Is Something Fishy Here?

Mar 30 2007

Yes, very fast. I am pressed for time. Why is it the less you have to do, the harder it is to find time to do it in? Ah well. Coppi/Bartali Stage 4: Another newbie “breaks the duck”, to borrow Eurosport’s strangely uncomfortable phrase. The stage was shortened due to “harsh” conditions of 8C and rain. Only in Italy, folks.

In Spain, Francisco Ventoso won again. Can’t tell if he’s that good, or the rest of the field (sprinting wise) is that weak. Meanwhile, Alberto Contador wrapped up the GC because he had orders to win. Ordering a rider to win – brilliant! Is that Johan Bruyneel a tactical genius or what?

If you’re as cynical as I, you’ve noticed that’s three wins for Puerto refugees in as many days (1. Scarponi’s stage, 2. Contador’s stage 3. Contador’s GC). Not that I think Puerto’s sufficiently incriminated these guys (or anyone) to the point that they shouldn’t be racing, but consider these results in the light of David Millar’s note yesterday (broken by Velonews, I think!):

“To me, the buck stops at team management. They can’t just go around and blame it on the riders…They should know what’s going on, they should sign the right kind of riders. [It won’t stop] until the teams and the sponsors take responsibility.”

It’s a good point: the first thing Walter Godefroot did to deflect drug use allegation against his team in the 90’s was say “there was no organized team doping” (my italics). Patric Lefevere, too, after recent accusations against him, immediately denied his and the squad’s role, without commenting on individual riders.

I still despise the ProTour’s Puerto blackball, but it has done a good job of sweeping any suspected rider down to second-tier teams – which is a bit disturbing when you see how smaller squads (Tinkoff, Acqua-Sapone) have really shown up so far this year. And the hottest ProTour team? Gotta be Disco, whose off-season acquisitions (Basso, Contador, Davis) we perhaps the most risque.

Not really sure where I’m going with this, and I wouldn’t have time to take it there even if I did, but could it be that smaller teams, with less media spotlight, have perhaps turned a blinder eye to the actions of their riders than the big guys? Or could Discovery be as lenient with rider oversight as it is with adhering to its backroom Euro deals?

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