FRAMEGATE… Or How Sergio Higuita Livened Up a Boring Winter’s Information Cycle

Simply when issues obtained quiet… the biking world sprung to life with the thrilling information {that a} rider had been FIRED! See in the event you can spot the problem. Right here is EF Nippo rider Sergio Higuita performing his day job in knowledgeable method.

85th Bretagne Classic - Ouest-France 2021

Photograph by Luc Claessen/Getty Photographs

He rides a Cannondale. EF experience Cannondales. [And Vision wheels, the racer brand from FSA.] He’s an EF rider, which suggests even when he isn’t using for EF, he’s using Cannondales. And Visions.

Cycling - Road - Olympics: Day 1

Photograph by Tim de Waele/Getty Photographs

Till he isn’t. Right here is Higuita noticed over the weekend, using in a grand fondo sponsored by his EF mate and countryman Rigoberto Uran, which made the social media rounds as a superb instance of how professional cyclists are nothing like us, even these of us who suppose we’re fairly useful on a street bike…

Right here is one other fan view, or helmet cam, or no matter…

Aw, that’s a pleasant view of the brand new body colours, kitted out for the Bora Hansgrohe staff he will likely be becoming a member of after the vacations. Wait… WHAT?!

Sure, Higuita determined to modify bikes. From Cannondale to Specialised. This induced EF to summarily fireplace him from his contract with seven weeks remaining on it, principally slicing off his previous few paychecks for violating basically Rule #1. Don’t experience a very totally different bike from that of our sponsors, with no try and even conceal it. And in terms of Cannondale (or presumably Trek too), there’s rule #1A1A1A(x 1,000,000) — don’t experience a fucking Specialised.

Cyclists getting crosswise with their sponsors is a type of endlessly enjoyable topics to probe. Bear in mind this text, the place the CyclingTips sleuths walked across the staff vehicles on the Tour de France this previous June recognizing prototypes, unbranded wheels, and a few that had been re-labeled to appear to be the sponsor’s wheels despite the fact that they weren’t? It was the newest in a decades-long dialogue as as to whether riders are literally using what they seem like using.

It’s a fundamental dilemma within the sport: at this stage, persons are given their bikes and elements and clothes and water bottles without spending a dime, and doesn’t that sound tremendous superior? Positive, to a mere mortal, however professional athletes aren’t like us, and numerous them are perfectionists. From Auston Matthews selecting his stick, to Corey Seager breaking in his glove, to Marshawn Lynch choosing out the sweet for his post-touchdown snack, to newly-minted Yokozuna Terunofuji getting the knees wrapped juuuuust proper… athletes know what makes them really feel most comfy, most primed to succeed, and received’t settle for anything as a substitute if it attracts their consideration away for even a second.

And since that is biking, you may think about that perfectionism is taken to ridiculous extremes. We’re speaking a couple of sport with espresso machines within the staff buses. These are people who find themselves used to being pampered, albeit in between doing unthinkably arduous issues in horrible situations for absurd quantities of time. So who higher to look that present horse within the mouth and say “how dare you counsel I experience these wheels?!?” They need what they need, and if the present sponsor received’t give it to them… nicely, there’s often a straightforward repair. The best stickers.

Andy Hampsten Riding

The 7-Eleven “Huffy”
Photograph by David Madison/Getty Photographs

Riders have had their most popular gear re-labeled as the proper gear for eons. Essentially the most notable instance again right here within the US have been the Huffy bikes ridden by staff 7-Eleven again within the 80s. Huffy had no cachet within the racing world in any respect — they only made forgettable youngsters bikes right here — and it appeared like a weird joke to look at the primary American staff within the Tour de France on bikes that didn’t appear to exist. Positive sufficient, they have been custom-built Serotta frames with “Huffy” stickers slapped throughout them. There are 1,000,000 tales like this. Nestle into the sofa at any espresso store the place some ex-World Tour riders have stopped for a break from their experience and I’m positive you may solicit every kind of humorous tales to this impact.

