A Tale of Two Races

The Dubai Tour starts today and so does the Etoile de Bessèges. Both offer several days of racing in the early season but the comparisons stop there as the Emirati race outbids its rivals on almost every scale. The Etoile long been an essential part of the early season in France but will it survive much longer?

There’s nothing explicit to say the Etoile is struggling but the implicit signs are there, it’s not on TV and its website is basic. The Dubai Tour is on TV – Eurosport among others – while the Etoile will hope for a clip on the evening news bulletin on a regional news channel, (follow it in French via directvelo.com).

For races facing extinction we only have to look at the Tour Cycliste Méditerranéen, better known as Le Tour Med. This race has been a glorious fixture on the early season calendar with Mont Faron as the first summit finish of the year. Now it’s vanished, the race organiser says he has three stages that straddle Spain and France but the French Ligue says €150,000 in unpaid prize money needs to be resolved and for now it’s not on the UCI calendar either.


One problem for many smaller events is the rising cost of bike races. In recent years fuel prices have risen, hotel prices match strong gains in real estate prices and overall the cost of staging a bike race has risen much faster than the standard measure of inflation. Policing costs are big deal too, or rather there’s no deal. It used to cost €2.40 an hour per policeman for a bike race but this has jumped to €12.33 and was set to reach €20 an hour although a moratorium has put this on hold.

Today’s L’Equipe says the Etoile “is cultivating a vintage aspect” as it gathers former winners and stars to attend the race. In more ways than one because one worrying aspect is the lack of online presence for many smaller races. There is a self-selecting bias for a blog to overstate the importance of the internet but all the same, the Etoile de Bessèges and other races do give the impression of being behind when it comes to the internet, yet alone social media. Twitter, Facebook can be vacuous but they’re modern communication channels: they’re free and allow the race to reach around the world. I suspect none of this is by design or willingness, the organising committee behind the race is doing the best it can and there’s no budget to tend to the website, yet alone work on graphic design and cartography. This is symptomatic of many races, they are run by organising committees who gather for the love of sport. Many professional races remain amateur promotions, in the affectionate sense.

Meanwhile in Dubai
They’re paying appearance fees for the best stars and putting them up in swanky hotels rather than the Logis Nîmotel in a retail park next to the A9 Autoroute. Media are flown over to stay in same comfort while graphic design agencies handle the website and marketing groups operate Twitter handles. Paul Smith designs the jerseys. It’s great to see them valuing our sport so highly.

So what?
Pro cycling is a business and as said many times before, the Tour de France was created to sell newspapers. If someone wants to organise a better-funded race with way more money the result is inevitable. The Etoile de Bessèges isn’t finished but you can see the light fading while the Tour Med looks like it’s gone for good. What is a loss to the French calendar is compensated by the gain in Dubai or elsewhere, there’s no net loss in race days.

There are questions of authenticity, that Dubai is simply spending money to import a bike race which comes in for a week and then goes away for the year, that this is cycling as an exhibition match rather than a league. Meanwhile races like the Etoile are there year-in, year-out but open too, there’s no VIP zones or security cordons. The danger is new races don’t get embedded locally: see the Tour of Beijing.

The die-hard French fan and the French team sponsor alike still need not worry too much, the Tour de France dominates the calendar. Simply riding in July is enough to justify a French team budget, it’s why the likes of Ag2r, Cofidis and FDJ have been sponsoring non-stop for almost two decades while the Tour itself is able to carry races like Paris-Nice and the Dauphiné with it.

Etoile de Bessèges
Part of the landscape

The speed of the UCI’s calendar reforms seems to be slowing but there’s an air of inevitability and all the above is before any reforms draw a greater distinction between races.

Neither the Dubai Tour or the Etoile de Bessèges are the most consequential events. But their clash on the calendar is revealing, showing one slick race with a big budget against another that faces a struggle just to stay on the road, beset with headwinds like rising police costs but also missing out on free tricks like exploiting social media. You can follow the Etoile but it takes work, you have to go get the race rather than it coming to you. Still, it’s better than elsewhere because unless there’s a miracle the Tour Med is about to vanish.

