Humour: How Astana can get back in the Tour

Strategies to get under organiser's radar

  • TO: Johan Bruyneel
  • FROM: The Fat Cyclist
  • DATE: 22 February, 2008
  • SUBJECT: Strategies for getting into the Tour de France 

Dear Mr. Bruyneel,

First, my condolences on Team Astana not getting into the Tour de France this year. I am certain that you must be reeling from the shock and disappointment so profound as to nearly equal my own.

And yet, Mr. Bruyneel, I would urge you to not give up hope. Your team can still ride in the Tour de France in 2008, Johan (I hope you don’t mind me calling you Johan).

Simply follow these strategies.

1. Change Your Name.

For 2008, Team Astana changed management, racing philosophy, and most of the team. This, evidently, wasn’t what was needed. To convince ASO that you’re really OK, you need to not be Team Astana.

As evidence of the effectiveness of this technique, allow me to call your attention to Team T-Mobile High Road, which was every bit as messed up as Astana last year, but will be racing in the Tour de France this year.

You know why, don’t you? Because this year, they’re taking the high road, that’s why.

For your team name, I’d like to recommend “Compassionate Body Spinoffs.” It sounds kind (that’s the “compassionate part”), sporting (the “body” part), and cycling-related (“Spinoffs”).

Also, “Compassionate Body Spinoffs” is an anagram for “ASO is staffed by nincompoops,” but that can remain our little secret.

And while you’re at it, you might want to also change the color of your uniforms. And I’m not saying that just to further the cause of tricking ASO into believing you’re a different team.

I’m saying it because Astana blue (aka “light teal”) is an awful color.

2. Surrender to the French.

France and ASO really, really, really want a strong French team race in the TdF. This desire is somewhat hampered by the fact that there are no strong French teams.

So, why don’t you become French? It’s surprisingly easy. Here’s how:

  • Watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail Several Times. Everyone knows this is the best way to pick up an authentic French accent.
  • Be Haughty. Despise everything. Smile enigmatically.
  • Eat: French fries, French bread, and French dressing.
  • Act like you really really care about winning on Bastille Day, as if it were the absolutely be-all and end-all of the race, instead of what it invariably is: a flat stage of no consequence.
  • Lose a lot. OK, I admit, that’s just mean of me.

3. Tell Levi to Cut it Out.

I’ve been to It’s a one-page website asking people to fill in their email address, which will be used in a petition to ASO, demanding to let Levi — and the rest of Astana, I think — ride in the TdF.

Which raises the obvious question: has an anonymous petition (only email addresses, no names, addresses or other qualifiers) signed exclusively by people hostile to your cause, ever worked?

Seriously. Ever?

All Levi’s accomplishing is an increased likelihood that ASO will find a new reason to not let him race next year, too. I promise.

4. Get a New Website. 

Johan, there’s an outside chance that ASO isn’t letting you into the Tour because they’ve seen the Astana Team website, which is currently nothing more than a page on your own personal “Hey, hire me to speak at your next company offsite” website. Looking at that site , they probably came to the conclusion that  your team is going to arrive at the starting line for the TdF wearing mismatched jerseys and hockey helmets.

And that would be gauche.

5. Get a Disguise. 

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Johan, but it’s for your own good: the main problem, so far as the ASO is concerned, is you. Evidently, the ASO has decided you’ve had enough turns at winning the Tour, and now you’re just being greedy.

Of course, the simple solution to this is for you to acquire a good disguise. A good pompadour, a set of wayfarers, and — above all — a beard to cover that cleft chin, should do just fine. Observe:

Johan bruyneel (right) is totally anonymous in this recreation of alberto contador’s 2007 victory.: johan bruyneel (right) is totally anonymous in this recreation of alberto contador’s 2007 victory.
Getty Images & Elden Nelson

The really great thing about the beard, by the way, is it’s nothing more than one of Alberto’s fake sideburns, so you can share expenses.

Try these things out, Johan, and then get back to me. If they don’t work, I have additional ideas, mostly involving the consumption of snails.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist


Elden Nelson blogs weekdays as The Fat Cyclist, where he says whatever he feels like saying, about whomever he feels like saying it…in the fervent hope that he never meets any of the people he says these things about.