DiLuca In Pink, Zabel Confesses

May 24 2007

How about that DiLuca, eh? Gapped Simoni over the Izoard despite The Spider’s frequent surges, and denied him the stage win twice in the final KM. Maybe Bobke Strut was wrong after all. Gibo didn’t do so poorly himself, but I’m sure he would have like to have taken back some Stage 1 TTT losses today. Also in the Top 5 were ’04 Giro Champ Damiano Cunego, up-and-comer Andy Schleck, and…73kg, grizzled, 11-year veteran Eddy Mazzoleni?

Though the Astana rider’s been a competent climbing domestique for a number of teams, I think the Cyclingnews commentator asked a very pertinent question during today’s climb of the Izoard. And I do find it a bit hard to believe the answer has nothing to do with Mazzo’s alleged involvement in Operacion Puerto (“Amigo de Birillo”, it’s claimed) and Operazione Athena, especially when he’s married to Ivan Basso’s (hot) sister, and rode last year on Jan Ullrich’s team.

But enough speculation. Not everyone did well today, notably Paolo Savodelli (+5:49) and Yaroslav Popovych (+6:49). I’d say it’s fairly certain they can kiss the maglia rosa good-bye. Stephano Garzelli and Richardo Ricco also cracked a bit (each lost over 2 minutes), meaning that, at a simpleminded glance, it’s now a four way race between DiLuca, Simoni, Cunego and Schleck. Of course, the GC reflects none of this due to the corn/shotgun effect mentioned here at Cyclocosm earlier this week. Tomorrow’s doofy uphill TT stage should make it all just that more clear.

And because I am sick of Spanish stage races and UCI ProTour giganticism, I’ll only mention the Volta a Catalunya in passing, as a segue to today’s obligatory doping news. See, Erik Zabel dropped out uncharacteristically yesterday, meaning that Stage 2 might well be his last pro race ever. Why? Because he manfully came forward and admitted doping in tandem with his hetero-life-mate Rolf Aldag.

Zabel apparently did less EPO than Richard Virenque puts on his breakfast baguette, but Ete still stood tall and took the heat. WADA might stick him with a career-ending suspension (two years from now, Zabel will be nearly 39), but I’ll certainly never forget that the flat-topped German raced always as a professional, and left the sport an honest man.

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6 Responses to “DiLuca In Pink, Zabel Confesses”

  1. Guy WR May 24, 2007 at 2:34 pm #

    Good call on Zabel! “I doped, I lied and I apologize for that.” We don’t hear those words very often and a gutsy call to make given he’s still racing.
    At this rate, between confessions and Puerto revelations, the UCI is going to be swamped. Perhaps it should have paid more attention to doping this year than its somewhat-baffling Pro Tour agenda?

  2. Davide May 24, 2007 at 6:26 pm #

    Whilst i believe very little said by the peleton these days, i don’t question Zabel at all when he said he used EPO once and has not used it since. The guy is a gentleman, and an honest professional. Our sport could do with more like him in the bunch.

    And whilst we’re talking about honest professionals, David Millar received a lot of negative press for his confessions. In light of the rubbish we’ve had to digest from Messers Basso, Riis, Landis et al, DM’s admission to doping AND as to what races he won whilst on EPO is quite a step for a pro cyclist.

    He might be the only ‘doper’ in the peleton with a clean conscience right now.

  3. Jered May 24, 2007 at 9:54 pm #

    I meant to post the comment here…

    Zabel doesn’t have to worry about a suspension. He’s in the clear. According to BDR (Germany’s Bikin Federation), a rider cannot be suspended for admitting to doping that occurred more than 5 years ago (for WADA it’s 8 years ago), and his admission was for sometime in the mid-90’s making it over 10 years ago.

    The BDR is trying to get riders to come out without fear of suspension.

    According to some other German newssites, he’ll be talking with his Milram team in the coming days about what comes next. It didn’t sound in anyway like it was a done deal that he’d be ousted by Milram. Their team stance is obviously no doping, but this was a decade ago and apparently on one occasion – which was actually confirmed by D’Hondt…

    The BDR is actually trying to decide whether or not to let Zabel race the Stuttgart Worlds this year – it’s definitely still a very real possibility according to Scharping…who happens to be a close friend of Zabel’s.

    So yeah, for whatever that’s worth…

  4. Brayt May 24, 2007 at 10:22 pm #

    WADA just turned 7.5 (http://www.wada-ama.org/en/dynamic.ch2?pageCategory.id=253). Can they sanction someone for an infraction before they existed? Well, now that they’re almost 8, perhaps the more relevant question is, could they have sanctioned, in 2005, someone who confessed to having doped in ’98?

  5. cosmo May 24, 2007 at 11:13 pm #

    I was actually really surprised to see how perfectly d’Hondt’s story overlaps with what’s been admitted. Now if we could only get Mr. 60% to sign off on it…

  6. joran May 25, 2007 at 10:57 am #

    The nytimes is reporting that Riis has admitted using EPO as well, including in ’96 and is willing to return his yellow jersey.

    What’s with all the truthiness?

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