Here We Go Again

Over the weekend, Ivan Basso (winner of last year’s Giro d’Italia) voluntarily left the Discovery Channel cycling team ahead of his hearing before the Italian Olympic Committee for his ties the Operacion Puerto doping ring. I’m not sure what to make of this. Why would Basso leave Disco if he knew he was innocent? Additionally, Tyler Hamilton, who just finished a two year ban for blood doping (a charge he vehemently denies, still), may be investigated again for ties to Dr. Fuentes, who is at the center of Operacion Puerto. Neither will likely be at the start of the Giro on 12 May. With Basso’s “retirement,” two of last year’s three Grand Tour winners are on the sidelines because of doping allegations (the other being Floyd Landis).

If I were either Levi Leipheimer or Alexander Vinokourov, I would know that this could be my year to win the Tour de France (and Vino could very well take the Tour/Vuelta d’Espana double). If anyone thinks that last year’s TdF runner up (and likely wearer of the yellow jersey for the prologue this year) Oscar Pereiro has a chance at repeating, think again. Pereiro was allowed by the peleton to gain a huge time advantage, something that is unlikely to happen again.