Miguel Ángel Lopez Discussion Thread

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Definitely, especially in the NFL. Domestic abuse? No problem!
But quitting at the end of a race that's your team's main objective when you're on the podium is a pretty major problem.
It is very weird what people are selective about though. I mean, run an illegal dogfighting ring out of your house? Sure, come on back. And yet despite multiple sports now having 'taking the knee' as an almost compulsory part of the pre-match ritual, the guy that came up with it as a form of non-violent protest is blacklisted for life.

Lots of soccer players that could be used as examples, though, definitely. Luís Suárez, Mario Balotelli, Eric Cantona, Nicolas Anelka, Karim Benzema, Dimitri Payet, Paolo di Canio, Jonjo Shelvey, and so on. They get away with their antics because of what they bring to the table. Many of them are journeymen because they manage to alienate team after team but are so mercurial and successful they are able to move on, others are troublemakers that it seems only one or two managers or teams are able to corral and get focused and get the best out of so they wind up becoming folk heroes at a club.

If every rider was a Miguel Ángel López the races would be unwatchably chaotic. But if there were nobody like Miguel Ángel López in the péloton it would be a much worse place for it. He's a wildcard, an agitant, a difference-maker who won't just do the predictable and follow what is the tactically most sensible thing to do at all times, or sit in and let a stronger team dictate pace. And that's why he's one of the most crucial riders to have in the péloton.
 
It is very weird what people are selective about though. I mean, run an illegal dogfighting ring out of your house? Sure, come on back. And yet despite multiple sports now having 'taking the knee' as an almost compulsory part of the pre-match ritual, the guy that came up with it as a form of non-violent protest is blacklisted for life.

Lots of soccer players that could be used as examples, though, definitely. Luís Suárez, Mario Balotelli, Eric Cantona, Nicolas Anelka, Karim Benzema, Dimitri Payet, Paolo di Canio, Jonjo Shelvey, and so on. They get away with their antics because of what they bring to the table. Many of them are journeymen because they manage to alienate team after team but are so mercurial and successful they are able to move on, others are troublemakers that it seems only one or two managers or teams are able to corral and get focused and get the best out of so they wind up becoming folk heroes at a club.

If every rider was a Miguel Ángel López the races would be unwatchably chaotic. But if there were nobody like Miguel Ángel López in the péloton it would be a much worse place for it. He's a wildcard, an agitant, a difference-maker who won't just do the predictable and follow what is the tactically most sensible thing to do at all times, or sit in and let a stronger team dictate pace. And that's why he's one of the most crucial riders to have in the péloton.
I don't disagree but most of the athletes you cited had their issues off the field. There aren't many who just up and quit in the middle of the biggest match of the year. Although Suarez and his teeth...
 
Would be good to see him move on to Astana. Again, I do think it's a bad look to just up and quit, and he clearly regrets it. But he had nothing to lose, really, just some fairly meaningless points and a few dollars, and there was just one more time trial left. I don't think he did his team that much of a disservice, honestly.

It was clear that he got the impression that he would get more of his own chances. It's a job a the end of the day, so he should've done what he was asked. But it's also a job at the end of the day, and when it hit him that he wasn't getting the role he was sold on he while was in the middle of the stage.

I think that's the hard bit to understand for most people, that athletes have to struggle with these things while performing at their absolute physical and mental peak, which they have to be fully committed to reaching in order to be able to properly do their job. And I think a similar thing actually happened with Indurain. Unzue, who surely has forgotten more about cycling than I'll ever know, seems to fail to understand where riders get their motivation. They are there to race and to help the team. Unzue seems to think both things are the same when they clearly aren't. Lopez tried his utmost to soldier on and to keep the gap steady he just couldn't handle it when Unzue himself told him to let it go. The funny thing is that I'm guessing that Unzue saw that as a kindness: telling a rider he didn't have to kill himself, the team was OK if he just rolled to the line. But that turned out to be the ultimate diss in Lopez's mind: the team actually didn't care where he ended up. When he realized that Rojas was there just to pace him to 8th or wherever and that he had lost any shot at more by waiting for him I think it clearly broke him.

He knew that while the world might wonder he didn't actually have the fate of the world at stake, and that he couldn't just have a coffee and take a couple of minutes to reflect on his life choices or the whole exercise would be beyond pointless. He was on the clock, and he couldn't take the break he needed. In tennis, you see players, consummate professionals, take a bathroom break and have some water restring themselves and find something different that gets them through the match. Cyclists don't have that luxury. I think by the time Lopez got of the phone he realized the ship had sailed regardless. From where I'm sitting my guess is that that might've been what finally sank him. He should've meandered his way to the line, but carrying on after all that additional wasted time was all the more meaningless.

