Living here in the UK, in late summer (and, to be honest, much of the rest of the year too) if you are any kind of sports fan it takes some serious effort to avoid the steady torrent of tabloid media nonsense that passes for the Premier League football transfer window.
So we get lavish detail about who might be going where, who has been spotted meeting who at a motorway service station, who likes who, who doesn’t like who, who has taken the club as far as he can, who is a legend, and who is a disgrace.
And at the pinnacle of all these questionable speculations and accusations sits the ultimate and unforgivable sin in the eyes of a football fan – worse than casual racism, sexism, or the giving and receiving of used notes in brown envelopes, it seems: who is a ‘Judas’, a traitor to the cause, and deserving of online personal abuse for the simple act of accepting an improved job offer from another employer?
Just to add further fuel to the sensationalist and grammatically questionable fire, these transfer rumours are often spiced up with lurid stories from the players’ personal life – could anyone but a Premier League footballer find themselves getting involved in a ‘racist sex tape’, for example, as two Leicester City players did recently?
I mean, seriously!!
Premier League football, at least as observed through the eyes of a headline hungry mass media, is bonkers!
What’s this got to do with pro-cycling, I hear you ask; surely the most noble and cultured of professional sports (!?), and not likely to lower itself to such muck-raking!?
Well, whether this was all going on last year and it passed me by, I’m not sure, but post Tour de France 2015 I’ve noticed a steady stream of pro-cyclist transfer tittle-tattle all across the cycling media.
Not quite at the level of the Premier League, of course, but we’ve had: the long running saga of Kwiatkowski to Sky (will he?); the early announcement of Richie Porte’s transfer to BMC (what does this mean for Van Garderen?); Tinkoff-Saxo confirming contract extensions for a number of star names from 2016 (yawn!); Dan Martin leaving Cannondale-Garmin for an as yet undisclosed new home (interesting…); and my favourite – an apparent 35% chance of Mark Cavendish leaving Ettix-Quick Step and signing for Trek Factory Racing.
Now THAT is my kind of rumour; not wild speculation, not 50/50, not ‘will he won’t he’, but a very specific and thoroughly thought through 35% chance.
Personally, I am always going to struggle to get excited about the basic administrative function of a pro-cyclist putting pen to paper on a contract extension (is it still done with pen and paper…that sounds archaic?) and I can live without most of the other rumours, especially while there is still plenty of racing left in 2015.
Thankfully, there’s little chance of the sport going down the ‘Premier League footballer mentioned the name of one club whilst still playing for another (SHOCK! HORROR! TRAITOR! BURN HIM!)’ route.
Let’s face it, the sport of cycling has more than it’s fair share of dark and murky corners as it is, largely related to historical (and only occasionally current, we hope) performance enhancement.
I imagine that all kinds of non-bike-related shenanigans go on behind closed doors, and pro-cyclists probably behave just as badly as any other group of twenty-something males with a bit of freedom and a chunk of disposable cash in their pockets.
But we don’t want to read about it in papers. Do we?