Talansky & Leipheimer: a bromance for the ages

Ever fallen in love with someone?
Ever fallen in love?
In love with someone
Ever fallen in love? (Love…)
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The Buzzcocks

Andrew Talansky knows that feeling. When all around you judge you for nothing less wrong than lovin’. How deep it cuts. The scars it can leave. Ah to be young and in love and misunderstood.

But the young American isn’t being shy about it, not at all. In fact, he’s telling all and sundry about it on Twitter, and, as you know, if it’s on there it must be real.

It’s great to see these two have healed the rift caused by Talansky’s comments back in January 2014, when he witheringly said:

I feel genuine hatred towards Leipheimer. He’s a worthless lying scumbag making false statements that hurt the sport I love.

To have gotten over being called a ‘worthless lying scumbag’ shows Levi to be a bigger man than I though he… oh wait, sorry, got that wrong!

Talansky was in fact talking about Di Luca there, not Leipheimer. You can see how I got those two mixed up though, what with both of them having lied for several years and for making false statements for, well, just about every day they woke up as professional cyclists, knowing full well they were juiced and were going to do it again. And again, and again, etc and so on.

Indeed Talansky could have been talking about any number of old pros who later ‘admitted’ there were essentially high-speed pharmaceutical cabinets on wheels in their day.

It’s hard to keep track though these days, with these modern pros who say they aren’t doping and can we all please stop going on about it and who then launch attacks on one doping ex-pro but not another because they don’t like what the guy said to a journalist. I’m never sure just who is the bad guy, but as a general rule of thumb it seems that if they speak English and if you admired them when you were younger, then they’re the ‘OK Dopers.’

Johnny Foreigner Doper I don’t Know = Bad.

English Speaking Doper I know = Good.

Not quite E=mc2 but it’ll do.

Still not convinced? See Cavendish & Ricco vs. Cavendish & Armstrong.

Or Talansky & Levi vs. Talansky & Di Luca.

Or any of the hundreds and thousands of ill-informed and frankly prejudiced (notice how I avoided saying ‘f**king dumb’ there? Phew!) forum posts on this matter.

Maybe it’s also that these guys are a lot like the old guys. Jonathan Vaughters, Talansky’s boss, said as much back in 2012.

“It’s not cool to say so, but Andrew has a lot of the same personality traits as Lance,” said JV.


Talansky himself isn’t quite sure what he’d have done ‘back in the day’ either.

“I can’t say I would have said no or yes [to doping back in Levi’s era],” said the Garmin rider at a press conference after he’d won a stage at Paris-Nice in 2013.

Great backbone there Andrew.

Sarcasm aside, it is disheartening to see that at least one (there are actually many) of the leading lights of the new generation does not grasp that, in spite of the pressures riders may face it is ultimately up to them to cheat or not. Others held out and at great personal cost, too. And remember, these guys didn’t decide to cheat just once – they decided to do it every single day for years.

Kind of like if you come from an Italian neighborhood which was once full of body-chopping-up Mafioso but now things are better and you have a management position in a reputable company but you still idolise the old boys and figure “Hey, they had to do what they had to do.”

Anyone from outside your particular environment would see that kind of thinking as nonsensical because it’s never ok to terrorise neighbourhoods and to butcher people in country ditches with a cutthroat razor, but to you, it makes perfect sense, in large part because you are still idolizing the old guys. You are romanticizing and yes, like Talanaksy with Leipheimer, you are blinded by some sick form of love and a misdirected sense or loyalty to a guy who cheated himself rich.

And who, actually, is still at it.

Back in 2013 at the Paris-Nice press conference, Talansky said “You look at what I’m doing … and if you want proof that cycling is clean now, look no further.”

Alright, let’s look at what Andrew is doing then.

He attacked Di Luca so feverishly because Di Luca said that to get in the top ten at the Giro you had to dope.

He attacked a former American pro rider back in 2012, Andy Jacques-Maynes, who had tweeted that “My perception is that EVERYONE [sic] racing in Europe has been doped at some point.”

Talansky wasn’t happy about that either.

“I would like to call out Andy Jacques-Maynes,” he said at the time. “He went on Twitter and said that everyone who races in Europe has done drugs at some point.”

