Jonathan Tiernan-Locke & The Art of Cynicism

“Being cynical is the only thing that is still fun about cycling,” wrote Willard Ford, and I love that line so much that I might put it on a t-shirt. But here’s an interesting thought – which came first, the doping, or the cynicism?

There are several different kinds of cycling fan, of course, but for the sake of argumentative journalism, please allow me to generalize. We’ll say there are three broad types.

Type One never believed a word of it from the get-go and knew these guys were popping something akin to rocket juice straight into their butt cheeks from the early 90s. Hardcore riders and/or racers themselves, they knew that what they were seeing was not physiologically possible. They understood the history of the sport and knew that from way back in the late 1800s all the way up to Mr. Merckx himself and beyond, cyclists had been cheating.

Why did they cheat? Because they were human, plain and simple.

They spent years in the shadows, these Type Ones, whispering under their breath and looking over their shoulder lest they accidentally let it slip that they believed that 99% of the peloton was more chemically enhanced than Timothy Leary on a three day bender.

Few spoke out because if they did they would be vilified, labeled as envious and bitter. Some were writers and broadcasters but they still kept schtum, lest they find themselves out of work. They were, however, vindicated in the end, even if it never made anyone really feel too good.

Type Two believed in The Lie for a long time then realized, finally (despite Festina, Puerto, the Italian with the big ears and all the rumors about needles, vials and exercise bikes being brought into Grand Tour hotel rooms to help riders keep their blood thin at night), that yes, their heroes doped. For this, we can thank Lance Armstrong.

It took the fall of the good ol’ boy from Texas to finally convince Type Two that even English speakers dope too. Heaven forbid. So, David Millar was not an isolated case. Turns out, in fact, that it had been these American guys that were at the head of the most sophisticated doping fraud in the history of the sport.

Was nothing sacred? Could we please just go back to blaming the Spanish and the Italians? Wouldn’t that be easier for everyone?

Then we have Type Three. Denied sufficient oxygen at birth, Type Three sees nothing wrong in doping and wishes everyone would just shut up and allow the dopers to get on with it. Who cares? Type Three certainly doesn’t. Happily unburdened by the weight of intellect they will tell you that they just don’t give a ****, which, as we all know, is one hell of a powerful argument.

Personally, I’m either an optimistic cynicist or a cynical optimist, so in my case I’d say I was definitely ready for the dawn of the EPO era, because I was already pissed off. When a bunch of Dutch kids died in the early 90s because they didn’t know how to use blood thinning agents to counteract the thickening of the blood that EPO causes, I got pissed off even more.

Later when these man-hulks were racing up mountains so fast that even the Colombians were shocked, I delved even further into my natural store of cynicism. It was a match made in heaven, professional cycling and me, because I have always loved having something to complain about. And here it was. A beautiful thing being destroyed by chancers and pimps, enablers and drug addicts. The cheats rose to the top and the good guys got zilch. Less than zilch, in fact, because they even got a kick in the teeth as they were being thrown out.

All of which brings me to Jonathan Tiernan-Locke.

When he rocked up in 2012 and started winning stuff and putting riders who had for a long time, on paper at least, been better than him to shame I thought ‘hmmmm’. You probably thought that too. My Gran even put a bet on him eventually getting busted, he looked that dodgy.

‘Give him the benefit of the doubt,’ some said.

‘Hey, innocent til proven guilty!’ clamoured others.

Why? Because so often when a rider has come along and shown form that he had never previously exhibited they don’t later on get busted for doping, or ‘admit’ it when the gun’s to their head? Like, Bjarne Riis. Or Levi Leipheimer. Or David Millar?

I wished JTL was clean. I am that stupid that I wanted to believe it. I wanted to believe because I love those stories, I’m sure many of us do, of the underdog who rises to the challenge, who comes to the stadium to watch then gets asked to play and hits the skin off the ball to bring home the win.

I wanted to believe because I’m human. But something said ‘hmmm’ in my head because I had reached the point where I just could not take it anymore. The data shows that a vast majority of cyclists throughout history have doped. Recent years show that for every step forward we take 5 back. It all shows, indeed, that if you think anyone is really, really clean, then you’re conning yourself.

This doesn’t mean no one is clean. It just means that you really, seriously should not believe any of them.

Yes, a brilliantly ridiculous conclusion, but you go check the numbers. Let’s hear your summation.

