Neutralizing Yesterday’s Pro Challenge Stage was Bullshit

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I’ve considered cycling a pretty hard man’s sport. The sport in general, all aspects. Road, cross, MTB, even track. But when officials make spur of the moment decisions that detract from that description, it pisses me off.

Stopping the race 10 km from the finish yesterday was a really bad call. Horrible. No matter what you think about what happened, it changed the outcome of the overall race and you can’t take that back. They, the officials, have no ability to “correct” the results because they made a really bad call previously.

First, let’s first address the situation. They were running a road race, in Colorado, on a dirt/gravel road climb and descent. And they were having the race finish mid afternoon. The chances of an afternoon thunderstorm are really high, like sort of guaranteed. So, there shouldn’t have been any surprise when it happened. Even if the weather conditions might of dictated a race stoppage, which I don’t think existed, the race obviously didn’t have the infrastructure to insure the safety of the riders with an neutralization. They couldn’t get the race neutralized until the riders had descended the dirt/mud and were on the pavement.

2nd, when do we start stopping bike races that are scheduled to be held on dirt, because of rain? I understand lightening, but by the time the race was held up, there wasn’t any. All the neutralization did was screw up the results majorly.

Our sport is dangerous. That is an accepted aspect of the sport. I’m not sure if the officials at the Pro Challenge have been watching too much Tour de France TV, where the riders themselves neutralize the race because of “wet descents”, or Giro TV, where the officials screw up the call and try to neutralize a wet descent and change the results of that race, but for whatever reason, they think that they have an official obligation to insure the safety of the riders, which they do, but not in this instance.

There have been so many road races held all over the world, for over a century, on wet, dirt roads, it’s really an insult to us, as cyclists, that the UCI officials think that we can’t handle those conditions. How about every Tour de France before they paved the climbs? How about the UCI, Battenkill, that is famous for being held on many dirt climbs. In 2010, I raced Battenkill and it down poured nearly the whole 200km. I don’t think anyone there, riders, officials, promoter, remotely considered calling the race. It was epic and that is sometimes what cycling is all about.

How do you think the 1988 Giro turns out if the officials decided to call that race? Think the conditions that day were worse than a little mud in Colorado yesterday? By like 1000 X’s. Check the pictures below, or read a recap of the race here. That race went down in history as epic. It’s a stage that riders dream of racing/winning. It decided the overall classification at the Giro, as it should have.

Of course the radio thing comes back into play. Riders saying that they need radios to make racing safer. Maybe they need to give better radios to the 100’s of cars drivers and motorcyles out on the course so they can adequately inform the riders of race situations and dangers. Obviously, yesterday they didn’t have that ability.

There was a fair amount of displeasure from the lead group upon the stoppage yesterday. I heard, “This is bullshit, absolute bullshit! Get your shit together!” That is pretty mild compared to what I would have been thinking if I’d been forced to stand there. BMC’s Brent Boowalter tweeted – “Again our livelihood & hard work affected by incompetence of officials. Chief comm should be sent home NOW…”

I think the only upside for the call was that Hincapie Sportswear Development Team rider Robin Carpenter won. He wouldn’t have made it to the finish line first if the debacle wouldn’t have occurred. But, I was happy to seen him get rewarded for aggressive riding. That small upside doesn’t make up for all the problems this horrible decision caused.

Yesterday wasn’t an epic day. It was a dry, 90 something mile road race, with 20 something minutes of rain, that caused some road spray. Our sport isn’t an objective sport. Normally, the officials don’t dicate the flow. More and more now, it seems, the officials overstep their boundaries and make the racing pointless.

Andy starting the climb early.  Think these conditions are worse than yesterday's in Colorado?

Andy starting the climb early. Think these conditions are worse than yesterday’s in Colorado?

How about now?  They didn't call that race.

How about now? They didn’t call that race.

33 thoughts on “Neutralizing Yesterday’s Pro Challenge Stage was Bullshit

  1. Wildcat

    I am in no way going to defend any particular call made by officials, however – I do want to say that it is tough as shit to be a cycling official. Of course, when everything goes right – it’s easy, but otherwise – tough as shit. I bet you would be the worlds best cycling official, maybe you should give it a try!

  2. Skippy

    The officials sitting in their warm vehicles , obviously did not think of the racers left to suffer exposure , perhaps even hypothermia ! Even one minute wsould have been too much for some of the Racers , let alone 6+ minutes of teeth rattling and severe doses of the shakes !

