Not much to report on today. “Fast” Freddie Rodriguez, who always seems to be the National Road Champ (and did he ever tell you about the time he beat Petacchi?) got outmanned by US domestic squad HealthNet in the first day of racing at Wachovia. The top three finishers in the race (Greg Henderson, Fred Rodriguez and Ivan Dominguez, in that order) all had the same number of letters in their first and last names. Isn’t that interesting? The victory marked the second time in seven days that HealthNet used numbers to beat up on an established American Euro-pro, as Bobby Julich fell victim to the squad at last week’s CSC Invitational.
In doping news, Quick-Step’s Marc Lotz has just up and admitted EPO use. Along with David Millar and Felipe Merhage, Lotz in the third high-profile rider to volunteer that he was on drugs at the first stages of inquiry. On the other side of the spectrum we have German sprinter Danilo Hondo and nice-guy-but-perennially-in-a-state-of-denial Tyler Hamilon, who both continue to appeal their sentences months after their convictions.
For those of you still seeking to suss out why French cycling is so unbelievably bad at the moment, look no further than the case of FDJeux rider Matt Wilson. The Australian, who is in “the form of his life” looks more than likely to miss the cut for this year’s 9-man Tour de France roster. The reason? His squad, though determined to bring a “quality” team to the Tour, is also concerned with “image,” and thus will select no fewer than 4 Frenchmen for its TdF team. Call me ignorant, but wasn’t the whole idea of the ProTour to put a stop to this numbskullery? After all, Postal/Discovery Channel hasn’t (since 2001, I think) had more than three Americans racing the tour, and this year’s team looks to have only two (Gorgeous George and Big Tex). Hell, cycling’s first superteam, Bernard Hinault’s La Vie Claire squad, was rife with foreigners, and they were so good they couldn’t decide which rider to win the TdF with. So here’s a tip to any French squads looking to improve their performance at the Tour: pull your bloated head out of your ass, realize it’s the 21st Century, and pick your team accordingly.