The Relax-You-Won’t-Get-Caught team has a 30 per cent gap in its funding and is desperately seeking a sponsor to plug the hole, otherwise it’s a long siesta for Francesco Mancebo, Oscar Sevilla and co.
Is this another hard-luck story of a team that’s manfully battling on despite the problems blighting the sport? Or is it a cautionary tale that if you lie down with dogs you will eventually catch fleas?
You have to laugh when you hear the president of the Relax company, which manufacturers mattresses, say: “The backlash of doping is to blame for Relax not finding a new sponsor.”
Talk about selective vision.
Are we sure that this backlash is nothing to do with the fact the team signed two riders mired up to their necks in Operacion Puerto doo-doo ? Mancebo and Sevilla?
Let’s not forget Mancebo announced his retirement as soon as he was prevented from starting the 2006 Tour de France. Then he casually forgot all about that and waltzed back into the peloton as if nothing had happened. Classy.
And Sevilla’s situation was remarkably similar to Jan Ullrich’s. Both signed a document declaring they’d had nothing to do with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, both were subsequently found to have been clients of his and both were sacked by T-Mobile.
The only difference was the affair brought an end to Ullrich’s career, while Sevilla found Relax’s team manager Jesus Suarez Cueva was only too happy to offer him a contract – although it was reportedly minuscule compared to his previous six-figure salary at T-Mobile.
The backlash of doping indeed.
Mancebo and Sevilla blood-doped. They both avoided suspension ? unlike many others who were in identical situations ? and carried on racing.
The team that hired them has only itself to blame if other companies are now thinking carefully before getting involved.
And we’re supposed to feel some sense of regret that another team will be lost? Not in this case.
“I am in the unemployment queue,” said Mancebo. He should count himself lucky. If justice had caught up with him he’d have been entering the final six months of a two-year suspension right about now.
And no doubt we’d be hearing of his plans to return to the peloton when his ban ended ? with Relax, probably.