Man, I was so glad the Tour was over. Following Landis’ big move on 17, predictability reigned. A breakaway ruled the following day, allowing Quick.Step and Italy to salvage their TdFs somewhat. Floyd put the predicted gaps into the other GC contenders during the final TT, with Gonchar again taking stage honors. Then Hushovd bookended things nicely by winning on the Champs, and finally, that was a wrap. No more Al Trautwig, no more dealing with Lance-slobberers talking about “back in the day”, no more explaining why a breakaway with a 10-minute-lead is no big deal; none of that crap. No more poseur TdF BS – I could finally get back to real cycling races, true pillars of the sport like the HEW Cyclassics and the ENECO Tour, with a full 11 years of racing history between them.
But then this crap had to happen. Honestly, I was content with the big post-Tour story being Leipheimer’s undefection to the squad he almost won the Vuelta with in 2001. But now it’s just the usual swirl of rumor and half-truth. The stodgy Times of London says it’s a high-profile rider testing positive for extra testosterone on Stage 17. Some Danish rag, Ekstra Bladet, says it was a stimulant (insert joke about Danish Papers here.) La Gazetta says something different as well, with the end result of all this being a bunch of funny looks in Floyd Landis’ direction. Or rather, the direction he used to be in, since he seems to have disappeared over the past few days. Nothing like a sudden, unannounced absence to make yourself look innocent.
For those of you playing along at home with this demented version of Clue, Cyclingnews has a very full summary, with a categorical listing of national federations who deny they’ve been contacted by the UCI. Velonews also has a nice rundown, which includes my favorite picture from this year’s race. Nearly lost in all this, of course, is the exoneration of five high-profile riders from Operation Puerto; all five ride for Team Astana, and they, plus the never-charged Andrej Kashekin and Vinokourov could have easily comprised a UCI legal team for this year’s Tour. Man, what a step toward f-cking integrity this year’s Tour was – one team, banned without trial, turns out to be innocent, while a “high-profile” rider, cleared to race, appears to be guilty. Chapeau, anti-dope crusaders, Chapeau.