Monday, July 25, 2016

My goodness, would you look at the time!

Well, the Tour de France is over, so please join me in congratulating the winner, Chris Froome:


By the way, I should point out that wearing cycling shorts with your sumo loincloth is the equivalent of wearing underwear with your cycling shorts, which makes Froome a total Sumo Fred.

Anyway, if you didn't follow the race this year you're not alone (hi!), and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Gay (who is the only remaining mainstream journalist who continues to take the sport seriously) suggests this could be due to the sport's financial inequality:


Chris Froome won the Tour de France on Sunday, his third in four years. This was not a big shocker. Froome seized first place on the first day of the Tour’s second week, and, outside of a Three Stooges-style fiasco in which he lost his bike in a crash and briefly ran up Mont Ventoux in his yellow cycling shoes, that was pretty much that. Presumed competition never materialized. Once more, Froome and his team, Sky, were too deep and dominant, suffocating all challengers and turning the final ride to Paris into another ceremonial, soft-pedaling coronation.

Hmm, a dominant rider with an illness backstory and a strong team powering to yet another unsurprising Tour de France win?  Where have we seen this sort of thing before?  I seem to recall similar scenarios playing out back in the early aughts (right down to the thrilling "fiascos"), but when I went to check out the results from those years the winner's name had been stricken from the record books:


I'm sure there's a pretty juicy story there, maybe somebody can fill me in.

In any case, Froome knows those "marginal gains" don't come cheap:

Still, Froome acknowledged something significant the other day. He admitted that if he rode not for the well-funded Sky, which can afford to surround him with well-paid lieutenants, but for a smaller, lower-budgeted outfit, he probably would not be in the running for the yellow jersey. “If I was riding for a small team, it would be different,” Froome said.

No shit.

Indeed, Sky somehow manage to spend €35 million on racing their bicycles, while other teams like Cannondale-Drapac are forced to scrounge the contents of Sky's half-eaten gel packets and hoard Nashbar coupon codes:

During the Tour, the French sports newspaper L’Equipe estimated Sky’s budget at €35 million, or $38.4 million. There are a couple of teams in that financial orbit, but many others with less than half or even a third of that budget (L’Equipe estimated the budget for the well-liked American Cannondale-Drapac team at €10 million, or about $11 million.) There is worry that this disparity is draining excitement out of the Tour—at least in the overall yellow jersey competition—because the have-nots do not have the personnel. Froome possesses a phalanx of teammates who would be leaders on other squads, giving Sky staggering ability to control the race. If you include Bradley Wiggins’s yellow jersey in 2012 (for which Froome was Wiggins’s top domestique), Sky has won four out of the last five Tours. ( 21st Century Fox Inc. owns 39% of Sky PLC, the major sponsor of Team Sky. Until 2013, 21st Century Fox and The Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. were part of the same company.)

See, here's how it works: In this sport, you gotta make the money first.  Then when you get the money, you get the power.  Then when you get the power, then you get the jersey.  That's why Sky is the Tony Montana of cycling teams:




And what could be simpler than that?  Indeed, what could be more American than that?  Rapidly-growing income inequality and real power concentrated in the hands of the very few is what this country's all about.  If anything, between that and the fact the riders keep getting hit by motor vehicles I'm surprised pro cycling isn't America's national sport.  Alas, this has not happened, and ironically the handful of Americans who have weathered the scandals and remain in the sport want socialism:

The push for financial leveling has been kicking around the sport for a while. Advocates include Cannondale-Drapac boss Jonathan Vaughters, who thinks some version of a budget cap will not only improve competition, but also bring badly-needed stability to the sport. Cycling’s every-team-for-itself approach is undoubtedly chaotic—teams open and shut every year on the whims of sponsors, donors and even governments.

"...said Vaughters as he combed the road shoulder for discarded bidons."

But is the financial gap really what's taking the excitement out of the Tour?  Or is it the fact that the race is fucking long?

Meanwhile, a budget cap is not the only suggestion out there to spice up the Tour. There are also appeals to reduce the number teams, or the number of riders on teams (from the current nine to maybe six or seven) or tinkering with stage formats and distances. Stapleton thinks a lot of Tour stages go on way too long and favors “shorter, more intense” races. Velon is using technology like on-board cameras to change the way the sport is seen.

This makes good sense--until you realize that nobody gives a shit about the shorter races either.

