It’s so sad that I can’t watch Vinokourov win without wondering if he’s doping, especially when he attacks and rides solo to the end. Because these attacks were just amazing, coming fast and furious, not only from Vino, but from Andy Schleck, Contador, and Gilbert, again and again, and right to the end.
There was something about Vino’s doping offense that stung me more than the others. He was a universally-liked rider, with a style that appealed to every nationality of fan. He was a fans’ rider. He was an outside bet, and we all love an underdog when they win, well at least when they do it clean.
He rode that amazing stage in the 2007 Tour after that big fall, road rash visible all down his legs. Then he tested positive. For me, it felt like Landis all over again. And I didn’t even particularly like either of them. Watching the Giro del Trentino last week, I was surprised to see Vino, and Riccò, too, in the peloton. I half expected to see Rasmussen powering up that mountain next.
Vinokourov went on to win, Riccò came in second, and now Vino takes the very next race. It’s made me realise, I’ve been following cycling long enough to become invested in riders, see them get caught, serve their ban, come back, and win all over again. Maybe that’s why I don’t believe it’s been long enough for them. Because I can’t believe it’s been that long for me.