VeloVeritas thanks you for reading in 2013, hopes that you are having a good holiday season, enjoyed the company of family and friends, ate and drank too much and didn’t have too many arguments.

We’ve now entered that no man’s land between Christmas and New Year and whilst we’ll do our best to keep the interviews coming from the track men who are making the boards hum, the rising talents and the men who skim through the mud as sweetly Fred Astaire coming down a staircase – the year cannot be let slip without a rant . . .

We liked

The racing; the Classics were epic with Ciolek an inspiration in the Primavera and Dan Martin silencing the doubters in La Doyenne.

Nibali did the same in the Giro but the Tour was only ever going to go the way of one skinny man; the Vuelta?

As my old dad used to say; ‘and the band played, ‘Believe it if You Like!’.

But we loved the British Championships on the streets of Glasgow and Cav’s victory.

How can you not admire the man?

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Mark Cavendish winning the British Road Championship in Glasgow.

We also liked the young riders speaking out against the kit and kitters – it never used to be like that.

Frenzies

Hein Verbruggen got one thing right – it’s become the ‘Lance Armstrong Industry‘ – is there anything still to be revealed in the Lance Frenzy?

Did he eat anyone’s hamster; romp with the Krankies or was his Trek really a Masi painted up?

The answer to all these questions and the ones I haven’t thought of is; ‘who really gives a monkeys’?

It’s done – until the movies come out, that is . . .

And what about the Cookson Frenzy?

Dave summed it up best; ‘he’s too busy looking back, he should be looking forward!

For sure.

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These two are the past, let’s move on.

Mr. Cookson, leave Lance, Johan and Hein to USADA, the US government and the tabloids; you are head of the body which is the custodian of our sport.

Nurse it, grow it, honour the great history it has, look after the great races and don’t be overly distracted by red herrings – like bike races as PR exercises for countries with lots of money and appalling human rights records with no real interest in the sport.

And just a wee point, if you ask any team manager who’s moved his squad up from Continental to Pro Continental about the help and guidance they get from the UCI during the process, then you’ll get the same answers; ‘none/not much.’

But if your name is Alonso then you can have a chat with Mr. Cookson, even though you haven’t actually launched or done anything but talk, yet.

Consistency please, UCI; it can’t all be flash names and big bucks . . .

Contradictions

Let’s ignore the Comic telling us that there’s a treble six tattooed somewhere on Lance – but still punting books and videos about his Tour wins.

Instead, let’s go to their soft porn calendar featuring lady cyclists.

We’re constantly told that we have to treat lady riders as serious athletes; whilst Peter Sagan is vilified for pinching a podium lass’s bum.

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Emma Pooley rightly sees differences in the way women and men are treated.

But in the next breath we’re asked to go out and buy calendars which feature sexualised images of the same young women.

Serious athletes or sex objects, which is it please, Cycling Weekly?

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Cycling Weekly’s offer of sexy (yet tasteful) photos of women cyclists.

But I guess they’ve got it right, their move towards the leisure cyclist and sportivs has enabled them to stabilise circulation in a very difficult market.

And those dudes on their eight grand Looks, Colnagos, Pinarellos and Cervelos don’t care who Francois Pervis is and even less that he’s ridden a 9.3 and a 56.

Paradoxes

Bjarne Riis (Saxo) doped to win the Tour (but who didn’t?) George Hincapie (Hincapie Development) was Lance’s enforcer and on occasion not the ‘gentle giant’ of his PR image.

Andy Rhys (BMC) owned one of the ‘dirtiest’ teams in history – Phonak; whilst Lampre’s Giuseppe Saronni is neck deep in the Mantova mess

And there’s a whole list of ex-pros in management who know what the sting of a needle feels like.

But here’s the paradox, is the sport better without these men?

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Riis has a certain reputation in the media and with cycling fans, but it’s true to say that riders and sponsors see him as a force for good in the sport these days.

Should we bite the bullet and cast them all from the sport, lose their ‘good knowledge,’ experience – and money?

Or should we hope and believe that they understand it’s a new era and they’ve changed their spots?

With five teams folded at the end of this year we have no choice but to stick with them and cross our fingers.

Don’t let us down gentlemen, please.

So what?

