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The Way Things Work

Posted by Bruce E Hildenbrand Jan 27, 2008

Congratulations to the Slipstream/Chipotle team for its second place finish in

the first stage of the Tour of Quatar.  Jonathan Vaughter's boys were a scant

two seconds back of Tom Boonen's Quick Step squad in the opening stage, a

6km Team Time Trial(TTT). You might all be wondering, what's the big deal about

second place in an early season race in a country most of us couldn't even

point out on a globe!

 

Well, unlike the NFL which owns all the events it sanctions, in cycling,

individual race organizers and corporations such as ASO own and promote the

races while the NFL-equivalent, the UCI, just exists as the sanctioning body.

OK, the UCI, with its Pro Tour, tried to become more than just the sanctioning

body, but we have all seen how that has worked out.  It is best to leave race

promotion to the professionals.

 

So, if you are a team, and you want to get into a race, you have to catch the

eye of the race promoter.  Winning big races is one way to catch the eye, but

if you can't get into the big races unless you prove yourself, then you have

a Catch-22.  Enter races such as the Tour of Quatar.  These early season,

predominately low-key, events are the perfect platform for up and coming teams

to show race organizers that they can play with the big boys.

 

And, it doesn't hurt that the Tour of Quatar is owned by ASO, the same company

which organizes the Tour de France, Paris-Roubaix and a whole host of the top

professional races.  So, if you are a team like Slipstream/Chipotle presented

by H30(say that fast three times) then the pressure is on in Quatar and they

delivered.

 

Also participating in Quatar is the BMC Professional Cycling Team which, while

not hoping for a slot in the Tour in 2008, is hoping for a wild-card invite to

some of the one day races, such as Paris-Roubaix, owned by ASO.  The boys in

black finished 12th just 12 seconds behind the winners and 10 clicks behind

their American counterparts.

 

Hopefully, ASO and other race promoters are taking notice and we will see more

American teams and US riders in the biggest and best races on the professional

cycling calendar.  Yeah, Paolo Bettini and Tom Boonen are exceptional racers,

but I want to be cheering for a homie when the season gets into full swing.

 

Bruce

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