I do think the way his teammates stayed mostly out of it and that Vino, not the most carefree and forgiving of managers, seems keen on taking him back in speaks to the fact that Lopez is and is viewed within the peloton as a professional who made a mistake. And I might be optimistic, but I believe he does have it in him to contend for a GT that suits him if everything goes right. It will surely be interesting to see him try.

It will also be interesting to see how the non-Spaniards fare at Movistar. Enric Mas is the only clear star rider on the team, but with him peaking twice a year and just in order to ride GC a la Zubeldia (the man, not the forum joke), Valverde on the mend a the tender age of 41, and having missed out on Juan Ayuso and Carlos Rodriguez, the cupboard seems fairly bare in Egues. Alex Aramburu and Oscar Rodriguez looked good at certain points this season and could step up, but they're both 26 haven't won a WT race between them in the last three years. So the team probably should really be focused on supporting the development of guys like Einar Rubio, Mateo Jorgenson, and Ivan Sosa if they are actually want to win something in the next couple of years. It seems like a tough ask, but Movistar do have a rather enjoyable knack for pulling hedgehogs out of hats when everyone is expecting a rabbit or the lack therof.
 
Would be good to see him move on to Astana. Again, I do think it's a bad look to just up and quit, and he clearly regrets it. But he had nothing to lose, really, just some fairly meaningless points and a few dollars, and there was just one more time trial left. I don't think he did his team that much of a disservice, honestly.

It was clear that he got the impression that he would get more of his own chances. It's a job a the end of the day, so he should've done what he was asked. But it's also a job at the end of the day, and when it hit him that he wasn't getting the role he was sold on he while was in the middle of the stage.

I think that's the hard bit to understand for most people, that athletes have to struggle with these things while performing at their absolute physical and mental peak, which they have to be fully committed to reaching in order to be able to properly do their job. And I think a similar thing actually happened with Indurain. Unzue, who surely has forgotten more about cycling than I'll ever know, seems to fail to understand where riders get their motivation. They are there to race and to help the team. Unzue seems to think both things are the same when they clearly aren't. Lopez tried his utmost to soldier on and to keep the gap steady he just couldn't handle it when Unzue himself told him to let it go. The funny thing is that I'm guessing that Unzue saw that as a kindness: telling a rider he didn't have to kill himself, the team was OK if he just rolled to the line. But that turned out to be the ultimate diss in Lopez's mind: the team actually didn't care where he ended up. When he realized that Rojas was there just to pace him to 8th or wherever and that he had lost any shot at more by waiting for him I think it clearly broke him.

He knew that while the world might wonder he didn't actually have the fate of the world at stake, and that he couldn't just have a coffee and take a couple of minutes to reflect on his life choices or the whole exercise would be beyond pointless. He was on the clock, and he couldn't take the break he needed. In tennis, you see players, consummate professionals, take a bathroom break and have some water restring themselves and find something different that gets them through the match. Cyclists don't have that luxury. I think by the time Lopez got of the phone he realized the ship had sailed regardless. From where I'm sitting my guess is that that might've been what finally sank him. He should've meandered his way to the line, but carrying on after all that additional wasted time was all the more meaningless.

I do think the way his teammates stayed mostly out of it and that Vino, not the most carefree and forgiving of managers, seems keen on taking him back in speaks to the fact that Lopez is and is viewed within the peloton as a professional who made a mistake. And I might be optimistic, but I believe he does have it in him to contend for a GT that suits him if everything goes right. It will surely be interesting to see him try.

