A mixed bag of cycling news
Before you write in correcting me - yes - I know there's still road racing going on around the world. In China we have the 2012 Tour of Beijing, a five day stage race starting in the infamous Tiananmen Square this Tuesday and ending Sunday in the Ping Gu Centenary Square. This is just one among a few different stories that piqued my interest this week. But let's start with the Tour of Beijing.
Tour of Beijing
Other than the obvious - a bike race in China, a country not known as a cycling hotbed - there are a few concerns regarding this race. The first is ownership of the event. The event management company promoting the Tour of Beijing is Global Cycling Promotions SA (GCP), which is owned by the UCI. The problem with this association is the conflict of interest. In my opinion the UCI is supposed to govern the sport, not create money-making opportunities.
Beyond the increase in the size of the UCI coffers, promoting and governing the same event gives the Tour of Beijing an unfair advantage. Will the race get preferential treatment? You bet it will. From getting a World Tour ranking to Pat McQuaid warning the sponsors of teams that were considering skipping the race, Tour of Beijing in its short history has already built a legacy of drama.
The tweet which got many people's attention was from BMC Racing Team's Taylor Phinney who posted the air quality of Beijing. Registering deep in the red zone with a score of 388 placed Beijing in the “Hazardous” category. As the blogger Inrng pointed out on Twitter, even the Chinese government tells its residents to stay indoors when the pollution level gets this high. Yet there are over hundred professional road cycling racers who will be racing in these conditions this Tuesday.
Another Beijing faux pas is their social media. As expected the race has a Twitter account and unfortunately chose @ToB2012 as their handle. First off - ToB? ToB could be Tour of Britain. And then I never understood why an event ends their account with the year. We know it's the current year. No one has ever wondered, “Hey that tweet I just read, was that for something in 2011?” And then when the race has concluded that account has to change the name to the next year. It just doesn't make sense. Just pick a name for the account and stick with it. That way you can build a base of followers and build the brand with that Twitter account.
If you’re located in the U.S. you can watch video highlights from all stages of this year’s Tour of Beijing in the videos section right here on Roadcycling.com starting Tuesday. Spread the word.
To my surprise there is a TV channel called the World Fishing Network. It's a station devoted to 24 hours a day, seven days a week of fishing and all things devoted to this hobby. From my time writing for Versus.com I was told that while cycling was popular on the Versus channel, fishing programs received far better ratings. So I have an idea. I propose we combine fishing and cycling!
As you might have seen on Twitter, Team Garmin-Sharp CEO Jonathan Vaughters posted photos of pikes he'd caught on the morning of his wedding day. Vaughters gets his own show - “Fishing with Vaughters” or maybe name it to reflect the demographics, “Fish'n with Vaughters.”
The premise of the show is Vaughters takes a cycling pro fishing. The boat, as well as the guest and Vaughters, are mic'd. There's a cooler of alcoholic beverages (excellent product placement opportunity! “This episode of 'Fishing with Vaughters' is brought to you by XYZ Beer”). From firsthand experience I know pro cyclists are light-weights. Get a couple of beers in them and who knows what they might talk about! I'm not talking about lame doping admissions - I'm talking about juicy rumors like, who's the biggest diva, who stinks up the team bus' toilet and WAG stories. If this idea gets approved I expect to be given a producer credit or at least made a consultant.
You hired who?
This time of year the music chairs start in rider transfers. One management change I saw that was disappointing was Katusha ousting Hans-Michael Holczer last Friday and hiring Viatcheslav Ekimov as general manager of the team. Eki was part of the Postal Team squad during Armstrong's Tour de France wins that have now been stripped. It's an odd decision to install him into a position of team leadership considering Eki has more baggage than a luggage carousel at LAX.
The other management change in related to the recently retired Alexandre Vinokourov. The Olympic road race winner has taken a management position at Astana. Vino has been sanctioned and has come back, never admitting his guilt, always stating his innocence. That has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. To place him in a position of leadership is a mistake.
The sport of cycling is at a crossroads. It can be cleaned up, which I think is the direction it is headed in now, or it can fall back into omertà by the hiring of shady ex-riders and putting them in management positions.
On that note, the USADA report is dropping this week like an atomic bomb and if the speculation is correct with as much devastation. Disgraced professional cyclist Lance Armstrong has his public relations turned up a notch for the upcoming public relations disaster. He was interviewed and said that people need to let the past go and move on. This is a curious statement considering he hired lobbyists to head to Capitol Hill for the purpose of questioning the legitimacy of USADA. Armstrong is clearly not willing to let it go either.
It's been reported that some of Armstrong's closest cycling confidants gave it up before the grand jury and repeated the same story to USADA. In my opinion, by the end of this week there will be another nail in the Armstrong legacy coffin.
But let's end today’s column on a positive note. The Ciclismo site has narrowed the Miss Cycling contestants to a select group of six young ladies. And before you say that these women are nothing but eye-candy I suggest you take a look at the rules of the contest.
Chapter 1, article 2 clearly states that the contestants must be born a female and must use a bike, “even at non-competitive” which I'm going to assume the Google translated Italian means the contestants are not required to be competitive racers.
I'm sure you are tingling with excitement who might be crowned Miss Cycling 2012! Will it be Alessia Franchi? Could the sultry Diana Schillaci take the crown? Or RoadCycling.com’s favorite Angelica Meldo? Voting closes on the 25th so do your part and vote for your favorite. If there's something we don't want is for this to be reduced to a laughingstock of a competition. No one wants that ...