That might be the greatest thing I have ever seen on the internet. Thank you!Libertine Seguros said:Or maybe it's that while the reinventing the wheel PR campaign may work well for fans new to the sport, bitten by the bug due to better reportage following national success, those who've been following the sport for many, many years have been sold the same lies by different salesmen several times over and resent being asked to swallow the same story that tasted like a slap to the mouth before. People don't like liars and cheats, but a lot of long-term fans of the sport have come to recognize that you've got to accept that that goes on in the sport. It's an elite sport after all. But what people really don't like is having their intelligence insulted, over and over again. And if people don't like being sold snake oil, they especially don't like that snake oil advert with the horrible music playing over every single advert break in every show they watch. Article upon article was foisted on us right from the word go about every single aspect of Sky, so they reached media saturation point for many fans long before they even started having real successes. A lot of really great stories were told back then. No doctors ever involved with cycling. Nobody who'd ever been involved in doping ever. They'd withdraw riders from races rather than get TUEs. They were going to be ultra-transparent. They were going to go about things with a higher moral standing than those dastardly other teams, so tied down to a past where people doped. They were going to bring high tech marginal gains to the sport and revolutionise it.
And what did we get? A doctor who's now banned for life. "Ferrari" Mick "Freiburg" Rogers riding as road captain. Michael Barry. Servais Knaven. TUE stories out in the open long before Fancy Bears (and come to think of it, if Froome was so sick he needed an emergency TUE for prednisolone which took him from "too sick to race without an emergency TUE" to "dominating win", why did Wiggins need the far less common kenacort for the same condition?) but then expanded upon afterward. I've seen obsidian more transparent than Team Sky. And what we learnt was, the only revolution that Sky really brought was the same one that Manchester City brought to football: do the same as everybody else that won before you, but use your financial clout to price them out of the game.
Now, it must also be said that Team Sky bought smartly, after a few mis-steps originally. Part of the reason they're where they are is that they did a better job of investing in talent than BMC and Katyusha, the other super budget teams. But the 6th biggest budget on the World Tour is half of Sky's, and that's only the declared budget, so not including the members of staff of British Cycling who are running errands and serving as subbies for Sky (such as Simon Cope, ostensibly a women's coach for British Cycling, but neglecting that duty for months at a time to motorpace Wiggins and run a courier service for the commercially sponsored pro team). But really, their revolution is to do what everybody else is doing (pushing the rules to their limits and sometimes beyond) but serving it with a warm layer of hypocrisy and smug self-satisfied PR that alienates fans further.
Then you have the transformations that fans have to swallow. Enough has been said about them. And then you have the circled-wagons web of connections that people were pointing out as far back as 2010 and that the parliamentary enquiry raised - too many fingers in the same pies, making accountability difficult and too many people invested in the continued success to actually go about challenging when lines are crossed. And lines have undoubtedly been crossed. You also have to think about how the fish rots from the head, and the public image that Dave Brailsford has cut. His line of corporate management-speak may sound impressive in an after dinner speech to a group of marketing execs, but when the chips are down, it doesn't inspire confidence. When he was put up against the politicians - people who are well-versed in the art of deflecting questions and refusing to give a straight answer - he was exposed as a charlatan, giving straight questions answers so meandering in direction that the organizers of the Amstel Gold Race used them as a route map.
Still, it's better than some of the responses he's given in the past. When he was challenged about Leinders in July 2012 (despite that Leinders' presence had been raising questions long before that, and considering he'd staked his public reputation on his 'attention to detail', that he had failed to recognize court documents explicitly naming the Belgian was a major faux-pas on his part. No, most fans weren't aware of Leinders' shady past either, but then they weren't the ones doing due diligence to make sure they didn't hire a doping doctor), he announced one of Team Sky's famous internal investigations (that hadn't quite become the by-word for comedy that they have now at that point) into how their policy of transparency had been so badly breached. After all the victories and Olympic fever had resided, however, Daniel Benson asked Brailsford how the investigation was going... Brailsford was so unprepared for somebody remembering that an investigation was supposed to be ongoing that he literally ran away from the question. It turns out that the investigation was a success though, because in the interest of transparency, the team quietly snuck Dr Geert out the back door just hours before the Reasoned Decision hit, and their bad news could be buried under an avalanche of US Postal's dirty laundry.
