We all want a Women’s Tour de France. I don’t think this is the way.

There is no women’s Tour de France. I wish there was. I am 100% behind most of the many and varied attempts to get one.

But the whole “x amateur women are riding it to try and get one” that’s getting all the media attention this year strikes me as the worst possible way.

Partly this is the media’s fault. The first week of the Tour is the one with all the boring flat stages, so the media look for anything they can to write about. And this is an interesting thing to write about.

Unfortunately, it means that they aren’t covering the Giro Rosa*. Given the Giro is the only one of the grand tours that actually has a women’s race, this is frustrating. Especially as it was such a good race. Annemiek van Vleuten is just amazing.

Compare the coverage of the amateur race with the coverage of La Course, where the the UCI Pro women’s teams race the most interesting stage of the Tour in the morning before the men. La Course is down to one stage which is annoying but hopefully the joy of crowd might convince them to give it a second stage again.

Also, see, I told you van Vleuten was amazing.

Another annoying thing is the amount of face time Skoda are getting for backing the amateur race. If you’ve got that much money, Skoda, you can fund a goddamn women’s pro tour race! (Sorry!)

The other thing that annoyed me was the people who were up in arms about the lack of women’s Tour but were willing to ignore the Giro Rosa. It could be because the media don’t cover the Giro Rosa so people don’t know about it. Or it could be people just enjoy getting enraged without doing some background research.

I think we’re more likely to get a women’s Tour if we makes the most of the excellent riders we have now. That wil make it clear to sponsors that they can get recognition and sales money (or possibly tax write-offs) by sponsoring them or a race. This involves building on the successes of the Giro Rosa, and races like it. To an extent, we are getting there, just look at the number of UCI pro women’s teams. Also look at how many of them attached to men’s teams, suggesting a more stable funding stream.

Build from what we’ve got works better than build from nothing.

*The pink thing isn’t pinkification, it’s the colour of the original race sponsors so the men’s jersey is also the pink jersey.

About the Dark Lord Armstrong

I did not come easily to liking Darth Lance.  He rode with the wrong team, against my beloved Telekom team.  And he used to beat my beloved Telekom boys.  And I felt that he got more UK coverage than someone else doing just as well, purely because he was an Anglophone.  So, rider riding for the wrong team, riding for the strongest team, and a rider that I didn’t particularly like for any other reason.

Now you’ll notice that I didn’t mention his doping or lack thereof.  That’s mostly because Richard Virenque was my first cycling love and I never really stopped loving him, so I couldn’t really claim any moral high-ground on the doping front when it came to my favourites*.  Either Armstrong was clean, in which case he was incredible, or he wasn’t, in which case he was doing better than everyone else who was also on stuff.  It never made much of a matter to me.

So I couldn’t really join in the howls of indignation when d’affaire Armstrong happened.  And I’d like to point out that he still has never failed a test, he only got caught because half his lieutenants failed tests and because they then ‘fessed up about exactly how systematic doping was in the US Postal/Discovery team.

Then after he got thoroughly stricken from the record, I found myself feeling really awkward because I agreed with Armstrong.  Why was he the only one stricken, when pretty much every other winner around him was also caught doping?  Okay, so Bjarne Riis confessed, so maybe he’s allowed to keep it for honesty (and, in the ASO’s defence, they want to strike him too but the UCI is not letting them), but my darling Jan wasn’t exactly clean (and has also admitted it) so why is he not being struck.  And this is not me picking on people, I love Ullrich like crazy because he’s one of my beloved Telekom boys.

It just strikes me that only removing Armstrong from the record is unfair, since he was by no means the only winner to be on something, illogical, because see previous point, and it hides quite how systematic and complete the doping problem was (is?) in cycling.

*my other one, true and undying cycling love is Alexandre Vinokourov.  I don’t half pick ’em.

In Which The BBC Miss A Few Things About Chris Froome

So the BBC posted a ‘Why do the British not love Chris Froome?’ article, and seemed to miss every single important point.

They seem to think that it’s because he’s not Bradley Wiggins.  Because everyone loved Wiggins (which isn’t true either but never mind).

The article said that people were being hypocritical because Wiggins is a foreign-born half-Aussie, and it’s like, nah, because you see Wiggins never cycled under any other flag while I remember Froome as a Kenyan.  I’ve got no issue with people changing nationality or being dual nationals (because that would be a bit pot, kettle, black) but it does affect how some people see sportspeople.

The other problems are really not Froome’s fault at all:

1) Cycling has an image problem.  Cyclists are presumed guilty.  Is it fair?  No.  Is it reasonable given the last twenty years of cycling?  Yes.  That general cloud of suspicion envelops Froome because he’s one of the best cyclists at the moment.

2) Team Sky are the big team.  They have money, technology and buy the best members from other teams.  They are the over-dog and Froome is part of this.  It is very hard to cheer for the over-dog if you are not already invested, and most casual cycling fans aren’t.

3) He’s not the first Brit to do this.  It’s not fair, but first gets a lot more praise.

4) He never seems to have an off-day.  Everyone else has a stage where they crack and have to be dragged up the hill by their team-mates.  Froome doesn’t.  Which increases suspicions because you know who else never had off-days?  He who they try to pretend never happened.

5) He doesn’t seem to suffer or to have to try.  I think this one really isn’t his fault, he just has one of those faces that doesn’t reveal much.  Contrast this with say Thomas Voeckler, who, we all know when he’s trying because the tongue appears, or Cadel Evans, whose whole body bent into peculiar shapes when he was trying.  It makes it harder to empathize.

6) The unfortunate incident of the TUE (therapeutic usage exemption) (details here).  No actual wrong-doing occurred, but when you’re in a sport with a known drug problem, even innocent usage of corticosteroids is going to get looked at funny.  And I have no idea why the BBC article doesn’t mention this.  Or rather I do, because the article is a Froome/Sky puff piece, but that TUE is one of the reasons people feel uneasy about Froome, and to omit mention of it entirely is to make the article pointless.

Personally, I think Froome is as clean as everyone else in the peleton, and I prefer him to Wiggins but that BBC article missed a lot of the why of why people aren’t going ga-ga over him.