This is not meant to be an attack against the media. For me, talking to the media is part of the job and most of the times, it's a good part. I admit that sometimes it's the last thing I want to do. Some days I'm just tired and wanting 10 minutes for myself, but I recognize that the majority of the media, whether it be print, online, video or radio, simply just want to tell the story to you, inform you what's going on at the race, behind-the-scenes or in our heads. I truly believe they're a vital component for the growth of our sport. But in the same respect, the media, like everyone else, need to be accountable for their actions. And thanks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs, there are additional ways for me to connect with you, and you to directly connect with me, other fans and the media.
Over the last few months, I've really seen the power that the fans hold. One clear example - Over $135,000 raised for LIVESTRONG and World Bicycle Relief thanks to people spreading The Fat Cyclist's message. And then last week, we saw a great uprising in the cycling community, which led to Lance going on the radio and making a statement on behalf of all the cyclists throughout the world. I think Lance, like the rest of us, was informed of Tony Kornheiser's comments on twitter. In a matter of minutes, a virtual public gathering was formed on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums. People from different countries who didn't even know each other were banding together (not to mention, many of us didn't even know who Tony Kornheiser was, myself included) - all for the love of the bike. It was pretty cool to see the comments on my Facebook page and how people were providing addresses and phone numbers to Tony's show. Someone even wrote that ESPN eventually pulled that segment from the online radio list. I think that's pretty amazing how it all happened and culminated with cycling's ambassador going on and giving Tony (and other listeners) a little educational session. I don't know Tony, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he's sorry. I hope that the sorry is not "sorry" for being caught by cycling fans worldwide, but a genuine "sorry" that what he said was just plain wrong and that his comments had absolutely no regard for another human life. But in the end, we need more than "sorrys" - we need attitude and behavioral changes. If Tony and other listeners are now more mindful, careful and respectful of cyclists on the road, then I'll say that's a victory for us!
But there's one thing that I can guarantee Tony and many others have learned. He's accountable for every word he says. This is a good thing. The media can no longer blindly create news or make irrational comments without repercussions. You, me, we all now have a public forum to respond. And that forum, as we've seen in the past, is pretty powerful. I bet Tony had no clue how loud our voice was!
Last night, as I do every night, I was checking the cycling news. Like many of you, I have my daily websites. It's always interesting to see how different countries cover the sport. I came across an interesting title last night on CyclingNews.com - "RadioShack not invited to 2010 Giro d'Italia." Here's a very popular cycling website, which I'm sure many of you have visited in the past. Overall I think they do a nice job of compiling the news, but then again, if the news isn't accurate it probably defeats the point. To accurately clarify the situation - Yes, we won't be participating in the Giro, but the truth is that we communicated this to the Giro organizers, RCS. I like the Giro, I think it's a great race, but to be quite honest, we are putting all our focus on the Amgen Tour of California and don't have objectives for the Giro. Now you may be saying, "Wouldn't you rather win a Grand Tour compared to a week long stage race in the USA?" Fair question, but California holds a lot more value to us than the Giro. With our main sponsor RadioShack, as well as our other partners (Nissan, Trek, SRAM, Nike, Giro, etc) having a strong US connection, California automatically becomes more important to our partners and therefore the team. Not to mention we are registered as an American team, so it's important to our ownership group as well. Of course, you also have to factor in that we have the three-time Amgen Tour of California champion and I think it's fair to say that every cyclist and team want to be in the best possible position to defend that title. I've always believed that to enter a race there needs to be objectives - for both the overall team and individuals. Now we may not always achieve those objectives, but we're not just going to enter races to enter races. I communicated this a number of months ago to RCS. Simply that this year's Giro did not fit within the team's objectives and plans. If anything, I think this showed respect to RCS and the Giro in that they could put in a team that had specific race objectives. But RCS did not like this news and instead decided that Team RadioShack would not be invited to Tirreno-Adriatico. Hopefully we will not be "punished" for future RCS races. They have a great organization and we enjoy participating in many of the races they put on. So that's a little clarification on the situation and I hope that Cyclingnews and other publications do a better job in reporting the news. Like I said earlier, this isn't necessarily an attack on the media, but more of reminder that accuracy is key and everyone is held accountable.
A deeper issue still remains on our sport's organization and lack of power within the teams and riders. But that's a blog (or maybe a book) for another day. It's something I'm passionate about it and hopefully I can be involved in the reforms that our sport needs.
A busy, but exciting week lies ahead! I know everyone is looking forward to the Critérium International and seeing Lance and Alberto race together for the first time this year. I wouldn't necessarily call it a preview to July because Lance isn't at his peak form, but for sure the fans will be excited to see those two on the same roads! Don't forget there's some great racing going on in Spain with the Volta Ciclista a Cataluna and in Belgium with the GP Waregem, E3 Prijs Vlaanderen Harelbeke. Then we have Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday as we build up to the following week's Tour of Flanders. We'll be missing Gert Steegmans, but hopefully our other Classics specialists will rise to the challenge!
Hope to see you out at the races.
Thanks for checking in.