Saturday, August 06, 2005

Advice From "The Professor"

courtesy L'Equipe

Laurent Fignon, the second-to-last French-born Tour de France champion (Bernard Hinault was the last), has recently spoken out about the sorry state of French cycling.

"The level of international cycling is increasing, whereas ours is getting lower and lower. The gap between our cycling and the other's will continue to grow. If this trend continues, there won't be French teams on the Tour de France any more. That's mind-blowing for one of the founding countries of the sport."

Fignon is right. French cycling sucks. With the exception of Christophe Moreau and whichever rider wins the draw to finish first on Bastille Day every year during the Tour, great French cyclists are few and far between. Only Laurent Jalabert in recent years has even approached the level of Fignon and Hinault. Richard Virenque is a walking joke, having been caught in the 1998 Festina doping affair, then lying about it, then admitting to it. The French may love him, but the rest of the cycling world has zero respect for his antics and his arrogance. Other than those guys, the only French rider of note is Laurent Brochard, and that's only because he has the worst hair EVER.

So, the French have to do two things: restructure their cycling establishment to promote team cooperation and individual winning, and find cyclists with some other name than Laurent.