It will also be interesting to see how the non-Spaniards fare at Movistar. Enric Mas is the only clear star rider on the team, but with him peaking twice a year and just in order to ride GC a la Zubeldia (the man, not the forum joke), Valverde on the mend a the tender age of 41, and having missed out on Juan Ayuso and Carlos Rodriguez, the cupboard seems fairly bare in Egues. Alex Aramburu and Oscar Rodriguez looked good at certain points this season and could step up, but they're both 26 haven't won a WT race between them in the last three years. So the team probably should really be focused on supporting the development of guys like Einar Rubio, Mateo Jorgenson, and Ivan Sosa if they are actually want to win something in the next couple of years. It seems like a tough ask, but Movistar do have a rather enjoyable knack for pulling hedgehogs out of hats when everyone is expecting a rabbit or the lack therof.
He wasn't keeping the gap steady...it was increasing since he was too weak to lessen the gap. So, he used Unzue telling him to stop trying as some sort of excuse that he would have caught up if he didn't tell him that...total rubbish. Many riders that are under more pressure than him would never conduct themselves that way and they are all under pressure to perform. No, i don't care for the guy...and its only a bike race...not like he is a criminal or anything. When I see bloodied riders finishing races and this wannabe diva stopping and talking to his wife on the phone during a race...lol...i cannot let that go as pressure....many riders have much much more.
Unzue wasn't dissing him...lol...he was probably suggesting he save some energy for the time trial..that he usually underperforms in ...in order to maybe keep some sort of top 5 position. Instead of owning that he couldn't do his one assignment, follow the UAE rider that took 3rd (cannot recall at this moment his name) , he blames it on coach, nationality etc...as if he would have lessened the gap somehow had he "been able to race". who believes this diva drivel?
 
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Would be good to see him move on to Astana. Again, I do think it's a bad look to just up and quit, and he clearly regrets it. But he had nothing to lose, really, just some fairly meaningless points and a few dollars, and there was just one more time trial left. I don't think he did his team that much of a disservice, honestly.

It was clear that he got the impression that he would get more of his own chances. It's a job a the end of the day, so he should've done what he was asked. But it's also a job at the end of the day, and when it hit him that he wasn't getting the role he was sold on he while was in the middle of the stage.

I think that's the hard bit to understand for most people, that athletes have to struggle with these things while performing at their absolute physical and mental peak, which they have to be fully committed to reaching in order to be able to properly do their job. And I think a similar thing actually happened with Indurain. Unzue, who surely has forgotten more about cycling than I'll ever know, seems to fail to understand where riders get their motivation. They are there to race and to help the team. Unzue seems to think both things are the same when they clearly aren't. Lopez tried his utmost to soldier on and to keep the gap steady he just couldn't handle it when Unzue himself told him to let it go. The funny thing is that I'm guessing that Unzue saw that as a kindness: telling a rider he didn't have to kill himself, the team was OK if he just rolled to the line. But that turned out to be the ultimate diss in Lopez's mind: the team actually didn't care where he ended up. When he realized that Rojas was there just to pace him to 8th or wherever and that he had lost any shot at more by waiting for him I think it clearly broke him.

He knew that while the world might wonder he didn't actually have the fate of the world at stake, and that he couldn't just have a coffee and take a couple of minutes to reflect on his life choices or the whole exercise would be beyond pointless. He was on the clock, and he couldn't take the break he needed. In tennis, you see players, consummate professionals, take a bathroom break and have some water restring themselves and find something different that gets them through the match. Cyclists don't have that luxury. I think by the time Lopez got of the phone he realized the ship had sailed regardless. From where I'm sitting my guess is that that might've been what finally sank him. He should've meandered his way to the line, but carrying on after all that additional wasted time was all the more meaningless.

I do think the way his teammates stayed mostly out of it and that Vino, not the most carefree and forgiving of managers, seems keen on taking him back in speaks to the fact that Lopez is and is viewed within the peloton as a professional who made a mistake. And I might be optimistic, but I believe he does have it in him to contend for a GT that suits him if everything goes right. It will surely be interesting to see him try.

It will also be interesting to see how the non-Spaniards fare at Movistar. Enric Mas is the only clear star rider on the team, but with him peaking twice a year and just in order to ride GC a la Zubeldia (the man, not the forum joke), Valverde on the mend a the tender age of 41, and having missed out on Juan Ayuso and Carlos Rodriguez, the cupboard seems fairly bare in Egues. Alex Aramburu and Oscar Rodriguez looked good at certain points this season and could step up, but they're both 26 haven't won a WT race between them in the last three years. So the team probably should really be focused on supporting the development of guys like Einar Rubio, Mateo Jorgenson, and Ivan Sosa if they are actually want to win something in the next couple of years. It seems like a tough ask, but Movistar do have a rather enjoyable knack for pulling hedgehogs out of hats when everyone is expecting a rabbit or the lack therof.
Movistar is a team that had on their books in the last 5 years a top level Valverde, Quintana, Ion and Gorka Izagirre, Mike Landa, Dani Moreno, Cadtroviejo, Visconti, Jesus Herrada, Amador, Anacona, Richard Carapaz, Betancur, Intxausti. They sadly have come downhill a lot since then.
 
