions of grandeur or if there’s just a constant white noise like a TV tuned to the wrong channel.
Benson A Vino blog? I’m not sure how that would play out. I’d like Hondo or Kloden to write. Hondo simply because he seems like a true character. Within the press, well between me and one other journalist, Hondo is the training camp specialist. There was a time in 2009/10 and he seemed to be at every camp we turned up at, always smiling, always tanned, always covered in bling. It was almost as if he was peaking for training camps. Maybe he likes the food.
Then in 2011 at the training camp haven that is Mallorca it became somewhat of a Fight Club pastiche. We moved from camp to camp on the look out for Hondo, from Sky, Lotto, Leopard, it was as if he was one step ahead. Then we bumped into Holm outside the HTC hotel one morning. ‘Oh you missed him, he went home this morning.’ I looked up into the sky and saw this plane go by. I’d like to think he was sitting up there looking down at us and smiling.
Next year Danilo, next year.
schmalz I think it’s smart that Hondo peaks for training camps, it’s too bad he wasn’t on Leopard for the scarf show. I think team presentations are some of the strangest events I have ever seen.
Kloden doesn’t strike me as that compelling, but you get Kroon a blog and now you’re talking!
Benson I’ve only been in the sport for a few years so I wasn’t around for team presentations like Le Groupment in 1995 but they’re certainly special.
For me, Kloden, if you just take his racing brain and knowledge about racing and how to read a bike race, is up there with some of the best. I can’t imagine him working in the German media when he finishes the sport though…
schmalz Yeah, that’s not going to happen. So when cyclingnews finally ventures in live TV coverage (or just has people talking over the live TV feed like everyone else), who would you have on the coverage team?
Benson If I could pick any team? That’s a great question.
In the studio: Kelly, Harmon and Daniel Lloyd.
Interviewing riders: Frankie and Betsy. â€¨And Gary Imlach simply because I grew up enjoying his coverage. He’s still the best.
schmalz How long would the roadside segments last before someone took a swing at Betsy? I think Creed has a future in broadcasting, but he is really weird looking.
Benson You mean how long before BETSY took a swing at someone, right?
schmalz True, those skinny guys don’t stand a chance. What’s the subject or individual that generally causes the most reaction on the site? If you were to try and write the perfect story to blow up the internet, what would it be about?
Benson That’s a difficult one to answer. If you want a story that’s going to traffic well then you essentially want images of Contador and Riis skydiving—like we had last month. It’s that simply. Stories like that are the ‘shit small races’ of journalism as Cav would say because they’re wins and they don’t constitute that much work. But in terms of a story that you know will get picked up by other sources, then it has to revolve around a key personality, like Landis, Armstrong, Contador and it has to be exclusive. Then in order for it to generate further publicity with the mainstream media it invariably needs to be around the subject of doping. Depressing in some ways. The perfect story that combines all of that is perhaps a rider going to jail on drug charges and then having a gallery of images of Riis and Contador parachuting in and organising a prison break. This is cycling, stranger things have happened.
schmalz Speaking of strange things happening, what’s your take on the internet’s citizen-journalists? And be kind, I kind of consider myself one of those…
Benson We touched on that before. There are great writers out there doing great things. Inner Ring is a good example of that, you and Andy, the Overlord and his crew and CFA. I guess some editors feel as though it’s a threat and I know some freelancers can certainly think that way but at the end of the day people are out there doing their thing and the cream is always going to rise to the top. I don’t think there’s a threat or competition in that, just different perspectives. Are fans going to go to your site for comprehensive news? Are they going to come to CN for Toto or the New York bike scene? I’d like to think they’d check both sites out.
And on CN we’ve worked with Inner Ring. Last year at the Tour he provided us with a blog, which was very popular on our site. Like I said before, being first to news is important but you can’t guarantee that 100 per cent of the time so you have to think about a bigger picture—embrace what else is out there and work with it.
schmalz I know we talked about that before, I was just fishing for a compliment. No one comes to our site for news, they come to call us terrible terrible names. It’s very odd, we get killed on the comments section of our site—yet people on twitter seems to like us.
And Cyclingnews should totally buy us—how do we get that deal done?
Benson Are you sure you want that? We’d make everything on the site purple.
schmalz You can turn us any color you want, but no argyle.
schmalz We’re not sell outs if no one is buying…
Benson That’s the perfect strap line to go under your logo.
schmalz Are we done? I haven’t even asked who’s on drugs or whether Pat McQuaid is going to be the head of nothing next year…
schmalz That was the question: who’s on drugs and what are the chances of a breakaway league happening?
Benson The breakaway league… As far as I’m aware there are two options on the table—literally—a Belgian consortium called Cycling 2012 and then the Gifted Group/Rothschild posse. Gifted appear to be the stronger of the two but from what I understand they need a number of signatures from top level teams in order to trigger movement and investment. I think the number is 14 and that’s 14 World Tour teams, so Skil, Team Type 1, even if they were interested, aren’t eligible. Again, from what I’ve been told they’re not at 14 yet.