And yes, I'm looking at you, ironically-sponsored bike race:


Meanwhile, in parenting news, a former pro skateboarder wants your kid to wear a helmet:



In skateboarding, as in life, no kid wants to be seen as uncool — even if being “cool” means a broken arm and 3 hours in the emergency room. And in a sport where wearing safety gear is shunned, few pieces of equipment are considered as uncool as the helmet.

Okay, sure, but what the hell do helmets and broken arms have to do with each other?

I don't know, but here's his reasoning, and if you're anything like me when a pro skater gives you life advice you listen and you listen good:

“In the end I had 3 good reasons: My wife and my 2 daughters,” says Vallely, “I wanted to be around [for them]. When I step on my skateboard today, I wear a helmet.” And while he calls his decision a “personal” one (and doesn’t want to be seen as hoping on — and probably grinding off — a soapbox), that hasn’t stopped him from joining forces with safety gear company Triple Eight to launch the Get Used to It campaign, aimed at raising awareness for helmet use and head safety. In the end, he hopes helmets are treated like seat belts (“It should be intuitive. Just click it and go.”) and has strong feelings about getting kids to wear one, as well as why not having brain damage is better than being cool.

Wait a minute.  30 years of pro skating and now suddenly he's worried about not wearing a helmet?  I mean, I don't begrudge him at all for "joining forces" with a safety gear company (I certainly hope they're paying him to do this), but it seems to me that if he got this far without a helmet he's in the clear.

But it's not just about him, it's also about the children, won't somebody think of the children:

Get Them While They’re Young
Convincing teen skaters – especially serious ones – today about the virtues of wearing a helmet is pretty much a lost cause, says Vallely. “They’re just entrenched against it.” That’s why it’s critical to slap a lid on your youngest before he or she even knows what cool means. Inevitably, they’re going to face pressure to ditch the helmet, be it from friends (or corporate sponsors). You want the idea of not getting brain damage to be so deeply ingrained in their undamaged brain that they don’t give it a second thought. “Families need to be steadfast in their commitment to protecting their heads,” says Vallely. “Kids need to be encouraged to keep the helmets on [as they get older].”

Sadly, this entire paragraph is completely undermined by the photo that follows it:


That's not a helmet, that's a choking hazard.

I wondered if this same publication had any cycling-specific advice for neurotic parents, and indeed they did:

Here's what they had to say:

Remember when you were young, and nobody wore helmets? What wonderful, idiotic days those were. Since massive brain injuries are less cool than wearing a helmet, you should probably find the right one for the whole family.

Wow, talk about idiotic!  It's true bike fatalities are down for kids, but the reason for this is that kids' don't ride anymore:

(PDF)

Idiots.

The article then immediately goes on to explain why kids falling off their bikes is no big deal:

The Smaller the Kid, The Shorter the Fall
Because your child isn’t named Johnny Knoxville, you understandably get upset when they take a nosedive into the pavement. But you also should realize that falling hurts less for young kids. “When they’re young, they don’t have a long way to fall, they don’t carry a lot of speed, and they don’t have a lot of mass, so they bounce right back up,” says Wells. “When they’re young, they bend.”

But somehow if they're not wearing a helmet they're an idiot and they're going to die.

Still, I do agree that you should always wear one when robbing a bank:


His parents obviously raised him right.

78 comments:

Seattle lone wolf said...

Seattle Scranus!

Wrench Monkey said...

Refresh this, jerkwads.

Ted K. said...

154. Suppose a biological trait is discovered that increases the likelihood that a child will grow up to be a criminal, and suppose some sort of gene therapy can remove this trait. [29] Of course most parents whose children possess the trait will have them undergo the therapy. It would be inhumane to do otherwise, since the child would probably have a miserable life if he grew up to be a criminal. But many or most primitive societies have a low crime rate in comparison with that of our society, even though they have neither high- tech methods of child-rearing nor harsh systems of punishment. Since there is no reason to suppose that more modern men than primitive men have innate predatory tendencies, the high crime rate of our society must be due to the pressures that modern conditions put on people, to which many cannot or will not adjust. Thus a treatment designed to remove potential criminal tendencies is at least in part a way of re-engineering people so that they suit the requirements of the system.

Anonymous said...

Frist?

N/A said...

Froome needs a tub of Country Crock, so he can benefit from margarine gains.

James said...

Damn. I was hoping to beat TedK bot.

Anonymous said...

top 4 cause Ted does not count. and I read it all

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

6th and I had lunch! Scranus!

Anonymous said...

well it was a top four until that stupid you are not a bot thing tripped me up.

Bryan said...

