You may remember that around the time of the Giro d’Italia in 2015 the fabled Team Sky motorhome first hit the cycling headlines.
It was essentially a diesel-powered four-berth ball of cotton wool to wrap up Giro team leader Richie Porte. By having a man in a van follow him around Italy and tend to his every need Richie would be saved the hassle, discomfort, and general unfamiliarity of the usual succession of cheap hotel rooms.
I dare say the phrase ‘marginal gains’ may have cropped up at some point.
If I remember rightly this led to something approaching a diplomatic incident, causing outraged Italians to get worked up in the way that only an outraged Italian can about Sky’s disdain for their country’s supply of hotels. A dislike for an Italian hotel became a snub to national pride on a par with spaghetti hoops in tins, and chicken tikka pizza!
There was also a not so orderly queue of rival team bosses ready to cry foul at Sky’s apparent disregard for all that is sacred within the sport – although quite when a bland chain hotel with a noisy air-con system became sacred is anyone’s guess. There were accusations of arrogance, and a probably justified complaint along the lines of: “what would happen if we all brought along a fleet of motorhomes?”
Proof, if ever it were needed, that everyone can get along just fine until a good old fashioned parking dispute intervenes.
And now it emerges Team Sky have quietly (though publicly) admitted defeat, and the sleek black camper van has popped up on e-bay.
At the time of motorhome-gate Sky were quick to rubbish claims that the tactic had anything to do with Richie Porte disturbing a succession of room-mates by snoring vigorously. Any suggestion that Porte had basically been evicted to the car park of whichever hotel the team happened to be staying at was firmly denied, although I have to say that Dave Brailsford has always had something of the look of a Mancunian baliff abut him.
And then, hot on the heels of Porte’s end of season transfer to American team BMC racing, the fabled motorhome pops up on e-bay.
Despite outward appearances as just your average affable Aussie, Porte is clearly anti-social in the bedroom department (if you’ll forgive my choice of words). I think the motorhome and its subsequent sale says it all.
Apparently the Sky graphics are to be removed before the new owner takes delivery, which seems a bit mean spirited, but no doubt there are important ‘corporate’ reasons for this. Having bought this vehicle you would want at least some evidence to back up your claims that you were the proud new owner of the Team Sky motorhome: a printout of Chris Froome’s Tour de France power data casually stashed in the glove box, for example, or one of Bradley Wiggins‘ old Fred Perry polo necks wedged behind the seat.
Further rumours that the Team Sky gazebo, camping stove, and swing ball set were recently spotted for sale at a car boot sale on the outskirts of Manchester are, as yet, unconfirmed.