You might have thought the Vuelta a Espana was turning into the Tour de France. A relatively unexciting leader, having grabbed the lead in the TT, was now just following his most likely rival’s wheel, letting bolder non-GC riders snare stage wins. That was before today. Now, following his fish-clad (that’s the points jersey, by the way, and apparently, Ernest Hemingway in the background) charge to the Valgrande ski area, Roberto Heras has shattered Menchov’s seemingly inflappable facade and leads the GC by over 4 minutes. On a climb that had the cyclingnews commentary team going “Oooh, there’s another really steep bit” every few k, the 3-time champ put time into everyone, despite the driving rain and heavily bandaged right knee. It could have been a performance to rival Schilling’s bloody sock, except that Heras wasn’t dosed up to the eyballs on painkillers, and, oh yeah, he wasn’t on TV either. (Thanks, OLN!)
What you might have seen yesterday was a Paris-Brussels won by Australian Robbie McEwen, and broadcast live for all the English-speaking world to see on Cycling.TV. The win was McEwen’s second at that race, and provided the perfect opportunity from the Davitamon-Lotto rider to tell the Belgian worlds team selection committe how his lead-out men were better than Tom Boonen’s. Of course, Robbie will not be on the Belgian team in Madrid, and Tom Boonen will, so, were I in the Belgian selectors’ shoes, I’d still have to lean toward Quick.Step on this one.
And, with the Tour l’Avenir over, there’s no other racing outside the Vuelta. So who’s ready for the Tour of Poland? It will give cycling audiences the world over their first real look at Hour Record holder Ondrej Sosenka. I’m excited! What, you’re not? Ok, fine, here’s more scandal: three more riders who tested positive for EPO in the 199 TdF were outed today by the French paper Jounrnal du Dimanche. Although most likely intended to prove that the entire French press isn’t involved in a witch hunt against 7-time winner Lance Armstrong, this latest bit of news doesn’t present that case as well as it could. Why, you ask?
Well, Retrodoper #1, Manuel Beltran, has ridden three TdF’s on Armstrong’s team, which makes both Lance and Postal/Disco look bad; Retrodoper #2, Jose Castelblanco, just got finished with another 2-year suspension for dope; and Retrodoper #3, Bo Hamburger was the first rider to test positive for EPO in 2001, before beating the rap and continuing to protest his innocence through numerous repeated allegations. So really, the new positive tests consist of one Lance teammate and two “yeah-we-already-knews”. By the way, why, if six riders tested positive, do we only know the identities of four of them? This wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that none of those revealed have been French, would it?