Will all of it happen? One of the men leading this is a former head of G14, a consortium of rich soccer clubs that moved against FIFA. That movement ultimately disbanded but they did force a number of concessions from their sport’s governing body over a number of years. I can certainly envisage something similar in cycling but I don’t know enough about the league to say yes or no.
There’s certainly activity that’s going on in the background and based on what’s been reported, the press probably only know a fraction of what’s going on. What interesting is that Vaughters who is normally quite vocal on the government of the sport, has remained tight-lipped on all this for a number of months. We’ve seen Bruyneel and few others talk publicly about a breakaway but Vaughters has said nothing. My guess is that he’s waiting for something to happen.
schmalz Is the notion of a breakaway league just simply a rejection of the way the UCI is currently running things?
Benson The breakaway league from what I understand is a reaction from a number of teams, supported by financial backers who have had enough of the current system. They seem tired and frustrated by the restraints, government and rules slapped on them by the UCI.
They’re calling, at least publicly, for more structure so that they can safeguard their investment. What this all revolves around though is money and power. Both sides will claim to be safeguarding the sport but that simply isn’t possible as they’re both poles apart in terms of plan and scope. For all the faults people have levelled at the UCI there’s a lot of work they do behind the scenes that doesn’t generate headlines, that isn’t even that bloody interesting, but it keep wheels turning.
You’re going to ask me about Pat and the UCI aren’t you?
schmalz Yes, I am. What kind of job do you think they are doing?
Benson That depends on what element you’re focussing on. If you want to talk about anti-doping then you have to look at recent WADA comments about the passport being a useful tool and part of the fabric of the fight against anti doping. Go look at other sports like football, soccer rugby and you’ll find athletes testing positive and competing within a number of weeks, or weak lame excuses accepted by governing bodies and national federations and then not acted upon by the governing body. I can’t think of a sport where anti doping is put under more of a microscope. Now, of course that’s not all driven by the UCI but I believe they have taken steps in the right direction. Some of them they had to take, some of them they didn’t but fuck me if this sport isn’t a minefield where you’re not just dodging the next explosion but the hundreds of skeletons along the way.
And globalising the sport, well there’s nothing wrong with that in principle. The more people we have on bikes whether it’s through sport, commuting, or just public health, that’s a win. No one that loves the bike can turn their nose up that. How you get to that point that’s the hard part and you’re never going to get there by pleasing everyone you meet or come into contact with. But this year we had a major bike race, with some of the best athletes in the world competing in China. Would we have had that 8 years ago? no chance, and sure, there weren’t many spectators, and sure the race was over by the end of stage 1 but hell, it’s a start and it’s a promising one. Don’t you and everyone else want cycling to be a global sport, where sponsors come in, invest in talent, invest in the future and grow our sport? Races like Beijing can potentially help with that but the hard work starts here, it’s not just about setting up a race. The UCI, for all their stumbles, their miss-judged comments, and their murky past are trying to do good things.
I met Rumpft earlier this year and I spent a couple of hours with him. He’s seen it all, he’s been with the UCI for many years, but talking to him, seeing how convinced he was over a number of subjects, that gave me some faith that the governing body are progressing.
They can always do more. The lack of testing at the TOC this year, when they had a chance of letting USADA do the leg work, the handling of the Contador case, the structure of the transfer and licensing commission—they’re all good examples where more needs to be done.
schmalz I think that globalization is a good idea, we could even someday have cycling in the American South! But I’m not sure whether the UCI is pushing for globalization for the betterment of cycling or for the betterment of the UCI, which may not be the same thing necessarily…
Benson I see what you’re saying. GCP is a revenue stream for the UCI. They’ve never hidden that fact and Rumft and co share offices with the governing body so there’s that too. But they incur costs for testing and case law with the likes of Pelizotti, Contador etc. Maybe they get the legal fees paid when they win cases, that’s worth finding out actually.
Five years ago you didn’t have passport programme though, and that takes cash, and that needs to come from somewhere. The teams, they pay for a certain amount of their testing but after that it all falls on the UCI.
The betterment of cycling… you can debate on that until the steaks come home. I mean, is reporting on doping good for the sport? There are those out there that would argue it isn’t. There really are!
schmalz I think we can all agree on one thing—reporters are bad people.
There’s a lot of people in cycling, like Lance Armstrong and Jonathan Vaughters, that are taking their message directly to the people via Twitter, how does this affect your reporting? And what do you think of JV actively engaging with people on Twitter?
Benson They really are.
Twitter has been great for reporting. It’s another tool we can use to get information, a base around which stories can be built. Sometimes a personality or athlete (not sure you can be the both) can and will say a lot more on Twitter than they would to a journalist. That’s quite interesting when you consider tweets are only 140 characters long. Then again, maybe I’m just asking the wrong questions.
