Sunday, August 26, 2012

The real winners of the Tour
















While the Armstrong case is for global and not Basque-only websites to discuss, the fact that he was racing (and winning) at the same time as some of the Basque Country's best ever cyclists, Laiseka, Mayo, Zubeldia, Beloki et al., makes taking a look at what the overall standings at the Tour from 1999 to 2005 would look like without Lance's now tarnished name at the top of them an enticing proposition.

If Lance does indeed get stripped of all his victories from 1998 and onwards, it would make Ibán Mayo, a totally random example of course, a two-time Dauphiné Libéré winner and a two-time Tour de France stage-victor. Not that that would make much sense as Ibán's been proved to be just as full of performance enhancing drugs as the Texan, but that's what's likely to happen. What's more interesting though, is to take the top ten overall from each Tour de France Lance won and rid them of riders that have either been convicted of doping, have been involved in doping-related investigations and/or are widely known to have been cheating (either through admittance post-career or otherwise). That means the likes of Beloki (Puerto), Moreau (Festina) and Zülle (Festina), to name but a few, are removed from the results along with the likes of Lance, Basso, Ullrich, Mayo, Vino and all those. It's purely hypothetical, and doesn't really mean much I know, but here's what the final overall standings would look like for the Basques. And, by the way, Haimar Zubeldia won the 2003 Tour.

1999Abraham Olano of Anoeta, Gipuzkoa, would have been number two overall instead of number six. If the ONCE rider can be classified as 'clean' is debatable though, as he was known to be a client of the infamous Ferrari and rode for ONCE. Still though, one can't for sure say that all Ferrari's clients have been doped, so I wouldn't take him off the overall. In first place would be Fernando Escartín of Kelme, the team accused of systematic doping a few years later. So there you go. Makes sense, doesn't it?

2000: Escartín wins again even though he ended up eighth. Bilbao native Javier Otxoa, now a paracyclist, would have been third.

2001: Vino's best mate, Andrei Kivilev, would have triumphed ahead of Francois Simon and Michel Boogerd. Iñigo Chaurreau of San Sebastián would have been fourth, Roberto Laiseka tenth.

2002: No (clean) Basques close.

2003: Haimar Zubeldia wins. Easily. Roberto Laiseka would have been fourth.

2004: Iker Camaño (!) would have been ninth.

2005: Haimar Zubeldia would have grabbed his second podium with second place behind Cadel Evans, while Xabier Zandio would have been sixth.

I don't think it will make much difference to Haimar, a former team-mate of Lance of course, but still. Along with Carlos Sastre, he's the only rider in the top ten of 2003 with an as of yet untarnished reputation.

4 comments:

arnout said...

Isn't the doping doctor of Euskaltel that was fired in June 2004 as much as we need to know from the dodgy past? I think Euskaltel basically admitted as much as this a while ago, in saying "2011 was the best year ever for the new Euskaltel".

Also, Boogerd was doping, a lot of circumstantial evidence (Geert Leinder, current Sky doctor for example, or the Austrian blood plasma story).

I think we'll have to settle with Moncoutie for many of those years, sadly.

Kristof said...

True, Jesus Losa was Euskaltel's wonderman in 2003 early 2004. I think he was the best when it came to doping. He was fired, so TDF 2004 was a disaster. But officially Zubeldia is never caught, it's true, but I think he had that year the best things of the whole peleton:-)To me the big difference is Haimar was clean since 2004 while the concurrents (Vino, Basso, Ulrich,...) went on cheating for years. So to answer the question, yes, looking to his whole carreer Zubedldia deserved much better. Same goes for Mayo. They did not dare to take the risk anymore. I know there was a rumour in 2004 Eus had an officially letter of Doping Agency smethng was terribly wron with the hematocrites of all the riders. This could be the reason Losa was fired (and also Millar's confessions). However, i think it's useless rewriting history, if we're honest we know period 1993 -2004 they just were all on doping, so it was an honest race. I think period 2005 - 2009 was much worse because some of them were riding clean, here I name Zubeldia en Samu. Let's forget the past and spend money on today controls. If you see people as Geert Leinders, Ibagures, Gianetti, Riis are still in the peleton, well I have my doubts here. Sky does not have to complain they are suspected, if you really wants a clean image you're not working with people like Leinders. I think the big danger today is AICAR/TB 500. It surely is within the peleton but it's impossible to be found.

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