I think I like the difficult ‘cross races best. They reward unflappability and positive mental attitude—good news for Zdenek Stybar, bad news for Jon Page, ten-exclamation-point tweet aside. And is there ever a bad day for Marianne Vos? Mountain Bikers and BMXers should count themselves lucky she doesn’t feel compelled to add some more rainbow jerseys to her ever-expanding collection.
But enough ‘cross—it’s Feburaury! Road season! Check out this huge AFP image of the GP de Marseilles, where Frenchman Jonathan Hivert—wait a minute. That’s a Team Sky rider, losing to some dude from a Continental French squad?! But Sky is the Man U of cycling! I don’t think that’s what Rupert is paying for. He wasn’t even on the podium—I guess Steve Cummings wants to ride for Rapha-Condor next season.
There’s also racing in Italy, where Alessandro Petacchi—who earned me a still-undelivered beer last May—took his first group sprint of the season. Petacchi, now 36, has been haunted by misfortune the past few seasons—a tenuous doping charge, a questionable CAS decision, problems with team finances—yet still seems to come up with a win whenever he gets the chance.
It’s a focused mindset Tom Zirbel might want to take inspiration from, since his B-sample came up positive this past weekend. I’m all for a tough anti-doping policy, but cases like Zirbel’s and Petacchi’s bring up serious issues with the doctrine of zero tolerance.
Things are almost certainly out of place if one rider can knowingly and intentionally take a powerful oxygen vector drug CERA and get 18 months, while the almost certainly accidental use of substances that don’t do anything nets a full two years.