Tour of Beijing. Political pawn once again.
Chinese race organizers in Beijing must be wondering what’s wrong with pro cycling.
For the second year in a row, the Tour of Beijing has turned into a political football between the UCI and at least one ProTeam. Must be a new form of Chinese torture.
Last season, teams threatened to boycott the race in protest of the UCI’s radio ban. They sent a letter to UCI president Patrick McQuaid informing him that they didn’t plan on showing up. A last minute deal was brokered when the governing body of the sport agreed to postpone full implementation of the ban until the end of 2012.
Today, Saxo Bank-Tinkoff team owner Bjarne Riis informed the world that he had no intention of having Vuelta a Espana winner Alberto Contador ride the Tour of Beijing unless his race points counted toward the team total.
“It makes no sense that Alberto Contador promote their race, if we do not get anything back. He will be a huge name over there, and he cannot even score some points. It makes no sense. And why should he go there? I cannot see why,” said Riis to Sporken.dk.
The Chinese officials have to be shaking their heads and thinking “Wow, we thought Chairman Mao was crazy but this guy Emperor McQuaid sure has a lot of people mad at him.”
The Tour of Beijing is the centerpiece of the UCI’s efforts at globalizing the sport of pro cycling. It’s also a race that they themselves have gone to great lengths to promote. So if you want to hold a race hostage to make a point to the UCI, then Beijing is the ideal candidate.
Riis plans to challenge the UCI’s ruling that Contador’s points will not count for the team for the 2012 and 2013 season. In other words, no trip to China. (Maybe Contador would also like to avoid another clenbuterol positive. The kung pao chicken might be even more dangerous than a Spanish steak.)
In any case, the Tour of Beijing is once again a pawn in the power struggle between McQuaid and pro cycling teams. As if the UCI didn’t have enough problems managing their alleged complicity in the Armstrong doping affair.
Oh well, maybe Andy Schleck and his almost fixed pelvis can make the trip.