Cycling is a game in flux. It is not the myth or an epic as Roland Barthes wrote. Mont Ventoux is a moonscape, bare, barren and rising out of the lavender plains of Provence. They are no longer heroes of epic proportions but bare life, homo sacer competing for all to see in the desert of the real. The precarity of this existence better depicts the state of the peloton today: Free as the birds to soar to the greatest heights– Simpson, Pantani, Armstrong et al … the list is endless; but free to be shot down at a whim.
Cycling has always been an assemblage and a line of flight – from the factory, the farm, from the peloton itself. Cycling finds itself in the eye of the storm as the processes of globalisation seek to reform it in their own image. On the frontline is the very body of the cyclist – this is the object of control.
We need to contextualise the globalisation of professional cycling in the age of Armstrong and the successive doping crisis as events which signify the coming of Empire and the permanent state of exception.