Its been a dramatic few days in the pro peloton. There was the announcement that super domestique and all around good guy George Hincapie, will retire at the end of the season. Johan Bruyneel announced Chris Horner wouldn't be goin to Le Tour and now it appears Andy Schleck won't be there either.
First, Big George. As long as I've followed pro cycling, Hincapie has been part of the scene. This year he will attempt to finish a record breaking 17th Tour de France. While most famous for his support duties of one Lance Armstrong, he was also on board for 2 additional Tour wins for a record 9 TdeF victories. For all his success, his misses were heartbreaking. Twice he was runner up at Paris-Roubaix. It would have been awesome to see him win that one! The cycling world will miss him for sure.
Now on to the RadioShack issues. Fan favorite and late bloomer Chris Horner was left off the long list of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek's long list for the Tour. What a shame. With excuses from management about his back, not racing the Dauphine or Suisse Tour, the reasons just seem hollow and lame. To top it off, Andy Schleck now has back problems and won't be there either.
For Horner, not being at the Tour is just a travesty. I actually can't believe that the American sponsors would allow such a move. If you're trying to draw eyes of fans to your brand, I don't think its the wisest thing to leave one of the most popular American cyclists off the squad. Then there's the reasoning. First the team said it was Horner's back issues. Boss Hog then comes out and says it was Horner's decision not to race the Suisse Tour that sealed his fate. Claiming there was a team rule that the TdeF roster had to compete in the Dauphine or Suisse to be considered for France, Bruyneel laid the blame on Horner. Yet, Jens Voight didn't race in the Dauphine or Suisse and he's still on the TdeF roster. I don't pretend to understand the politics, but as a fan, I can't help but think this is a bogus move. I hope as fans we can fill the Facebook pages of the team's sponsors demanding Horner's inclusion in the TdeF!
For Andy, the news of his back injury is not good. He has showed poor pre-TdeF form but this must feel like a kick in the teeth. While I don't think his prospects for Yellow were awesome, considering all the TT's at next month's race, Andy Schleck is still one heckuva climber and would have at least won a big mountain stage.
Regardless, it seems that there are some chinks in the super team's armour. Media distractions and fractions within the super teams have proved to be fatal in the past. We'll see what the next few weeks look like but lets hope RSNT gets it together, and by that I mean calling up Horner and getting on the TdeF team!!