Just how long has Phil Liggett been doing commentary for Le Tour?!
Anyhow, time for the Olympics (or just about) and to watch Sagan doing some MTB stuff before seeing him again in the Vuelta

Matt BK said...

Top elevenus?

wle said...

10p ten

Ralph Cramden said...

There was a tour? Senior citizens in a bus or something?

Francois said...

I'm sad that your Tour summary didn't include the fact that in 3 weeks, Froomey managed to break two (2) crabon frames (one on the day he had to run, the other one last Friday when he fell).
Nothing wrong with crabon, as long as you can afford a new frame every week.

Sax Huret said...

The best thing about the whole cult of marginal gains is that British enthusiast press writers (who are otherwise not terribly different from our own paid advertisement writers masquerading as journalists) genuinely believe that utter nonsense like having a plush apartment at your service course contributes to dominating a huge grand tour year after year. For chrissake Pinarello still has threaded bottom bracket shells on their frames. Meanwhile Greg LeMond once again seems to be the only voice of reason and making veiled doping allegations.

As a minor francophile I did give a shit about le Tour when Romain Bardet snuck into second overall by attacking without a plan and it working.

Fred Frederiksen said...

Sad that the guitar player from The Phish has had to resort to bank robbery.

N/A said...

The Tour Duh France would be better if there were no teams. You show up on the bike you own and paid for your damn self, peddle yer ass off, and first one across the finish line wins. If your shit breaks, you fix it or you quit. No support vehicles.

Bonus points if you're riding a bike you purchased for under $50 from Craigslist.

McFly said...

I just found out the hot school teacher down the street that helmet mimed me is getting a divorce because she has a boyfriend her husband does not approve of.

What's the helmet mime hand signal equivalent of keeping an adulterous schlong from between your legs? I need to throw it.

CommieCanuck said...

Speaking of Ironically names sport events, what does the NASCAR fan do after watching the Coca-Cola 400 while drinking gallons of Mountain Dew and gnawing KFC and eating a bad or two of M&Ms?? Why, the Lilly Diabetes 250, of course.

"If you're not chewing Big Red, then Fuck yew" -Ricky Bobby

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...

Any of those eee-bikes have airconditioning yet ?

vsk

Anonymous said...

Surely that disturbing picture of Froome and the sumo was photoshopped? If not, nightmares await.

N/A said...

@ McFly,

Just give the ol' "that's OK!" sign. Point at it emphatically, so that she gets the point.

McFly said...

Oh I see just make sure I get my point across.

JLRB said...

Froooom-e falling down as he tried to cross the white line in the center of the road was slightly better than the close up of Porte slamming into the camera motorcycle.

BamaPhred said...

@ McFly

Is the boyfriend a student also?

Queing Hot for Teacher

hoghopper said...

Chi Chi! Get the yayo!

JLRB said...

Once again a co-worker had to tell me about how: (1) every day on the way to work he sees at least one bicyclist break the rules; (2) we are heading for an epidemic with the increasing number of cyclists and them breaking the rules - there will be injuries and death everywhere. Of course I called bullshit on him - he tried to tell me he rarely sees cars break the rules, until I asked about cell phone use.

The worst thing about riding a bicycle to work is listening to everyone with their horror stories about cyclists.

Fugh it, I'm going to try sumo wrestling instead

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm a gonna continue to ride my bicycle (not "bike" - that's a motorcycle) to work everyday. So sumo me!

So tired of the fat -as-f&*k yabbers blabbering on and on and on about how riding is crazy and, boy, did you see that cyclist go through the stop sig when no one was around and. boy, they are risking their lives out there and they should be locked up. Blah blah blah

I wonder if Froome has a small motor in his gi or whatever they call those sumo shorts?

Grump said...

The Tour is over???....Damn, I missed it yet again.
Did you catch Greg LaMond's rants? He implies that Team Sky must be "cheating". He also implies that the evil Lance Armstrong might have been doing "more" cheating than the other top riders in the Tour did, because there were motors that could be put into bikes, back in 1999.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Well, after 3 weeks and 21 stages, I must say that I was most impressed with the performance of that young Italian up-and-comer Claudio Chiappucci. I have him pegged for a spot on the podium in a year or two.

Dooth said...

Team Sky's the limit budget gets them Pinarello crabon frames with 150lb rider weight limits. Poorer teams' frames are twice the weight (I'm guessing), that's not an even playing field. What would Tony do? More coke.

DB said...

dop:
How was the NYC Triathlon?

janinedm said...

