Oh dear. There is an old saying that "if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then it's probably a duck!" So it is with the Giro d'Italia individual time trial which was run last night which saw Cadel Evans lose the "Maglia Rosa", the pink jersey of the race leader.
I'm going to make some unsubstantiated claims today but this is a personal Blog and I can write an opinion piece if I want to and today I am going to declare the victory of Rigoberto Uran of Columbia, riding for team Quick Step, very suspect indeed.
Yes, that divisive, antagonistic word, "doping" is making itself felt on internet forums across the globe as the dust settles on the Giro's 12th stage and Uran becomes the first man from his nation to lead the race. Unfortunately the result is as dodgy as a three dollar bill!
Let me just say, Rigoberto Uran is a very good cyclist and finished second in the Giro last year but never, anywhere has he produced a performance in a time trial such as he did last night. Calculations of power wattages are being done by would-be boffins at the Cycling News forums, posters on site are digging deep into Team Quick Step's internet files, dragging up names of dodgy doctors who work for the team and casting doubt on a result which saw Uran finish almost two minutes ahead of the next best rider on the day, a result which he has never before been close to achieving. To rub salt into the wound, four of the top ten finishers in last night's time trial were from Quick Step, an unusual performance from a team not noted for it's prowess in the discipline. Hmm. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it's probably a duck!
It takes cycling back to a dark age when certain teams managed to put a number of riders close together on the results sheets of the most prestigious races in the world and fellows who were known as "donkeys" suddenly developed abilities which at best could be described as "unusual" and at worst "superhuman". Quick Step was one of these teams.
I am a pragmatic fellow and I realise doping is an insidious practice and is most likely still prevalent in the peloton on many different levels. But to me what happened at the Giro last night is just so blatant, so dirty, that it destroys the race as a spectacle and treats those of us who love the sport as idiots. In my opinion.
There are plenty who will jump up and down and swear on their mother's grave that the result was legitimate and people such as myself are just sore because our home-grown favourite came off second best but the result speaks for itself and mimics the actions of teams of years past of whom it is now known were doped to the gills.
I just hate it when they make it so obvious.
All colour and flavour has been sucked out of the Giro for me. Given his form and the fact that he probably glows in the dark when he goes to bed at the moment, I would consider Rigoberto Uran to be in a virtually impregnable position. A brutally hard final week is nigh and it is doubtful Cadel Evans can pull back the 37 seconds he now finds himself in arrears. In fact given the situation it is much more likely he will lose more time. I will probably lose interest at the same rate!
It is likely that for a few years after the retirement of Lance Armstrong cycling was a lot less drug infested than it had been. But doping is like a cancer. It never goes away and rears it's ugly head the moment you least expect it to. With the advent of Team Sky's "marginal gains" training programs, their own questionable success in the Tour de France over the past couple of years, it is likely the doping "arms race" has begun again. It should have been expected.
For now I will put a lid on my disappointment and shrug it off. The sport is still beautiful and nothing is perfect but those who seek glory through nefarious means are setting the game on the road to nowhere and the whole cycle of disgrace is set to begin again. Doping in cycling is a time bomb and it has been cocked to go off again. It's only a matter of when.
Have a nice day.