and a bee in the belly. Although I haven't been boring you lately with my fanatical love of the Tour de France and bike racing generally, be assured that I have been glued to my television night after night as the Tour progresses. In fact, we signed up for the DVR service just so we could get Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen from the morning broadcasts, and avoid the Trout in the evenings. And this seemed like the year when we might get through without a lot of drama and drug scandals once the Tour began, although perennial sprint threat Petacchi was kept out on some suspicions. But then things blew wide open this week. First, Alexandr Vinokourov, around whom the city of Astana had rallied and sponsored an entire team, and whom many thought had the best chances of winning the Tour, was bounced out after some yo-yoing performances, a massive crash (more than 60 stitches) and a failed drug test. This just the day after Astana had committed to sponsoring the team for 10 more years, and then the entire team was kicked out. All the people relying on him, and now all their futures are in jeopardy. Then Michael Rasmussen was leading the race with a performance that certainly seemed beyond his past abilities, leading people to open question him -- and it turned out that he ducked two pre-race tests. Yesterday, his team fired him, leaving the race without a leader. The sponsor, Rabobank, actually addressed the issue right on their webpage -- they don't seem to have invented "spin" over in Denmark yet.
So now, are the leaders clean? I certainly hope so. I think so. If Levi were doping, he'd be riding better than he is. And Cadel Evans sure looks like he's struggling. So let's hope that's a sign.
So, I guess the good news is that there is NO evidence that any bike racer has ever been involved in dog fighting. Dog fighting. I can't believe someone would risk throwing away a massively lucrative career in order to watch dogs tear each other apart. Is cocaine that hard to find? Unbelievable.
Here in the land of the absolutely non-doping rider, I've gotten in a couple of short but good and hard rides this week. And I can now report that a bee sting in the belly hurts MUCH worse than a bee sting on the tongue. For much longer. And after it hurts much worse, it will itch much worse. I guess the good news is that I'm still not allergic to bee stings, but these little surprises during otherwise pleasant rides are not fun.