Wow! That’s all I can say about this past week. Besides the fact that I’ve been snowed under with my day job (yup – something has to pay the bills), the world of cycling has surely continued to make some noise. Working as a PR for one of the world’s biggest technology and services companies, making noise is something I know how to do. But this week, cycling did not disappoint with two big announcements.
First up, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has formally announced his return to the professional circuit after a three-year absence.
According to Lance himself:
“I am happy to announce that after talking with my children, my family and my closest friends, I have decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden. This year alone, nearly eight million people will die of cancer worldwide. … It’s now time to address cancer on a global level.”
There were many rumours making their rounds in the run up to his announcement. The most prominent was that Lance was going to be buying out ASO. Needless to say, this wasn’t true, but it did sound quite reasonable at the time. Especially that it would give him the world-wide reach he would need to get his message out in the fight against cancer.
One rumour, or theory I should say, that did resonate with me, and one I still believe would make a lot of sense is one that was put forward by the Fat Cyclist. The theory was that instead of joining a team, Lance would be forming a new one – Team LiveStrong. With a team branded ‘not to sell a product or company, but to raise money and awareness to fight cancer’, Lance would have a much bigger impact. On top of that, would Tour organiser ASO turn away a team explicitly created to fight cancer, led by the greatest Tour rider ever? Methinks not.
Come to think of it, maybe this could still be part of the plan – the long term plan? The short term plan could be to get back in to the world of cycling, just as he has announced, and to start raising the awareness for the campaign. A year or two on, then ramp up activities and launch Team LiveStrong. This theory has legs and one I think could definitely make its appearance. So keep an eye out for it, and remember, you heard it here first.
Secondly, on Friday the UCI and Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) decided to call it a truce on their 4-year feud. As I’ve mentioned before in a previous post, the two organisations needed to sort themselves out for the greater good of the sport.
UCI chief, Pat McQuaid: “This agreement marks the start of a new, postive era for the whole cycling family.”
McQuaid also said the UCI would now be proceeding with proposals to re-organise an elite cycling calendar. With 2011 earmarked as the likely date for a real, new beginning for all parties, there will be no Pro Tour ranking next season. Instead there will be a ranking system that takes into account the results of all UCI races.
Let’s just hope that this bitching between the two groups is over and done with. If cycling is ever going to gain the respect it needs at this crucial point in its growth curve, then these two organisations need to show the maturity and leadership qualities that we empower them with!
Last but not least, on Friday I received my press pass for Cycle 2008, the UK’s leading cycling show, which is taking place in early October (9th – 12th to be exact). Am looking forward to walking around the halls at Earls Court and checking out all the new products coming to our shores. So look out for my upcoming posts on this event.
Well, that’s all for now. Let me know your thoughts on the Lance theory. Also, let me know if you are going to be at Cycle 2008.