I think you hold up your ring finger and slowly shake your head.

Craig Richards said...

Isn't Vallely the current singer for Black Flag?

JuanOffhue said...

Personally, I’d be more interested in the TdF if it went retro, with riders carrying spare tires on their shoulders, fixing their own bikes, and doping with wine and tobacco. The self-supported Tour Divide and Trans Am Bike Race are more appealing to me for that very reason — those are races between competitors, instead of corporations.

dancesonpedals said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryan said...

Weight of the bikes is irrelevant, as there is a minimum weight limit - also every single bike manufacturer represented in pro bike racing can make similarly light bikes. I enjoyed it. I was hoping Yates would sneak onto the podium. Quintana, on the other hand, did his usual easy riding except for one stage to get up into 3rd. After 3 weeks of always having recorded TV to watch after work, I don't know what I'll pop on tonight. It's not like there are any shows going on right now...

dancesonpedals said...

I clicked on that link of TDF winners. Quite a chart. There were no winners listed for 1940-46, so there must have been a ginormous doping scandal.

McFly said...

na

McFly said...

janinedm,
I just tried to throw up a ring finger. Not as easy as it sounds.

Frilly Chick said...

Sky's half-eaten gel packets *smirk*

Dave Feldman said...

Better that Rupert Murdoch spend his money rigging bike racing than rigging the US elections, what can I say?

dancesonpedals said...

DB-

The NYC Tri remains a hoot, mainly for the size of the field and the setting. (Hudson River, West Side Highway, Central Park)They sent the old guys off early, after the pros and elite amateurs, so we'd finish before serious heat set in. Nonetheless, the run was shortened from 10k to 8k, by having everyone cross the park at 102nd Street to skip the hills at the north end of the park. (freds do that all the time)

Very civilized, no hammering in transition, no pratfalls.

Frilly Chick said...

Kind of sorry Froome is wearing his cycling shorts under his sumo thingy. Nothing like a flash of muscular derriere to brighten up a Monday.

Frilly Chick said...

And for the love of lob, please let Alberto stay upright for more than two days of the Vuelta.

1904 Cadardi said...

Sax Huret,

Pinarellos have threaded bottom brackets? Cool. Fix the breaking in half problem and I'd consider one if I ever have need of a plastic Fred sled (spoiler: I won't).

Anonymous said...

Your helper monkey must be slacking. I'm pretty sure you meant income inequality not income equality.

bieks said...

I really enjoyed the Tour this year. Mind you, I fast forwarded until there was some spectacular scenery, played the recording until the cameras went back to the cyclists and repeated. The Swiss Alps are both real and spectacular.

Anonymous said...

No mining. If she's "hot", as you say, the divorce proceedings may be too much stress for remaining relationship to handle. Offer instead to lend her an ear, a shoulder, or any other body part she may need.

David G said...

When Armstrong cut off that switchback in 2003, was that alllowed to stand as is, or was there some penalty?

DB said...

Sounds good, dop!
Congratulations.
That mud from the Hudson will be gone from under your fingernails in about 3 months.
Waiting for NYCSwim to organize Liberty Island swim again.

JLRB said...

This talk of a stacked Sky team with all the elite riders sounds familiar - NBA anyone? Where the best players work to get together on a team, but in the old days the true competitors would never play on the same teams so they could compete against each other... but there you have salary caps, etc.

Daniel said...

Shouldn't helmet use just be defined by the activity? I've often been the most uncool person as the skatepark wearing my helmet, but it is because I am clumsy as fuck and there is a high likelihood that I will smack my head. I also wear knee pads & wrist guards when I skate (super dorky)

I don't really have a problem having pro skater dude recommend wearing a helmet while in competition, or in skate parks or whatever. Similar to when I am mountain bicycle biking or wearing my stretchy pants/shirt combo. However when I ride my cruiser (or longboard) down to the store... no helmet.

None said...

Hey, I've got a 1 year CD with Santander Bank.

Keep your hands off my money, helment dude.

Chazu said...

David G; There was no penalty for Armstrong after taking that brief detour.

David G said...

Thanks, Chazu.

I'll refrain from offering my opinion of what that says about the sport.

dancesonpedals said...

oh c'mon. Was he supposed to crash & break his leg, too?

Anonymous said...

Hey JLRB, I guess you're not a Warriors fan, though a local (SF Bay area) columnist loves to point out that NBA has always thrived with stacked teams:

'60s Celtics
'80s Lakers (vs. Celtics)
Michael Jordan Bulls

though basketball team is a whole different concept from cycling team. 5 guys on the court the whole time. If a player is too one-dimensional he is exposed.

