It's been a long time since I've written a blog. I've tried a few times at night after the Tour, but I always ended up falling asleep in the chair. Straight after the Tour we moved to London, which looking back wasn't the smartest idea - I'm exhausted! I spent 3 weeks on the road during the most stressful race and then moved from Madrid to London. Maybe not the best time, but it was more important that we got settled and adjusted before Victoria started her new school. She misses her friends from Spain and we wanted to make it as comfortable and easy as possible for her. She's a very sociable person and according to her teacher in Spain was the leader of the class, so I'm sure that once school starts she'll make new friends quickly.
Well I'm not going to go back and talk too much about the Tour because I've done a number of interviews that hopefully gave you some good insight. I can't say it enough, but I'm very proud of this team. We had to do some readjusting of goals, but the team always remained motivated and focused - that's easier said than done. It was also our third consecutive Tour de France Team Classification victory, which is always nice for the entire team to stand on the podium and be recognized for our collective efforts. So far this year we've won a total of 8 Team Classifications and accumulated 13 individual road victories from 8 different riders. Some teams may have more victories, but I doubt there are many that have more than half of their victories coming from different riders. It's been guys like Tiago, Jani, Hermans, Rosseler and Horner who really have risen to the challenge and impressed. Haimar is another one who gave us a great performance this past weekend with his Tour de l'Ain overall victory. If it's not one guy, it's another guy. One race you can be our domestique, next one our leader. There's great chemistry on this team and everyone understands it's not about individuals, it's about the team. When everyone understands that, it makes my life as a manager that much easier.
I'm glad to see cycling has some new title sponsors for next year with the addition of Geox and Telefonica. It's just a testament that more companies are recognizing the value of partnering with cycling teams. And then you have the new race in Colorado - Quiznos Pro Challenge. Lance was a key person for bringing a pro cycling race back to Colorado. It's been one of his goals and it's nice to see all the pieces come together with support from Quiznos and the state of Colorado. But while it's good to see another pro race in the US, I also thought about what it's going to take so we don't end up in a situation like we were with Tour de Georgia and Tour of Missouri. These were two great races, but in the past couple of years they have disappeared from the racing calendar. I had a good conversation with Chris Aronhalt, who is the managing partner of Medalist Sports. That's the company that's involved in putting on all the biggest races in the US - Amgen Tour of California, Tour de Georgia, Tour of Missouri, Greenville Hospital System USA Pro Cycling Championships and now the Quiznos Pro Challenge. They also work on the LIVESTRONG Challenges, so he's become a very good friend of Lance and the team over the past years. Chris has seen it all when it comes to cycling races in the USA - from start-up to extinction. So the simple question to Chris was "What's it going to take to keep the Quiznos Pro Challenge going for years to come?" As a side note, Chris is very excited because unlike the Tour of Missouri and the last couple of years of the Tour de Georgia, the race has a privately funded title sponsor. I was expecting a complex answer, but in the end it was pretty simple. What we need to do is to show our support and enthusiasm for those companies and people bringing a race to Colorado. And we need to do it before, during and after the race. What he's seen in the past is that people start making these efforts when the race is in danger of going away - often times it's already too late. So when you go to a Quiznos or any sponsor, he suggests thanking them for supporting a sport that you are passionate about. Outwardly express that appreciation, talk about it within your community, when you see a government official whether it be local, regional or state, let them know what their support of the race means to you. And really, this can apply to any sponsor we have in our sport - from RadioShack to HTC to Rabobank. It's one of the few free sports in the world and in order to keep growing, we need to show support, appreciation and enthusiasm. When you think about it, what Chris told me was pretty simple, but it's something that many of us forget to do in our busy lives.
As for Team RadioShack, we have about 2.5 months of racing left. When we didn't get invited to the Vuelta a Espana, we had to change the schedule quite a bit. I'm not going to go into my thoughts on the Vuelta situation again. I've said what I had to say and I think how we performed over the past few months speaks louder than words. This is also the time of the year when we are building our team for 2011. Expect some announcements in the next few weeks!!
I'll try to give you another update soon.