First order of business: anonymous commenters, you are now breaking the law so long as I find your posts annoying. You have been warned. Second order of business: bad day for dopers. Danilo Hondo, appealing to the CAS to have his one-year dope ban from earlier this season struck down, instead had it lengthened to two years, despite testimony from doping experts claiming the levels of the stimulant in his bloodstream couldn’t have possibly improved his performance. Perhaps this speedy decision was an attempt to take some of the spotlight off the monumentally slow CAS proceedings in the Tyler Hamilton case. Despite today’s nearly 12 hours of testimony, there is still no word on a possible verdict date, nearly 18 months after Hamilton’s initial positive. Seems almost as if “due process” in doping cases these days comes with a mandatory kick in the nuts as well.
Another rider out there with a sore crotch today may be Erik Zabel. At the Milram team presentation in Bremen today, Alessandro Petacchi announced that he will most likely do all three Grand tours. Zabel, a six-time maillot vert in the TdF, who left T-Mobile due his Tour exclusion in ’05 and signed his contract with a clause guaranteeing his admission to the grand boucle, cannot be pleased with that. The Milram management, however, continues to insist that the team is “twice as strong” with the two marquee fastmen. Let’s just hope it works out better than T-Mobile’s attempt to win last year’s Tour with three GC threats. The only time stacking your team to the gills with superstars works is in the one-days, something which Quick-Step seems to have caught onto. Their 2006 roster sports winners of all 5 of cycling’s monuments (multiple winners in the case of Roubaix), the Olympic games, the World Championships, Het Volk, K-B-K, Gent-Wevelgem, the Scheldprijs, the Belgian National title, the Dutch National title, and, for good measure, nearly a dozen TdF stages. Plus the blue of their kit appears significantly darker than last season.