Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Give Up

I'm afraid to read the news anymore. Every time I read a headline about this year's Tour De France, I have to check to make sure it's not a satire from the Onion.
Now Rasmussen is gone. He's gone not because he missed 4 random doping controls last year, we've supposedly known that since June - although it was supposed to be leaked, oops, I mean confidential. He's gone because now that he's taken definitive control of the Tour with his victory in the final mountain stage, the Rabobank team has finally asked him where the hell he was when he was supposed to be available for testing. And what do you know, he lied.
Conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day with this one for years to come. I think the tour organizers never wanted Rasmussen to win. You could hear their reticence in the coverage that he got as he made his bid for victory. A walking cadaver nick-named 'Chicken' was not going to save the sport from the pit of bad publicity that Floyd Landis pushed it into last year. The tour wanted someone dashing, like Alejandro Valverde, or someone heroic, like Alexandre Vinokourov, or someone deserving like Cadel Evans, or actually anyone else other than the skinny guy who had the single most embarrassing time trial in recent memory to drop him off the podium into 7th place at the end of the 2005 tour.
With all of the pre-tour favorites either out of the race or putting in uninspired performances, Rasmussen was looking like a shoe-in after today's final stage in the mountains. All the hopes and wishes of merchandisers around the world just couldn't magically get Alberto Contador over that hill in first place to steal away the victory, and 3 minutes was looking like a lot of time to have to make up in the time trial on a man who has actually learned something (like how to take epo) in the last two years and humiliated pre-race favorite and fashion plate Alejandro Valverde by passing him for 3 minutes.
Christoph Moreau, Levi Leipheimer, Frank Shleck, Michael Rogers, even Denis Menchov and Thomas Dekker made the pre-race favorite lists. With his previous 'King of the Mountains' victories and his stated goal of winning the GC of the Tour this year, you'd think he would be right up there, but Rasmussen is never mentioned.
That said, I don't think there's any conspiracy at all. He's probably guilty - just like all the rest of them.

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