Well, late on October 18, 2012 (though it must have been early on the 19th for agitators like UCI Overlord), people interested in changing the sport began changing their Twitter avatars. Gone were the predictable mug shots and in came the faces of key figures of the French Revolution.
The French Revolution, an incredibly messy and bloody period that brought in a new political era. Its effect was not only felt in France, but – as even Lance will admit – in the entire world. Not entirely useless then, those French.
I highly recommend the book though, with Tim Moore as an amateur cyclist riding all the stages of the 2000 Tour de France for fun. And that may have more relevance to today’s situation than you might think – there’s still a chance he could be crowned the winner of that 2000 Tour!
Anyway, it was time to pick a real French Revolutionary. UCI Overlord suggested Jean-Paul Marat, a Neuchatel-born radical journalist and politician. I did live in Neuchatel for some time (even banking at the same UBS bank that is now mentioned by Gazzetta dello Sport, exciting stuff) so that makes some sense. He also spent a lot of time in his bathtub, which I think is an excellent place for reading and thinking (too much information, I know).
But Doug Ellis, owner of Slipstream and a man I hold in very high regard, suggested Lazare Carnot, an engineer turned politician. This of course presented a conundrum, the engineer that I am versus the journalist I would have liked to have been. As George Costanza would say after Jerry Seinfeld invents a marine biologist life for him: “you know I always wanted to be an architect”.
Anyway, as it turns out, I am Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès. Not because he was a clergyman, but for a few statements he made that I whole-heartedly believe in and which dovetail nicely with a project I am working on.
In a French society controlled by the Estates-General where the First and Second Estate (clergy and nobility) could always override the Third (the rest of France i.e. the normal people), Sieyès stated:
What is the Fan Base? Everything. What has it been until now in the cycling order? Nothing. What does it want to be? Something.
The Third Estate demanded that the credentials of the representatives should be checked by all sides, rather than every Estate only checking themselves (self-regulation without answering to anybody else). When that went nowhere, Sieyès told the Third Estate, now meeting as the Communes (English: “Commons”), to:
Proceed with verification of your own powers and invite the other two estates to take part, but do not wait for them.
Of course it’s just a few people who after a week neck-deep in LanceGate sewage are in desperate need for some silliness, but it’s not bad to draw some inspiration from unlikely sources from time to time.