    Next time there is a thought to pull this stunt , make sure that the ” Official Vehicles ” are carrying 200+ Thermal blankets ! I carry several with me , year round , fortunately only used once to help a Traffic Violence Victim . And yes they go with me when i am Skiing .

  3. gerrycurl

    The riders are already wet. Blankets won’t help. Best thing to do is get them to the finish faster.

  4. Skippy

    Thermal Blankets are that tin foil item that , mothers use to cook the turkey ! Very simple & lightweight to carry in a Cycling Shirt back pocket !

  5. H Luce

    Wet and cold is one thing, but you said it was a thunderstorm, which means lightning. And lightning can strike and kill people, including cyclists. A half-sentient attorney could probably convince any jury that race organizers were being grossly negligent in allowing a race to continue in a lightning storm – and award millions of dollars in actual and punitive damages to the rider(s) families – and once the insurance payout was exhausted, the individuals would be exposed to liability – not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees and expert witness costs, and the stress of continuing legal proceedings. Just wait until you’re on the organizing committee for a race – and someone dies on a descent – and you and your club get sued for $5 million, which is $3 million more than the insurance would cover. Luckily for us, the coroner ruled that the rider had suffered a major heart attack and died before he hit the straw bales on the tree and broke his neck… but I’ll *never* be part of organizing another race ever again.

  6. gerrycurl

    And once you stop the race in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of a thunderstorm, where do you put 180 soaked cyclists to keep them safe from the lightning?

  7. Bolas Azules

    So the guy who wants to turn road ‘racing’ into a nice gentleman’s / t.t. / triathlon / two feet between riders / no touching kind of ‘racing’ now what’s to open it up and let riders fight for themselves and cope with adverse conditions??? This is confusing. Either Man-up or put the skirt on, but you can’t do both – well maybe it works in Key West.

    Truth be told, the ’88 Giro probably has a lot to do with the officials decisions these days and the continued ‘pussification’ of road cycling.

  8. channel_zero

    It’s a different sport now Steve. Most events are shorter with a few exceptions. Along with that came quite a few things done in the name of enhancing the safety of riders. Funny how most of them enhance the television viewing.

    It’s a tough call. Do it right and there’s not much controversy. Do it wrong and the controversy lingers.

    At least give them some credit for adding a dirt road to a shortened race. And no, they can’t change the time. It’s scheduled for ideal worldwide viewing.

  9. Ron

    It’s a fucking bike race! Ride through whatever the fuck comes your way! The first fucker to cross the line wins the motherfucker! Road racing is filled with so many “male” BITCHES that I have about decided it is one of the lamest sports out there! Or maybe it just has some of the lamest competitors of any sport “is more like it”. All of the elbowing, head butting BS is just another form of these bitches throwing a tantrum because things aren’t working out the way they hoped. Fucking “man-up” roadies!

  10. euro

    I still am bothered every time a Hincapie devo rider wins anything. They are sponsored not only by Big George, but by Holowesko Partners, a former partner of USPS Pro cycling, as well as Carmichael Training Systems, who we all know was connected to the king of dopers for years. It is only a matter of time before the Hincapie team will be outed for doping.

  11. channel_zero

    Wow. I can’t believe your comment got a negative vote. That’s why it is *iincredibly* difficult to clean up the sport. People are perfectly willing to let cheats operate in the sport.

  12. Bill V.

    Don’t kid yourself about the Hincappie team. It’s another bush-league squad that you’d better bring some sponsorship dollars to if you want to make it on the roster. Pay to play.

  13. Ted

    Awesome comment Ron. It’s about time someone tells it like it is. They are SUCH bitches but they’re comfortable in amongst their piers. Let them try that shit in the real world and there would be some smacked up bitches. They’re far too chicken shit to ever try anything like that thou. They know who they are and don’t dare act up away from a bunch of other cycling pussies. One of my favorites was Bradley (Dickehead) Wiggins ranting about some stupid shit after a stage of the tour. Cadel is right there with him too. Remember the time he almost shit himself after a stage in the tour because someone touched him. His rant was comical, he sounded like a little bitch, and looked even worse.

    Anyway this post was a nice switch from the usual “The pain I’m in from crashing bicycles over the decades, and what I’m doing to deal with it”. Yawn

  14. Robin Carpenter

    Steve, say what you want about the restart, fair is fair. the time gap was the same before and after the restart.

    As for those of you making various insinuations, you can shove it. The team is full of riders who know how to actually race their bikes and win.

