For those thinking that beards were useful as a disguise for increasing your anonymity, think again. According to German Simon Geschke, the Giant-Alpecin rider who won at Pra Loup in the Tour de France rider claims, his facial hair has had precisely the opposite effect.
“I feel I definitely get it [more recognition from the Tour stage], but the biggest reason is the beard,” Geschke told Cyclingnews before the last stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia - in which, as he put it later on Twitter, he was “in the break, crashed and then finished second last. Haven’t been bored all day.”
“It [the memory of his beard] got stuck in people’s heads, I was apparently on the TV a lot on that Tour stage, and people remember me because of it.” Indeed, if you google search “Simon Geschke beard” it pulls up a whopping 1,940,000 results. Take away “beard”, however, and it drops to 42,200!
With or without facial hair - when talking to Cyclingnews the German’s beard is its usual elegant trim - Geschke says his season’s objectives are very similar to 2015. “I’ll be focussing on a really good result in the Amstel Gold Race, which was also the plan last year but then I broke my collarbone in Tirreno-Adriatico. So the goals remain the same, definitely the Ardennes Classics and I hope to do the Tour and the Olympics.”
His winter, the 29-year-old says, “was not great. I started a little bit later, but for now, I’m on a good level. I was struggling with some knee problems, two times this winter so I couldn’t really train like I wanted. I didn’t lose too much, so I’m trying to be on the right track until April.”
If Geschke is playing a little catch-up at the moment, Giant-Alpecin as a whole were collectively de-railed in a far more serious way – the team was involved training crash when a car hit their training group early this year - which has seen the depleted squad pull out of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. As Geschke says “It’s not easy, we’ve had to change the race program and of course for the riders it’s the worst thing that can happen, to have a crash like in the early season and break something.
“I know how it feels because I had that last year although not in that kind of way, which was so terrible. It’s definitely hard for them and hard for the team. We have to set new goals. Six riders are injured now, it’s a lot, so we have to try to make the best of it.”
Geschke’s online profile rose a lot last week when the hirsute German posted a somewhat barbed tweet during the Vuelta a Andalucia, after Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) won stage two of the race into Cordoba following a hilly finale. “Not a fan of sprinters that get pushed up the last climb by teammates and then win the stage,” he wrote.
Cofidis sports director Didier Rous, meanwhile, has forcibly denied any such pushing involving Bouhanni took place and questioned the accuracy of Geschke’s tweet.
“There are commissaires, tv cameras and photographers everywhere. It would be crazy to muck around like that! If Geschke is jealous of Nacer’s win and if he gets a kick out of a controversy, that’s his problem, all of that is pure poetry [sic].”
Of the outburst, Geschke told Cyclingnews. “I was surprised that there was such a big discussion, but I have to say mainly most of the reactions were positive,” he said. “Here in the peloton, a lot of riders came up to me and said ’it was really good you said something because it’s against the rules.’
“Of course, sometimes it happens, but it shouldn’t happen for, like, ten seconds constantly pushing. It’s not fair. But… I just wanted to say something. I also said something in the race because people also said I shouldn’t have put it on Twitter, just talking to them personally, so I did.”
Geschke also made an unconfirmed claim that “somebody [from Cofidis, a team-mate of Bouhanni’s] apologized, so for me this discussion is over.”
Geschke emphasised that he did feel that Cofidis did an excellent job in the stage two finale. “I said something in the race and also after the race, straight after the finish line, too. But I also said congrats. It’s not that I want to say they didn’t deserve the win, they did a perfect job leading him out and delivering him to the line, and Bouhanni is also a really good rider. So that’s even worse because I think he doesn’t need to do it.”