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Lowell Cohn: Decision to drop Tour a head-scratcher

Santa Rosa doesn't want to play. That's what the city said Friday about the Amgen Tour of California bike race in 2014.

Excuse me if I seem slow-witted or uneducated about the thrill of world-class bike riders gallantly roaring through the downtown streets, or having a million newspaper articles all over the world with the dateline Santa Rosa, or the fact that the race generated $20 million for Santa Rosa businesses the past eight years. Santa Rosa decided not to host a stage of the race in 2014. Santa Rosa doesn't want to play.

I'm a mere sports writer and I think in simple terms: Does this person (city, entity, etc.) want to play or does this person (city, entity, etc.) not want to play?

If Brandon Crawford, the shortstop for the San Francisco Giants, refuses to leave the dugout for a game, insists on sitting on the pine bench as he says, "I don't feel like playing for a while," the Giants will bypass him and find another shortstop who does feel like playing. That's how sports work.

Bicycle riding is a sport. Santa Rosa doesn't want to play. Santa Rosa could end up on the bench.

I read the articles in The Press Democrat about Santa Rosa announcing its decision to drop out of the race next year. I read the phrase "donor fatigue," a new one on me. I guess that means people are tired of giving money to support the tour, although Santa Rosa gave money for the race seven of the previous eight years. In 2011, the race didn't stop in Santa Rosa (not the city's choice).

I also read there's "potential for greater success after a hiatus." "Hiatus" is a fancy word. How does this hiatus thing lead to greater success? When was dropping out ever a formula "for greater success?"

This sounds like spin to me. But what do I know? I'm a mere sports writer.

I don't compare to Santa Rosa's favorite bike rider, Levi Leipheimer, when it comes to explaining Santa Rosa's curious decision. Leipheimer, who used to be a world famous rider, cast enormous light on the situation when he said, "Considering all we've accomplished here, particularly in the past two years, it just seems time to watch from the sidelines. It will be a good vantage point to see how the race develops in 2014."

Doubtless a linguist exists out there who can parse the brilliance of Levi's words. Me, I have three questions. 1) When is it ever a good time to watch from the sidelines? 2) In what sense will the sidelines be a good vantage point for next year's race? 3) Why would any sane person (city, entity, etc.) want to be a sideline spectator when it can participate?


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