Now that Lance Armstrong has returned to the Tour de France, it’s given us a reason to kinda-sorta pay attention to the world’s biggest bike ride again. Nothing against the Tour, but we hadn’t really noticed its existence the past few years without the combative Texan doing his best to stick it to the rest of the world. Amazingly (or not), he’s picking up right where he left off. U-S-A! U-S-A!
(MS Paint - is there anything it can’t do?)
Many people remember his years of racing for the United States Postal Service team, a fitting match for a guy who seemed to embody American swagger abroad (for better or worse). Most people don’t realize it, but this year Armstrong is once again racing for the glory of a government-backed cycling team. Only this time, he’s racing for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan. Kaz-akh-stan! Kaz-akh-stan!
It’s true. Darren Rovell of CNBC discussed the somewhat tangled details:
Armstrong’s team -– currently competing in the Tour De France — is backed by Samruk-Kazyna, a holding company that consists of Kazakhstan’s assets and its development fund. The company manages KazMunayGas (gas company), Kazakhstan Temyr Zholy (national railway), Kazpost (national mail), Air Astana (national airline) and ENRC (Eurasian Natural Resources Corp), among others.
That’s a lot of Kazakh government-run companies that stand to profit from an Armstrong victory. And that’s fine - the global economy is here to stay and nationalism is for the braindead. If Armstrong wants to ride for the glory of a brutal dictatorship and the bottom line of a corrupt autocrat, that’s his right. But don’t think that by “sticking it to the French”, he’s scoring any sort of moral victory for anyone other than himself -as usual.