You’re French and you’re having a 100th birthday party, a pretty special and momentous occasion. So do you invite your close French friends or some folks from Germany or Switzerland who you don’t know near as well?
Tour de France boss Christian Prudehomme’s decision to select three French teams for his wildcards should come as no surprise. Not to NetApp or IAM cycling or anybody watching from the sidelines.
It’s their 100th birthday, mes amis. Of course they’re keeping it a French affair as well it should be. You can’t not have Cofidis and Sojasun at the party and Europcar with Thomas Voeckler and Pierre Rolland was always an automatic given.
Now, Prudehomme was quoted as saying it was an agonizing decision and tremendously difficult and he went through all kinds of existential trauma but no, not really.
It was a pain that he couldn’t invite NetApp or IAM and a pain that he had only three wildcard invites instead of four after the Katusha debacle but the final call was always going to be Francais.
Cofidis has been to just about every tour in their existence — you can’t celebrate without them no matter how lame and meager their results. In fact, TV shots of Cofidis riders in their red and white kit languishing at the back of the peloton is as much a given as helicopter views of the chateaux.
Meanwhile Sojasun is based in Brittany and stage ten of Le Tour is a Breton affair that runs from Saint-Gildas-des-Bois to the stunning pirate port of Saint-Malo. Ca va sans dire! We must always make room for les petits gamins to play on the roads of France.
In any other year, say the 99th or 101th edition of the Tour de France, Prudehomme might have dropped Cofidis or Sojasun in favor of a squad with more sporting upside like NetApp or IAM. But the big birthday bash is no time for excluding your own peeps.
Let’s not forget the evening fireworks display in Paris, the city of lights and lycra, to commemorate this once-in-our-lifetime event. So we say “allez Cofidis, allez Sojasun” and au revoir NetApp.