Riders lament cancellation of Tour of Beijing after 2014

September 24, 2014 § 14 Comments

The pro peloton was rocked today with news that the beloved Tour of Beijing will likely end after 2014. “This was one of the best races on the calendar,” said Serge Dumoulin, noted domestique for Continental III-level pro team Buster’s Bunion Buster Orthotic Shoe Implants p/b Carburetor Kleen. “It was an epic race.”

Praise for the race was unanimous. In its first three years, the Tour of Beijing a/k/a Race for the Cinders, was hailed as one of the toughest and most challenging events on the pro calendar. “Sure, the stages were all pretty much short and flat,” said Pepe Contreras of Team Barnacle, “but to pedal even a hundred meters in that stinking, smog-filled shit hole of Beijing, I rate it as my greatest accomplishment ever.”

Team doctors from Trek, Cannondale, Katusha, and Tinkoff-Saxodope all agreed. “This race presented the most incredible challenges of our collective medical careers: how to inhale vast quantities of mercury, lead, cadmium, and airborne clenbuterol without either dying or testing positive. This was our greatest achievement.”

Pierre du Fromage-et-vins-du-Sucre, one of the few riders to complete all three editions, waxed nostalgic. “It’s not often you get to support, through your athletic participation, a nation that not only represses human rights but that also pollutes the globe on a massive scale. I’ll miss that. Plus all the teenagers we had sex with for, like, six bucks.”

Brian Cookson, head of the UCI and uncharacteristically sober at 9:00 AM British time, was more sanguine. “The Tour of Beijing served its purpose, to reach out to the growing population of Chinese sporting enthusiasts and expand awareness of our sport, but let’s be honest here. When has anyone ever gone to China and not gotten fucked? Making money off of the Chinese is harder than taking a full bottle of rye whiskey away from a thirsty Irishman. Not that there’s any other kind.”

Although the Tour of Beijing provided a last-stop Pro Tour race for riders still looking for a win and Andy Schleck, Cookson believes that other opportunities are in the offing. “I was recently contacted by a gentleman, Mr. Abdul Abdullah-Masoud al-Qaeda who would like to unveil a premiere stage race in the northern part of what was, formerly, I believe, known as Iraq. We are still working out the details, and would of course require that none of the riders be decapitated, and I believe they may be flexible on that point as long as everyone wears a bedsheet. With the UCI, rider safety is our paramount concern.”

END

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UCI rule changes usher in new era

September 21, 2014 § 31 Comments

With the changes to the UCI’s rules for the hour record attempt firmly in place, Jens Voigt stormed to a new mark in the legendary event, setting a fastest-ever pace in the event, a time that was faster than anyone has ever gone before in this distance, except for eight other riders, all of whom went faster, but who, under new rules are now technically slower, making Voigt the fastest ever rider not to have used certain modifications under the old rules that allowed the “superman” position. Voigt’s new status as the fastest ever rider for the hour except for the riders who have actually gone faster created a wave of happiness and hysteria at the UCI, and Cycling in the South Bay was lucky to catch this brief interview with chief Brian Cookson in between lunchtime martinis.

CitSB: You must be really happy about this.

Brian Cookson: Oh indeed, indeed. This rule change is going to see a wave of riders attempting to break the hour record.

CitSB: Can you explain it to the folks back in Peoria? It’s kind of confusing.

BC: Of course. Under the old rules, which were instituted to replaced the former rules before that, and which in turn had been liberalized over the previous rules, a rider couldn’t set an hour record unless he did it under the same technical constraints as Eddy Merckx’s 1972 ride in Mexico City.

CitSB: And why was that so hard?

BC: There just weren’t very many more pairs of wool shorts left anymore. Except for the guys over at Velominati. And reproducing the open-shit sewers of Mexico City in ’72 was a major technical hurdle, not to mention getting old-school pepper-upper combos like Deca, heroin, strychnine, and cocaine.

CitSB: So then what happened?

BC: We changed the rule so that it mirrors the existing rules for the pursuit. If you can use it in the pursuit, you can use it in the hour record.

CitSB: Even those stupid looking smooth helmets that make you look like a speeding penis?

BC: (Slams another martini, rubs self). Especially those.

CitSB: Back to Ma and Pa in Peoria. Jens Voigt has the new hour record, but there are still eight riders who have set UCI-approved hour records faster than him. How can you be the record holder in 9th place?

BC: Again, as with most things in cycling, you have to be steeped in the history and the regulations to appreciate the effort. It is true that the fastest hour records of Boardman and Rominger will never be broken, but those records were set due to technical specifications that allowed them to use bike positions that we will never allow again.

CitSB: Why is that?

BC: The hour record should be pure. It should be man against time.

