The Road Season is Coming to an End
The World Championships week is over - a sure sign that the season is winding down. However, that doesn't mean the drama is slowing down.
The victory was not entirely unexpected. Great Britain had lined up a squad for the sole purpose of a Mark Cavendish victory. The team was kitted up in skinsuits with baseball jersey length sleeves. However, the fashion police would have written the whole squad up for the collarless construction of the red and blue speed-suits. I have said this time and time again - no collarless jerseys! Let's face it, pro cyclists have the upper body of a middle school kid, and nobody wants to see that. If they do, they need to be in jail.
Cavendish wasn't the only British rider to score some hardware in Copenhagen. Elinor Barker got silver in the junior women's time trial with teammate Lucy Garner getting the gold in the road race, Emma Pooley with bronze in the time trial, Bradley Wiggins took silver in the time trial and Andrew Fenn getting bronze in the U-23 road race. The 2012 Olympics in London are looking good for the British.
Other than Britain, HTC-Highroad also had an amazing World Championships. The team's members scored gold in the men's (Cavendish) and women's (Arndt) race as well as the men's time trial (Martin). Can you imagine the public relations buzz that would have occurred whenever a member of the HTC squad was announced? And like I've mentioned before, while I'm bummed that a team with such an impressive track record wasn't able to secure a sponsor, I realize that's just the way it is. Companies are not loving, feeling sentient beings who care about the people employed by them. They are machines driven by commerce with reptilian minds focused on one thing: What's good for me? Cell phone maker HTC had gotten the most out of their association with the cycling team and called it a day. Let's face it - before they sponsored a team, HTC didn't spring to mind. Now the Taiwanese brand is well known in Europe and in the States due to several factors and sponsoring a cycling is one of them. I, for one, thank the company for sponsoring the team and will consider buying their phone for just a few minutes just before I stand in line for the new iPhone next month (#EarlyAdopter).
Between shots of Cav and his professional model girlfriend on the podium, I was waiting for some kind of signal of what team he might be riding for in 2012. Would Sky rent a plane to buzz the crowds, post-race, with a banner screaming, "The World Champion is riding for Team Sky!"? Maybe a parachutist twirling down with blue and red smoke shooting out from his heels with "Team Sky" on the canopy as a sign of Mark's intentions? Instead we got nothing. Just video footage of Mark getting weepy on the podium and then flashing back to girlfriend Peta Todd, also dabbing back tears of joy, then back to Mark. Even at the post-race press conference it was just Cav heaping much deserved praise on his Great Britain teammates. Not even a sly wink or hint. Man, do I hate a tease...
Speaking of tears the World Championships wasn't the only news worthy event. The UCI held a press conference with President Pat McQuaid and the federation's drug czar Francesca Rossi. Some of the highlights include,
- Race radios will be allowed in WorldTour races for another season as the UCI commissions an independent group to "study" the need for them in later years. And just a coincidence - no more team boycott of Tour of Beijing. This race is also coincidentally brought to you by the fine folks at the UCI.
- McQuaid asked the media to stop being so focused on doping and talk about just cycling. Or hot wives and girlfriends (that edict was quickly executed as evidenced by the video footage of Peta Todd during the podium ceremony.)
- That professional women's cycling wasn't at a level yet to be considered for a minimum salary.
- On the UCI "still need to do list" - sue Floyd Landis.
To be honest, I'd forgotten that months ago the UCI said they were suing Landis. I asked Floyd for a "official" quote. As this is a work friendly site I can't write verbatim his response, but he questioned McQuaid's mental ability to function and then told me that the UCI president can suck something, followed by an invitation that he eat something which I'm sure no one in their right mind would want to out of obvious health concerns.
The other topic that surprised me was Mr. McQuaid's comments regarding minimum salaries for women racers. Just to be clear - I'm not so idealist as to demand that WorldTour teams should have a women's squad as well. Frankly, the money isn't there. And yes I know that HTC and Garmin-Cervélo were able to accommodate a women's roster, but that continues to be the exception, not the rule. However, to say that professional female cyclists don't deserve to have a basic salary level seems antiquated. I mean hell; even Saudi Arabia is allowing women to vote! I don't think they're asking too much to have some kind of decent salary.
Now that the World Championships are over there are only a few scraps left at the professional cycling table. Sure, there are a couple more Classics coming up but nothing that gets my heart racing. That's not to say I won't be up early to watch the Eurosport livestream - because trust me - I'll be there. And yeah, I guess we'll still have some doping scandals to focus on, even though the UCI told us not to. But for me Worlds is that Batman symbol in the sky alerting me to the fact that the road season is coming to an end. While racing on tarmac may be over, racing on 700cc wheels on the dirt is just beginning - I'm talking cyclocross (or cyclo-cross)! So break out the knobbies and embrocation - it's time to get muddy!