Thinning the ProTour Herd?

Aug 15 2007

So here’s a shocker – Unibet is pulling its sponsorship of a pro cycling team. Combine that with the impending loss of Astana’s ProTour license (even the manager has confessed – if only to being naive) and the folding of Discovery Channel, and there might just be a reasonably sized ProTour next year. The organizers could invite a fistful of crappy wild-card teams, allowing fans to see more local racers, while the UCI would still have a high-level of competition at every event, and a clearly-demarcated top tier of racing. If only someone could keep these knuckleheads from mucking things up.

Not that I have a problem with American and Australian infiltrators, but wouldn’t it be best to let their Euros sort their own business out before heaping more issues upon them? I mean, Michael Rasmussen is still racing. Apparently, he was guilty enough to kick out of the Tour, but not to sanction? Then there’s Andreas Kloden, who, despite having an ever-increasing number of teammates come up positive for various performance enhancements, is still welcome at this year’s World Championships. But Erik Zabel and Alejandro Valverde are apparently not. You see why these Continentals need as little additional confusion as they can get?

Despite the drama swirling outside of it, the Tour of Germany has remained a fairly bland event. Even with Erik Zabel’s win (which is at best mildly controversial), it’s been a steady progression of sprinters/mountain men taking stages, while Jens Voigt clings doggedly to the leader’s jersey. It’ll probably all come down to Friday’s TT. While Jensy holds comfortable cushions on all his nearest competitors (the most nervous being 1:31 on Levi Leipheimer), let’s still hope that everyone double-checks their mechanics’ work. Wouldn’t want to end up on the losing end of a poor equipment decision.

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