The third greatest event on the calendar concluded on Sunday to much fanfare, and let me tell you that we in Aigle were absolutely thrilled with the outcome.
I’d just like to start off by saying that we were delighted to oblige the long-suffering Andy Rihs with a well-deserved walk on the Champs-Élysées with his number one charge, the man I like to call “Pooky” Evans. I have been terribly distressed that our extremely well-endowed friend and die-hard fan of cycling was caught in the crossfire of our design back in 2006, but sometimes there has to be a certain amount of collateral damage when it comes to furthering our agenda. Thankfully Andy was very forgiving upon his return to the sport, and to that end, I’d like to say “merci beaucoup” to Andy and Cadel.
Yes it took quite a bit of work to bring it all to fruition. The politics. The gamesmanship. Buying off Spain. Then buying off France to ensure a cascade of boos would flood our latest pariah. Alas, that little episode of Karpets banging was unsanctioned and unfortunate, but the subsequent payback on behalf of Saxo in the form of another pawn forfeited made things right.
Sunday evening’s after parties were legendary, but due to my wishes to keep things more or less with a “PG” rating today, I won’t go into any sordid details about who was kissing whom, what clothing was discarded on the dance floor, which life partner had their bottom slapped, or whether certain individuals were partaking in any sort of recreational chemical activities. We’ll just save that for the tell-all memoirs that will be sold upon my retirement sometime around 2016.
Instead, I’d rather address a few issues that arose during the course of conversations via in-person meetings, twitter, email and the like. Firstly and thusly, we’ve had many folks in the media complain about the fact that teams, riders, organizers, national federations and the UCI are pocketing major dollars in the post Tour de France criterium circuit, or as @jamesstout so eloquently referred to them on twitter, “Post TdF Dramas.” The only things missing are the facial slaps, turgid music, and cliffhanger endings from such similar soap operas as Coronation Street.
So what is the big hullabaloo? What’s the frequency Kenneth? What’s the big challenge? Who the fook is whinging about something ridiculous now? How else can I fill space, occupy time, and make you read these ridiculous paragraphs of nothing but questions that I call filler which also function as atrocious run-on sentences with absolutely no point to them whatsoever? My apologies, folks and back to the rub, which is, apparently, the fact that certain members of the US cycling community feel this is all rather unfair.
These criteriums are sanctioned “races” via the national federations. Let’s review the UCI rule as it is stated:
Those of you in the bankrupt third-world nation of the United States should take note that the rules are easy for you to follow. Simply start by creating your own circuit of post-Tour de France criteriums for the boatloads of American cycling fans who are just dying to watch their heroes spin around the streets of New York in a “Welcome home, heroes” sort of way. That is, of course, with the understanding that New York has huge open arms for anyone who attempts any two-wheeled form of transportation. In fact they pretty much roll out the red carpet of paddy wagons for those who dare to ponder even swinging their leg over the top tube.
Shall we examine the facts of the US presence at the Tour de France? Shall we examine the “true” impact of the Americans in the Pro Peloton? I think we shall, because as we all know the American media takes every opportunity to hype every single droplet of American influence in every possible page.
There were only nine riders competing at the Tour de France who were born in the United States. Why would USA Cycling want to create a national-level UCI sanctioned criterium for nine riders? The answer is simple; they wouldn’t. They are all having a hard enough time keeping races afloat in the US as it is. Outside of California, Massachusetts, New York (except for New York City) and parts of the Pacific Northwest, bicycles are nothing more than obstacles for angry carcentric commuters to run over and through. Frankly, all of us in Aigle would be surprised if the Amgen Tour of California and the Race-from-Colorado-with-the-Longest-Name-in-History would actually survive past this year.
To put that into perspective you have a solid lineup of professionals who could fill one team. Don’t get me started on the fact that we have far too many American-based teams in the fold – we’ll address that in October/November. However, we do like those “American-based” corporations (technically they’re all based in the Caribbean for tax purposes; I know because we all play golf together there in December for the “Annual Meetings”) and their wonderfully lavish marketing/public relations/hush fund departments. We’d just rather them bring their money to Europe and call it a day. Just like the tourists. But I digress.
What does this all mean in real terms? The United States, while having a very strong media presence and several cycling-related companies based on their shores, almost exclusively focuses their energies on the commuter or casual rider, which unfortunately has not translated into a strong presence at the professional level. The ratio of national population to professional cyclist (something on the order of one pro racer for every 35 million US citizens) should give you enough indication. Alas, we won’t go into the reasons why this is the case, as we all know the problem stems from offering up a single Christ-like figure for the the American masses to worship in the form of consumable expenditures.
So, that being said, when USA Cycling comes to the UCI with a plan to create the next big thing in United States Cycling that they want added to the WorldTour calendar, we quietly laugh, pat them on the head, and send them back to the playground to mix it up with the South Americans. This is also why we prefer to head to Australia and Asia to develop races – it’s called fans roadside, or big time dollars to compensate for the lack of fans roadside. Both are in short supply in the States these days. It also makes sense to forge alliances with the country that holds the debt of the United States as well. That’s just “good business.”
So now does it make sense why the ASO has rebuffed efforts of American promoters to pull them across the Atlantic puddle to focus on more financially lucrative ventures in Qatar, Dubai, and now in China, thanks to our help?
Speaking of China, I must also hand out a “well done” to a certain individual on twitter, @Velocast. The fine young Scot Scott made an allusion to a certain company that has been functioning as a clearing house for us at the UCI. It seems that many have forgotten about our little venture, first discussed by the illustrious @inrng in his article from April of this year (link to it is here).
What’s wrong with us lining our pockets? What’s wrong with creating a private company through which we can launder our funds that will escape all scrutiny from any potential Swiss parliament investigations into the UCI? So what if Alain Rumpf, Jean-Pierre Strebel and Rocco Cattaneo are ensuring the fact that cycling continues to grow? Why shouldn’t those of us who are part of Global Cycling Promotions reap the benefit of the hours upon hours of hard work that it takes to grow our sport?
Who would consider it a conflict of interest that Rumpf is on the ground in a dual role for the UCI and as Promotions Director for GCP? Everyone wears multiple hats – just ask the journalists who also moonlight as public relations specialists for a variety of companies involved with cycling. This is just the new reality that is professional sports, not merely the new cartel corporate operating rules.
However, just to calm all the Chicken Littles we did feel it was wise to bring in another partner in our cartel-related ventures, hence our recent edition of the ASO to legitimize the operation of the Tour of Beijing. Since that has occurred, the by-product has been the fact that instead of focusing on our role in our clandestine private venture, everyone -again – is wringing their hands over the fact that our two organizations have a tiger’s jaw death-grip on cycling that is the envy of every other major sport.
Yes, this week was business as usual. The pro peloton gets their post-Tour euros, the fans get to be up close and personal with their heroes in the biggest cycling market in the world –Europe – and I continue our plans with SportAccord to control the masses from world headquarters. As long as we keep those criterium dollars flowing, and the groupies swarming the boys, I think we’ll be pretty safe to maintain our status quo, in spite of many trying to upset our apple cart.
Lord knows, a unionized pro peloton is the only thing that could put a crimp in our plans for world domination…