Movistar is a team that had on their books in the last 5 years a top level Valverde, Quintana, Ion and Gorka Izagirre, Mike Landa, Dani Moreno, Cadtroviejo, Visconti, Jesus Herrada, Amador, Anacona, Richard Carapaz, Betancur, Intxausti. They sadly have come downhill a lot since then.
Valverde - been there since 2005
Quintana - signed as an espoir
Ion and Gorka Izagirre - picked up in Euskaltel yard sale
Landa - signing him was a significant part of the problem, actually, going to the three-headed-monster approach resulted in losing a lot of the quality domestiques that they are now needing to replace
Dani Moreno - when they acquired him second time around he was running on empty
Jesús Herrada - through their system
Amador - signed as an espoir
Carapaz - signed as an espoir and brought through their system
Betancur - one of their cut-price flyers on a super talent in the process of going awry, like Cobo or Rujano

Of the list, really only Visconti and Landa are people who were big stars when signed who could be considered relevant to where they are currently as cycling has changed a lot since they signed Valverde. The ProTour hadn't yet been implemented when he signed. Intxausti was big potential, Castroviejo and Anacona were signed as helpers.

The first problem is that their budget, always rather in the midfield, has never really been in line with their achievements, owing to results, prominence and prize money acquired through the glory days of Valverde and a very stable, fixed core of riders who are now all growing old together, retiring or becoming surplus to requirements (Erviti, Rojas, Lastras, Gutiérrez, Javi Moreno, Rubén Plaza, José Herrada etc.) - with the single, somewhat notable exception of Andrey Amador, who was a prospective Abarcá lifer who has gone to Ineos, and I think that will have hurt Unzué more deeply than even some of the more high profile riders. While there was only the one super-budget team, they could still compete and, given they had under contract a couple of the best opponents to that super-budget team, they were able to provide more bang for their buck in terms of prominence. However, as more moneyed teams have come to the table and budgets have been upped elsewhere, they have increasingly been left behind and the aggressive pursuit of Mikel Landa cost them their ability to renew most of their rouleur corps, whom it would appear, if not individually then at least collectively, were on lower money than the value they brought if the impact on the team is anything to go by.

The second has been the scramble for espoirs. Unzué, and Echavarrí before him, have historically been fairly conservative with expectations on young talents and prefer to bring them through the system carefully. Their somewhat negative experience with Argiro Ospina led them to handle even Richard Carapaz with kid gloves, letting him spend most of a year at Lizarte when clearly too good for the Spanish amateur scene, which is not as professional (in the figurative sense) as some, meaning riders coming out of it are not necessarily less talented but perhaps more unpolished than their counterparts in Belgium, the Netherlands, France or Italy. With a generation of young talents exploding onto the scene young, this makes Movistar a less attractive proposition to prospective talents and indeed we are seeing the most elite Spanish espoirs bypassing their national amateur calendar entirely, with Ayuso going to Italy and Carlos Rodríguez going direct to Ineos. Movistar do have their hands on some of Spain's other elite emerging talent, most notably Igor Arrieta, but missing the two that are already seen as sure things definitely hurts. This issue has been compounded by a downturn in the fortunes of Caja Rural as ever since they went ProConti, Movistar have frequently cannibalised their neighbours, taking talented young riders and sturdy domestiques, and paying them off with baroudeurs and aging offcuts who have outlived their usefulness to the World Tour team. Serrano has been a welcome success in his transfer, but the negative experience with Jaime Rosón is a big blow (had he not been suspended he would be precisely at the kind of position the team is missing, plus you have the issue of Rubén Fernández and to a lesser extent Marc Soler not really living up to expectations) and the saga regarding the team's bust-up with Acquadro has hurt them in their conventional markets. Another issue is that for a while the team was one of only a few teams which would be scouting South America, whereas now this area is saturated with talent scouts and more savvy (sic) espoir-hunters like Savio, who has used signing up wonderkids to long contracts and pocketing buyouts as a means to keep afloat now that he is unable to shore up name value to sponsors with riders coming off suspension as he did throughout the 2000s and early 2010s.

The disproportionately strong effect of recession on the Spanish cycling scene has also meant they have had increasingly few sources within the local market to scour for recruits, with a dwindling calendar and at one point a national péloton with only one World Tour and one ProConti team, and a very weak collection of Continental teams as well as a reducing calendar, decreasing the calibre of the available riders within the Spanish national péloton through no fault of their own as they were often stuck in the amateur scene unless they gambled on going elsewhere, and many of these were out of sight out of mind riders campaigning on the Asia Tour or journeymen pros moonlighting in Latin America or Portugal, and while Movistar might occasionally pick one of these up (de la Parte, Pedrero, temporarily Alejandro Marque), it was hardly sustainable for a team that wanted to compete at the top or support a hydra-headed GC unit as they did.

