The Tides of Time

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09/18/2012| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
If you're waiting for a neat conclusion to the doping scandal you're out of luck Fotoreporter Sirotti

The Tides of Time

If you're waiting for a neat conclusion to the doping scandal you're out of luck.

There are times when you feel that the well has gone dry. Yeah, sure we could still talk about the continuing side stories that have come out from the Tyler Hamilton and Dan Coyle “The Secret Race” book. The Moto Man? Now that was an interesting twist (But not really unexpected. How else were they going to be able to transport doping products without someone able to stay a step ahead of the law?).

And while Tyler had a hard time remembering the details of Mr. Moto, Dan was able to track him down. From there the hive mind of Twitter took over and people discovered his Facebook and Twitter account. Yes there was embarrassing photos of Moto Man with Sean Yates as well as Jens Voigt and Frank Schleck from the Leopard-Trek days.

Sure there was a lot of innuendo of why these riders would associate themselves with a notoriously linked rider, but realistically people can't vet every person that comes up to them looking for a photo. “Before I take a photo with you can I ask if you have ever been involved with doping or any illegal activities?”

In the case of Yates, where obviously they know each other better than just a random person, he might have known Philippe Maire AKA – Moto Man – from him being Armstrong's gardener/errand boy. But who knows? And at this point there's not any proof to hang Yates with a doping label. That said I'd still like an explanation. To be honest I don't expect to get an answer. At this point neither Voigt, Yates nor Schleck have mentioned the embarrassing photos.

There have been other riders that, as we all know, have been named as being part of an organized doping ring or they're just pawns within the team's symptomatic doping program. I've written about these riders and in the back of my mind I expect some kind of resolution. The accused riders will suddenly admit to doping and say, “Neil, you were right all along. So sorry we black-balled you.” That has as much a chance of happening as the acceptance of Britney Spears' MENSA application.

I don't think I'm the only one who has to take a deep breath and realize we're probably never going to get any “I told you so!” moment. For Lance Armstrong to admit to doping would make the removal of his name from the winner's list of Tour de France champions seem insignificant. His whole image of an athlete would be destroyed and he'd forever be labeled as a fraud. While his yellow jerseys may be gone, Armstrong still has some major sponsors standing with him – Nike and Trek (of which he owns shares in the company).

In The Daily Finance the president of Honey Stinger nutritional products said, “Bike racing for years has had a lot of controversy, and we're a small company built around endurance sports and he's kind of the icon." The Daily Finance interpreted this statement as, 'he may be guilty, but it doesn't matter because he's so famous, and Honey Stinger (of which Armstrong owns a piece) needs him to keep on promoting its products.' I have to agree. Big or small companies are still able to cash in on this “iconic” status. As they continue to do so he'll continue to get paid.

So my point is that we're going to have to take a deep breath and let it go. We are not going to have a moment when these guys admit to anything. They are going to fade away and let the tides of time wash over the details. They know, at the end of the day, the only thing the public is going to remember is Armstrong lost his yellow shirts or something yellow, because he cheated. And he dated an Olsen twin.

So while I continue to take deep breaths and let go the dream where all the rights in the world are corrected, I've got the ongoing world championships to enjoy. In addition there's the biggest American bike show that has just kicked off in Las Vegas - Interbike 2012.

First let’s talk worlds. The team time trial was this past Saturday and it was the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team beating out the other trade teams for the top honor. Yes, I said trade team. As you know national teams contest the world championships. However, the UCI allowed trade teams to battle it out for the TTT. A descent enough idea as the cycling aficionado appreciates the delicate dance between the six riders as they rotate seamlessly in unison. One second of inattention and the entire squad can smack the pavement with a thud.

After the race was done UCI President Pat McQuaid told “It’s an event that will grow in importance and strength in the coming years.”

I think that’s correct, but still some details need to be worked out. One detail is that there will be some sort of emblem on the team kit that designates the squad won the event. The odd loophole in the rule is that if the entire winning squad transfers to different teams their original team retains the award of world champion. I’m guessing that indeed this new event will take some fine tuning.

The downside to the world championships is that the best riders are often not motivated to continue racing. They’ve had a long season and injuries tend to catch up with them. Regardless we’ve had some deserving winners like Mark Cavendish. While not having the Tour de France he would have liked, he did win three stages, so at least he has that. My money is on that by the end of the month we’re going to hear that Cav is leaving Team Sky for a team with the same goals as his. I’m saying it once and owning it, he’ll be with the new team time trial champions Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

Last year I had a fairly strong suspicion that Cavendish was going to win. This year I really don’t have a clue. Maybe a Spaniard? They seem to have some good luck this year.

Interbike is where new products have already been revealed and shenanigans seem to be on the top of everyone’s list. Full disclosure – I’m one of those guys too, but I haven’t scheduled that many evening parties. Instead I’m going large and in charge at Cross Vegas. This is the official kick-off to cyclocross season here in the States. Because the race is held during Interbike, they have a Wheelers and Dealers category which is exclusive to people working in the bike industry.

The organizers even have a “Media” category within the race – which I proudly won back in 2008. This year I’ve been on a slow Bradley Wiggins-like build in preparation. Tune in Wednesday night at for all the race action as they are streaming it live. I’ll be the guy with the beer in my hand as I run the barriers. And that smile on my face is me letting the tides of time wash over my memory.

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