Sport, like the rest of the world, is becoming more globalised and pro cycling is seeing more races with better organisation and promotion, the weaker events on the calendar will get picked off. Meanwhile riders enjoy comfy hotels and get celebrated in opening ceremonies. Fans these days “consume” racing via television than the roadside. There’s a lot to celebrate from well-funded races but we should hope the Etoile de Bessèges can stay on the road too.

62 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Races”

  1. There is actually a big cycling community here in Dubai comprising of expats and locals due to the dedicated cycle paths and tracks that have been built by the government.

    Also the UAE loves the “worlds best” paying a visit to the country no matter the sport/event.

      • On another note that hasn’t been raised here, the Dubai Tour is a culmination of a pretty large cycling plan for the region by the Dubai government. They have built a couple of hundred kilometers of independent cycling paths with facilities equipped (showers, water etc) which were put in place to curb obesity and rates of diabetes which is pretty incredibly in the region. Dubai has plenty of marketing, but one of the other purposes of this race is to stop the town, build recognition for cycling as a legitimate activity/sport and encourage residents to get out and utilize the infrastructure that has been put in place.

  2. At the risk of being accused (again) of deplorable snobbery, when the oil barons get bored (or their budgets squeezed due to declining prices) with cycling as their plaything, they’ll move on to something else, leaving the races in the traditional cycling countries they overpowered with their petro dollars to rest in peace. The fans who lined the roadside in those traditional cycling countries (as opposed to pretty much nobody at the roadside in these desert spectacles) to see a race live (with their children, perhaps future bike racing fans?) will be left with nothing. Can someone explain to me how this is long-term, strategic thinking to grow the sport?

    • You’ll be immensely pleased to find I agree with you on this point. I just finished watching the first stage of the Dubai Tour, but as for people by the side of the road watching….not so much. This might put into perspective some of your comments about the Tour Down Under and races in other states like the US. Those are the new “traditional cycling countries” with a passionate fan base and strong, and growing, cycling culture, a world away from the Middle East or China where bike racing is just another marketing strategy created by money in the hope of drawing in future serious tourist money. The sport is becoming more globalised, but sadly as with all capitalist enterprises, it will go wherever the money is.

      • It seems to me Pro Cycling is going the same way as Formula 1 – chasing the money from emerging governments who are using it for tourism marketing and prestige, displacing older European events that are well-attended in the process because they can no longer afford the fees Government or Petrodollar cash can pay. Why else would F1 be heading to Russia, Azerbaijan, China, or Abu Dhabi, or South Korea?

        I’m all for expansion and inclusivity, but these races look hollow. For mei t would be far preferable to let cycling grow organically – taking races to where there’s an established TV audience rather than doing things the other way round and hoping for the best. INRNG mentioned Beijing “failing to integrate locally”, and it’s much the same for F1 (China and South Korea in particular). Sparse crowds and events that would be unsustainable without the (in some cases highly dubious) government cash that pays for it, so when the prestige of hosting the event wears off what happens to the series then?

        Meanwhile, Britain lacks a World Tour event. Surely British Cycling / Team Sky have some money sloshing about that they could contribute to funding one? Even a One Day race. We’ve seen what happens when the cyclists come – Tour Of Britain was well-attended by pro teams and fans alike, Le Tour even more so, even the Cyclocross at Milton Keynes was rammed. There’s potential, for sure. Even as a one-off.

        • Firstly, Sweetspot don’t want to go to WT with their primary stage race, ToB – Mick Bennett wants to keep it at 6-man teams, for starters, to keep the racing more difficult for one team to control. He also wants to continue to be able to continue to have the small GB conti teams along as they tend to race aggressively – which he couldn’t do if it went WT.