JTL’s rather Boonesque excuse for his results was that he had necked 17 pints just before the test, but that he couldn’t be bothered to challenge the results cos he has no cash and he figured he’d been stitched up enough.

it's Happy Hour every hour for JTL apparently...

it’s Happy Hour every hour for JTL apparently…

You know what that ’17 pints’ excuse really is? It’s like when you’ve done something really quite wrong at work or at a party or indeed anywhere where there are people you have to face later, and you’re not brave enough to admit the truth. So you spin a yarn that is outlandish and frankly pathetic, but because everyone is nice they go along with it. For those who weren’t there at the time of the misdeed or who aren’t so close, your little lie does just enough to sow a miniscule grain of doubt in the mind.

‘Oh of course he did it,’ they think… ‘But he did say that he…’

And that is what JTL’s excuse essentially is. He will go back to his pals and his family and they’ll be able to pretend to believe that he is innocent. The veneer will survive, just. It’s the coward’s way out though, make no mistake, but, amazingly, it works.

A study in the USA found that sports fans prefer their idols to lie about doping, despite the evidence of a positive test. Denying works. Your ratings might take a dent but hey, he said the reason was this, or she said that. Admit it though, and your popularity will really fall.

So yes, people would rather be lied to than hear the truth, in a great many circumstances.

For me though? Sheesh, gimme a break, the kid is as guilty as OJ. But then, he did have 17 pints.

Come on cynicism, don’t desert me now…

imitation, they say…

is nothing short of laziness.

or, wait some folk say… is the sincerest form of flattery. or something like that. well, check this out – CRANKPUMP!

it’ll be a huge success. cos everyone has shimano hollowtech cranks. and no one has pockets. brilliant!

click here to see the CRANKPUMP! video and to hear the voiceover from a woman who was kept in a darkened room for the past 11 years.

and what a smooth-line looking bike…

really?

really?

 

yes, for 50 quid you can become a TEST-PILOT! and not an idiot who sent in 50 quid to test something that costs 89p to make!

yes, for 50 quid you can become a TEST-PILOT! and not an idiot who sent in 50 quid to test something that costs 89p to make!

 

lovely line drawings abound!

lovely line drawings abound!

Crank Punk Coaching Systems: Donald MacDonald hits the podium!

great ride last weekend by CPCS rider Donald MacDonald from Singapore (by way of Scotland) and his Direct Asia teammate Pierre-Alain Scherwey. the pair were riding in the Singapore Cycling Federation Celebration Series TTT and managed 3rd place, behind the Infinite team rider and the winners, from the Kenyan national team, no less!

great work, Donald.

you can read Donald’s testimonial on CPCS here.

Donald leads the way

Donald leads the way

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The Vuelta 2014 promises fireworks

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Some folk in the cycling world feel that 2014 has been a less-than-stellar vintage in regards to Grand Tours.

The Giro d’Italia saw the first Grand Tour win for Colombian Nairo Quintana, though the way the Movistar rider prised the famous Maglia Rosa from the shoulders of his compatriot Rigoberto Uran had fans disputing the validity of Quintana’s rise to the top of the general classification.

With the weather turning foul and several riders having crashed, race organisers sent out a message calling for the neutralisation of the descent of the Stelvio.

However, several riders and team managers later claimed either not to have heard the call or to have not understood what exactly was transpiring.

Either way, Quintana got down the hill quite quickly and then launched an attack up the final climb of the day, taking minutes off Uran. Unfair, cried many, though to me it all looked fair enough.

Apart from that of the Colombian winner there were very few stand out performances, though Marcel Kittel had set the race alight by winning two stages on the trot early on before abandoning.

I thought the Tour was one of the best in years, a real watershed edition in many ways. It was great to see a humble winner who has so far garnered no suspicion with regards to doping, to see the re-emergence of the French riders and teams, and that brilliant start provided by Yorkshire.

However, there are plenty of old Scrooges about who cited the lack of ‘excitement’ (I read ‘lack of heavy doping’) and moaned about the predictability of the race.

You can’t please everyone, thank goodness. Imagine how exhausting it would be doing that.

Fair enough, Mark Cavendish crashed out of the Tour early on (his own fault entirely), Chris Froome followed (I still maintain the cause was the cobbles, even though he never rode over them), and then Alberto Contador headed to the exit too (not a huge fan but a very brave ride).

