Saturday, July 28, 2007

We Just Don't Know. We Just Can't Believe.

Think this Tour doesn't hurt? You can see the injury 17th stage winner Sandy Casar of France suffered through his torn shorts following his crash (he hit a dog early in the stage).
(AP photo/Bas Czerwinski)

Today should be one of the most exciting days of the Tour de France.
It is the 19th and penultimate (don't you just love that word?) stage, the final time trial before the triumphant ride into Paris Sunday.

It is 33 miles, all out: The race of truth.

But therein lies the problem:
There will be nothing triumphant about the ride into Paris.

We do not know the truth.

This Tour, which Brit Bradley Wiggins says has "lost all credibility" and is "null and void as far as I am concerned" has been like a punch in the gut.

Who thought (OK, 53rd Tooth thought) things could get worse after Floyd Landis' grand deception last year?

"No one has faith in who is wearing the yellow jersey," said Wiggins, an Olympic gold medallist (of course, so is Tyler Hamilton -- and how fair is that to Wiggins?). "I'm quite pleased I'm here and out of it. I've no regrets that I am not there. It's not a nice place to be."

There are clean riders in professional cycling. Wiggins may be one of them. Alberto Contador, the Discovery Channel rider who now wears the yellow jersey, may be one of them.

We just don't know. We just can't believe.

If you listened to the Versus coverage of the past two predominantly flat stages since race leader Michael Rasmussen was booted from the Tour by his Rabobank team, the announcing team's tone has been just that: intentionally flat.

The air has gone out of this tour after multiple doping issues and news of positive tests.

It would be nice to revel in the possibility of Johan Bruyneel having coached eight of the last nine Tour victors. But Contador is this year's Oscar Pereiro. We all know Rasmussen was the strongest rider, like Landis last year. But were they really?

We just don't know. And now, how many fans just don't care?

If you do:
-- Edward Wyatt of the NYTimes: Three will be chasing title in Time Trial
-- The IHT Geoffrey Wheatcroft: The Tour de France in mourning
-- Richard Moore of the Scotsman:
Has the Tour de France become tour de farce?
-- Reuters: Tour director says breaking with UCI
-- AFP: Former champ LeMond says doping still dogs Tour
-- AP: Cyclist Vinokourov hires Floyd Landis' lawyer in Tour doping case
-- Andrew Hood of the VeloNews: Anger simmers in peloton over Tour scandals
-- VeloNews editorial: Rasmussen's lies
-- AP: Disgraced Rasmussen vows to continue his cycling career after being expelled from Tour
-- Reuters: Sponsors reconsidering after doping scandals
-- Samuel Abt of the IHT:Belgian works hard to finish last Tour
-- AP on researcher: Tour de France total calories 72,000 cheeseburgers

A thought about Rasmussen: He has always been a loner -- and a selfish loner at that, unpopular in the peloton and even on his team. Obviously, he did not feel he owed anyone anything, including his whereabouts for drug testing. It is hard to feel sorry for him. He made his own bed.

A note about Axel Merckx: There was a touching moment at the end of Stage 17 when Robbie Ventura interviewed the popular Merckx, who plans to retire at the end of Tour (unless he resurfaces as part of that Jonathan Vaughters American team we keep hearing about from Granny and on Versus).

The T-Mobile rider was part of the four-man breakaway that was ultimately won by France's Sandy Caser (who won despite hitting a dog early in the stage). During the interview, Merckx broke down momentarily, the emotion of losing a stage he obviously wanted to win badly as a celebration of his career overwhelming him.

It was, perhaps, the truest moment of this Tour.

4 comments:

53rd Tooth said...

Nice perspective 03.

And for the record, I still don't think the pro ranks have reached bottom. It's getting to the murky depths for sure but still has some more to go.

The lie has finally penetrated the masses and the only ones still living it are the pros themselves and the teams. Only until they wholly unravel themselves from this cloak of deceit, can the sport begin to heal itself.

The good news is that it's happening one rider at a time and the deluge is hopefully just one more climb away.

Tour of '03 said...

Well said. We don't know the extent of the cheating, and that throws a question over the entire sport. The riders need to start turning in the cheaters if they want to save their sport. If they know what's going on -- and how could they not? -- then they are culpable, too, with their silence.

Alberto said...

I disagree a bit on the comparisons made for Contador and Pereiro. I think both riders are more deserving than circumstances allow them. In both of their Tours they showed great courage and assuming that Contador is clean as Pereiro was clean a year ago, they both made a real spectacle of the race. If they were both so close to the "doped" Tour leaders they shouldn't be treated as lesser cyclists. I am particularly saddened for Pereiro who has been lost in the shadow of Valverde, his team leader. I think that was a historical team error. Pereiro did nothing but wait for Valverde in all the climbs, supporting his leader, and even so he manages a 10th place in the Tour. Very unfair for a world-class rider who still hasn't been given a deserving Yellow Jersey from '06. Contador will fair better. He's in a smarter team and showed that when healthy few can climb next to him, unless well, we know, let's let the lawyers race in the Tour.

Tour of '03 said...