I recommend watching that Oakland team, and enjoying the pass to the open man.

Anonymous said...

So based on the following "Wow, talk about idiotic! It's true bike fatalities are down for kids, but the reason for this is that kids' don't ride anymore:" Are you saying that we should be encouraging kids to ride to school rather than be driven, despite the increase chance of injury or death?

Hey I am not for them being in cars, especially as it's normally the parents in SUVs doing the killing in "accidents." But you gotta admit that by arguing against helments, and being driven is incongruous.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Fatalities from stagecoach crashes are down like a zillion percent too!

As Mark Twain said, there are 3 types of liars - liars, damn liars and statisticians!

Anonymous said...

Beloki fell, smashed his hip to pieces, scrapped half his skin off, etc. but did not die because HE WAS WEARING A HELMENT, sorry HEALMENT! So that's got that sewn up right there!

Anonymous said...

Enough about helmets. I stopped listening to sports talk radio because of repetitive topics. You've got a lot of other funny stuff to say.

Sax Huret said...

1904 Cadardi,

Italian threaded to boot. Maybe BMC or Scott can bring back Swiss threading. It's not like anyone cares about part availability 5 years out anymore.

In the technologies section of Pinarello's website they state that they are committed to using threaded bottom bracket shells because they're proven to be reliable. I don't think they'll be saying the same thing about the carbon layup in the new Dogma frame that Froome broke.

Frickus Rungus said...

I was on Mackinaw island recently (no cars allowed) and witnessed a horse and carriage accident. It was a big fancy enclosed rig with two horses (tandem?). Smashed into a house at the bottom of a hill. Damn equine menaces! They don't belong on the road! Neither horse was wearing a helmet...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 10:16pm,

You should check back in with sports radio, maybe they'v moved on to something new.

--Wildcat Etc.

skelter weeks said...

The bicycle helmet came to be because parents in California were upset about all the skateboard injuries in the 70s. "They need safety gear!" And if skateboarders needed helmets, bike riders did, too, they incorrectly reasoned.
People continue to make these erroneous comparisons. Mountain bikers need helmets, so ordinary bike riders need helmets, too, even though mountain biking is an inherently more risky activity than riding your bike on a city street to the store. It's like saying racing a car in the Indy Motor Speedway is like driving your car on the streets of Chicago. Everyone knows it's different, but they continue to confuse the risks of different activities, probably because they're unfamiliar with them, as the people who make these comparisons never do these activities. It's just ignorance.

Doc Sarvis said...

You need more practice, just like you did with the one next to it...

janinedm said...

Okay. As I passed an SUV parked in the bike lane I felt something wet hit my face. It was many hours ago now but I'm still so angry I can't sleep. My feelings on gun control may be evolving.

janinedm said...

Also, I don't usually get into the helmet argument because it's repetitive, but it is a distraction so I'll add this: when you're talking safety and life expectancy, riding a bike is a smart play. 300,000 Americans die a year from obesity related illnesses. In 2014, seven hundred and forty-something died on bikes. Even if you adjust for population (there are, of course fewer cyclists than there are obese people in the U.S.), a sedentary lifestyle is dangerous. Why is it so much better to schedule an operation to lose your foot? I'd like to see a study done before I state it as fact, but I bet the life expectancy for a helmetless cyclist would compare favorably with the average American and even more so with someone obese or with a resting pulse over 80. That's a long way of saying ride a bike; you'll live longer. Or be like my friend who literally runs all the way to work, though that seems extreme. Don't be a weird freak who spits on women who bike past them because their life expectancies are the worst of all. If I see that guy again I'm going to hit him with my bike lock until his head resembles a bag of loose tiles. (I may have veered off topic but I'm still very angry)

Person Of Intrest said...

Cheque out my bank robber helmet. I've got a partner, so the money gained is not by me a loan.

Road Fodder said...

Thank God that stagecoach crashes are finally down! I finally feel free to venture forth out onto the promenade again.

Boss Tweed said...

SH at 136 "2nd by attacking without a plan." I wish more would attack without a plan then, it really all seems like one long boat race.

bad boy temporarily south said...

Hope everyone is enjoying the heat and humidity back home in the north like we are visiting in SC.

Anonymous said...

Jog on Al

bad boy temporarily south said...

.Meant....like we have while visiting SC.i'm so firing my editor.

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