I'm going to experiment a little with the format and timing of my posts. While I try to make Friday's posts dedicated to the best short video I can find, lets make Mondays and Tuesdays special as well. Lets make Monday's dedicated to wrapping up the weekend and Tuesdays will be about training. So, Mega Monday and Training Tuesday? Well, lets hit it, Mega Monday!
The news last week in pro cycling came fast and furious. First, lets get started on a positive note. The Tour of Utah made their official route announcement. The ToU is near and dear to me as this is the second year I have been involved with the Ogden Local Organizing Committee. The event will spend its second year on the UCI calendar giving cyclists some major climbing, long days in the saddle and a totally new route for the final stage. The prologue has been dropped in favor of a full stage being run on the first of 6 days. This, along with the other route tweeks increases the mileage of the race but also the elevation climbed by a whopping 25% to 37,415 feet!
Most of the stages take in roads that local cyclists are very familiar with. Stage 1 that starts and finishes in Ogden, sees the racers tackle Ogden Canyon, Trappers loop, East Canyon and North Ogden Divide for a full 131 miles to start the week. Stage 2 is a new team time trial out at Miller Motorsports Park. With only 6 stages, this should make the GC battle quite interesting. Stage 3 starts in Ogden and follows the classic training route for locals to Research Park in Salt Lake City. Stage 4 is a flat one, touring Happy Valley from Orem to SLC. Stage 5 is the venerable Park City to Snowbird route. Its Stage 6 that will really open peoples eyes to the climbing we have right here in our backyard. Taking in Empire Pass, the Park City stage looks awesome. How do pitches at 22 percent sound? That's where I'll be camping out for sure!
Along with the route announcement it was noted that Levi Leipheimer will return with his Omega Pharma Quick Step squad. The team will be making its ToU debut to support Levi in defending his GC ins from the last 2 years.
With the good news, came some bad news however. I thought we could get through a Tour de France this year without hearing about Lance Armstrong and doping. As many already know, USADA lobbed their charges against LA and his cohorts from US Postal/Discovery and even Radio Shack days. You can find the actual letter to LA and his team here. Its worth the read. I think reading it helps the public get a handle on the charges and the case that USADA has laid out.
The crux of their accusations stem from evidence gathered during the 2 year FDA investigation into LA for possible federal law violations. That case was suddenly dropped under suspicious circumstances but there was apparently a basket load of evidence uncovered. That evidence was turned over to USADA and here we are. From the letter, it sounds like most of the evidence is testimony to the Grand Jury by 10 or so witnesses. For the sake of cycling, I sure hope there's more than just testimony. When Spanish courts went deep into the Opercaion Puerto scandal, they had blood bags, DNA matches, documents cross referencing code names and a host of other hard facts. For USADA to finally put this to bed, I think we need to see the same kind of hard evidence. Not only will USADA be facing arguably the most powerful legal team in sports, they are facing a deeply polarized cycling fan base of those who think Lance is innocent and those who think he doped.
I think regardless of the outcome, no one's opinion will change. If he gets off it will because of his powerful legal team, a technicality, etc. If he's sanctioned, his fans will cry witchunt and a waste of tax dollars. More than anything, this distracts from what is supposed to be the most entertaining 3 weeks of the pro cycling season. I hope the headlines from this years TdeF will focus on the racing and not LA's accusations.
But lets think for a moment, if LA is convicted, who are they going to give his TdeF titles to?? Basso and Ullrich? They would just be handing the titles from one doper to the next. Therein lies the great conflict of Lance's heyday, they all doped!
The real concern for me however is that USADA says they have proof LA doped during his comeback in '09 and '10. First, if anyone of authority had proof of doping during that time, it should have come up then. Not to mention, LA must be some kind of serious stupid to dope under so much scrutiny.
I for one, am in the camp of believing Lance until some body of authority convicts him. It will be terrible for cycling and for sports in general in LA falls. LA has transcended sport for so many people. It would be the lie of all lies and mean crushed dreams and heroes for so many. We'll be watching the headlines, but don't forget there are other things going on in cycling that will continue to inspire and motivate. Chris Horner going to the Olympics is one of those things. Now, get out and ride!