Thanks for your perspective, Alberto. Well said.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

We Just Don't Know. We Just Can't Believe.

Think this Tour doesn't hurt? You can see the injury 17th stage winner Sandy Casar of France suffered through his torn shorts following his crash (he hit a dog early in the stage).
(AP photo/Bas Czerwinski)

Today should be one of the most exciting days of the Tour de France.
It is the 19th and penultimate (don't you just love that word?) stage, the final time trial before the triumphant ride into Paris Sunday.

It is 33 miles, all out: The race of truth.

But therein lies the problem:
There will be nothing triumphant about the ride into Paris.

We do not know the truth.

This Tour, which Brit Bradley Wiggins says has "lost all credibility" and is "null and void as far as I am concerned" has been like a punch in the gut.

Who thought (OK, 53rd Tooth thought) things could get worse after Floyd Landis' grand deception last year?

"No one has faith in who is wearing the yellow jersey," said Wiggins, an Olympic gold medallist (of course, so is Tyler Hamilton -- and how fair is that to Wiggins?). "I'm quite pleased I'm here and out of it. I've no regrets that I am not there. It's not a nice place to be."

There are clean riders in professional cycling. Wiggins may be one of them. Alberto Contador, the Discovery Channel rider who now wears the yellow jersey, may be one of them.

We just don't know. We just can't believe.

If you listened to the Versus coverage of the past two predominantly flat stages since race leader Michael Rasmussen was booted from the Tour by his Rabobank team, the announcing team's tone has been just that: intentionally flat.

The air has gone out of this tour after multiple doping issues and news of positive tests.

It would be nice to revel in the possibility of Johan Bruyneel having coached eight of the last nine Tour victors. But Contador is this year's Oscar Pereiro. We all know Rasmussen was the strongest rider, like Landis last year. But were they really?

We just don't know. And now, how many fans just don't care?

If you do:
-- Edward Wyatt of the NYTimes: Three will be chasing title in Time Trial
-- The IHT Geoffrey Wheatcroft: The Tour de France in mourning
-- Richard Moore of the Scotsman:
Has the Tour de France become tour de farce?
-- Reuters: Tour director says breaking with UCI
-- AFP: Former champ LeMond says doping still dogs Tour
-- AP: Cyclist Vinokourov hires Floyd Landis' lawyer in Tour doping case
-- Andrew Hood of the VeloNews: Anger simmers in peloton over Tour scandals
-- VeloNews editorial: Rasmussen's lies
-- AP: Disgraced Rasmussen vows to continue his cycling career after being expelled from Tour
-- Reuters: Sponsors reconsidering after doping scandals
-- Samuel Abt of the IHT:Belgian works hard to finish last Tour
-- AP on researcher: Tour de France total calories 72,000 cheeseburgers

A thought about Rasmussen: He has always been a loner -- and a selfish loner at that, unpopular in the peloton and even on his team. Obviously, he did not feel he owed anyone anything, including his whereabouts for drug testing. It is hard to feel sorry for him. He made his own bed.

A note about Axel Merckx: There was a touching moment at the end of Stage 17 when Robbie Ventura interviewed the popular Merckx, who plans to retire at the end of Tour (unless he resurfaces as part of that Jonathan Vaughters American team we keep hearing about from Granny and on Versus).

The T-Mobile rider was part of the four-man breakaway that was ultimately won by France's Sandy Caser (who won despite hitting a dog early in the stage). During the interview, Merckx broke down momentarily, the emotion of losing a stage he obviously wanted to win badly as a celebration of his career overwhelming him.

It was, perhaps, the truest moment of this Tour.

4 comments:

53rd Tooth said...

Nice perspective 03.

And for the record, I still don't think the pro ranks have reached bottom. It's getting to the murky depths for sure but still has some more to go.

The lie has finally penetrated the masses and the only ones still living it are the pros themselves and the teams. Only until they wholly unravel themselves from this cloak of deceit, can the sport begin to heal itself.

The good news is that it's happening one rider at a time and the deluge is hopefully just one more climb away.

Tour of '03 said...

Well said. We don't know the extent of the cheating, and that throws a question over the entire sport. The riders need to start turning in the cheaters if they want to save their sport. If they know what's going on -- and how could they not? -- then they are culpable, too, with their silence.

Alberto said...

I disagree a bit on the comparisons made for Contador and Pereiro. I think both riders are more deserving than circumstances allow them. In both of their Tours they showed great courage and assuming that Contador is clean as Pereiro was clean a year ago, they both made a real spectacle of the race. If they were both so close to the "doped" Tour leaders they shouldn't be treated as lesser cyclists. I am particularly saddened for Pereiro who has been lost in the shadow of Valverde, his team leader. I think that was a historical team error. Pereiro did nothing but wait for Valverde in all the climbs, supporting his leader, and even so he manages a 10th place in the Tour. Very unfair for a world-class rider who still hasn't been given a deserving Yellow Jersey from '06. Contador will fair better. He's in a smarter team and showed that when healthy few can climb next to him, unless well, we know, let's let the lawyers race in the Tour.

Tour of '03 said...

Thanks for your perspective, Alberto. Well said.