Let's Call It A Market Correction

Aug 4 2010

A Rasmussen fan with a home-made poster saying: "We miss Michael"  As a certain tech editor found out today at the Denver Airport, market forces are difficult to avoid. It holds true in cycling, too—yesterday’s unbridled optimism was sure to be corrected by today’s cool reality.

The Giro-Tour-Vuelta Grand Slam proposed by Bjarne Riis was written off as a “translation error” by Contador’s manager—though I will add that it wouldn’t be the first time a rider had downplayed the chances of unprecedented success. If the Contador had named some rival as a more likely candidate for the feat, one could almost be sure he was preparing for a serious attempt.

Certainly, Bjarne Riis interest in fixer-upper Michael Rasmussen betrays both economic savvy (buying low), and interest in putting together squads for next years’ three-week races that don’t rotate entirely around a certain finger-banging Spaniard. One need only re-examine RadioShack’s decision to prop the GC and stage win hopes of an entire Grand Tour on a single over-hyped contender to see the value in hedging against a bet like that.

Speaking of the recently and emphatically retired Texan, he was out in Denver today, not to demand his country back, but rather to announce the Quiznos Pro Challenge, a late-August stage race hailed as a star-studded heir to the Coors Classic, but apparently too cheap thrifty to even buy the name Tour of Colorado from its existing owners. In fact, details on the race were almost shockingly thin (“the emphasis…is going to be on the mountains”), which as we know from past experiences, is a sure sign of a well-thought out and properly planned event.

Surprisingly, in response to questions from reporters, Armstrong voiced some interest in participating in the event. Assuming he has no desire to exit the sport through an even smaller door, one wonders if there aren’t a few more companies he may or may not own stock in that might need a boost next season.

Unless a longshot-but-not-impossible deal is reached with the Schleck Hivemind—who’ve confirmed, despite the headline, that they’ll both be absent from any Riis-helmed squad next season—recent revelations about Levi Leipheimer’s ’05 blood values may leave the allegedly stacked American squad team with little to offer organizers in terms of start line value next season.

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