When Trek helped me implement the idea for a “Let Levi Ride” campaign, I immediately recognized its potential to create positive energy in response to my and my teammates’ exclusion from ASO events, as well as its ability to unify cycling fans into one voice. With the Tour of California set to kick off, the timing couldn’t have been better. Since then, the outpouring of support from “Let Levi Ride” has been absolutely phenomenal. I’m more hopeful than ever this campaign will reach a critical mass and compel the ASO to reverse its decision. But I’m also realistic about long odds I’m facing.
Since the start of the campaign, I’ve come to a greater understanding of just how important this campaign really is. It may have my name attached to it, but this campaign isn’t just about me or my teammates. The issues that “Let Levi Ride” draws attention to are issues that affect all of professional cycling. Without question the doping scandals of recent years, and particularly those at last year’s Tour de France, have rocked the foundation of the sport and of the Tour. It’s understandable for the ASO to want to preserve the image of their race. No one disputes their right or their responsibility to do so. I love the Tour. It’s my life’s ambition to someday win it. What’s in question are the ASO’s tactics. In barring Astana, the ASO cited the “damages that this team has done to the Tour de France and to cycling in general.” But this team is not the team of 2006 or the team of 2007. This team, the team the ASO has barred from its races, is a brand new team under entirely new management. Given that fact, at the end of the day, the ASO’s justification for their decision boils down to: “because we said so.”
For professional cyclists, teams, sponsors, the sport in general, and especially the fans, the implications of the ASO’s decision are staggering. Without clearly stated rules that are fairly enforced on all teams, the ASO single-handedly controls the fate of both the cyclists who have dreamed and trained their whole lives to participate in some of the world’s most renowned races, and the sponsors who have invested millions of dollars to see their teams represented on the world’s biggest stages. To not speak out and fight for change is to surrender our sport to the whims of a powerful few.
More than ever it’s important that we ask questions of the ASO and demand answers. This fight isn’t about me. It’s about the sport and the races we all love. And it’s a fight worth fighting.
Thank you again for your support. I’m confident that together we can change things for the better.
- Tell a friend about “Let Levi Ride.” Every voice matters.
- Send an email to the director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, urging him to reconsider Astana’s exclusion.
- Send an email to Versus, the U.S. holder of the television rights to the Tour de France, expressing your concerns about the ASO’s decision.
- Take the message to the streets by wearing a “Let Levi Ride” t-shirt.
- Download web banners to help get the word out.
- Learn about Astana’s anti-doping controls, the Damsgaard Program, so you’re armed with information about the dramatic steps Astana is taking to ensure a clean sport.