More Races Like Het Volk, ToC Means Less UCI, ASO and Carmichael.

Feb 28 2007

Reason #426 I’m looking forward to to Het Volk: it’s neither a ProTour event, nor owned by Grand-Tour organizers ASO, RCS or Unipublic (henceforth referred to on Cyclocosm as The Cartel), and thus provides a much needed reprieve deLaclosian squabble raging between those two camps. After months of posturing, threats and fruitless negotiation, the fact remains that no one has any clue exactly what’s going on.

Eurosport says at least six teams plan to defy a recent UCI ruling and attend Paris-Nice. Cyclingnews claims no one’s doing anything until a meeting of team managers on Saturday. But so long as events like Het Volk provide fierce competition and a top-level field, my frustration doesn’t come from a lack of clear informtation on this debate; instead, it stems from the fact that, like 100% of the people in cycling not named Pat, Christian or Jean-Marie, I just don’t care.

America is still abuzz from the Tour of California. Record attendances, the best racing of the year thus far, and tifosi spirit, thousands of miles away from the fat, old white guys that run this sport, suggest to me that cycling would benefit immensely from more high-profile racing on this side of the pond. After all, one of the major reasons for the creation of the ProTour was to advance the profile of non-TdF bike races, but after only two years, the ToC is already bigger than many ProTour events. One could make similar claims for the antipodean Tour Down Under and Tour de Georgia.

I’m not saying America, or anywhere else in the world, will be a magic bullet land of milk and honey for the sport. After all, Het Volk’s a great, idiocy-free race, and it takes place in Flanders, the heart of cycling’s establishment. And Last year’s drug testing gaffe at the ToC would have been a major embarrassment had it broke during or shortly after the race. And, as I have long maintained, the American media still has a ways to go (“supercharge” is one word, and what exactly does that have to do with bike racing?), though I feel like once more people take an interest, the wheat will be separated from the chaff.

At any rate, I’d take a bumbling reporter or two over administrators and organizers seemingly bent on their own destruction any day of the week.

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