          And remember, Sweetspot have the contract as re-awarded by BC for the next 5 years. And they have been able to get the Womens Tour going – but it will take several years before that can turn a profit for them.

          As for Sky, they put millions into cycling in the UK, not just Team Sky, the Academy and the track, but also all the grassroots stuff, SkyRides etc. How much more do you want them to pour in (especially given all the shoot that gets thrown at the road team, never mind the constant moaning that they haven’t funded a womens team yet)

          IMO for the growth of the road scene in the UK, I’d rather see more stuff with the domestic calendar, and the emergence of a ProConti team – which I think is desperately needed.

        • It’s in Dubai because of government money which is paying to stage the race for international image/prestige/tourism purposes,
          It’s not there because cycling is traditional, ingrained, indiginous – they have hired-in the organisation and infrastructure to stage it.
          Next year they could just as easily drop cycling and host a motor race/football /yachting/badminton//tiddlywinks if they decide it fits their image better.

          Meanwhile Bessages has been running their race for decades, run by an amateur organising committee of local enthusiasts, with (looking at the poster above) multiple local/regional sponsors, reported by the local press and attended by local supporters because this is a country/area where there is traditional cycling support, both from a large body of club cycling enthusiasts but also a local population favourable to it.

          Seems obvious to me which of these two is the more sustainable model, in 20 years down the line…

          • The worry is as you say, that the race gets dropped if someone changes their mind or even if the sport gets hit by a scandal (maybe it’d be right to drop the race if that was so but that’s another story) while other events are more durable.

            But all the same if we’re seeing some F1 comparisons, nobody’s moving the Tour de France to Abu Dhabi, we’re seeing early season events only for now.

      • It’s unfortunate that the topography of Dubai is rather flat for an exciting tactical bike race with a meaningful GC… i’m sure there wouldn’t be many complaints if the government/petrodollars could support a race with more purpose than just showing off their city landmarks.

        I think there is still room for both set of races to survive. As the new UCI World Tour takes shape (and let’s face it – Dubai will be definitely a part of it), races like Etoile will become distanced as a Conti / Pro Conti calendar race, but can be used by local/regional teams or part of a national series like French Cup. French World Tour teams are going to snap up the best local riders from these races just as they do today. But perhaps in time we’ll see the FDJ’s and AG2R’s prefer to follow the ranking points linked with a top 10 sprint finish than the reduced number of points on offer from smaller races in their domestic scene. Not exactly a far stretch of the imagination from today’s scene.

  3. One Information of another “sport”. It shows what happens if sport becomes pure entertainment and bussines, looses credibility and touch with the fans: In the last 20 years, the F1-champions came 10 times from germany. Yet it seems in 2015 there will be no german Grand Prix, due to dwindeling numbers of visitors and viewers.

    • I don’t think there is a lack of fans for FI in Germany, it is just that the government are probably not prepared to pay million to Bernie Ecclestone for the right to host a GP.

    • It’s more due to a certain Mr Ecclestone and his financial demands placed upon circuits for hosting.

      He expects a huge amount of money just to host the race at all. Then there’s all the other costs the circuit has on top of just the rights to hold the race. They pass all these costs on to the fans through huge increases in ticket prices.

      Many have been priced out. I know I can’t afford to watch a Grand Prix for real these days and chances are I never will, if things continue. 25 years ago I went with my Dad several years in a row, and you could get 2 tickets for less than the price of 1 ticket today (even ignoring inflation).

      Why is it so expensive just for the right to host a race? Because there are people elsewhere in the world who can afford to do so through government cash, artificially pushing the price up for everyone else. Bahrain, China, South Korea, Azerbaijan, Russia, and so on.

      Bernie doesn’t care about Germany and most of Europe, where it’s all funded by Private Companies rather than state-run.

      Indeed, here in Britain the government is basically banned from paying anything towards hosting a race or helping Silverstone. At the moment Bernie has been “kind” to Silverstone but for me its only a matter of time before he takes the race away because they can’t afford it.