So yes, there are grounds to say the result might have been different had they been there, but we will never know.

Which brings us to the Vuelta a Espana. The Vuelta isn’t the ugly sister to the Giro and the Tour, it’s more the little brother who never gets invited along on adventures or picked for the footy team until he’s last man standing, and even then there’s a fight over who will be lucky enough not to get him.

A bit harsh I know, but you get my drift. I’ve never been a fan of the Vuelta as I have the Giro (my traditional favourite) and the Tour (how can you deny that circus?).

However, this year, the Vuelta possibly has the best line-up of all three Grand Tours and may actually be worth watching.

Froome is desperate to save his season, while Quintana is ready to show his employers he should have been picked for the Tour, and to show his Giro critics that he is doesn’t need to pounce on others’ misfortune to win.

Also in the GC mix are defending champion Chris Horner, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Cadel Evans, Rigoberto Uran, Dan Martin, Andrew Talansky and Robert Gesink. That’s not far off Tour calibre, missing only Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and the suspended Roman Kreuziger.

Few of these guys will be looking to make much of an impact at the upcoming World’s and so should be in the race for the long haul.

One rider who is looking to the World’s is Philippe Gilbert, who will be at the Vuelta. He is likely to bail mid-race but should be in form to challenge for a couple of stage wins.

Also in action will be Tom Boonen, another fan favourite, as well as Tour de France abandonneur Fabian Cancellara.

All three of the aforementioned one-day princes will be using the Vuelta to get honed for the World’s in Ponferrada, Spain, and all should be in their best shape of the year since the Classics.

On the sprint side it looks like Kittel will not be in attendance, but Giro points classification winner Nacer Bouhanni will, as indeed will Mark Cavendish, who will be eager to avenge the massive disappointment he experienced in the Tour.

Peter Sagan also makes the list and will be looking for a stage win – something that eluded him on his way the Tour’s green jersey.

The organisers must be besides themselves with glee. It might have happened by default, and several guys may still bail before the big mountains, but this could be the best Vuelta in many a moon.

UCI & ASO need to ban Riis and Vino (& the rest) from Le Tour

this article originally appeared on The Roar

 

Eurosport’s coverage of the 2014 Tour de France had a section at the end of each stage that was entitled ‘LeMond on Tour’.

This featured the combustible-looking, three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond chatting to a host of the Tour’s personalities.

One day his French co-host ushered onto the makeshift set none other than Alexandre Vinokourov. Vinokourov is the one-time crowd favourite Kazakh army colonel who is now Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team boss.

El Vino is also infamous for being kicked out of the 2007 Tour de France after he was caught for blood doping, which triggered the removal of all his Astana teammates and their entourage.

His reaction to getting nabbed – to basically skirt around the issue for years and to never fully own up to his breaking of the rules – lost him many friends, leaving the majority of cycling fans decidedly nonplussed when he won the 2012 Olympic road race in his final year of racing.

Whoever decided that it would not be decidedly uncomfortable for LeMond, an avowed anti-doper and long-time Lance Armstrong foe, to exchange pleasantries with a man whose arrogance and nefariousness are the polar opposite of everything the only American winner of Le Tour stands for, must soon have realised their mistake as soon as the Kazakh hero stepped into view.

LeMond’s body stiffened visibly and he had trouble even forcing a smile. Vino was and remains a poster boy for the good old (recent) days, when riders thought nothing of doping up to get ahead.

That he is managing a top-level team is bad enough in my opinion, and the fact that his rider won the Tour is the only blemish on Nibali’s otherwise sterling and hugely impressive win.

Such is Vinokourov’s esteem (and political contacts) in his homeland that some reports say that news of his positive test were never fully reported in Kazakhstan.

That Kairat Kelimbetov, the president of Kazakh Cycling, is now pushing for a Grand Depart in the eastern European nation reflects the growing popularity of the sport there. However it must be noted that the awarding of such a prestigious gift by ASO will be seen as a victory for Vinokourov, something which I hope Christopher Prudhomme, head of Le Tour, will take into account.

Christian Prudhomme reacted recently to the report that several former Tour winners believe that Armstrong’s seven Tour ‘victories’ should be reinstated in the record books with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders and a definitive shake of the head.

“And the same goes for the public,” he said. “You ask the people along the route. It’s clear, his name will not be on the list again. Period.”