CitSB: Or woman.

BC: What?

CitSB: Never mind.

END

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Interview with the new UCI boss, Brian Cookson

September 28, 2013 § 12 Comments

We sat down with UCI president-elect Brian Cookson shortly after he had ousted Paddy McQuaid, the rough-and-tumble, hard drinking, coke-snorting, influence-peddling douchebag who has been the face of professional cycling since 2006.

WM: How does it feel to be elected to a major international sports position like this, yet still come across in most photographs as a homeless man looking for a bath and a shave?

BC: Cycling is ready for a new path, so I’m honored to have been chosen for this post.

WM: The UCI has historically been a facade for one of the most pathetic, irrelevant professional sports in the world. How will you change that?

BC: Cycling needs new leadership to take it on a new path. I say, old chap, d’you mind if I have another one of those? (Points to empty whiskey glass.)

WM: By all means. Waiter! Please bring Mr. Cookson another whiskey! (Waiter quickly refills the glass.) So, what is your plan for cleaning up this filthy, putrid, cheating, lying, freak show of a non-sport, where a 42-year-old cheeseburger addicts can whip the snot out of 150 drug-crazed Spanish professionals in the prime of life?

BC: When I took over British Cycling, it was on an old path. A very, very old path. Ancient, in fact. And so we put it on a new one, a new path. And it’s been quite successful, I might add.

WM: I thought British Cycling was revolutionized by lottery funding and volcano doping? I mean, weren’t you running it like, back in the days when the only people the British beat in bicycle races were the Sudanese?

BC: Yes, well, the $48 billion annual lottery investment helped. And I believe that a new path is needed here at the UCI as well.

WM: Right. What, exactly, is the new path you have in mind?

BC: Obviously, not an old one.

WM: Of course not. I mean, something that will restore integrity to a sport that never had any, right? A way to make cycling appealing to people who aren’t enamored of those pasty Froome-types who can’t steer, who gaze incessantly at the stem, who roll over and die the minute the Tour ends?

BC: Exactly. A new path.

WM: What are its core elements?

BC: Excuse me (signals waiter). Could I have another one of these? (Points to now-empty whiskey glass, waiter refills it.)

WM: Dude, you seem completely drunk.

BC: Where were we?

WM: New path. You were going to take cycling on a new path.

BC: Yes, of course. We must eliminate corruption and cheating and bad things altogether. And to do that we need a new vision to do that in order for it to happen.

WM: Do you have any details?

BC: About what? (Hiccoughs.)

WM: Oh, nothing.

Lance 3.0: Lay down your cudgels, please

May 26, 2013 § 57 Comments

Newsflash: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of…pretty much everything.

Tour titles? Gone.

Reputation? Gone.

Income stream from his cancer foundation? Gone.

Ability to compete in sanctioned athletic events and the attendant income? Gone.

Mansion in Austin? Gone.

Self-respect after not getting hugged by Oprah? Totally gone.

Bonus newsflash: It’s not over yet. The Justice Department has joined Floyd’s whistleblower suit…former sponsors are suing to get their money back…he will be paying for his transgressions for a long, long time.

I don’t know about you…

But I believe in redemption. Not the Shawshank kind — I believe in the kind of redemption that says once you’ve been punished for your transgressions according to rule and/or law, you’re redeemed.

This type of redemption may not mean that you’re a sterling moral character, or even that you admit guilt or feel sorry for what you’ve done. It just means that you broke the rule, got punished, and are now free to move on just like new. Something worthless has been exchanged for something useful and new. Just like a coupon.

When you murder someone, rape someone, abuse a child, defraud the elderly, skim from the company till, or run a red light, your redemption begins when you’ve served your time or paid your fine. Redemption means trading in the old for the new. It means a fresh start.

And in case you were wondering, along with the punishment fitting the crime, redemption is the premise upon which our entire legal system is built.

Redemption gives convicted felons the right to vote, the right to work, the right to have a passport, and the right to fully participate as citizens once they’ve served their time. Redemption doesn’t mean you have to like the sinner or the ex-con. It just means you can’t legally continue punishing and persecuting him.

Lance is no convicted felon. If you don’t think he’s been punished, see above. If you’re still harboring resentment and anger, that’s understandable. But he’s not going anywhere, and I’d suggest that there’s a better way to deal with him than continually bludgeoning him for his transgressions.

It’s an old concept, actually. It’s called forgiveness.

Cranking up the PR machine

Lance has recently begun doing what he does best: Going on the offensive. Whether it’s calling Patrick Brady and chatting with him for an hour or unblocking Lesli Cohen and a bunch of other diehard Lance opponents, it’s clear that he has a plan in place and has begun to execute it.

What’s the plan?