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, these two were clearly guilty of exaggerating, and they probably were. But by how much?

A recent study by Sporting Intelligence finds that at least 65% of top ten riders at the Tour from 1998 to 2013 were either busted for doping or caught up in doping investigations and stings.

“81 different riders took a TdF top 10 from 1998-2013… 53 of those – 65 percent – were almost definitely doping,” states the article.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 21.17.34

Have a look at this graphic from The New York Times also, gives a nice kapow kind of feel to the whole thing. You could play snakes and ladders on that grid quite easily…

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 21.11.57

So, that is 65% that we know of. Ask a few former clean pros if 65% is an accurate enough number for that time and they will, to a one, tell you that it is not – it should be far higher. Ask them what they think about these current riders and they will talk about micro-dosing, the benefits to dopers of the passport system, the prevalence of former dopers in management positions, riders still going to dodgy doctors (see the Padua Investigation and riders visiting Ferrari) and the sheer number of ‘new generation’ riders still getting busted, and possibly ask you to look at the widespread increase in doping amongst amateurs who are so lacking in natural talent that they should really have jacked in the bike and taken up badminton, and it’ll leave you wondering what the f**k to believe.

But be thankful for Talansky, showing us the way. Thank the lycra-clad gods that here we have a dude who is consistent in his censuring of former DopeKings. Thanks Eddy that we have a guy here who understands that to have his photo taken with Levi and to attend his Gran Fraudo would be really kinda messed up and send out at best a confusing message, at worse, to make it look like he was saying ‘well doping back in the day was ok cos they were all so sensitive & frail.’

So yeah. Andrew Talansky, we salute you.




Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

8 thoughts

  1. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if Talansky himself turned out to be a micro-doser. If people associated with Ferrari are suspect, shouldn’t people who are happily associated with former dopers be suspect?

  2. You’re a coach. Your coaching page offers help “whatever level you are”. When you end up with “amateurs…lacking in natural talent”, do you tell them that “they should really…jack in the bike and take up badminton”?

    I don’t begrudge you your opinions on who pros should associate with, but don’t mock doping amateurs (or any amateurs) for their lack of ability. It’s cute to blame the TdF podium for the rise in amateur doping, but as a Cat 3 who’s competed against a doper or four, I know the “no talent, you’re shit” message has a whole lot more to do with it.

    1. I should have said that amateurs of all levels doping is ridiculous, but I was at the time of writing specifically thinking of how deep this problem has become that guys like this – http://bernews.com/2011/11/bermuda-cyclist-gets-two-year-doping-ban/ – of who one former teammate said that he won nothing before doping and was still not even close after doping – are doing it. This is how deep it has gone. I do try my best to mock everyone who dopes, trust me, whatever their ability, as we are all far too reverential these days. If you read enough of my stuff you’ll know that riding your bike and riding it clean is the point. It makes so very little difference if you win or not to almost no one but you, and that is all that should matter. Anyone that grades people because of their talent on a bicycle is an idiot, just as everyone who dopes is an idiot.

    2. Thanks Cosmo – I had the exact same reaction as you … and I really like Lee’s stuff but “widespread increase in doping amongst amateurs who are so lacking in natural talent that they should really have jacked in the bike and taken up badminton”, especially the jacked in the bike bit sort of left me hanging.

      Lee, I mostly understand what you were trying to do but seriously, the last bit kind of pissed on the rest of it … you went from mocking dopers to mocking us no talent amateurs in one unintended swoop.

  3. It is such a sordid mix. We watch the races and wonder at the performances, yet I’ll admit being jazzed that Talansky showed some panache on the last stage of the Dauphine last year and yet as equally disappointed when he does stupid sh** like this. Clearly the public shaming must continue, nauseating though it is. The era of hero’s seems over…I love the sport and the racing but don’t really see any of the current riders as someone to look up to by and large. There are exceptions I”m sure…I just can’t think of any right now. Oh wait…some of the juniors coming up are hero’s. Guys like Gage Hecht, Matt Valencia, Jack Maddux, and others offer hope that we may get back to honor in the next decade…

    1. Juniors yes, and some of the women too. Guys and women gone by also. Kittel perhaps? He makes good noise… but, of course, we’ve been here before. I remember this one dud talking on a podium in Paris about how clean the sport was…

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