The Secret Pro: hoax or not?

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You might have already seen that people on the forums and now Cyclismas blogger Saddleblaze have suggested that the Secret Pro does not exist. We’re thrilled that the latest instalment in The Secret Pro’s column has generated so much discussion, on CyclingTips, Twitter, and elsewhere, and since some fair questions are raised we thought it might be worthwhile responding to some of the points.

To begin with, let’s make one thing absolutely clear: The Secret Pro exists. It is not a hoax. We simply don’t have enough insight into the pro peloton to be making this stuff up. Second, I wouldn’t risk my credibility, which has taken years to build, to try to fool you all for the sake of a cheap thrill. That would show an utter disrespect to you, the readers of this site.

What was the motivation behind starting up The Secret Pro (TSP) column in the first place? It was never a marketing exercise, as some have claimed, nor was it an attempt to create controversy or gossip for the sake of it. The Secret Pro column was introduced simply as a way of giving some insight into the way the pro peloton works and to give a rider the freedom to speak his mind, without the constraints of his various affiliations and responsibilities. For any of you that have read The Guardian’s The Secret Footballer column, you’ll be familiar with the setup. Some people have suggested that the Secret Footballer is a fake. I don’t follow it, so I wouldn’t know.

Are TSP’s columns ghost-written? Yes, in order to provide an extra layer of anonymity lest someone recognise his writing style or phrases he uses. But this is hardly a revelation: we announced that the column would be ghost-written before it even began. And yes, we sometimes do rephrase things TSP has told us, as any ghost-writer would, in order to protect his identity. But everything we write is sent back to TSP for approval before we publish and tweaked if he has any concerns.

Here’s a comment Saddleblaze made:

“There are some things in the columns that just don’t read like anything a professional cyclist would say. So an eyebrow of suspicion rises when reading TSP’s assertion that Cadel Evans has ‘always had a chip on his shoulder, but this time it’s much more than a chip, it’s a whole bag of Doritos!’ If the ghost-writer’s poetic licence can shine through so blatantly with the words – then what of the facts?”

We can assure you that we don’t take liberties with phrases like this. However, we did consider the possibility that someone who knows The Secret Pro may recognise this if it’s a common saying of his.

In terms of the speculation about which former Grand Tour winner may be sidelined for biological passport irregularities, we can’t say any more than we already have. TSP has told us that the inside word in the peloton is that someone is about to go down, but we can’t reveal any more of that speculation because of libel and defamation laws. We don’t have any evidence to go on besides what TSP told us. If the suggestions are proven to be true the UCI will announce the violation through its official channels; it’s not up to us to do that.

In terms of The Secret Pro’s identity, we always expected that people would want to guess who it is, but let’s keep in mind: if his identity is revealed, the insights will stop. Insights and anonymity are the whole reason this column exists.

And for those who think they have him figured out – well we’ve thrown in enough red herrings that make it impossible to guess by deduction.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend. Ride safe.

Read the column on Cyclismas here and the Secret Pro thread on cyclingnews forum

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