The team has done some work to rectify this, and the fact Lizarte now has a pro arm in Kern Pharma is a positive step for them as it serves as an intermediary between the amateur scene and the World Tour, which had been a bit of an issue previously. The team has probably had a lot more trouble with retaining riders than it would have had if there had been such a stage all along; the gulf in level between the Spanish amateur scene and the World Tour is too big for the transition to be seamless, as well as meaning only a couple of promotion slots are available each year. The team has probably spent a lot more resources in reacquiring talent that had previously been within their system, like Sérgio Samitier and Óscar Rodríguez, than it would have had to had they never left in the first place. But this alternative has its own flaws. This year the team signed Puerto Rican espoir talent Abner González and, all told, he's been pretty good. He's 20 years old and was the 5th best rider on the Spanish amateur scene in 2020, but was 2-3 years younger than everybody around him in the rankings. They are also picking up junior talent Iván Romeo direct to Movistar for 2022. Neither were in the Lizarte system. Igor Arrieta is more highly rated, has stronger results and is a year older so you would think is in better position to handle the step up. Iván Cobo and Pau Miquel have also both potentially earned promotion, the former especially. But all three are being moved from Lizarte to Kern Pharma, because they're already in the system. However, for riders outside of Movistar's extant system, they have to compete for those talents and so offering them a spot at Kern Pharma might not be sufficient if somebody else is offering them a spot with the World Tour outfit, so they've gone after Abner, and now Romeo, with the carrot dangled of a World Tour contract. Now, Abner has definitely justified that gamble with his performances this year, but Romeo is three years younger still. The gamble may well be worth it individually in terms of these riders, but the question that should then be raised is, will this create a potential recruitment issue for Lizarte? After all, if you sign with Lizarte you're competing with existing espoirs the team knows about for race roles, and you're likely to get promoted to ProContinental, whereas if you back yourself with a third party non-affiliated team and you're good enough, you could go straight to the World Tour.

Another potential issue has been that they now have to share the sponsorship money with the team's women's unit and, while their budgets may be entirely separate, that is funding which is received from the sponsor which is not available for use on the men's team. The original women's team was largely Spanish-facing and relatively insular, settling for a mid-table kind of position which is clearly no longer the case with them swinging for the fences on bringing in a late career but still obviously elite Annemiek van Vleuten as well as Emma Norsgaard, acquired in Paule Ka's yard sale, turning into an absolutely elite rider. We should not forget that while women's cycling still lags way behind men's in terms of its reach and its exposure, especially in a country like Spain which spent a decade being absolutely peripheral to the scene following Maribel Moreno's 2008 Olympics positive test, the team does include the women as very much part of its family (quite literally in Norsgaard's sense of course, with her brother on the men's team) and the results of that team have filled a sizable gap in the men's team's results too with van Vleuten winning or at least making the podium in every Spanish pro race on the women's calendar.

Now, it is fairly likely that what we are going to see here is an equivalent to the early 2000s Abarcá, with Olano and Indurain a memory, Jiménez no longer riding, and that period before Valverde came along, when they were led by the likes of Mancebo and Menchov. Abarcá seemed to be throwing contracts at a complete rebuild picking up people from unexpected sources a couple of years ago, and we will see in a couple of years' time whether this was a useful way of getting themselves competitive long term with a short term hurt for long term gain approach, recognising the shift in the cycling transfer market and trying to engineer a way of competing with the escalating budgets of the likes of UAE and Bahrain, or if this was a desperation move as their top-heavy team that had been carried on the results of its leaders ages out and they try desperately to stay relevant with their aging core. While there is definitely plenty of reason to feel this tilts towards the latter, and we do like to have a sometimes somewhat exaggerated laugh at their occasional tactical ineptitude and characterise them as a bumbling mess, the Friars have survived over 40 years of pro cycling and almost half a century as a setup including their amateur years, which doesn't happen by accident. While Movistar, like Lotto, may be seen as more of a representative of the 'old' cycling, you only have to look at what cycling was like in 1980 when Reynolds joined the pro scene and what it is like in 2021 to note that Abarcá Sports have been able to roll with the punches and move with the times several times over already, so there's little reason to suspect that, while they won't necessarily be happy with an immediate loss of results, they won't be well aware that this is required in the long run and be able to rise again.