Those internal investigations are good, though. Like how they managed to explain away the suspicious jiffy bag package by explaining that Simon Cope was visiting Emma Pooley... an explanation which took all of five seconds to debunk just by looking at Pooley's profile on cqranking, dewielersite, cyclingfever or any other results aggregator, because she was wearing the leader's jersey at a major race in another country. And the investigation that turned up that Wiggins couldn't have been where he was claimed to be because he never returned to the bus, except for that video on youtube of him next to it. Maybe that was the kind of rigour they put into investigating whether their "no people involved in doping ever" policy was working - that would explain how riders like Barry, Rogers and de Jongh got through it. They may as well have signed Basso, I mean, he only ever "intended" to dope, right?
There's also a lot of on-road hypocrisy that rankles with people too. The smug, sanctimonious behaviour off the bike is part of why people don't like them, sure, but sport is theatre, and good villains are part of the game. People want to watch for entertainment, however, and when a high-powered, well-oiled race strangling machine takes control and puts a vice-like grip on the race, they don't find it very entertaining, which hurts the spectacle. But in addition to putting their power about to control racing, Sky also have a few moments of putting their weight about in less sanguine ways. You have the hypocrisy about when it is and isn't ok to wait for the leader - I've brought up Paris-Nice 2012 many times, when Movistar attacked on a descent and Wiggins and Thomas gave them hell in the press for not waiting for Levi Leipheimer, who wasn't even leading the race and who crashed because he couldn't keep up on a rainy descent. When Quick Step distanced a crashed Valverde later that month in Catalunya, the Spanish team had nothing to say. But when Sky, who had been so sanctimonious before, distanced a crashed Valverde in the Vuelta, while he was wearing the leader's jersey, they had a lot to say about it. There was no obligation on Sky to wait; racing was on and they had initiated the move that had led to it. But that it was the same team who had thrown a fit about Movistar not waiting even when it didn't concern them as it wasn't their rider getting distanced, it raised a lot of people's ire. There have been a surprisingly high amount of incidents happening to the race leader at races Sky have been leading, especially low on the slopes of final climbs, with the team being very aggressive in how they demonstrate their disapproval of those who do not heed the code and let Froome ride back on at his own pace to ensure he's fresh for later (take the somewhat inelegant bit of fighting for space between Froome and Aru in July). So, for a team with such a strong idea of morals (Wiggins also played the "superior British moral compass" card himself at times, if you want to get patriotic about it), it made sense that when one of their number was found to have racially abused a fellow professional, they sprung into action, pulling him from racing just a few days later, i.e. after the race he was already in was over, and suspending him for the duration of a scheduled rest period in which he wouldn't have been riding anyway. But hey, let's face it, we shouldn't really expect too much more from a team which trumps its moral code, yet whose team leader got his start in international cycling by committing identity theft.
They have done an impressive job of ret-conning Froome's story though. The "sand shoes" story is hilarious since Froome's own book disproves it, showing pictures of him in that very event wearing cycling shoes. They even managed to ret-con the inhaler despite the fact that the illness that demanded it wasn't mentioned once in his book that came out shortly beforehand - not that that should raise too many eyebrows, since despite having been cured of it, google yields no hits for "Froome + bilharzia" prior to the day he took the red jersey in the 2011 Vuelta. Not one person thought to mention it, including Froome himself, between the discovery of the illness and the discovery of the monster form that saw Chris the Destroyer emerge from his 2009-11 pupa into a beautiful butterfly (a yellow-coloured symbolic one, like in David Walsh's book). Unfortunately there's only so much that can be done, and for many fans they simply cannot unsee those years where Froome was such an irrelevance that he didn't even merit thinking about; sure that picture of him giving Greg Henderson a push has done the rounds, as has his planting it on San Luca in the Giro, but back then those weren't really significant; it was just a random domestique giving his bike to the team's preferred stage-hunting option, and a guy in the break running out of gas on the final climb in a bid for what might become his biggest career win.
