Freaks of the Industry

1st...Samuel Sanchez...ESP 2nd...Davide Rebellin...ITA 3rd...Fabian Cancellara...SUI 4th...Alexander Kolobnev...RUS 5th...Andy Schleck...LUX

If you happened to see this rogues’ gallery clustered together on the front page of your local newspaper, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to wonder, “Huh…I wonder what kind of nefarious deeds these miscreants have perpetrated?” But if you’re NBC, and you’re trying to show what pro cycling is all about, these are the kind of photos you provide the curious viewing public.

Since I’m an Olympics zealot, on top of being resolutely messianic about all things pro cycling, I watched the entire length of the men’s road race live online all of last night. When there’s no announcers, coupled with the initial several hours of, quite honestly, not exactly scintillating action you’ve got to create some diversions. So I started to explore the photos and bios provided online by NBC of the cream of the planet’s pro cycling community. And holy crap, when you put them all together it’s a pretty comical collection. It looks like a compilation of webcam screen captures, discarded passport photos, characters appearing on milk cartons, high school yearbook out-takes, and FBI most-wanted mug shots. Nevermind the fact that quite a few pros don’t have any photo or bio (hence the “?” placeholders). Don’t worry too much, they’re only lowly unknowns such as Santiago Botero, Carlos Sastre, Franco Pellizotti, and Stuart O’Grady. NBC even threw one of our next door neighbors under the bus, providing absolutely nothing for Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, and duplicated the treatment for the sole Chinese rider Liang Zhang. D’oh! Maybe that’s why he made sure he was prominently positioned at the head of the peloton for the opening kilometers in metro Beijing.

A few random Men’s Olympic Road Race notes:
1. Absolutely stunning venue/scenery, despite hefty doses of haze.
2. What’s all that crap on the roads? Oh yeah, it’s discarded musette bags and water bottles. In Europe those would be scooped up in seconds, in China not so much. I bet the heavy security presence made sure nobody dared set foot on the course. [Addendum: apparently the Aussie contingent’s family members had access issues at the road course. There’s an awesome quote from O’Grady in there concerning the lack of fans: “It was like silent murder.”]
3. Wow, somebody figured out how to have crystal clear, live television transmissions inside tunnels. Pretty cool to see, instead of the usual helicopter shot overhead waiting for the peloton to emerge.
4. When riders retired and headed to their team digs, it looked like they were entering self-storage facilities.
5. Overall, quite a collection of not-so-aesthetically appealing national team kits. You can never go wrong with the classic Belgian kits, Luxembourg looked cool, I liked South Africa, but far too many looked like bargain basement club jerseys.
6. While the riders were trying to be discreet in the opening kilometers, quite a few riders “watering the lawn” were doing so in view of Chinese citizens within metro Beijing. Not quite sure if they’re aware of Euro tradition in such matters or if they cared.
7. I don’t have any idea how riders stayed sufficiently hydrated. There didn’t appear to be any neutral water motorcycles (like the Tour), I believe each team had only one support vehicle making reaching all the riders more difficult (at least there were no more than five members per team), and that feed zone looked pretty sketchy. The shower was pretty cool. I wondered how one man squads (like Cancellara) dealt with getting water outside of the feed zone. When you’re simultaneously the team leader and domestique, I guess you have to head back on your own and scoop up some bottles. Or intimidate lesser riders into giving up theirs.

Comments (11) to “Freaks of the Industry”

  1. glad I’m not the only person who stayed up all night. Great race–Cancellara was riding a motorcycle there at the end.

  2. I stayed up all night as well, which is not stretch as I have not had a normal night of sleep in ages. I was happy to see some year round tough guys (sans Rogers) fighting for the medals. I do feel bad for Sammy as we will go down in history as winning a Chris Hornerless Olympics.

  3. One can only imagine what kind of sartorial horror Euskaltel is cooking up for Sammy Sanchez in order to pay homage to his Olympic gold medal. I’ve come to accept the orange & black and appreciate its visibility in the peloton, but integrating some gold/Olympic rings into the mix could very likely be frightening. Maybe Paolo Bettini will unload on Sanchez some gold helmets, shoes, and saddles. Personally, I think Sanchez should simply bolt his gold medal to his bike like a frame number and leave it at that for four years.

  4. …wow…wasn’t that the eeriest damn thing to be watching the best pros in the world & hear nothing but wind noise over the microphone, a bit of support vehicle horn honking & only the occasional sporadic cheer ???…very strange…

    …weird for us watching on the internet but as quoted “like silent murder”…indeed stuey…i can only imagine what other hardened vets coming off the tour were thinking…hell, even in a local crit, people yell encouragement to the poor guy off the back…(i was doing just that last night at a criterium under the lights, here in the county)…

    …the scenery rivaled even the best intimate shots from the giro…absolutely beautiful to behold…

    …team kits ???…whoa, holland & germany, how far thou hast fallen…italian outfits w/ an ‘asiatic’ looking script were interesting, if they didn’t offend the locals…but 73 offended folks outa billions can’t be too bad…

    …there was one very graphic shot during the women race when they were still in beijing, which reminded you that the ladies can’t just stand in a line at the side of the road, like the guys…little more scrambling involved…& after listening to the men comment on the lack of spectators, chinese officials made sure there were bunches of folks out cheering…the women got a little more, ah, “exposure”, as it were…

    senor sanchez will undoubtedly appear bedecked one step up from senor valverde’s espana nat’s outfit…actually alejandro’s kit was ok, but that pinarello prince was mucho way ‘over the top’

    …& davide rebellin…one quiet, composed, gracious but hard man…it was his birthday & he’s always been a contender, so i was hopin’…

  5. Last time I was at Orbea, I saw an Orca with disco sparkle gold paint, Hmmmm?

  6. When NBC was talking about the magical sport year Spain has had, the dolts indicated they won the TdF, but didn’t even give poor Carlos a name. It’s not like he has a unanglo basque name to embarrass themselves with.

  7. Is it just me or is this the first victory for Euskaltel-Euskadi this year, and it wasn’t even while they were riding?

  8. 1) Re clear tunnel shots — NBC’s tech budget is probably a tad bigger than France 1; and

    2) Jim Lampley DID, in fact, mention Carlos Sastre’s name…even pronouncing it more or less correctly. So far, so good on the Oly cycling coverage.

  9. I don’t care how ugly your jersey is (Euskatel, T-Mobile), as long as you have old-fashioned black shorts you look like you mean business. I am confident that all of the political and drug problems in the sport today would magically clear up if there were a mandatory black-shorts rule. Also, it would be a lot easier for me to explain cycling tactics to my friends if I didn’t have to interrupt my commentary every ten seconds to apologize for someone’s soiled white or baby-blue ass crack. I accept absolutely no compromise on this issue.

  10. Thank you for this - I was highly ammused. :-)

  11. i came across your site today for the first time. totally awesome! i laughed so hard i cried and am amazed at the insight mixed with a touch of humor. keep it up!

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