More boring robots, please

November 28, 2015 § 25 Comments

Claudio Chiapucci, the retired doper and Francesco Conconi protege, recently raged against the pro peloton, claiming that only Peter Sagan has character, and that the rest of the riders are “dull machines.” One of the peloton’s dull machines, Phil Gaimon, showed his dullness by penning a riposte  that displayed humor, humility, and a sharp fucking pen–but I guess having a brain doesn’t cut it for Claudio, who claims that the lack of exciting, dynamic, aggressive, attacking riders (i.e., Claudio) is a big reason why the public is no longer enamored with the sport.

This raises an important point, however: The public isn’t enamored with Pro Tour cycling because it is beyond boring to watch. It’s the only event where hours pass and nothing ever happens, at least nothing that anyone would care about who wasn’t in the race. The phrase “He’s taking a dig now” says it all. A dig. He’s taking one. Kind of like what that woman behind me in her SUV was taking out of her nostril when I checked my rear-view mirror.

And then of course there is the “thrilling” sprint finish. Well, it is thrilling … but only if you’re in it. How many times has this happened with your S/O as she’s staring bleary-eyed at the television at 6:30 AM?

“Okay, here comes the sprint!”


“There! All those guys bunched up! See? There’s the red kite! Patrick Brady’s nowhere near! Now they’re stringing it out! The lead-out trains are forming!!”

“The what?”

“The lead-out trains! There’s Team Pooky hitting the front!”


“Team Pooky in the orange-black-red-green-purple-hexagon kits with the brown stripe down the back and the lightning bolts! Their guy McDingleberry has the green jersey and he’s fighting for sprint points with Van der Anus, who is seven points down in the sprint classification!”

“Which one is that? They’re all clumped up. It looks like a big mess.”

“That’s because they’re sprinting! Oh my dog, look! Look! Here comes McDingleberry up the left-hand side!”

“Which one is he? Everyone’s on the left side. And why is everyone falling down?”

“Oh shit! Van der Anus has crashed and taken out half the peloton!”

“What is going on?”

“Seamus Uff wins it! Holy cow! Not Uff! Here, honey, let me replay that for you. Wow, that was the most exciting sprint ever. Oh, man.”

“Is it over?”

“Yes. I mean, no. There are still eighteen more stages.”

“Wake me up in August, okay?” S/O says as she staggers back to bed.

Maybe Claudio is right. Maybe what cycling really does need is more guys like him, guys with multiple doping positives, guys with no tactical brains, and guys who only made the big time under the tutelage of the godfather of EPO doping. Maybe dullards like Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, and Tom Boonen have killed the sport with their thrilling and tactical racing. Maybe we just need to get Tommy D. one more season back in the pro ranks.

But I don’t think so.



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§ 25 Responses to More boring robots, please

  • pvannuys says:

    One of your best, Seth.
    In the context of everything bicycling can do for us, Pro Racing is not just irrelevant, it’s counterproductive. Good thing it’s buried on the tube, the fewer people who see it, the better.

  • Paul Thober says:

    I enjoy watching professional bicycle racing – professional bicycle racing that takes place in Europe, that is. I get up most every morning at 0300 – 0400 when there is a race taking place there. I mostly watch the European live streams on my computer not the crappy virus-ridden adware rich pirate feeds, but the direct feeds, muted. The racing can be pretty boring at times, but the video is usually very good quality and the scenery and the driveway-like roads are almost always a treat. My wife who is a bike racing ignoramous enjoys watching sometimes. North American pro racing is mostly awful to watch – wide straight roads with not much to see even if they did show anything other than the racing. I have not watched any Middle Eastern racing, but I suspect it is worse than what we have here.

    • fsethd says:

      I’ve spent untold hours watching pro Euro racing. It’s fun when you’re into it. I remember watching the whole Tour of Flanders the year Ballan won. But … I’m over it, and I suspect that most people will never get that excited about it to begin with.

  • dangerstu says:

    Dopers sux ass. Phil Gaimon doesn’t.

    Pro bike racing is like fishing, hours of boredom interspersed with a few moments of excitement.

  • Tamar T. says:

    +1 for love to watch cycling on TV. It is the only sport I like to watch. Watching the peloton 50 meters behind the breakaway on the verge of the finish line always makes me hold my breath. And sometimes someone from the breakaway wins!

  • Albie Lakes says:

    I saw Gaimon run red litez and draft buses like a Suicidal Robot on the Montrose Ride. True story.

  • sibex9591 says:

    In addition, I have divested myself from reading about pro racing. I find that sites like CN and Pez just eat browser resources.

    I found the best interviews right here on Citsb.

  • Doug J. says:

    I love reading Gaimon’s articles. A really quick and razor sharp wit. I also really enjoy Neil Shirley’s writing. Who would have thought that blokes on bikes could write. You’re onto something here!

  • Erik Vanderaerden says:

    Pick up a few words of Flemish. Than TV coverage (streaming of course) will never be dull. Even a second rate, midweek race somewhere in Flanders, with expert commentary, becomes a fun, interesting learning experience. These guys talk about racers, their families, their home region and situation, a new girlfriend or upcoming split, and the retired pro-cyclist/co-commentator will tell where they need to be positioned prior to the cobbled climb, or what gear to be in before the last 5 K, because of cross winds coming up..
    But if you’re not into it like most wives are, than no play by play will make bike racing exciting.

    • fsethd says:

      Good advice, actually. All sports, to be enjoyable for spectators, are greatly enhanced by good commentary. Phil & Paul have killed more potential cycling enthusiasts than Conconi and Ferrari combined.

  • channel_zero says:

    No mention of Chris Horner? He’s the heart and soul of the sport.

    Yaaaawwwwn. Cyclocross is long enough. Good thing those Belgians are clean.

    • fsethd says:

      “Cyclocross is long enough.” Unless you’re doing it, in which case it’s 44 minutes too long.

  • Lionel says:

    I’m the wife when it comes to hockey; hours of guys trading back and forth with no goals for hours, the main excitement that the clock is ticking down. How does anyone watch baseball, when 98% of the time everyone is just standing around. I understand cycling, so I know the gamble of the breakaway, the timing of efforts on the long climbs, and the intricate setup of the sprinters. At least with cycling I have a fair idea beforehand as to when the highlights are going to happen and I can tune in to just those parts and not be forced to sit for hours in case I miss “the moment” the game was won.

    • fsethd says:

      Definitely agree that if I have to pick a spectating poison, it wouldn’t be NHL, MLB, NFL, or NBA, although it might be MILF.

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