David Moncoutie won the killer climb up the Alto de Sierra to take a solo victory in stage 13. An American cycling fan might be tempted to say, so what? They’d rather hear about Danielson or Farrar, check how the American teams Garmin and Columbia-HTC did. Who cares about Moncoutie — he’s a stinky cheese eater.
That would be wrong-headed because Moncoutie’s victory is a win for everyone who simply loves to ride a bike. The weekend riders, the amateur club guys, the family that takes the bikes to the park –anyone who loves the enduring child-like pleasure of turning the pedals and rejoicing in the motion. He is not an ego-driven super star; he is one of us.
Moncoutie is quoted as saying, “I am like a weekend cyclist who gets on his bike on a Saturday or a Sunday simply for the pleasure. His mates joke that while most riders want the latest, greatest technology, the Frenchman would be happy riding on wooden wheels. “What I like is to be on my bike and to ride. That’s when I’m happy,” said Moncoutie. Yes, he’s a Schwinn clunker kinda guy.
Here’s another reason to get behind Moncoutie. He’s hardcore anti-doping. When his Cofidis team was involved in a doping scandal, even his druggie team-mates insisted Moncoutie was clean. It’s guys like Moncoutie, along with the riders at Garmin, that change the drug culture. They’re winning clean.
He not a fanatic, a training freak, a self-obsessed rider always working on his image. He just doesn’t care about the money, the accolades, the politics or pressures. The man simply wants to wake up, have his latte and go for a nice bike ride.
A year ago Cofidis manager Eric Boyer didn’t want to renew Moncoutie’s contract but the team sponsor insisted the rider stay. Why? Because once or twice every year, without fail, the Frenchmen delivers a big, big win. Add stage 13 of the Vuelta to his palmares. A victory for the French, the Americans and everyone else in the world who loves to ride. His smile crossing the finish line was our smile.