All very well and good, but where does he stand on Vinokourov heading a ProTour team at a race he once disgraced?

In the argument for the special and singular treatment of Armstrong, his sociopathic nature is often trotted out, but it is not up to the rules to define who was the worst cheat.

A cheat is a cheat is a cheat, and, if anyone is asking me, they should all be removed from the books and all be banned from further involvement in professional racing, or, at the very least, in the races they were caught cheating at or during.

Bjarne Riis is another case in point. The career domestique won the Tour in 1996 then in retirement admitted that he had doped during that victory. ASO removed his name then reinstated him, placing an asterisk next to his name to indicate doping offences.

He skulked off for a spell after a successful career as a team boss. He then sold his share to the Russian Oleg Tinkoff, admitted depression as a result of all his troubles, disappeared for a spell then turned up again driving the Tinkoff-Saxo team car in races this year, most noticeably at the Tour.

I’m not the only one who has noticed all this, and indeed the UCI president Brian Cookson touched on the subject in an interview a few days ago in The Guardian, reacting to, I can only guess, the public mood regarding the sight of Vino and Riis at the Tour.

“I would like both of them to come to the [Cycling Independent Reform] commission,” Cookson said. “The commission doesn’t have powers of subpoena, but there is a court of public opinion here which is really important; those two people and others as well need to bear that in mind if they want to continue to operate in our world, opinion in the world of cycling would be much more favourable towards them if they came forward.”

That’s all well and good, but is it enough? The commission was designed to look into cycling’s doping past, but there is a groundswell of opinion that believes that there is no place in cycling management and in the bureaucracy for former dopers.

“We’ve got a rule that says if you’ve got a major anti-doping violation you can’t be involved with a team,” continued Cookson, “but our advice is that it’s difficult to employ that retroactively.”

How so? How about we get rid of the lot of them? To name only Riis and Vino is another example of that old attitude that the apple cart is generally healthy and that there’s just a couple of bad apples in there, but in truth, in the era of Vino and Riis, it was very much the other way around.

This is one reason that any truth and reconciliation hearing would turn up very little truth and absolutely no reconciliation, because so few former pros would have anything to gain from admitting to using drugs. In fact, they would have everything to lose.

Cookson started off well enough and made all the right noises. There is no doubt that the support of women’s cycling has improved noticeably. However, until the UCI decides once and for all to ban all the cheats from management we will continue as a sport to make one step forward and three back.

All the while, Armstrong’s repeated cry that he is being singled out unfairly will gather more support.

We just had a very good Tour with a winner that has no doping suspicion hanging over him and saw several new and young faces emerge, so why are we still seeing the smug Vino center stage?

A shambles. Nothing less.

 

Bjarne Riis reads from the usual doper script and tells us how ‘difficult’ the decision to first dope was.

crankpunk is on holiday

yes,  a real holiday, racing the Craft TransAlp. 7 days of hell. 586km and 19,200m of climbing.

5th day in and i am a mess of cuts, bruises, and a taint that ’tain’t no more.

hot damn, these hills are vicious. and beautiful.

full report to come soon. man, am i getting an education from these Euros…

P2100563

 

 

 

 

Why the 2014 Tour de France has been so far, so good

this article originally appeared on The Roar

 

We are only 11 stages into the 2014 Tour de France and yet we have already been gifted a race for the ages.

It’s had thrills, spills, bellyaches and tears, Herculean efforts of leg-busting chutzpah, and buckets of va-va voom even without the presence of Va-Va Froome.

Some of it has been caused by accident – quite literally – but a good chunk of the intrigue and interest has come about due to very clever design.

The revival of the French riders, and one French team in particular, has kept the locals on the edge of their seats and ensured enthused crowds roadside daily. Lotto Belisol’s Tony Gallopin has been pivotal to all this, with one day in the yellow jersey and that irrepressible victory on Stage 11.

He must have read ‘How to become France’s new hero’ before the race. The recipe is simple. Get into yellow and win a stage in the Tour. The French have been so hungry for a ‘new Bernard Hinault’ that they’ve eaten just about all the pretenders who’ve come and gone since the Badger’s heyday.

Not that Gallopin is an Hinault. Only Hinault is Hinault, we all know that. However the way he won that stage sparked a national reminiscence of the golden days of French cycling – days, it has to be said, long since gone.

