Monday, July 13, 2009
For your rest day entertainment, here's a good article on the doping and the difference between how cycling as sport is viewed in Europe compared to America. It's from SI, whose coverage of cycling is generally banal at best. This explains why, in part. Having read all the books referenced, I can recommend it as a short amalgamation of the lot.
Tour de France, cycling a clash of cultures for Americans, Europeans
Here's a taste:
"Any 7-year-old Flemish schoolchild," Bob Roll has written, "knows 100 times more about cycling than all Americans combined." They know the sacrifice -- that, simply to train, a pro will log enough mileage each year to circumnavigate the earth. They know the suffering -- that Rene Vietto's toe, lost to sepsis during the 1947 season, sits in embalming fluid in a jar over a bar in Marseille. They know the fate that four Tour winners have wound up suicides, and that 1998 champion Marco Pantani shot himself up vocationally and avocationally and, finally, tragically. Moreover, they know the positives, raids and confessions that have implicated at some point during their careers half of the 18 men to win the Tour since 1974. They've read the corpus of European journalism devoted to doping in cycling, some of which implicates Armstrong, and find it more human and persuasive than any clinical positive test. They've heard the testimony of repentant dopers like France's Philippe Gaumont, who rubbed salt on his testicles until they bled so he could get a prescription for otherwise-banned cortisone; Ireland's Paul Kimmage, who after describing a drug-riddled sport in his book Rough Ride returned to the Tour with a press credential and was advised to leave because organizers couldn't guarantee his safety; and Spain's Jesus Manzano, who after an against-the-rules transfusion mid-Tour, which turned out to be of someone else's blood, suffered a seizure that nearly killed him.