BLKTEC Cycles – the hottest new wheels and components

cp on the catwalk! 'modeling' the new BLKTEC range

cp on the catwalk! ‘modeling’ the new BLKTEC range

BLKTEC components and wheelsets really do rock, and you don’t just have to take my (sponsored) word for it. here is a report on the BLKTEC offerings that were on display at EuroBike on – as you can see, they were impressed.

click to image below to access the article, and click here to go to the BRAND NEW BLKTEC Cycles website.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 13.46.30


C1 front The C1 carbon rim, hub and spokes integrate to form a wheel that performs even better than it looks. 45mm deep and 25mm wide, the C1 delivers strength, stiffness and speed in equal measure. • 45 mm deep carbon tubular • 25 mm wide rim for improved aerodynamics • Full carbon hub with full carbon spokes for increased stiffness and reduced weight • 1200g (full set)

C1 front
The C1 carbon rim, hub and spokes integrate to form a wheel that performs even better than it looks. 45mm deep and 25mm wide, the C1 delivers strength, stiffness and speed in equal measure. • 45 mm deep carbon tubular • 25 mm wide rim for improved aerodynamics • Full carbon hub with full carbon spokes for increased stiffness and reduced weight • 1200g (full set)


The Mongolia Bike Challenge 2014 on VeloNews

Cheers to and Neal Rogers for allowing me to get a report on the 2014 Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge up there.

Click the image below to access the article, thanks!

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 18.06.42


CrankPunking at the 2014 Craft Trans Alp MTB race [or] Gettin’ An Ass-Kickin’ in Europe


“These Euros, they smell fear,” he said, whispering under his breath lest anyone hear.

“I gotta be honest,” I replied, leaning forward, “the descents on that single track ridiculousness scare the living bejeesus out of me.”

His eyes darted back and forth as though he was awaiting an attack by plastic tray from one of the other competitors that sat around us, hunched over shoveling in their evening rations.

“I know. Me too,” he said through a mouthful of pasta, wolfing it down as though he might be robbed of it at any moment.

“They go down it like fucking mad men!”

It was our 4th day in the TransAlp camp, and the combination of fatigue from riding, exhaustion from not sleeping thanks to sharing a sports gym floor nightly with 300 other men, and The Fear, had me going a little loco.

I thought about fashioning a shiv from my toothbrush that night, but thankfully common sense prevailed.

Two pool balls in a sock was a much better idea…



It seemed like a good idea at the time, to sign up for the legendary Craft TransAlp MTB stage race. 7 stages, 587 kilometers, 19,200m of climbing.

A doddle, I thought. I’d heard it was all fire roads, double track, maybe some goat paths on the high Alps but even I could handle that, even me, who as of October last year had only done one MTB race in my whole life, way back in 1988, when I was 16 and still fresh-faced and (kinda) pure.

After an 18 year break from all racing, I came back to road racing when I was 36, got a slot on a pro team at 37, rode in the UCI AsiaTour for 4 years, survived the tours of Oman and Qatar with the big boys and raced the post-Tour de France criteriums in Europe.

Getting a bit tired of the roadie life and then 41, I fancied a new challenge and signed up for the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge last year. It was hard, no doubt about it, slogging my 29er through the barren, beautiful landscape of Mongolia, but the route was essentially a road course, just off-road.

There were huge, wide-open expanses, well-trodden, hard-packed track that allowed for drafting and not a meter of what you’d call real singletrack in the whole event.

It was perfect for a newbie to MTB like me.

Yeah, I figured, I can race MTB.

Talk about being lulled into a false sense of security.



7 days over the German, Austrian, and Swiss Alps and then a couple of days in the Dolomites for good measure?

Bring it on.

Famous. Last. Words.


