It wasn’t long ago that problems with a coach meant the Fuentes scandal or a police raid in Italy so yesterday’s finish line confusion doesn’t look so bad. A quick update on the bus and the gantry. Orica-Greenedge’s bus lost the air conditioning. If you watched the TV coverage closely you could see fluid spraying out of the top of the bus after the crash. The bus can’t be too comfortable in Corsica given the sunshine outside.
According to RIDE Cycle Review’s Rob Arnold the gantry needs repairs. The two engines that hoist the thing into place are damaged. The hydraulics are fine but the alloy structure is damaged and should be repaired within the next two days.
The structure is provided by Movico, a Dutch company who had to think quickly yesterday with disaster struck and the race was 13km away and moving at 60km/h. It was their idea to let the air out of the tyres.
Giant Woes for Belkin
Talking of deflating news, it’s great to see Belkin come in to sponsor replace the Blanco team but L’Equipe suggests the teams problems might not be over as the squad risks losing one valuable accessory: bike sponsor Giant. The Taiwanese bike firm provides a reported €3 million. The sponsor is thinking of switching to supply Argos-Shimano instead and will decide in the coming days.
McQuaid puts his foot in it again
L’Equipe again and their write Gilles Simon interviewed UCI President Pat McQuaid. Obviously we can’t see the behind the scenes work done by Pat McQuaid during his Presidency so instead we’re left with the angry press releases and confused interviews. In the latest one he says if the samples from 1998 Tour prove Marco Pantani used EPO then he’d consider stripping the Italian of his win.
There were jokes about lifetime bans for Pantani on Twitter this morning but it’s no laughing matter. As the head of a governing body subscribed to the WADA Code, Pat McQuaid should know that there’s an eight year statute of limitations. More so since the matter was a crucial element of the USADA verdict on Lance Armstrong. In other words Pantani’s record cannot be revised although everyone is free to have a view on it.
It might be well after the eight year period but the biggest day of this year’s Tour could be hit by an unexploded bomb from the 1998 Tour. Robert Millar puts it well in his ever-sharp blog on cyclingnews:
the 18th of July, the day of THE stage of this year’s contest, risks not being remembered for making the riders toil up the 21 bends to Alpe d’Huez twice but for something even more spiteful – the French Senate inquiry into past doping in cycling is set to publish the list of riders who returned positive drug tests fifteen years ago.
But I can’t help wondering why today’s riders should be so concerned. This goes back to 1998, a time when the average rider in the Tour de France peloton was 12 years old, when President Clinton lived in the White House and Brandy and Monica topped the charts with “The Boy Is Mine”. It’s so stale it could be in a museum.
It’s been said before but the riders need a union. Imagine if a united voice could project rider frustration and demand others contribute to cleaning up the mess left by the past generation? With some slick work the union could channel the media towards the likes of Richard Virenque and Luc Leblanc, each with their radio shows in July or others present like Bjarne Riis to explain what happened.
Cycling fanatics will know a rider union called the CPA exists. It’s led by Gianni Bugno but near invisible. It has a website but the last news item dates from 13 June… 2012.
Today saw the idea of a protest amongst the riders at the KM0 point where they’d make a symbolic stop to protest at yesterday’s race chaos. But the move was called off at the last minute. As long as the riders can’t agree amongst themselves and have no channels to stand together then they’ll have to endure more of the same, a union would be a proper way to run this rather than a peloton patron or two.
Rider safety in the Tour is one thing a union could help with. Instead riders are left floating their own ideas. FDJ’s Jérémy Roy suggests that times could be taken at the 3km point.
Suggestion: temps pris aux 3kms sur les étapes de plaines pour éviter aux grimpeurs de frotter avec les sprinters? Qu’en pensez vous? #tdf
— Jeremy Roy (@jeremyroy) June 29, 2013
As things stand if a rider crashes in the final 3km then they get the same time as the group they were with but Roy’s rule would mean the times are taken at the 3km point. This means the GC contenders and their teams would not be mixing it with the sprint teams during the final 3000 metres in order to get their leaders across the finish line.
I like the idea and it could explored. It would mean a virtual finishing line where GC teams could compete for and they might cut their effort once over this line, getting in the way of others as they drop back down the bunch. Plus there’s an element of artifice that the public might struggle to grasp. There’s an interesting analysis of bunch crashes in grand tours from 2011 that crunches the numbers. It’s conclusion? That creating the 3km rule made the racing more dangerous as riders take more risks.
I’m not sure about the paper as the source data sample is small but these things are still very helpful.
Enjoying the Tour?
The Tour is popular in France with big crowds and large TV audiences. Saturday’s opening stage took one third of the TV audience in France, an impressive stat. But whilst you’re probably watching for the race, millions in France tune in for the scenery. In fact the French are surprisingly indifferent about the race itself but millions love the show and the procession around France. It’s a topic I explore more in my column for 2rHD available for iPhone or iPad users.