Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Clean, cleaner, cleanish

LA, that's the once and future rider, not the place in America, was interview recently about 'the return' and said that the generation he rode with was the dirty generation...

'There's this perception in cycling that this generation is now the cleanest generation we've had in decades, if not forever. And the generation that I raced with was the dirty generation.' Says Lance.

This then will be the same Lance then, who rode against Filippo Simeoni in 2004 because Simeoni had chosen to testify against Ferrari (at that time LA's doctor), or maybe it's a different LA, maybe he's got Tyler Hamilton twin syndrome?

Indeed it makes deeply disturbing reading to look through the lists of podiums and jersey winners of the 3 grand tour over the last decade and play the caught, banned and disgraced game. Well actually disturbing is perhaps the wrong word, more like 'very annoying where's the baseball bat'. Remove those that are now disgraced from the list and you have a very, very different set of podiums, let alone stage winners.
Now this obviously makes me and I'd guess the average fan at the roadside angry, so what the hell does it do to the guys in the peloton? I am amazed that there hasn't been a in peloton fight yet. What I do know from reading various blogs, interviews etc after this years Le Tour is that is a lot of anger and it's starting to come out, Interviews with Robbie Hunter, Geraint Thomas and Jerome Pineau's blog leave you in no uncertain terms that there is a lot of ill feeling, not just to dopers, but to the 'old ways' of doing things.

So is the sport any cleaner now than in 1999? Well, yes I think it is. Tests are more advanced and far more comprehensive, riders are speaking out against dopers, sponsors have pulled out citing failed drug tests as their reason, fans are openly abusing riders that fail tests and cheering those that take a stand against drugs. So are we there yet? No far from it, but we have come a long way.
IMHO the UCI need to push for longer bans and a comprehensive testing and education programme to be introduced by all national federations (with removal from the worlds as the non compliance option).
A long way then? Yes, but we are so far ahead of the other sports in this area that we can at least feel some satisfaction there.
By the way, Filippo Simeoni's win in the 08 Italian championship is a win that we should all celebrate. At 37 he came back from ridicule to be a national hero, a ride that shows two things, one that determination and good training will pay off and secondly.... well, secondly, maybe things are getting cleaner.

On the racing front it's all happening in Spain isn't it, er... is it? Once again the Tour de Spain fails to rouse any excitement, other than climbing 20%/25% climbs in a bid to attract a TV audience. For God sake move it back to the start of the season, it at least had a value there and riders and fans weren't knackered by a long season.
I would be hoping by now to offer a detailed blow by blow account of the racing, but within minutes of switching on I've fallen asleep. Nope, move it back and leave the end of the season to the short week long stage races and Autumn classics.
Speaking of week long races the Tour de Britain is due to be 9 days long in 09. It was a good race this year and the general feeling from the riders was positive. Hopefully next year we'll have closed road finish circuits for the fans enjoyment and the riders safety. A few extra fully closed miles couldn't go amiss either. Still the relationship the organisers are building with host towns is very strong, hence the return of City Centre racing in 09 and with any luck as the years progress the race will move towards more closed road.

Cav has pulled out of the Worlds road, can't blame him can you, though doubtless there will be posters on the cycling weekly forum who do, the poor lad is totally knackered, 17 wins and racing since Feb (well he was riding World cups and six's over the winter, so it's a bit longer than he claims if you ask me). If anyone deserves a few beers and a bit of a lie in it's the Canonball. Take it easy Cav and see you at the Revolutions.

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