By Anthony Tan
When team manager of La Française des Jeux, Marc Madiot, was asked if the L'Equipe revelations signalled an end of a myth [that Armstrong won the Tour 'clean'], he said to Henri Haget of L'Express.fr: "It is not a great surprise."
"Armstrong crushed the Tour de France for seven years without the smallest failure, even momentarily. His method, immutable, was infallible: to strike his adversaries at the prologue and to close the race on the first mountain stage. If one believes the revelations of L'Equipe, it corresponds with the timing of catching [those who used] EPO. Armstrong was very strong: he transformed cycling into a mathematical equation."
A former winner of a stage in the Tour de France (1984) and double-winner of Paris-Roubaix (1985, 1991), Madiot continued by saying that this year's Tour was worst of all, in that not one rider bothered Armstrong in the slightest. "The race lasted 20 kilometres," he said, referring to the point when Armstrong caught perennial adversary Jan Ullrich in the opening time trial in Fromentine.
"Several times, I thought of asking my riders to start a stage five minutes behind the peloton. History will show cycling at two speeds. But it is complicated: the stakes are so high... "
Asked if the American's retirement brings about a new era in cycling, Madiot said he wasn't sure, adding that if changes are what is wanted, then it is necessary to start 'finding truths' with unexpected controls apart from periods of competition. "In-race controls are not enough. Besides, Armstrong was never declared positive."
It is worth noting that Armstrong was the subject of a number of out-of-competition tests during his time as a professional cyclist, with all declared negative.
Cyclingnews coverage of the L'Equipe allegations
June 27, 2006 - Carmichael defends Armstrong, Armstrong answers L'Equipe & LeMond
June 26, 2006 - LeMond: "Armstrong threatened my life"
June 19, 2006 - Armstrong calls for Pound's exit
June 18, 2006 - Lance Armstrong's open letter against Dick Pound
June 4, 2006 - UCI hits back at WADA
June 3, 2006 - WADA slams the Vrijman report
June 2, 2006 - L'Equipe stands by its story, UCI supports Vrijman's findings
June 1, 2006 - UCI, WADA and Armstrong react to Vrijman's report
May 31, 2006 - UCI lawyer asks for Armstrong's name to be cleared
May 14, 2006 - Two more weeks for Armstrong investigation
Click here for full coverage of the L'Equipe allegations.