I’m Tired of Having My Heart Broken: Go to Hell, Vino

Sal and I work together in separate home offices and we have a “door policy”; when the door is shut we’re heads down (do not disturb). So, yesterday when he came bursting through my closed door with a look of agony on his face I knew something really important must be up.

But I did not expect to hear what he had to say.

“Vino tested positive. Astana is going home.”

The news hit me like a sucker punch to the gut. The saliva in my mouth thickened and I could feel my heart rising into my throat. I wanted to throw up.

“What? You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not. It’s all over the news.”

“Fuck.”

My response mirrored Millar’s widely published reaction (from Velonews.com): ” “Jesus Christ – there you go, that’s my quote,” he blurted out. “What timing, huh? This is just f#cking great.”

But the news about Vino wasn’t the only thing that got me. Astana going home? Really? Salvodeli? Kloden? Gone? I fucking love Salvodeli. I love him as I loved Chechu and as I loved the ill-fated, floppy-eared pirate. And Kloden was in 5th place!

Cycling is a funny sport and 9 years ago I didn’t even know it existed. I would have found out eventually, I suppose, as The Lance Armstrong Effect took hold in the states, but I got a crash-course after meeting Sal in 1999.

I’ll admit it, I scoffed at the idea of watching a 3 week bike race on TV. I couldn’t imagine what I would see… what could possibly be interesting about watching a bunch of skinny dudes on bikes?

And then Sal started explaining tactics, and politics, and teams, and kits, and components. I started to get a feel for the way the peloton moves as an entity and how a break forms. I became enthralled with the gleaming and pristine machines they rode and their shiny-shiny baby-smooth legs.

I fell in love with The Lion King, then hated him, then loved him again. I was moved by Pettachi’s power. I mourned when Pantani was found dead. I bought a Pinarello and started riding.

What’s my point?

I didn’t want to love cycling but I do. I love all the prima donna bullshit, the bank-busting gear, the bike lust, the tiny bodies, the rock-hard calves, the snaking motion of a really amazing climber, the post-race banter, and the drama. And I love the tour because it is the pinnacle of all those things.

And I’m sick of having my heart broken.

On one hand I’m proud of professional cycling for continuing its efforts to ensure the sport is clean (trust me, pro baseball and football have far worse demons, they’re just not brave enough to actually call them to task). On the other hand, I’m tired of heroes toppled again and again, just when I think I’ve found someone that won’t let me down.

For the moment I’ll watch the rest of the tour like a good girl and hope the news doesn’t get any worse. At the end of the day, however, the message for me is clear. There’s too much money, pride, and pressure at the pro level. Better to keep my heroes local and human. Better to put my faith in the PV boys, the great Molly Cameron, or super-hard-man Erik Tonkin.

Go to hell, Vino.

*

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9 comments

  1. Well Said!

    FWIW, did you see Vino’s quote this morning?

    Vinokourov did manage a joke about his situation. “I heard that I made a transfusion with my father’s blood,” Vinokourov said. “That’s absurd, I can tell you that with his blood, I would have tested positive for vodka.”

    I guess a little humor helps me pass the day. I agree with your overall summary – this is very disappointing. I almost long for the days when these guys look human; at least that suggests that they are playing fair. The saddest thing is how cynical I have become. Last year I found myself with tears of joy when Floyd attacked; now this?

    The list of heroes that have cheated is too long to list here, but a few that really sting are Tyler, Floyd, Tyler, Millar, Jan, Basso, Riis, shoot even Zabel.

    If Jens Voight tests/admits to doping I will NEVER watch pro cycling again.

  2. Ugh. . .more sad news today. Cofidis.

    Maybe there should be a support group for the fans?

  3. Ugh.
    Scott – you’re right. Basso was especially hard for me for some reason.
    Cynicism is dead-on: I start each road season now with a sigh and an “I wonder who will go down this year?” comment to Sal.
    Someone puts in some monster performance in the spring classics? My first thought: “He’s doping.”
    Austin – Thanks for the bad news :( Oy! I will bring a bottle of whiskey to the support group – we can pour a little out for all our doping homies that have passed into infamy.

  4. After today I think we all need a Fifth of something and a keg. This is so depressing. I really don’t know what to say.

  5. Now Rasmussen… the tour is in shambles. :( What a mess. We each need our own fifths and our own kegs.

  6. Heidi,

    I think we need some rehab therapy for fans to vent, cry, hope….

    Todays stage was so beautiful. I marveled at the teamwork of Rabo and then Disco. AC put in some great attacks, Levi turned his legs inside out, Rasmussen was brilliant and what about Solar. It was a thing to behold. Now it will become another useless tape to stack on top of Floyd Stage 17 last year, Tyler at LBL and Museeuw at PR. I just cant bring myself to watch and enjoy those stages anymore knowing the real hero is probably the guy who lost 19 minutes clean.

    More a cynic today than ever, tho still clinging to the hope that Levi is not next. Zach better turn pro soon so we have someone to cheer for.

  7. Probably time to revisit the original post: Time to start buying our heroes local.

  8. Yep. And Scott’s right – Zach Yeager is my next great hope! I’m putting all my money on the kid.

  9. Well, the sun did rise this morning and the tour will go on….

    Nice to see Jens in a break – he is my favorite rider. I love the guy and I believe, realy hope, he is clean.

    Side note – here is a recap of last nights ESPN news:

    1 – Rasmussen
    2 – Bonds
    3 – Vick

    That took the first 10 minutes so switched to national news only to Lohan mug shot and some story about Michael Jacko…

    Sigh

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