With a few exceptions, I don’t watch bike races online. Though we live in a time of unprecedented access to sporting events, sitting in front of my computer at 8 in the morning and not getting paid for it ranks low on my list of priorities. I’m the exception here at Velogear. Most everybody else is all over this stuff.
Don’t get me wrong — I love racing. And for the big races, I’ll watch. It’s no coincidence that the big races are also the ones that actually look good online. NBC Sports’ Tour de France coverage was worth every penny last year. And I’ve generally found that the Tour of Flanders and the Giro d’Italia look good, too.
Everything else? Grainy footage yanked from some Eurosport feed and passed through a Ukrainian television transmitter. Sound cuts out, picture cuts out and — sometimes — the feed just disappears.
Besides, I don’t have to actually watch the races to see what’s going on — I have Twitter. If you follow the right people, none of whom are Taylor Phinney, you can keep an eye on the race without having to babysit a shoddy feed.
Take Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, for example. At 290 kilometers, it’s the longest of the “monument” classics. It’s also known as the “sprinters’ classic,” since it’s not the hills themselves that are difficult, so much as their placement in the race.
Milan-San Remo’s other alternate name is “The Most Boring Race in the World — Even Worse Than Paris-Roubaix.” It’s mile after mile of nothing, for hours and hours. Then, with 25K left, something finally happens.
And that 25K might be great, but it doesn’t make up for the previous 265.
So no, I didn’t watch Milan-San Remo this year. I did notice a number of gleeful “Mark Cavendish is getting dropped” tweets. For a guy who won it in 2009 and has shown good form this year, he did not have a good day.
But what I don’t get is the Cavendish hate. Is it because he’s the undisputed sprint king of his generation? Is it because he talks a lot? Is it because he’s a sprinter?
To cycling fans, the exploits of the classics hardman — Fabian Cancellara, let’s say — are far more honorable than those of sprinters like Cavendish. I get that — dropping the bunch with 30K left builds far more drama than dropping them with 30 meters left.
But it’s not like Cavendish is popping off and coming in second or third. It’s not like he’s Tyler Farrar. No, Cavendish is winning. If you’re going to chirp, at least be a winner.
Is it his perception as a whiner? Please. Half of Team BMC has been portrayed as whiners, and they’re somehow being showered with love.
Thor Hushovd? Complained about his team pretty much all last year. George Hincapie? Remember his 2010 Tour de France hissyfit? Cadel Evans? Until recently, a nutter.
All of those guys have whined and gotten away with it. So why not the guy who wins more than all of them?
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