That’s an excessive instance of a sponsor taking part in together with the charade, however it undoubtedly will get a lot dicier within the extra frequent scenario the place a sponsor who really makes World Tour-quality gear delivers that gear, anticipating it to be ridden within the race, solely to be confronted with a rider who has the inclination and the heft to say he wish to experience one thing else. These situations vary from conditions the place the gear seems to be as much as snuff however continues to be ultimately inferior to the competitors, to situations the place the rider has been given precisely what he wants however simply likes one thing else. It’s arduous for me, from my comfy distance, to say precisely what goes on behind the scenes for an gear supervisor or DS to lastly say “OK, FINE, goddammit… simply strip off the labels and put these stickers on it!” Nevertheless it occurs. Even on the 2021 Tour.

All of that is basically a Shakespearean drama taking part in out in miniature time and again. Producers have their very own energy relationship with us, the consumers, which comes down as to whether their stuff is sweet, or no less than whether or not they could make us suppose it’s. I’ve to have Greg LeMond’s Look Pedals! is a factor I very certainly as soon as stated, and I purchased them, and it did me not very a lot good. However they’d their energy over me, whereas LeMond had his energy over Look. I wasn’t operating out to purchase Thierry Claveyrolat’s pedals, was I? [No, I was not.] Nevertheless it’s a multi-way road, as a result of biking groups are notoriously shoestring operations, and that sponsor money and equipment retains the espresso machine turned on within the staff bus. They’re, in impact, the fulcrum, balancing the facility of their riders in alternate for sponsorship and haranguing the riders to recollect who pays the payments so might they please simply use the sponsors’ gear?

No one is saying very a lot, however for Higuita to be summarily fired on the spot looks like a stunning growth. There could also be a number of issues at play:

  • Higuita is leaving the staff, so who cares? His energy within the above equation dropped to one thing approximating zero as soon as he signed with Bora. So if his contract says that he has to experience Cannondales via December 31, 2021, then goddammit he’s using Cannondales via December 31, 2021.
  • Hey, boss, I simply found out find out how to save $75,000! [Or whatever his remaining pay is.]
  • It’s about respect. You’ll be able to experience round your city on the brand new bike, however did you must do it at a public occasion? One run underneath the title of Rigo Uran, who was and can proceed to be EF’s greatest title rider?
  • One thing occurred behind the scenes that set him off. [Rubbing hands gleefully between blog sentences.] Sadly we don’t know what that’s or if there’s something in any respect. However possibly!
  • The final guess I can supply is that this comes right down to one thing alongside the traces of “We’d have ignored it in the event you borrowed your cousin’s Serotta, however a SPECIALIZED?!?!?” This appears like David Ortiz taking part in a spring coaching sport in a Yankees cap. There are traces you shouldn’t cross, after which there are some traces that are guarded by armed troopers on either side with orders to shoot to kill anybody making an attempt to cross. Higuita wandered — knowingly, I’m positive — into the demilitarized zone of biking, sprinting over the thirty eighth parallel in a present of drive to these weekend warriors clinging to the Colombian hillside Sunday. That they gunned him down (contractually talking) needs to be of no shock. He gave them no selection. Specialised are in enterprise to make bikes, not buddies, as loads of folks within the bike trade will inform you. However that’s all I can say, as a result of I don’t need to get a cease-and-desist letter. [Cannondale may have their moments too, but at least they didn’t once try to copyright the name of a town in France whose name appears on 16th century Mercator maps.]

And that’s your tempest in a teapot for immediately. In different information, I’m knowledgeable that Adam (Proper) Yates completed the Barcelona Marathon immediately in underneath three hours. Cyclists are superb endurance athletes, however there are a restricted variety of muscle groups doing the work in comparison with a runner. So for Yates to do that suggests he’s simply a rare athlete, and that his value in subsequent 12 months’s FSA Directeur Sportif must be raised a number of extra factors.


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