    • The commentators below are right, F1 is more a curse than a blessing. The financial requirements and physical – track = real estate requirements make it highly unlikely a track will make money.

      There are better returns to be had from Moto GP, superbikes, WTC and testing which is what most of the major tracks aim for.

      A good F1 track often means it’s crap for bikes (little undulation) and touring cars.

      I would hate to see cycling go the way of F1, but I doubt it will. there is no “controlling influence”. Even taking the UCI and ASO out of the equation there is much organised from grassroots and it’s just doo bloody anarchic.

  4. Thanks Inner Ring for your consistently excellent analysis on all things cycling!!

    Your photo of the bridge outside Anduze has made me want to go back to the Cevennes – if the Etoile de Besseges could find a way to market itself better it would definitely attract more visitors to the region as it’s a great little corner of France!!!

  5. There is another side to this tale. Although I don’t excactly know, I suspect Dubai Tour to be far from economically viable. They spend all the money to get teams and maybe even TV down there, without gaining much revenue from it. They are paying for Prestige. The money isn’t generated through sports but through oil and spend on sports. Which is of course nice, but pose the question of sustainability of such an event. Etoile des Besseges on the other hand is an event which attracts local audience and sponsors. It generates its economic value through the sport (although, many european races are also partly gouverment-supported). There is a basis, people who are genuinly interested at the event because of the sport and not for promotional reasons. And that gives them a kind of stability. Since Etoile got no backer, so they struggle for survival and have simply no money to invest. But it will stay for me the more favourable race.
    I have nothing against globalization, when the expansion is responsible and sustainable. Best example for this is Tour Down Under. Carefully grown with a huge fanbase it’s now one of the best events in calendar. Or Tour of Langkawi.
    On the Opposite Tour of Bejing. How could the UCI have hoped to make profit with a race that simply had no base? You can’t create a base with an event put ontop of the desert. Thats my central criticism of Events such as Bejing or Quatar. At Oman and Dubai I see at least some people coming out to the race (Huge potential for a big arab stage race if those two would merge. Also great mountain top finish at Jebel Hafeet!).

    • The event isn’t sustainable, but no one at the UCI cares because the royals are paying well.

      There is no brand awareness, no ‘tradition’ upon which to build a brand, no core audience, no grassroots, just shady independent contractors like Darach McQuaid landing the next tax authority willing to buy a race. How much they spend determines their rank on the calendar. This is the UCI strategy going forward. Welcome to globalization version UCI.

      It’s a terrible time to be an elite cyclist.

  6. With the two races clashing on the calendar it certainly makes for a stark comparison. It’s very easy to make a case that the Tour of Dubai lacks ‘authenticity’, whereas a race like the Etoiles de Besseges has a history and a narrative, and a genuine connection with the local area; it’s culture, and local fans and sponsors, for example.

    Having said that, it cannot compete with the Tour of Dubai and it’s flash hotels and appearance fees – how do you convince the top teams and riders that Besseges is a better sell? For my money, the Tour of Dubai more than holds it’s own as a TV spectacle too.

    Sign of the times?

    • Agreed, and I’d also like to thank INRNG for an excellent balanced article today. A lot of comments above fall into the “But I don’t like the Dubai race” but the article is not about that.

  7. Inrng,

    How events end up on the UCI calendar, ranked as they are, is largely a mystery, but easily explained by revenue, ASO’s interests providing production services, and the UCI obsession with ‘globalisation’ at the expense of their core audience.

    The UCI is getting paid on their way to obscurity and irrelevance.

  8. My take on this is as follows.

    If sufficiently large sums of money can be found to promote an event, then all well and good. The oil rich states certainly fit this requirement.

