although we are getting close to the end of the cycle season (having written that it's dawned on me that there's still the vuelta, the worlds, paris tours and tour of lombardy, but let's just ignore that just now for the sake of literary edifice), it's prudent to remember that the continued place of cycling on our tv screens is due in no small part to sponsorship. i know we've all rushed out and bought mapei long sleeve jerseys with full length zip and 'tafi' across the back (no use to me, the ponytail means no-one can see my resemblance to andrea tafi when i'm out struggling) or rushed out and bought a rabobank coloured colnago c40 (or was that just a dream?), but have you ever considered just exactly what it is you are proscribing as you slowly creak the knees along the road?
for instance, should innocent bystanders burst into spontaneous applause because the lycra says fassa bortolo? in fact, just what is a fassa bortolo? could it be some luxury sweet along the lines of a ferrero rocher or toblerone? could it be a small family firm of expert hand-crafted furniture makers? well no, actually it's nothing so romantic. fassa bortolo make cement. and while we're at it, mapei make glue (very sophisticated glue but glue nonetheless) and the quaintly named 'quick step' make floorings.
so i prefer not to know what the sponsors actually do for a living because it makes cycling seem more romantic, particularly when they're pedalling up alpe d'huez or the galibier or even the angliru. so much more interesting than beinn dubh or beinn bheigeir (well, almost). this adds greatly to the commentary by the wonderful david duffield, though it doesn't quite explain why the french, belgians, spanish etc, find it even more exciting than we do when they do know what the hills are really called and what the sponsors do for a living.
i for one am more than happy to support any sponsor who finds it practical to load most of their money into a cycle team (though i'm still very unlikely to fit shimano on the colnago instead of campagnolo), and if anyone reading this happens to be dithering over sponsoring a cycle team, think no more, sign the necessary papers now. and in this vein, i was gratified beyond belief when attending the opening of the new gaelic college just outside bowmore to discover that the heating/air conditioning has been supplied by daikin, or at least fitted by someone who uses daikin as a supplier.
in case it has escaped your attention, daikin are one half of the principal sponsors of the lampre daikin team, though i confess to having no idea what lampre do (if i ever find out, i'll probably buy one). and it is one of those gratifying situations to discover that, when prendas ciclismo advertised availability of the italian national jersey, but without the very large colnago logos on the side, they had so many phone calls asking for the jersey with the logos that they capitulated and now the jerseys are only available with rather than without. now this suits me just fine because i have a colnago and it won't look out of place if i get myself one. (let's face it, you'd look a bit silly riding a raleigh or halfords bicycle wearing an italian national jersey with colnago logos plain for all to see).
this must be most gratifying for colnago, since they probably paid a lot of money to have their name plastered all over everything in sight, particularly at the expense of those manufacturers who supplied bikes for the other italian riders. and now they've got happy little pedallists like ourselves who are willing to go out and pay hard earned money to buy jerseys with somebody's logo on it, ready and willing to advertise at our expense.
granted this system exists in a huge number of sports (football jerseys spring to mind) but this sort of thing encourages sponsors to keep on sponsoring. so while it might be tres retro to rush out and buy an all wool castelli jersey or even a molteni jersey, - and lets face it, who wouldn't want to? - sitting in front of eurosport wearing a landbouwkredeit colnago cap while the mrs gets on with the ironing and junior hovers waiting for 50p to go down the street and all are castigating you for having the temerity to have changed channel and watch cycling in the first place, congratulate yourself for continuing to fly the flag in the face of adversity.
you and i both know that when the mrs wins the lottery with a ticket she didn't tell you about and junior grows up and needs somewhere to deposit his first million, the first name that will spring to mind will be landbouwkrediet and they'll use a colnago to get to the nearest office. (this is, of course a totally spurious analogy because i don't think landbouwkredeit actually encourage people to deposit money with them - i think they lend it out. but they do cycle colnagos and are about the only ones using campag).
so while some of the colour schemes may not be entirely to your liking (orange is ok, but why, oh why did euskatel need to paint the head tube on their orbeas blue? - and just exactly what does cipollini think he's playing at?), we must all remember that, while cycling wouldn't disappear from the face of the earth if the sponsors went away, it probably would go away from telly. though if the telly (and by this i mean eurosport) continues to show cycling, then i'm sure there will always be somebody willing to have their jerseys on the box. and more power to their elbow.
Remember, you can still read the review of 'the dancing chain' the utterly excellent book on the history of the derailleur bicycle by clicking here
any of the books reviewed on the washing machine post can probably be purchased from amazon.co.uk or amazon.com
as always, if you have any comments on this nonsense, please feel free to e-mail and thanks for reading.
this column almost never appears in the dead tree version of the ileach but appears, regular as clockwork on this website every two weeks. (ok so i lied) sometimes there are bits added in between times, but it all adds to the excitement.
on a completely unrelated topic, ie nothing to do with bicycles, every aspect of the washing machine post was created on apple macintosh powerbook g4, ibook and imac computers, using adobe golive 5 and adobe photoshop 7. needless to say it is also best viewed on an apple macintosh computer.