Shock. Outrage. Confusion. Our favorite cycling news outlets today released their annual “April Fools'” stories, causing message boards across the internet to flood with responses from overly-gullible cycling fans. The story below seemed to trick the most people, along with the launch of LanceNews and a report that Lance Armstrong would focus his upcoming campaign on sprints and stage wins.
But perhaps the best story to hit the net involved the international governing body of cycling, the UCI, regulating the use of sunglasses in the pro peleton.
In a surprise move, a UCI committee has voted to ban all non-prescription glasses from its races, a move that could have a multi-million dollar effect on endorsement contracts for pros like Lance Armstrong.
Citing the need to clean up the sport’s image and to attract new viewers, the official statement from the UCI said that it did not intend to allow the sport’s stars “to hide behind dark glasses anymore.” The ban is effective immediately as of April 1, 2009.
Cycling photojournalists universally rejoiced at the announcement. “I don’t think I’ll ever forgive Greg LeMond for bringing these abominations into the peloton,” says famed cycling photographer Graham Watson. “All the drama and emotion in a photo is lost if you can’t see the rider’s eyes.”
UCI president Pat McQuaid said that the decision was a unanimous one by the UCI rules committee and that he for one is happy to have something to work on besides doping, now that the feud with ASO over control of the sport is behind him. “Hein Verbruggen (former UCI president) showed who was boss by banning all manner of equipment,” says the feisty Irish official. “I intend to do the same.”
The UCI directive was met with outrage from the sports sunglasses industry. An unnamed source within helmet maker Giro said, “Our entire marketing campaign for our sunglass line is aimed toward cycling; we are not in the golf, tennis, or baseball sectors, so this really hurts us. I suppose we should have expected this from the UCI given what they did to the (Cinelli) Spinaci handlebar, but we feel blindsided.”
Category leader Oakley made an immediate move toward industry consolidation, announcing that it had reached agreements in principle to acquire sunglass makers Adidas and Smith after their share prices dropped precipitously. Oakley’s bid is being investigated by anti-trust officials who are not sure whether Oakley already owns those brands, or if they already own Oakley.
Rudy Project founder Rudy Barbazzo said, “We’re hanging by a thread. How could they do this? Are they completely nuts?” Rumors of sports optics companies Tifosi and Zeal seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection have yet to be substantiated as of press time.
Sunglasses Hut stores in Boulder, Colorado, and Davis, California, announced plans to shut their doors; others are expected to follow suit across the country.
Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) president Christian Prudhomme said that his organization will continue to allow sunglasses in its races, which includes the Tour de France and single-day classics like the upcoming Paris-Roubaix, whose famous mud gets in the eyes of those not wearing glasses. “We will never stoop to the kind of petty rulings for which the UCI is famous,” he said at a hastily-organized press conference.
When contacted by phone and asked if his race would be going along with the UCI ban, Giro d’Italia race director Angelo Zomegnan said, “Are you crazy? You can’t take sunglasses away from an Italian! That would be like taking his clothes or his shoes or his car! We would cancel the race before we would subject our riders to this indignity.”
I also got a kick out of CyclingNews.com’s “special edition” collection of stories from around the international racing circuit.
Enjoy, and have a good April Fools’ day!