I still wish they and Supermán could have worked it out though. He and Mas actually worked well together from a racing perspective. The experiment had been a success and they had mutually agreed it worth extending the relationship, then no sooner does this happen than everything goes awry in the most spectacular of manners. I mean, with the nature of the team and the characteristics of Supermán it isn't super surprising that something like this would happen, but it's the manner and timing of it that make it so dramatic.
 
Valverde - been there since 2005
Quintana - signed as an espoir
Ion and Gorka Izagirre - picked up in Euskaltel yard sale
Landa - signing him was a significant part of the problem, actually, going to the three-headed-monster approach resulted in losing a lot of the quality domestiques that they are now needing to replace
Dani Moreno - when they acquired him second time around he was running on empty
Jesús Herrada - through their system
Amador - signed as an espoir
Carapaz - signed as an espoir and brought through their system
Betancur - one of their cut-price flyers on a super talent in the process of going awry, like Cobo or Rujano

Of the list, really only Visconti and Landa are people who were big stars when signed who could be considered relevant to where they are currently as cycling has changed a lot since they signed Valverde. The ProTour hadn't yet been implemented when he signed. Intxausti was big potential, Castroviejo and Anacona were signed as helpers.

The first problem is that their budget, always rather in the midfield, has never really been in line with their achievements, owing to results, prominence and prize money acquired through the glory days of Valverde and a very stable, fixed core of riders who are now all growing old together, retiring or becoming surplus to requirements (Erviti, Rojas, Lastras, Gutiérrez, Javi Moreno, Rubén Plaza, José Herrada etc.) - with the single, somewhat notable exception of Andrey Amador, who was a prospective Abarcá lifer who has gone to Ineos, and I think that will have hurt Unzué more deeply than even some of the more high profile riders. While there was only the one super-budget team, they could still compete and, given they had under contract a couple of the best opponents to that super-budget team, they were able to provide more bang for their buck in terms of prominence. However, as more moneyed teams have come to the table and budgets have been upped elsewhere, they have increasingly been left behind and the aggressive pursuit of Mikel Landa cost them their ability to renew most of their rouleur corps, whom it would appear, if not individually then at least collectively, were on lower money than the value they brought if the impact on the team is anything to go by.

The second has been the scramble for espoirs. Unzué, and Echavarrí before him, have historically been fairly conservative with expectations on young talents and prefer to bring them through the system carefully. Their somewhat negative experience with Argiro Ospina led them to handle even Richard Carapaz with kid gloves, letting him spend most of a year at Lizarte when clearly too good for the Spanish amateur scene, which is not as professional (in the figurative sense) as some, meaning riders coming out of it are not necessarily less talented but perhaps more unpolished than their counterparts in Belgium, the Netherlands, France or Italy. With a generation of young talents exploding onto the scene young, this makes Movistar a less attractive proposition to prospective talents and indeed we are seeing the most elite Spanish espoirs bypassing their national amateur calendar entirely, with Ayuso going to Italy and Carlos Rodríguez going direct to Ineos. Movistar do have their hands on some of Spain's other elite emerging talent, most notably Igor Arrieta, but missing the two that are already seen as sure things definitely hurts. This issue has been compounded by a downturn in the fortunes of Caja Rural as ever since they went ProConti, Movistar have frequently cannibalised their neighbours, taking talented young riders and sturdy domestiques, and paying them off with baroudeurs and aging offcuts who have outlived their usefulness to the World Tour team. Serrano has been a welcome success in his transfer, but the negative experience with Jaime Rosón is a big blow (had he not been suspended he would be precisely at the kind of position the team is missing, plus you have the issue of Rubén Fernández and to a lesser extent Marc Soler not really living up to expectations) and the saga regarding the team's bust-up with Acquadro has hurt them in their conventional markets. Another issue is that for a while the team was one of only a few teams which would be scouting South America, whereas now this area is saturated with talent scouts and more savvy (sic) espoir-hunters like Savio, who has used signing up wonderkids to long contracts and pocketing buyouts as a means to keep afloat now that he is unable to shore up name value to sponsors with riders coming off suspension as he did throughout the 2000s and early 2010s.

The disproportionately strong effect of recession on the Spanish cycling scene has also meant they have had increasingly few sources within the local market to scour for recruits, with a dwindling calendar and at one point a national péloton with only one World Tour and one ProConti team, and a very weak collection of Continental teams as well as a reducing calendar, decreasing the calibre of the available riders within the Spanish national péloton through no fault of their own as they were often stuck in the amateur scene unless they gambled on going elsewhere, and many of these were out of sight out of mind riders campaigning on the Asia Tour or journeymen pros moonlighting in Latin America or Portugal, and while Movistar might occasionally pick one of these up (de la Parte, Pedrero, temporarily Alejandro Marque), it was hardly sustainable for a team that wanted to compete at the top or support a hydra-headed GC unit as they did.

