Monday, 2 February 2009

Never mind the heat, feel the cold hard cash.

I'd give it another month before you start getting excited about anything that's happening on the road if I were you.

As the cross and 6 day season winds down, it falls to the sports crazed cousin, road racing, to enliven us for the coming year. But he hasn't started yet has he? As I write all we've had the Tour de Downunder and the first stage of Qatar.

Tour de Downunder? Tour de Downunder? Has there ever been so much media hype about such a boring race? The worlds media descended on South Australia as gossip columnists elbowed cycling jurno's in the face in an effort to get front row at the press conferences. The great and the good of Aussie society joined it's politicians in turning up for hospitality and photo opportunities. All of them proclaiming their love of cycle racing, all of them telling anyone who would listen that they always ride a bike and that cycling is the greatest sport in the world. Well F*** me.
If this is what it's like with a 'low key' bike race 10,000 miles from cycling heartland what the hell's it going to be like come July?

Lets have a look at the race, nothing much wrong with it as a race if you ask me. Something for the locals to aim at as they attempt to generate some sponsor type excitement and nothing much wrong if you're a European team and want a little pre-season warm up. But for the UCI to hold it up as a top class event is taking the piss. And for the event to be sold as something approaching the TdF in terms of a sporting challenge is ever so slightly wrong.
The organisers may well have dreams of attracting the stars and even of attracting the stars when they are competitive, or God knows, maybe even attracting the stars and getting them to race seriously for the overall. But lest face it this is a long, long way off. Maybe when Uncle Pat looks into his crystal ball he may well see a future where big time races attract major teams across five continents for twelve months of the year or maybe he just sees a half empty beer glass and a sobbing pissed bloke, I dunno. But what I do know is that just because a race organiser and the UCI think it's a major race on the global calendar doesn't make it so.

But good luck to the organisers, I doubt if there has ever been so many journalists drawn to a bike race that have known so little about what was going on. Still, as with all great bike races, ply the punters with the best local wines and you'll get star ratings and a great write up.

Hows the bank balance?

Still Qatar is where it's at this week. The race that is currently being sold as the Tour de France mark 2 attempts to kick start the excitement for the coming European season. A little closer to Europe, fewer media hacks and no pesky locals steeling the 'Pro' teams limelight does not, as yet, generate much excitement. Sure the race is talked up, which race isn't, but the sprinters aren't yet at full speed and whilst a few psychological points can be scored we all know the real action is at last a month away.
Back in the 60's and 70's the pre-season action was in the South of France, 'Grande Prix this' and 'Trophy the other' provided a little light competition for the teams prior to a Belgian spring. Nowadays the money has moved East and so have the pre-spring races.

Publicity wise the Tour de Qatar had it's limelight stolen this year, with Lancey boy grabbing all the headlines Downunder the media Jonnies in the land of sand needed to pull something out of the proverbial 'look at me, look at me' bag. So what could be better than the claim that Le Tour de France was going to start in Qatar, brilliant. Imagine the massive crowds, imagine the electric atmosphere, imagine the publicity caravan in the desert, imagine the hoards of locals turning to the bike as a means of transport, imagine ASO's bank balance.

That's what I like to see, the real action, the real excitment is where it always was, in the bank account of race organisers.


Oh, nice one Rog, who said Qatar wasn't exciting?


1 comment:

kelvinnewman said...

i'm quite enjoying the early season thus far, though the circus surrounding lance was inevitable down under though