Greed. This seems to be a common theme throughout the world at this brief moment in time.
All of us at the top echelons of society are attempting to secure our piece of the pie before the inevietable uprising of the first world masses against their corporate oppressors who have milked them for every Visa, MasterCard, Europay, car loan, and home loan penny at a rate chosen by those of us at that same level of upper crust. The very same corporate oppressors who have elected to become involved with the Tour of Beijing, the supposed WorldTour superteams, and other events on our prestigious calendar run primarily by the UCI in conjunction with our muscle, the ASO.
The riders are greedy, hence why they still haven’t risen from their lower/middle class muck to realize that they are nothing more than skilled serfs sent to the slaughter in jousting competitions, crusades, or wars of economic consequence that really have no bearing on real life. No, they still think that they all deserve multi-million euro contracts as they are all special, pining for the opportunity to hold the mantle of the chosen few that we protect in our grand scheme of whack-a-mole.
The sponsors are greedy, hence why they turn a blind eye to whatever happens in the team to achieve the results they desire to create the “return on investment” justification to each of their respective boards of directors for the multi-million euro investment.
The governing bodies are greedy. All I need to say there is Global Cycling Promotion SA. Look up last week’s Dispatches for more on that brilliant scam. I still laugh over that one.
The team owners?
It would seem that everyone is bemoaning the departure of HighRoad Sports and Entertainment (the “Entertainment” bit is my own little value-added enhancement, *chuckle*) and for some reason this team’s demise is being likened to a canary in the coal mine of malaise affecting the sport overall. Really? If memory serves me well, the same thing was said about Panasonic. Or Renault. Or Toshiba. Or 7 Eleven. Or Once. Or Festina. Or Mapei. Or Saeco. The funny thing is in most cases the same players are involved in the sport in some form or fashion, and those who understand the game of cycling stay flexible and adapt to the circumstances presented in order to survive and hopefully thrive.
Our lovely sport is a caste system that supports a variety of cliques all over the world, each resembling one another in many forms. There isn’t much of a difference between Girona, Boulder, and Aigle. The names may change but the players and their levels in the caste are comparable. Certain journalists have an acceptance within product suppliers/manufacturers and specific teams; certain pro-teams have an easier time securing wild card placement with certain event promoters. Only specific individuals and groups gain entrée into the inner sanctum that is Aigle/Vevey.
Every so often a rogue individual from outside the system barges his way through the door to announce “Here I am! I love the sport! I have boatloads of money! I’m going to drag you dinosaurs into the 21st Century with my bold plans utilizing ___________ (insert technology, innovative management techniques, blah, blah blah). Sure, we take their money, and we let them play ball for a little while just to see whether or not they are going to eventually conform to our rules of the game. Some survive, thrive, and learn to keep the boat steady. Others, like Michael Ball or Bob Stapleton, while enthusiastic about cycling, end up alienating too many people by acting like gobshites and inadvertently burning bridges with those who can actually help them remain in the sport.
Bob came riding in on his Deutsche Telekom horse, after his buddies sold their company and he received his golden handshake from that parachute package. Telekom sent him over to the cycling team, just to keep him focused on something. He fell in love. Yes, he received a settlement in order to allow Telekom a somewhat graceful exit and give Bob the opportunity to keep running the team. I will give him credit, no one in the industry thought he’d make it past year one. As many folks have already noted, including @velocast, he fell upon the superstar known as Mark Cavendish.
The worst part of this business, however, is that unlike many team owners who have touted clean cycling while maintaining programs off the books, Bob actually truly believed in cleaning up the sport. Seriously. The reason why he built a team around a sprinter is primarily the fact that he wasn’t willing to make the deals with the devil to have a “true” GC contender. Sure, he had a few that might have had a chance, but in all seriousness, none had the pedigree of the big Grand Tour threats of the past 5 years. The only trouble was, like a bull in a china shop, Bob had the bad habit of alienating and outright pissing off the wrong people. There’s always grumbling from current and former suppliers and sponsors of the HTC train of Bob’s attitude towards them.
He forgot outsider’s rule #1: don’t rock the fooking boat and lay low for the first two years before you start poking your head up, otherwise, you’re liable to have it handed to you on the silver platter. Just because Bob paid his dues in the “real world” doesn’t mean that it translated to the cycling world. If you want a little movie clarification of this phenomena, watch the recent release “Limitless” starring that Bradley Cooper gent and that fooking brilliant Robert De Niro. No matter how meteoric, no matter how brilliant, you still have to pay your dues. Or bring in management that has paid their dues while you back the fook off and drink bubbly and schmooze the Monaco crowd.
Even I learnt this lesson before I came into power back in 2006; I spent years in Langkawi, China, and the Phillipines. I was the UCI road commission chairman. I ran Irish cycling for a few years. I paid my dues before being embraced in the top spot and began rocking the boat with my mission. Could I make a big splash by trying to hang current NASCAR rookie Floydy Boy out to dry without paying my dues in the sport for 20 or so years? Unlikely.
Still not getting it? Think of times when you decide to travel abroad, let’s say to Spain. Are you one of those annoyingly loud fooking Brits or Americans who whinge about the fact that you don’t have a proper tea or a proper “Big Gulp” like you do at home? Are you one of those travelers who fails to blend into the surroundings and stands out like Rupert Guinness in his floral shirt on top of Alpe d’Huez? Then you are suffering from Stapletonitis. You want to shift the entire axis of the world to the paradigm of your thinking. You want EVERYONE to resist their basic instincts and take the bloody High Road. My eyes roll in the back of my brain when I hear that. It’s Jordy Blessed “High Moral Ground” people. My phrase is much better.
Hang on, I’ve got Bhon Mhat flopping around the floor like a swordfish on the deck of that boat I had Makarov buy me last year in Italy. It seems that he’s eaten some sort of bad caviar. I have to make a quick phone call…
“Sven? Can you send up Rocco to perform some sort of maneuver on Bhon? He’s looking a little sicky. Maybe slightly blue. Ow! Jaysus Bhon, don’t kick me son, I’m getting some help.”
Ahem, anyhow, where was I? Right. My rules of cycling fooking schmoozing.
Rule #1 of jumping onto the cycling band wagon: Make friends fast. Smile and wave a tonne. Throw around money and gift presents like a drunken sailor for about five or ten years. Once you have fooking dirt on the entire posse of influentials in the sport, begin your fooking campaign of shock and awe.
Rule #2 Don’t let them get the drop on you. Employ as many relatives as possible to protect your position.
They’ll never know what hit them.
It’s good to be the Lord Jaysus Fooking Overlord.