The effort he put in to try to stay in yellow on Bastille Day was beautifully captured by a shot from a moto that pulled alongside him as he struggled up the final climb. A string of saliva dangled from his gaping mouth, sweat slalomed down his face, and in that single moment, you could feel everything the Maillot Jaune means to these guys – especially the French.

It was beautiful. No other word for it.

Gallopin’s win followed Blel Kadri’s gallant solo effort to win Stage 8. The Ag2r rider also pulled on the king of the mountains jersey after his win, and though he lost it soon after, it provided another breath of fresh air for French cycling.

His team also captured the lead of the team competition, a rarity for a French squad. They are riding very well collectively, and though it’s early days yet they may have a shot of holding the lead if they ride well in the big hills.

The star team of the Tour have been Astana, but coming up close behind are Thomas Voeckler’s Europcar. The boys in forest green have been the surprise package of this Tour and are riding on the front every day. Exactly why they’ve been going so very hard hasn’t always been clear but, again, it’s making the French happy.

One reason so many teams have been up at the front when the race heats up – at times there have been four lines of teams lined out, all within a metre of each other – is that there is no patron (or boss) in the peloton these days.

In fact, there hasn’t really been a patron since a certain Texan ‘retired’, but the fact that both Chris Froome and Alberto Contador have left the race means that every man and his dog fancies a dig at the front.

The majority on the peloton felt sorry for both Froome and Contador after they exited the race, and no sensible human being would take pleasure in someone breaking bones, but as a result we, the viewing public, are getting the race we’ve been dreaming of.

Froome’s mastery last year meant the 2013 race was little more than a procession. This year the script promised a battle between Froome and Contador, a narrative that didn’t exactly set the pulse racing for a lot of cycling fans.

“The race will be the poorer for the absence of the two pre-race favourites,” said one commentator on Eurosport, but something close to the opposite has happened.

In any case, would Froome have held on to Nibali over those cobbles? The Italian had never raced them before but he showed something a lot of people had forgotten, that he is one of the world’s best handlers of a road bike.

I think Froome would have lost more time than Contador. Also, Nibali looks fantastic in the hills. He could well be coming of age here.

One other factor that may be contributing to the wow factor of this year’s Tour is that it looks as though there is less doping going on.

This is contentious, I realise. It’s an issue I refer to often and I remain unconvinced that is has disappeared, but the closeness of results and the unpredictability of the racing suggests this is the case.

I have zero proof, nothing but observations to go on and some comments from friends connected to top-level cycling, but a half-educated guess says this is what is happening.

Finally, there is the route the organisers have chosen. ASO boss Christian Prudhomme deserves huge credit for eschewing the standard Tour opening by throwing in daily stage routes with narrow curving lanes, hard little climbs, and a sever lack of straight, flat finishes.

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.32.59

We’ve had rollers in Yorkshire, large stones in northern France and enough nasty hillocks in the Vosges to rock everyone’s legs – and to throw up all sorts of surprises.

It’s been a vintage Tour so far, let’s hope it continues.

Cancellara, Specialized and Menchov: The Tour de Devious

Love-Le-Tour

a version of this article originally appeared on The Roar

 

Intrigue and drama are never far from any Tour de France, but this one has been a doozy from Stage 1.

It started with the controversial sprint and subsequent exit of Mark Cavendish, followed by that massive day on the cobbles that saw Chris Froome leave the Tour with a fractured wrist and an incredible ride by Vincenzo Nibali.

It was then on to the rather lonely farewell of Alberto Contador as he patted Mick Rogers on the back and climbed into his team car, surrounded by low hanging clouds that seemed to have been summoned by a scriptwriter with a penchant for cliché.

But this has all been anything but cliché. It has, in fact, been one of the most fascinating starts to a Tour in many a year.

The abandonments of the three riders mentioned were not planned nor welcomed by anybody but perhaps their fiercest detractors and closest rivals, yet the reason that Fabian Cancellara has left the race is another kettle of fish altogether.

“I will travel home now and take a little break,” Cancellara told reporters as the rest day began. “The season has been long for me, starting back in Dubai.

“I have done 59 days of competition this season so far and I have another big goal at the end of this season: the World Championships.

“It’s not a secret that I’d like to be in my best shape there, so it’s important that I take some rest.”

Which all left me scratching my head and wondering a few things.

Had his team known that they’d be deprived of their best rider after ten stages? Did Cancellara plan this in advance, or was it a spur of the moment thing? Finally, is this not immensely disrespectful to the Tour de France?

