Thursday, May 24, 2007

In the Draft Once Again

The peloton rolls out, getting up to speed. Maybe there's a few neutral laps or kms for the sponsors and then it is race on. The speed goes up, depending upon the wind direction the group may stay in a line or echelon, the riders seeking protection from the wind. Protected riders staying on a teammate''s wheel.

Then one rider attacks, drawing out another, and another, and maybe a few more, until a small but compact group forms, huddled together, trying to put time into the peloton. Rarely does the solo attack/long break succeed. There is safety in numbers.

Just like riding in the peloton, it appears that confessing cyclists are finding safety in numbers, once again seeking to draft behind each other.

First, Dietz, then Christian Henn, a Telekom rider from 1995 to 1999 and now a directeur sportif with Gerolsteiner admitted yesterday to participating in using EPO while with the team, stating:

That's how it was at the time, otherwise you just couldn't keep up.

Udo Bölts then admitted to using EPO to make the 1996 Telekom Tour team.

Now Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag have admitted to EPO use during the 90s, mostly in preparation for the Tour de France. Frickin' Erik Zabel!!! Winner of 6 green jerseys at the Tour. I think I am going to cry.

Maybe there is a silver lining here though. As one rider attacked (confessing), another followed, and then another and another, until a small breakaway group has formed. Safety in numbers.

When one rider confesses, its easy for everyone, especially team management to say "Eh, it's only "____," that proves nothing." In fact, after Dietz's confession, former team manager Walter Godefroot, now with Team Astana, was quoted as saying,

Dietz was paid to say that. If Erik Zabel said something like that, it would be a different matter. I have never made my riders take illegal medications. I can tell you the names of 20 people who can swear that I have never recommended
illegal medications."

Hey, Walter, guess what, Zabel just did? Now what you got to say? When a group of riders comes forward and then the doctors as well, management can't deny it anymore. Maybe this will result in some responsibility being placed on the teams and management and not just the riders.

Notice that the admitted EPO usage centers around the 1996 tour, so far 4 of the 9 riders for Telekom have confessed- maybe Jan Ullrich and Bjarne Riis are next?


1 comment:

Carlos said...

Apparently Riis was next... From ESPN:

"I have taken doping. I have taken EPO,' Riis said at a televised news conference. 'I have made errors and I would like to apologize."