WE’VE been duped by the dopes.
Amid the picturesque mountain climbs in the Pyrenees and classic finish at the Champs D’elysees, all of the action in the Tour de France has been off the road in the systematic doping program dubbed the most sophisticated the sport has ever seen.
The US Anti-Doping Agency’s report outlining the extent disgraced seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong went to dominate his sport was as damning as his superman status in cycling was high.
For Americans, probably more than anyone, it has sent shockwaves through the sport.
To the Europeans, though, the evidence levelled against Armstrong only reassures the point of the fallen champ being a cheat.
“The French, in particular, have always viewed him as a cheat,” said Orange cyclist Angus Tobin, who rides with amateur Belgium team Terra Footwear Bicycle Line.
“It’s really just confirming what they already know.”
Mr Tobin said the findings against Armstrong wouldn’t stop people jumping on their bikes and going for a ride. What it might do, though, is stop those gunning to make it professionally in Europe.
“Lance was viewed as a bit of a hero in that sense,” he said of Armstrong’s feats in the Tour de France.
“He paved the way for other foreign riders going over.”
Among other things, the report says Armstrong took EPO - erythropoietin, a synthetic drug designed to boost the haemoglobin in the blood, enhancing the blood’s ability to transport oxygen to the muscles.
It short events it means nothing.
But in an event like the Tour de France, a three-week event, Armstrong’s ability to go hard for an extended period then recover quickly went through the roof.
It made his efforts superhuman.
In recent times, though, the superhuman efforts on the bike are dwindling.
“Athletes are having bad days which, when Lance was riding, just didn’t happen,” Mr Tobin said.
“You look at old videos of Lance winning the tour and he’d just attack and attack and attack. When he did he’d have the whole peloton chasing him and he’d still ride them off his wheels. It just doesn’t happen like that any more.”