Whose Game Is It?

May 27 2010

Giro TrophyI had initially planned to write this earlier, since yesterday’s group sprint outcome was almost a sure thing, but I take nothing for granted with this Giro.

It’s a strange situation the race finds itself in now. Arroyo’s defense of the maglia rosa has been both spirited and intelligent, and the Spaniard, if he does manage to hold on through the two hellacious remaining mountain stages, plus a final “eff-you” time trial, will have proven himself a worthy winner.

That said, he’s being pursued full-gas by Basso and Evans, who seem pretty deadlocked in terms of fitness and performance. I’ll even mention Carlos Sastre, who, while he’s lost time in every major mountain stage, has pulled off unlikelier GC wins, and showed tremendous last-week form in ’09.

The thing is, there hasn’t been a real effort that’s set any one rider apart; no audacious stamp of authority. Basso made a compelling argument on Zoncolan, but that climb isn’t really typical of the mayhem to come. Plus, after only a day’s rest, Evans managed to pull back 30 seconds in an uphill TT. After 18 stages, there’s still a power vacuum atop the Giro GC.

Figuratively speaking, I think a week after its detonation the parties involved in the “Land Grenade” drama finds themselves in a similar position. Sure, Lance has fired off his usual denials and attacks, but they haven’t been especially effective in silencing or even reducing the questions Landis’ confessions raised.

Floyd’s recent detailing of how EPO is used to mask blood transfusions went a long way toward deflecting the notion, propagated by Armstrong, that Landis is on a destructive mission of revenge. Certainly, those tasked with doing the actual monitoring of test data have appreciated it.

That said, the Landis revelations haven’t been a slam dunk, either. They’re devoid of any proof, and even after the organization’s initial response was roundly rejected as limp and ineffectual, the UCI is still mopping its brow about appearances—regardless of whether Floyd can substantiate his allegations. I think it’s pretty clear the cycling authorities won’t be the ones to make this particular race.

It might be easy to just write Floyd off as the next Jesus Manzano at this point, but consider the reponses of Jonathan Vaughters and Michael Berry. Vaughters, who is alleged to have done some IMing on the subject with Frankie Andreu, and who is a top contender for the anonymous “other Postal rider” who confessed with Frankie Andreu, didn’t exactly pull one off the denial wheel in his official statement defending Dave Zabriskie:

“I’m going to stay focused on keeping this team, and its tradition, and doing what we’ve always said we’re doing, standing for fair competition and clean racing…I think Dave is going to focus on winning this race clean, along with the rest of our team.” [source]

Not exactly, “Dave has always been clean, and Floyd is bitter and steals from innocents and wants to destroy cycling”, is it? Similarly, Michael Barry’s reply was a bit of a one-off. While he does seem to characterize Landis’ allegations in general as “completely untrue”, this part absolutely blew me away:

“I did not share or use any banned substances such as EPO when I was riding with him and am dismayed at his allegations. Landis is either lying or has mistaken me with another rider.” [source, emphasis mine]

I readily admit this is my own interpretation, but if I were looking for a way to say “yeah, there was doping during my time at Postal, but I was able to do my job without it”, that’s the sort of delivery I’d use. Treading further out onto the plank of opinion, I think these “open” denials indicate there’s something Vaughters and Barry would like to see made public, but—likely due to the hyper-political environment of cycling—they’re unwilling to do it themselves.

Floyd Landis up closeSo who’s going to make the big move to seize the proverbial Landisgate crown? Sure, any attack comes with risks—Armstrong is a herd of 600-pound gorillas outside cycling, and a veritable Berlusconi within it—but to belabor the metaphor, Armstrong comes into the closing stages with a GC lead. If someone else wants to win this, they’ll need to attack.

The media, traditional dispatcher of tyrants, may or may not make the move. VeloNews and Cyclingnews, whose pages cannot be refreshed without triggering another animated advertisement featuring the Texan, seem unlikely candidates. However, Lionel Bernie of Cycling Weekly has been putting his time since quitting Twitter to exceptionally effective use, amassing a pile of facts, and following the various threads surrounding the case until they end, with increasingly suspicious regularity, in “no comment”.

Ultimately, it may be the United States Government who decides this one. And if past experiences is any indication, those final stages will take a long, long time to play out. I’m just thankful that whatever happens in the Giro, it will be decided by lunchtime (EDT) on Sunday.

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12 Responses to “Whose Game Is It?”

  1. Christophe May 28, 2010 at 12:56 am #

    Best grand tour in years is going on, but what does it take to get cycling onto American TV? Turning it into a lame Courtroom Drama.

  2. paul May 28, 2010 at 1:42 am #

    Cosmo, did you see this comment by JV?
    http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/05/news/garmin-teams-management-says-its-riders-are-free-to-cooperate-with-landis-investigation_118885

    Seems to me like they have something to say about the past …

    Great blog, keep up the good work!

