They Say The Season Starts This Week

Jan 13 2011

TdU bannerUnless the spike in high-priority, all-caps emails on “LANCE ARMSRTONG’S FINAL RACE OUTSIDE THE US” have mislead me, a bunch of clowns in Switzerland who haven’t shoveled my driveway four times in the past two weeks seem to think the season is getting underway again.

Then again, I should count myself lucky that over-zealous and under-coordinated PR is worst of my concerns—I could end up having to pay $13,000 for their approval to write blog posts about how much they suck.

While I appreciate the contributions Australians have made to cycling—especially to race support requests—is a mid-January race really appropriate repayment? A FauxTour event in a month where storylines have historically been limited to doping and Jan Ullrich’s waistline comes across with all the sincerity of Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.

With the UCI’s calendar already shipping the ProTour peloton off to Canada for a week, you’d think a mid-season jaunt to Australia would provide no greater challenge. Certainly the conditions of Aussie “winters” aren’t going to pose any obstacle, and might even be a welcome reprise from the mid-July heat.

I’m sure there’s no argument about the mid-January date from one Lance Armstrong, though, whose waning and increasingly embarrassing presence at bike races is the only reason PR flacks are stuffing my inbox in the first place.

Lance ArmstrongHis 38-year-old legs will no doubt appreciate the pace of a rusty peloton, and the beaming Australian summer will provide a brilliant backdrop for what is essentially a promotional appearance—because, as he’s long maintained, flying a private jet halfway around the world furthers the fight against cancer.

While the racing may yet prove strenuous for Armstrong, the media coverage certainly hasn’t. With stories breaking on a tiny fib about compensation, some potential retroactive testing, and the fact that he’s a lousy spokesman, the Texan fielded softballs about his legacy and whether or not he plans to win.

Even the task of simply recording responses seemed to much for the TdU press pool. When Armstrong was asked why it seemed like cyclists doped so much, an AP reporter (in addition to botching the seven-time Tour winner’s age) phrased his lede to suggest that the Texan believes drug testing itself compels riders to dope. The Sydney Morning Herald, taking the the exact same Armstrong quote, inferred he meant that riders dope because the sport is so hard.

While I award Armstrong no points for clarity, his actual meaning—that cycling’s stringent anti-doping efforts catch more dopers than other sports’ flimsy protocols—seemed easy enough to suss out from the other side of the planet. 2011 will clearly be a banner year for cycling coverage in the mainstream press.

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6 Responses to “They Say The Season Starts This Week”

  1. Paul January 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    I thought Lance was 39?

  2. DJ January 14, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Great to see a new post Cosmo! I was suffering from serious withdrawal problems…Have a great 2011!

  3. Matt Rose January 14, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    I was also beginning to suffer the same withdrawal as DJ, but…

    There’s been no racing. I almost wish that the other cycling blogs would take the winter off rather than, say, breathlessly report on team kits, just for something to do. (I’m looking at you PdC).

  4. Skippy January 15, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Welcome back, and the best for he new year!

    Whilst you were away i had occasion to visit CNF and te mushrooms there tried to stomp on me for requesting fair play towards Lance. Some wag claimed there were friends of his doing the “Et tu Bruti”, former acquaintances perhaps !
    Whilst i am aware that Cancer remission patients use drugs, i am also aware of the “UCI sanctioned drug list” and there are many cyclists that have been sanctioned for over usage (Petacci ?) albiet inadvertently !

    The mushrooms at CNF are awaiting a SI article with bated breath , now overdue, hopefully their lifestyle will improve when Lance leaves Oz for other events.
    UCI’s new clothing regs will stop Uniform swaps such as the “28”uniform on the Paris Etappe and will also cause “Team Kit” prices to soar ! Looks lke UCI have tapped into a new revenue stream. Obama was looking for “Job Creation Schemes” but i doubt this was not what he had in mind!

  5. ben January 17, 2011 at 3:12 am #

    i wonder if the riders are of the same mind cosmo, or if they look at it as a nice place to start racing when most of europe is under snow? conversely, why would you want to leave summer in the northern hemisphere to travel to australia in winter? why go to australia’s winter at all? seems a bit like going to thailand during the monsoon.

    i also had to pause for thought at your focus on lance (the greatest american cycling ambassador); makes me think that one’s obsessions are a kind of love. anyway, i’m sure the only thing that lance is thinking about is his compensation: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2011/01/14/an-open-letter-to-lance-armstrong/

  6. Joe February 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    I don’t think you really know about Australia’s weather Cosmo. I also doubt that big riders would come half way across the world to ride the tour down under. Adelaide also doesn’t have the landscape to have an interesting parcours.

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