Any given week, there are oodles of cycling stories flying around in the news. So here’s a quick-hit summary of this week’s happenings, plus my own garbage opinions on each. Much like my gambling advice, these takes are for entertainment purposes only!
Lance Armstrong made news this week on two counts. His legal team asked a Federal judge to exclude testimony from his longtime foes, Betsy Andreu and Greg LeMond, from the upcoming $100m fraud trial. He also has a cameo in an HBO mockumentary coming out June 8. It appears that he didn’t ask to exclude “Tour de Pharmacy” from the trial. So does that mean it will be used as evidence? And if so, is bad acting a Federal crime? Regardless of whether you like the movie or not, one thing seems certain: Armstrong is mounting a major charm offensive prior to his November trial. If you’re part of the jury pool in the Washington, D.C. area, keep an eye out for an Edible Arrangement or perhaps a nice box of chocolates from Armstrong.
Mavic has new neutral support bikes for the Tour de France. The biggest innovation will be dropper seatposts. This component is ostensibly to help riders quickly set their saddle heights while riding. But like any technical innovation, its bound to be used in creative ways. Just imagine if Cannondale-Drapac’s Mike Woods could have snagged a Mavic bike right before the slippery descent to finish stage 6 in Tour de Suisse. He could have dropped the saddle and gotten rad. Instead, Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) rode away on the sinuous run to the finish. If you start seeing more riders on yellow bikes in the Tour (besides Chris Froome), they might be seeking an extra advantage on those sketchy Alpine descents.
The UCI announced Thursday that it will trim the size of Tour de France teams. The same goes for the Giro and Vuelta, meaning each squad will have one fewer rider — eight total. Will this provoke unpredictable racing? Is it going to be hard for super-teams like Sky to control the Tour? Possibly, but what about the guys who won’t go to the Tour? Judging by the Hammer Series’s popularity, it’s time for a new racing format. The Tour could take 22 riders, one from each team, and make them race a really short stage up one mountain. Then, they could time trial two days later, based on their finish time in the first stage. Oh, wait. That’s the ASO’s way of running a Women’s WorldTour race alongside the Tour. Here’s another option: Grab some Mavic neutral service bikes and run a fastest descender competition. Or maybe those guys should just rest up and race the Vuelta instead.
Straight out of central casting, Frenchman David Lappartient announced he’ll challenge Brian Cookson in this fall’s UCI presidential race. In his J’accuse, Lappartient said the UCI needs “a president who ensures genuine leadership.” I know UCI governance stories can be snoozy, so let’s spice up this election. Cookson likes to hop in a sportive once in awhile — how about they race? No, too obvious. Let’s play up the whole French vs. English angle … ooh that’s problematic. I know, we’ll just do a deep dive on their differences in policy and leadership styles. And just like that the UCI presidential race got boring again.