I can’t believe I fell for this twice in one week.
First it was Alexander Vinokourov. I wanted to believe in his heroic comeback from a terrible crash in the first week of the Tour. I wanted him to win it after he bravely forged on with 60 stitches in his knees and elbow. He showed such grit and determination on the mountains. I loved his sweet cherub face on the podium. But he cheated. He wasn’t true. I had to let him go. I had to move on quickly.
Then I fell for Michael Rasmussen – the geeky Dane with the chicken legs. He gave me hope. If a skinny guy like that can show such power on the mountains, surely there’s hope for me. Besides, he comes from a mountain biking background. I wanted to believe that he was born to climb and destined to win on the Champs-Elysees. I was betrayed.
We were all betrayed. But the guys I really, really feel sorry for are the ones who legitimately won those four stages. The ones who deserved to wear the yellow jersey on those ten days. Vino and Rasmussen stole their limelight. The real champions didn’t get their podium moments – the stuffed lions, the kisses from the podium girls, the handshakes from dignitaries, the chance to wave their hands in the air while the crowds cheered. And the photographs they could look back at when they're in their 80s and show their grandchildren. The real champions didn’t get their chance to wear the yellow jersey or the polka dot jersey. They’ll never get those moments back. And that’s just wrong.
Fool me once. Fool me twice. I hope they pay the price.