Becca is Back (unfortunately)

June 12, 2013

A revealing interview with Flavio Becca – Radioshack-Leopard-Trek team owner on cyclingnews today. Riders and staff haven’t received their wages for May yet, although he claims they have been paid now. Time will tell. As is to be expected from the McQuaid of team owners, his comments confuse more than they clarify. For example, he says:

“I prefer that I don’t have the money and that people are paid, that’s really important for me to say.”

Actually, he just did the opposite, at the end of May he didn’t pay the people. I can sympathise with a team owner who doesn’t have the money, but is that what he is saying? That he’s gone from uber-rich business owner to not having one month of salaries to his name anymore? It’s possible, after all he’s in the real-estate business and that’s not exactly a booming trade, but it would be an extreme reversal of fortune.

But the statement that really got me was the following:

When asked if Frank could even ride for the team this year, Becca said, “It’s too early to clarify that position. It’s too early.”

Frank Schleck is on month 11 of a 12 month ban, and it’s still too early for the team owner to clarify his position? I’m no fan of going soft on dopers, but it’s also not fair to leave people hanging. If you don’t want him anymore, for sure you could’ve told him by now. The reason Becca hasn’t made up his mind yet is that it depends on whether Trek takes over his team. Trek may not want Frank, and therefore it may want Becca to fire him and use the doping positive as an excuse.

I would think the lawyers will have a field day if Becca decides to terminate Frank Schleck’s contract. Never mind trying to establish that Becca fired him for the wrong reason (Trek instead of the doping infraction), the time delay will likely also present a major hurdle to Becca. Generally in labor arrangements you are required to take immediate action when a violation becomes apparent. Waiting 11 months won’t qualify as such. Now, I’m no lawyer nor do I play one on TV, but this appears to be pretty standard stuff.

In short, the turmoil at Leopard is not over yet. Good news for IAM, which undoubtedly is still trying to secure Fabian Cancellara’s services. He seems inclined to stay with Leopard if Trek takes over, but if it takes too long, he will opt for the certainty of an IAM (or BMC) contract. Cancellara has never really demonstrated nerves of steel off the bike.

See there the irony of the situation. Trek wants Leopard with Cancellara and without Frank Schleck, but insisting on Frank being fired may cause them to lose Cancellara. In which case Trek won’t buy the team, Becca will have a team without Frank Schleck and Cancellara, and the team sinks deeper and deeper into irrelevance.


Note: Frank may not be an employee but a contractor, but I doubt that will make much difference in this case.

9 Responses to “Becca is Back (unfortunately)”

  1. Q Says:

    The whole Leopard project has been a disaster and doesn’t seem worth trying to save at this point. Disband the team and give IAM a shot at a WorldTour license. If Trek wants to sponsor a team, I think they will find multiple existing teams interested in riding their bikes.

    • I don’t think Trek will find it that easy to find another team. They certainly have the money (any team would be happy with the heap of cash they pay Leopard) but few teams have their bike sponsorship up for renewal.

      Of course there is an easier solution: if MTN Qhubeka gets a WorldTour license, they are already a Trek-sponsored team. Heck, they may even be able to add Cancellara to it.

  2. Fausto Says:

    I think Pinarello just has 2013 contract with SKY (thy had 3 years deal 2010-11-12 and the added 1 more year last June, after the wrong news about Specialized-Sky deal) and Sky was rumoured to ride TREK from 2014 on.

    but now with Trek willing to step up and build a WT team, bike supplier for Sky is still to be decide (or maybe we’ll see Pinarello signing for more years during the Tour)

    IAM has 2013 and 2014 with Scott bikes.

    I think Trek should be quiet about Frank, and buy the license and get Cance and the others. that’s not a bad team, Guercilena is doing a good job.

    and while I’m at it, the deal Cervelo has with GArmin team should last until 2013?

  3. rick Says:

    Does it really matter what bike Cancellara is on? Or any other rider/team for that matter. I sell Specialized bikes, who have three World Tour teams, and although it makes great marketing it’s pretty rare people cite this as a reason to buy there bikes. I’m sure its different everywhere but i wonder what the real boost in sales is for most brands.

    • Does it matter? No. In my opinion pro are among the most useless marketing spends for a bike company. But everybody is afraid to stop them, just in case it turns out that it does matter.

      • roomservicetaco Says:

        If I understand you correctly, that’s a very provocative comment coming from someone who used to both own a bike mfg and also sponsor/own a team. Would you clarify? What was your experience with Cervelo/CTT in terms of what you expected to get out of the team sponsorship versus what you did get out of it? Were your objectives financial (revenue, more bikes sold) or were they some combination of dollars + intangibles such as r&d feedback, access to riders, etc.?

      • fausto Says:

        Pro races are not bad marketing at all: after Van Summeren Roubaix win in 2011 on a Cervelo bike I bought: a cervelo S1 frame, sram apex group, fizik saddle, argyle Giro aeon. a few months ago a bought a garmin.
        Vaughters is right, marketing works.

    • fausto Says:

      since Trek wants to be the main sponsor of a team, it does matter very much.
      it matters also because of the Sky-Trek rumours.
      Trek wants to build a team around Fabian, and they are keen to put $$$, so in this case, the bike he is riding does matter.

  4. Nancy Says:

    Why Frank wasn’t fired by RadioShack right away after the positive? I think that the uci rule with positive is that you can’t be part of a team during a ban ?

    As I remember for Contador and Valverde, they lost their contract and they were removed from team website and were in black kits during their ban?

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