Following Blognor Regis’s coverage of the Hollywood-style comeback of Floyd Landis in the Tour, I did a Google News search for the latest and I found this real story from the online version of The Gainsville Sun:
LACK OF LANCE HURTS AREA INTEREST
By Elizabeth Hillaker
Special to the Sun
July 21. 2006 6:01AM
As the Tour de France nears what is expected to be an exciting conclusion this weekend, interest in the race appears to be mixed in the Gainesville area, where cycling is one of the more popular recreational activities.
“I think with not having Lance Armstrong in it this year, people really don’t care,” said Jeremey Bingham, a manager at Spin Cycle Outdoor Center on University Avenue, referring to the seven-time champion who retired after last year’s Tour de France.
But many members of the Gainesville Cycling Club have followed the tour with an intensity that rivals football or basketball, according to Bob Newman, president of the club.
Newman concedes that the tour in the post-Armstrong era may not capture the fancy of all area cyclists.
“Just as not all Gainesvillians are (University of Florida) Gator zealots, not all cyclists are interested in the tour,” he said.
Bingham said the key to building that interest back up will be success from another American rider.
“An American needs to win again,” he said.
Floyd Landis appears to be America’s best hope as the tour winds down.
“Landis is really the strongest American rider,” Bingham said. “He’s a name to look at.”
He even has an Armstrong-like medical problem he has had to battle.
Landis has a degenerative bone condition called osteonecrosis or bone death caused by lack of blood circulation. He first damaged his hip in a biking accident in 2003 and will require a hip replacement after the tour. While cycling isn’t a high impact sport, the pain is chronic.
“I think it’s impressive,” Bingham said of Landis’ performance under pain and pressure.
Looks like the work of “World Ceres“…
It’s interesting what you find when you google your own name; I’m not sure who may read this in the future, but I would like to clarify a few things. As it happens, I gave that quote after being asked how the Tour was affecting business, not what my personal feelings about it were. Furthermore, I gave it about two weeks before the story was printed, back when Floyd Landis was a name known only to cycling geeks, and well before his (apparently steroid-fueled) comeback in the final stages of Le Tour led to the current disgraceful situation. In retrospect, it is kind of ironic, as Landis certainly ended up generating plenty of interest in cycling in America, albeit not the kind of interest Tour organizers wanted. Let’s face it, as nationalistic as the directors of the Tour de France are, they realize that the bottom line rules all, and the quickest way to make a buck is with advertising revenue from American television. Cycling enthusiasts will continue to watch it regardless, but that’s a captive audience, and the whole point (for advertisers, and people running cycling shops) is to attract new eyes and ears. I will continue to pay attention to cycling, just as I follow a bit of football (real football, not American, though I watch that, too) and various other international sports, and I’ve already made my plans to attend the Olympics in 2012 with friends from London, but I have my doubts about the rest of America. They seem to prefer their races fueled by 101 octane gas, constantly turning left, and covered in promotional graphics, with the occasional spectacular crash. Hey, now that I think about it, replace “gas” with “performance enhancing drugs,” and throw in a couple right turns, and it starts to sound like cycling again, doesn’t it? Now that Landis has sealed his own fate, people on this side of the pond have tuned out, as we prefer to pretend like our disgraced athletes don’t exist (a la Barry Bonds, who’s about to break one of the most important records in baseball, but with little of the fanfare he would have if it weren’t so obvious he’s been juicing his whole career) At the risk of sounding like a stupid American, the Tour starts in about a week. I haven’t seen a single commercial for it yet, have you? Of course you have, you live in a sensible country. I applaud your observations, and just wanted you to know where I actually stand, when I’ve not been distorted and taken out of context by some reporter. Meet me in a pub in 2012; I’ll gladly buy you a round!