The Tour de France: Gladiators, fatcats and suckers

Pont Aven July 1st 2013

The great annual circus of The Tour de France started on Saturday in Corsica.
Like every year since 1903 , this 100 th edition will be followed with passion and enthusiasm by millions of people along the roads as well as behind  TV screens. Despite the revelations on doping, which started in 1998 with the Festina affair, when the police cracked down on this team and founded tons of evidences of their EPO and blood transfusion scam. Despite the shameful 7 victories of Armstrong, won thanks to a sophisticated systematic doping system, bullying of other competitors and bribery of the officials of UCI. Despite several books, interviews, police inquieries, leaving no doubt that cheating has been at the heart of this sport since always.
So why do people continue fervently huddling along the roads of France and behind their TV screens?
Because the cocktail pleases everyone: the ingredients? fat cats, gladiators and suckers,

Fat cats: the Tour de France is a huge business, dominated by a private company ASO. Hundreds of people live on that event. The amount of money paid by cities to have the Tour stop by is huge. Tv networks, newspapers, advertising agencies, team sponsors, are pouring money in the event
The Tour is a commercial  circus , and too many people have a vested interest in it’s appearance of a fair and loyal compettion to keep the suspense until the end. Sadly, the winner of the stage is most of the time designated in advance by the fat cats on purely financial motivations.


Gladiators: just like in the Roman times, when gladiators killed each other to entertain fat cats and the public, professionnal riders are puppets in the hands of the organisations. Corruption was omnipresent in the gladiator games and has always been in the Tour: teams or riders buy their victory and rigg the competition.Every competitor plays a role assigned by the business bosses.

Suckers: public sees nothing and knows nothing of the murky business negociated in the backstage, the arrangments, the deals, the corruption. Public believes it is a fair competition between true champions fighting at arm´s length. But it is a scam from start to end. But the man in the street continues, despite all the scandals and revelations of the recnt years, to follow the event  with passion. Damned fools!

Nothing new under the sun: cycling is no more corrupted than soccer, basket ball, boxing and every other sport. Big business calls the shots.
From a perspective of an amateur rider, loving biking for itself , having no challenge, no money to win, no misplaced pride to boost, how sad and futile is this annual circus!
Remains the beauty of France’s backroads. They belong to all of us, and we don’t need the circus to enjoy them!

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