Friday, June 30, 2006

Tour de France Ugliness

I could not believe my eyes this morning when I read this headline in the USA Today , "T-Mobile Suspends Ullrich for Tour". So I went to and the news got worse, "More riders suspended: Basso and Mancebo out"

In the last couple of years I have learned not to jump to conclusions regarding the athletes in these doping 'scandals' so I will not focus on that here. As a former event organizer and someone who is in the position to support and sponsor events I can say that the news could not be worse for tour organizers and sponsors the day before the big event.

I'm not particularly fond of the Tour organizer, especially after I read this comment about Lance Armstrong in the USAToday yesterday.

"For the riders of the Tour de France, the month of July 2006 should be something like the 14th of July was in 1789 for the prisoners of the Bastille: a time of newfound liberty ... after seven years of domination and sometimes oppression," race director Jean-Marie Leblanc says.

That pretty much says a lot for his character. However, there are more people than just him that are effected by today's news.

Organizers. Hundreds of organizers around the country and thousands of volunteers, I'm sure, will be in hectic, panic mode for weeks. This is a very, very dark day for all of them. Your biggest stars are OUT of your event. Possibly whole teams. This throws off your entire game-plan for three weeks. Think about that. They are normally in scramble mode for three weeks, but this will be like anything they have experienced before.

Sponsors. Wow. Entire marketing campaigns out the window. T-Mobile have placed much time, effort and money into their campaigns with Jan Ullrich, especially during the summer months, for years. I'm sure they had some great things planned for this July, too. As did his other sponsors and Basso's sponsors.

I'm not just talking advertising either. Sponsors will have made plans to fly in for portions of the race, some for the whole race. They will have set up receptions with athletes and customers, dinners and viewing spots. Yes, if you are a sponsor your customers will be effected by all of this, too. Some customers may have made their whole summer plans around a trip to Le Tour only to have their excitement dashed. There will be some backlash there, too.

Media. There are television stations and networks all around the world that have marketed this event for months and sold advertising dollars to companies that expect millions to be watching. Will they watch now? For those of you in the US - think about this. People have speculated that OLN might not cover Le Tour without Lance. They did this year. If viewership isn't up will they cut out their cycling coverage all together in '07?

The fans. Event organizers are now hoping that the race can be as popular without the marquee names this year to draw in the crowds. People plan their whole summer vacations around the Tour - traveling from stage to stage to cheer on their favorite rider. The disappointment will be monumental for them.

Well, folks, there is still one very good reason to watch the Tour DAY France in the States on OLN. Bob Roll. His partner, Jessi, says that he did get to France and is ready to go. It will be interesting to hear his take on all of this tomorrow.

This is truly a dark day in the sport of cycling. My heart goes out to all involved.

Just a yucky tidbit for today. Thanks for stopping by.


Bitch Kittie said...

Well, kids, this is huge. I just got off of my first phone call from Mr. Roll and was SCREAMING. This is ROCKING the cycling world right now. Apparently Ullrich is on a flight home already. This is huge. Realllllly huge. Bob and the Brits are also doing an additional unscheduled show tonight because of all this madness. Well. . . the Americans are clean. I guess it will be a race between GH and Floyd? Wow. Wow. Wow. I'm FLABBERGASTED.
Donna - really good point about the extent of who is affected by this. I'm definately sending this to Bob. People aren't prone to thinking of everyone involved. He may use it on the air???
What also sucks about this is that whoever wins is going to be stuck with the "Could he have done it with Basso and Ullrich in the race" looming over him. That's ridiculous.
ps. Bob sounds great and is doing well

Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Yes, this is deep doodoo. 98/Festina will seem like a freakin' holiday parade.

The industry, as I said to Donna, is also going to be hurt. I predict a slump in road bike sales this summer. I hope I'm wrong, but I wasn't in '98 when it happened.

BK; when do we kiss and make out... I mean make up?

I'm beginning to think we might see an all American podium in three weeks with Landis, Leipheimer and Hincapie all on the podium- doesn't matter what order.

I'm scared... hold me BK...

(Donna is a vegetarian? Wow... that's almost as big news.)

