Out of the blue the Rock Racing twitter account sputtered to life with the message, “Hey everyone, get ready for some exciting news about Rock Racing!” Honestly I took this announcement with a grain of salt as I suspected that a @FakeFloydLandis had hacked the account and was going to randomly post links to porn sites under the guise of a new Rock Racing team – “Want to see the new team kit? Click here!” – gotcha! I had good reason to suspect that the tweet might be nothing as the previous message was from April of last year regarding a blow out sale of all the Rock equipment. And as of the 26th of July, cars, clothing equipment and thousands of yards of denim had being auctioned. If you wanted to pick up a deal on a 2006 Bentley Continental Flying Spur with some odd white powder still in the seat cracks, that was the day.
But lo and behold the tweets people sent to the Rock account were answered rather cryptically, hinting that something big was actually on the horizon. For those who may not remember or just not know, Michael Ball, the owner of Rock Racing cycling team and one of the founders of Rock & Republic jeans, is ground zero for the ongoing federal investigation into Lance Armstrong. Federal investigator Jeff Novitzky had been looking into Ball due to his practice of hiring riders of questionable reputations before he started his investigation into the seven-time Tour winner. Once the Feds started looking into Ball they fell down the rabbit hole of big time ProTour level doping taking us to where we are with the Armstrong investigation.
Cyclingnews.com posted a story that the Rock Racing brand has been sold to Italian businessman Roberto Tronconi. Tronconi assured Cyclingnews that Ball wasn’t dead or hiding in Mexico (which would actually be a good idea).
Tronconi said that he was going to launch regional Rock Racing teams in California and New York with an amateur team in Italy. Well good luck with that…
The Rock Racing brand is an image that is forever ruined in the eyes of cycling. Michael Ball’s reputation is one of a snake oil salesman – never delivering on his promises. I interviewed Ball last year and he claimed that while the Rock Racing team wasn’t getting a pro license, he was going to have the most kick ass amateur team that was to include Oscar Sevilla (insert image of Ball with his tongue out and flashing the “devil/Texas Longhorns” hand sign). Yeah, that never happened. According to the CQ site in 2010 Sevilla raced as an Elite 2 and for 2011 he signed a pro contract with Colombian squad, Gobernacion de Antioquia – Indeportes Antioquia, which is slated to ride in Colorado’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage race (or as everyone calls it – the Tour of Colorado).
Tronconi says that he’ll be at Interbike, no doubt pimping his bikes, jeans and perhaps trying to hire talent. By talent I mean cyclists, not recruiting women like those that circled Ball like electrons. And by electrons, I mean electrons that do blow.
Resurrecting the Rock brand in Europe – where Ed Hardy branded clothes are still chic – dragging it out of the grave like a groaning zombie is a bad idea. Rock Jeans can be picked up at Costco and once you go Big Box, you can’t return from that – you’re now yesterday’s Gloria Vanderbilt. Look it up…
I’m hoping we don’t see any skull emblazoned kits and stupid devil/Texas Longhorns hand signs flashed by skinny lycra wearing guys. That part of cycling history is dead and done – and best left that way. The Rock brand has become synonymous with doping which quite honestly, this sport can’t take anymore. This Tour de France seemed clean and the skulls of Rock would only set that image back. I can appreciate Ball’s original idea of shaking up the old-school cycling establishment, but the way he did it made a mockery of the sport.