Cycling & Collusion
Summit on the Road
5“Levi was awesome. If he wasn’t working for George today I think he would have ridden away from everybody! He was incredible.” Chris Wherry, American Pro, describes two riders working together from separate teams (at the time)
Levi rode like two men – the champion he is and the worker he can be – to assist George Hincapie for the win in his hometown at the first exclusively American U.S. Pro Championship. This version of cycling’s cooperative summits issued a treaty with stiff terms – national championship in exchange for next year’s teamwork since both riders signed with the same squad the following year. Both riders benefited by the agreement; non-signing participants got whammed. Is it foul or is it fair play in a sport that requires rolling alliances and pre-planned strategies? In this case, cooperation was blatant and no one was trying to hide it; probably either would have won on this day anyway. It was just a gracious favor with future business implications.
However, some events seem clearly scripted from the beginning with riders from opposing teams even on the same radio frequency or using the same team support. Caravan rules in fact state that a director can transmit information to riders from other teams but cannot also provide mechanical support to those riders. One way to anticipate an attack or to know if a chase will form is to notice if team cars pull beside each other in a caravan so directors can discuss tactics against other teams. Race winners of certain exhibition races are decided by committee pre-race. Other forms of collusion exist in cycling that are perhaps not as harmless. Examples include: scripted events that deceive the public as spontaneous acts; and payoffs as in the case of a sponsor’s bonus offered to a series winner being distributed to all cooperative teams. Fortunately, riders’ egos and sense of honor don’t allow this as a constant practice. Winners cannot be bought in the long-run and eventually cheaters turn on one another.
Prayer re: Collusion
“For God can’t stand evil scheming, but he puts words of grace and beauty on display.” 6Proverbs 15:26
We like the alliances that form on the road and celebrate this as part of cycling’s esprit d’corps. We pray for blameless racing and fair strategic practices.
Ponder What’s my stance on unethical cooperation? Affirm I don’t scheme against the rules. Watch wicked plans bring disgrace on perpetrators and grace overcome all.
5“USPRO’06 RR: Easy As Pie For Hincapie,” by Jered Gruber posted September 03, 2006 www.pezcyclingnews.com
6The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson