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Ed’s GIRO Rant: ‘I’m A Believer!’
Ed's Opinion: The recently concluded Giro d'Italia has brought back some less than pleasant memories from Grand Tours past for Ed Hood, and with all the goings on in Italy an Ed rant was not far away. Suspicions, cynicism, doubt, mistrust and downright disgust have all crept into our Ed's cycling psyche. Rant Time!


'I believe!'

‘I’m a Believer’, a great song, the Monkees had the hit back in 1968. I used to be a ‘Believer’ and can remember the sense of relief when we discovered that Lance’s Tour ‘positive’ back in 1999 was all a big mistake; those tricky corticosteroids had been in a cream he used to treat a saddle sore and he had a TUE to cover it.

What a relief.

Of course, we’d learn later that the TUE was post-dated and that he’d actually tested positive four times during that Tour. And going further back to 1998, Festina, TVM, the Spanish teams going home and me sitting in my living room on the brink of tears as I watched Bjarne Riis and Luc Leblanc slag each other live on Eurosport as the peloton sat in the road. What were they doing to MY Tour de France?


Bjarne Riis looks back at the suffering of Indurain, Hervé, Virenque and Leblanc

I remember agreeing with Bobby Jullich when he protested that those nasty French police were being heavy handed in their treatment of ‘suspected’ – later translated to ‘CONFIRMED’ - dopers and if it was in the USA then law suits would be flying. Damn right, Bobby. The Bobster was of course one of the dopers.


A fiction novel?

Then there was Floyd – he even wrote a book about how he’d been ‘stitched up’, it was called ‘Positively False’ and is the only cycling book I ever bought then gave away. It was patently piffle.


Bobby and Tyler

Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero, David Miller, Danilo Di Luca, Davie Zee, Tom Danielson all followed and when Lance appeared on Oprah many a ‘Believer’ had their bubble well and truly popped. The trickle of circumstantial evidence oozing out of the Lance myth already had the likes of me in no doubt that he had been hard ‘at it’. But if he could nail the Sunday Times in court none of us were going to say what we really thought, in print, at least.

Tour de France, foto Marketa Navratilova/Cor Vos ©2000 Etappe-2, David Millar en Lance Armstrong
David and his mate

I provide this background to justify the fact that cynicism has crept into my thinking about pro cycling. Here’s a question for you; ‘name one instance where the rumour mill on doping has been proved wrong and Federations and/or the Media have had to issue a grovelling apology about the claims made to the rider concerned?’

I can’t think of one either.

The Froome situation was for me summed up most eloquently in a recent piece Philippa York penned recently for another, ‘well known website’. I had the temerity to share her words on social media and was immediately subject to a barrage of criticism from ‘Believers’. And that’s what this piece is about, my comment on the ‘Believers’ arguments in a rational fashion rather than the forum for personal insult which much of social media has become.


Chris Froome took the cake at the Giro

Why shouldn’t Chris Froome be riding the Giro?
The feeling of many, Bernard Hinault and me include, is that he should not have been there; not with the salbutamol sword of Damocles suspended by a single thread above his head. And if Team Sky – that epitome of a clean team - were members of the MPCC then he wouldn’t be. Lampre ‘pulled’ Ulissi when his test results were revealed and we now have the spectre of a ‘Contador’ retrospective loss of results looming – remember what a farce that was?


Diego Ulissi was suspended for 9 months as he was found to have twice the permitted concentration of salbutamol in his urine, he also didn't race while waiting for the case to be heard

And if the UCI let the result stand after the Ulissi, Petacchi and Pliuschin cases, what does that say about the credibility of cycling’s world governing body? And another question to ponder; ‘if Froome was from Italy, Spain or an East European country would the ‘Believers’ be so supportive?’ We all know the answer to that one, he’d be, ‘another dodgy Latino/ex-commie doper’.

Tour of the Alps. Fabio Aru UAD Team Emirates, Chris Froome Sky Team Conferenza Stampa. Arco, 15 aprile 2018 Photo: Marco Trovati/Pentaphoto
All in it together

Most of the other riders are very supportive of Chris’s participation.
If you were a pro, would you want to fall out with Team Sky? Me neither and I’d say what I thought Chris and the boys would like me to say.


Is there a leak at the UCI

It’s those who leaked the story who should be brought to account, this would have been settled between Froome and UCI without the likes of us knowing about it!
Damn right! But how come Christopher only began to assemble a legal team after the story was leaked? This one was BURIED if the media hadn’t done their job.


Similarities?

On the subject of ‘Bert’ – the situation with him and his ban was NOTHING like Christopher’s plight. Believers resort to semantics – that’s ‘the study of meanings in a language’.
The bottom lines is that both men had quantities of a substance in their system which was contrary to the rules and should not have been there in that quantity. In Contador’s case a tiny amount of clenbuterol and in Froome’s case, DOUBLE the amount of salbutamol permitted under the current regulations. To argue the situations are hugely different is to split hairs.

Lago Laceno - Italia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - misssss - Ryder Hesjedal and Peter Stetina (Team Garmin - Barracuda) pictured during stage 8 of the Giro d'Italia 2012 - from Sulmona to Lago Laceno - foto Claudio Minardi/Cor Vos ©2012
Ryder Hesjedal - Nice guy

Nice guys don’t dope!
Tyler Hamilton, lovely man; Ryder Hesjedal, cool guy – I could go one. . .

Hoogvliet - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Archief Tour de France 1987 - Pedro Delgado )PDM) - links Robert Millar - foto Cor Vos ©2008
Philippa York (Robert Millar) with Perico Delgado - Philippa knows more than most

Philippa York’s opinion doesn’t count; she didn’t ride THIS Giro.
Right! Second twice in the Vuelta, second in the Giro, fourth in the Tour and winner of the Dauphiné – what the hell would she know about stage racing?


Chris Froome on his 80 kilometre raid

80 kilometres out front solo on a mountain stage is nothing unusual for a man like Froome and analysis of his watts endorses this.
Right; the last ‘exploits’ like this I remember were from guys like Claudio and Marco. . .


Chris and his Barloworld team at the 2008 Tour

Yours truly; ‘never had a good word about Froome’.
Back in his Barloworld days I interviewed the man and spoke to him at several Tour stage finishes; I found him to be a polite and interesting interview subject – (but see earlier paragraph). As for ‘good word’ he was my ‘man of the match’ in the British Road Race Champs way back in 2009 where he rode an aggressive race. I have the utmost respect for all professional cyclists and that includes those of Team Sky – the management and modus operandi of the team, that’s another story. A team of which a government enquiry commented; ‘Every scintilla of credibility is gone’.


‘Every scintilla of credibility is gone’

There’s not much else that I want to say but Philippa sums up the thoughts of many, me included when she states; ‘we’ve either witnessed a script straight out of Hollywood or we are being taken for mugs again.’

And very last word? Whatever did become of the guy with the, ‘Floyd is innocent’ T-shirt at those Tour of Britain stage finishes?


Lance for President!




It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he's covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,600 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself - many years and kilograms ago - and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.




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