If you are a fan of pro cycling, you may have noticed recently that Marcel Kittel received what we here in the north of England would call “a bit of a slap.”
And you know what?
He loved it.
Because this picture now exists:
Cyclists love their hard man image, and they love being photographed whilst being heroic. Kittel will already have this framed on his living room wall.
The moment of impact wasn’t captured on camera, but it seems Kittel was battling for position on the windswept desert roads in Dubai, and getting a bit too busy with his elbows for Andrei Grivko’s liking.
So Grivko gave him a whack.
Kittel got the pictures and the sympathy, Grivko got booted out of the race, and Bernie Eisel was called in to sort things out.
Eisel is the elder statesman in the peloton. The old-skool man you go to with a problem. Disagreement? Rule dispute? Safety issue? Bernie’s your man. Punch someone in the face and get thrown off the race? Who you gonna’ call?
Heaven forbid that the two could get together post-race, have a chat over a protein recovery shake and a game of darts, and sort things out like a pair of grown-ups.
Shortly after the incident Grivko pedalled over to Bernie to say that he wanted to apologise. Bernie found Kittel to explain. Kittel said he wouldn’t accept the apology, that Grivko is dangerous, and this sort of thing is terrible for “our beautiful sport.”
Bernie went back to break the news to Grivko. Kittel refused to wipe the blood from his face and rode alongside the TV cameras for a while. Grivko’s fame grew with every kilometre that ticked by. Kittel headed back to the team hotel to practice his ‘victim’ face and wait for the soap star offers to roll in.
Grivko got sent home.
Kittel got the glory.
Just another day on the bike for Bernie.
(Image: Bernie Eisel by Laurent Brun via Flickr)