If you are Cadel Evans, this has been a good week. Having spent most of the year in successful anonymity – except for the odd lapse in New Idea – Evans rode blinking into the sunlight at the Criterium du Dauphine.
Don't panic! Don't panic! And on Monday's first stage he smoked the field, justifying his status as running favourite for the Tour de France whatever Miguel Indurain thinks.
Evans has given the impression all year that having finally won the Tour de France he is a man unburdened. He even sounds relaxed on Twitter, to the point where in this tweet after Sunday's prologue he may actually have become Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazzard.
Criterium du Dauphine off to an ok start....looks like old diesel here needs some racing. Still a lot of fast guys to come...#dauphine— Cadel Evans (@CadelOfficial) June 3, 2012
If on the other hand you are a Schleck, Twitter – and, increasingly, the World Tour itself – continues to be a very cruel place*. A running gag this season has been the SchleckChute™ which, according to internet lore, is deployed whenever Frank or Andy abandons a race. Andy lost over three minutes to Evans on Monday, triggering speculation that he had accidentally deployed his SchleckChute™ while still on the road.
Further time loss on Tuesday had the effect of stirring an already pretty agitated hornets' nest at RadioShack-Nissan.
After Frank's chute billowed into action most recently at the Giro d'Italia, team director Johan Bruyneel had pointedly suggested Frank's injuries were not bad enough to justify the withdrawal.
When Andy suffered his Dauphiné Catastrophé (Twitter, you're welcome) this week, Bruyneel denied there were extenuating circumstances, saying: "There's no particular reason, there's nothing physically wrong. He thinks he has a lack of rhythm, a lack of competition. He couldn't deal with the accelerations."
This made interesting reading in the context of Andy's own assessment, in which he cited a knee injury which had been giving him trouble.
"I don't feel the panic which some other people feel because I was dropped in the first stage. I'm not panicking," Schleck added, delivering such a dead-on impression of Corporal Jones from Dad's Army that the Broom Wagon shed a tear for TV's golden age.
And there was more, with Andy brilliantly attempting to solve the problem with Bruyneel through the press by telling Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad: "Personally, if I was a manager I wouldn't try to solve problems with my riders through the press."
Finally came a rumour, fleshed out on Wednesday by Tuttobiciweb.it. Reportedly, a deal is in the works in which Alberto Contador and the Schleck brothers would swap teams. This would see Bjarne Riis reunited with the Schleck brothers, and Contador back with Bruyneel.
Given the number of contracts involved, this has the whiff of fantasy, although the idea of bringing not one but two bands back together has a certain B-movie appeal. Either way, with three weeks until the Tour there's one clear winner out of the whole Schleckmozzle (© the Broom Wagon). Yup, if you are Cadel Evans, this has been a good week.
*Unless you are the third Schleck brother, Steve, in which case the Broom Wagon wishes you all the very best with your ongoing contribution to Luxembourgian politics.
The week in ...
6 – days between Philippe Gilbert joining Twitter and using his account to heckle the Belgian press: "They are sport journalists and not able to talk about sport!"
315 – average kilometres per day ridden by Mike Hall, the 31-year-old from Yorkshire who lowered the record for cycling around the world to 92 days. Hall beat the previous record by almost two weeks.
1000 – steps down which mountain biker Marcelo Gutierrez judders for our amusement in this Red Bull race in Bogota, Colombia.
Dispatches from the Twitterverse
Nearly got side swiped by 3 nuns and there driver on the autostrada... @nickaitken31 must have said his prayers this morning for all of us— Rohan Dennis (@RohanDennis) June 1, 2012
MacGyver would've used a fishing pole and chewing gum. I opted for a long wooden serving spoon and scotch tape. Disaster&thievery averted.— Ted King (@iamtedking) June 2, 2012
The 'why' of this Russian attempt to improve on the design of the modern bicycle can perhaps be explained with the words 'vodka', 'long', 'winter' and 'nights', but then the same can doubtless be said of many of the world's great inventions. The bike does away with the chain, replacing it with a system of cables hooked directly to the rear axle. The inventors say they welcome prospective investors – an offer all the more enticing when you consider the promise of no more grease stains on your trousers, plus a unique pedalling technique that only makes you look like a bit of a ninny.