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by Peter Flax
November 21, 2017
Photography by Kjeld Clark
The following essay is intended to be parody, though it might inadvertently make one or two serious points.
I hate Phil Gaimon. Let me count the ways.
Right off the bat, I hate his cookie shtick. It’s kind of like Chris Horner’s Snickers habit, but more self-conscious and less manly. Real hardmen don’t wear onesies at stage races and brand themselves by a love of dessert treats.
Also, that Clean tattoo bugs me. I hate what dopers have done to the sport but Phil’s just so pushy about his advocacy. It’s kind of hard to explain, but I don’t want to see some loudmouth who rode eight years as a domestic pro calling out the big dogs like he knows what he’s talking about. I prefer guys who seem clean but don’t talk about it too much.
Who is he to take shots at Lance Armstrong or Horner or David Millar or Filippo Pozzato? I don’t like any of those guys any more, but still, I just don’t think Phil ever was fast enough to criticize them. He finished 11th in the Criterium International, so it’s not like he was ever top 10 at a major race. And yeah, he finished second to Quintana at San Luis, but he got most of that time from being in a breakaway that stayed clear, so you can’t count that.
And there’s that whole Strava thing — so annoying. Just as he’s getting ready to retire, he gets all this attention by taking KOMs from a guy who doped his way to a national title. What a self-promoting bully. Just in the same way that he wasn’t good enough to criticize WorldTour dopers, he is too good to be the American king of Strava. Phil needs to know his place.
Plus he thinks he’s some hot-shit writer and social-media darling. I used to wish he and Ted King would get a room together. Cycling is supposed to be a sport for strong and silent rouleurs who don’t know how to fix a split infinitive, not college grads who think they can be useful to pro teams by telling clever stories and sharing their feelings. Pro cycling sponsorships are based on marketing spends, and the time-honored way to market a brand is to win races, not tell stories.
And it’s time to call Phil out for being a hypocrite. Let’s not beat around the bush: The way he’s refused to disavow his friendship with Tom Danielson is all the proof you need. I know there are lots of other pros who have complicated ties with riders who’ve been sanctioned, but I dislike them less than I dislike Tommy D.
Don’t forget that Phil admits that he bought Christian Vande Velde’s car and drove it around Girona. And he’s ridden Levi Leipheimer’s gran fondo! How can a guy have a Clean tattoo and then acknowledge having nuanced relationships with people who have been nice to him? I want Phil to be more like one of those anonymous anti-doping figures on Twitter who just point the flame thrower at everyone from that era. I think everyone from that era should face the firing squad. Except Boonen — I love that guy.
Also, I have to admit there’s something unsatisfying about Phil’s relationship with Jonathan Vaughters. I like to think of pro cycling like it’s a superhero movie, and I’m always struggling to figure out whether JV is a good guy or a bad guy. He gave all these dopers second chances on a clean team and then he gave Phil a spot and a hard time and now Phil is throwing shade on Jonathan in his book — the whole thing is messy. If these guys were characters in a Marvel movie I would walk out of the multiplex.
In addition, the way that Gaimon acted cocky about being some kind of dominant domestic rider is super uncool. He was nothing more than pack filler in a whole bunch of crits. So he won Redlands a couple of times — that doesn’t mean he’s anything special. (I’m still irked about how he posted up when he won the Redlands GC in 2015 after finishing 25th on the final stage. Like he’s Froome on the Champs-Élysées or something.) I mean, Horner won it four times — that guy owned Redlands.
Also, hit me up offline if you want to hear about that time I finished seventh in a 40+ cross race.
And, speaking of legendary performances, now he’s coming after Fabian Cancellara? Please. I recognize that it was just a few sentences in a 320-page book, and that he merely was repeating stories and accusations that have been widely circulating for a decade, and that there are many, many other pros who off-the-record have said the same about Fabian’s 2010 classics season. The way that Phil wrote that paragraph so a couple of cycling web sites had no choice but turn it into clickbait is just not right. Remember, Phil wasn’t even there on the Muur when Fabian dropped Boonen! And the one time he raced Paris-Roubaix, he didn’t even finish. What would he know?
I hate that Phil wasn’t confident enough to immediately accept Cancellara’s fondo challenge. That’s what real men do — they solve disputes by seeing who can generate more watts. I mean if Cancellara can beat Gaimon in a sportive, it proves he didn’t use a motor in 2010 once and for all. Time to man up, cookie boy.