Tuesday, 2 September 2008

It's almost as if I care.

Ohhh, many millions for a footballer. Nothing new in that or indeed in the flood of pundits saying that the English league is 'the most exciting in the world' as a result of this. Now this of course relies on the equation of lots of money = excitement. And it's an equation that has to be true cos there are loads of pundits on the TV telling me it is.

So that's £30 odd million for a footballer, or more than British Cycling (BC) got for the last 4 years. Perhaps I'm just a little odd, perhaps it's just me, but I have another equation in this the more money there is splashing about in football the less I'm excited by it, my current level of excitement is zero, my current level of care less is couldn't and my current turn over factor is 'Oh great Antiques Road show is on'.

And talking of Antiques and stuff that should be put out to grass brings me inevitably to the UCI.

It was only a few days ago that Uncle Pat was on out TV screens saying that all this nonsense between the UCI and ASO / everyone else on the planet would be over 'in a couple of weeks'. Now I like Uncle Pat, he was a good rider, a great race organiser and clearly loves the sport, however I bet he was back in Ireland, sipping on a Guinness and organising the local chippers. As poisoned challises go the head of the UCI is really up there isn't it.

This jovial reconciliation, is however a long way from the 'I'm going to come round your house and piss all over your carpet, oh and if you ride Paris – Nice I'll make sure your cat goes missing' That we had earlier in the year. So what has brought all this about? Perhaps someone has got the main protagonists together in a room and slapped them all about the head repeatedly until they all saw sense. (This would have taken a long time, which probably explains why Uncle Pat and ASO have been quiet for the last two months). Or perhaps they all continue to disagree and having scrapped the Pro-Tour (YYYEEESSS) and replaced it with the world tour (?) they're just getting their breath back and will be at it like knives in the new year.

I don't quiet get the World Tour, isn't just the same as the ProTour, but with the acknowledgement that the race organisers can pick who rides in their races? I could of course look on the internet and find something long and dull detailing all the details that haven't as yet been decided or made public and that no one has signed up to, but lets face it, if stuffs going to be made up I might as well go straight to it and save the research time.

I do think that one of the main reasons the WT has been announced is that it allows the UCI to drop the tours of Russia, China, Iceland, Greenland and Sheppy, without too much loss of face. Although how you can lose face when you haven't got a face to start with is a bit beyond me. In a way I was kind of hoping some or all of those races would go ahead and get sanctioned by the UCI. My thinking was that it would cause all the ProTour teams to drive round to UCI towers and burn the place down, shame really.

So then, the poisoned chalice or the job that Hein Verbruggen left behind. Why, in Gods name would anyone want it? It's not so much the job, as the fact that the man who had it before and it could be argued, did more to bugger up our sport than anyone outside the bloke that invented EPO, has not 'left the building' but is sitting next door as the VP of the UCI.

Whatever Uncle Pat does, short of totally eradicating drug abuse, will always be overshadowed by the crap that his predecessor left smouldering on the desk.

I will save all my deep and disturbed ranting over Verbruggen for another day (well, many another days in fact), but just remember this, when the sport was facing it's biggest ever crisis, the 1998 Festina affair, Hein went on holiday, he didn't want anything to do with the riders, the teams, the sponsors or the sport, he packed his bags and went off leaving the circus to fend for it's self. At a time when strong and decisive leadership was called for he was sitting in the sun sipping on a stiff one. Yet he is, ten years on and having introduced the ProTour, still drawing a salary and filling a UCI wast paper bin with post-it notes and discarded paper clips. Now that's excitement for you.

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