The plan is to get back in front of the sports media and build Lance 3.0. This newest iteration is simple. Lance 3.0 is a…

  1. Survivor.
  2. Family man.
  3. World class athlete.
  4. Friend.

What will Lance 3.0 do? He will sell something. What will he sell? I don’t know. But I do know this: He won’t be setting up a pyramid scheme to defraud Medicare, or a criminal syndicate to assassinate journalists. Most likely, he’s got a plan that will let him earn a living as a speaker/athlete/patient advocate.

Is that so bad? How many other people get out of prison and see their mission in life as one dedicated to helping others? Mind you, I don’t know that that’s his plan, but what does he have left? And why is it contemptible for him to try and rebuild a career that’s been destroyed through his own mistakes?

Ultimately, though, does it really matter what his end game is? No.

What matters is you

A group of local riders were climbing Latigo Canyon Road yesterday, and guess who they met at the top? Barry Bonds.

Remember him?

He’s the guy who was held up as one of the most evil and crooked baseball players of all time, a guy who stole Hank Aaron’s record on the strength of drugs and lies. Today he’s a slim and fit bicycle rider.

When the gang ran into him on Latigo, no one cringed, or cursed him, or called him a scumbag doper. Instead, they mugged for the camera and posted photos on Facebook.

Why?

First, of course, is star power…and we are here in LA. Second, though, is the fact that Barry has paid for what he did, and he didn’t even go on Oprah and confess. We know that he was caught, that he’s been punished, and that now he’s just a dude on a bike who used to hit a lot of home runs. Our lives are too short to keep hating on a guy who’s been punished to the full extent that the system demanded, particularly since all he seems to do now is pedal around, show up at the occasional crit, and generally act like a normal dude.

We’re done with his crime, and so is he. Now we just want to say hello and ride our bikes.

What about Lance?

Lance is different from Barry because the latter earned hundreds of millions of dollars and wisely invested them over the course of a long career. Barry doesn’t have to work.

Lance has five kids, huge ongoing legal bills, and a lot of years left to live. It’s impossible that he’s got anywhere near the pile that Barry is sitting on, or even anything close to it. Unlike Barry, Lance has gotta work. Rather than pulling up the drawbridge and living inside the fort, Lance has got to get out and mingle in order to rebuild.

For people getting out of prison and living in halfway houses, it’s called “You have to get a job.”

Lance showed us that pro cycling is a corrupt freak show. Danilo di Luca confirmed yesterday that it still is. Nibali, Wiggins, Dave Brailsford, Chris Froome, Pat McQuaid, Hein Verbruggen, and USA Cycling reaffirm that anyone who thinks the sport is clean isn’t thinking very hard.

If you hate Lance because he “ruined the sport,” maybe it’s time YOU moved on. The pro sport is rotten. If you follow it and still bury your head in the jocks of its stars, there’s a problem all right, and the problem is with you. If you can watch Nibali repeatedly hit the gas in the snow at the end of the most grueling stage of the most grueling stage race while his competition is rolling over and dying on the slopes, you’re the one who needs to analyze my modification of this old saw: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me over and over and over, and I’m a fucking moron who enjoys being fooled.”

As Billy Stone might put it, “And the dopers ruined your life as a Cat 4 masters athlete exactly how?”

Where’s it all going?

Now that Lance 1.0 and 2.0 have been airbrushed out of the history books, what’s wrong with giving 3.0 the same degree of redemption that should be afforded to axe murderers, tax cheats, misdemeanor DUI’s, and kids on grade probation in college? How is our agenda advanced by refusing to lay down arms, and instead insisting that he still be treated like the unrepentant, unpunished cheat that he was a year ago, when he’s repented and been punished?

Does it ennoble us to keep shrieking “Off with his head!” after his head has been offed, stuck on a pike, and paraded around his kids’ schoolyards? I think it does the opposite. It shows us up to be petty, vengeful dorks who actually think that pro cycling is so important it transcends common notions of justice and fair play.

Five years hence, ten years hence, Lance 3.0 will have been fully rebuilt. He’s that smart and a whole lot smarter, he’s that hard working, and he’s that motivated. He’s also got close to four million people on Twitter who want to know what he says and thinks, as well as five kids to feed, clothe, and put through college.

Most importantly, he’s not going anywhere. Do you want to be the wild-eyed crazy standing in the corner screaming, “But he doped! He cheated! He lied! He ruined my Cat 4 masters racing career!” long after he’s been punished and the rest of the world has moved on?

I don’t.

If the UCI and USA Cycling and WADA are done with his case, then I am, too. Keep clubbing at him if you want, but don’t expect me to join in. I’d rather go club some of the baby seals on next Tuesday’s NPR.

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