Mark Cavendish shot his mouth off again, dissing and down-playing, retaliating and claiming innocence, joking and jabbing. Hey, he’s a funny, wise-ass guy and about 100 times more quotable than that nice guy George Hincapie.
While HTC-Columbia manager Bob Stapleton said he wishes Cavendish and Andre Greipel would stop their childish sniping, that’s not going to happen and the reason as always in money, massive piles of cash.
The sport is funded by business sponsors who like a return on investment and when Cavendish wins, sponsors are happy. When Cavendish makes obnoxious statements, slags other riders and showcases his wacky victory salutes, it’s more publicity. Sponsors happy again.
It’s the rule in every sport worldwide: as long as you’re winning and sponsors are thrilled, you can act like a bozo, cheat on your wife, do heroin in back alleys, dump on competitors and generate as much press — positive or negative — as you like. Aside from blatant racial remarks or satanic devil worship, star athletes do whatever they please. Good copy is money in the bank.
Dead humorist Oscar Wilde figured out marketing a long time ago when he said “the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.” Cavendish is a publicity machine, he generates impressions, he draws crowds, he’s a social media gold mine, he’s viral. That’s pure love for sponsors with a product to sell.
While he might be the second fastest sprinter in the world, Andre Greipel is not selling the goods. He doesn’t understand the higher purpose of his calling. He’s just another guy with massive thighs who pedals fast. Which is why he will never be a superstar like Cavendish or Lance Armstrong.
Those guys know that part of the superstar tag is a super next sales quarter for Columbia sportswear, HTC cell phones, Radio Shack gizmos or Nike, Oakley, Powerbar — name your sponsor. They write the big checks and they damn well expect some serious ROI or they pull the plug. Being on form means you’re ready to win races and sell stuff.
Mark Cavendish is the fastest sprinter and the quickest mouth in the sport. Cha-ching-cha-ching.