  15. Ducky

    Very well done yesterday Robin. Obviously there are a great many bitter men commenting on this site. I dont like the dopers, and I am not stoked that your team has some big sponsors with a dirty legacy. But I am happy to see you young men get a chance to make a living at a sport we all love, and that simply does not attract very many sponsorship dollars. Here in the states oursport is very much analogous to golf, where a very few spend an awful lot on equipment, and thus put the sport out of reach for the most of the general public. That really sucks, because everyone should have a chance to ride and race a bike.

  16. H Luce

    Cars… vans … support vehicles … think of something quick. It’s a bad situation all the way around, sometimes there are no good answers.

  17. Doubting Thomas

    Me thinks Robin does protest too much… As for his performance, well, he all by his lonesome held off a charging pack of who’s who among “former” dopers, that by itself is just not normal. Unless of course you guys all think TJ/TD et al are all on bread and water. No test for blood doping, no test for xenon, no test for HGH…

  18. The Padre

    So I am not speaking for the racers, not sure who is the official, just throwing this out there as a witness. The dirt road know as Kebler Pass, not Keybler the cookie, was closed at 5am. I know this because I was turned away at 5:07am!! I was in route to Crested Butte but NOOOOO. Don’t get me wrong, I was bitter at first, the day turned out to be awesome from McClure Pass. Not the police, but the forest service folks basically shut down McClure by 9am and the whole afternoon club riders, amateurs, and so many old folks road up McClure all day taking advantage of the pass being closed. So YES, the race could have started earlier. Now here is my simple point to the stoppage of the race that bothers me……. The officials stopped the race and told the “leader” that we would be given a 45ish second head start, but what they completely failed at was calculating the charge of the first group chasers. Them boys were hammering from a 1:15 gap down to a “45 ” second gap in less than a mile. So how can you restart a race without taking in to consideration of momentum or pace???? Maybe the officials watched too much World Cup in Brazil and just made a horrible phantom call. On A Side Note: The NBC SPORTS coverage absolutely blows!!! Everyday they cut the first 40ish miles from the race. The KOM basically gets no respect. Steve, thanx for posting the photos from way back when.

  19. Sam

    Wow, thanks for the buzzkill, dude. Nobody died. It got cold for a while. Cold and wet. It’s August in the Colorado Rockies. Everyone knows what the weather is like because it’s the same just about every day. By stopping the riders at the bottom of the descent, the official storm troopers stopped them when they were at the coldest and wettest point of the race. It was the worst possible place to stop. At that point, the only chance the riders had to keep their bodies warm was riding hard and not stopping. It’s a bike race. It’s supposed to test you. That’s part of the challenge. I agree with Tilford.

    I don’t think I want to go to any parties where you hang out. What, are you Levi and Lance’s lawyer?

  20. Sam

    Have to agree with the comments regarding the Hincrappie Development Team. I don’t like hearing his name over and over and especially not coming out of Vandevelde’s mouth. Was a good ride by Carpenter, but Hincrappie and his crony sponsors can take a hike. Would you want your kid on that team?

    But wait, there’s more! Friday, on that same bat channel there will be a full feature on Georgie “The Loyal (insert your own derogatory name here)”. Proof yet again that doping does pay. Pays pretty well from what I can see. Makes me wanna puke. Sam out.

  21. Steve Tilford Post author

    Robin-I agree that you didn’t have anything to do with the situation.

    But, let’s not mix up what was going on during the race at the time. Before the restart your time gap was dropping like a rock. After, it went up 30 seconds, before it starting falling again. Again, nothing to do with you. You won, that is the result.

    I think you rode a great race and am super happy for you that it worked out as it did.

    And, I agree with your last bit. I think you guys ride super aggressive and proactive. Fuck the insinuations, that is just part of the sport nowadays, just do what you guys are doing and it will all take care of itself.

  22. Bolas Azules

    So Steve which camp are you now camping in? – “Man-up Camp” or “Camp Put the Skirt On”?????

  23. Big George

    Easy my young Chiclet. I have taught you and all my other recruits to say nothing to incriminate yourselves, to say what a great influence I am, and to say you are part of the next generation of clean riders, all while training with me, a convicted doper and lifelong friend of a certain LA. I know this is confusing, but just play along and you too can have a long and rich yet meaningless career filled with hollow victories and fast cars.

  24. Dog

    They didn’t keep the chase group separate from the peloton and maintain THEIR time gap. Do you really think you’d have beaten them? I’m sorry that your win has been tainted in this manner. If anyone should be pissed, it’s you.


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