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Tick's Blick 11 February 2004
By Staff
Date: 2/11/2004
Tick's Blick 11 February 2004

By Tick of Cycling4Fans

So the European season has finally started! About time! Somehow this off-season and winter have seemed longer than usual, but perhaps it's just the weather that makes it seem so...

And congratulations to the Illes Balears-Banesto team for winning the Challenge Illes Balears! Is this the new trend? Then I'd say it doesn't look good for Armstrong, Ullrich, Vinokurov, Hamilton or Mayo (have I forgotten anyone?) in the Tour this year. Which French rider on which French team will take it?

Mario Cipollini started the new season in the same way in which he pretty much ended his season last year -- by crashing in a sprint finish. Let's hope this is not one of the new trends, for him or for anyone else!

One trend that really has absolutely nothing to recommend it is that of sponsor and financial difficulties. Only a few weeks ago we were all applauding the UCI for coming down hard on those teams with problems, and what do we hear now? Alessio-Bianchi manages to make headlines because it allegedly can't pay its "Scandinavian Seven."

It's the usual tangled tale of sponsors who want to but can't and sponsors who can but no longer want to and sponsors who want to but only if the logo appears on the right place on the jersey...and in the end, a sponsor who (hopefully) is willing and able to cough up enough to pay for the Seven "until another sponsor can be found." Famous last words, but let's hope for the best...

And one more trend, which really shouldn't surprise anyone: the new jerseys have all been presented and the color of the year is -- blue. Gerolsteiner will stand out of the crowd with its baby blue, but USPS, Liberty, Mr. Bookmaker, Quick Step and de Nardi have all gone with your basic dark blue. Anything to make life harder for the poor tv announcers...

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