Tour of California and Armstrong fall-out.
In this case, the fallout from the Armstrong-Postal-Best-Illegal-Doping-Program-In-Sports really is fall-out. The town of Livermore, which played host to the Tour of California last year, decided to pull the plug on their bid.
A Dutch town announced the other day it wants out of the Vuelta a Espana; now Livermore decided to live without the Californian stage race. Livermore cites the terrible economy but the Lance debacle surely played a significant role. As in villain, shit mist, sports cancer.
Meanwhile the oil town of Bakersfield is also feeling “gun shy” according to the local paper. Bakersfield has hosted both road stages and a time trial but isn’t sure it wants to go forward for the next edition.
Twisted Spoke was in Bakersfield for this year’s time trial and it has to break records for ugliest bike race setting of all time. That is not exaggeration. Fly into Bako (as the residents call it) and the overhead view is endless scorched earth and hundreds of aging oil pumps sucking the last gallons out of the ground. It’s depressing on a number of levels — and it’s not surprising the town would have to raise a large sum of money to get anyone to show up for anything other than a gas tank refill.
That’s not a nasty assessment. Dave Zabriskie of Garmin-Sharp won the Bakersfield time trial and his style is to keep his head down as much as possible. Our theory is that it’s not only for the aerodynamic benefit but also he was hoping to see as little of Bakersfield as humanly possible. His blazing speed was just a sign that he wanted to exit really really fast.
The route planning for the Tour of California always requires a section through the central valley somewhere and when the far more picturesque wine and food town of Solvang decided last year that they didn’t have the money to throw the party, well, Bakersfield stepped up. The difference in scenery is staggering and if we were running the Tour of California, we’d steer far away from Bako.
We feel a little bad about saying that because we did find a killer bar restaurant in Bakersfield and enjoyed a strange but fascinating conversation with a man who sold medical marijuana. But one good bar doesn’t overcome the fact that Bakersfield is a kind of post-petroleum apocalypse landscape. The place is a sad museum display for the imminent death of fossil fuel. In short, we are praying Solvang has been putting major dollars in their TOC savings account.
The continual fall-out from the USADA “Reasoned Decision slash Legend Destruction” has been unexpected in many ways — or at least we didn’t fully process the ramifications. Sponsors at all levels are pulling out, plenty of organizations want their money back from Armstrong, Nike is taking his name off a building, USA Cycling is removing his name from a race series, a town in Australia wants their ceremonial key to the city back and a town in England just burned him in effigy. You just don’t know what crazy thing will happen next.
We half expect his home of Austin to throw Armstrong out soon or the town restaurants and bars to announce he is persona non grata. He may always get a warm hello at the Cache Cache in Aspen, Colorado but the welcome mat is shrinking fast. We weren’t joking much when we suggested a move to Spain, aka El Dopers Paradise, may be his best exit.
In any case, the fallout continues and the shock waves show no signs of losing force. The Tour of California now has a hole in the middle of their race thanks in part to Most De-tested Athlete in Sports.
The CEO of USADA, Travis Tygart, said the public release of the report would be “30 times worse” for Armstrong than anything he’d ever faced. It is more than 30 times worse for the sport and we still haven’t thrown UCI president Pat McQuaid out of office. We mourn for Livermore but we won’t miss Bakersfield.
The question is, will another city in California fall out citing the economic downturn and the detonation of the Lance Myth?