And yes, you can run a pretty strong campaign on Twitter, hell you can be anyone you want on the internet.
I check Armstrong’s feed a bit but as I’m blocked his tweets don’t come up in my feed. He rarely tweets about cycling now so there’s not much point to following him anyhow. As for JV, I think it’s great that someone in his position takes the time to get onto social media and talk to the fans. Sometimes he’s right, sometimes he’s wrong, but the fact he’s out there, communicating is a good thing. The problem is, the one time he doesn’t converse he’s called an asshole or if he doesn’t give you the answer you’re looking for it’s easy to say he’s hiding something. That’s for us, the followers, to make their own minds up on but at the end of the day he should be commended for taking time to talk to fans. I can imagine that it’s hard to move away from though, once you start engaging like that it really pulls you in.
schmalz Well, you don’t want to lose an argument to @cat_snuggler1042, that would be embarrassing. I agree that JV’s tweets are interesting, but others are just PR astroturfing (a term which means "fake grassroots", get it?), and yes I am talking about #reddetails. Have you ever got in Twitter trouble?
Benson Yeah, you have to look out for @cat_snuggler1042. I don’t think I’ve been in trouble on twitter. But… a while back when I talking to friend he said that if you associate yourself with certain people or crowds on Twitter then that might lead to problems in the future, that riders might perceive you differently. That’s possibly true but I don’t give it too much thought. I doubt the fact I follow Lauren Conrad and a few bloggers really makes any real difference. I try and hold things in when I’m tweeting too because if you’re not going to say something to someone’s face then don’t bother saying it. There were a couple of times when I’ve taken offence to people slamming CN. In those cases I’ve either sent them an email or given them a call. There was one time when a rider tweeted something about standards of writing and it was a dig at us. I sent out “Apparently our spelling isn’t up to scratch. So I organised a spelling bee at work. The word we all aced was corticosteroid.”
schmalz Is this your way of saying you’re unfollowing us?
Benson You’ve got far too much dirt on me. I wouldn’t dare.
schmalz That’s very true, never forget that. I feel that we should finally talk some racing, who’s going to surprise us this year?
Benson I’m terrible with predictions. But I really like watching the riders who have something to prove, guys who’ve maybe not fulfilled their potential, had a bad year for whatever reason or our coming back from injury. When it comes to sport, not just cycling, I’ll always root for an underdog.
So, I’m going to go with Roman Kreuziger. He wasn’t bad last year he just didn’t have the Giro some were expecting of him. A lot of people forget how young he still is and compare him to Nibali. Watch out for Siutsou at Sky too. He was 10th in the Giro this year.
As for the one day side of things: Lars Bak for Paris Roubaix. He was 21st in 2010 and then 5th this year. There’s a massive difference between 5th and 1st but if you’re looking for an outsider, then he’s a good bet. He’s 31 too, so he’s at his peak. He’s on a new team but if he can adjust to the new surroundings and ride his luck a bit then he can pull something special off. Watch out for Sep Vanmarcke too. He’s come from no where and was one of Garmin’s best riders in the classics last year.
And I’m really interested to see what Renshaw can do at Rabobank. He’s made a bold move and has gone out of his comfort zone. A lot of people know him as just a leadout man but he’s one of the smartest racers in the bunch as well.
If you’re looking for an American then Horner’s year will be fascinating to follow.
schmalz What do you think of Marcel Kittel’s chances this year?
Benson Well, while Skil aren’t WorldTour it’s possible that they’ll get invites to at least two grand tours. With that in mind Kittel may find himself racing fewer smaller races and therefore have more head-to-heads with the likes of Cav and Petacchi. Essentially he could be about to swap the quantity of wins for higher quality. Skill know that if they’d started 2011 with the roster they have now they’d have enough points to be WorldTour and it’s only an error in the rules as to why they couldn’t appear in front of the UCI Licensing Commission, for them it’s going to be about cementing their place in the rankings so they’ll need Kittel and Degenklob to still snaffle up enough points while also taking on Cav and co.
schmalz Well, I do find it more realistic that Kittle wins the green jersey than Petacchi does (even if Skil doesn’t make the Tour, his chances are better). How’s this whole Contador thing going to turn out? Is Andy going to have a 2010 Tour victory party soon?
Benson Hard to say. I spoke to one of the individuals called for evidence and they basically said that if the letter of the law is applied then Contador should and will be banned for two years. It’s not like they can now test that beef sample, it’s gone.
I think the general cycling community have been badly affected by the whole story. It’s one thing having a Tour champion test positive but to see the episode drag on for over a year, from postponement to postponement and race to race is disappointing. Everyone wants justice and a proper resolution but what we have now and what’s taken place since Contador’s positive was announced has harmed the sport.