Tour de France '07 – A Scripted Riding Rest Day

Jul 18 2007

Stage 10 – long and hilly enough to dissuade tired sprinters and teams, easy enough that the GC men can coast. So a rest day in all but name; punctuated, as these stages tend to be, by a French victory, and overshadowed, as these stages also tend to be, by a doping story. This had the predictable side effect of killing German TV coverage, despite the previous successes of Sinkewitz’s compatriot and teammate Linus Gerdamann. The yellow-clad man-boy won over audiences with his anti-dope message, with the notable exception of Brad Wiggins, who seems to have changed his adamantly anti-doper stance – I hope Britain’s quest for a Tour winner within the decade has nothing to do with that.

Anyway, the assumed revelation of Sinkewitz’s doping (though let’s not forget, the testosterone limits are a matter of some contention) doesn’t say much for the in-house blood checks at T-Mobile. Apparently, they’re carried out by “independent” organizations like NADA, the German wing of WADA. How exactly anyone working under the oversight of an organization chaired by Dick Pound could be considered “independent” or unbiased is beyond me; at any rate, T-Mobile is paying NADA to do the tests, so the same conflict of interest still exists. And furthermore, why was Sinkewitz’s result announced as a positive test, while Serhiy Honchar was simply let go? Bob Stapleton – a little transparency, please?

Anyway, the idiotic lack of TV attention (the race is being punished for catching cheaters, after all) didn’t keep German riders from motivating and driving on today’s stage. Marcus Burghardt was instrumental in the early race action, and Jens Voigt rode with the breakaway to the line. Still, the amiable German would have rather seen his wounded teammate Stuart O’Grady contest the day. It’s been a rough couple of years for the Australian, and despite a very full palmares, he’s missed a tremendous number of races he could have otherwise won. Let’s hope that, twenty years after his retirement, no one puts him in front of a TV screen and forces him to watch all the events that time and circumstance kept him from winning.

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