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Lee’s Lowdown: Danny Pate, let’s talk about him!
Sky rider Danny Pate is off to ride for the Optum team in 2016 and he has always been outspoken against doping, so Lee Rodgers said: "let’s talk about him." A 'clean American' rider from the last generation of racers is quite unique and so his opinion should be listened too, but he seems to have started a war of words. The Lowdown on Danny Pate.



START Tweet:

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Great Tweet about USPS

Ah, Danny Pate. Have to confess, I had never even heard of him until a year ago when someone mentioned ‘ the clean American’ riding for Team Sky. My interest was piqued. I searched around a bit for info on him and discovered a witty bunch of tweets aimed at dopers, one in particular, proving that the old adage ‘ignorance is bliss’ does not always hold true.

A ProTour rider who combined a sense of outrage at dopers with a sharp mind and a sense of humor? Surely not. We haven’t seen the like since…

I think you follow me. We’re getting into unicorn territory here.

TDFR 2014 - stage - 1
Pate, a rider facing a different direction

That ‘one rider in particular’ that Pate aimed his arrows at was Tom Danielson, his former teammate, the same rider who joined Jonathan Vaughters' team with a grand old fanfare that had the subtitle ‘Hey look at us! We’re all clean!’ except, ah, they weren’t.

This is the same Tom Danielson who was ‘outed’ by Vaughters when it was blindingly clear to him that he could not hide the fact that his ‘clean team’ was in fact infected with cheats, as of course he himself was. The same Tommy D who just recently got busted for synthetic testosterone, a positive test that forced JV to live by his words that said he’d quit if anyone on his team got busted, except, well, he didn’t, because he changed his mind and found a way to justify staying on and being proven to be very much not a man of his word.

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Patrik Sinkewitz can be a bit colorful

What you might have noticed about these career cheats is that they are constantly writing and re-writing their own narratives. If ever it was possible to prove a point more blindingly, have a look at this image of Patrik Sinkewitz. Busted for 8 years for clinking every time he rode like a medicine cabinet on wheels, he apparently still is The Greatest… or at least he and his Mum think he is (she was up all night knitting that bike, apparently. She went blind shortly after).

Pate put up this rather amusing tweet of Zabriskie and his spoons after Ol’ Tom got banned for, hopefully, the final time of his career:

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This accompanies his fine set of ‘Top 10 reasons why Tom Danielson doped’ on Twitter:

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All of which drew the ire of Vaughters, a man known usually for his sense of decorum, grace and restraint on Twitter, when he decided to remind the popular (amongst non-cheats) Pate that it was in fact JV himself who gave Pate his first taste of the big time:

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@TheDPate Danny, you'd have quit cycling or would be racing for a local club, if not for a few of us ex-dopers in your life.

Or, alternatively Jonathan, Danny would have not had to struggle quite as much in races that did not suit his particular abilities to which he was sent by your management team because his natural talent - which by the look of his palmarès is a bit more than some of the donkeys who went over to the dark side and suddenly started getting the gamblers all excited - would have taken him further and led to a more successful career (if of course you judge success by victories and money, as we slightly depressingly tend do).

Tour de France 2009 19e etappe
Millar, Pate and Zabriskie

Within Vaughters’ petty and mean-spirited little tweet is the very kernel of all this and why it sucks so much. Pate rides clean and does it ‘the hard way’ yet it takes a guy who was frankly not very talented, but who doped to suck up the little success he did have which he then used to start a WorldTour team which he then paraded - and he did - as the only clean team in the peloton and cast himself as the White Knight of the sport when in fact he knew inside his own head that he himself had juiced to get where he was and that his team was full of juicers too, and if all that isn’t enough to make you wonder what the good golly f&$k this sport is all about, then I don’t know what will.

The work that began with Slipstream and all that, it was not a noble endeavor despite what the press at the time told us. What it was, was another con job. What Vaughters did by employing a bunch of guys he knew to have doped and then foisting them on us as if they were clean - which remember, if the LA thing had never come out we would have thought they were - was simply give more weight to the idea that you need to dope to at least get up to the top level, which is what all those guys did. There’s also evidence now that shows that the positive effects (excuse the pun) of doping live long in the body, meaning that even though an athlete might have stopped using 5 years ago he is still benefitting from a residual effect.

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Jonathan Vaughters talking with Thomas Dekker in the 'Clean Team'

One time a cheat in this game and with these drugs, always a cheat, it seems.

And yet despite all this, Vaughters had the temerity to go onto Twitter and have a go at a guy who he knows is clean who is having a go at a guy who he knows is a doper. The same Vaughters who once wrote that he never signed the now-deceased Xavier Tondo because he thought he was “just a donkey made to ride fast with extra blood.”

Alanis Morisette, your annoying song would have been so much better if you could have squeezed that little gem in there…

Will Pate be offered a management position in a top level team (assuming he wants one)? Probably not. Will his teammate Will Routley, another avowedly clean rider who has spoken out eloquently on getting dopers out of the sport and the hypocrisy that still lies at the heart of cycling, enshrined in the contracts of people like Vaughters and the rest of the ‘reformed’ doper ex-pros? Very unlikely. Pro-Conti maybe, WorldTour though, can’t see it happening. Too many dicks on the dance floor, as they say.

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A helping hand

Pate understands very well the way this Old Boys’ Club works: "He’s [Vaughters] also the one who's been holding the microphone for the past decade, along with the other USPS alumna. It's time to hear from some others - those who, unfortunately, won't be signing book deals to describe what it was like to toil anonymously in the peleton for a decade."

Priceless, and spot on.

I wondered what drove Pate to leave for Sky, though he gave some hints when interviewed around that time which made me wonder less.

"It was the whole thought process in general with my schedule and the way I was dealt with. I don't think a lot of it was personal. I think sometimes relationships change... people and organizations grow apart and it really just wasn't working for me anymore. I needed a change."

How much did Pate know? Did he know of his boss being a doper, and a handful of his teammates? Was Team Sky’s (ultimately flawed) ‘zero-tolerance’ policy a reason for him going there?

Don’t know, but I like to think it was.

I also like what he had to say to CyclingNews about his time with Sky, where ultimately he felt the joy of it all being sucked out by a devotion to power meters: "I had a really good time at Team Sky. From the outside looking in Sky are very rigid and in a lot of ways they are. They're controlled, calculated and planned but there are good people there and I had fun. It wasn't always fun but it's a professional team and a different type of team. They have a formulae that works and it works well and it's by the numbers."

"I guess if you wanted to talk about two minute efforts, multiplied by something, and then divided by something, it was the place for you."

Tour de France 2008 15e etappe
Pate doing it the hard way

Pate’s in the news because he’s off to Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefits, a team I have admiration for. They seem to be doing things right, concerned as much if not more for their riders’ personal development as much as their palmarès.

Some may say that Pate could have said more and said it more often, but if you were listening carefully enough you’ll realize that he actually said a lot, it’s just that most people don’t want to hear what guys like him have to say.

Stage - 7 ENECO Tour 2015
Danny Pate: Tough, humorous and clean

Mr. Pate, I hope the tweets continue and I wish you all the best in your new team. Thanks for getting those oars in.





Lee Rodgers is a former professional road racer on the UCI Asia Tour circuit now racing MTB professionally around the world. His day job combines freelance journalism, coaching cyclists, event organizing and consulting work. You can keep up with his daily scribblings over at www.crankpunk.com.

 


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