The team has done some work to rectify this, and the fact Lizarte now has a pro arm in Kern Pharma is a positive step for them as it serves as an intermediary between the amateur scene and the World Tour, which had been a bit of an issue previously. The team has probably had a lot more trouble with retaining riders than it would have had if there had been such a stage all along; the gulf in level between the Spanish amateur scene and the World Tour is too big for the transition to be seamless, as well as meaning only a couple of promotion slots are available each year. The team has probably spent a lot more resources in reacquiring talent that had previously been within their system, like Sérgio Samitier and Óscar Rodríguez, than it would have had to had they never left in the first place. But this alternative has its own flaws. This year the team signed Puerto Rican espoir talent Abner González and, all told, he's been pretty good. He's 20 years old and was the 5th best rider on the Spanish amateur scene in 2020, but was 2-3 years younger than everybody around him in the rankings. They are also picking up junior talent Iván Romeo direct to Movistar for 2022. Neither were in the Lizarte system. Igor Arrieta is more highly rated, has stronger results and is a year older so you would think is in better position to handle the step up. Iván Cobo and Pau Miquel have also both potentially earned promotion, the former especially. But all three are being moved from Lizarte to Kern Pharma, because they're already in the system. However, for riders outside of Movistar's extant system, they have to compete for those talents and so offering them a spot at Kern Pharma might not be sufficient if somebody else is offering them a spot with the World Tour outfit, so they've gone after Abner, and now Romeo, with the carrot dangled of a World Tour contract. Now, Abner has definitely justified that gamble with his performances this year, but Romeo is three years younger still. The gamble may well be worth it individually in terms of these riders, but the question that should then be raised is, will this create a potential recruitment issue for Lizarte? After all, if you sign with Lizarte you're competing with existing espoirs the team knows about for race roles, and you're likely to get promoted to ProContinental, whereas if you back yourself with a third party non-affiliated team and you're good enough, you could go straight to the World Tour.

Another potential issue has been that they now have to share the sponsorship money with the team's women's unit and, while their budgets may be entirely separate, that is funding which is received from the sponsor which is not available for use on the men's team. The original women's team was largely Spanish-facing and relatively insular, settling for a mid-table kind of position which is clearly no longer the case with them swinging for the fences on bringing in a late career but still obviously elite Annemiek van Vleuten as well as Emma Norsgaard, acquired in Paule Ka's yard sale, turning into an absolutely elite rider. We should not forget that while women's cycling still lags way behind men's in terms of its reach and its exposure, especially in a country like Spain which spent a decade being absolutely peripheral to the scene following Maribel Moreno's 2008 Olympics positive test, the team does include the women as very much part of its family (quite literally in Norsgaard's sense of course, with her brother on the men's team) and the results of that team have filled a sizable gap in the men's team's results too with van Vleuten winning or at least making the podium in every Spanish pro race on the women's calendar.

Now, it is fairly likely that what we are going to see here is an equivalent to the early 2000s Abarcá, with Olano and Indurain a memory, Jiménez no longer riding, and that period before Valverde came along, when they were led by the likes of Mancebo and Menchov. Abarcá seemed to be throwing contracts at a complete rebuild picking up people from unexpected sources a couple of years ago, and we will see in a couple of years' time whether this was a useful way of getting themselves competitive long term with a short term hurt for long term gain approach, recognising the shift in the cycling transfer market and trying to engineer a way of competing with the escalating budgets of the likes of UAE and Bahrain, or if this was a desperation move as their top-heavy team that had been carried on the results of its leaders ages out and they try desperately to stay relevant with their aging core. While there is definitely plenty of reason to feel this tilts towards the latter, and we do like to have a sometimes somewhat exaggerated laugh at their occasional tactical ineptitude and characterise them as a bumbling mess, the Friars have survived over 40 years of pro cycling and almost half a century as a setup including their amateur years, which doesn't happen by accident. While Movistar, like Lotto, may be seen as more of a representative of the 'old' cycling, you only have to look at what cycling was like in 1980 when Reynolds joined the pro scene and what it is like in 2021 to note that Abarcá Sports have been able to roll with the punches and move with the times several times over already, so there's little reason to suspect that, while they won't necessarily be happy with an immediate loss of results, they won't be well aware that this is required in the long run and be able to rise again.