The first day. The start line. 1,200 folks of varying degrees of fitness amassed on a little patch of road in the sleepy, picturesque hamlet of Obberamesgau. The smiles. The tension. Chatting on the start line to Magnus and Fiona, he from Sweden, she from Oz originally, never met them before but felt like old friends. Another reason to love MTB. Roadies might be nice but often you’d never know. Uptight and taut like tightropes, my skinny-arsed brethren usually are. Me, giddy, sat there waiting to go. Ready and raring. And then, suddenly, we’re off. Mad dash to the first corner, hundreds trying to cram through a lane barely wide enough for 5 abreast. Day 2, Day 3, the smiles appear less. Like white rhinos by Day 4, almost extinct. Someone saw one by the toilets but it couldn’t be verified. The ups and the downs. Why do the ups last 3 hours? And the downs only 15 minutes? The unrelenting daily grind. Getting sick of f&*%$#g pasta. Stealing rolls and ham and cheese from the cafeteria in the evening to eat in my sleeping bag like a refugee. Another energy gel and I will either vomit or attack a cow on an Alpen hillside with a steak knife and a bottle of BBQ sauce. And where has my arse gone? My average, normal, perfectly adequate taint, wherefore art thou, old taint! What is this mush of battered, shredded pastrami in your place? Will I ever stop walking like a cowboy?

So many questions, and such inability to think of anything but the kilometers ahead…

I loved it all, really. No seriously. It was wet, it was sometimes cold, then it wasn’t, sometimes, and the Alps reared up around us, encasing us in enough geography to last a life time. Absolutely stunning it was, proper breathtaking, in every sense.


The whole race ran like a Swiss clock, precise and clean, and though the entry fee may seem steep it’s worth every penny. I didn’t hear anyone grumbling about getting ripped off, as you do at some races.

I got schooled, of course. With my level of skill and never having ridden singletrack before, I felt like I went to MTB University, did the undergraduate program, an MBA and then a doctorate, stuffing 7 years of study into 7 days. Not sure if I passed, but I did survive.

I did get good at one thing though.

After days of being gripped by The Fear, it finally began to dissipate. I was still slower then most but I picked enough up from the guys who amassed behind me, yelling ‘’ACHTUNG! ACHTUNG!’ (I seriously only thought that word was used in submarines, or war movies anyway, but no!), watching them fly by, rear brake hard down, front break feathered, arse over the back of the saddle, raised a couple of inches off it, that I stopped having to jump off at every slightly gnarly decline.

And I got real good at yelling ‘Will you f*&k off!’ to them when they got too close, too. Next time – if there is a next time – I’ll be sure to learn that phrase in German before I go.

And in case anyone is wondering, the taint underwent reconstructive surgery and is currently recovering in hospital. I visit the old boy daily, and he’s loving the grapes…


should Contador be racing? can Froome get more robotic? do you even care? the CrankPunk LowDown on PEZ

a rather long and amazing race in Mongolia kept me away from the computer for about 2 weeks (lordy lordy hallelujah) and as a result depraved PezCycling News of my lowdowns on the Vuelta.

but fear not, folks, for there was just time to get one in, the final roundup of the Spanish Grand Tour.

read it and weep.

or… don’t.

click on the image below to go to the article on PEZ.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 21.32.53

2014 TAIWAN KOM CHALLENGE Official Press Release

image courtesy of CyclingTips

image courtesy of CyclingTips

As the Foreign Press & Media Representative of the 2014 Taiwan KOM Challenge, it’s my pleasure to announce that the registration for the even is officially open as of Monday, September the 15th. Here is the Official Press Release.


Official Press Release for the TAIWAN KOM CHALLENGE 2014


Brought to you by the Taiwan Travel Bureau & the Taiwan Cyclist Federation

Event Date & Time: November 15th 2014

Total Prize Money: $2,410,000 (New Taiwan dollars, equivalent to over $80,000 US)



One Million New Taiwan Dollars for Overall Men’s Winner, Increased Prizes for the Women’s Race, and New Anti-Doping Policy Introduced

The Taiwan Travel Bureau in association with the Taiwan Cyclist Federation is proud to announce the details of the eagerly anticipated 2014 Taiwan KOM Challenge.

