Racing Versus Winning

The season is well underway and Team SKY are picking up right where they left off. Steamrolling the Peloton at “tempo” pace. Amazing isn’t the word I would use to describe what you see when they hit the front. Disturbing is a word some would use, but I don’t find it to be that either. Boring? Yes. Questionable? Yes. Though part of me hates writing that.

Last week I was reading through Rouleur #36, which has a great interview with Paul Kimmage, which was conducted by Herbbie Sykes, and I was struck by the fact that for some people there will always be more than a shred of doubt. Its a view that warranted, but I can’t help but feel that it removes any joy in watching races. So why don’t they stop, and walk away since the winner is always viewed as a doper?

I’m not saying Kimmage feels this way, but it was the impression I was left with. That said, there are people out there who do believe that. But to make everything look messy; the way Team Sky so thoroughly dominates in not just one race, but two races happening at the same time one has to ask: Does bringing one’s pillow, warming up and cooling down make an individual perform above their competitors?

I can see all of Team Sky’s riders not just doing eight hour endurance rides, with threshold intervals peppered in, like everyone else, but doing eight hour rides at tempo pace, with threshold intervals peppered in. But honestly that’s a bunch of shit I don’t care about any more.

What I do care about is the quality of the racing. Watching a team steamroll a race is fucking boring. Plain and simple.

After watching a recent Paris-Nice stage I came up with a cycling equation of sorts.

For SKY Winning > Racing

For Fans Racing > Winning

I can say that for some its not just SKY who fall into this damning formula, some amateur racers do as well. For me, and I’m sure most fans would agree, good racing trumps any one team or rider winning. That’s what we want to see when we wake up early to watch pirated feeds. Its the reason why watching a guy attack from 50 k out and solo to a win in impressive, but not exciting (unless they just barely stick the move). Racing is the reason watching Talansky’s ill fated attacks were so much fun. Of course I want the guy to win, but I LOVED watching him bring the race when he could have ridden wheels. That’s what’s beautiful about road racing. Racing. Not winning. Though winning can be beautiful too.

I also want to make clear that I do care about the doping issue. I do. I don’t want racers to dope, I don’t want the guy who I like watching race to dope. But there is a history there, and to assume that either the sport is clean, or that their all dopers. Is it possible to be a doping agnostic?

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