First off, cycling needs a different term for what it would like to convene. To equate cycling’s past with South Africa’s and Liberia’s dark histories is just wrong. Maybe the “I was a lying dick” tribunal. When I hear riders I admire say the past is the past, let’s look forward, I now assume they cheated. Cipo, Bugno, Faboo. Do I care? That has become harder to answer over time but yes, I still do care. Should I be surprised? No, I should be surprised if they were clean, like Jens, from East Germany. That actually does surprise me. If I was a “clean” rider, like Jens or Stuart O’Grady, I’d be rather pissed off about the missed opportunities. I would be damn angry rather than mildly surprised. They wouldn’t be lying to me too, would they?
Gianni Bugno seemed to take little pleasure in some of his greatest victories. When he beat Museeuw in the 1994 Ronde van Vlaanderen he looked a little guilty to me. If there ever was call for some Italian chest thumping and end-zone dancing I would think that might have been the day. Yet he seemed to want some privacy and there was no blinding smile a top the podium. Even back in 1994 the thought flickered in my head that my man, Gianni Bugno, didn’t just beat Museeuw on cunning alone.
Professional cycling is a brutally hard sport. It’s hard enough that drugs have been associated with it since men have been racing each other over unholy distances. I’d rather have cycling known for that than have cycling known as The Liars Club. As cycling fans we have been lied to by most everyone involved with the sport. I’m sick of being lied to much more than I’m sick to know Cipo was doped to the gills during the best season of his career. Let’s get this over with. Let us get to the Truth. It might even be fun reading. You did what how many times? Are you that stupid? Wow, that really resets the perfect amount of dumb meter doesn’t it?
If cycling does completely air its dirty past it will be a first. I don’t see American football or baseball ever addressing their doping issues. If it wasn’t such a hard damn sport doping wouldn’t be such a temptation: bike racing, horse racing and syringes. If it was just money that corrupted sports every golfer would be doing something besides drinking alcohol at the 19th hole. And fat bastards named Fuzzy or Daly wouldn’t be stubbing out their cigarettes on their caddie’s hat before teeing off. Will it ever happen? Not if the present UCI has anything to say about it. A lot of people who are involved in cycling above the level of the riders don’t want the dirty laundry snapping in the breeze.
Reconciliation…let’s call it freedom from legal prosecution. The reconciliation is going to happen between riders and fans in the cafés not in court. I don’t believe it will be a big deal, we still love cycling, I still love Bugno and Cipo. Nothing will have changed except everyone will know the truth. What will the record books look like after the smoke clears? Maybe nothing different, maybe that’s part of all this. Yes, Cipo finally won Milan-San Remo sprinting against other racers who were not clean either. He was the best of them that day.
Cipo, you worry too much. The tifosi won’t turn on you. Has the pope been roughed up yet? No? You are good then.
All right, enough talk, let’s look at some Spring Classic action, 1994, the Ronde van Vlaanderen