They are also thrilled to announce the participation of the 2009 women’s Tour de France winner and four-time British champion Emma Pooley in the 2014 event.

This year’s race sees a massive increase in the prize money on offer and a zero tolerance drug policy introduced, the first of its kind in Asia.

Now in its third year, the Taiwan KOM Challenge has established itself as Asia’s premier hill climb event and as the toughest of its kind in the world. The 105km route travels from the eastern coastal town of Hualien, starting at sea level, and rises along its route to the roof of Taiwan, up on HeHuan Mountain at 3,375 meters.

The course takes the participants up at an average 7% through the breathtaking Taroko Gorge to the 97km point at Dayuling, and then rises up over its remaining kilometers to a maximum incline of 27%, averaging at 17% for the final 8 kilometers.

The mountain dwarfs anything that North America and Europe have to offer, making the Taiwan KOM Challenge truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, oxygen-depleted air and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment wait to greet those who finish the ride within the 6 and a half hour time limit. Last year’s winner Rhaim Emami of Iran completed the race in an astonishing 3 hours and 26 seconds from the official timed start, which begins after the 18km of neutralised riding.

In the past professional riders of the caliber of Jeremy Roy of Francaise des Jeux, Anthony Charteau of Europcar and Tiffany Cromwell of Specialized-lululemon have taken part in the event, a tradition which continues this year with the participation of Giro d’Italia Femminile KOM winner Emma Pooley. The organisers are also in talks with other top professionals, the details of which will be released later.

crankpunk, right, atop Hehuan San

crankpunk, right, atop Hehuan San

Prize money this year will total to 2,410,000 New Taiwan dollars ($80,000US), with NT$1,000,000 (US$33,376) going to the overall winner of the men’s event. Cash prizes will go down to the 6th rider over the line, with NT$1,750,000 in total available for the men.

Recognizing the growing interest on the women’s side of the sport and eager to encourage more women to ride the Taiwan KOM Challenge, the TTB and the TCF are offering NT$200,000 ($6,675US) for the first female rider over the line. Similar to the men, cash prizes are available to the top 6 riders. In total there will be NT$440,000 ($15,000US) on offer for the women’s race.

After much discussion, the organisers of the Taiwan KOM Challenge 2014 have decided to implement drug testing for the top 6 riders and reserve the right to randomly test any other participant.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 01.09.24

Furthermore, any rider with a previous record of doping will not be allowed to compete in the race. This decision was not taken lightly and is one that the Taiwan Cyclist Federation feels reflects the current climate in world cycling and is one that will encourage fairness.

The testing will be carried out by the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee and the tests will be analysed at a laboratory in Japan.

Registration for the event officially opens on the 15th of September, and can be accessed at

Press and online media enquiries can be sent to

And Anthony Charteau’s take on the hill, admitting he had to get off his bike to recover mid-race!




cranpunking at the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge ’14


hot diggety. back in the most amazing place i’ve ever had the privilege to go to. Mongolia. this place gets inside you. it’s the world before we came along and f*&%ed it all up. no fences, no walls, just kilometer after kilometer of nothing and everything. 78 other folk and myself will be lining up in two days time to go ride 900km in 7 days alongside wild horses, past grazing camels and under the watchful eyes of eagles.

three Crank Punk Coaching clients are here too, Chris Hodgson, Erin Colshan and Michael Morrell, so CPCS will be well represented. another CPCS crankpunker here is Willy Mulonia, the man who put the race together (though he’s not riding unfortunately). as the official coach of the race i’m hoping these guys all come home safe and sound.

my journey so far did not feature getting my junk squeezed at the airport, not a mugging, nor influenza, and not even a bout of food poisoning – all of which i experienced last year.

an excerpt:

it started with a chinese man feeling my penis and ended with a search for drugs through my luggage. in between there was illness, near-hypothermia, food poisoning, a few punches to the face and a death threat, zero romance and a whole lotta pain. what did i take from all this? that i am a navy f*cking seal when it comes to dealing with the blows (my strange) life can land and, also, that i am not alone on this voyage, as i had for so long speculated – i belong to a tribe, and they are out there. i just had to go to one of the most inhospitable places on earth to find them…

the final magazine article version was a tad less personally revealing, and can be found here.

