As seems to happen every year about this time, I am overcome with a renewed sense of both cynicism and sarcasm which wells up in me, and I just have to write about it. In all truthfulness, who am I to even question, let alone ridicule, the professional racer, anyway? Well, I’ll tell you. I am a fan. I am a consumer. And, I am a cyclist. Plus, I really, really like the truth and despise hypocrisy. Well, Professional Cycling is really, really full of the latter, and way too short on the former.
For starters, just who the heck is the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), anyway? This collection of out of touch, pompous, creeps not only runs a rolling, worldwide, medicated circus, but they also get to decide what kind of bikes we ride, their shapes, their components, their minimum weight, and even if they can have disc brakes or not via an ambiguous set of immature “Rules.” Seriously, when did this Micro-One-World-Government style mafia get so much control of our beloved activity, anyway? Is it any wonder nobody likes them.
Additionally, what really got me going on a bender were this year's Giro d’Italia and the Amgen Tour of California. Both of these races were basically decided by a discipline that really should not have even been featured in a road race to begin with. The Giro, for example, was a grueling, multi-stage race consisting of many mountains too far, over way too many days, punctuated by a curious event known as the Time Trial (TT). Why was there even a TT in a road race in the first place? If anyone is going to hold a real road race, make it one complete with uphills, downhills, flats, and many, many twists and curves, all being conducted on an actual ROAD BIKE. Leave the TT bikes where they truly belong: In Triathlon’s with real Triathletes. I mean, even the Indianapolis 500 has the good sense to not require everyone get out of their cars on lap-100, race buses for 50 laps, and then jump back into their cars for a grueling finish. Why should cycling be any different? It should be one, single, discipline from start to finish. The best racer should win, not the best Time Trialer.
But wait, there’s more! Just to make sure the racing is even more over-the-top nonsensical, there were two kinds of TT’s at the Giro: The Individual Time Trial (ITT), and the even bigger, more foolish waste of time, the Team Time Trail (TTT). And, if you don’t think these discipline’s can affect the outcome of a race, well, check out the following two paragraphs from a recent on-line article over at VeloNews.
“Time trials are where grand tours are typically decided, and that’s become especially true at the Tour de France, where even an extraordinary climber who cannot perform well against the clock has almost no realistic chance to win the maillot jaune.”
“As cycling has evolved to become more controlled and more scientific (and boring, Editor), especially with the application of power meters in training and racing, the overall level at the top of the peloton is relatively equal. The winning differences are now being made in time trials.”
If that is truly the case, why not just have a one-day TT, with no road stages at all? I mean, just think of how simple the logistics would be, with all of the savings in time, money, effort, not to mention how happy the planet would be with all of those transport motor vehicles no longer being utilized for travel over multiple stages. Call it an Environmentalists wet-dream, if you must. Seriously, why should there be all of those days of racing when the winner can be determined by a single TT? Sprinting stages? Ah, who needs ‘em! And, as for the mountain stages, hah! We don’t need no stinkin’ mountain stages! We have a TT to run, lads!
As for the Tour of California, it was basically over on the second day, all due again to that activity usually reserved for Triathlons: The ITT. After Sir Bradley Wiggins was injected and ran away with the stage, it was pretty much a boring affair from there on (Brad was so pumped up with Happy Juice, he is probably still going on that TT bike). Again, why are they mixing disciplines at a road race?
So, in winding up my reasonably astute opinion, while I will indeed continue living with a casual eye on the racing scene, and with the Tour de France right around the corner, I would still rather ride myself than sit in front of the TV watching it.
This is especially true on the days they run TT's.