Tour de Drama
The Dauphine reveals who is looking good for the 2012 Tour de France.
The Dauphine is all wrapped up and except for some strong moments by BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans, it was the Team Sky show starring Bradley Wiggins.
The British team rode a dominating race with Wiggins a very close second place finisher in the prologue and then his resounding victory in stage 4's individual time trial. Stage 3 went to Edvald Boasson Hagen in a sprint. And let's not forget the collaborative effort of the whole Team Sky during the queen stage of the race taking the riders from Saint-Alban-Leysse to Morzine. The team never showed any weakness and was able to stay with team leader Wiggins when it mattered. Impressive stuff.
However, in these days of doping scandals when a rider or team does exceptionally well suspicion is raised. Wiggins did a pre-Dauphine training on Tenerife - an island off of Africa known for mountains and ideal for high altitude training. This location, while seeming far off is actually used by pros for the reason that there are very few distractions. All they can do is sleep, ride, eat, repeat. Regardless people suggested that the true reason was to be away from prying eyes.
In response to the Team Sky questioning, Team Garmin-Barracuda manager Jonathan Vaughters took to Twitter and commented, "not sure why ppl are surprised by sky:a few €800k guys pulling a €900k guy, who then pulls for a €1.3m guy,who helps a €2m guy."
For all the sly comments regarding Wiggins becoming a real grand tour threat you first need to look at the mechanism behind the man. Team Sky has one of the richest budgets in professional cycling. And to quote Vaughters again, "they aren't doping, they are buying up talent."
I've been burned too many times to never boldly state like Vaughters does about anyone not doping. I've learned that the fan or media person never truly knows what a rider is doing. Hell, team managers always claim that they didn't know that their busted rider was doping - how can I know?
However, I'm not at that place in my mind to believe that just because a team or rider is having some phenomenal results to automatically suspect shenanigans. That type of disbelief only ruins my enjoyment of the sport I have called my passion for well over 25 years.
Sometimes you need to enjoy the story. You want to be able to enjoy the heroic story in cycling without constantly questioning whether the winner is cheating. That said, I'm not naively closing my eyes to doping that has occurred and will occur again. If a situation looks dodgy then yes, I'm going to question it. But I'm not going to have a knee jerk reaction that they must be doping. Also, I haven't changed my views on certain riders and whether they doped or not - I'm just not going to throw my arms up in the air, proclaim they all cheat and always be suspicious.
At this point I have no reason to doubt that Team Sky has been using anything more than