Bitch Kittie said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. My cell phone is on fire today. I've got Sherwen swearing on the text messages, all my cronies are out of their minds. .. wow. . . there it goes again!
I don't know about Leipheimer, honestly. I will tell you the truth, I've done a lot of research, but every fan knows that it comes down to the day by day. You never know what's going to happen.
Tim, you are a silly boy. :) No body shots.
So, Donna. Will you still be my friend if I say that I'm making the most lucious filet mignon encrusted with parmesan on the grill for dinner tonight? (Yes, TJMG - for the ex). I hope we can work through this and I make a mean alfredo.

Fritz said...

Unbelievable news. I think Cycloblog does okay trying to put things in persepective, though.

Donna, your points about media and marketing reminds me of what happened to the "Wired to Win" IMAX movie. They shot hours of footage of Tyler Hamilton to use, but then the dope allegations and suspensions came about from him and the producers ended up redoing almost the entire film.

Reva said...


I'll make out with you for some of that filet!! And what do you mean "no body shots"?? You don't know what you're missing!!!

I can't believe noone knew Donna was a veggie gal!

This is huge deal--and TJMG, right on with the Festina comparision. Nothing compared to this. I am so saddened by it all.

And how smart is our PR Diva Donna to think about ALL the reprecussions that I know I had not thought of. That's why she gets paid the big bucks!

Should be interesting show tonight, BK. Thanks for the heads up.

Donna Tocci said...

BK - thank you for sharing all the inside scoop! I'll have the TV on tonight looking for the special show. I don't hate anyone who eats meat - at least not for that reason alone! I'm more of a live your own life type of person. Just because I do or don't do something doesn't mean I think everyone should and vice versa. It's all good.

Tim - sorry to wreck your morning. Ugh. That's all I can think of, just Ugh. I hope your prediction about sales is wrong, my friend. For all of us in the industry.

Fritz - absolutely! Great example! Guilty or innocent this has ramifications way past the individual riders. I thought of another example of this as I was driving to work this morning.

Hotels. These folks plan on x number of athletes, managers, sponsors etc. camping out in their hotels - filling them to the brim. They order supplies weeks or months in advance - specifically food. Maybe even hire extra help. Much of that may not be needed. What are we up to now a dozen athletes or so? And then there are managers that will leave with them, family members maybe, sponsor reps for sure, in some cases. That's a lot of empty rooms and empty dining rooms.

Transportation companies. The list goes on and on.

Reva - you are too funny. No smarty pants here, just putting my events hat on and thinking of some different angles.

This just bites.

Bitch Kittie said...

I'm married with two kids, sure I'm a MILF, but that doesn't mean I have to succumb to body shots in Vegas. I know the slogan, but with 37 people in the cycling industry, the math just doesn't work out for me. Not to mention, who wants to do body shots off of a cottage cheese factory? Um, I'll take Total Gross for 800, Alex.
Anyways. Good conversation.
Reva - if you want to get all Madonna/Britney over some steak, I hope you're buying the cocktails! :) Kidding. Can't wait to go through this tour with y'all.

Reva said...


Do you get to consider yourself a MILF if it is only your husband that is interested??? Please say yes!! I've always wanted to be a MILF.

And I'll make you my new concoction: A SEXY MAMA. Cranberry juice, Grey Goose, Chambord, and a splash of Sprite. Lime is optional.

The whole Madonna/Britney thing was really just in jest....didn't mean to get your hopes up (hahaha!). But filet is my favorite. When I'm on death row, that will be part of my final meal.

Hopefully there will be no more weird spectator accidents in the remainder of the tour. That is some crazy S***!

Bitch Kittie said...

Reval Kneival - if you feel like a MILF you are. Bottom line. My experimental days are pretty much behind me.
Ahhhh. . . the sportcoats. Bob mentioned something about a "new regime" but I also know there is a ton of llbean logo wear that he was required to take along. I think something like 17 peices, so I think there's a polo shirt in the future!
Kep it real y'all . . . Georgie is looking good. Hopefully he doesn't peak too soon! Go US Cycling!