On Friday ASO announced that it would start the 2015 Tour de France in the Dutch city of Utrecht, a university hamlet south of Amsterdam with no connection whatsoever to cycling and no known fans of the men's peloton. It does offer loads of adorable vistas, with ancient buildings and stories to tell of Dutch artists, engineers, and other intellectuals from the famously sophisticated Renaissance era, when Utrecht was last considered relevant. It is also home to "cobbles," as the tidy, urban stones are known, along with far too much road furniture dedicated to the uncertain prospect of providing its citizens a safe place to ride their bikes, very slowly, and usually without helmets. Utrecht does offer certain advantages to the Tour, particularly as a jumping off point for riders to venture out into the countryside to be photographed alongside forests, windmills and cows. But other than that...
What? I can stop trolling tedvdw (@ednl)? Fine. But consider this...
- tedvdw swore a few years back that he wouldn't spend another dime on watching men's cycling until he's confident it's clean, to some standard or another.
- Since making this pledge, the Giro and Vuelta have both come directly to his house, practically knocking on his door to see if he wouldn't mind coming outside to watch a Grand Tour stage. OK, I exaggerate slightly; the 2009 Vuelta hosted a stage in Zutphen, about 40km east of Utrecht. However, the Giro d'Italia realized that tedvdw wasn't necessarily going to travel that far, so they finished stage 1 of the 2010 Corsa Rosa in Utrecht. Possibly in ted's driveway, although I think it might have been up the block.
- Having raised tedvdw's expectations, the Tour realized they could only get him to turn his head in their direction if they made a bigger splash. And so, unable to bring the mountain (Alpe d'Huez) to Muhammad (tedv... no), Le Tour realized that their only realistic chance to get his attention was the Grand Depart.
- In an unrelated development, I spent several hours shilling online for the Giro d'Italia to spend a day or two in Washington DC, or New Jersey, or wherever. All of the places mentioned in this time were a five hour flight from my home. But I was all in.
So this is the pathetic state of cycling. Where a single fan can wrap the entire apparatus around his finger by using the old reverse psychology ploy. Well that's fucking it then. I am selling everything I own related to professional cycling, right down to this laptop, and will not even use the word "cycling" until the Tour of Flanders includes the QueenAnneberg (trust me) in its lineup. And I'm being generous -- the Phinneyberg is closer to my home, but not as steep, so I'm willing to make certain concessions. Also, the press room will be at Brouwers. Until then, no dice.