Everything, and I mean everything, they have -- from the babe-enticing seven-figure salaries to the selfless soigneurs to the meticulous mechanics to the military-grade carbon fiber bikes -- comes courtesy of us, the fans.
If we don't watch cycling, sponsors don't pay. If sponsors don't pay, the pros aren't pros anymore; instead they're like us MABRA types, forking over entry fees for Lost River, hoping to win $100 while wearing GamJams socks.
Today, they put on a boring stage to protest the absence of race radios. Riders and directors alike decried the decision to impose radio silence, calling it "dangerous" and generally getting their DZ-Nuts-lubed chamois all up in a bunch.
Yeah, um, I've never raced with a radio. Guess I've really been living on the edge. Listen to these whiners...
Rolf Aldag: “You really have to think about whether you want to say we will make the race exciting at the cost of safety. Then we could just as well take the brakes off the bikes.”
Linus Gerdemann: “If you have a mechanical problem, then you might stand on the side of the road and the material wagon could drive right by without seeing you.”
Jens Voigt: "What will happen next? Shall we ride for two days without a helmet, just because it might be funny?”
Armstrong: “Then we can just ride with woolen jerseys and a tire around our necks, like in the old days.”
Bjarne Riis: “What will they do if we do use the radios? Take us out of the race? Then they will ride into Paris with five teams.”Hmmmmm...
Best not to give the viewing public any ideas, fellas.
Don't you realize Versus shows bullriding and cagefighting as well as cycling?
Despite the reverence surrounding the history of the Tour, at the end of the day it's just entertainment. It started as one newspaper's death-daring stunt. Send a bunch of desperate miners around France on their bicycles and see who survives. Fans didn't track heart rates; they waited for hearts to give out.
We who follow the tour today share DNA with the Roman crowds who amassed at the Coliseum to see Christians fending off wild animals. We, human sports fans, witnessed gladiators fighting to their deaths and enjoyed every minute of it.
We gathered to glimpse Marie Antoinette losing her head...
Picnicked at Bull Run to see a rebellion squashed...
Popped popcorn for two Gulf Wars.
Don't tempt us! If we want to see a race stage without radios, then give us a race stage without radios, dammit.
Dance, monkey, dance!
Else you may find yourself next year riding sans helmets and brakes, clad in a woolen jersey with a tire draped around your neck.
Yes, Lance, because it would be funny.
Your support cars will drive right by you as you stand on the side of the road with a mechanical, Linus.
And if you cheat, Riis, then yes, you'll be disqualified, and maybe only five teams will arrive in Paris.
(Maybe your strategy today affords us some insight into your mindset as a druggie: "If we all dope, what are they going to do?" Answer: DQ every last one of you.)