A Brief Study of Economics

May 3 2011

Alessandro Ballan by Cindy TrossaertAh, finally—the mail server is down at work, freeing me to check in for a bit.

You’d think taking a pay cut to drive two hours a day at $4.05/gallon would find me doing something more productive than wrestling one of the more infuriating pieces of software I’ve ever used into submission. But the Panglossian infallibility of market economics being what it is, I remain certain my time could not be better spent doing anything else.

Nor could Johan Bruyneel’s, for that matter, as he heads off with to the Giro d’Italia with a fat wad of RadioShack’s money and the strongest team since Disney brought us The Big Green. In all honestly, if they called themselves “rag-tag”, it would rouse righteous indignation in Keystone Cop precincts from Bari to Bergamo—that is, assuming the continued presence of Yaroslav Popovych hasn’t done so already.

One has to wonder if this is what RadioShack executives had in mind when they ponied up for the final inflation of the Armstrong Bubble. Do they gaze enviously toward the Garmin megaplex in Olathe, Kansas, and see a company that can’t get its name out of press no matter what the results sheets say? In implosion, in victory, and above all, in intrigue, drama, and speculation, the mutton chops are ever-present.

Yes, it seems only when handily outfoxed and overpowered by a continental squad at a smaller event—as they were by Team Type 1 at the Tour of Turkey—has Garmin managed to keep out of the headlines. Press that selective makes it seem like having a name on a WorldTour jersey might just be worth $90 million dollars after all.

I suppose it all comes down to how you value the “straight to the headlines” exposure that comes from doping—with BMC’s Alessandro Ballan being the latest example. While they didn’t seem thrilled with it at the time, I can’t imagine Festina is suffering from a lasting affiliation with the events of July 1998; indeed, they still market heavily on their affiliation with the sport.

Perhaps a little criminality is a good thing—could what finally created a sales niche for Delorean return a similar reward for BMC?

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9 Responses to “A Brief Study of Economics”

  1. Tommy Romunsky 3 May 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Interesting comeback post. Hide the real story (BMC / Ballan) in the camouflage of something that isn’t a story in comparison (Garmin / Hushovd / etc).

    It’s an imperfect tactic straight from traditional PR…cover up your previous “foot in mouth” experience with a long silence, presuming that no one will remember what happened a month earlier.

  2. Larry T. 4 May 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Glad you’re back! I was thinking the same thing the other day about Shackstrong. I’d hate to be the guy who signed-off on the sponsorship deal facing execs wanting to see the typical American “bang for buck” payback on this investment! I think they thought they would be getting something like “America’s Team” in the way the NFL Dallas Cowboys used to be, but instead got linked with doping scandals and The Belgian’s feud with the UCI while BigTex just fizzled out in a kind of grumpy way. A lot of folks said RadioShack was a dinosaur when this deal came about, it’s hard to see this investment as much help in avoiding extinction.

  3. Oliver 4 May 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    Glad you are back.
    Now about a prediction and discussion re. the Giro? Kreuziger might do well — at least I hope so for the sake of my podium cafe fantasy team! Did you hear the winner of the contest gets to manage the successor team to RadiosHack for a week next season? The name of the sponsor you ask? Oldsmobile or Pontiac, I forget which.

  4. Anonymous 5 May 2011 at 9:31 am #

    Hmm…were you on the moon in April? What happened?

  5. Lebelweg 5 May 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Very average article. What are you babbling about?

  6. OfficerNegativeIII 5 May 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    I think that this is just the sign that RadioShack has little respect for the Giro and only cares about trying to win in California. Regardless, I was more than slightly disappointed in the riders they have chosen. The only one with any decent results recently, unless I am mistaken, is Machado. Still, I would not be surprised to see them outperform Garmin. Again, this team only cares about one race, just like always, it’s the Tour. So do any of them have a reasonable chance this year? Brajkovic and Machado are young, Kloden, Leipheimer, and Horner are old.

  7. Oliver 6 May 2011 at 8:26 am #

    The nice thing about Radiohack’s mini implosion is that since the “big names” (read “american”) are taking a back seat (where’s bottle? Scared off by the fact people took notice in re his suspicious blood data?) the modest Kloden (but far better than Levi ever was) is given half a chance. When you think about it, Kloden is probably one of the best all-rounders in the last 10-12 years but somehow really underrated….

  8. Stuart 8 May 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Most of the americans on the team would be riding the TOC, which is probably the major focus for the team. You can’t really blame them for not feilding an all-stars team at the giro.

  9. Larry T. 12 May 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    I think this is one of the downsides of the top teams getting the automatic invites/obligation to show up for the big races. While Shackstrong and a few others send teams full of no-hopers for GC, some teams who would really like to get on Italian TV miss out. Of course ALL the teams send their best riders to LeTour so there’s no negative for them, but I’m thankful they still get to invite some wildcard – meaning French – teams to the race. But the other big races like the Giro get shortchanged with this rule. How can they fix this? I hate to have to wait for the ToC to croak to see the big teams field serious squads again in Italy.

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