Riders often ditch their spots in the Vuelta a Espana before its conclusion to prepare for the World’s but this might just be the first time that a rider has done the same thing at the Tour.

Perhaps others have used false injuries as excuses but none have come out to state the fact so bluntly as Cancellara.

Also, the Worlds comes soon after the Vuelta, this year towards the end of September, which is over two and a half months away.

That we’ve lost three of the sport’s stars was bad enough, but to have another name just decide to drop out, abandoning his teammates, his fans and the race itself, does not sit right.

That kettle of fish is a tad stinky.

Onto Contador and that bike. That bike that was reported as being broken and the reason for his crash even before he abandoned.

Bjarne Riis said soon after that he thought the crash had been caused because Contador had been eating and lost control of the bars and went down.

What was he eating? 86 kilograms of marzipan? Fried hippo on a stick? A Spanish cow perhaps?

That tosh was soon followed – and I mean immediately – by a statement from Specialized that denied the bike had been broken at all, despite NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, reporting that his bike had indeed been “in pieces.”

“His frame snapped in half. They threw it in a heap in the back of the car,” Porino said.

Then Specialized said Conty’s spare bike had fallen from the roof of the car, then they said that it was it was in fact Nicolas Roche’s bike that had been run over earlier despite the fact that it had a ‘31′ – Contador’s number – attached to the bike.

And then – yes, I am not joking – they claimed that Contador’s spare bike had been on the roof and that it had somehow collided with a Belkin spare that was on their roof. Quite how two bikes on separate roofs can collide without the two cars carrying them getting majorly dented was not explained.

Hmm, the intrigue builds.

“Yes, we can confirm that a delinquent child swapped Nicolas Roche’s number for a quickly and expertly constructed papier mache likeness of Contador’s number,” Specialized’s spokesperson should have said but didn’t.

“The wayward waif jumped on the car roof after the first descent with a bucket of paste and chicken wire and he’s shown us right up, the little card,” Specialized definitely did not say. “That’s all there is to it. Now then, move along.”

Then a photo of ‘Contador’s bike’ was posted that showed a Specialized that looked fine and was very unbroken in half and we were told that this was in fact ‘the bike’.

Might have been better, Specialized marketing folks, had you sent out a message offering condolences and a quick recovery to your sponsored rider and declining to comment on the bike until a later date.

The Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch might not be the best model on which to model your recent public statements.

Insert ‘Specialized bike’ every time Alberto – sorry John Cleese – says ‘parrot’ and you have a very keen replica of this current situation. The parrot even matches the colour of Contador’s Norwegian Blue bike. It’s too perfect.]

s-works

One last thing – check out the picture above. Is that not Contador’s bike, a broken one, with the doctor in white shirt and kahki trousers behind that attended him? Why would the team guy be carrying Contador’s broken bike, if it happened earlier with the alleged clash with Belkin, here? Confusing, indeed.

Finally, and this may not seem connected to the Tour de France 2014 but trust me, it is pertinent, comes the news of Denis Menchov’s ban for doping.

Menchov, busted for doping offences in 2009, 2010 and 2012, is the biggest name since Contador to be busted and yet for some reason the UCI tried to bury this news in a pdf on their website.

Now, why would the UCI, who under Cookson have been promising greater transparency, not announce the news that their biological passport had caught a big fish with a press release? Cookson has tried to explain the reasoning but he ended up admitting that the UCI might have handled it better.

Might have?

Menchov announced his retirement with a year left on his contract and said that it was the result of a knee injury, which seemed odd to say the least. If I didn’t know better I’d think that Menchov knew something was coming and decided to take the quiet road out.

Just last month Roman Kreuziger and Tinkoff-Saxo announced that the team management and rider had decided not to ride the race as the Kreuziger was under suspicion as a result of his blood values.

The news came from his team, not from the UCI. Why would the UCI, in these two cases, not release the news themselves to the media, instead leaving fans on forums to fill the vacuum? Do they not understand the need for full accountability?

More confusion comes from the actions, or inactions, of the authorities. We, the paid up members who pay our fees to race and who pay the salaries of the UCI, and others who watch the races on their tv sets, contributing to the huge TV deals, are not deemed to be important enough to be given explanations for these events.

Transparent? About as clear as the fog into which Alberto Contador disappeared.

Intriguing indeed,