I can’t decide how I feel about Vinokourov winning the Olympic Road Race. Obviously, there’s the whole blood doping thing and the two year suspension he served. He wasn’t the only guy out there with a dirty record. I hope he at least did it clean.
Then there’s the way Vino won it. He was the ony rider from a 20-something breakaway group to cover the move by Rigoberto Uran. He seized his moment when Uran took a loooong look back at the chase group. (I’m sure Uran will replay that moment for years to come.) Vino was two bike lengths ahead before Uran knew what hit him.
There’s the comeback. After crashing out of the Tour de France last year with a broken femur, he retired from the sport, then came back for one more season. There’s the age. At nearly 39, he was one of the oldest riders in the race, riding perhaps his final professional race. What a way to end a career.
Then there’s how Vino brought an end to my cycling career. Oddly enough, he was on the same French cycling team, E. C. St. Etienne-Loire, I was supposed to have a contract with for the 1997 season. At the last moment, Vino insisted on bringing along another rider who took the final spot for foreign riders. (In France there was a limit on the number of non-French riders allowed on a national-level team.) That would have been my spot. The rider quit and went home half-way through the season. I guess I could have tried to comeback for that spot. But I didn’t; I had already retired.
And then, of course, there’s still the doping.