'Gears and cycling clothing in Las Vegas' as Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, or something like that...
Patrick Lefevere has once again caused headlines for commenting about one of his riders, this time Soudal Quick-Step youngster Mauro Schmid for apparently failing to send his training data to the team because his "Garmin was broken", when in fact his absence was due to him flying out to Las Vegas following the conclusion of the World Championships.
Lefevere's comments came in his typically outspoken (and sometimes worse) newspaper column for Het Nieuwsblad, the 68-year-old comparing the Swiss rider's service to that of domestique extraordinaire Tim Declercq and concluding that "at the end of the season you spend fewer words saying goodbye" to someone like Schmid.
Just hours after the column was published, Schmid delivered his reply in the form of one swift Strava upload...
— Mauro Schmid (@mauro_schmid) September 23, 2023
Recorded on Friday 18 August, amusingly on an apparently faulty Garmin Edge 1040, Schmid posted the Las Vegas ride on social media to confirm indeed he and his bike had jetted off to the United States following the worlds in Glasgow where he finished 13th in the road race and won the mixed relay event.
Naturally, Schmid uploaded his ride to Strava without power data, one 10-minute press of the lap button on a five per cent climb midway through the ride about as much evidence of training on show, but some lovely pictures of his Pro Vibe bars enjoying a Vegas outing nonetheless.
Telling the public of the situation, Lefevere wrote: "You sometimes lose riders who sign a contract for another team. Literally in the case of Mauro Schmid, who will move to Jayco-Alula after this season.
"After the World Championships in Glasgow he disappeared from the radar. When trainer Koen Pelgrim asked why his data had not been loaded into our training program, he said that his Garmin was broken. It later turned out that he had been on a trip to Las Vegas in six days. At the end of the season you spend fewer words saying goodbye."
It is not the first time Lefevere has used the Belgian press to make statements about his riders, Julian Alaphilippe and Remco Evenepoel just two of the riders to be on the receiving end in recent times.
Earlier this year Lefevere accused Alaphilippe of "hiding" behind crashes and illness before in April bizarrely suggesting part of the two-time world champion's success was that it came at a time when Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogačar were absent. That despite the Frenchman dropping Van Aert en route to his 2020 rainbow jersey and all three aforementioned rivals unable to challenge his 2021 defence.
Then, after Lefevere hinted at legal action as speculation around Evenepoel's future grew, Remco said both parties, "my dad and Patrick would be better off keeping quiet".
Going back further and it is not hard to find more much-criticised comments from the Belgian team boss. His 2021 verbals against Sam Bennett, whose Tour de France absence saw Mark Cavendish step in and win four stages to match Eddy Merckx's record, included saying the Irishman had "played with his balls" by returning to competition with the Irish national team.
And it was in his Het Nieuwsblad column too where he compared Bennett's return to Bora-Hansgrohe to a "woman who still returns home after domestic abuse". In February, Lefevere also claimed women's cycling is "being pushed artificially" and that many pros "are not worth" the current minimum wage set by the UCI.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.