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.