Wednesday, March 05, 2008

No More Mr. (Paris) Nice Guy...

No More Mr. Clee-ee-ee-an!: As the clock ticks down rapidly to an uncertain Paris-Nice, and the cycling world continues to eat its young as Pat "Dick" McQuaid refuses the helpful offer of the French sports minister to meet to resolve the issues at hand, it seems to me that in order to fairly (well, as fairly as I get) assess the situation, we ought to take stock of the key players--and the interests and motives--involved:

ASO: bitter selfish profiteering style-over-substance image-obsessed press-cowed narcissists who, coincidentally, organize some of the most beautiful races on Earth (our beloved Giro and Vuelta excepted). Sympathy Factor: 1.

UCI: vicious arrogant selfish egomaniacal power-hungry arbitrary vindictive narcissists who, coincidentally, control by fear and coarse knee-capping threats participation in some of the most beautiful races on Earth. Sympathy Factor: Absolute zero. You bite, McQuaid!

Teams Association: spineless ineffectual waffling disorganized simps incapable of acting together for the betterment of the sport or, God forbid, their own riders. Nonetheless, impossibly caught between snarling packs of astonishingly nasty rabid wolverines, and have sensibly appealed for CAS intervention. Sympathy Factor: would be 2, but I'm really irked they're pulling boys like Gilbert out rather'n simply back 'em. Free the riders!

National Cycling Feds: unreasonable finger-pointing obstructionist hypocrites alone, and as a unified body, too gutless to take on McQuaid's ridiculous warmongering. Still, gotta fake respect for the ProTour if their local heroes are gonna ride. Sympathy Factor: .5, except I continue to admire the Spanish fed's ruthless protectionism of Alejandro Valverde in a Machiavellian sort of way.

Riders: everybody's helpless dope-slapped whipping boys, punished for doping, fired for not winning clean against armies of drug-stoked comrades, forced to ride in crappy conditions, told to choose between this season's key goals and their future livelihoods, and oft sold down the river like cargo on the Yangtze. Sympathy Factor: endless. Can't any of you low-rent lunch-money-extorting swaggering schoolyard bullies let these nice hard-working boys do their jobs?

Tifosi: dog-loyal enthusiasts, treated like fleas. Sympathy Factor: not so much as the riders of course, but cycling, we've stuck by you through some pretty disgusting behavior, so throw us a bone whydontcha!

Paris-Nice Itself: Jacques Anquetil (a lot). Eddy Merckx. Miguel Indurain. Sean Kelly (an incredible lot). Laurent Jalabert. More recently, Andreas Kloden, Bobby Julich, Floyd Landis. 75 years of smashing beauty and intermittent tragedy. Sympathy Factor: how dare any of you soulless self-absorbed tools even mildly seek to screw around with this beautiful race?!

Frankly, I'm voting that all the riders show up at the Paris-Nice start line ready to go with a couple extra gels and water bottles shoved down their jerseys, reclaim this gorgeous storied race for themselves and the worshipful masses, and tell the cowardly teams, self-besotted organizers, witchhunting federations and useless national bodies to !@#$ off. On to the Race to the Sun!

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