Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rules are rules, especially when Riis rules. Schoolkids A. Schleck and S. O'Grady bump into Bjarne at a bar

Seems a bit farcical, pro bike riders - adults at that - have a quiet drink and are back a bit later than you'd expect for athletes participating in a major stage race. Yes, they must have known they were breaking team rules, but it's their swansong with the team and things are a bit more casual than in the recent past. Crucially they bump into their boss at another bar whilst coming back to their digs. With Andy I can understand it - young, out for a laugh with no real pressure on him in this race - and with one eye on 2011 and his new team - but it's hard to imagine a seasoned pro like O'Grady breaking team rules, especially during a Grand Tour... it's a bit, umm, rebellious? Has Riis simply had enough from these admitted defectors?

Vuelta A EspaƱa: Stage 10, Route Maps & Results |
The major news on the start line was Bjarne Riis’ decision to send Andy Schleck and Stuart O’Grady home from the Vuelta for breaking team rules by drinking alcohol after dinner the previous night. Once the racing the started, however, the remainder of the peloton showed no signs of a post-rest day hangover as it covered 47 kilometres in a hyperactive first hour of racing.
UPDATED Andy Schleck, O'Grady Removed From Vuelta |
"I acknowledge that I have broken a rule on the team by going out for a drink after dinner and for that reason Bjarne has decided to send myself and Stuart O’Grady home.

"I’m responsible for my actions and even though I think it is too harsh a decision, I respect that Bjarne is the boss and he needs to do what he thinks is the best.

"I was getting back into shape and I would really have liked to stay at the Vuelta and help Frank and the rest of Team Saxo Bank."
UPDATED Andy Schleck, O'Grady Removed From Vuelta |
Both Schleck brothers are leaving the Danish team at the end of this season, to join a new Luxembourg team being organised by Brian Nygaard and Kim Andersen. O'Grady is also leaving Saxo Bank and is said to be joining the new team.
PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling
Over the Cat 1 Rat Penat climb, which hit the riders at 142km and averaged 12.5 %, all the usual GC suspects were there except for Andy Schleck, who along with Stuart O’Grady was sent home from the Vuelta for getting caught going out for a drink after dinner last night. Odd to think Bjarne would be so harsh on these two, but we suppose rules are rules. But….really? So Frank was alone with the other climbers. The climb had taken its toll on everyone, and also everyone in the break, but that group reformed over the top.
Saxo Bank drops Stuart O'Grady and Andy Schleck from Tour of Spain | The Australian
“Mate, we stepped out of the team hotel at 10pm and stopped for a couple of beers at a bar in the local piazza,” O'Grady said.

“We had two beers, that's all. Some members of the European press over here have made us sound like we were on the drink all night.

“That's simply not true.

“We had just ridden our guts out in the team time trial. I don't want to sound like I'm whinging, but the decision to pull us out of the race was harsh,” the South Australian added.

“The decision has cost me two weeks of hard racing preparing for the worlds in Geelong.

“ I guess it means that I can bring the family home a little earlier than expected.

“It also means I've ridden my last race for Saxo Bank. This is not the way I would have wanted my career racing for Bjarne Riis to end. I've ridden my guts out on the front for the team for the last six seasons.”

O'Grady has been linked to a move riding alongside the Schleck brothers at Team Luxembourg next season to be run by former Riis staffers Brian Nygaard and Kim Andersen.

“I'll make an announcement where I'm going next year in a week,” he added.
Andy Schleck and Stuart O’Grady out of Vuelta for ‘violation of team’s rules’
Schleck was contacted by, and said that the reason they were excluded was due to going for drinks yesterday night.

“The fact is that on the rest day yesterday, we chose to go out after eating late dinner, which people do in Spain,” he said. “We had no more than two beers each, then we went home at 1 o’clock and met Bjarne who was sitting at another bar.”