Vinokourov wins Olympic gold, everyone else loses.


David Millar is laughing. Ooh, he’s disappointed and upset that he and Tour de France champion Bradley WIggins and tour runner-up Chris Froome could not carry Mark Cavendish to the final kilometer where the Manx Missile would destroy all rivals.

No, he’s not happy but given his sense of humor and long perspective, he had to be laughing. Because for all the bullshit and politics and finger pointing about his participation in the Olympics as a former doper, the race was won by unrepentant doper Alexander Vinokourov. Irony stuffed inside an irony stuffed inside pile of horse crap.

Shake your head, reminder of cycling’s dark cynical past, last guy you wanted to win the race wins race. If any rider could turn the Olympic ideals into an embarrassing joke it would be Vino. There was almost a global groan of disbelief.

Twisted Spoke was on vacation at a resort hotel on Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin. We got up late for breakfast and walked into the all-you-can eat buffet with the Olympic Road Race headed into the final 18k.

There was almost no volume on the flat screen but quickly we figured out there was a large group up front and Mark Cavendish was screwed. So much for all that weight loss and the “dream team” and his new climbing legs. Box Hill boxed him good.

So even through the eggs and potato hash were mediocre we were thrilled to catch the race and stood next to the screen holding a plastic container of strawberry yogurt.

When Cancellara misjudged the right hand turn and hit the barricade, we winced. How much does one man have to suffer in one season? Four breaks in his collarbone and his paychecks don’t even show up on time. We were pulling for the Swiss champ with the massive thighs and down-to-earth grin.

Then, misery.

When we saw Vinokourov in the break with Uran we felt our anger and indignation rising. There were only two riders out of 140 that could have spoiled the race and Vino — along with Alejandro Valverde — was one of them. We groaned, we shook our head, we begged the Cycling Gods, no, please, not him, anyone else but him and Valverde.

Vino was set to retire this season so why could he not go quietly? Slink away, less said the better, take up this seat in the Kazakh parliament and perhaps bring his unique views on corruption, lies and hypocrisy to a new place. Let his people deal with the stench.

When Vino appeared to have a chat with Uran, who didn’t think that Vinokourov was trying to buy another race like he did the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege? The word travesty comes to mind — along with outrage and disgust.

Yeah, sure, who doesn’t like Vino’s “attacking” style? We also like Ricardo Ricco’s attacking style — but later you find that the acceleration isn’t human, it’s chemical. As one writer said on the Inner Ring forum, “If I knew he was going to win, I wouldn’t have watched.” Chapeau, my friend.

Do we draw a distinction between Millar and Vinokourov? You’re damn right we do. Millar did the whole confession and has spent the rest of his career agknowledging his mistakes, campaigning against doping and riding for arguably the cleanest team in cycling, Garmin-Sharp. Vino came back defiant and without the slightest hint of remorse. As long as Vinokourov and Valverde ride in the professional ranks, the sport suffers and potential sponsors run away screaming.

Vinokourov won the gold medal in the Olympic road race. The other 139 riders lost, the sport lost and everyone watching the event on television lost. A sad day for cycling and there’s simply no other conclusion with any reality. You can be damn sure nobody wanted to put that medal around his neck. Nobody.

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15 Responses to “Vinokourov wins Olympic gold, everyone else loses.”

  1. Well actually I would have put it around his neck.
    Sour grapes are sour…

  2. Because the other 139 guys were running on water alone? New day, new dope…

    • I like that — new day, new dope. It’s a cleaner sport and I don’t think anyone disputes that. FOr all the money that drives the Olympics, it’s still that rare, entire world invited event that invites a bit of idealism about the world. That’s a good thing. So I don’t think anything positive about vino winning a gold medal. Matt

  3. Most people I spoke (all true cycling fans) we’re really excited after the race. Because Vino is a cyclist in the way we like to see them
    So you’re talking about Olympic ideals? Are you really that naive? The Olympics are about money and vanity….and money. Or do you really want to talk about the ideals of a sporting event sponsored bij Mac friggin’ Donalds? All I can say is that we have a fantastic winner in Vino. This Matt, was cycling at it’s absolute finest. It embodied everything that makes the history of this sport so interesting and unlinke any other sport.
    I know most Anglo’s prefer fake apologies, crocodile tears and hollow promises , most of us here like men who won’t bend. Not on the bike, not off the bike.
    BTW, wasn’t the guy that actually put the medal around his neck banned for life once because he didn’t care about a South-Africa apartheidsregime boycot?

    • Henkio, I’ll grant you the money part. I’ll all organic local produce so McDonalds isn’t really my thing. AS you know, Vino is a polorizing guy. And I do put stock in someone who makes a point to campaign against doping like Millar — versus Vino’s silence. When Millar won his tour stage he again used it to talk about doping in sport. To me, that’s class. Sure. the Olympics are a huge corporate money orgy but there’s still some magic and idealism about the event. I don’t put Vino in the idealist category. Matt

  4. You summed up my feelings perfectly Matt. Well said! I know our sport is far from perfect, there are plenty of guys in that race who have doped in the past and may still be doping. There is also a large part of the peleton who are now willing to speak out against the cheats and admit to their previous mistakes. That is a huge shift in attitude from where we were only a few short years ago. I have never met Vino, but he has never once given me the impression that he cares for the sport of cycling, only that he cares for himself. For someone like to win leaves me sick in the stomach.

  5. Congratulations to Vino, played it beautifully.

    • Vincenzo, there’s no questioning Vino’s tactical abilities and ability to read a race. Now, Mr Shark, time to follow twisted spoke on twitter! Matt

  6. “UGGH!” I think that’s the sound coming out of me at the finish. Give me anyone else…ANYONE…for that finish. I was really hoping for a bunch sprint but those climbs took it out of them. Vino getting the win was just rough to watch.

    Matt, you summed it up perfectly. Thanks for nailing it again. Great stuff.

  7. Amen brother. I was one of those who collectively groaned to the universe…


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