Trading Races is Fine, Actually

79th Paris - Nice 2021 - Stage 7

Photo by Bas Czerwinski/ Getty Images

A brief commotion was raised on Saturday as race master Primoz Roglic powered past Gino Mader to prevail stagecoach seven of Paris-Nice, his third victory of the week. Some tones in the boast, among them ex-pro and Eurosport commentator Brian Smith, agreed with Roglic’s no-gifts mentality, generating him ascribe for being the best man on the mountain and – not entirely unreasonably – expressing that Mader had been vanquished reasonably and has not been able expect any favours.

Mader did expect a promote. His disheartened expres and flapped entrust was suggestive of me as I cycle to work and get overtaken unsafely by an overeager Land Rover Discovery, rather than a professional who has lost fair-and-square, but I don’t think we can blame him for that. Chris Horner, winner of the 2013 Vuelta and YouTube race analyst, apparently, gave us the veteran’s point of view: no talents, but loans.

“I felt confident that I was on course to prevail the Tour of Lombardy for the third time in four years. Del Tongo were frantic to prevail. Baronchelli discontinued back alongside his crew gondola to talk to his directeur sportif and there were some discussions began[ sic] between our crew and his. Then I had a long chat with De Gribaldy. I want to get win the race but it was clear that Del Tongo were prepared to pay for some co-operation. The talks went on for about ten or 15 kilometres…I would have liked to win the Tour of Lombardy- and I felt that Da Silva and I were strong enough to get the job done- but the toll retained going up and in the end De Gribaldy determined the call…A week later, Da Silva mustered the currency and we shared it amongst the team…you’d be mistaken to think the result of the hasten was set. It wasn’t. The latter one of the purposes of any big motorcycle hasten, when everyone is tired or desperate, is like a game of poker. Everyone does whatever they can to utter the best of the pas they have.”

– Sean Kelly, Hunger

I think Kelly’s example is so interesting. Way more so than the more recent Vinokourov-Kolobnev debacle, if it went down as suspect. That one is way less grey-headed.

Flatly, Kelly and De Gribaldy sold a race. There were protracted dialogues, the result of which was that a scoot was sold. This isn’t immediately applicable to Roglic and Mader- the agreement would have been completely unspoken and I think we can all agree that wins-for-favours is more acceptable than wins-for-euros. The Kelly example serves to show that this sport is a little more complicated than the two hundred nerds trying to cross a white direction we’d like to pretend it is, and Horner’s testimony is enough to show that not everything has changed since Kelly’s day.

“Ugly winning in my journal. Not a good make. This is his third win at Paris-Nice, some people back this…guys, that’s not how it works in the professional peloton. You miss friends; bad things can happen to you at any moment.” – Chris Horner

What’s a theatre at Paris-Nice to Primoz Roglic? Well, it’s ten bonus seconds, plus the two he gained on Mader at the top of the soar, maybe that’s the most relevant thing. It’s a few quid for his crew mates and soigneurs, that’s nothing to turn up your nose at, those guys have greenbacks to pay. It’s fuel for the competitive flavor that has driven Roglic to the pinnacle of the play. All of those things are worth something, so what could Mader or his team commit Roglic? Help in the hills the next day? He travels for Bahrain and Roglic razzes for Jumbo, so it’s unlikely to be an immediate need. A rotation at an fortunate time? Maybe. He could find something to offer. There’s a rationale this is being talked about.

So where do I stand, you may ask? Well, I don’t , not on this. I think to tell Roglic what he should or shouldn’t have done in that situation is rather to miss the point, which is that he could have given that stagecoach to Mader. He knew that, and he have chosen not to. He knows the consequences for that decision, and in contemplation of them he chose to stand on the platform at Valdeblore La Colmiane yesterday. If, in July, he has a puncture and Damiano Caruso sits on his pedal as he winches his nature back into the peloton, he’ll know why.

Obviously, the more interesting issue is whether it’s okay that when we check a equestrian do what Roglic did, we think about all the little copes that have been performed in situations like that one and wonder if he “shouldve been” easy off in the name of friendship, as Horner might euphemistically situate it. I do have a stance on this one. You can’t eliminate that type of thing from this sport, so why waste time trying? That place win was worth so much more to Mader than it was Roglic, and neither side is exploited if Roglic chooses to use that fact to get something in the future. Mader comes his winning, Roglic utters some friends and everyone moves on. The intuition that this is all anti-competitive and that the best man should win all the time is a sensible one, but where the situation isn’t as dishonest as an experienced millionaire rider compensate a neo-pro not to sprint, I think it all comes down to intrigue. You may fairly say that the most entertaining product is one where everyone is trying their hardest to triumph, all the time. I must acknowledge that I prefer the product we currently have.

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