the Genco Mongolia Bike Challenge. this is what the word ‘epic’ was created for…

(check the website for daily updates and videos – i’ll be, blissfully, out of wifi range for the next week so check the site for updates )

HUGE thanks to my sponsors who make all this adventuring malarkey possible: Lapierre, Lezyne, BLKTEC, 720Armour, Gaerne, Extreme Endurance, CCN clothing and Iris Yeh Travel Services. you guys rock.




crankpunk racing – The Salzkammergut Trophy

The Salzkammergut Trophy MTB Race, Austria, July 2014

The Salzkammergut Trophy is Austria’s most famous MTB race, and its largest, this year attracting 4,256 participants. This is a huge race – I took part in the 119km race but there are several other events over three days, the longest being a 211km cross-country sufferfest that took some competitors over 15 hours to finish.

I checked out the images of the area on the internet before I left for Austria. It is a beautiful place, nestled in the majestic Austrian Alps, and the route traverses several huge Alpen mountains and takes the riders past pristine lakes that serve as mirrors to the awe-inspiring cliffs beside them, and through picture-postcard little villages that people travel from around the world to see.

we raced through here but it was a tad more grey at that time

this is EXACTLY how it didn't look...

this is EXACTLY how it didn’t look…

Beautiful! At least, on a sunny day. But unfortunately not on the day we were there. Instead of sunshine, we awoke to a concrete grey sky and drops of rain. We ate breakfast in silence, thinking about the possibility of having to ride 6 to 7 hours over these huge mountains in the rain.

We packed the car up, and then my friend turned to me and said, “Don’t worry, I have a feeling it will clear up – there’ll be sunshine today, I know it!”

Precisely three seconds later there was a crack of thunder so loud that it made my ribs shake. We jumped into the car in a second but were nonetheless still soaked to the bone.

We got to the start line and it was still raining. In fact, we got to the 100km point, hours later, and it was still raining! It wasn’t until the last 10km or so that it finally stopped…

And how was my race? Let’s just say that it was… a disaster! The first and biggest problem came after just 15km. I lost my 720Armour sunglasses! My beloved 720Armour Dart glasses – these have been with me to race in Europe, Oman and Qatar, the UK, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo and on and on, and I’ve had these and loved them for 5 years!

cue shameless plug for sponsor here…


On the way up a very technical 15km climb at the very start of the race it was so dark with the rain and overhanging trees that I took the Darts off and put them in my pocket. 5km later I reached back for them and – oh no – they were gone.

I wear the RX version and have pretty bad eyesight, so I was in big trouble. I thought about going back to look for them but I knew it would be impossible to find them, and even if I did, about 1000 riders had ridden up already – if I did find them they’d be broken, most probably.

‘Great’, I thought, ‘I am riding blind. The Stevie Wonder of cycling…’

I was having great difficulty seeing the singletrack path ahead of me now I had lost my sunglasses, hitting tree roots and rocks again and again, and losing position as other guys came flying past me. But then things got worse.

I hit a large stone on a corner, and cracked the pedal. My foot came out so I tried to clip it back in, but it wouldn’t  click. I stopped and looked at it – the spring had broken, making it impossible for me to clip in.

So, for the next 95km, I rode blind and with just one leg! It was hard to pedal uphill as my unclipped foot kept slipping, and almost impossible to descend, because not only could I not see but I had almost no control.

On top of that, all the amazing views I had been looking forward to seeing never materialized, as they were hidden deep in the low clouds. Wet, blind, legless and hungry, I finished in 7and a half hours!

If I had been on a road bike I would have stopped after 30km and got on the bus, but, in XC MTB, there is no bus. You just ride – or, you walk. Either way, the only way is forward.

