Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Bettini takes the spoils...

Well, after my trailer for the World Championship Men's Road Race last week in which I made a lot out of the exclusions of Paolo Bettini and Danilo Di Luca, 'Il Grillo' (The Cricket) got a late reprieve and won the damn thing!!

His victory salute as he crossed the line was one of the strangest ever seen - he apparently took aim with a rifle and fired, later explaining "...so many people shot at me this week, so I wanted to do the same when I crossed the line. The gun was not fired at someone in particular. If someone felt it, then, they know who they are. It was directed at those outside of cycling, who makes statements and know nothing about cycling..."

Whether people are as happy for Paolo this year as when he won it in 2006, I'm not so sure. He's a gutsy rider who makes an impact in every race he rides, but his refusal to play ball with the sport's anti-doping movement casts him under suspicion. I hope he's not shown at a later date to be another sporting fraud.

Di Luca wasn't so lucky and didn't get to ride. The Giro winner was spotted handing out water bottles to his team mates in the feedzone. Home favourite Stefan Schumacher, another rider in the Bettini mould, made the podium despite some blood irregularites. The German Federation had tested him a few days before the race and found that he had 'irregularities in various parameters'. The UCI conducted their own test on race day which showed the same inconsistencies. Next thing we know, the Authorities are presenting a united front in announcing that Schumacher's results were the result of nothing more sinister than an upset stomach.

Given the German Federation's acceptance of confessed doper Erik Zabel into the race and their polite request to the great Eddy Merckx not to attend after he'd branded them as 'idiots', you could be forgiven for thinking that the world had gone mad for a day. Cycling's Lewis Carroll logic is a peculiar beast. Wrong is right, and vice versa. The worst thing is, I still love it!!

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