24 Oct 2012

Awkward moments at the Tour de France

Talk about awkward. Sat in the front row, of course, for he is the champion – Bradley Wiggins.  Next to him – doping cheat Alberto Contador.

It coudn’t be much more symbolic: the 100th year of the world’s most famous bike race – the Tour de France – on the day the centenary route is announced. Defended for the very first time by a British rider. As cycling continues to eat itself.

Wiggins is the face of cycling’s future. Riding for Team Sky, who’ve hoisted their petard so implacably to the anti-doping crusade that they are now embroiled in a painful witch hunt of their own.

Several Sky names have backgrounds that have raised concerns. Two are still on the team – rider Mike Rogers, who was named in the recent Usada report that damned Lance Armstrong, as having links with his shamed doctor, and sporting director Sean Yates, who worked at Armstrong’s Discovery Channel team.

And there are two who have now left – Canadian rider Mike Barry, who now admits doping when he was at Armstrong’s US Postal Service team – and Doctor Geert Leinders, who has his own connections with former dopers.

Recall there are some too who feel Wiggins himself has been too kind in the past to Armstrong – even when the rumours were rife – and is guilty like so many in cycling of not shouting louder, sooner.

And who is Wiggo sat next to as the Tour de  France organisers congratulate themselves and try to carry on as normal?

At a function stuffed like a rider’s saddle packed with cycling luminaries old and new – from Mark Cavendish to arguably the greatest of all time – Eddy Merckx?

Alberto Contador – a man stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title for doping. A man implicated, then cleared, of involvement in Operation Puerto – the bigger doping scandal ever, before the latest biggest doping sandal ever (Armstrong).

Awkward indeed…