What's Cool In Road Cycling

Lee’s Lowdown: Working Class Hero!

‘I read the news today, oh boy…’ sang John Lennon a good while back, and the echo of his words came to me these past two weeks or so as I scanned my eye over the offerings from the usual websites, most of the interesting stuff was enough to have my eyebrows lifting up. Which, for a jaded middle-aged hack like me, is saying something.

The first came with the news of British junior national 10-mile time trial champion Gabriel Evans
‘admitting’ that he had bought and used that old favorite of the peloton, EPO, earlier this year. It seems that a teammate’s father found a vial of the substance in Evan’s belongings and promptly did the right thing, thankfully, and informed UK Anti Doping.

The 18 year old, wanting to do the right thing, naturally (once he’d been caught redhanded, obviously), came clean immediately. Good lad!

Caught red handed, Gabriel Evans

“On 3 August 2015 I bought EPO for the first time,” said Evans. “On 11 August 2015 I travelled to France for a weeks training camp with the family of a then-teammate.”

“With me I brought one vial of EPO. This was found by the teammate’s father who presented evidence to UK Anti-Doping. UKAD contacted me shortly after to arrange a deposition, in which I promptly admitted to all wrongdoing. I withdrew from the upcoming Junior Tour of Wales, the premier event on the junior calendar.”

Why bother saying that that was the ‘premier’ event of the calendar? To suggest how honest he was for missing their biggest race of the year? Maybe better to have said that without juicing he would not have been good enough to even get in.

“I did not have this race [the TT Champs] in mind when I used the drugs; I realize that competing was (another) huge mistake but at the time my intent was not malicious,” said Evans.

“I was hoping to regain some normality and that the whole mess would somehow be swept under the rug. I have now forfeited this title.”

Doping, getting caught, admitting it, wanting it all to go away… seems they really are starting young in their emulation of the pros these days. What will Evans salvage from all this? He could do worse than look to the career of David Millar, another rider who got caught then ‘came clean’, reinvented himself as an anti-doper, signed for a top tier team, made oodles of cash, rode the Olympics, brought out a book, and now has a clothing line and a stake in the re-invented Factor bike brand.

Don’t worry Gabe, it’ll all come good in the end mate.

Andrew Hastings: On the wrong track

Next to reach the upper reaches on the eyebrow-raise-o-meter was a champion at the other end of the scale, the British Masters champ Andrew Hastings. The British rider was banned just last Thursday for returning a positive finding for Metenolone and Stanozolol. However, unlike Evans, Hastings trotted out a colorful little talk by claiming that he had borrowed a used syringe from “a stranger at a gym” to inject B12 after feeling fatigued.


Which brings to mind an album title by another classic English band, “Never Mind The Bollocks” by the Sex Pistols, with ‘bollocks’, for the uninitiated, referring not only to testicles but also to utter bullsh*t, which if ever I heard it, Hastings’ excuse truly is.

In other news, a woman got pregnant by falling on a penis whilst on her way home from work. Careful people, it truly is a dangerous world out there. What with Trump, Isis, steroid-filled used syringes and discarded penii lying about, no one’s safe.

Preese conference Katusha Flandres 2015
Kristoff & Paolini

Next up, Alexander Kristoff’s ever-so-casual recounting of widespread sleeping pill and muscle relaxant use in the peloton. Speaking about his teammate Luca Paolini’s cocaine use and explaining that the Italian had trouble ‘sleeping and waking up’ (which made me giggle), he said:

“It’s normal in the pack to have sleeping tablets. If you can’t sleep you might have a muscle relaxer. Sometimes if you’re having pain in the legs and you can’t sleep. Normally we don’t take but if you can’t sleep then you must take it. I think he had more problems with this than others but I don’t know if he took them every day. I think he took more than other guys.”

Well, that’s all ok then, no to cocaine but yes to powerful knockout pills and other performance and recovery aids. The cycling world, I tell ya, it’s so grey with regard to all this stuff that Beijing’s polluted sky looks clean as a whistle in comparison.

Kristoff said too that “there’s no room for party drugs in the peloton” but I beg to differ, it’d make those on-board camera videos a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

Blue velvet suit?

Finally, bringing us back to the Beatles in his own inimitable style (I use the term loosely, remember that blue velvet suit?) is Sir Bradley Wiggins, who spoke to The Sunday Times and said:

“Success hasn’t changed me. I drive a van, not a Ferrari. I have stayed in the same house. We don’t have a nanny or anything. If I am at home, I take the kids to school at eight in the morning. Then I go training and pick them up afterwards.”

“I quite like just being me. Just a working-class hero, if you like. Approachable.”

Somebody replied to this with a comment about seeing the Tour winner ‘driving around in a blinking big sports car’, and he does have a penchant for chucking $12,000 bicycles about when the mood strikes him. And you have to call him ‘Sir’. Just like lots of other working class folk.

“I read the news today, oh boy…”

TDFR 2014 - restday - 1
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Lee Rodgers is a former professional road racer on the UCI Asia Tour circuit now racing MTB professionally around the world. His day job combines freelance journalism, coaching cyclists, event organizing and consulting work. You can keep up with his daily scribblings over at www.crankpunk.com.

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