Luis Leon Sanchez. Valverde junior

Sanchez wins stage 4, Tour of the Alps

In my mind, Luis Leon Sanchez and Alejandro Valverde are forever linked by their doping, brought to light by the Operation Puerto investigation in Sprain in 2006.

They were both implicated in working with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the Spanish version of Michele Ferrari, EPO expert of choice for Lance Armstrong, among others.

It’s been 12 years since that sordid affair but both riders keep on winning. The soon-to-be 38 year old, Valverde almost won his fifth La Flèche Wallonne in a row this week. Today, in the Tour of the Alps, the 34 year old Sanchez won stage four, attacking his breakaway group with two kilometers to go.

These two Energizer bunnies from Spain just won’t quit. You have to admire the attacking style of Valverde and Sanchez even as you ethically cringe and wish that perhaps they were more intrigued by the idea of retirement.

in 2013, Sanchez was suspended by his squad, Blanco Pro Cycling, an odd sponsor-free name after name Rabobank became so disgusted with all the on-going doping issues that they took their name off the jersey.

They later reinstated him against their will but he was persona non-rida in their opinion. When Belkin came in as lead sponsor, they quickly dropped Sanchez for the same reasons.

For his part, Valverde has always been the unrepentant offender, never once offering even a scripted and cynical apology for doping. He did his two year suspension in silence, kept training and Movistar was thrilled to have him when his ban finished up. He’s an impressive and passionate rider but we never feel anything positive when he wins.

Sadly, he wins quite a lot. And no matter what the event, all we can think are the words Operation Puerto and the name of his dog Piti, which was the code name for his blood bags.

Luis Leon Sanchez has had what appears to be an athletic renaissance in the last few seasons. He has big wins and podiums in the Tor of the Basque Country, Volta ao Algarve, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Vuelta a Andalucía and yes, this week, the Tour of the Alps.

But all this doping talk is old news, water — or blood bags — under the bridge. Movistar and Astana are happy to have them on their rosters. Alejandro and Luis Leon, Valverde and Valverde junior.






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