Could it be that Mark Cavendish and his verbal barbs are in fact inspired and wholly deliberate?
Last week Blazin' Saddles had a routine pop at Cavendish for his latest outburst towards team-mate Andre Greipel, in which the Manxman labelled the German a second-rate sprinter who only won "small races".
Since Cav's stinging attack, HTC-Columbia manager Bob Stapleton has moved mountains to stress that all is ok in the camp and that his two prized assets are not going to come to blows in a two-wheeled take on celebrity death-match.
Greipel, in his own classy riposte, went on to win two stages in Turkey to take his season's tally to seven wins - six more than Cavendish.
You, dear readers, may expect the ever scornful BS to take this is as a cue to lambast Cavendish even further - especially in the light of a recent interview with the Guardian in which the 24-year-old Manx mind reader commenced with the telling statement: "You came here today with the perception that I was an arsehole."
But no. Saddles is all for revisionism - and this time he's going to give Cav his dues: the guy is a genius; a master of his actions; a puller of strings; a puppeteer extraordinaire. He's the director of the blockbuster film that is Mark Cavendish in which everyone else is a mere extra.
BS doesn't want to get bogged down by repeating verbatim what Cavendish told the Guardian journalist so he suggests, if you haven't already, that you read the full piece here.
For those who can't be bothered to click on the link and make your own judgement, BS will attempt to do that just now, explaining why Cav has soared in his estimation.
The general thrux of the piece was that Cav is not arrogant, he just has supreme self-belief. (Think Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner, but with the justification of actually being quite good.) His answers were assured but also playful to the point of flirtatious (the journalist in question is an attractive woman).
He is still clearly bitter about losing out on the green jersey last year in what was "one of the worst decisions in sports history" (this, of course, was said provocatively - as the journo expertly inferred); he claimed the decision to disqualify him from a sprint over an altercation with his rival Thor Hushovd was a personal one by the official in question "because I was winning so comfortably and doing wacky salutes".
While laying down his views, a joshing Cavendish implied that he and his agent shared the same opinion. The complicit "Can I use your term? Let me use your term!" had Cavendish written all over it. (The boy is a PR's nightmare - but more on that later.)
Cav is adamant that, despite his early season form, he will win the green jersey this July: "I know if I do the work then I'll win it. I'm not being arrogant. Physically no one can match me. We've got the best guys on the team to support me to do it. It's illogical to say I shouldn't be the favourite for it."
Such talk is actually rather refreshing compared to the usual platitudes from sportsmen talking about "taking each day as it comes....", "at the end of the day...." - all the more so when, to be brutally honest, you consider that Cav is probably in the worst physical shape of his career at the moment. If "no one can match" him, it's because no one is that far behind.
As such, Cav is going to extraordinary lengths to maintain his ubiquitous mantra of unwavering self belief. He is putting his neck on the line because the only person who's going to look stupid is him - but he also understands that acting like this is the only way he is going to ride back into form. Now that shows guts.
To explain the situation (and quite possibly show off his expertise in the kitchen), Cav uses a strange cooking analogy about the importance of being prepared: "If you can put all your ingredients in bowls beforehand you're not going to f--- up."
His detractors would maybe suggest that Cav should put his own ego in one bowl, label it, and place it in the fridge to cool down. But that would be freezing Cav's major asset - his self-belief - without which he is only half the rider that he is.
Regarding the Greipel affair, the Isle of Man Sportsman of the Year 2009 admits that he's outspoken but stresses that he's doing it to stick up for himself. "I don't ever start s---, I just retaliate a lot," he said.
There was no temptation to continue the war of words. Cav has said his piece about his team-mate. Besides, you have the impression that Greipel's wins in Turkey merely prove Cav's point entirely: that the German only excels in "smaller races".
"Loads of stuff I said about Andre is with a little smirk. It's like knowing it's creating controversy, if you know what I mean?"
But controversy creates interest and interest attracts the sponsors. Cav's celebrations may appear arrogant - but pointing to his shirt, proffering his green sunglasses or miming a phone call is a sponsor's delight. And that is where cycling's money comes from.
With all this in mind, it's no surprise that Team Sky didn't push through with their expected move to sign Cavendish in the summer. Sky aren't in it for publicity, they're in it to create something symbolic and significant - but they don't want anyone upsetting the boat. Such a well-oiled PR machine would have a nightmare with the outspoken sprinter on their books. And, in turn, Cav would see his main driving force stymied at Sky.
Look at the example of Bradley Wiggins. You used to always rely on Wiggo for a funny post-race remark or a cutting comment on Twitter. Now he's been shackled; his voice stolen. And you know what, it's boring. We want more people like Cavendish. He makes cycling fun. He is, as one cycling website put it, "everyone's favourite feisty rocket cyclist".
Of course, Saddles's opinion may change yet again if and when Cav rides to endless successive victories in California and France. But while he's not winning, Cavendish has never been more interesting.
SPARTACUS SUPREME: Last week Saddles celebrated Fabian Cancellara's brilliant victory in Flanders by comparing the Swiss sensation to another sportsman at the top of his game, Barcelona's Leo Messi.
As if to further justify BS's dual eulogy, both Cancellara and Messi went on to demonstrate their consistency and supremacy by winning Paris-Roubaix and scoring in the victory against Real Madrid respectively.
Cancellara's victory inevitably sent media outlets into overdrive, with some commentators asking the question: "Can Spartacus win the Tour de France?"
And yet the same question was being asked after the first six days of last year's Tour when Cancellara was sitting pretty in yellow after another dominant prologue and on the back of a victory in the Tour of Switzerland during which he showed a dramatic improvement in his climbing. (Incidentally, Kim Kirchen's overall credentials were being touted a year previously after the Luxemburger led the race into the second week. He finished eighth.)
Of course, the Tour has been won before - five consecutive times - by a time-trial specialist carrying a bit of weight but still getting through the mountains without too much ado. But Fab is no Big Mig over a demanding, three-week race.
Much has been said about Wiggins's improvement after losing a few kilograms of weight. But Cancellara finished last year's Tour in 91st place, almost two-and-a-half hours off the pace. Surely that is too much ground to make up, even for a man in the form of his life?
STELLAR SERVICE: Milram veteran Servais Knaven is to hang up his cycling shoes at the end of the season after, he hopes, one final Grande Boucle around France.
The 39-year-old Dutchman is one of the unsung heroes of the peloton and in his career managed to win Paris-Roubaix (2001) and a stage in the Tour (2003). Back in his youth and before cycling blogging took its toll, Saddles used to be a student in Bordeaux and was there when Knaven powered to victory during that summer's heat-wave. Happy days.
Saddles even bumped into ITV's Gary Imlach after that stage and heard what the presenter had to say about Lance Armstrong's near miss two day's earlier in the Pyrenees, when Joseba Beloki hit the deck at high speed, forcing the American to ride cross country and jump over a ditch. "He's a jammy b------," were his words, if Saddles remembers correctly.
Anyway, back to Knaven, a rider from the old generation who surely has many a tale to tell about the peloton. Having ridden for T-Mobile for five years in the late 90s, BS reckons Knaven could write an interesting book during his retirement. Maybe that's who Paul Kimmage should interview next?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "If this is not Merckxian, what is? It was really the way I did before. A very impressive performance." Legend Eddy Merckx sees a bit of himself in Fabian Cancellara after the Swiss's brutal attack on the road to Roubaix.
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