A huge doping scandal hits le Tour? Wowzers. For those of you not into cycling, the two (arguably) biggest names and overall race favorites this year have just been eliminated the day before the race was to start.
Favorites Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and other cyclists were barred Friday from the Tour de France in the biggest doping scandal to hit cycling in years. ... Basso, winner of the Giro d'Italia, and Ullrich -- the 1997 Tour winner and a five-time runner-up -- were among more than 50 cyclists said to have been implicated in a Spanish doping probe that has rocked the sport for weeks. ... Asked whether T-Mobile would consider cutting ties with Ullrich completely, [a T-Mobile spokesman] replied "certainly ... we are now demanding evidence of his innocence."
What a shocker when I read the reports this morning. I thought the doping era in cycling had concluded. My understanding is that teams that lost riders will not be able to replace them. Several teams will be riding with fewer men. This is particularly important to a guy like Vinokurov, who placed third in last year's rides on some stellar individual efforts. But now he has essentially no team to support him. LeMond essentially did it in the 1980s, but it is difficult. Look at the strength of Armstrong's teams during his reign. I think Landis will ride well (despite being down two riders), Leipheimer will show up (intact team), and the Disco boys could come up huge. I would love to see Hincapie place, but in large part he will likely play domestique and pace for Danielson and Popovych. And CSC still has an extemely strong team. It will be wide open and fast, with quite a bit of attacking, I think. It should be enjoyable.