This was the inscription Dante saw fixed upon the Ninth Gate of Hell, which, if I had my way, would also be a well-suited banner ad fixed atop any cycling news site this week. I suppose that placing “of news” after “hope” would be a more apt addition, but hell, who’s counting anyways. Yes, it’s the week preceding the Race Who Should Not Be Named (because of its army of IP attorneys), meaning that we’re all left in a vacuum of banal controversies and who-really-gives-a-shit stories. It’s a tiresome week, but a penance that must be paid before entering a near-month of cycling delights.
Before we dig into the doldrum of a week’s anticipation, let’s take a moment to remember that the Tour can be awesome.
Okay, let’s run through the past week’s “big” stories in no particular order. First, we all had to suffer through Sky’s team selection, acting as if we were all shocked, again, that Wiggins and Froome don’t get along. Yes, we did go through this two years ago, and last year for that matter as well, but someone had to go and write a book about it, which means that the press machine had to cover it ad nauseam. This horse has been beaten, buried, and reanimated, and it’s really gone on for long enough. Yet, impossibly, it refuses to die. It’s almost as if there’s a one-sided war of “likability” being waged, but in reality, one guy listens to Oasis & Stone Roses during roller warmups and the other probably listens to Jock Jams Volume IV. In other words, it’s not really a contest. Regardless, this issue just resurfaced today — there were talks about “talks” between Vaughters and Wiggo. True, this is kind of a real story, but the bulk of any editorial on the matter inevitably leads back to the clash of the titans theme.
This story about team transitions, pun intended, seems to be the only thing that’s really going on at the moment. However, any chatter on the matter is rendered entirely moot when you take into account that no real talks can take place until August. Surely, though, with the inevitable folding of Belkin (please don’t contribute to its crowd funding campaign), and a large group of contracts drying up, the story will be pretty juicy once it’s ripened — remember the scrambling chaos of last year? But for now, the editorial straw grasping is proving itself to be fatiguing. Take, for example, the coverage of Coppel pondering his future at Cofidis. His best result was, what, four years ago, and Cofidis? Seriously? Just replace “Finland” with “Coppel,” and you basically have the world’s reaction:
On the bright side of things, the national road championships were all pretty interesting, but not every country’s race is particularly climactic or relevant for that matter. After all, Andy Schleck is, in fact, a three-time national TT champion in Luxemburg. Ultimately, though, this all culminates to a quick glance through a results sheet for a couple of minutes — not the most fascinating of reads.
And then there’s the never-ending trail of doping allegations, with this week delivering suspicions of both Kreuziger and Impey — I can hear the eye rolling from here. Lucky for someone, though, there have been back-to-back releases of bikes that only a handful of people care about to break the ice. Surely, neither of these two titans have heard of brands like Crumpton, because if they had, they’d already know that breaking the 11lb mark really isn’t that big of a deal anymore.
Lastly, there’s all of the redundant Tour speculation. It’s been called a gunfight and a showdown, but let’s be real, it’s just another bike race. Men will show up, men will race, and someone will win. Surely, these articles are being conceived and written at the airport to pass the time between flights to Yorkshire — it’s really a matter of phoning it in at this point. My advice to any of you who’re still seeking out analysis for analysis’ sake, check any bookmakers’ site. They’re all guaranteed to be an experience stripped of emotion and completely guttural. However, they tend to be pretty accurate every year.
Yeah, this week has been all filler and no killer, but things are going to turn around in a couple of days. This year’s race profile looks interesting, and the field finally looks young enough and strong enough to break the powermeter-humping race style du jour with some stochastic attacks. It should be good. If you’re interested in catching my course profiles for this year’s race, check out our Facebook the day before, or catch it from our email list the morning of each stage.