Back in December in our year end rant we mentioned the fact that there seemed to be one law for ‘genial Aussies’ and another for ‘dodgy Spaniards.’ What we said was: "And whilst Contador’s ‘contaminated beef’ defence was largely scorned, the mood surrounding Michael Rogers’ positive for Clenbuterol seems to be; ‘poor old Mick’ – with Matt White telling us that the UCI should sort out the Chinese meat industry."
‘Waiting for Godot’ is a famous play by Samuel Beckett; two characters wait in vain for Godot – the play’s much discussed third character who gives the drama it’s name but never appears. As the others looked at each other and waited for Godot - whether his name in this case was Sep or Bradley or Greg - Boonen drove and drove. It’s not like a champion of Boonen’s stature to give it the; ‘come through for f##k’s sake boys’ routine but his frustration was palpable.
I can remember perfectly where I was when Marco Pantani died; sitting in my living room in Dysart. The flash came over Eurosport News and I rang Viktor to tell him; ‘hardly surprising’ was the reply. I knew what he meant, the little Italian’s life had been on a self destructive spiral for a some time - rehab or disaster were the only two possible destinations. It was the Spartan philosophers who first coined the expression, ‘never speak ill of the dead.’ And whilst it’s always dreadfully sad to see a young life wasted, I’m puzzled by the current revisionist accounts of his life which are doing the rounds on the 10th anniversary of his death.
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.
It's easy to sigh and shake your head when you read or hear that a drone has yet again 'zapped' the wrong target out there in the Middle East - and easy to carry on with your day. But when it's on your door step, in a place you love, it's altogether different. I heard on the radio, early on the Saturday morning that a helicopter had crashed on to a pub in Glasgow at 10:30 pm on Friday but didn't catch the name of the bar. 'That's horrible' I thought to myself and carried on editing our Yuriy Metlushenko interview.
In the film, ‘A Few Good Men’ Tom Cruise’s military lawyer character is cross examining Jack Nicholson as a high ranking officer; ‘I want the truth!’ says Cruise. Jack’s reply has now entered movie folklore and cliché; ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ He got that one right, I can’t handle the truth – whilst I’m well aware that most of the peloton was kitted up for two decades and that it's indefensible, I can’t see how yet another biopsy is going to change anything.
Where do the World's Top Riders come from? It creeps up on you, the need, nae, the burning desire to rant. The last straw was Chris Froome's comments about the Tour organiser's intention to include cobbles in the 2014 race. Chris isn't keen - he wants just long, flat time trials and mountain stages; but we guess he's OK with the sprinter stages. too?
Erik Zabel has confessed... On the one hand we don’t think that disinterring the dead is the way forward; the French Senate mass exhumation was a pointless exercise as far as we’re concerned. But once you have a Zabelombie walking the streets you have deal with it.
The release of the French Senate Report ‘findings’ on the ’98 Tour – why do it now, what do it at all? What’s the point, other than to create a mess and give Brian Cookson a fresh crock of manure to hurl at Pat? Justice is not meant to be a lottery – of course it’s not right that the riders named cheated but what can we do now?
The sports news came on Radio Two and as Johnny Saunders uttered the words which jarred; ‘Italian cyclist,’ I thought; “no, please not Vincenzo!” But no, it was Vini Fantini’s Mauro Santambrogio.
The Italians love a good 'Giovani' - Under 23 rider. Today's Edinburgh edition of the Gazzetta deals with Battaglin's fine Stage Four win. The Italian journo's are already thinking about when he's going to buy a Lambo/date a model/move to Monaco and they can say; 'he's not serious!'
We look at the popularity of Sportives in this article. In 2014, both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia will visit the UK. The 2011 World Road Race Champion was a British rider and the current Tour de France champion is British also.
I didn't stay up, I must confess; but I was trawling YouTube as the clips were still being posted. The man, Lance Armstrong on Oprah, he "fessed up" - my jaw dropped, I never thought I'd see the day.
‘Barredo retires in light of biological passport violations case,’ says the CyclingNews headline. ‘So what, all them Spaniards are dodgy,’ we hear you say. But let’s go back two years. We're standing in the low cloud and cold drizzle of an Asturian afternoon. We’re high above the cave where Pelagius and his men had the vision of the Virgin the night before the battle; past the unmarked graves where the dead still lay on the mountain side and even higher above the twin Lagos of Enol and Ercina which give this strip of rough tarmac its name. We’re very near to the finish of one of the most evocative stage finishes in the Vuelta – Lagos de Covadonga.
The USADA Reasoned Decision; just like those CNN images from Iraq when the Saddam statues crashed to the ground, Lance is in pieces in the dust – the legend shattered. The Zealots told us that it was a great day and the start of a new era in cycling.
I had intended to start this piece on the subject of Mr. Dettori’s current woes by saying that Frankie seems like a cool guy to me; but then reminding us that so too did Tyler H. and Lance. But one of our readers has given me a better intro which underscores my point. Namely that it’s not just about Lance and ever stiffer penalties.
LanceGate is divisive, no question. Our editor, Martin and I have similar views on many things in cycling – but not on this one. Martin thinks that the boil must be lanced; (pun intended) get the puss out before the healing can begin. My feeling is that what’s happening is the equivalent of dropping a nuclear depth charge into a huge cesspit – spectacular, very messy and with no real positive effect, unless you’re a tabloid editor or a ‘forum sitter.’
If you write, one of the most satisfying things is when someone takes the time to tell you in response that they’ve enjoyed something you’ve written.
Despite the Lance Armstrong Scandal, it’s not hard to dislike Lance Armstrong; he’s arrogant, controlling, self-obsessed, hypocritical and brought to cycling the horrors of bodyguards, blacked-out SUV windows, black socks and celebrity visits to the Tour de France.
Putting to the side for a minute the fact that Tyler lied for years about his PED use before finally coming clean and whether that means everything he says can or can't be trusted, and just reading this book with an open mind, it quickly becomes clear just how much an everyday part of pro cycling in the 1980's, 90's, and 2000's PED and illegal blood manipulation actually was. Of course, anyone with an interest in the sport already had more than an inkling that such cheating had always played a part, and fans of the sport have had to contend with scandal following scandal since forever, and particularly since the Festina affair in 1998.