legends can stay as legends, it seems, only if they pop their boots early. otherwise, i don’t know, it all gets so unseemly. first Miguel Indurain and now Eddy Merckx, commenting when they needn’t on the LA saga, splurting out obscenities like a Tourette’s sufferer watching a beach volleyball game. let’s start with Miguel Indurain first – read what he said recently here about LA, if you can stomach it…
‘Big Mig’ Indurain, if you are unfamiliar, was a Spanish pro who was for several years a super-domestique and then morphed into a world-beating Grand Tour rider who won 5 Tour de France and 2 Giro d’Italia, a guy who could climb with the best small guys in the world and cream the rest in time trials. according to Lemond, EPO appeared around 1991, the first of Big Mig’s Tour wins. not insinuating anything however – he did have a ridiculous body that suggests that he might have won even more without the advent of the EPO era (he certainly lost one to Riis in 1996):
‘His blood took seven litres of oxygen around his body per minute, compared to 3–4 litres for an ordinary person and 5–6 litres for fellow riders. His cardiac output is 50 litres a minute; a fit amateur cyclist’s is about 25 litres. Indurain’s lung capacity was 7.8 litres, compared to an average of 6 litres. His resting pulse was as low as 28 BPM, compared to an average 60–72 bpm, which meant his heart would be less strained in the tough mountain stages.His VO2 max was 88 ml/kg/min; in comparison, LAs was 83.8 ml/kg/min and Lemond’s was more than 92 ml/kg/min.’ wikipedia
his support of LA at this critical time is unnerving, however, though not without precedent. when Bjarne Riis admitted to having doped to help him win the ’96 Tour (for which his name was removed from the records books), Indurain slowly lifted his cowboy hat from over his eyes, took his weather-beaten boots off the stool in front of him (but not before a convoy of 24 tortoise had crossed in front of him), and leaned forward in his chair to say ‘Tell that gringo to shut the **** up.’
or maybe it was that he said that, by his confession, Riis “did not do any favours for cycling.” thanks for that Miguel, and the LA stuff, very constructive, now sit back, rest those heavy lids and someone will be along shortly with your cocoa.
but Eddy Merckx… why Eddy, why? if there was one thing you should have just not commented on – as they say, if you have nothing good to say then don’t say anything at all – it was this. but no. i click on VeloNation today to see that the Greatest Cyclist Who Ever Lived says he is “Amazed” to learn of LA’s systematic and career-long doping.
amazed, huh? odd that, seeing as Merckx was the guy who introduced LA to Dr Dope, Michele Ferrari, back in the mid-90s. Eddy himself tested positive three times, in ’69, ’73 and ’75 (in the latter 2 cases he blamed the doctor, in the first, he blamed Italy – well, kind of, and a diplomatic row ensued). when Armstrong announced his decision not to fight the USADA charges, saying “enough is enough” (shame he didn’t say those words when it came to other stuff), Merckx came out in support of the Texan, sounding uncannily similar to Indurain when he made his comment on Riis.
“This is bad news for the sport of cycling in general”, Saint Eddy bellowed. “He was checked over 500 times since 2000, and never tested positive. What can he do more? His whole trial is based on statements made by witnesses. This is totally unfair.”
that old chestnut! in fact, that nut is now so decrepit that it took early retirement last Thursday and is off to live out the last of its days on a medical marijuana farm in Montana.
“Look at how long this case has been running, it’s a disgrace,” Merckx concluded, finally saying something that we all could agree on.
so, i don’t know. Eddy. the Greatest. but also old school. ‘he’s of a different generation,’ some may think, yet that doesn’t ring true for crankpunk- right and wrong have no generational affiliation. Mr Merckx spends enough time amongst the current pros to smell the wind. how could he not have known that these comments, that admitting to being ‘amazed’, would be seen, as i said of Stuart O’Grady’s ‘disbelief’, as either straight up foolish, or – and i think this is more the reality – a feeble attempt to cover his own ass?
the mire ever thickens, it seems.