Monday Musette – ENECO Final Days, Gerrans, and Blood Doping for Everyone

1. The ENECO Benenlux Tour wraps-up tomorrow with a 13.1km time trial around Amersfoort. After his performance yesterday, should we just go ahead and declare Edvald Boassen Hagen the winner now? The biggest threats to his GC hopes come from the men in places 3, 4, and 5 after Stage 5: Chavanel, Nibali, and Poosthuma. All three are talented against the clock, and if Edvald the Conqueror has a bad day (albeit unlikely), one of these men could take the win.

And don’t forget Tyler Farrar at only 15 seconds back; he’s no slouch in a TT either (he finished 2nd in the Prologue). Strange things have happened before in the final stage of the ENECO Tour. Maybe Boassen Hagen pulls a Menchov and crashes on a wet road? Or perhaps he flats at an inopportune time? You never know. Regardless, Farrar’s done a heck of a job–look for him to earn his first win in a Grand Tour at this year’s Vuelta.

2. In other Pro Tour news, Simon Gerrans won the GP Plouay yesterday, adding another impressive win to his palmares. The fact that this race has received Pro Tour status–in my opinion–says more about its location than its difficulty (no offense, Simon). Were it not in Brittany, it might just be another well-attended summer circuit race with a 1.1 UCI ranking (like the 8 to 10 of them in Italy right now). That said, Gerrans’ win re-asserts the fact that he should have been on Cervelo’s team for the Tour. It also adds fuel to the belief held by many that Gerrans will either be joining Lance at The Shack or his former DS Scott Sunderland at Team Sky in 2010.

3. Speaking of Lance, did you hear that he dropped-out of the Tour of Ireland during yesterday’s last stage? Too bad for the fans who braved the terrible weather to get a glimpse of the legend in action.

4. And while we’re on the subject of back pain, take a gander at this column from Thursday’s New York Times. I’m not necessarily willing to tackle the doping problem here at Pavé–especially when there are many others more talented and able to do so. But the irony in this article is truly mind-boggling, especially from a newspaper so outspoken against doping and performance enhancement. I know, I know…there’s a difference between a medical treatment overseen by a professional and bags of blood in the back of a soigneur’s Opal. But for cryin’ out loud!

5. Did you see that Alessandro Ballan testified that he was approached by an amatuer cyclist offering him CERA? Bravo.

6. I’ll end with one final thought and a question on doping. This morning on ESPN Radio, the jocks were discussing Pete Rose and his admission of betting on baseball. As they see it, there’s no crime against a sport worse than betting on its games, since it could lead to the games being fixed by the athletes playing in them, thus damaging the sport at its competitive core. As they see it, it’s even worse than performance enhancing drugs–so much so that locker rooms are adorned with signs reminding players to not bet on their sports.

So I ask you, which is worse? Fixing a race, or doping to win it?

Share your comments below. And have a great Monday!

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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