Armstrong bought the Triple Crown’ the headlines tell us.

It was 20 years ago; races have been bought and sold since the sport began – and if I’m any judge, at least one stage was sold in the 2012 Tour.

But being professionals they’re very good at it; just check out any Derny race at a Six Day . . .

And let’s not waste time on the Vino/Kolobnev alleged deal – based on information from a hacked email?

Any decent lawyer will have it laughed out of court.

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The progress of the Bruyneel arbitration is being kept private – as it should.

Also file under ‘so what’ the Bruyneel situation, is there really any more to be said?

Lance was rotten, we know that; and Johan was his mentor – enough said, surely?

Trial by Journo

It’s probably a fair criticism to level at me that perhaps I let my admiration and liking for certain riders get in the way of objectivity.

But if you’ve seen – as I have – Alberto Contador have all the time in the world for grannies and kids on a Vuelta rest day and bowing in respect to his adversaries on the 2012 Vuelta podium then maybe you’d have more respect for him?

Whilst Contador’s ‘contaminated beef’ defence was largely scorned, the mood surrounding Michael Rogers’ positive for Clenbuterol is; ‘poor old Mick’ – with Matt White telling us that the UCI should sort out the Chinese meat industry.

I guess that’s after they figure out what to do about the sport haemorrhaging sponsors?

But there’s little sympathy for Jonathan Tiernan Locke – I’d just be happy just to know what he’s done.

It’s hard not to be amused by the Forum Trolls who can hardly spell their own name spouting haematological arguments.

What did he take and when – and how come he passed all the tests?

And like Vik says; ‘if you’re nabbed for drunk driving they have the results confirmed the next day!

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Jonathan Tiernan Lock is immersed in a anti-doping process at the moment.

I’m not saying that JTL definitely hasn’t been guilty of an infringement; but isn’t a central pillar of Western justice that you’re innocent until proven guilty?

When Graeme Obree broke the hour record the likes of Verbruggen immediately decided he must be kitted up – but he wasn’t.

There are ‘special’ riders, like Obree – do we know for sure that JTL isn’t one?

And please don’t say that he won The Med and Haut Var and then nothing – subsequently in 2012 he won two stages and the GC in the Tour of Alsace, beating rising French star, Warren Barguil in the process; the Tour of Britain; was top 20 in the Valkenburg Worlds and finished third in the UCI European Tour behind Degenkolb and Kittel.

If that’s not consistent then please tell me what is.

I spoke to him just a few weeks before the bad news broke and he explained that his poor year in 2013 was due to Sky’s refusal to let him train his own way and insistence upon his doing work to which his system was unused and didn’t respond to.

I’m not ‘doing a Tom Southam’ and saying he’s definitely innocent – but what I am saying is; ‘what’s the crime he’s guilty of?’ and; ‘how about the man gets a chance to answer the charges against him?

Still, Travis Tygart will be round in a minute to sort it out, won’t he?

If not, then David Walsh will come to the rescue, for sure.

Both men have the greater good of the sport at heart, don’t they – it’s not as if they’re both obsessed with doping and/or one man’s doping, is it?

Oleg Tinkov is another who’s being demonised – why?

The self made millionaires of this world – your Richard Bransons, Donald Trumps and Oleg Tinkovs don’t really give much of a rat’s backside what the ‘grey men’ say about them.

Oleg can tweet what he wants as far as I’m concerned – as long as he keeps pumping big bucks into the sport.

Not forgetting the quote of the year

Courtesy of the Big Issue;

“Cycling hero Bradley Wiggins collects his knighthood in what looks like his uncle’s old suit.”

Isn’t the truth refreshing?

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Bradley Wiggin’s suit was likely the height of fashion. Photo©John Stillwel/AFP

Last word

Has to be on the D-word. There’s still no UCI education programme for young pros joining the World Tour as to why they should not dope.

The ‘big stick’ approach is one way – but isn’t prevention better than cure?

Explain to them the effect that kitting up has on your health, state of mind, personal relationships and bank balance.

Or maybe that’s too simple?

We need an inquiry and a committee – or two . . .

But for all of that do we still think it’s ‘the King of Sports?’

As John Shaft might say; ‘damn right!

VeloVeritas hopes 2014 is all you want it to be.