I still wish they and Supermán could have worked it out though. He and Mas actually worked well together from a racing perspective. The experiment had been a success and they had mutually agreed it worth extending the relationship, then no sooner does this happen than everything goes awry in the most spectacular of manners. I mean, with the nature of the team and the characteristics of Supermán it isn't super surprising that something like this would happen, but it's the manner and timing of it that make it so dramatic.
Thanks for the detailed reply. I will need to read it again to understand properly and I'm sure you can see I was not aware of half of these issues, thanks.

It is a shame because despite expectations, superman was fitting nicely into the Movistar picture. He was instrumental in the Valverde win in the Dauphine and at the Vuelta the trident type approach in the first week looked stronger and more cohesive than any Bala/Nairoman/Landa efforts.

I guess its a credit to Unzue and the team that they have been able to get grand tour podiums and wins in the last few years despite the circumstances. They are always strong in Vuelta, but the Landa and Carapaz pairing at the 2019 giro were great to watch.

I guess the pattern is that, in addition to the issues you mentioned about Spanish cycling and getting young riders on the rigjt path, they are always struggling to keep those riders. But yes, there are 4 or 5 superbudget teams these days in the world tour, very different from 2015. I forgot about that.
 
Maybe they realized it's too much. Or maybe MAL understood that it's not as good as he wanted. You never know...
You never know if MAL just found out that Movistar is a secret cabal of vampires and thus decided to nope out on the spot, but there's zero reason to believe it, no one has alluded to it and it would be pretty weird. If you're really determined to come up with possible excuses and you don't need them to be backed by evidence, you'll always find them.
 
You never know if MAL just found out that Movistar is a secret cabal of vampires and thus decided to nope out on the spot, but there's zero reason to believe it, no one has alluded to it and it would be pretty weird. If you're really determined to come up with possible excuses and you don't need them to be backed by evidence, you'll always find them.
It's Cofidis who are the vampires! Get your facts straight... :rolleyes:
 
You never know if MAL just found out that Movistar is a secret cabal of vampires and thus decided to nope out on the spot, but there's zero reason to believe it, no one has alluded to it and it would be pretty weird. If you're really determined to come up with possible excuses and you don't need them to be backed by evidence, you'll always find them.
Movistar aren't vampires, they are sorcerers. However, they aren't nearly as powerful as Doctor Strange.
 
So now Movistar have two targets to chase. Carapaz and Lopez. I never thought that it would come to this considering that Lopez and Vino get along fine when Vino himself is sort of autocratic and blunt. Obviously what happens behind the scenes is unknown. But considering that none was able to convince him, it looks like he didn't gel with anybody on the team even after a year
 
I am not sure if he didn't gel or not. I think things were going fine for him and the team and something must have happened in The Vuelta. IMHO. Verona was his friend and his spoke a little bit on his defense.

As for the contract break-up I don't think neither party tried to patch things up. I heard a rumor that they used some of his money to pay for Valverde's salary. Valverde lowered his salary according to this guy in ESPN. And they let Lopez keep the signing bonus. So things worked better for both parties.
 
I thought Vino and co at Astana were the vampires ....you know ingesting his uncles blood and all
Seems there is alot of it about !!!


Anyway Moscon and Lopez ...two sparing partners at Astana ?

One for the rolling terrain and one for the high mountains
Only need Bouhanni now for the fast finishes and all bases are covered
 
It is very weird what people are selective about though. I mean, run an illegal dogfighting ring out of your house? Sure, come on back. And yet despite multiple sports now having 'taking the knee' as an almost compulsory part of the pre-match ritual, the guy that came up with it as a form of non-violent protest is blacklisted for life.

Lots of soccer players that could be used as examples, though, definitely. Luís Suárez, Mario Balotelli, Eric Cantona, Nicolas Anelka, Karim Benzema, Dimitri Payet, Paolo di Canio, Jonjo Shelvey, and so on. They get away with their antics because of what they bring to the table. Many of them are journeymen because they manage to alienate team after team but are so mercurial and successful they are able to move on, others are troublemakers that it seems only one or two managers or teams are able to corral and get focused and get the best out of so they wind up becoming folk heroes at a club.

If every rider was a Miguel Ángel López the races would be unwatchably chaotic. But if there were nobody like Miguel Ángel López in the péloton it would be a much worse place for it. He's a wildcard, an agitant, a difference-maker who won't just do the predictable and follow what is the tactically most sensible thing to do at all times, or sit in and let a stronger team dictate pace. And that's why he's one of the most crucial riders to have in the péloton.
Balotelli is at Adana Demirspor.
 
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