    I have long worried for the smaller European events. Not because they can’t attract decent fields, but because sponsorship money is very tight and costs high in the present climate. The Etoile de Bessages is a very good illustration of the problem. Organized by a local club, with a multitude of small sponsors, all of whom have to be approached individually in order to meet the budget. The event is somewhat fortunate in being French, and will gain the support of not only French WT teams, but also all the other French pro teams – French Cup. Italy, with a much reduced number of teams, has not been so fortunate, and is losing races at an alarming rate.

    Of course cycling must, as it always has, develop and expand. The big problem is losing some of the ‘romantic historical’ past and replacing this with new bland events which simply do not trigger the imagination of the general public, nor the fans, in the same way.

    • All sound points, BC.

      Unlike some here, one cant simply – and with facile and sneery comments – dismiss ‘globalisation’. The sport would have a very bleak outlook if totally dependent on the economies of traditional cycling heartlands of Europe. The funding that has historically underpinned so many races in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, has been disappearing at the rate of knots – continue to sponsor a local bike race, or cut local public services? Hmm, difficult one 🙂 . Then, as referenced by INRNG, the costs of staging races has been escalating at the same time.

      So where do those who want to see the end of a globalisation push, think the funds are going to come from? Or would they be happy with big gaps in the calendar?

      • This assumes the US financial crash didn’t spread to the traditional cycling countries who are now struggling under austerity imposed by those captains of globalization. But rather than go all “Paul Krugman” on all you nice folks, I’ll leave it at that.

          • This was a response to”So where do those who want to see the end of a globalisation push, think the funds are going to come from? ” My claim is the same “globalization push” that created those funds is also to blame for the current financial woes in the traditional cycling countries. We have very different views – what you call a solution I call a problem.

  9. While Besseges has a place in my heart having spent my 40th there watching Fabio Baldato ride in ’04 after his ’03 win, its decline along with other similar races is a sadly inevitable product of the Faustian pact cycling has with commerce. Besseges and Le Tour Med may now have a sepia-tinted romance, but they were born of hard-nosed acceptance of commercial sponsorship in just the same was as Dubai is today. Who remembers the smaller races displaced when Bessesges et al were born? And now, as the wheel turns, today’s smaller races are crushed by the same process. Surely the key is for races to have more permanent roots – and even ownership – within their local communities, to break the corrupting impact of relentless commercialisation?

  10. Thoughtful summation as always. Yes, the money wins every time. My understanding is that much of the cycling media is put up in those same nice hotels with free food and drink. Given the small salaries for cycling journalists and small budgets for even big mags like Cycle Sport, that’s a guarantee of big coverage. But as you noted, history and authenticity is zero. It’s a carnival freak show in the desert. I feel sorry for Etoile. ASO seems happy to build in Dubai and let their own French races die.

  11. Hey look, something shiny. Best case, cycling builds some culture in these new environments and capitalizes long term on any pecuniary infusion. Also, and seasoned as I am I appreciate this necessity, that smaller traditional events up their game a bit and solidify a foundation for long term success without banking on tradition alone. And I think we’re all in agreement, worst case, this is a passing fancy and when revenue isn’t justified or simply interest wanes we haven’t snubbed the family that raised us and neglected cultivating the romance of cycling with the next generation only to return without any sufficient base of riders or events. Probably not “without any” but certainly diminished.

  12. Odd to see INRNG report rising fuel prices in europe when they are declining rapidly here in the US. Well under $2 since Christmas. While that may have an impact on race attendance, perhaps the fact these races are being run in February when Europeans are spending or saving their disposable income for ski holidays is the biggest factor in low attendance.

  13. Thanks Inrng, always provoking dialogue, great points by everyone.

    We can piss and moan all day long about the loss of tradition and “feel good” of the historic Euro-races yet it is all about the money.

    One of the positives if not already mentioned is the exposure these “glamour races” provide to areas like the US as a result of the TV coverage. I would imagine every cyclery in North America will have a loop of the race on during business hours, and the 15 year old kid who comes in and is taken with the glamour will buy a nicer bike, join the local club, become a hot junior and the next Greg Lemond.

