It’s been a while since I’ve written here on CyclingTips and I apologise for that. I had a very low-key off-season, rode a heap of k’s, and stayed out of the “scene”. It’s nice to come back home and get out of the bubble for a while to see my old mates and just ride like I used to. Now it’s race season and I’m back in the swing of things and can hopefully write more often.
One thing you may not have heard about that’s going on behind the scenes is the Mick Rogers saga. As you know he tested positive for clenbuterol a week after the Tour of Beijing when he won the Japan Cup. Of course we always hear the same excuses and denials about these kinds of things being accidental, but in Mick’s case, I believe this to be the truth.
You’ll be hearing an announcement on the decision on Mick’s B-sample very soon, but first let me give you some background on the Tour of Beijing.
At the Tour of Beijing there were rumours going around the peloton — and let me stress that these were rumours — that clenbuterol was off the testing list for that race. (ed: the UCI maintains that they were testing though) We didn’t see an official UCI communique on this, but people seemed pretty confident in this unofficial decision. The organisers apparently went through a lot of effort to get uncontaminated food, but the rumour was that even the testers were coming back positive for clenbuterol when they tested themselves. All food was provided by the race organisers (buffet style) at the hotel, but food contamination was on everyone’s mind. Lots of riders just stuck to the fried rice the whole time as it seemed to be the safest thing, but even that had pork, egg and who knows what else in it. On the last evening in Beijing many of the riders wanted to get out for a night on the town and Mick was one of them.
Nobody who was at the Tour of Beijing would have wanted to win the Japan Cup. Everyone was worried about testing positive for clenbuterol and any win would obviously be tested. If it is true about clenbuterol not being tested in China, it seems that the Japanese anti-doping authorities didn’t get the message.
In the scheme of things, Japan Cup is equivalent to winning a regular Sunday club race. Why would anyone risk ‘preparing’ for that? People I’ve spoken to that have been around for a while says they haven’t heard of anyone taking clenbuterol in the past 20 years. You’d be ‘glowing’ for too long.
Every rider agrees that Mick’s case is a muck-up, but at the same time nobody is publicly jumping to his defense.
It makes no sense that anyone would take clenbuterol with the testing that’s done these days. I’m not even sure Contador’s positive clenbuterol test was deliberate. Some have suggested that he might have used a contaminated blood bag. Who knows…
I’ve heard of many stories in the past where bags get mixed up. A rider [ed. name redacted] who was done for cocaine in the Giro a few years back tested positive because he’d been using his cousin’s blood. He didn’t know he had a coke habit until it showed up in his test results after he won a race.
Vino and Kashechkin got their blood bags mixed up and were subsequently caught in the 2007 TdF. If they had different blood types they could have died. Even paying Ferrari top dollar didn’t keep them safe from a muck-up like that.
Anyway, leaving the heavy stuff behind for a moment, here’s a lighthearted story about the shenanigans that sometimes go on that you’ll find a little more entertaining.
During a fairly big race a while back a teammate of mine decided to go out on the piss the night before an “easy” stage. He went out all night and only had about an hour of sleep before we were on the road again.
As usual things picked up to a ripping pace in the first hour and my teammate gets dropped instantly, never to be seen again all day. Well, almost. Some 200km later he comes rolling past us at the finish line only a couple minutes after the main bunch. None of us could believe our eyes. In his inebriated state he should have missed the time cut!
He headed straight over to the bus, asked for one of the leaders’ jerseys we had, signed it, and gave it to the police officer who had motorpaced him (or let him hang on) for the entire route! What happens on tour stays on tour…
While I think of it, we pros often get asked about our favourite equipment and we’re pretty much obliged to say positive things about whatever we’re using at the time. The truth is that the best wheels I’ve ever ridden are Lightweights. The Zipp Firecrests or any wide-profile (i.e. 25mm) wheel seem to be the fastest wheel if you’re travelling in the straight line, but forget it if you’re going around lots of corners. Lightweight are on another level when it comes to accelerating out of the corners and going uphill.
And the worst equipment that I have ever heard of being used in the peloton would be Cole wheels. I heard a story about three or four guys all on Cole wheels having their front wheels all collapse in the same race while breaking on a steep descent on a very hot day. The wheels just melted and disintegrated. We haven’t seen them around since.
And finally, let’s talk about the Flemish Classics coming up. My tip? Cancellara. He always goes crap in Tirreno-Adriatico but then he rocks up the next week and dominates. I can’t see anyone beating him but now that Sagan is a year stronger he might be able to stay with Fabian. But Sagan is sure to win something big this season.
Until the next time, thanks for reading.