Next year’s Tour de France will, as you know, start in Yorkshire. Meanwhile, not to be outdone when it comes to looking for potholes to run races over, the Giro d’Italia will start in Belfast.
Last year, the Giro started in Denmark. This year’s Tour of Poland (yes, Poland) started in Italy. In 2011, the Herne Hill Good Friday meeting was, in its entirety, at Manchester Velodrome. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before the Tour of Britain starts in Wales.
Starting a race somewhere a bit random is a lovely idea – it gives a race a different character for a few stages, it provides different terrain, and it allows the sponsors to have a crack at selling premium-price mineral-water to people who live in Yorkshire. There is a good chance it’s going to keep spreading – how better to improve the Tour of Qinghai Lake than to start it somewhere a long way from Qinghai Lake?
I was recently passed a draft copy of a document prepared by one of the current UCI presidential hopefuls.
“The UCI has been delighted with the enhancement of the synergies available to stake-holder conglomerates by the geographical diversifications of hitherto mono-cultural bike-races,” it begins. (You must make allowances for an organisation that once specified a bike be propelled solely by the ‘lower muscular apparatus’ – legs.)
“Therefore, it is intended to proceed with rolling out the subsequent phases of the plan. We will continue to have stage races start in distant countries. We will ratchet forward this diversification by holding some intermediate stages abroad as well. So, if the Giro were to start in Canada, it would return to Italy, then travel to, for instance, Morocco, then back to Italy.
“The build-futureward will be finishing races abroad – events like the Tour of Britain that have in the past felt that Guildford is a suitable place to have a grand arrive will be encouraged to grandly arrive on the Champs-Elysées instead. The ultimate aim is to have all races finish in Paris, irrespective of where they start and what they’re called.
“The next step will be to positively pressurise organisers into making optimum use of the topological heterogeneity now freely available – to be prioritised over geographical proximity to the nominal location of the race. In other words, all mountain stages must take place in the Alps, crosswind stages in Qatar, and their time trial on the A1 dual carriageway near Sandy in Bedfordshire.
“The final element of dynamic rationalisation will eventually be to ensure all races are run over exactly the same stages. All that will change will be the advertising banners. This will present significant cost savings on course design, risk assessment, and media facilities.
Cav for all occasions
“Clearly this will create some logistical issues. Stage-to-stage transfers will be intercontinental. Identical team buses and vehicles in each location, each instantly customisable with interchangeable graphics will be wholly essential.
“The last step will be to avoid inconvenience to the riders by necessitating long hours of travelling. In order to facilitate this, riders will be franchised. Instead of continuing with the current model where the opportunities to have Mark Cavendish in your race are limited by there being only one Mark Cavendish, any rider under 5ft 10in with stubble will be taught to thank/criticise team-mates (as appropriate) in a Manx accent, and incorporated in the Cavendish franchise.
“By using a different Cavendish for each stage, travel costs will be minimised.
“Ideally, in time, the same group of riders, under a variety of franchises, will ride the same stage each time it’s run, irrespective of which race it’s part of.” And people say the UCI has no blueprint for taking the sport forward.
How to… walk a dog
The best place to walk a dog is on a shared-use bike/pedestrian path. If you can’t find one of those, any bike lane will do.
Before you take the dog out, show it some photographs of cyclists, while simultaneously feeding it steak. This will encourage the dog to associate cyclists with red meat.
If you have a large dog, it is best to avoid using a lead. This means that whenever it encounters a delicious cyclist, it will be free to mount a full-frontal attack, while you stand a safe distance away shouting, “It’s OK, he won’t hurt you. He’s just playing.” If the dog is having difficulty getting a good grip, you might want to add, “If you just stand still, he’ll be fine!” Make sure you don’t make any gesture that the dog might misinterpret as, “Put that cyclist down and come here.”
If you have a smaller dog or one of a cowardly disposition, it’s best to keep it on a lead. Use an extendible one, which will enable you to walk down one side of the path while the dog walks down the other, allowing cyclists to pass between you. For optimum effectiveness, do this at dusk. On a good evening, it’s possible to harvest enough cyclists to feed your dog for several weeks.
If possible, it’s best to avoid cyclists who have read the first edition of Richard Ballantine’s ‘Bicycle Book’. They know how to kill a dog with a bicycle pump.
I was at a time trial in Sussex last weekend. The exit from the car park had a barrier across it, about 7ft off the ground, to stop vans and lorries from using it. The driver driving out in front of me had a Cervélo TT bike on a roof rack, and had clearly not noticed the barrier. I beeped my horn repeatedly. Mercifully, he understood and stopped.
He gave me a wave of gratitude, removed the bike from the roof, set it against a wall, and drove through the barrier. He then drove off, leaving the bike sitting where it was.
Steve Richardson, email
Steve, may I be the first to commend to you the Cycling Weekly classified ad section? I think it’s just what you’re looking for.
This article was first published in the August 8 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!