The Olympics - Where Controversy Meets Technology

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07/31/2012| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy? Photo copyright Tim de Waele.
What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy? Photo copyright Tim de Waele.

The Olympics - Where Controversy Meets Technology

What's a professional bike race without a little bit of controversy?

The Olympic countdown finally ended. The road races of the 2012 London Olympics were this past weekend and they provided two days of exciting racing.

The London course was supposed to be one designed for the field sprinters. The fact smart money had England's Mark Cavendish as one of the favorites for the expected field sprint. However, Alexandre Vinokourov didn't get that memo and pulled a smart, strategic attack from his breakaway and then out-sprinted his companion Rigoberto Uran for the win. I knew what was going to happen next.

My Twitter time line exploded with people who ranged from, let's say "disappointed," to those who congratulated the Kazakhstan rider for his savvy move in those last couple hundred of meters, completely schooling Uran.

Let's have a quick history lesson on the controversial rider. Vino tested positive for blood doping in 2007, and as standard protocol with many pros that are popped, denied the offense but then retired in protest. However, he returned just as his ban was completed and never admitted to being guilty. That rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

To further rub it in Vino won the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege. To complicate matters even further, the Swiss magazine I'llustre published emails between Vinokourov and the second place finisher Alexandr Kolobnev that suggested Vino paid 100,000 Euros to the Russian to not sprint. The UCI reported that they were going to investigate the allegations, but as I did research for this post, I never found a conclusion by the governing body. Weird ...

Then in 2011 Vinokourov crashed in the Tour de France, breaking his femur and he retired again. But like an undead zombie, Vinokourov rose from the retired dead. You just can't keep Vino down.

Fast forward to 2012 and Vino is powering his neon red Specialized bike toward The Mall in London. I admit, I tweeted out an expletive. Not so much because it was quickly becoming evident that Vino was going to at least medal and I'm not a huge fan of his, but because USA's Taylor Phinney had been left behind. I'll say it - I was biased toward an American win. To be honest, the American cycling community needs a great win right now as the USADA case against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong grinds along.

Part of my frustration was leveled at Vino because it bothers me that he has never apologized or explained himself. Vinokourov's response to his Liege-Bastogne-Liege win was that the 100,000 Euro payment was a private matter. The 2007 blood doping matter has never had closure. In real life you don't always get closure. Real life is complicated and messy. If you want closure all the time stick to watching television shows and movies. As a result Vino's continual denial has left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths.

But I have to hand it to Vino. It was a gutsy "all in" attack and he deserved it by not being the strongest that day, but by being the smartest.

The women's race was

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