The Marginal Gains story has been the central point of the narrative; the all important foundation upon which all of the myth-making around Team Sky has been built. The problem is, so many factors intrinsic to following the Marginal Gains explanation sit completely at odds around the protestations of the team when caught with their pants down; we're supposed to believe that this team, its management and its riders are so keen to make the smallest of gains (the incremental small gains theory has plenty of currency and in all honesty can explain a large amount of the performance gains made by Sky and before them British Cycling under the same or similar management, however some of the things mooted as marginal gains used by the team have been either so minor as to be ridiculous as an explanation for the gigantic performance differences, or long-established things that could only be claimed as revolutionary to somebody with no knowledge of any other team, and have become sticks with which fans beat Sky's self-mythologizing even though they may legitimately be able to help with performance improvements) that they are at the forefront of technology and management ethos, including stories such as banning Nutella from diets (even though there was that photo of a large amount of same purchased by and for Sky riders) and chastising and ostracizing David López for eating it, or ripping the names of dopers out of race handbooks (whilst simultaneously lionizing Tom Simpson and failing to read the roadbook enough to know about an uncategorized climb at País Vasco in 2012, toasting all the puncheurs trying to lead Appollonio out for a sprint in a stage eventually won by Samuel Sánchez), and can plan the wattage levels out right to the tiniest increment... and yet simultaneously claim themselves completely ignorant of how they somehow managed to wind up with riders like Mick Rogers on the books, fail to do due diligence on their prospective team doctors, and allow an obvious falsehood like the Simon Cope Emma Pooley visit not just become the outcome of an investigation, but repeat it to journalists before even the slightest consideration of its veracity could take place. Not to mention not sanctioning a doctor who didn't back up his medical records for a full three years, or taking action against him after this blatant neglect of his professional duty is made public, severely damaging their reputation.
This contradiction is the most difficult thing about Team Sky; to believe they're not lying is to believe they have somehow accidentally bumbled their way to their success, because they are failing to conduct basic due diligence, failing to keep tabs on their employees; how can they then expect to be believed when they talk about the tight ship they're running and their confidence in the cleanliness of their riders? How can they claim any moral high ground when they're led by somebody who regularly lies in public, while a man who committed identity fraud to get his career started is led up the road by a man who felt that racially abusing people shouldn't be a big deal?
Fans will shake off a lot of things in their pursuit of enjoyment. We know about Nibali's connections with Ferrari, about Contador's clenbuterol and plasticizers, about Zakarin's teenage indiscretion, about Pellizotti's biopassport mis-step, and so on. But the only one of those who's ever claimed themselves to be doing anything in the name of clean cycling is Nibali, and he was pilloried for it. We fans have to suspend our disbelief. I talk as somebody who watches the Volta a Portugal annually, as somebody who cheered for Cobo, who despite all my best intentions still has a soft spot for Alejandro Valverde, as somebody who sat here on this forum defending Ezequiel Mosquera. Each individual tree at Sky may be explicable, but when they routinely start putting 5 men in the group of 15, 4 in 8 and so on until we get into LA-MSS/W52 territory, and we see things like Geraint Thomas, who got his start on the track and moved to the northern Classics, dropping minuscule lightweight climbers on a big mountain stage, or Gianni Moscon breathing through his mouth while pulling Vincenzo freaking Nibali back on a mountain, then that suspension of disbelief becomes harder and harder until we're in Cândido Barbosa territory. And when they're doing it in a style which is cold, calculated and neutralizes racing, is it any wonder the fans rebel against it? Is it any wonder that so many of the stages that fans have found the most enthralling of recent years - Formigal 2016, Rifugio Gardeccia 2011, Aprica 2010, Fuente Dé 2012, Galibier 2011 - have been the ones where tight control by a leading team has been broken early and the template perfected by Team Sky has not been possible to implement and they have struggled to impact the race in the same way when the formula their plan relies on is broken? Is it any wonder that the most interesting and well-received races Froome has been involved in have been those where his team is weakest and his mountain battles have been more mano a mano, like the Ruta del Sol in 2014? Team Sky's race-throttling technique has become a by-word for negative racing, and the non-Team Sky riders best suited to it are also the most negative riders, whose modus operandi is following the tempo and hoping to fall back slowly rather than those who actually take risks and attack, so not only does the style nullify interesting racing but it also encourages others to ride conservatively for greatest benefit too, so the races they are able to tightly control are difficult for a lot of fans to enjoy, both because the spectacle is lacking and the outcome is unpalatable.
I guess a few people might just hate the British, though.