Andreu steps down as 5-hour Energy director

Former commentator hopes to reprise media role

Frankie Andreu told Cyclingnews this week that he is stepping away from his job as director of the 5-hour Energy Cycling Team to pursue work in media and broadcasting. Andreu has guided the UCI Continental team, currently run by On the Rivet Management, since 2010.

“I've decided not to return to On the Rivet Management,” Andreu said. “I'm exploring different options, but I don't have anything nailed down. I'm trying to get back into doing some of the media and commentating that I did before. I enjoyed doing it a lot. I think the web is the future with a lot of the live-streaming, so I'd like to be able to do that and get back into race announcing, which I've done before also.”

Andreu, 48, previously worked for the Versus TV Network, which covered major professional races like the Tour de France and the Spring Classics. The cable channel has since become the NBC Sports Network. Most recently, Andreu provided video commentary and race analysis for Bicycling Magazine at the biggest US races and in Europe, including his Tour Talks analysis from France with James Startt.

Andreu admitted he will miss both the competition and working with the riders next season, and he went out of his way to thank sponsor 5-hour Energy, which he said supported him through the difficult days when the cycling industry did not treat Armstrong's detractors, or at least those who were viewed as detractors, very well.

“I owe them a lot,” he said of the energy drink company. “5-hour Energy has been super supportive of the riders and of me working with them for the last four years. With the team, you know 5-hour's been great, but with the overall budget of the team, it's been limited resources sometimes, so it makes it difficult. I finally just reached a point where I didn't want to keep going down that road. So I decided to make a change now.”

The team missed out on invitations to most of the major North American UCI 2.HC and 2.1 races this year, with the Tour of Alberta being the only exception. Andreu's team won the National Race Calendar individual standings in 2013 with Francisco Mancebo, but the former Spanish national champion left the team before this season and similar results were hard to come by.

Andreu said he informed the team in August that he would not be back next year.

“I didn't let the riders know until Tour of Alberta,” he said. “And the only reason I did that is because I wanted to tell them in person. I didn't want to email them or write them. Otherwise, I would have told them in August, but we didn't have any races in August, so I let them know in September. Some riders have been looking to make moves, so I've been trying to help them out if they ask.”

Andreu started his own professional cycling career in 1989 with Wheaties-Schwinn before moving on to 7-Eleven, Motorola, Cofidis and US Postal Service. Andreu retired from racing in 2000 and worked as an assistant director with the US Postal team for the next two seasons.

In September 2006, Andreu admitted EPO use to a New York Times reporter, and along with his wife, Betsy, was a key figure in the investigation into Lance Armstrong's use of performance enhancing drugs. In July of 2006, not long after news of the Andreus' 2005 legal testimony about Armstrong's drug use had been leaked to the press, Toyota-United sacked him as director of the first-year Continental team.

Andreu got back into directing in 2008 with the Proman women's team before moving to Kenda in 2010. The team switched title sponsorship to 5-hour Energy two years later, and On the Rivet took over management of the team in 2013.

There were several highlights during Andreu's four years as director of the program, he said, including Mancebo's NRC win in 2013; Bobby Sweeting's stage wins at Tour of Elk Grove and the Cascade Cycling Classic; Jim Stemper's “most aggressive” stage ride at the 2013 Tour of California; and Phil Gaimon's overall win at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in 2012.

“This year was super exciting with David Williams getting third at the [US pro] time trial,” Andreu said. “So there's definitely been highlights, different riders coming through at different times. Sometimes it's not just about the win. Sometimes its just these guys laying it on the line and putting in a great performance – Phil Gaimon when he won Redlands. Directing that was so exciting. Everybody came together and it was fantastic. There have been a lot of highlights.”

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