Duvet Days

A cycling fan might be forgiven for wanting to stay in bed. News of the ongoing saga of Contador’s case isn’t too cheerful.

First, up rather than an orderly hearing by the Spanish authorities it’s only taken hours for Juan Carlos Castaño, President of the RFEC, to publically say he’s got Contador’s back, he’s known him since he was a kid and more. To be fair to Castaño, he’s also said he’ll ensure a fair hearing but you don’t need to be some master of linguistics to spot the gaps in his words. Institutions are swayed by leadership like this. Indeed you’d hope the Valverde fallout would have prompted reform, but no.

Next, Andy Schleck comes out with some platitudes that are so disposable they should be printed on Kleenex. Speaking to De Telegraaf, he says “For me Contador will always be the winner of the 2010 Tour de France“. Yes, he’s not the controversial sort but he’s side-stepping the issues here. You can excuse a rider who attacks when a rider drops a chain but can you be equally relaxed about doping?

Then I read Franco Pellizotti’s having a whine about the treatment of cyclists versus footballers. Now there’s a point to be made here but talk about weak ground, Pellizotti’s not exactly the spokesman of choice here. Instead he might do better to publish his blood values online so the public can investigate the strange changes alledged by the UCI.

Plus their’s Bjarne Riis’s biography. He’s explaining the meaning of the word “preparation” and how nobody thought spending up to €130,000 on EPO and other products was strange, yet alone wrong. HTC boss Brian Holm said a similar thing last week and yes, things are different now. Riis and Holm are saying the same thing: the economic imperative today is to be clean… only Riis still struggles to inspire here.

Finally an item from yesterday, and that there’s some debate over whether the new Pegasus team will be able to ride the Tour Down Under. This should be resolved quickly but why is there even any hesitation, to have the premier Aussie race without the new Aussie team is a sure-fire way to undermine the team before the season starts. Some say Aussie politics and turf ways mean the team and the race organiser aren’t best friends but all the same, they have an interest to work together.

All the points above have a common theme: everyone is talking about their personal interests and empires. Castaño’s worried about a friend and the image of Spanish cycling. Pellizotti doesn’t like being named as a doper by the UCI. Riis is justifying his actions as part of a collective act. And the Aussies seem uninterested in supporting a local team.

Maybe it’s just the lack of racing but at the same time, whilst I’m really looking forward to the 2011 season, whether it’s to see the new teams or the exciting Giro and Tour routes, I can’t help feel that the sporting wonder will struggle to escape the controversy. If I find this depressing, imagine how guys like David Moncoutié, Sandy Casar or Marco Pinotti must feel?

13 thoughts on “Duvet Days”

  1. FP: thanks for the link, the Drapac interview is a good read. The TdU seems mad not to invite more local teams.

    Anonymous: indeed, the big names obviously are the ones who get reported. Note there are guys like Hushovd who are also making bold statements but in a more positive way.

    Ray: Riis just seems to be a magnet for trouble but such a consistent association with trouble can't just be bad luck, no?

  2. Is it just me or is Schleck hard to admire because of his wimpish responses to Contador? I know he's young, but isn't youth supposed to be more fierce?

  3. It's true he's become more media savvy and as an increasingly visible character, it's standard stuff to say dull things. At the same time, he has to be careful not to be too passive. He can gain in stature by taking a stand.

  4. Awww, cynics! Even more cynical than myself! It's hard to see through the translations, but it sounds like Andy meant something more like: until he gets to stand on top step of the podium he won't feel like a TdF winner.

  5. Nice post as always.

    The problem for me is if so many are clean; way isn't there a pressure from within the peloton. These guys ride together all year, the powerbalance has to tip (if it's really true…i'm not there get), but how is that gonna happen when the winners always are the dopers. (except Thor and Eddy Boss, I am norwegian, and a bit biased about norwegians ;p). Why aren't the clean riders and their trainers and DS more active in cleaning up the sport, I would like to think that would give them more a chance of winning. Maybe that's why we are depressed and not the riders, we think about it too much…they don't.

    I think the only way to change this is for the people on the team (mechanics, driver, trainers, everyone involved etc. etc) put pressure on the riders. One way to make them do this is if their job depends on it… sanction the teams..

    anyway; My dream is to infiltrat the peloton as a spy 🙂

  6. TdF: yes, AS said that, that he didn't get the joy of winning. But let's speculate and imagine Contador is caught for the "plasticisers" (highly unlikely), will the Spaniard still be the winner?

    Mia: I am liking the frank words coming from Norway, whether Thor or the authorities there. It's a start and a few years ago almost nobody was saying this.

  7. Agreed – we fans definitely respect those truly clean riders who come through loud and clear with a "WTF!?!?" at the riders who dope, and the accolades they receive post-positive test.

    And no one can be more disappointed and disillusioned if the outspoken riders later turn out to be not quite as clean as we had thought.

  8. Again a nice post
    But have you ever wondered if the reason that Andy is so nice to Contador could be be-course he is afraid to be the next one in the doping trap, “don't trow stones if you live in a glass house”.
    After all the man that have been closest to him, trained and advised him, and now is his boss (Kim Andersen) was convicted for life for doping.

  9. Mate, it's only one Aussie standing in the way of Pegasus. Everyone else wants them in.

    Lets not tar the whole country (or at least all those involved in cycling) with the same brush shall we.

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