In June, just as he was finishing his final preparations for the Tour de France, Daryl Impey was given news no athlete wants to hear. Positive. To what? It didn’t really matter. A sinking feeling. Disbelief. And then, as the news sunk in, contact with his team. No Tour. A fight to clear his name. To save his career.
It’s taken two months, but the South African Anti-Doping Organisation (SAIDS) appears to have now backflipped, siding with Impey that the test carried out back in February at the National Championships, had been somehow "cross-contaminated".
It was a long-shot, it always is in cases such as this where the burden of proof falls on the defense, but Impey was successful in making a case to clear his name.
You’re fully aware that you haven’t ridden a bike for more than five minutes in over six weeks, you’ve been eating like a slob, and your recent physical activity level could at best be described as ‘slothful’. And yet somehow, you’re totally and utterly convinced that when you jump back on the bike, for that first, ice-breaking ride, it’ll all be fine. That you’ll be conquering Cols like the pros.
I’ve been riding bikes my whole life. I’ve been a ‘cyclist’ for the last decade. But every time I step away, be it for a holiday, a period of work overseas, or I simply lose motivation, I tend to believe that my idleness will have absolutely no bearing on my fitness. I’ll just kit up, roll out, and bang, it’ll be like, err, riding a bike.
Because, you know, the croissant only diet in France wasn’t just tasty, but healthy too! My belly hasn’t bulged, my pants have shrunk… All of them. I’m puffing more than usual because of the pollens, not that my cardio system hasn’t been out of first gear in more than a month. I’m not unfit. I’m not!
Twelve months after the departure of its founding Sports Director John Lelangue, BMC is proceeding full bore with a dramatic restructure set to further establish Allan Peiper’s vision for its future. While it’s still early days, there’s plenty of promise from the first forays of Peiper's reign at the helm, writes Al Hinds.
The struggle watching BMC for so many years was seeing a team with one of the biggest financial war chests in the professional peloton be so categorically wasteful with its resource and talent.
Riders were recruited haphazardly. Money splashed where it wasn’t needed, saved where it was. In the classics squad, the team brought in no less than four different leaders, all geared to the same races. Roubaix, and Flanders. Ballan, Burghardt, Hushovd, Van Avermaet. Even more hilarious was that Van Avermaet left Lotto to be given more opportunities, opportunities he wasn’t being given there because of the presence of Philippe Gilbert. Then in 2012, BMC recruited Gilbert. Seriously.
I have a very, very good job, and I am very, very fortunate to do it, but it does have one caveat.
It’s not a frustration or a complaint, just something that should be a sort of disclaimer to those watching on from afar that have a slightly romanticised vision of what covering the Tour de France amounts to. Behind the curtain if you will.
Let me take you to the top of the Col du Tourmalet, Stage 18, the final day in the Pyrenees. My cousin, Anna, had messaged to say she was going to be in the Pyrenees, and that if she’d make it to any Tour stage, she’d be making it to the 18th. She wanted to be on the Tourmalet.
Six months ago we didn't know whether Michael Rogers would even continue in the sport. Tuesday, in Bagnerres de Luchon, he won his maiden Tour de France stage.
It was an emotionally-charged moment for the 34 year old. The last year of his cycling career has been nothing short of tumultuous; a positive result for clenbuterol, a career in limbo... a successful appeal.
"Sometimes it takes the difficult times to see the silver lining when it comes," Rogers said after his Stage 16 win. And indeed while it could have been disastrous, a forced retirement, a shattered reputation, the turnaround, has been remarkable.