Chapeau to Roma Maxima winner Alejandro Valverde but not really.
The so-called Green Bullet (or is it Off White Testosterone Patch?) is one of those old school riders we struggle to accept.
At the center of Operacion Puerto allegations (later banned, first by the French, then the UCI) Valverde is a guy we want to like for his attacking style but we cringe that he’s still winning races. Vino is gone, why can the other unrepentant doper retire?
So yup, he pulled off another impressive win in Roma Maxima, a race name that reminds us of reggae artist Max Romeo and Monty Python’s Roman dictator Biggus Dickus. Polite but restrained applause from Twisted Spoke.
The riders from the dark era are just about done and Valverde is one of those last holdovers. Will anyone who cares about clean cycling and a nice, honest, well-scrubbed peloton miss Valverde when he finally hangs up his dirty wheels?
Perhaps this all seems tiresome and petty: Valverde has served his suspensions and there’s no requirement he give a genuine apology or a vague Vino-esque apology where the rider alludes to certain things that were perhaps not quite correct.
Still, when we look at how an old teammate like Jesus Marzano nearly died from sloppy doping and was later destroyed for testifying against Valverde, we find it hard to work up any enthusiasm for any of Valverde’s accomplishments. His consistent party line is always “I have done nothing wrong.” Even Lance Armstrong is past that fabrication.
Where is the Spanish Oprah and when can she get Alejandro on her show? Would we have been far happier if second place finisher Davide Appollonio of AG2R had won? You’re damn right.
The second point being, it’s hard to think that Valverde is now riding clean. That may very well be the case and there is absolutely zero evidence to the contrary, but the man was so dirty for so long that we can’t help view his placings with anything but suspicion. Just more unfortunate fall-out from Puerto, Ferrari, Armstrong and pretty much any grand tour winner on the podium from say, 1999 to 2006, just to block out the Armstrong years.
Oh well, life ain’t perfect. There are now plenty more Joe Dombrowskis who can’t even imagine doping than there are guys like Michele Scarponi. We can’t wait to wave goodbye to those guys.
Alejandro Valverde wins Roma Maxima. What’s the sound of one hand clapping?