What's Cool In Road Cycling

Because Manolo Saiz So?

Here we are, well into the swap season, and things are very (very) quiet on the Spanish front, when all hell should be breaking loose.

With Spain losing Ibanesto.com and ONCE, things should be decidedly hot, especially with the Vuelta in town and almost all of the major forces in Cycling swirling round one another.

Kelme are in the strange position of being fairly stable (which is wonderful for the oldest team in the Pro Peloton!) and knowing that they have a future. Baby Oscar is also coming around after most of the season out of competition and a crap first 10 days of the Vuelta (he had reason to feel bad), and was the entertainer of the day in the stage to Sierra Nevada. The Orange Crush is also going well and has sewn up their lead star for another year… So what is the deal with ONCE / Banesto?

Rumor has it that Joseba Beloki (who is being glared at by several teams like the last the Last Sausage at an Atkins Diet party) and a slew of riders have had an indication from the big Chief at ONCE, Manolo Saiz, that they should stay put and risk not having a paycheck and wait for his big announcement of a new sponsor.

That’s great news for Manolo and for the sport!

Only if it’s true…

If anyone can make it happen, it is Saiz. He is a guy who has always given 100% in environment and equipment to the riders. Manolo also has tremendous influence on the sport and an almost dictatorial (and what some consider intrusive) control of his riders and staff. Of course a great record comes with Manolo, and a sponsor is guaranteed exposure with him.

Still, with all the coming and going of fakes and flakes and with a chorus of past empty promises from Directors, Owners and Sponsors still ringing in my ears, all I can do is sit and hope.

Hope that in all the high handing and negotiating, that Manolo does make it happen (or already has!) and that the riders and staff are not the ones that are again lead down a path to sorrow.

It’s not the Joseba Beloki’s, Igor Gonzales De Galdeano’s or Jose Azevedo’s that I am worried about. They will be well compensated no matter what happens (and should be). I am worried for the Gorka Beloki’s, Alvaro Gonzales De Galdeano’s, Alberto Velasco’s and Allen Davis’ of the team. I am worried for the Gabino Legarretta’s and Faustino Munoz’s of the team for that matter…

Don’t get me wrong, I love the stars of the road, but I find the beauty of the sport not in the temporary brightness of a few stars, but in the sky that so painfully and faithfully holds them up for us to see.

Manolo deserves the best if he’s done the job and a fool bets against one of the better managers in the sports history. Should he find a new home, with a bed for everyone, it’s far better for all involved with the team and you should cheer him for it!! But if it’s all smoke and mirrors and people go hungry for it, He should pay them from his own pocket till they get work…

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