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Why pro cycling will transcend the doping scandals

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Why pro cycling will transcend the doping scandals

Old 07-15-07, 02:59 PM
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Why pro cycling will transcend the doping scandals

Doping scandals will come and go, but races like the Giro and the Tour de France will remain. This year's Tour is wide open, a total crashfest, with an undisciplined peloton and utterly unpredictable without a big American favorite (Levi Leipheimer perhaps, but I consider him a long shot at best). As an American cycling fan, I find it more compelling than ever. Fascinating. Like my late grandmother (who watched the tour on TV in Germany for the scenery alone), I enjoy the spectacle/travelog aspect of the coverage nearly as much as the racing itself. Levi may be a long shot as always, but this year is the Tour for long shots.

Cycling remains hugely popular in Europe if the MILLIONS of fans jamming the roadside are any indication. New cycling heroes will emerge and doping scandals will fade - as long as the UCI can figure out a way to keep the sport clean. They may be on their way. Let's hope so. Old sponsors who were scared away will gradually be replaced by new ones for whom he sight of millions of fans on the roadside are hard to ignore. Cycling gets eyeballs. Eyeballs gets sponsorship $. Rider salaries will recover - again all dependent on the sport staying cleaner in the future.

And the band played on.
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Old 07-15-07, 03:19 PM
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This Tour is why I love bike racing. Every stage has been just amazing...today was unbelievable. These young riders are really something special. Contador should have had a podium spot today and is a real threat for the future.
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Old 07-15-07, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by El Diablo Rojo
This Tour is why I love bike racing. Every stage has been just amazing...today was unbelievable. These young riders are really something special. Contador should have had a podium spot today and is a real threat for the future.
We agree on something EDR.

I have alerted the media.
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Old 07-15-07, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by patentcad
We agree on something EDR.

I have alerted the media.
Hell has frozen over.
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Old 07-15-07, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by El Diablo Rojo
Hell has frozen over.
Correct.
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Old 07-15-07, 05:14 PM
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Pcad and EDR agreeing, cats lying with dogs, a wide open TDF. If I see a locust, I'm running for cover.
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Old 07-15-07, 05:19 PM
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I've had a few of my cycling buddies say that they aren't paying attention to the Tour this year. I say that they have missed an excellent first week of racing. This has been a great Tour so far, and I believe it will continue down that path. One thing that is great in the post Lance era is that the race isn't over in the first week like had been during his domination. These guys are tired and they are suffering, a sign that they may be riding clean.
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Old 07-15-07, 05:26 PM
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I was thinking that this year's tour had been more exciting than ones in the past (normalized for the "lance effect"). I'm glad to know I'm not alone. Frankly, if this tour is 95% clean, then I will be the first to say that clean racing is much more exciting than dirty racing.

Now, if we could only do away with the serious crashes (i.e. poor O'Grady) and replace them with the hilarity of riders sliding across the finish line, then I would be completely satisfied.
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Old 07-15-07, 05:58 PM
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Hey, if baseball can survive a roided up jerk breaking two of the most highly regarded records in the game, cycling can survive the doping scandals.
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Old 07-15-07, 07:08 PM
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I must take issue with the sponsorship analysis of the OP. Companies choose to advertise based on more than the simple number of eyeballs they will get. They want a return on their investment and they want security in the relationship. Companies don't want their sponsored team to fold up next week leaving them back at square one in finding an advertising vehicle.

A few years ago, doping scandals would simply effect the involved parties and the team would continue in a weakened state. The title sponsor is linked to the scandal for the future but the damage is offset by the continued relationship and the future advertising (any publicity is good publicity). For example, Festina (the company) is referred to often in conjunction with the '98 TdF scandal. Festina still gets mentioned long after they quite sponsoring the team.

The recent trend of teams collapsing is far worse for the sponsors than the Festina type scandal. Starting last year doping scandal end teams and all the effort in negotiating a deal is wasted and the legal costs of figuring out the situation is a complete waste of advertising monies. This problem is exemplified by the iShares/Ar Cycling deal last year. IShares made an investment in time/salaries/opportunities to make the deal with AR Cycling for the '07 season only to have AR Cycling fold. Although iShares didn't have to pay the big sponsorship money they wasted time and money pursuing the deal and must now find other ways of advertising. At least Phonak Hearing gets mentioned for their sponsorship deal and will for the foreseeable future.

This should be obvious but companies like iShares don't like to waste money like that and seek stability as much as eyeballs in advertising. Similarly, the Astana deal with Active Bay resulting in major problems for the sponsors and although they didn't pay the full sponsorship deal they did waste considerable resources figuring out the mess left in the wake of that part of the scandal.

Added into this equation of sponsorship is the mess with Unibet.com. Essentially, Team Unibet is caught up in the ProTour vs. Grand Tour Organizer conflict mostly due to the opportunity presented by Unibet.com's betting nature and French law. I have very little doubt that if the PT and GTO weren't having this conflict the issue would have been worked out long ago. ASO is taking advantage of the legal quandary in their fight with the ProTour. Someday a winner might emerge from that conflict but right now Unibet.com and the cycling team are losing.

