Thursday, July 26, 2007

The TdF Becomes WTF
Michael Rasmussen, Dane, leader of the Rabobank team, holder of the yellow jersey, winner of yesterday's stage in an epic climb and battle with Discovery team riders Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador is out of the race. His team dropped out as well. And the strong French team Cofidis has dropped out too. Rasmussen's sin, as it appears is lying to his team about his training. He said he was in ... well, let me snip a graf from Phil Ligget's report at the Versus site:
His team manager, Theo de Rooy, said that Rasmussen had told him he had been in Mexico with his wife. We all know now that Rasmussen has been seen training in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. The team then withdrew because of the Code of Ethics, which is now agreed within professional teams.
Cofidis withdrew after one of its riders tested positive for synthetic testosterone which is the substance that's thrown Floyd Landis's win last year into limbo.
I have enjoyed watching this Tour but it is becoming a tour of sadness after all these rider DQs and team withdrawals. Astana, Rabobank, Cofidis. These are serious teams. Rabobank has been doing a superb job pulling the peloton for Rasmussen's wins. And his outright win in yesterday's stage after being challenged repeatedly by Contador and Leipheimer on the final climb to the summit of Col d'Aubisque was incredible - a masterpiece of climbing. Of course Rasmussen has been "King of the Mountains" for the last two years so his climbing ability is no surprise. Still, it was a brilliant stage win.
And now all that riding is in ashes. How sad.
What now? Best of luck to Leipheimer and Contador, both are in position for a Tour victory. But it will be well-nigh impossible to call a win in this year's Tour a good win. Let's hope that the riders now really understand that the doping testing will catch them. I think next year we may well see the cleanest ride in modern Tour history. If not, we will see the start of the decline of the TdF as a major event. Tour of Georgia, anyone?

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