What did I learn from this experience? Easy – always take two pairs of 720Armour sunglasses with you!


a View on the Vuelta

this article originally appeared on The Roar


It’s a common sight in pro cycling these days – seeing a team attempting to boss a stage by sending their men to the front of the peloton from a long way out.

They do so with the hope of winning with their protected rider, only to see them fail. There are, most often, just too many variables to be controlled.

However, Orica-GreenEDGE pulled it off in style yesterday at the Vuelta a Espana.

Fascinating too to see a rider coming into his own, as Michael Matthews did by taking the win off the plucky Dan Martin. Matthews was confident enough to let Martin try to come back at him and it’s a confidence well deserved as he is turning out to be a very versatile – and very good – rider.

It might sound a little condescending to herald the ‘arrival’ of a rider with an already impressive palmares, one that shows evidence of early promise and of course a total, before yesterday, of three stage wins in Grand Tours (two at the Vuelta in 2013 and one this year in the Giro), but it’s the respect with which he is now viewed by the peloton that marks the difference.

Many names were bandied about before yesterday’s stage but when Matthews gave a pre-stage interview in which he downplayed his chances of taking the leader’s jersey but spoke with no little belief in his ability to take the win in Arcos de la Frontera, there was a real air of self-belief about him.

In the end though he managed both the win and to take the race lead.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 10.26.16

The Vuelta peloton is one with some great riders that were, on paper, perfectly suited to the finish yesterday but Matthews looked unbeatable, coming from a boxed-in position with 500 metres to go to storm the line. He might not yet have the mountain legs needed to podium in a race this long but he is without question the top world-class Australian in the World Tour.

You have to feel a little sorry for the Irishman though. His Giro got off to the worst possible start – and end – with a broken collarbone in the first stage TTT sending him out of the race. Yesterday would have been a perfect comeback but it wasn’t to be.

In truth though, I doubt that even a race-fit Martin would have beaten the Orica-GreenEDGE man, as he looked to have power to spare.

The rider Mathews took Red off, Alejandro Valverde, was criticised after Stage 2 by some commentators for having his team chase hard to close down the lead of the breakaway rider Valerio Conti of Lampre-Merida.

It seemed odd to put a team to work so early in a 21-stage race, – some said naive – but this may well be Valverde’s last hurrah and perhaps he was a little too eager to ensure his day in Red.

There’s little doubt that teammate Nairo Quintana is the rising force in the team and the Colombian’s disappointment at missing the Tour because Valverde wanted the team to concentrate its resources on his vain attempt to win the race was understandable – though a win at the Giro must have salved those wounds.

Could there be some tension on the team bus? If there is, the Colombian is sure to make his point in the high hills.

One positive to come out of the Vuelta already was the withdrawal, voluntary, of Chris Horner by his team. The Lampre rider returned low cortisol levels as a result of taking oral cortisone (allowed) at the Tour de France. His cortisol level would not be enough for the UCI to suspend him but as Lampre are members of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), which does consider the level shown by the American to be unacceptable, he was pulled.

This is a real step in the right direction and Lampre should be applauded for this step, even if, in my opinion, they should not have signed Horner in the first place.

It also highlights the folly of trying to ride in a UCI sanctioned when sick and unable to continue without banned medication, even despite the fact that the authorities allowed the medication in question.

Horner took the cortisone to see off a lingering bronchial infection but that choice has come back to hit him hard. As defending champion he must be gutted to be sat at home watching the race on TV, but he made a choice. It might seem harsh, the decision, but your chickens are going to come home to roost sometime.

Fascinating Vuelta this one, with Froome and Contador peaking after their mid season problems, and Quintana presumably rested too.

Let battle commence.

Horner, Chris Lewis and why Lampre should never have signed the Vuelta winner in the first place

this article originally appeared on The Roar in February, but in light of Horner being pulled from the Vuelta by Lampre (for reasons explained by Gregor Brown here), I think it’s timely to re-post.


Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 22.39.40

This isn’t a new story. It’s been kicking around now since the end of January.

