Saturday, July 9, 2011

Stage 8 of the TDF: Provoking thoughts about Vino, Basso, and cycling fans

So I awoke from my codeine cough syrup fog (I have bronchitis, I'm not using it in a Lil' Wayne fashion) to see the final 10k of today's TDF stage.  When I tuned in, Twitter was a buzz with Vino hate! Stuff like "I hope that Doper Vino doesn't win", etc..

I have to say I have been on two stages of the TDF that he won with his balls out style and I dig the way the guy races his bike.  I was on 2003 Stage 9 into Gap and 2005 stage 11 into Briancon and they were both awesome to watch.  As I have stated in the past, I do give these "sporting school" kids of the eastern block a bit of a doping pass.  If you were getting the needle since age 10, it would tend to throw off your moral compass.  I'm not sure when or how they were supposed to realize it is wrong.  There past was full of coaches, teachers, and mentors telling them it was part of the sport.

Vino got busted, served his time and now is free to race and win if he can.  I see WAY MORE negative social media going on around Vino winning a one day race or attacking on stage, than I do around Basso winning the Giro.  This has led me to ask the question, "does it really just come down to who we like?"

Basso won the 06 Giro in "ET" fashion by 9 minutes. He then got caught up in Operation Puerto, caused his dog quite the identity crisis, had his "Clintonian" style admission/non-admisson. Then re-enters the peloton, and goes on to win the Giro in 2010 and it is seen as a "come back" story?  So what gives?  Is it really because he a good looking Italian fellow that makes really bad Sidi commercials for Eurosport and could not double as a Bond villain? Umm...Yeah pretty much!

This Tweet from @podiumchic really got me thinking about the lense we view the sport through: "I do think #Thor is as clean as any, but NO1 has even wondered about him keeping Yellow this long?Just saying our "like" keeps us from ?ing"

Can anyone but Thor know if he is clean?  No not really.   We can believe, hope and think but we don't ever really know.  You can't prove anyone is clean.  It doesn't take many degrees of separation with anyone in the peloton to tie them to a doping team, teammate, director, coach, doctor or training buddy.  I even had someone send me a nastygram about my pick for this year's TDF, Cadel Evans, based on the BMC low level associate being caught with doping product prior to the TDF.  You name them and they have been, or can be linked - Levi, Horner, Fabian, Christian, George, the Schlecks, DZ, Cunego, Cadel, and even Jens.

I have come to this conclusion: It really comes down to belief that those you root for are clean and those you don't like are doing everything dirty to win.  Just filter for a second before you Tweet/FB about their "doping ways". Your guys can have the same thing thrown at them.  These riders are turning themselves inside out, giving their best, and risking their lives.  If they are in the race, they have as much right to win as the next guy.  Yes, although it pains me to say it, even Contador! If and when they get busted...then fire away.  As far as generally making fun of their kits, things they say, riding style etc..GO FOR IT!

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  1. Agree with your overall premise that we believe in who we like. Also, I've always been amazed at the people who watch the sport and then constantly comment whenever any rider wins, that they must be doping. If that's someone's mentality, why bother watching? That being said, my distaste for Vino goes back farther than his doping suspension.

  2. doping will NOT do the following: avoid crash, keep a racer healthy (food poisoning, flu, gastric problems etc), have luck, ride smart, endure the elements of mother nature (rain, cold, heat, wind etc) or keep them going in bad days or pick them up when they get sh$t from the press or get boo'd on...

  3. Vino attacks his own teammates. He took a flyer to steal 5th place GC on the Champs Elysees. When he crashed in 2007 TDF, the peloton attacked instead of waiting- he was a feared contender, but not respected because of his questionable tactics.
    After the hard crash, he carried on with numerous stitches in both knees and extensive road rash--it was quite heroic.
    Then blood doping, kind of stupid. The man has no sense, but he's great to watch.