Not a lot to report on during a rest week. There are no epic stories from the ranks of amature racing, no great training stories, and no peleton gossip. Instead I’ve been able to shift my focus from myself to the upcoming largest event in the cycling world: Le Tour. The first thing I would like to say about Le Tour is that I will never be doing it. After doing a lot of small talk at my brother’s graduation party this past weekend I was reminded that most people think Le Tour is some cool bicycle touring event that Lance Armstrong happens to be really good at. While there are LA’s at bike touring events that think they’re winning the race, I assure you this is not how Le Tour works. For all those who read my blog and are pondering asking me, or any other competitive cyclist for that matter, if they will be racing the tour next year, I will answer in general. It is completely unobtainable. Think of it this way, the tour consists of 180 of the fastest cyclists in the world (not counting a certain sprinter who loves to party).
The level of cycling that you are at is largely based on which team you are on. Only the best 20 teams in the world get to go to the tour. The majority of these teams, 18 to be exact, consist of the UCI Pro Tour teams. These teams are the best of the best, and get entry into every top level UCI race. Two ‘Wild Card’ teams also gain entry into the Tour. This year these teams are Skil-Shimano and the Cervelo Test Team. Both of these teams are UCI Professional Continental Teams. These teams are a step down from the Pro Tour, but still pretty good and are typically isolated to a Continent. These are smaller teams that don’t have enough funding to become Pro Tour, or are simply new and have not obtained the necessary results to become Pro Tour. Keep in mind that all of these teams are quite large and only send nine of their top riders to the Tour.
So I’ll keep on going down the list. The next lower level are the UCI Continental teams (note the lack of professional in the title of this level). These teams will never ever have a chance at racing Le Tour. They are the first level of ‘Professional’ cycling teams in that they are the first level where the riders really get paid to race bikes…sometimes. Almost all of the “Professional” teams in America are at this level. Another interesting aspect about these UCI Continental teams is that they are officially ‘development’ teams, meaning that most of the riders have to be under 25 or some other odd age restriction like that. Which means that, in America at least, the older you are the more chances that you’ll be SOL when trying to find a pro team to ride with.
Below the ranks of the UCI Continental teams are the teeming masses of ‘Elite’ amature racers. The Panther squad falls into this category. These teams most definitely do not pay their riders. However they sometimes help their riders out in terms of travel and other cycling related expenses. The benefit of this category, is that you obtain a lot of the same advantages as the Continental teams just above, but have more personal control over race schedule. Also, It is possible if not common to race with Continental teams.
Below this are the club teams that have members from the elite racing categories to the lowest beginners.
Obtaining passage from one level of racing to a higher level of racing is very difficult, and you pretty much have to be the shit in your level of racing to advance (or you know somebody, or have a famous mommy and daddy).
So to answer your questions, extended relatives, I will not be racing in Le Tour anytime soon.