    Keep the faith my brothers and sisters it all comes around

    Side note: TourDeUtah, Unlike the US Europe pays heavy tax on gas…

    • Kids are going to be inspired to take up cycling by watching a peloton drone along endless strips of asphalt with little but sand on each side? And every bike shop in North America’s going to be showing this in their store on a loop? You describe a very different North America than the place I grew up in!
      TourDeUtah-in Italy gasoline is close to $10 a gallon, most of it tax, so cheaper per-barrel oil costs don’t make a whole lot of difference to motorists here. If were king of the USA I’d slap a $1 tax on each gallon sold there and use the dough to fix up the crumbing roads and maybe paint on a bike lane or two?

      • I almost ashamed to admit that I kind of like the Tour of Dubai, mainly because it’s a bit different.. and I totally get why the pro’s like it, posh hotels, a good bit of (warm) cross-wind practice before the spring classics etc. I love the French races too, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a bit of diversity I appreciate…

  14. Some of the “new” races are actually very well made. GP Montreal with its interesting and audience-attractive course could be an example. With ongoing presence on TV it really can have a long term future.

    Strade Bianche is another one. To create races that last for a longer term a certain amount of creativity from the real cycling heads combined with an acceptable TV broadcast is simply necessary

  15. Isn’t one possible answer to look at how you include the audience? Yes its a bit early season, but there must be some interest in a January sportive. If races like this were to use their history and their ‘grassroots appeal’ to market a participation event to the legions of new and newly inspired cyclists they may find a way of embedding the race in hearts of more cycling fans.

    You could look at first day that included a prologue, but then sent 3 or 4 pros from each team out on an afternoon spin with 250 amateur enthusiasts – a warm down for them but a tough ride for the amateurs, and an experience few get to have. Also look at using one of the stages for a more traditional sportive and/or some L’Eroica type event. The Tour Down Under is one example of an event that has done a good job on participation and making the riders accessible, but I think that model could be extended further, to the benefit of races, sponsors and teams.

    It’s not the traditional model, and some may see it as cheapening the sport, but one of the attractions of the sport has always been its’s accessibility. It’s time to play on that. I know from experience that organising races is complex, and something like this would add complexity, but its not insurmountable.

  16. There is another issue here, not about promotion but about organization. InnerRing’s comments ring true, but I am not thinking about history or the culture of our sport being carried forward. Lots of races were started without history and have become great events. Ed D above makes a great point. My question right now is how it happens. Between money and a great race there are a lot of steps.

    What I think worth exploring though is how this happens today. It is different from even recent year. I have helped build a number of races over the years and there is one common denominator for a modern sustainable event. That denominator is a professional organizing team. In the U.S. it is often Medalist Sports. They simply know how to navigate the mess that is required to run a good race. In Europe there are several good professional companies. One of them of course is ASO.

    I can tell you that a local group of volunteers is a lot of fun. And it is hard to maintain. Using local volunteers, it is hard to build critical mass to fund a professional level event.

    When I look at the folks I know who do this for a living, I can also tell you that they are universally immense fans of our sport. They do this as an avocation as well as a way to buy groceries.

    So an interesting post might be: Who are the professional race organizers? What makes them tick? Are they more successful than volunteer committees?

  17. Thanks for the link Larry. An excellent and emotive view of the difficulties of organizing a ‘smaller’ pro race, together with some of the reasons why these regional races should be considered by those who control the sport as important to its future development.

    Long may they survive. But with everything seemingly stacked against them – economics, organization and even it seems the governing body, it appears that their decline might well be terminal.

    It is sad to see the Tour of the Mediterranean has finally succumbed, after a long and lingering decline. A great shame, but given the shambolic nature of its organizational life over the last eight or so years it comes as little surprise.

  18. You’ve motivated me to get out and see a stage of the Etoile race. Today’s actually started in my town but I was in Provence unfortunately. Will chase them down, assuming anyone survived today’s icy winds.

