After spending the month of July away from the Tour de France due to his involvement in a doping case with the US Anti-Doping Agency, RadioShack-Nissan sports director Johan Bruyneel returned to duties at the Vuelta a España. Bruyneel rode in the team car during the TTT and after the opening stages, will return towards the final days of the Grand Tour.
It was Bruyneel’s decision to remove himself from his director’s role at the Tour de France but it’s not just the impeding charges from USADA that have Lance Armstrong’s former DS concerned. His ‘star-studded’ roster has failed to deliver expected results after the merger between RadioShack and Leopard-Trek at the end of 2012 and is hoping for better luck in 2013.
"I’m not sure if it was a mistake or not [to merge the teams]. We have to wait until the end of the year to assess. It is true I’d hoped everything would be easier and the transition would be quicker," he told Deia.
RadioShack-Nissan has won just 12 races this year compared to almost three times that amount when Bruyneel was the manager of Team RadioShack in 2012. The merger was meant to rebuild the team’s grand tour potential with the signing of Andy and Fränk Schleck however neither has managed a single win this year.
"Here is a little different, I did not select the team leaders [the Schlecks]," said Bruyneel. "Winning solves everything. The problem is that I expected a change in six months - it took me a whole year."
Andy’s crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné and Fränk’s positive test for Xipamide at the Tour have been huge disappointments for the riders and team. Rumours regarding unpaid salaries and the many public disputes between riders and management has made it clear that changes need to be made for next season.
"There are people who have adapted and people who do not. Some of those who have not been able to do, they will not follow me. It is the only way to have the team I want."
"What is clear is that none of us, especially Andy, can afford another year like this."
"[We] are missing things but next year we will see a different team."
There has been little news of rider transfers and contracts from the team however, Jakob Fuglsang’s move to Astana has been confirmed. Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara are contracted to the team for next year and while the status of Fränk is yet to be seen, Bruyneel says there are a few riders who he is determined to keep.
"If a rider wants to go to another other team there has to be agreement between all three parties. If one does not want to, it doesn’t matter how much money you put on the table."
"Andy has talent, if not he would not have done the Tours he has done. This year has been difficult for him with no luck. Now, we wait for the presentation for next year’s Tour before we start planning but everything indicates that it will be very different this year," Bruyneel said.