Unibet Rips Me Off, ASO's Finger on the Button

Mar 1 2007

Why do I suddenly feel like a Band-Aid? Because I just got ripped off. Mere hours after coining the phrase myself, muchmaligned ProTour neophytes Unibet.com issued a statement entitled “Do not wreck the European bike” that said, in part (my boldface):

“We feel strongly victimized by the cartel ASO, RCS Sport and Unipublic…The cartel wants to exclude Unibet… Whose turn will it be next?”

As imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I accept this plagiary with good humor and officially license The Cartel in reference to the Grand Tour organizers under the terms of the GPL.

That last line of Unibet.com’s somewhat long-winded polemic, however, may prove devastatingly portentous. ASO President Patrice LeClerc announced today that if ProTour teams skip Paris-Nice – as they’ve been ordered to do by the UCI – those teams will probably have to skip the Tour de France, as well. Apparently, The Cartel thinks that a Tour de France disputed by FdJ, Cofidis and 18 French continental squads would be less embarrassing than a ProTour without any three-week races.

The whole mess is kind of like mutual assured destruction, except with Kruschev thinking America would be worse of than the USSR if both countries are reduced to smoldering nuclear wasteland. My only hope is that the ensuing annihilation of humanity’s interest in cycling will allow it to be taken over by a race of super-intelligent apes, who will no doubt do a better job running the sport than those currently in power.

In lighter news, Alessandro Petacchi, reigning sprint master since 2003, seems to have recovered his edge. The speed merchant had been beaten badly by Tom Boonen at Qatar, and even lost a few group gallops to second-tier sprinter Danielle Bennati before his recent success. Meanwhile, the sprinter with the most TdF wins in recent memory displayed that the management of his squad has improved their fashion sense since last year. And an Idaho Powerball winner proved that it’s not best to splurge on the clothes, or the cars, or the house – if you’re going to go big, go big on the bikes.

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