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Weekly Wibble: Hair Bear Hunch

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Racing Cyclist, Marcel Kittel, interview, pre-race
The Hair: “These interviews are boring, let’s head to the beach!”


As far as we can tell, Marcel Kittel is famous for two things: being the fastest sprinter in road cycling and his luxuriant, gravity-defying blonde quiff. In fact, akin to Samson’s strength, these two are probably directly linked. Who can say whether it was the former or latter which persuaded German shampoo company Alpecin to sign up as secondary sponsor of Giant-Shimano from 2015?

Shampoo brand meets most famous barnet in the bunch – the internet quickly got into riffing on that quiff coincidence. But be careful: feeding all this hair hoo-ha is dangerous. Kittel’s plumage already sparkles in the sunshine like a unicorn’s mane, having a magical effect on dazzled spectators, forced into brainwashed rictus smiles whenever he passes by on race start lines.

If the hair chat continues, we can see how it’s going to go. Soon, it will start to believe its own hype. Alpecin will make sure Kittel and his hair-do takes centre stage for – undoubtedly – awkward advertisements (see below for more of those).

Soon, the German sprinter will use more and more of its hair products. Quickly, it will become one of the big stars of Giant-Alpecin, third in the pecking order: Marcel Kittel, John Degenkolb, The Hair (it will come to insist on capital letters, and will occasionally refer to itself in the third person). Fourth-string Warren Barguil will subsequently get upset and do one to a French team…

Before you know it, The Hair won’t put up with sleeping bottom bunk in some French Campanile. It’ll want its own separate room. Then The Hair will take a look at Marcel’s race schedule and decide that there’s no way they’re going to the ENECO Tour – the beach looks more fun.

Little Shop of Horrors-style The Hair slowly grows bigger and bigger, till it towers like some kind of follicular Shard Building. Having once been a source of his strength and power, it becomes a burden. Uvex have to make a special XXXL helmet to accommodate it. Kittel’s balance on the bike becomes affected, the excess kilograms strain his neck muscles and he starts losing bunch sprints.

Soon enough, The Hair demands more care. Marcel ends up spending more time on his locks than training. It hits him in the wallet too: his baggage allowance is regularly exceeded at airports by the weight of his numerous Alpecin haircare products. “This would never have happened to Levi Leipheimer,” Marcel thinks in a moment of mournful clarity after another expensive baggage check-in.

The Hair begins to control Marcel. It wants to go to a beer house and eat its weight in schnitzel rather than put in the hard miles, so that’s what they do. Soon, he can’t stop it: Kittel’s sprinting dominion is over, the wins dry up and he ends up going out in the first round of (German) Celebrity Stars in their Eyes (on the plus side, his Billy Idol transformation will be the most believable). And most heinously of all, the quiff, once so beloved by cycling followers, will fall out of fashion and become unpopular, just like poor Marcel.

So ends this cautionary tale. All you luxuriously-coiffed cycling stars (so, that’s Marcel and Pippo Pozzato): beware of The Hair.


7 – Number of different Australians to finish on the men’s U23 World Championship time-trial podium in the last five years: Jack Bobridge, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Rohan Dennis, Damien Howson and recently-crowned champion Campbell Flakemore.


There’s no shortage of cringe-worthy adverts from the world of professional cycling. From 2011, enjoy the prescient symbolism of Basso as waiter and Nibali as impatient customer.


Tyler Farrar’s turn as creepy lens-changing sunglasses wearer.


Insurance brand Ag2r-La Mondiale gets in on the act. “Our performances are collective.”


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