Like many cyclists, I have visited www.letleviride.com, the website Trek created with the surefire plan that a petition would get ASO to change its mind about letting Astana ride in the Tour de France (because, as you know, ASO is a highly rational race promoter and is always interested in hearing opposing points of view).
And, like many cyclists, I have been struck by the centerpiece of the website. No, it’s not the petition. No, it’s not that there’s no other real content besides the petition.
It’s that photo of Levi. He looks so…so…angry, with his dock-worker’s hat, his piercing stare, his leather jacket. His aggressively closed-off body language, expressed primarily in the form of folded arms.
He’s so angry, in fact, that while the rest of the website is in color, Levi has gone completely desaturated.
Now, my first thought, upon seeing this picture was that Levi — a spokesman for PETA (see how kind, happy, and unlikely to beat you up he used to look?) – was angry that somebody made him wear a leather jacket for the photo shoot.
I’ve since discovered to reconsider.
Now the World is Ready for You
So last night I spent some time surfing the web, and I discovered that the Astana cycling team now has its very own website, making them as technologically with-it as the average American elementary school student. While there (at the Astana website, not elementary school), I ran across another picture of Levi.
Or is it that they’re folded still?
I can’t help but begin to wonder what this means. Is it possible that Johan Bruyneel is forcing Levi to keep his arms folded at all times, so as to facilitate upper-body atrophy? Or is this a special training exercise that Levi is conducting, wherein he constantly squeezes his ribs in toward the center, eventually narrowing his body and reducing his wind footprint ever-so-slightly?
Well, those may be part of the explanation. But — for Levi, at least — part of the explanation may also have to do with the jersey he’s got on.
Tell me: if you had a jersey that looks like it was designed by the same cartoonist who penned Wonder Woman, wouldn’t you cross your arms over your chest?
Think I’m a little “out there?” OK, fine. Here’s another picture of Levi in this jersey design.
Sure, this time he’s not crossing his arms over his chest this time, but just look at his face. Have you ever seen more of a “Please, kill me now” smile in your life?
I submit that you have not.
My interest — and my concern — growing, I started seeing if there is a pattern. I looked up Chris Horner’s picture:
Yes, his arms are folded, too. If this had been the first Astana cyclist’s photo I had stumbled across, I would have centered my arm-folding Astana team theory around the fact that it looks like Chris is embarrassedly hiding a paunch. Look at that smile. It’s like he’s saying, “Hey, don’t look at my stomach. Why don’t you look at my head-sized watch, instead?”
Of course, Leipheimer and Horner are probably the only two Astana guys posing with their arms folded in front of them. It’s probably just some American thing, right?
The Spaniards — Contador and Antonio Colom, are clearly going for the same look, though I’d say with considerably less success.
Clearly, this is no coincidence. There’s a pattern here. “But,” I asked myself, over and over, “Why? Why would they be covering their chests like this?”
And then it hit me: By considering what they’re covering up, I could understand why they’re covering up.
I see two possibilities. One of the two must be true, and maybe both are.
Possibility 1: They’re covering up the name of the team with their arms, hoping that ASO will forget that they’re Astana. If you look at Contador — the racer who has the most to gain by getting in the good graces of ASO — you’ll notice he is by far the most proficient at covering up his team’s name.
Possibility 2: They’re covering up their hands. Is it possible that Bruyneel has been handing out beatings when cyclists turn in a less-than-stellar performance? In days of yore, headmasters would whack truant children on the top of the hand with a yardstick, leaving a painful — and very visible — bruise. Could it be that Bruyneel’s secret of success is a literal interpretation of “carrot and stick” motivational techniques?
Take a look at how few hands you see in all these photos — including the ones where Contador and Leipheimer are standing with Bruyneel, their hands behind their backs — and then try to tell me you don’t share my suspicions.
Or is it possible they’ve got other reasons? I’ll let you be the judge.
- Favorite Race: World Championships
- Dream Profession: Actor
- Favorite City: Rome
- Message to Fans: Like cycling and have fun
- Favorite Food: Italian Pasta
That’s so sweet.
Personally, I find it offensive that Astana is evidently hiring 10-year-olds to race. Doesn’t that break some kind of child labor laws?
That doesn’t compare with my main complaint, though. Evidently, they’ve cut off his hands.
Bruyneel, have you no shame?