The only problem I have with your analysis is that is essential ignores last year's team foldings. Folding teams during doping scandals add a new instability that will make cycling less attractive to would be sponsors. Less attractive means less exposure and less $$ to the teams. I bet the next title sponsor of Tailwind pays less than Discovery Channel does now.

On the other hand, the races are indeed epic and fans will continue to enjoy their entertainment aspects. I'm not sure that as cycling fans we should be celebrating that fact however. In essence you're saying that regardless of the actions of the peleton and of the organization fans (eyeballs) will continue to follow the sport. That is really sad. I quit watching Pro Cycling because of the actions of the governing organizations rather than the doping. I choose to entertain myself in other ways- I ride more now.

Similarly, how many Romans watched lions eat Christians? While the UCI isn't yet that bad I choose not to support either form of entertainment (not that many Christians are fed to lions these days). Cheating occurs in all sport and should be fought but that end does not justify unethical practices. Pro cycling as we know it should fail as a consequence of its unethical excesses. My suggestion is to get out an actually ride and quite living vicariously through the pros. If you enjoy the travel log there are other ways to get that that weren't available even a generation ago. You are not stuck with the options of you grandmother.
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Old 07-15-07, 07:16 PM
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holy long post
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Old 07-15-07, 08:38 PM
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I don't think they have to stop the doping, just act like they're trying, and cover up anything that arises. That seems to be the sad way that this world works.
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Old 07-15-07, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Trevor98
I must take issue with the sponsorship analysis of the OP. Companies choose to advertise based on more than the simple number of eyeballs they will get. They want a return on their investment and they want security in the relationship. Companies don't want their sponsored team to fold up next week leaving them back at square one in finding an advertising vehicle.

A few years ago, doping scandals would simply effect the involved parties and the team would continue in a weakened state. The title sponsor is linked to the scandal for the future but the damage is offset by the continued relationship and the future advertising (any publicity is good publicity). For example, Festina (the company) is referred to often in conjunction with the '98 TdF scandal. Festina still gets mentioned long after they quite sponsoring the team.

The recent trend of teams collapsing is far worse for the sponsors than the Festina type scandal. Starting last year doping scandal end teams and all the effort in negotiating a deal is wasted and the legal costs of figuring out the situation is a complete waste of advertising monies. This problem is exemplified by the iShares/Ar Cycling deal last year. IShares made an investment in time/salaries/opportunities to make the deal with AR Cycling for the '07 season only to have AR Cycling fold. Although iShares didn't have to pay the big sponsorship money they wasted time and money pursuing the deal and must now find other ways of advertising. At least Phonak Hearing gets mentioned for their sponsorship deal and will for the foreseeable future.

This should be obvious but companies like iShares don't like to waste money like that and seek stability as much as eyeballs in advertising. Similarly, the Astana deal with Active Bay resulting in major problems for the sponsors and although they didn't pay the full sponsorship deal they did waste considerable resources figuring out the mess left in the wake of that part of the scandal.

Added into this equation of sponsorship is the mess with Unibet.com. Essentially, Team Unibet is caught up in the ProTour vs. Grand Tour Organizer conflict mostly due to the opportunity presented by Unibet.com's betting nature and French law. I have very little doubt that if the PT and GTO weren't having this conflict the issue would have been worked out long ago. ASO is taking advantage of the legal quandary in their fight with the ProTour. Someday a winner might emerge from that conflict but right now Unibet.com and the cycling team are losing.

The only problem I have with your analysis is that is essential ignores last year's team foldings. Folding teams during doping scandals add a new instability that will make cycling less attractive to would be sponsors. Less attractive means less exposure and less $$ to the teams. I bet the next title sponsor of Tailwind pays less than Discovery Channel does now.

On the other hand, the races are indeed epic and fans will continue to enjoy their entertainment aspects. I'm not sure that as cycling fans we should be celebrating that fact however. In essence you're saying that regardless of the actions of the peleton and of the organization fans (eyeballs) will continue to follow the sport. That is really sad. I quit watching Pro Cycling because of the actions of the governing organizations rather than the doping. I choose to entertain myself in other ways- I ride more now.

Similarly, how many Romans watched lions eat Christians? While the UCI isn't yet that bad I choose not to support either form of entertainment (not that many Christians are fed to lions these days). Cheating occurs in all sport and should be fought but that end does not justify unethical practices. Pro cycling as we know it should fail as a consequence of its unethical excesses. My suggestion is to get out an actually ride and quite living vicariously through the pros. If you enjoy the travel log there are other ways to get that that weren't available even a generation ago. You are not stuck with the options of you grandmother.
With some judicious editing, this would make an outstanding PhD dissertation.



