First the eclipse happened here in the United States. Things got dark in the middle of the day, animals freaked out, the atmosphere was otherworldly, the moon blocked out the sun.
Then, came the news that former UCI president Patrick McQuaid, he of the last Dark Age of Cycling, may be returning as honorary president if David Lappartient wins the election has head of the governing body of the sport. In a word, yikes.
First, Lappartient has to beat out the low-energy, low-results Brian Cookson in the vote happening in a week. By the look of things and the size of the rumors and the increasing ugliness of the campaign, it’s going to be another backroom, bought-votes extravaganza.
We thought the world of pro cycling was done with the bombastic McQuaid, who many experienced observers called corrupt, cynical and dishonest. He was part of the larger dark cloud created in the Armstrong years. Lance was stripped, his seven Tour de France titles wiped out, and his ban was for a lifetime.
McQuaid, however, may be crawling back.
That may be the case if, as Cookson has claimed, the Frenchman Lappartient has indeed made a promise or two to McQuaid in return for a few yes votes in his favor. Who knows — we’re not experts on the arcane and byzantine inner workings of the UCI. It’s a messed up organization that can’t seem to pull itself out of the morass.
However, we’re running with the idea that McQuaid is on his merry way back to the UCI. Why stop there, folks? How about bringing back the whole crew and we can go back in time, turn the sky black again and relieve the glorious age of needles, EPO and blood bags in Spanish freezers?
Hell yeah, let’s bring back team managers Manolo Saiz, Johan Bruyneel and Bjarne Riis! Let’s throw a party, break out the champagne, the clock has turned backwards, the hell with clean cycling.
How about absolving Riccardo Ricco? Let’s get him on the juice again. Let’s rock these hors categories climbs like they were cat 1 molehills. Let’s get back to cycling “a deux vitesses.” Let’s crack open those Chinese pharmacies and have some fun.
Hey, Michelle Ferrari, welcome back, Dr Evil. No need to hide in the shadows, with McQuaid back in town, you can get back to work. Dig out the secret notebooks and codes, dust off the old centrifuge, make some new client phone calls.
If there was ever a truism about this weird niche sport called pro cycling, it’s “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” The more things change, the more they say the same.
Let me jump to the head of the line of grifters and say “Welcome back, dark lord.”