The Broom Wagon is a sceptic, probably for life. Blame it on Bjarne Riis, Floyd Landis, Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Richard Virenque or Christophe Moreau. Blame it on Alexander Vinokourov, Riccardo Ricco, Bernard Kohl, Alejandro Valverde, Alberto Contador or others too numerous to mention or too embroiled in ongoing legal cases. Blame it, if you like, on an early man-crush on the phenomenally flawed Marco Pantani. But there it is.
So when Bradley Wiggins launched on his C-bomb laden rant a fortnight ago, the Broom Wagon's hackles went up. It was a discouraging speech from the man in the yellow jersey. Posters on Twitter had noted the way Sky controlled the peloton and nicknamed them 'UK Postal'. Wiggins called them "f---ing wankers" who "can't ever imagine applying themselves to anything in their lives". Still on the defensive three days later, he credited his own success to hard work and pointed out that he was frequently tested, a fact that is not the knock-down argument it once was.
Though in a different ballpark, Wiggins' words contained echoes of a speech given from the top step of the Champs Elysees seven years ago on Tuesday. On that day in 2005, a seven-time Tour champion who is now facing multiple doping charges asked us to believe in miracles. He said of the sceptics: "I'm sorry you can't dream big". He also told us that "there are no secrets – this is a sporting event and hard work wins it".
Unless USADA's current charges against that rider are defeated, only two of the past 16 Tours can be said to have been won by a clean rider. That's one reason why it's hard for a sceptic to believe in someone who, when asked about doping, lashes out at the question (anger is fine, but shouldn't it be directed at the dopers?).
So let's give credit to Wiggins that he has since revisited the topic of doping. In fact, he tackled it head on.
In his column in the Guardian Wiggins gives a frank view of the way the sport has changed during his racing career. He describes the feeling of losing to cheats: "I had two kids to worry about, a livelihood to earn in the face of what was going on, and people beating me because they were doping". He argues, plausibly, that things have improved. That doping tests are harder to beat than before, and that recent performances by riders like Ryder Hesjedal, riding for Garmin-Sharp, lend credence to that view.
He says he would never dope and explains why: "I would potentially stand to lose everything ... I would have to take my children to the school gates in a small Lancashire village with everyone looking at me, knowing I had cheated, knowing I had, perhaps, won the Tour de France, but then been caught."
It's blunt, it's unambiguous. And in acknowledging doping's existence while articulating why it should be fought, it shows leadership. Exactly the sort of leadership – even a sceptic who struggles to dream can agree – that is deserving of the next Tour de France champion.
So it's well played, Wiggo. When you cross the line in Paris on Sunday night, the Broom Wagon will tip its hat.
La Grande Boob-cle
Do you think Peter Sagan is enjoying his first Tour de France?
Met the sagan as well, accosted him with a linked arm style manouvre lockerz.com/s/225542921— Amy O'Halloran (@amyling) July 16, 2012
Sagan is, according to Twitter's @irishpeloton, the first rider to win three or more stages on his Tour debut since Dietrich Thurau in 1977. Also, he's about to win a Porsche.
Pau! (right in the kisser)
Frank Schleck's positive test isn't the first scandal to break with the race nesting in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Rupert Guinness details the strange curse of Pau.
The week in ...
Guess who receives the most fan mail at the Tour de France? If you guessed SBS's Mike Tomalaris, you'd be wrong but the Broom Wagon likes the cut of your jib.
Docapost is the Tour's internal Tour postal service and has been delivering messages sent to riders for the past 20 years. This year, the most fan mail has been directed to Alejandro Valverde.
"It's a bit of a surprise, because he's not having a great Tour, but he gets loads of emails and he's ahead by a long way," Docapost's Jean Marc Campana said.
Curiously, Sporza ran a poll during the week asking readers which rider they'd most like to chat to at a cafe. Of 15 top pros, Valverde came last.
This perhaps suggests that although admiration for Valverde is widespread, it is not the sort of admiration that stretches to forking out for stationery, let alone sitting down and sharing a milkshake with the man.
I'm an idiot..... guess what I forgot to do... twitter.com/HansenAdam/sta…— Adam Hansen (@HansenAdam) July 18, 2012
Banned dope doctor Michele Ferrari says he wasn't formally notified of the charges by US Anti-Doping Agency. "I personally have NOT received any official communication concerning a USADA case against me ... I am now learning from the media that the USADA has issued a 'lifetime ban'."
USADA: "Mr. Ferrari's legal counsel was in communication with USADA about the case. A copy of the charges was hand-delivered to Mr. Ferrari's home in the presence of him and his wife."
... rooting for Orica-GreenEDGE
Driving to the race start and just saw a couple making love vigorously on the side of the road. #thebuseruptedwithlaughter— Baden Cooke (@badencooke) July 18, 2012
Dispatches from the Twitterverse
Just stop cheating and let ya Gambas do the talking. F@@K!!!!— Greg Henderson (@Greghenderson1) July 17, 2012
Friday 13. on 14:12 is our princess Elina in naturall way born.Mama and the littel one are in healthy conditions.we are so happy and proud.— Fabian cancellara (@f_cancellara) July 14, 2012
I have some wicked gas this morning. Allan is gonna regret being in the car with me for 6 hrs.— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) July 18, 2012
To say the last three weeks haven't worked out for Cadel Evans is like saying Sky have looked okay in the mountains and don't seem too bad against the clock. Saturday night's time trial will be a chance to salvage Evans' sixth top-10 placing at the Tour. And it is as good a time as any to revisit last year's closing TT in Grenoble. Evans rolled down the ramp needing to gain 57 seconds on Andy Schleck to become Australia's first Tour winner.