What a difference a year makes. It was only 12 months ago that cycling’s most polarising person made his staged confession to Oprah, creating a wave of resentment within and towards the sport. But so far, from what Anthony Tan has heard on the ground at the Santos Tour Down Under, it seems the antipathy is all but forgotten. He wonders if that is indeed true.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

It's funny how time heals, even some of the deepest wounds.

Twelve months on from Lance Armstrong's tearless, Oscar-worthy confession to talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, and a few months more after the US Anti-Doping Agency's thousand-page bestseller hit virtual bookshelves the world over, it seems, judging by the sentiment of those I've spoken to at this year's Santos Tour Down Under, many of you have forgotten the world's most transcendental cyclist even existed.

As time goes on, perhaps history will reveal these episodes, and what followed inside and outside the peloton, to be seminal moments – moments that marked a permanent sea change within a sport so riddled with a prolific and insidious doping culture, the choice for newcomers was not whether to dope or not to dope, but when and how long should they dance with the devil.

Yes, there were exceptions to the rule, but now, as those with a chequered past inevitably grow older and move on and out, the exceptions are becoming the rule. As UCI president Brian Cookson told Cycling Central Wednesday in Prospect, no sport is without cheats, but in professional road cycling, I'm convinced, as Cookson is, and as many of those I've spoken to this week in South Australia are, they're now in the minority. Equally, the sport directors, soigneurs and doctors who assisted and enabled big cheats like Armstrong or individuals like David Millar or Stuart O'Grady are gradually being phased out.

Do we need them to tell us how it was so history doesn't repeat itself? Not really. For the most part, their stories are essentially the same. By now, we should all know how it was, so the message not to cheat, or not to win at all costs, is best delivered by those who chose not to cheat in the first place.

When I came to Adelaide last year for the Tour Down Under, understandably, there was a palpable degree of angst among you, the cycling public. You were angry at Lance; you were angry with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen; you were angry with people like Mike Tomalaris and myself for not doing our job, or perpetuating a lie most of us knew existed but nevertheless reluctantly, or in the cases of some, willingly, tolerated.

Yes, I knew a lot more than I could write about, but in fairness, unlike USADA or any federal authority, I never had, and never will have, the power to compel those I suspected to testify under oath. Believe me, there were many times I wish I had the wherewithal to do so; in future, if I come across or possess circumstantial evidence that establishes anything untoward which I can't further prosecute myself, I will forward on what I know to the relevant authorities. You have my word on that.

So, my question to you is: Have I got it right?

Have you forgotten about Lance and can't wait to get stuck into another season of cycling on the box – or are you still resentful for what he and his generation stood for, and how they so damaged the reputation of a sport you once loved but now feel a certain ambivalence towards?

In your own way of dealing with pro cycling's past, perhaps you've dabbled with another discipline such as mountain biking and found you really enjoyed it, and all but dispensed with its lighter weight counterpart?

What about guys like O'Grady – do you want to see him back, and if so, where? Are you okay with Matt White's reinstatement – do you at least accept his worth as a superior tactician, since whenever he's around, Orica-GreenEDGE often prospers?

Plenty of questions, I know – but this time, only you have the answers.