Oct 4 2005
Seriously. Mid-week in the late season is the worst time for news. All the rider transfers for next year have already been announced, there’s no high-level racing because most of the big names (like Voigt and Basso) have called it a season, and even the flood of Interbike highlights is dying slightly. (You may notice in that last link much better reporting on FSA’s ceramic bearings than was derided here.) Anyway, point is, not much news to go around. How many freakin’ times am I going to have to read about Piil’s broken hip, or read Danilo DiLuca’s overall ProTour win? News outlets are forced to sort of fabricate stories to fill in the holes. Take these two stories about Brad Wiggins and David Millar. Yes, they’re both from the UK, and yes, they both might have a good shot at winning the Tour Prologue next year, and yes, they have contrasting images, one being a confessed doper, and the other having a “Boy Scout” reputation (just like Tyler Hamilton used to). But other than that, there’s really not much to say. Neither article contains any quotations about how these guys are rivals, or evidence of any “beef” between them. Still, the media’s playing it up like the biggest thing since Papa Doc v. B Rabbit.
Enter onto this stage of desolation Paris-Tours. It’s called “the sprinters’ classic,” but Milan-San Remo has been far friendlier to the fast men in recent years, as last year’s P-T winner, Erik Dekker, can attest. It’s one of two remaining ProTour events for this innaugural season, and the last one on French soil, which could motivate a French team or rider to finally win a ProTour event (so far, they’ve only taken stages). Certainly Paris-Tour’s parcours is a lot friendlier to the legs of today’s French riders than that of Tour of Lombardy, the other remaining ProTour race. French (Cofidis, Credit Agricole, Boygues Telecom, and FdJ) squads aside, Domina Vacanze, Illes Balears and Lampre are all still searching for that elusive first ProTour win. If this ProTour business were really about getting the best group of cyclists together possible (instead of being about money), they’d integrate a relegation feature, so the best Continental Teams (let’s say, Ag2r, Panaria and HealthNet) would join the ProTour, while the worst three ProTour teams would be booted out to their respective Continental ciruits. (Though I suppose because cycling lacks the “club” system of most team sports, there would be minimal incentive for sponsors to keep with a team post-relegation, meaning that any ProTour squad not making the cut would simply evaporate, recycling its most of its riders back into the ProTour athelete pool and defeating the purpose of relegation in the first place)