Occasionally, I like to explore ideas in a deeper scope than Twitter provides. Occasionally, I make entire blog posts devoted to a few of these ideas. Today is one of those days.
I’m not going to lie to you and advertise myself as a guru of American domestic bike racing, but I know one thing. Kenda Pro Cycling is a pretty impressive squad. They’re also continually skipped over for invitations to large races. They rode the Amgen Tour of California a couple of years ago, without much fanfare. Last year they rode with good results. This year, however, those men have been on fire. On Fi-YAH, beh-bay! The team Twitter account (whom I’m assuming knows far more about the team’s successes and failures than I do,) claims 46 victories, and 116 podiums for their 2012 season. They’re fourth on the NRC standings. As a race promoter, you want the teams with the best athletes at your races. You want these athletes because they draw spectators. Spectators draw advertising dollars. Advertising dollars are the only way you make money yourself. How, exactly, do you pass over a team with 46 victories? I don’t understand. The conspiracy minded amongst the Twitterati have suggested the Lance Armstrong effect damning the team. Frankie Andreu is the Directeur Sportif, and Medalist Sports (the company that promotes/manages/puts-on – whatever your verb of choice is – the AToC, Tour of Utah, and the USA PRO Cycling Challenge) is a beneficiary of Lance Armstrong. Ergo Medalist is assisting in the campaign to screw ANYTHING any enemy of Lance Armstrong. Several posts were made lamenting the possible demise of the KPC squad, and placing the blame squarely on Medalist Sports.
In light of their lost deal worth $250,000 last year due to an AToC snub, I wouldn’t doubt that at all. Make of the situation what you will. I refuse to partake in the near hysterics, but(!) I also can’t fathom promoting a major race where I don’t invite the fourth ranked team on a national calendar. If you feel the urge, or better still, the need, to indulge your inner conspiracy theorist, I suggest you memorize this chart. http://www.cyclismas.com/2012/06/lance-armstrongs-business-links-a-flowchart-by-dimspace/.
Anyone watching the Tour can see that, short of disaster, the 2012 Tour winner will wear a Sky jersey. It’s an embarrassment of riches for the United Kingdom. They’ve never had a Tour winner. Tom Simpson, the last great hope for the Union Jack rode himself to his grave, geeked on amphetamines, in 1967. What a dramatic reversal of fortune to claim (possibly) two steps of the podium in cycling’s “greatest” event.
Again, however, the conspiracy theorists are hard at work, manufacturing strife among the ranks. Apparently, since Chris Froome can accelerate abruptly on an incline, he’s FAR STRONGER than Bradley Wiggins. Wiggo, the undisputed team-leader rides like Ivan Basso, meaning he likes to have teammates pacing him at a consistently high pace, rather than many changes in pace. Don’t infer any doping allegations from my Basso comparison, lest we send Mr. Wiggins in to a profane frenzy. Several pundits (far removed, and far more knowledgeable that a mere punter like myself) have commented that the true contest in this tour will be between the two Englishmen. I am confused by the seemingly intelligent people who have lost their minds over this Wiggins v Froome debate. Both men are gifted athletes, bolstering ridiculous genetics with the requisite mentality to create phenomenal performances. Watching the stage today, however, did not leave me with any thoughts that Froome would be trying to snatch the overall from his team leader. Sure he attacked when the group up the road was caught. It only makes sense that when you cover your rival’s attack, you counter with your own. Again though, Wiggins doesn’t like the violent changes in pace, and was dropped from the group. If anything, I worry that Wiggins and Sky aren’t taking ENOUGH time out of Nibali, and the other competitors. Especially in the world of sport, you must press your advantage when you have it.
With the better part of a fortnight left, including several more mountains and a 50km time-trial, we’ll see what happens with Sky and the rest of Le Tour.