Yet there’s been very little commentary written on the deal that will see last year’s surprise Vuelta a Espana winner of 2013, Chris Horner, twinkling his little magic toes all over the World Tour again this year.

I haven’t written more than a dozen words on Horner, ever, and I wasn’t going to write anything this time. You may be of the camp that thinks ‘Good on him’ – after all there aren’t many 41-year-olds who’ve won a Grand Tour for the first time in their life.

Well, there has never been another, in fact.

The magnitude of Horner’s feat did not go unnoticed, though the reaction to it was a little less in awe than I’m sure he would have wished.

The cycling forums went mad with all kinds of allegations and suspicions that were largely to be expected.

Horner’s win though came at a point in the history of this sport when older riders were suddenly finding themselves without contracts in greater numbers than ever before.

If you were older and had any kind of suspicion of doping infringements lingering around you, like Luis Leon Sanchez, then boom, you were cut loose and cast into the wilderness.

Horner was rumoured to be going to Christina Watches for some time until the news that he was being welcomed on to Lampre-Merida, a move that some in the UCI would have been less than thrilled by.

See, there is something about Horner that just doesn’t smell right. I’m not saying anything new there, but it’s still worth looking over the reasons why for a moment.

First of all, a little known rider (outside of the USA) named Matt DiCanio went on record as far back as 2005 to say that another rider, Phil Zajicek, was offered help to purchase EPO and HGH when both rode for the American professional team Saturn.

DiCanio has also gone on record to say that Horner once said many years ago “It isn’t cheating if everyone is doing it.”

Secondly, Horner’s blood values from the 2013 Vuelta “fit with the patterns that anti-doping authorities look for as a sign of cheating.” Not my words, those of Michael Puchowicz in Outside Magazine.

The article states that Hornet’s hemoglobin concentration is simply too high to be natural. The other marker is the lowered reticulocyte count which is another sign of the use of EPO.

Puchowicz’s observations were seen by Shane Stokes of VeloNation, who passed them on to anti-doping authority Robin Parisotto, who works with the Athlete Passport Management Unit in Lausanne, France.

“It is not 100 percent clear that there is anything untoward happening,” Parisotto told Velonation, “[but] there’s certainly unusual patterns.”

He compares Horner’s bio passport to other profiles he has seen working as an anti-doping authority and concludes that “…most of those that come across to us are suspicious. Most are there for a reason. What I have seen with this particular profile is similar to those other profiles.”

Why didn’t the UCI investigate this? No idea.

Is any of this enough reason to suspend Horner? My gut says no, but if an anti-doping authority is stating that Horner’s values are suspicious why isn’t the UCI investigating?

One person who is probably asking himself these very questions and who has far more of a divested interest in all this than just about anyone else is another American rider – or should I say ex-rider – Craig Lewis.

Some of you may remember the now 29-year-old rider, who has just announced his retirement.

At 19, riding in the Tour de Georgia, Lewis was hit by a car and suffered two punctured lungs, internal bleeding and several fractures all over his body, almost passing away as a result.

Months of recovery followed before he returned to the pro ranks with Slipstream before moving on to HTC, where he won the team time trial at the 2011 Giro d’Italia. Days before the end of that race he broke a femur, forcing him out and eventually on to the Pro Continental Champion Systems team, which folded just last year.

Then he got a berth on the Lampre-Merida team. Well, he would have had a place there, had the management not decided to go and sign a 41-year-old American called Chris Horner.

The same guy who says he saw no doping on Bruyneel’s teams, the same guy who defended Armstrong until it became impossible even for his greatest apologists to do so, the same guy about whom all those rumours have been flying around.

“I thought we had already hit rock bottom, but it keeps going down,” Lewis said in an interview recently with Cyclingnews. “The sport just doesn’t market itself, and it needs some big changes – a lot has to happen for the sport to be appealing for companies to sponsor. It’s not sustainable the way it is.”

With riders like Horner still finding places to ply their trade, you’d have to agree with Lewis.

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…