Thor Hushovd to BMC – My (Quick) Two Cents

Fotoreporter Sirotti

 

It has just been announced that Thor Hushovd has signed with BMC for the next three years, an interesting move that has several possible implications. Here are two quick thoughts:

1. How does Thor’s signing affect BMC’s long-rumored acquisition of Philippe Gilbert? While not as expensive as Gilbert, Thor likely didn’t come cheap; one has to wonder if there’s money left to sign the Belgian superstar as well. And while Thor and Phil’s goals are largely mutually exclusive (with one or two key exceptions including the Ronde van Vlaanderen) might their egos clash? And how does Cuddles feel about all this notoriety taking away some of his spotlight? Super teams work only if there’s chemistry among the stars–which leads me to my next point:

2. Perhaps most interesting was this quote from today’s VeloNews story:

“It’s a serious team where it looks like everything is well-organized,” Hushovd said of BMC Racing. “There’s a plan put together for the riders for all the big and important races. Everyone knows what to do. That’s a good thing.”

Read between the lines to decipher a clear criticism of Garmin-Cervelo a team in which Hushovd was clearly frustrated by the lack of a clear and consistent managerial leader (in the car and at the races, that is). With Thor gone, Heinrich Haussler rumored to be exiting, and the lack of a new title sponsor to replace Cervelo, is trouble afoot for Jonathan Vaughters?

That’s my (quick) two cents–what’s yours?

 

 

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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8 Responses to Thor Hushovd to BMC – My (Quick) Two Cents

  1. Adam says:

    I'm going to guess that BMC is scared about Gilberts legal battle to get out of his contract and wanted to pull the trigger on Thor before neither man was availible.
    My feeling would have been that if I were BMC I'd prefer to have Gilbert in large part beacuse his past has indicated that he's not obsessed with going to France in July whereas Thor is. While Thor will have unquestioned leadership in March and April, I hope that they've already discussed roles for July.

    • bmj says:

      I would think Evans and Thor at the Tour would not cause much friction. Thor is mostly going to improvise (with a bit of support if a stage win is in the cards), so it's not as if the team needs to be built around his sprint train. I see no reason why Thor couldn't win a stage or two and Evans target the GC.

      I do suspect that Greg Van Avermaet might be a bit miffed, however–more so than if Gilbert had signed.

  2. Mark says:

    Greg van Avermaet can't be too happy about this.

  3. Matt says:

    I can't see how Gilbert would go to BMC with Thor there. To me, 1 and 2 seem linked. To me, no matter how you slice it, Thor came away from the classics season looking like a total cry-baby because Summie got the win at P-R. Adam brings up another great point – the TdF. Thor would really just be taking up a spot from someone who could help Cuddles. That said, I'm not too worried about Cuddles thinking the spotlight is being taken off of him. He knows he got lucky this year so my guess is he's taking time to enjoy Chiara and pet some kangaroos.

    Say what you want about JV, but it seems to me he has shown that he can manage the business side of the team. The road side is a whole 'nother story. But when it comes to the business side, he puts together a likeable team with a strong brand.

    • Steve in Duluth says:

      There's no way Gilbert joins BMC now. Maybe they could work out the classics issue, and maybe Evans wouldn't mind not being "the guy" in the Ardennes, and maybe Thor gets all the support he wants; but there's no way all three can ride the TdF together.

      I think Thor can co-exist with Cadel at the Tour. They don't have the same goals, Thor can get into the same kinds of breaks he was in this year without putting any pressure on Evans, and he can still be a threat in bunch sprints. But you can't add Phil in there as well; Phil is a good threat for at least one stage win, and if the organizers pick the right route, even more than that. But there will be too many situations where you would have to pick between Cadel and Phil, or Phil and Thor, or all three. Neither Phil nor Thor are known for enjoying that arrangement, and Cadel left Lotto partly due to lack of team support. So you can't have all three at the same Tour. And you can't spend millions on Gilbert and leave him home. Even if BMC wins every monument next year, the TdF would cause too much turmoil. It would be a mess.

      Honestly, the most likely destination for Gilbert is now… Lotto.

    • EarnedIt says:

      I'm also struggling to see how Thor fits in. I could see Gilbert concentrating on one day races and not going to the Tour but I don't see that for Thor. Thor doesn't fit with the way that BMC rode … unless he is prepared to play classics domestique during the Tour and that doesn't seem likely. Better for BMC to take a few climber / future GC men on board than Thor.

      As to Cuddles getting lucky, well a chap would have be doing a Nelson to come up with that. The strongest rider won and his intent was clear from the start. If you take the trouble to review the whole 3 weeks his dominance is quite clear… as was BMC's intense and whole-hearted dedication to the goal. Which does make the Thor acquisition confusing.

  4. Eric says:

    Vaughters has clearly succeeded on the business side, and I'm not sure I judge him on how well he retains riders from the Cervelo merger. These aren't riders who self-selected to be on JV's team. Of the ones who chose Garmin originally, it seems like there's pretty good cohesion and loyalty.

    Moreover, Garmin *did* win Thor's big race this year…

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