Sunday, June 22, 2008

Who's Taking Who?

So, Versus, let me get this straight - we're taking the Tour de France back from all the guys since '96…except one. If you just saw the shortened version of the "backwards" ad on today's Tour de Suisse coverage (viewable at CFA), let me direct you to the full version on the Versus website. That version includes Ivan Basso (with Lance conveniently obscured), then jumps back to Bjarne Riis and Marco Pantani. I have to wonder if someone realized that gaping gap was a little silly, and went with the shorter version.

I get why they don't include Lance, but if you want to Take Back The Tour, two of the people from whom it is to be taken are Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong. Instead, Lance is still the demi-god and we get to have Johan for a week selling his new book that presumably tells only half the story. I will give this to Versus, they are allowing comments against Johan (and his anticipated commentary) on its Take Back The Tour site.

Yes, I have praised Johan on this site before, and previously gave Lance the benefit of the doubt on this score. Let's just say I'm seeing some baseball players of my own these days, funny what happens when you stop and really look at the he said-he said versions side by side. And to include them in the bunch does not negate all the legitimate hard work and preparation that they did, it is to acknowledge that they are part and parcel of the era from which we are struggling to escape.

I've made clear my affection for Erik Zabel and Floyd Landis, and it's sad to see them in the ad, but not uncalled for. Zabel's drug use was very limited, if you believe his account, and he had plenty of clean years at the Tour, but his confession was one of those painful moments for the sport last year, so I guess it belongs. As for Floyd, it's as I've said before, even if he was innocent of that charge, the whole ordeal is something the sport wants to get away from. And whatever he did or didn't do to win that Tour, the contradictory evidence out there (including his own statements) about his personal knowledge of doping remains troubling.

I was puzzled by David Millar in the Saunier Duval kit, rather than Cofidis. Someone at Podium Café suggested that it might make sense because it was on the words "brand new start." In that case, he ought to have been the one going forward, no?

So, how will I take back the Tour? I'll listen for Frankie Andreu in the commentary box, and root for Garmin-Chipotle and Columbia and my faves on CSC, and enjoy all the thrills and fun traditions that the controversies can't touch.

Speaking of thrills, there was actual racing between the ads at the Tour de Suisse. Fabian Cancellara had two rippers this week, one long, one short, both immensely fun to watch. Especially with the added bonus of his adorable baby girl waiting for him after each one. Looking forward to him at the Tour, and to Frank Schleck, whom we all thought we might have lost in that unbelievable crash mid-week. A big thank you to the kind tree that caught him with its limbs, so that he did not break his. And big kudos to Bobby Julich for running interference for Fab on that first win, sad to hear him say he won't be making the Tour this year.


Anonymous said...

What about Frankie admitted drug user? Oh that's right, he works for Versus.

Rasmussen? Why was he in the spot? He's never tested positive for anything except not revealing his whereabouts properly.

Where was Eddie Merckx? Kicked out of the 1969 Giro for using.

If Barne Riis and Ullrich were doping during the 1998 Tour (already admitted by Riis), why has Bobby Julich been named the winner?

Where is Versus on that topic?

Julie said...

Not that you were asking me, but just as a practical matter, they seemed to be hitting the stories from the past year - I think that covers most everyone in the ad but Pantani.

On Rasmussen, Basso and Ullrich are pretty much in that same boat - other things proven about them that lead you to believe those performances were "tainted," but no direct evidence on the performances themselves - again, it's that they were the stories last year.

On Frankie, well, he didn't exactly win a Grand Tour or anything, it wasn't really a big story. There were plenty of the lesser guys they didn't show, even those from the past year.

I agree with your general premise, though, Versus needs to take the Tour back from itself on several levels!

Nikki said...

Julie -
I hope you read that Papa Georgio and Mel had baby Enzo! He's got details on his site, still waiting for a pic from his iphone. :-)

I hope things have lightened up a bit with the work load so you get to enjoy some good racing. I'm looking forward to some good stages!

Julie said...

LOL, yes, see above! :-)

Briggs Heaney said...

Lance has too much money and clout in the world of cycling to be threatened or touched by any American-based cycling company. And don't believe Zabel, he doped every year until 2005 probably. Like so many others, he admits only what he has to admit to put the issue behind him.