Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Asking us to believe....
I feel like the cycling community has been inundated over the past several weeks with news briefs and editorials about doping. Everywhere I look, there's an article about who's doing wrong or what the problems are with professional cycling today. Driven largely in the last couple of weeks by the Riccardo Ricco fiasco and the buildup to Alberto Contador's acquittal by RFEC, the "bad" of cycling has overshadowed much of the "good".
Nobody denies that these stories are important and deserve to be covered. But at the same time, they can sometimes distract us from the reasons why so many of us fell in love with this sport, not only as cyclists, but also as fans. Specifically as a fan, I think it's important to remember why we're inspired and entranced by this sport. We all marveled at Fabian Cancellara's power as he destroyed the field at Paris-Roubaix, sat at the edge of our seats watching Mark Cavendish surge ahead in the sprints at unimaginable speeds, and applauded as Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador battled each other up the foggy Col du Tourmalet. Most of us appreciated how Cancellara sacrificed the yellow jersey and neutralized the finish during last year's Tour after numerous GC contendors fell on a treacherous stage to Spa.
There are countless reasons why cycling is a beautiful sport to its fans. And the professionals who ride in the peleton implore us not to forget those reasons.
Andrew Talansky is one of the rising stars from the United States. At 22 years old, he won the 2010 U23 US national road race and came in 2nd in the 2010 Tour de l'Avenir. He is one of several young riders who are expected to do well in the coming years. A few days ago, he wrote an entry in his blog which caught my attention. The entire entry is worth reading but I've included two paragraphs below that I think capture the gist of his message.
"We can be tested at any time, day or night, we have no semblance of privacy. We can be asked to pee in a cup, have our blood drawn any time, any where. I welcome it. The truth is, as hard as this may be for some "fans" and so called "journalists" to believe, we all do. I welcome anything that shows that our results are those of hard work and our love and dedication to this sport…."
"Tomorrow, I will line up at the start line with my teammates and competitors, and we will race. A deserving winner will stand on top of the podium. That is what I believe. I love my sport and I will do anything to share that love with all the real fans out there, to give journalists something real to write about. So here is my challenge to all of you: BELIEVE! If you are capable, believe in me, believe in my team, believe in my competitors, believe in this sport. I do. It has so much good to offer, so much excitement to share, so much inspiration to provide, all you have to do is believe."
I was impressed by the maturity of this young man and touched by the sentiment with which he writes. He loves this sport... far more than I do. He wants to believe in it and he asks that the fans do the same.
You know what? I think I will.