Puncture

Published on Friday June 30th, 2006

Tomorrow begins the Prologue of the Tour de France (in Veronique’s hometown!), and I had a spirited post prepared about my enthusiasm for the sport of cycling and my commitment to absurdly early rising in order to watch the television coverage. Then I was blindsided by a shocking headline in this morning’s Oregonian: the elite riders, including my beloved Ivan Basso and everyone’s perennial arch-nemesis Jan Ullrich, have been kicked out of the Tour because of allegations that link them to the big Spanish doping scandal that’s been going down all month. Instead of providing us with what could have been the most exciting Tour in years, they have to go home and try to prove their innocence. I’m distraught. Doping is bad. It’s bad for the sport, and I worry about the health of the riders to succumb to the temptation to elevate their performance by artificial means. And I know it’s widely prevalent in cycling and that the authorities need to crack down. With great competition comes great pressure to deliver results by any means necessary, and cheaters need to be caught and penalized to maintain the integrity of the game. But what poor management of the crisis, to wait until the eleventh hour to name names, to hold a “guilty until proven innocent” policy that denies us the chance to watch the greats go head to head. If they’re guilty, are they still greats? Depends how clean their rivals are, I suppose. If everybody’s doping (and it’s becoming hard to believe otherwise in Pro Tour cycling), obviously people like Armstrong, Basso, and Ullrich are still higher calibre athletes. If, by some miracle, the authorities have really caught all the cheaters in one fell swoop this time, these men didn’t deserve the titles they’ve earned after all.

Either way, it’s a sad day for cycling and I need a new guy to root for over the next 23 days. It’s hard to trust that any of them are riding clean, and I pity the winner who’ll always wonder if he had enough to beat Basso, Ullrich, and Vinokourov (who isn’t implicated in the scandal, but so many of his teammates were that there aren’t enough left to field a team for the Tour). His victory will be cheapened if the heavyweights are found to be innocent after all. I’m almost discouraged enough not to want to watch the Tour at all, but the question of who will rise to the top in this diminished field is pretty intriguing. I think Levi Leipheimer will be my man. He’s got great form this season, and he rides like a gentleman and a champion, whether he’s doing EPO and blood doping or not. And besides, I have a commitment to honor. I pledged to take part in a challenge thought to be free of any scandalous wrong-doing or performance-enhancing drug use:

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Because I’m still very new at this spinning stuff, my challenge is just to spin every day. I’ve started a spindle of foxy orange merino roving, and I’m going to finish all that I have. I was also going to try to spin together some black, white, and red mystery roving that the Spiders gave me, to make CSC yarn in honor of Basso. Now that he’s out, I’m not sure my heart’s in it. Instead, I’m going to try to get through a ball of yummy teal merino. Pictures tomorrow, I promise.

I’m a lot less full of joy about the Tour de France than I was when I woke up this morning. It’s something I look forward to all year, so I’m very deflated. But hopefully the prospect of spinning practice can keep me excited to roll out of bed at 5:30 each morning, and I know new stars will emerge and the race will manage to be compelling in new ways. Spin clean, everybody.

7 Comments to “Puncture”

  1. colleen Comment Says:

    Stash doping. Somehow I need to work this idea into a post.

  2. gleek Comment Says:

    oh man, i know how much you were looking forward to the tour this year! this IS a scandal. it’s almost too bad that it’s held in france where the judicial system relies on “guilty till proven innocent”. regardless, i think that it’ll still be an interesting tour to watch, seeing who’s going to rise to the top and all.

    anyway, you’ll have plenty to spin! we sent you away with a lot 🙂 make us proud.

  3. Robyn Comment Says:

    I love the tour and this is a sad turn of events. But it is kind of nice that the “little guy” might actually have a chance. Go for Levi. That’s my brother’s name. It’s a good name. Try to enjoy the coverage and I hope the spinning goes well.

  4. Becky Comment Says:

    With all the FIFA action going on, I had forgotten about the Tour de France. I rarely follow it but I do like to see who comes out winning. I hope that all this doping business gets sorted out soon. There seem to be way too many cyclists who have gotten booted because of it!

  5. LAM Comment Says:

    George Hincapie is a great guy in all regards. In ‘real life’ he is humble, hard-working, and appreciative!

  6. hanne Comment Says:

    I hope you’l be happy in your ( not knitted) house. I’m sure it will soon turn in to “our home” instead of Anne’s house 🙂 I, too are very disappointed in the tour thius year, but I’ll keep cheering for SCS, because they are the DANISH team…or we think so here in denmark*lol*

    hanne

  7. Marie Comment Says:

    Woo hoo spin away…You should spin the first day and save that then compare it to the last day – I bet you’ll see a dramatic improvement.

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