Cycling: Tension mounts as Le Tour approaches

By Angus Elder
It is just over a month until professional cycling’s most prestigious annual race gets underway
lance armstrong

Armstrong has been accused of taking PEDs by Floyd Landis (Photo: Benutzer Hase)

It is just over one week until professional cycling’s most prestigious annual race gets underway.

This year the build-up the Tour de France, which begins on 3 July, has been shrouded in controversy; something that cycling fans have become accustomed to for far too long.

The debates and accusations that have surfaced throughout the earlier parts of the year have ranged from the ridiculous to one matter of a particularly destructive nature.

It has left cycling fans apprehensive and uncertain over the authenticity of its sport and its most celebrated riders.

The pending damage of accusations made by Floyd Landis towards Lance Armstrong and his former US Postal team colleagues back in April have tipped the balance regarding Armstrong’s integrity.

Critics now believe that the most recent investigation being undertaken by Jeff Novitsky, one of the key investigators in the Balco case, will reveal information that was not previously attainable.

This evidence expected to be unveiled will be partly thanks to Armstrong’s ex-wife Kristin, whom Landis attests saw Armstrong give him vials of the performance-enhancing drug Erythropoietin.

Landis sent a series of e-mails to USA Cycling chief Steve Johnson acknowledging Armstrong’s and his own doping past and also condemning Armstrong for paying the Union Cycliste Internationale to cover up a positive doping test in 2001.

Armstrong’s demise would be a fundamental blow to the many cycling fans that have celebrated his seven Tour de France victories.

More importantly, however, it would have severe repercussions to the millions of cancer victims who have idolised him and drawn inspiration from his successful battle with testicular cancer.

His determination that underpinned his incredible recovery will never be taken away from him; however, cheating whilst being on the payroll of the government-funded defunct US Postal team would earn him a certain prison sentence.

The Armstrong saga will continue to attract intense speculation throughout the summer, but it has been momentarily put in the limelight by a remarkable, yet unbelievable, story involving World Time Trial Champion Fabian Cancellara.

Cancellara, having dominated this season’s Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix races, has been receiving interest regarding the slightly comical possibility that he may be using a motorised device within his bike.

Francais des Jeux rider Anthony Roux, soon after Cancellara’s victories, said in a statement to Le Republicain Lorrain: “we wonder if it is true or not. One has the impression that he has a motor in the bike.”

Over the past few months whispers have become serious concerns, so much so that the UCI, the world’s governing body, have introduced scanners to help combat mechanical doping.

A revealing YouTube video has analysed and presented evidence of the possibility that Cancellara has been using a motor hidden with the piping of his bike frame.

Professional cycling appears to have a thoroughly compelling—and potentially destructive summer ahead—with Alberto Contador’s potential defence of the Tour de France being only part of line up.

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