I passed an unlikely sight on my ride today through Pebble Beach on the 17-Mile Drive. A team of cyclists in yellow and azure jerseys passed me going south as I headed north. It’s not uncommon to see pro teams out on the road when the Sea Otter Classic is held, but that was last month.
It was Team Rwanda, Rwanda’s National Cycling Team. They were probably out on a training ride here because it’s close to the home of the Rwandan Team’s organizer (and first American competitor in the Tour de France), Jonathan Boyer. They must have just arrived here from the Tour of the Gila, in New Mexico.
They must be seeing a different world.
The New York Times and other major media have stories on Jan Ullrich’s retirement from cycling today.
Ullrich is one of the great riders of cycling’s current era. He was frequently a threat to Lance Armstrong in many of Armstrong’s Tour de France victories. Ullrich won the TDF in 1997 and finished second five times to Armstrong.
Ullrich’s other major victories were a Gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Road Race, a Silver medal in the 2000 Olympic Time Trial, a victory at the 1997 Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain), two wins of the Tour de Suisse (Tour of Switzerland) and two (1999, 2001) UCI World Time Trial Championships.
I’m sure the sloppy sample collection and the inconsistent scientific testing procedures done in the name of “fairness” by the World Anti-Doping Agency and their regional organizations in professional cycling have had an affect on Ullrich’s decision.
Having unproven accusations of doping have negatively affected the careers of many other athletes in cycling (and other sports), e.g. Floyd Landis, the current 2006 Tour de France title holder.
(Photo courtesy www.janullrich.de)