From the recent Neil Browne interview with Michael Ball comes this gem:
VN: What about Freddy Rodriguez and Floyd Landis?
Ball: Let me tell you something about Floyd. I like the guy, but his idea of business dealings were not a lot to be desired. It didn't work out in the end because I couldn't take his word, so it ended. I'm fine with that. It didn't end in a bad way, but didn't end in a good way.
Of course, further down the same continuum you have Rudy Pevenage, former coach to Jan "Hijo de Rudicio" Ullrich, complaining about not being paid several months' salary by Ball's Rock, moaning, "There were huge promises, but they were never fulfilled."
Ahhh, cycling. Where we all seem to deserve each other.
interview (not in part 2), Ball shows that he plays no favorites with his American riders, saying basically that Fred Rodriguez, who - to the best of my knowledge - never courted scandal or a bad image in the press, was such a douche-bag that no one on the team wanted to race with him.
VN: What about Fred Rodriguez? He has been with you since the beginning.
Ball: "I have to be honest with you, no one wanted to race with Freddy. The other riders did not want to race with him. He is a great guy, great athlete, but very difficult. What am I supposed to do when they [riders] are saying they do not want to race with him? You have to have the team dynamics. It's unfortunate, he is a great athlete and great guy, but I can't pay him for nothing..."
I personally always thought it was a shame that Fast Freddy had to return from the Continent, where he raced alongside some of the greatest names in cycling and three times wore the jersey of US Pro Champion, to finish his career in obscurity. It's not an end befitting such a champion and I'd like to see Ed Hood or Lucho interview Rodriguez so that we can learn what the real story is. UPDATED: It would also be nice to see Floyd Landis demonstrate to everyone that his word is his honor. I know from personal experience that it's not easy, but it's liberating - the truth will truly set you free.