Waiting for the Amgen Tour of California

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by Byron on May 17, 2012 at 11:21 AM

People don’t understand how much work it takes for a sprinter to get close enough and actually have a shot at the win. – Creed the Water Carrier

amgen photo

Lot of this, riding along looking at each other

People don’t understand what the sport takes, besides those ingrained in it, cause the sport is so poorly shown and managed these days. We’ve reached the epoch of boring, when we’re profiling the domestiques. It’s so predictable and played out, the last minute is all I’m watching of the Giro and the ATOC.

Just Tell Me Who Won and is Winning

There was a time, when there was a media drought and we’d lap up any cycling coverage. Now by the power of the Internets, we’ve got streams, live Twitter coverage, with countless blogs, sites, and coverage; including dedicated work like the quote above from Podium Insight.

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More like this

Photo: amgentourofcalifornia

Post Lance we’re back to hour-long recaps that are more likely to get pre-empted by bull riding or an ESPN wannabe news hour. Watching the stage last night, Phil and Paul have either lost it or are calling it like Big Time Wrestling with an entirely scripted narrative. Zabriskie and his nuts are so bored, he did a little attack. While Paul bellowed about how Dave could win and Phil scrambled to put the words together, they cut to the rearward facing camera and you can see the peloton reacting. Dave wasn’t going to win, didn’t think he was, and he’s done that move since he was a junior; including at every ATOC he’s raced in.

So before this gets int a bitter old dude, snarking the sport, let me say that I love racing and the bike so much, I publish independent media about it. I’ve also spent decades racing.

In person, at the local level, the sport is a wonderful and engaging as ever; especially Cross because of the crowds. I’m sure the cities that the Tour rolls through are thrilled.

It’s on TV where we’ve got a problem and I blame the directors and management. Race radios and specialists like Cavs. How tightly Vaughters wears his argyle socks is more interesting than Zabriskie going up the road or Creed carrying water bottles.

Seriously, there’s more action at a Charity Fondo than the ATOC.

Faced with declining viewership or TV time, other sports would convene to figure out what to do, like a shot clock, to reengage or make it compelling. What cycling does, is just plod along, never the master of its own destiny and hoping for a savior like Lance. Also that their house of cards built out of lies doesn’t come crashing down from another set of subpoenas.

No More Lances

Tip: Lance is a yellow-banded, ascended hero, that viewers will never see again. We’ve got to enrich the sport and not the personas. Also take management and the directors to task for their performance. They’re not creating a drama on the road for us to watch. It seems like they’re just fulfilling contractual obligations for their sponsors and setting up VIP tents for old guys to fantasize that they’re connected to the sport with Chris Carmichael.

There was a time, when Pro racing was controlled chaos – 3 - 5 breaks on the road, a stud like DuDu (Google it) would go on suicide attacks and occasionally win. We had no f’ing idea what was going on, until the GC was announced by the officials.

The Columbian climbers would ascend like little birds, then crash on the descents, and a race was anybody’s game to win. Now at the Giro it’s about Cavs destiny to take a controlled sprint, show us his hot girlfriend, and demand apologies when he doesn’t win.

Second tip: Create a new narrative for us to latch onto by working to disrupt Cavs. As large as his ego is, you know he’s a fragile little manchild. Break his spirit on the next climb before the intermediate sprint by purposefully attacking the shit out of him and pronounce you’re going to do so. Call it Operation Cave In.

Finally, the ebb and flow of this sport and its popularity will continue, but not before we hit another low, if racing like we’re seeing continues.

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Comments: 4

Cavendish is a Lance of the sprints. He isn’t disrupted because the other teams they can’t match his train, and other riders can’t go head-to-head.  Whether or not his opponents put up a fight anyway is strictly out of their own self-interest. It’s not their job to please the crowd, though—that’s what the organizers are supposed to do.

But I suppose we need something else to blame. Race radios haven’t panned out. All I know for damn sure is that the days were longer and the skies were bluer when I was a kid, and it’s someone else’s fault.

Shot clock?  Whatever.

Cycling is not basketball…it has a huge history and mythology.  Its more like baseball.  Can you imagine MLB proposing to change the distance between bases?

The single biggest reason people watch the TdF is the scenery(!).
http://inrng.com/2012/05/pro-cycling-audience-analysis/

Cycling will never be basketball or MMA or any other kinetic sport.  Its a ride in the country.  Sometimes there’s action, sometimes not.

That probably dooms its mainstream appeal in the US.  The ToC shows there’s a ceiling.  The crowds are pretty much the same size as they were the first year.

A madison race is pretty much nonstop action.  But aside from the olympics, track racing is a no-show even in our 500 channel universe.

If American viewers want action, they have infinite choices.  Cycling can never compete in that game.  The mix of scenery, history, strategy, and occasional action that is pro cycling is a unique product that no other sport can replicate.

one other thought…

the disaster that is race radios (introduced by Americans, its worth noting) shows what happens when you monkey with the formula.

@david @champs

Agreed on race radios, but what I’m saying is they’ve got to make a better show. The reason I cited shot clocks was because the sport made a rule change to speed up the game.

Also I picked Cavs to criticize, cause he’s a name the general reader or follower would know.

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