I will be sending you Pcad's Brevity for Weenies DVD (you can watch the entire DVD in under 1 min).
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Old 07-15-07, 08:52 PM
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The Tour last year and this year have had some great racing. Most of the Lance years lacked any real drama.
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Old 07-15-07, 09:23 PM
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I think Trevor has some really good points. Doping does present a problem for sponsors when that is what they become known for -- T-Mobile cannot be happy about all of the revelations of the 1990s. Of course their response -- institute a comprehensive anti-doping program -- is one way of dealing with the image issue. A larger problem, hwoever, is major teams folding or facing problems even in the middle of a season. Remember the Mercury fiasco in 2000, I think it was? This pissing match between UCI and ASO will certainly lead to some hesitancy of new sponsors coming on board with new outfits.

But, all in all, I think PCad is right. The Tour is big enough to survive and continue, as is pro cycling in general. I just finished watching today's stage. Even though I knew that Contador didn't get back on, I was still rooting for him. Watching Moreau try again and again gave me new respect for him.

At the same time, watching Moreau ride better than he pretty much ever has at the tour made me wonder whether a) doping controls are leveling the playing field; b) he found a new way to juice; or c) he really has just caught lightning in a bottle.
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Old 07-15-07, 09:28 PM
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actually i had similar thoughts when i watched Rasmussen destroy the entire pro peloton... how is he THAT much better than the best in the world?
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Old 07-15-07, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by chzman
actually i had similar thoughts when i watched Rasmussen destroy the entire pro peloton... how is he THAT much better than the best in the world?

My general assumption is that CSC, T-Mobile, & FDJ are clean.

The others....not sure.

It could very well be that Rasmussan really is that good. But he struggled in the Giro, which makes me wonder. But I will say this, as long as I am not getting paid, I would never drop my weight and look like Rasmussan.
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Old 07-15-07, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by chzman
actually i had similar thoughts when i watched Rasmussen destroy the entire pro peloton... how is he THAT much better than the best in the world?
I suppose we'll see now, eh?

Rasmussen was on a MUCH longer leash since the big teams all assumed he was no big threat to the GC, particularly given his lack of TT ability, his 'I'm here to win the Tour de France' comments to the media aside. Will he be allowed to escape that early tomorrow without an immediate reaction? I seriously doubt it.

Stay tuned. Generally speaking a killer climber has a much tougher time winning the Tour de France than a great TT specialist (like Indurain) who can climb well enough to limit his losses in the high mtns. Lance won 7 Tours in large part because he could also absolutely nail your head to the floor on a mountain stage. Rasmussen can establish a lead of several mins. in the mountains perhaps, but will he maintain that over 100k of individual TT's.

Very interesting Tour to be sure.
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Old 07-16-07, 04:14 AM
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Rasmussen needs a 30 minute lead to be able to have a cushion for his stellar TT efforts.

Pcad could beat this guy, mostly because he falls off the bike...

He won't win the Tour because he can't TT unless he's hugely improved and no one knows this.

Menchov is the guy for Rabo that could win.
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Old 07-16-07, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by roadwarrior
Rasmussen needs a 30 minute lead to be able to have a cushion for his stellar TT efforts.

Pcad could beat this guy, mostly because he falls off the bike...

He won't win the Tour because he can't TT unless he's hugely improved and no one knows this.

Menchov is the guy for Rabo that could win.
Agreed (even with Pcad...the end is near) The Chicken is a climber of the first order and in this years Tour the favorites know that giving 4 minutes to him now can be easily made up in the TT's. Also the Pyrenees are looming and that will shake things up as well. Once there don't expect the favorites to let him have so long a leash.
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Old 07-16-07, 05:09 AM
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EDJ: You need to change your avatar. I can't concentrate on your posts...
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Old 07-16-07, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by gcl8a
EDJ: You need to change your avatar. I can't concentrate on your posts...
EDJ, are you not afraid that the water balloons will break and soak you to the core?
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Old 07-16-07, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by chzman
EDJ, are you not afraid that the water balloons will break and soak you to the core?
No I freeze them and they keep my core temp down in the hot summer months in central Texas
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Old 07-16-07, 09:27 AM
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I think North American fans of the TdF take it too seriously as a real race. It's still what it started out as, a commercial promotional event. I wouldn't use what you see on TV coverage or the overheated play-by-play commentary influence my judgment (man, are these guys experts at talking up nothing happening!). It's not that popular anymore even in France itself, except for the circus-like atmosphere that surrounds it as it goes through various towns. I mean, think about it, if you find this year's version exciting so far because of the crashes, there's something wrong. It's like loving ice hockey for the fights.
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Old 07-16-07, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Longfemur
I think North American fans of the TdF take it too seriously as a real race. It's still what it started out as, a commercial promotional event. I wouldn't use what you see on TV coverage or the overheated play-by-play commentary influence my judgment (man, are these guys experts at talking up nothing happening!). It's not that popular anymore even in France itself, except for the circus-like atmosphere that surrounds it as it goes through various towns. I mean, think about it, if you find this year's version exciting so far because of the crashes, there's something wrong. It's like loving ice hockey for the fights.

Not that popular? Name me another sport where a million people will line the road days in advance just to see 10 sec of action.

I dislike hockey because of the fights. I love this years Tour because it's completely unpredictable.
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