Former world champion and classics winner Moreno Argentin has blasted the UCI, modern day riders and especially Alberto Contador for their lack of character, describing them as spineless and soft. He blasts the UCI for running a fake form of democracy, suggesting they are only interested in turning the sport into a business.
Argentin won the world title in Colorado Springs in 1986 and is still the most successful Italian rider in Belgium classics thanks to winning a Tour of Flanders, four editions of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and three editions of Fleche Wallonne.
He raced for 14 years between 1981 and 1994, retiring after wearing the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia for two days.
He was part of the dominant Gewiss team in that final year that also included Giro winner Evgeni Berzin and Milan-San Remo winner Giorgio Furlan. They completed the podium with Argentin at Fleche Wallonne in 1994 after breaking away from the peloton together.
Argentin has never been afraid to speak about his close relationship with Dr Michele Ferrari in the final part of his career and has defended the Italian doctor’s methods and links to Lance Armstrong.
“I have to thank my parents that I was born when I was. I was born hungry. Now the guys seem soft without any character,” Argentin told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“A lot of people aren’t hungry for success and they’ve already earned a lot since they were a junior. I suppose things have changed and it’s a different generation that already has everything. That’s why when I watch races there seems to be a total lack of emotion. There aren’t any riders that get you excited these days.”
“Contador is a carefully calculated racing machine, made in a laboratory for one race: the Tour. It doesn’t seem to matter if he’s got personality or not. He and Schleck are the same. You know how they’re going to race; you know where to wait for them to do something. They haven’t got any originality.”
“Indurain dominated the grand tours in my time but I beat him at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. And he also rode Milan-San Remo because he understood the history of the sport. Now the riders are all robots. Punctures and crashes are part of the sport. But with radios the riders seem to be controlled by a joystick. The whole sport is in a mess.”
A fake form of democracy
Argentin initially stayed in cycling when he retired but now owns a successful construction company in the northeast of Italy. He hopes to build a velodrome and training centre in the Dolomites.
“I’m happy not to be involved in cycling anymore. These days if you don’t accept things, you can’t survive. I prefer to listen to my own conscience.”
“These days the only thing that seems to matter is the UCI and its business. The sponsors and riders don’t seem have the right to say anything. There’s a fake form of democracy in cycling and no desire to change things. The track is dead and buried and the road is going the same way.”
“The Giro, the Tour and the monumental classics are the races that matter; they’re the history of the sport and get the people out along the roadside to watch them. But the UCI is bringing everything down to a same level. That’s why they went to war with the Giro and Tour organisers.”
“Look how the rules, points and classifications have changed. It’s about income and business. The sponsors bring the cash and pay the riders but can’t have their say. They deserve more respect.”
The riders are spineless
Argentin calls on the riders to speak out, using Franco Pellizotti’s refusal to speak out about biological passport case as an example of how the riders are afraid to challenge authority and rock the boat.
“The riders are spineless. They know that if they speak out they never race again,” he said.
“Look at Pellizotti. I met him the other day. He lost the whole season because of his suspicious blood values but won’t say anything, otherwise…”
“The riders have to stop and rewrite the rules that are strangling them. From the points system to the anti-doping rules. The whereabouts system makes them seem criminals on bail. They’re unable to work together and think of the future. I was a pro for 14 years but these days how many off them reach half of that?”