Friday, July 31, 2009

Dry down after TDF 2009: Twitter wars: And Armstrong's financial impact

As the effects of the Tour this year continue to wear off, the hurt feelings between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, the number 3 and number one TDF winners, continue.

Pic: Armstrong on ride in the Bahamas

First there was the press conference in Madrid, where Conti said he never liked Armstrong. Then there was Armstrong's Twitter replies, basically telling the 27-year-old Madrileno to grow up.

Then there was all the chiming in --or should we say--tweeting in-- among Tweeters about the Conti-versy.

Meanwhile, believe it or not, in between meals (see pic of empty table from Armstrong's Twitter page,) with his GF Anna Hansen and children, Grace, Luke, Bella, and the baby Max, Armstrong is riding his bike in the all flat Bahamas. Yup, you still have to train even when you are on vacation for a week.

Pic: The Armstrong table set for dinner in the Bahamas.

But flats?

Somehow, I don't picture LA either as a flat man or to put it quite succinctly, a family man. Maybe when he grows old?

Weighing in on all the Conti-versy were Twitters from other teammates and from Viatcheslav "Eki" Ekimov's page, assistant sports director for Astana, who stopped competing in the TDF in 2006: "LA is part of the team and no one thankful word to the all team from AC! NO RESPECT! Sad!" Earlier, he wrote, " Just re[a]d cyclingnews.com about Alberto Contador post race press conference comments on Lance Amstrong. Totally disagree and frustrated."

Olympic gold and silver medal winner Viatcheslav Vladimirovich Ekimov also has his own sports pages, but kept a low profile during this year's Tour.

But in the end, Armstrong has moved on from the Conti affair: "Thanks, Eki. Onward," he writes.

And behind the scenes, in almost a quiet way, George Hincapie twittered that he does indeed have a collarbone break which he sustained in a crash on July 22, in stage 17 from Bourg Saint Maurice, to Le Grand Bornand.

"No wonder that hurt, looks like I am out for a bit" he notes on his Twitter page, along with an x-ray of his broken collarbone.

"Take care now bro and easy. well recover give you quickest option to be back on bike," Tweets Ekimov.

With 54,709 followers for Hincapie, 5,703 for Ekimov, 1,630,008 for Armstrong, Twitter pages could be one of the new ways of monitoring a competitive cyclist's popularity, even though some don't always tweet, and not all those who are following actually read the tweets on a daily basis.

For real follow numbers, you can look at who is following on a regular basis, it's 101 for Armstrong, 18 for Ekimov, and 39 for Hincapie.

Along with all the broken collarbone tweets, the long-lashed Cavendish is caught asleep on the TGV from Avignon to the outskirts of Paris by Mark Renshaw, his second lead out in most of the field sprints. (Remember, first comes Hincapie, then Renshaw): "Now Cav is off to lala land... http://twitpic.com/bkxzo Now cav!!," writes Hincapie.

Renshaw returns the favor and Hincap tweets back, "The effects of Ventoux for @ghincapie http://twitpic.com/bkx5v Busted!!!

Renshaw also writes "Yesterday was amazing for the team! It felt so good to finish 1,2 on the Champs. I really nailed that last corner." Yes he did.

Meanwhile, the NY Times continues to try and stoke the Lance train to gain eyeballs, this time reporting on a controversy between Aspen Colorado city council members where Armstrong bought a $9 M third home last year, about whether to hold a parade for him or not.

The Financial Impact of Armstrong

The Tour continues to have a very strong financial impact on businesses, towns and products that are marketed around it. And of course, Armstrong is at the center of that.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, (which the NYT picked up on the next day) Armstrong's participation in the Tour this year boosted the number of visitors to the tour by an estimated 20 to 30 percent.

Livestrong tee-shirts were seen everywhere during this Tour, worn by people who are part of the organization or who support it.

Just in case you didn't know just how much business is being generated by the Armstrong-Livestrong business activity, you can just see for yourself the line in Japan outside a store that was releasing the first ever shoes designed for Livestrong by Mr. Cartoon.


Pic: The line for the Mr Cartoon/Livestrong AF1's outside the UNDFTD store in Tokyo

The design, which BBB finds really not too special, with out of the box twists and twirls you can find on the Adobe Illustrator graphics catalog, rendered in the omnipresent Yellow and Black of the Livestrong brand, inspired a storm of comments from hipsters who craved the new NIke made sneakers.

Never mind that in 1996 when BBB was making a film about disabled cyclists competing in the Atlanta Paralympics and called the good Nike folks looking for funding to complete the film about these noble cyclists who were racing with damaged or missing arms, legs, hands, and feet, or were simply blind and racing on tandems. What did they say? "Nike is not interested in cycling."

After Hypebeast did a preview of the sneakers, a stream of comments from people looking to buy them followed:

Wrote Qajqtape on July 13, "DANG TOO COOL WHERE CAN I GET THOSE THEY ARE STRAIGHT URBAN AND IN MY 2 FAVORITE COLORS HEK YEA IMA HUNT FOR EM,"

AirForce07 wrote, " I like the design and the colorway. All these look nice in the Mr. Cartoon, especially the gradient swoosh," as if that swoosh was invented yesterday.

Sejung kim said, "hey guys so If I go to the undefeated store in LA can I get this one??, " and Bornlegends wrote "Will these be availible on the nike website to buy?"

Many were sorry that they could not buy these shoes in their own towns (Chicago for example,) and would have to buy them online.

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