Feb 8 2006
The United Cycling Team. It’s the big news of the day. Look at this tremendous, in-depth article. And it promises an even more in-depth-er article later in the month! I’ve never seen VeloNews so excited! But I think there’s some questions they aren’t asking. Things like, “Whose putting these ‘United’ frames together?” Will my $6,000 rig be welded by the same master craftsman who assembles Chris Wherry’s machine? Or will it be cranked out by some robot in Taiwan? And why are the carbon stays painted? You know the I-bankers that buy the high-end stuff are gonna see the one-color frame, flick the top tube, hear the dead alu ping, and buy a Livestrong Madone instead. It’s probably this Sean Tucker guy’s fault. He also thinks the team should be owned by “investors” – a term generally applied to people looking to make money. Can’t say that I see how a cycling team will generate any appreciable income, but given that Tucker’s previous business experience is from the Dot-com Boom, I can’t see why I’d expect business models to be his strong point, either.
In fact, I have serious doubts about nearly all the business aspects of this deal. Why did Toyota agree to shell out millions for team whose name advertizes a bankrupt airline? And whats with the stars-and-stripes unis? Not only does it take me 15 seconds pick out national champ Chris Wherry in this picture, but it’s got to infuriate the six non-Americans on the team to no end. Honestly, I find the patriotic approach (the original team title was “United States Cycling Team”) baffling; cycling is a hotbed of anti-war, anti-establishment activists. We love our country and support our troops, but this sort of non-sarcastic Team America thing sure doesn’t make me want to pay to become a “member”. But, of course, I’m just focusing on the negatives. I haven’t mentioned that it’s nice to see some big names not in HealthNet kits, and that American cycling could use a shake-up from the European sponsorship system; though I’m sure Tommy B is installing Quick.Step floors in all over the Continent, I can’t imagine Dave McCook is fueling a jelly bean boom.
Oh, yeah, there were also some bike races today. This Jose Serpa guy, who just took his second consecutive stage win at the TdL, looks like the latest in a long train of South American Selle-Italia climbers. Let’s hope he can keep his head smaller than the previous one did (“despite his Columbian heritage”, Tony Montana might add). And since when is this offensive? Over in Europe, Comunidad Valencia kind of crashed the party on vacation destination rival Illes Balears/Caisse d’Epargne’s home turf. Only Quick.Step’s Paolo Bettini (3rd) was able to block an all-Valencia podium on the 3rd leg of Challenge Illes Balears. And the first big international race of the season, the Franco-Italian Tour MÃ©diterranÃ©en kicks off tomorrow. Finally, though Jean-Marie LeBlanc is long gone, Christian Prudhomme, the new evil tyrant in charge of ASO (and by extension, most of French cycling), has proven that his abililty to state the obvious is as well-developed as his predecessor’s.