Giro d'Italia Drama
The first grand tour of the season has started and that can only mean one thing: doping accusations.
Like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano and trout swimming upstream during mating season; doping allegations signal the start of the grand tour season.
Just last week the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant stated that the Rabobank cycling team tolerated doping up until 2007. The other kick to the gut is the statement from ex-team manager Theo de Rooij who said, "If it happened, it was a deliberate decision by the medical staff." Not exactly a strong denial. The team sponsor gave an even weaker non-denial, "Since 2007 there is a new board of directors and new leadership." That's the equivalent of saying, "Move along, nothing to see here."
This team's history is a bit dodgy as Cyclingnews points out. Several Rabobank ex-riders have been either popped for doping or been linked to the Human Plasma case which involved 30 athletes receiving blood transfusions. Ex-Rabobankers Michael Boogerd, Thomas Dekker and Michael Rasmussen were questioned by the Dutch National Anti-Doping Agency.
Regardless of this possibly ongoing investigation and the slightly interesting revelations, we are a few stages into the Giro d'Italia, which started in Denmark on Saturday - honestly my favorite of the grand tours. As a fan you know that Team BMC's Taylor Phinney is in the pink leader's jersey after winning the stage one opening time trial.
America has produced some great riders, but let's face it - they didn't have that certain je ne sais pas to capture our hearts. And the Versus network didn't do other American riders many favors by having their commentators frequently compare them to Armstrong, building up the mythology of the seven time Tour de France winner.
I've been told that certain American riders that I've interviewed are, when surrounded by friends, quite entertaining. However, with the press they clam up, for whatever reason.
The first time I interviewed Taylor Phinney he was still part of the U-23 Livestrong-Trek team. I spoke to him in the lobby of his hotel and the topics varied from dreams of winning Paris-Roubaix to being a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars." He was open, not guarded, and also entertaining - giving me something that I knew the readers would enjoy rather than the usual, "I hope to have a good season and the team is great" bullshit.
With his time trial win in the Giro d'Italia the question was raised if he was the next "Lance Armstrong," which shows how one-dimensional some journalists can be, or perhaps that's all they know.
Phinney responded that he's a different type of rider than Armstrong, but then he said something else which was also interesting.
"Hopefully I can push the image of the sport for the fan-base, but if you look at the riders that are around my age, whether it's Tejay Van Garderen, Andrew Talansky, Peter Stetina, there's a vast number of US riders coming up who are doing really well."
He had targeted this stage and said that if he won the opening time trail it would be a life altering victory. And he's correct. Forever he will be announced