Prior to the Amgen Tour of California Ball very publicly came to loggerheads with AEG Sports president Andrew Messick over the decision to keep his riders from starting the race, based on the UCI’s definition of what constitutes an “open doping investigation.”
At the conclusion of the Amgen tour Birrell made it clear he felt that Ball’s public struggle with AEG, combined with the team’s traveling entourage — including four podium-girl models, a four-person PR firm, fashion photographers, a dozen-man film crew shooting a documentary and Ball’s driver/bodyguard — had overshadowed the race.
“I like all the riders he has on his team — it’s just that renegade approach and his desire to steal the limelight away from the platform that has been created for everybody else is what troubles me,” Birrell told VeloNews in California. “Right now, for Georgia, Colorado and Missouri, I just don’t know if there is a fit for that team at those stage races. We still haven’t finalized those rosters, but I don’t know if they are under consideration or not.”
I find it so ironic that a person who is trying to help define style in the fashion world is finding that style to be to his team’s detriment. Rock Racing would stand a much better chance of survival as a team if Michael Ball stepped back completely and left the running of the team to someone who is not in it to pimp his own image.