- Jul 21, 2012
By 2012, “clean teams” had not only become the norm, they were good for business. Teams were begging riders not to dope, for fear that sponsors would pack up and jump ship. That summer, just weeks before USADA vaporized Planet Armstrong, Bradley Wiggins won the yellow jersey with a credible, believable, almost transcendent Tour victory.
Yet two years past the Wiggins’ benchmark yellow jersey, there are troubling signs that not everyone has “seen the light.”
There are whispers that riders and teams are still pushing the ethical limit. There have been abuses of the TUE process, and stories of riders and teams taking any substance not on the banned list. Perhaps more exasperating is the continued lack of transparency in the anti-doping process.
Without question, professional cycling has undergone an extraordinary transformation in little more than a decade. Gone are big-ring attacks over first-category climbs 40km from the finish line. Winning moves these days usually come inside 3km to go in what’s become a race of attrition. Riders today are emaciated to the bone, dancing out on the razor’s edge in search of magical power-to-weight numbers. Today’s GC contenders are weighing 137 pounds at 6-foot-2, compared to 172-pound giants during the EPO era. Chris Froome is all sinew and elbows compared to the muscle-bound, EPO-fueled riders of the previous generation.
Did Vincenzo Nibali win the Tour clean? All evidence points to that he did. Can we dare to believe?