  19. Lovely interview with Daniel Mangeas in L,Equipe yesterday which sums up why races like this are to be treasured. I m glad that the sport

  20. I must say I am not at all impressed by the riders once again deciding that the cold and wind were too much for them in Bessage. To add fuel to the fire, the newly announced USA riders association has decided that their number one aim is to have uniformity in abandoning racing if they consider conditions to tough. Just how the hard working organizers feel one can only guess.

    FFS its a bike race, a sporting contest that made its reputation on its toughness and demanding nature. If it’s too tough, climb of and consider your future, but let the event continue with those who are prepared to do what they are paid to do.

    I feel for the organizers and all their efforts. They deserve better.

    • It’s a subject to return to but there have to be days when things are too much. Yesterday Florian Vachon was picked up by the wind and blown of the road and had to abandon with the injuries sustined. However, deciding on objective criteria is hard, for example with a crosswind is one gust too much and will every commissaire have to bring a mini-weather station with them to measure? etc etc

    • BC, riders where being blown off the road and crashed caused. If you want to watch Extreme Sport, that’s up to you, I guess.

      But. Those poor organisers.

  21. Sam. I am not advocating ‘extreme’ sport. In my view the weather conditions are as much a part of the sport as the road. I have raced in the heart of the mistral a little further to the east than Bressage – not much fun. I have also been involved in the shoulder to shoulder push and shove of echelons in the flatlands of the north – not much fun. A bit of minus zero has been experienced – frozen feet are also not much fun. Careering down unknown mountain roads was always fine if you stayed upright ! The problem I have is that we are increasingly seeing races being disrupted because riders consider the conditions not to their liking.

    Where does it all stop ? Will heavy rain be a reason to abandon an event, steep climbs, rough roads, being dropped etc. etc. ?

    Yes, I do have feelings for the organizers and sponsors. I have for my sins and stupidity been deeply involved in race organization, and know the lengths, commitment and time mainly volunteers in events like Bressage’s go to try and maintain an event in the face of increasing difficulties. They happen in my view to be of equal importance to the riders.

    • There comes a point when its all a bit much. And this seems like one of those times. The storm winds were extreme, and it was felt by the riders and their DSs that it was very dangerous.

      Again. Those poor organisers.

  22. Sam. My final comment. No one wants to see riders injured or worse – that is rather disingenuous if I might say.

    I agree a strong wind can be extremely difficult and dangerous. What happens in a bunch sprint when you feel you are in with a chance in the final Ks and the switching and charging takes the whole road, and you know you have to fight for your spot. Road furniture in Amstel, P-R with those nasty dangerous cobbles or those terribly exciting Italian and French races on unmade roads, or those windy boring gulf state races where riders go just to prepare for the narrow roads of northern classics ?

    You can not ‘sanitize’ the sport without removing the very ingredients which make it so compelling too so many people. You do so at great risk to the sport. The danger with pushing H&S too far is that you end up being banned by the authorities on open roads when they read the compulsory ‘risk and hazard’ assessment. Be careful for what you wish for !

    My point is that this decision by DCs and riders who want to abandon has been escalating exponentially over the last few years. We have even seen ‘go slows’ in major races because someone’s team mate has been dropped. Where, why and who draws the line ?

    If you have such complete disregard for the efforts and feelings of organizers, without whom you would not see any races, then I rest my case.

  23. Final, final point.

    Many of the DSs now clamoring to cancel racing when they decide they don’t like the conditions, are the very same people who sat by and either encouraged, or were part of the omarta, that almost destroyed the sport during the height of the doping era.

    Be extremely careful with who’s narrative you choose to follow. Many of the ‘classic’ and historically remembered moments in the sport, only exist because the weather played a major role.

    It once again looks as though an unwelcome lead is being taken in the absence of any initiative or comment from the UCI.

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