The Centenary Giro d'Italia has been a fine bike race so far, and promises to continue in this vein, but it has been hard for the race to attract attention, when so much of the media's fascination centers instead on the Giro's newest gift to cycling. I am speaking, of course, of Girbecco. His cRaZy eyes, the socks on his horns, his generally charismatic wit, the way he glides easily among the riders, glitterati and media... it's been utterly fascinating. La Stampa and the Corriere Dello Sport have been running competing daily features about his connections to various podium ladies. Children along the Giro route scream for Girbecco dolls. People from DSs to bookmakers seek him out for his daily, unvarnished predictions and assessments. It's a phenomenon not seen in sports since Peter Puck.
All of this has presented the Amaury Sports Organization with a crucial challenge -- can the Tour design a similarly awesome mascot and in the process save its increasingly precarious position as Cycling's main event?
In fairness, I don't think everyone should be held to the Girbecco Standard, particularly on only a few months' notice. OK, Girbecco was introduced to the media in December, but he didn't really have a coming out party until Venice. Still, the longer the Tour goes without a mascot, the harder it will be for them to carry on and continue to dodge the issue.
Well, we fans do love us some Tour, notwithstanding the slave-like devotion to the Giro that I insist on as a precursor to site registration (you did read the fine print, no?). And we do have the right outlook and creative impulses collectively to help solve the problem. So I challenge you, the Podium Cafe, to ... design a mascot for the Tour!
I'll start. Am thinking of a smiling, yellow marmot who goes around accusing the foreign teams of cheating. Top that! Oh, and we need not only a critter... we need an outfit, outlook, and a catch-phrase or two. If we get several strong entries, which I expect, then we'll put it to a vote. And send the information along to ASO.