BRITTour06: A Little Controversy
Tom Boonen, Belgium and Quick Step, world elite champion – he’s the polite, smiling handsome ‘boy-next-door’ isn’t he? Even the ‘boy-next-door’ ‘loses-it’ sometimes though – take Saturday’s penultimate stage of the Tour of Britain for example. But let’s have Pez-diarist Michael Morkov (Denmark) tell the story.
Pez: I believe the stage didn’t go smoothly Michael.
Michael: In the neutralised section the police motor cycles took us the wrong way, we had to stop and wait whilst they cleared the correct route of traffic.
Boonen sat down on the pavement and he and Michael Rogers (world time trial champion, Australia and T-Mobile) became angry, saying that the race security was bad and they weren’t going to race as a protest.
When the time came to re-start the pros said that we weren’t going to race for the first 30 K, just ride piano.
The small teams like us and the English guys were irritated, we’re here to race, not get involved in this stuff.
My manager had to work really hard to get us into such a big race and the organisers were saying to him: “we need your help at this time; we want you to get your guys to start to race.”
I was reluctant to attack at first, but eventually I jumped up the road with a couple of English guys.
Pez: I believe Mr. Boonen wasn’t too happy about this.
Michael: He chased me down and yelled at me: “What are you doing, you red fu**er?”
I said I was just doing what I was told by my manager and he replied that I should take my radio ear-piece out and ignore it.
What can you say, he’s world champion, but I have to do what my manager says, I will be working with him until the Olympic Games in 2008 – I have to think about that.
Pez: Did the pros have a point about race-security?
Michael: It could have been better, there was a car on the finishing circuit the other day and when we came down from the hills on the big stage there was a car in front of us, it’s dangerous and shouldn’t happen.
Pez: How did the rest of the stage go?
Michael: CSC just rode tempo all day at around 30 kilometres per hour, there wasn’t supposed to be a sprint at the end but Quick Step set it up and Chicchi won.
Pez: What was the mood like at the finish?
Michael: Everyone was very subdued, a bit sheepish, no one was saying much.
Pez: How is Alex’s (team-sprinter Alex Rasmussen) form – is he still looking forward to the circuit race in London?
Michael: I think he’s tired, the sprint yesterday at the end of that long, slow run should have suited him but he didn’t bother to contest it.
Pez also spoke to Scottish, Recycling professional, Evan Oliphant about the day’s events.
Pez: What’s your take on the events of today?
Evan: I think that they didn’t want race and they were just looking for an excuse to stop, many of the Pro Tour guys are riding the Tour of Poland next week and they don’t want to take too much out of themselves before that.
Pez: Did the boycott hurt Recycling’s goals for the race?
Evan: Yes, we have Ben Greenwood second in the King of the Mountains, he was going to try and grab the lead today, but when he went for points they were blocking him in.
Kristan House, our team leader lives local to the stage and all his family and friends were all out to see him but we ambled past at 20 miles per hour.
He was just outside the top ten and hoped to grab sprint-bonuses to make the top ten, instead he dropped down the rankings – we were caught-out at the end because Quick Step said there would be no sprint at the end – then they went and won it!
Was it a valid protest against poor organisation or professional cycling once again demonstrating its talent for shooting itself in the foot – you decide.