Editor’s note: The following is the At The Back column from the January 17, 2000 edition of VeloNews in which columnist Bob Roll predicts the future.
In the year 2000, Lance Armstrong will win the Tour de France by the largest margin since World War II. Stuart O’Grady will slip away from the field in the Olympic road race into the final breakaway containing Michele Bartoli of Italy, Marc Wauters of Belgium, Dmitri Konyshev of Russia and Andrei Tchmil, also of Belgium. Konyshev and Tchmil will chase each other down, Wauters will chase Bartoli for Tchmil, and O’Grady will win the sprint for gold. Australia will go wild with cycling mania as O’Grady is the only gold to go to the host country. (Cadel Evans takes the cross-country silver after an early flat and a heroic chase that falls a knobby-width short of a flying Frischy — finally winning the title that bad luck has prevented for so long.)
In 2001, Outdoor Life Network will lavishly present the Tour with two hours of live racing every day. Lance will win for the third time by the smallest margin ever: five seconds over Jan Ullrich. Lance will announce his retirement from the podium to form a rock band called Torchrow, with Michael Ward (formerly of the Wallflowers) on guitar, Chris Novoselic (formerly of Nirvana) on bass, Madonna on tambourine, Ruthie Matthes on vocals, and Lance on drums. A 50-city tour will commence in Austin on August 1 from the back of a ’61 Caddy Fleetwood limo driven by me. The roadies will all be former U.S. Postal roadies.
In 2004, Tinker Juarez will be the last sponsored mountain-bike pro in the world, riding for Tomac Bikes, which has replaced Giant (JT’s fat-tire sponsor) as the world’s largest maker of XC bikes. Chinese mountain bikers will sweep the Athens Olympics but fail the drug tests. The gold medal will be won by Matt Kelly who is the highest placed all-natural athlete in the race. He finishes 47th. Juli Furtado comes out of retirement and obliterates the women’s field riding a prototype single-speed hybrid track-recumbent bike with Shimano components made from a new alloy of hemp and glitter.
In 2007, gasoline will cost $93.41 per gallon. Bill Gates is the last person to own a car on earth. Everyone else rides bikes and pelts Gates’s car with poopy diapers as he drives by. Ruthie Matthes quits Torchrow to make her cycling comeback and is replaced by Ruby Roll. Steve Larsen — who was cryogenically frozen in 1997 — thaws out, does a hostile takeover of NORBA, replacing Phil Milbum, who is charged with selling bootleg Snoop Doggy Dog CDs and Ohio Players eight-track tapes from his B.O.B trailer.
In 2010, Energizer replaces the bunny with Ned Overend after Nedly wins his 12th XTERRA final.
In 2011, Marco Pantani is arrested while lying on the private resort beach of Cesenatico for not paying to rent the required umbrella. Unable to pay his fine, he spends one week in jail and does 40 hours community service paving the bike path along the beach. Kevin Livingston retires from his job as roadie for Torchrow and is elected governor of Texas. Shawn Palmer is elected president of the United States in a heated battle with Jesse Ventura. Napalm bodyslams the aging wrestler into the turn buckle to break the tie. Bobby Julich finally has a crash-free Tour de France to take the yellow jersey from Alex Zülle, who crashes into the Arc de Triomphe on the last day of the Tour. NFL and NHL cancel their seasons because nobody will carry their 10 tons of gear on a bicycle.
In 2018, Geoff LeMond wins his fourth Tour de France, breaking the American record for Tour wins, set by Greg in 1990 and tied by Lance in 2001. Bob Roll is finally recognized as a great linguist for coining the word “sassified” — to be pacified through satisfaction.
In 2024, Luke Armstrong wins his first Tour de France, and vows to demolish all his dad’s records. The western United States returns to its naturally rural population density as people realize that riding 40 miles across the desert to buy a doughnut and some nail polish under your own power is way too difficult. Gigantic ghost towns spring up in Durango, Scottsdale, El Paso, and Palm Springs.
In 2025, Andy Hampsten emerges from his self-imposed exile in Toscana to lead a team of U.S. juniors in a tour of all the eastern European stage races for under-23 riders. During the Tour of Uzbekistan, Andy has a series of graphic flashbacks to his own days as a junior under Eddie B, and convinces all the riders to join a circus headed for Mongolia. Andy returns to the U.S. and moves into Steve Tilford’s basement. Tilly and Andy reintroduce Barum sew-ups to a rapt American consumer base. Dave Cullinan quits his job as a Las Vegas Elvis impersonator to join Brian Lopes, Mike King, Eric Carter, Shawn Palmer, and Miles Rockwell as male escorts for Princess Sailboat Lines. They ask Johnny T to join, but since there is no more global warming his once arid thousand acres is now a thriving mango and guava farm.
In 2028, the Senior Bike Tour is announced with a schedule of races similar to the spring classics, grand tours, and fall world championships. The format is a bit different than pro racing. First of all, the ex-pros are required to take drugs rather than avoid them. Second, bad weather cancels any event, and no hills bigger than an overpass will be climbed. Third, nobody with a current pro license is allowed, which leaves out Ned, Tinker, Bostick, and Wiensey. Amber Ramos wins her 15th world XC title after a close battle with Kelsey Phinney — who is looking for new challenges after winning the Tour Féminin, Hewlett-Packard, three Olympic Nordic skiing titles and annihilating her pops Davis in their bitter Sunday morning Boulder city-limit sign sprint rivalry.
In 2029, Frankie Andreu is the president of the United States — his first decree is to print a 500-dollar bill with Dennis Rodman’s face. He moves the White House to the County Line Ribshack in LA and appoints Joe Parkin Minister of Propoganda, Zap Espinoza as Minister of Culture, and Luma Randolph as Secretary of the Treasury.
In 2050, Sean Yates finally retires as directeur sportif of the Linda McCartney Cycling Team. He defeats half the pro riders from his team in his send-off race: a 50-mile time trial on the A2 lorry road between London and Ramsgate.
In 2070, the world crude oil reserves finally run out completely. Everything in the world is human- or animal-powered. Pollution is in complete remission and drive-by shootings are a thing of the ancient past.
In 2099, teachers, maids, garbage men, roofers, and bicycle mechanics make more money than venture capitalists, corporate lawyers, real estate speculators, and golf course operators.