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!
This week’s pre-Giro kerfuffle centered around the Pirelli Best Descender classification, an ill-conceived, badly communicated bonus prize for the fastest rider down 10 designated descents during the Giro d’Italia. Well, shoot, the Giro cancelled the entire thing after two days of angry responses from riders (and media!) So what is Pirelli supposed to sponsor now? My guess is Giro organizer RCS already cashed its check. Luckily, I am an armchair marketer, and I have a solution! Did you see that video of Peter Sagan last week? He does donuts in a Ford Mustang at a German racetrack. Let’s put the Giro riders behind the wheel of a muscle car during the three rest days for a (voluntary) donut competition! Burning rubber is a great way for Pirelli to integrate their brand, right? It’s so authentic. Plus, I have a suspicion that the peloton’s best descenders will be most fearless about chirping the Pirellis on a track day.
This week Tour de France organizer ASO revealed a zany new race format to accompany the women’s La Course race. The top women from final stage, which finishes up the Izoard on July 20, will be invited to race a 23km pursuit in Marseille. Back when the first race was announced, many criticized the 67km distance for that stage as being too short. So now ASO launches this weird pursuit. Is this a mea culpa? Is this weird invite-only race ASO’s solution? My guess is the women’s peloton would have preferred to get a longer stage or perhaps more stages. This is such a French way to solve a problem. If ASO ran a café, they would bring out paté and a pack of cigarettes when you ordered a hamburger, because naturellement, this is far better, non?
Our Italian expert Gregor Brown took the pulse of cycling’s insiders at the Giro, and a lot of them said they are pulling for Frenchman Thibaut Pinot. The FDJ rider is starting his first Giro. Beyond his obvious cycling talents, one French journalist, Philippe Brunel said, “It’s as though he’s from a golden era.” I don’t think Pinot can rival Nairo Quintana on the climbs or Tom Dumoulin in the time trials. So can he position his personal brand as cycling’s classiest racer? Again, my inner marketing executive has some ideas. Let’s assemble a real retro kit for Pinot. We’ll start with some crocheted gloves, add leather lace-up shoes — maybe toeclips? — and then finish it off with a woolen FDJ jersey with those chest pockets. And, of course, he can wear one of those hairnet helmets from the 1980s. The only problem is, Pinot tends to overheat in the summer, so if this strategy backfires in July, we’ll know he went too far down the vintage rabbit hole with that itchy kit.
I’ll finish this week’s Garbage Takes off with some more serious news. Team Sky’s young Italian classics man Gianni Moscon was caught shouting racial slurs at FDJ’s Kevin Reza in the peloton during stage 3 of the Tour de Romandie. Sky suspended Moscon from racing for six weeks. Multiple folks have pointed out that Moscon’s big campaign was in the early season, and that the next six weeks likely contained few race days for him. Should Sky have come down harder? Perhaps. All I can say is to echo some of the takes that have already come out on this topic. We here at VeloNews believe cycling should welcome folks of all genders, colors, creeds, sexual orientations, political leanings, and guacamole preferences (chunky? smooth? with KALE?). Any action that tries to exclude people from our sport due to these reasons really pisses us off. We get it, athletes say things in the heat of battle that are often off-color or crude. But come on people, it’s 2017. If you want to use racial slurs, go build yourself a bike-powered time machine and travel back to 1835, because we sure don’t want you in our sport.