  3. skippy May 28, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    Ringside seat yesterday & no surprise at the outcome! Riding 140km on a virtually flat course i had to hang around for the racers to enter the final 4km and walk to the 100m mark where i watched the outcome!

    Today the fireworks should begin as when i saw & spoke with Lloydie & Riche they both looked fresh , almost as if they had come from a training/rest day session, missed Cadel but also spoke and shook hands with Ivan who was smiling as usual.

    Told Richie monday; conceive, believe and achieve: that is decide you are on the podium and plan to be there! The favourities all will have planned hard for today and team tactics thoroughly rehearsed!

    Let the Race begin, there are no prizes today for errors nor tomorrow and if anyone racing thinks they can succeed on Sunday i am sure if i can ride that course quickly then as proved in the World Champs there is little room to manouvour

  4. Zach May 28, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    Those Garmin boys seem to have something to say. In September 2008 Paul Kimmage told Irish radio:

    “I spent the whole Tour this year with Slipstream, the Garmin team. That wasn’t by accident. I chose that team deliberately, because of what they were saying about the sport and the message they were putting out.

    “But also the fact that so many of that team had raced with Armstrong during his best years and knew exactly what he got up to. And the stuff that I learnt on that Tour about him and what he was really like was absolutely shocking, really shocking.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/125656-lance-armstrong-vs-paul-kimmage-for-the-soul-of-professional-cycling

  5. tigwelded May 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm #

    VeloNews won’t touch it. They re-wrapped the SI story and left it there. They even ran another story justifying keeping the omerta because they claim they “don’t have the same tools as law enforcement.”

    The Armstrong executive latrine that USA Cycling became with Weisel(sp?) as the lead donor never made it into their pages. Eddie B’s drug programs never made it in either, so they’ve been pretending nothing is ever wrong for a long time. The omerta lives at VeloNews.

    It will take another SI/NYT story about Weisel(sp?) and USAC for them to ever run anything vaguely critical of the rotten crate of apples at the top of the USAC.

    Cyclingnews is more critical of dopers in general, but only backed by really hard facts, like court cases.

    Cristophe, USN has been running daily 2+ hours of coverage of the Giro. It’s available OTA in Los Angeles, so free for me. It’s the UCI feed with a couple of Yankee commentaters. They are tollerable, but I don’t need the audio to know what’s going on…

  6. skinner May 29, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    Arroyo showed some serious sack today. Hell, I want him to win the damn thing now!

  7. Gio May 30, 2010 at 7:44 am #

    http://WWW.ROJADIRECTA.COM or http://www.myp2p.eu you will find a list of live streming websites with commentary in various languages.

  8. Big Mikey May 31, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    One of the commenters to the Cycling Weekly article you linked to said it best:
    “Landis was a dope….” He had some tacit agreement to be allowed to race when he came back, and he’s been toiling in the minors since then. No wonder he came out.

    Rereading that IM chat between JV and FA is brutal. That’s pretty damning info.

    What kills me is that the circumstantial evidence is all there, but people so adamantly defend LA. Everyone was doing it, and his teams had ALL the training advantages; is it even thinkable he didn’t? Thing is, it doesn’t make him a bad guy, it just means he was doing what everone else was doing.

    When it all comes out about LA, will the people slagging Floyd call LA/Levi/GH/DZ dirty dopers, too?

  9. rainbow June 1, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    Despite my earlier criticism of Simonies’ performance in this year’s Giro, I am blown away by his class and his final time trial effort I saw on REA today. The black/ mort (I could only surmise as a metaphor for riding to the death) coloured bike and Jersey along with the pink tie far outstrips any of Chippolini’s VAIN efforts in the past. he has ending his Giro’s career on a very high note.

  10. rainbow June 1, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    Can anyone enlighten me on how Skippys comment follow the string of this blog apart from occurring in the same country, who’s blog is this anyway?
    If you don’t have to respond to Cosmo’s comments , can I launch into a diatribe on the UCI and Pat McQuade, his latest comments visa via doping, Valverde, Armstrong, the blood passport smack of hypocrisy? Any thoughts Cosmo??.
    I also wouldn’t mind finding out too when the UCI are going to provide TT bikes for the peloton. In fact why should they stop their they should supply all the bikes! They’re the only people on the planet that know exactly what a bicycle should be. Gee I wouldn’t mind getting a taste of being the preferred supplier there, I guess Lance has stitched up Sramm to be the component supplier of choice, mind you, you don’t need too much on a unicycle. Oh well, till then I’ll carry on easy riding my Specialized, gee it goes fast, it’s like riding without a chain.

  11. Anonymous June 2, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

    when do you post?

    how the race was won? the 2010 giro

  12. kkhart June 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    Rainbow – apparently Skippy is a serial blog spammer, mad bike fan and gate crasher with an incomprehensible stream of consciousness writing style and his own blog (peripherally having something to do with disabled cycling). It’s the incessant name dropping that gets me.

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