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CPA Rift Forces The UCI’s Hand

With his unexpected comments this past weekend about the status of the CPA, and a shadowy global strategy to destabilize the UCI, David Lappartient may have ill-advisedly shifted rider frustrations away from the CPA and towards the UCI. Long-simmering tensions between the men’s WorldTour riders and its athlete association, the Cycliste Professionels Associes (CPA) have been heating up in recent weeks. An informal splinter group of riders, reportedly including some 350 members of the peloton, has been more aggressively questioning the CPA’s practices, its role and its actual value to the riders. They are pushing for a one-man, one-vote structure, rather than the current lopsided and biased system of national union voting blocs.  Because of concerns about the weakness and ineffectiveness of the current system, two national unions have previously withdrawn from the organization. The...

Retrospectives Podcast Episode 2: Catching Up With Chris Horner

In Episode 2 of our ongoing “Retrospectives” podcast, The Outer Line talks with long-time American racer,  Vuelta a Espana winner and current NBC Sports announcer Chris Horner, wherein he talks about his long career, shares details on his special race nutrition strategies and stakes his claim as the third best bike racer in American history. No U.S. professional road cyclist has had a career quite like Chris Horner. The San Diego native persevered through a 25-year-plus professional career to become the oldest athlete ever to win a Grand Tour, climbing his way to victory in the 2013 Vuelta a Espana at age 41. But for more than two decades, as he readily admits, he was an underdog – always fighting for a spot on a number of different American and European-based teams. His unique and unconventional style, which included an “All-American dietary secret” that helped him win the Vuelta, may...

The Tour That Almost Wasn’t

What could happen to team race strategies, or the overall outcome if one or more teams are expelled from the race?  The chaotic 1998 Tour provides some interesting lessons and insights. News circulating that four teams have returned at least one positive COVID-19 test in their respective “team bubbles” has put the on-going Tour de France on edge. The single case per team is below the two-cases-and-you’re-out mandate of the French Health Ministry, but another case in any of these teams would mean an immediate withdrawal from the race. And given the large crowds witnessed across many of the stages so far – some honoring mask-wearing and social distancing, but many others not even trying – there is the likelihood of more positive coronavirus tests and new outbreaks. ASO is predictably committed on the race finishing as scheduled despite the circumstances and increasing likelihood of teams...

The Devilish Task of Race Logistics – Then and Now

Professional road cycle racing is notoriously difficult and expensive to organize and stage on the open road. Over the past few years, extensive interviews with Mike Plant  (founder), Chris Aronholt and Jim Birrell (of Medalist Sports), Michele Acquarone (ex-RCS), and Michael Aisner (ex-Coors Classic) have highlighted the almost “ringmaster vs. the circus” nature of the managerial challenges to executing a top-flight bike race. There are so many examples of gaffes, some of them humorous and others dangerous, that it’s a small wonder riders and teams can still afford insurance, races can break even or make a profit, and that the sport has been able to survive. The risks are high, and in the current COVID-19 pandemic environment, the stakes are higher than ever before. Some of the most enduring – and endearing – examples of races not quite following the script...

How Cycling Can Avoid Sports-washing

Recently, The Outer Line examined the complex moral dilemmas cycling often faces in its sporting and business decisions, and waded into the difficult question of who should decide when something is right or wrong for the larger objectives of the sport. We specifically called out the investment and influence leveraged by several major corporations as well as certain Middle Eastern countries. The growing efforts of entities like these, utilizing cycling events or teams in one way or another to “whitewash,” or recast poor economic, environmental or human rights records in a more favorable light represents a universal concern for all sports. Human rights and sports have been deeply intertwined for decades. As we discussed in our earlier piece, sports were used by Nazi Germany to legitimize its emergence as a world power as early as 1936, and later by both Eastern Bloc and western countries...