(pic: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

I was chatting to a friend about the Giro. It was the day of the stage to Aprica. We had (separately) concurred that whilst the racing was in some way entertaining we weren’t cheering on any of the riders.

Both of us are sofa veterans of Festina, the death of Pantani, Puerto, Landis, Lance, EPO Cera, (etc, etc), fans who have had our trust broken one too many times.

I wondered if our hardened, cynical attitudes were spoiling the sport for us. If we ditched them, put aside all memory of what had gone before and just believed, would it be better, for us?

If I looked at Contador and didn’t think ‘AC blood bags’ and asthmatic steak, would I instead see one of the most gifted stage-race riders of the modern era (of any era)?

Probably. I could try.

Then I read this article on Crankpunk in which Rudi Kemna,head coach of Pro-Tour team Giant-Alpecin,talks about this Giro and performances he finds reminiscent of the EPO era (and he’d know, because he admitted to using it during his riding days):

There is a split in the peloton” said Kemna. “In addition … holes [are] provided for those who seek to slip through the mesh of the net. I can not prove it, but that is the feeling that comes over me.

Rudi confesses (pic: ad.nl)

Sadly for me, and for ‘Drew’ (for it was he to whom I was chatting), we’ll keep our cynicism handy, our heroes at arm’s length and our eyes on the mountains.

This passage from The Breakaway still holds true:

Not only had I an insatiable desire for the mountains, I also had a newfound respect, a realisation that from now on the names I would champion would be those from the parcours and not the peloton. The paint on tarmac will fade to be replaced in a continual cycle of renewal but the names printed white onto brown summit signs will never desert me — always there, for all of us.