I have a secret to admit. I still like Pro Tour cycle racing. I try to talk about my secret to friends who used to listen to me, and they all say that after Floyd Landis tested positive, they lost all faith and interest in the sport.
I have to admit, they have a major point. I mean, look at the facts. Operation Puerto proved two things:
- Many, if not all, major cycle racers are dirty, and probably have been for years.
- Although those major cycle racers have been tested over and over again before or after racing, none of them have ever tested positive for anything.
Therefore I have to think that the dopers are currently winning the constant war between dopers and testers and probably have some unbeatable masking method. Therefore, for Floyd Landis to test positive, especially for a drug that doesn’t really help that much on race day and is more useful for long term training, means to me one of two things:
- Something about Floyd’s monumental “bonk” the previous stage ruined his masking regime OR
- the irregularities in the test process are the result of a concerted effort by French cycling to sabotage non-French, especially American riders, and since they never managed to catch Lance they’ll settle for Floyd.
I really want to believe Floyd Landis. I really do. I think he is a great cyclist, and a great hero to those of us who try to keep living our lives through pain. But I wanted to believe in Ivan Basso as well, and he’s as guilty as sin.
But through all the uncertainty, all the cheating and accusations of cheating, I still watch. And I still enjoy it. There is no other sport that combines the extreme sustained athleticism, the team tactics, the agony and the ecstasy. And I’ll be watching Le Tour next month like I’ve watched every year on the edge of my seat.
If anybody cares, here’s what I think from watching the run-up:
- I want Levi Leipheimer to win it but
- Vinokourov will probably win it.
Leipheimer is a great cyclist, and it’s great to see him finally leading a great team, but Vino’s Astana team looked unbeatable at Dauphine-Libre. Two years ago, I blogged about how Vino and George Hincapie were vying to be the next team leaders. Since that time, Hincapie has looked less and less like a potential team leader and Vinokourov has just looked better and better.