Nobody likes total domination in sport, unless of course it’s your athlete who’s dominating. And so it has come to pass with France and our invincible boy king, Tadej Pogacar. I’ve been closely paying attention to the Tour de France coverage this year because, well, I don’t have any work to do, and tonight it’s all started to unravel for poor old Pog.
Even though he didn’t win the TT today, showed weakness on the famous Ventoux stage, and certainly didn’t crush his rivals in the last two mountain stages he won, his lead of over 5 minutes on his next rival on General Classification is not sitting well with the folks who have the television rights to the TDF: France TV. Tonight on the 8 pm news they have started manufacturing the conversation about Pogacar being ‘great, maybe too great’, then followed up with a mini-story about some of the principles in his team (UAE Team Emirates) having histories with doping.
To France TV’s credit, they also had a short interview with Jerome Pineau, former racer and GM of B&B Hotels team, and he basically said that if you wanted to have a cycling team with staff who had no doping history, there wouldn’t be any teams.
Still, I find this all a little unfair because as far as I know there has been no legitimate suspicion (or rumors even) of Pog doping. I also can’t help to wonder if someone, somewhere in France might want to deflect attention away from the fact that the French only won 1 stage of this year’s Tour (Alaphilippe) and their best result in GC was 8th place (Martin).
Don’t get me wrong, if Pog was doping I wouldn’t be surprised one bit, but planting doubt in the French fans’ minds is not healthy.
In non-domination news, Chris Froome (131st and over 4 hours down), once the dominating guy French people liked to throw urine on, is now giving emotional interviews to France TV about all the love he’s been getting this tour. I think there’s a lesson in there for aspiring pros riding in this race.
9 thoughts on “Pogacar: That was a short honeymoon”
If they want less doping, the organisers would need to provide a course that was somewhat less challenging. As they won’t want to do that, they will have to put up with riders who mysteriously just don’t seem to get tired.
That could be true, but then again, Ben Johnson doped to be faster at running only 100 meters. There may be something more sinister at play here!
I lost interest in this year’s tour when many of the contenders had accidents or abandoned because of the accidents. I think that the only way Pogacar could have been beaten this year (even with healthy teams) would have been by multiple teams making a pact to wear him down. He is an incredible athlete and hopefully he is clean but it was inevitable that the French would have started questioning his abilities. He did appear so much fresher than everyone crossing the finish lines. Total domination throughout. As long as he doesn’t start saying ‘it’s a witch hunt’ a-la-Armstrong (and a certain politicians for that matter) then I’ll believe his performance. Although his team – where did they come from 😉
Well, to be fair to his team, they were more or less nowhere to be seen most of the Tour 😉
I actually enjoyed this year’s Tour even more than last year’s. As soon as Pogacar’s dominance was established there were lots of other stories to pay attention to. Also, the racing was full gas just about every stage. Not much down time!
If you listen to the TV commentary on both France TV and French Eurosport, there has been no such insinuation by the “experts”. I’ve actually been surprised at how postive they are toward Pogacar. Of course France TV “news” has to get some click bait in the hopes of attractiing people to a controversy.
My limited experience with the French cycling fans (and commentators) has been that they voice little to no suspicion of Pogacar… Certainly much less than Armstrong’s era.
That’s all true.
so why the title “that was a short honeymoon”?
Because the media are starting to talk about doping and they are asking Pogacar about it. Actually, it was brought up on Stage 2 or Velo Club yesterday, too – with the ‘experts’. Your ‘click bait’ comment, by the way, confirms my post. I was criticizing the French media.
A friend told me two days ago that on his ride with some French friends the subject was brought up and all of his friends were convinced that Pog was doping. As far as I know, hardly anyone was talking this way last year. Hence…the honeymoon is over. It’s not a controversial statement 😉
Front page in today’s Le Monde. You only need to read the title to see how some of the media is treating this story right now.