It's a circus, I tell you…

Once again the media circus that surrounds Lance Armstong, the seven time “winner” of the Tour de France, has returned. As anyone who reads my blog will know, I’m a huge fan of the Tour de France (and the Giro, but I don’t always get the chance to follow it as it’s rarely on the radio and text updates are not the most exciting) and you may also be aware that I struggle to believe that Lance Armstong rode clean.

Armstrong comes from the ‘old school’ of riders that were encouraged to dope by their managers, and surrounded by doping peers; it would have probably been easier to say who was clean rather than who wasn’t. Those were the type of riders who younger ones learned from, they were the ones to watch for the future and the future of the sport looked bleak. Many of Armstrong’s former teammates have been found guilty or admitted that they doped when they were racing, even the man who went on to be in charge of his team came out during the Tour and said he cheated to win!

Even though last years Tour disappointed me with the positive tests from some of the younger riders, I was hopeful that we were moving forward – the old school were dropping off the radar, retiring or being found guilty and we were seeing the new cleaner rider coming forward. The Tour does not need the bad press that Armstrong brings – he was found positive for a substance that helped get oxygen into your blood steam but got off because apparently it was medicinal (why didn’t he declare it before the race though? Why wait until you’re found positive for it before going “oh, yeah, BTW, I have a prescription.”).

The French media have always been against him but it was always put down to pettiness because he was an American but perhaps the rest of us should have paid more attention to them, investigated more closely. Armstrong is almost famous for his closed media stance, we’re supposed to be seeing a more open Armstrong with the results of his drugs tests being made public but so far I’ve not seen anything even then the man in charge of Astana has some murky connections in his past, how can we trust his so-called independent drugs testing programme?

Armstrong is the 2/1 favourite with Skybet. I bet Contador and Kloden are loving having to play the back seat; Astana are supposed to be setting up one of these riders as team leader but it’s been made clear by the recent press conference that Armstrong’s ego won’t let him becoming a supporting player to either of these riders – despite what he says, he’s in it to win it. Kloden almost had his chance in the 2006 Tour but Vino’ spectacularly put pay that by being a massive cheating idiot, Contador won it in 2007 and then was excluded from the 2008 Tour because he joined Astana (which makes me doubt him a little but I’m more inclined to believe he’s clean compared to Armstrong).

The reasons for Armstrong’s come back are not entirely clear to me, he say’s he’s doing it to promote cancer awareness but surely there are more ways to promote something, why turn a sporting event into your soapbox? Are they hoping that the media that surrounds Armstrong will bring new viewers to the Tour de France? I doubt it. I’m sure there were people who started to watch the Tour because of Armstrong but I like to hope they stuck around after he left to enjoy the other exciting riders that were coming through – if anything, once Armstrong and the other big names of his day were gone the race became more exciting as it really was anyone’s game. Is he perhaps coming back because so much scrutiny has come his way since he retired and his former team mates have started to be found guilty that he feels he has something to prove?

I’m both dreading and looking forward to this years Tour; I’m desperate for it to go forward, I want to see some of those amazing British riders from the Olympics making it into the top ten and coming away with some of the jersey’s (I think Cavendish is likely to get the green, and I think Geraint Thomas is a yellow jersey winner of the future)… I don’t want to see just another Armstrong circus trip.

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