Leif Hoste has refuted Michael Barry’s allegation that he sold the 2006 Tour of Flanders to Tom Boonen. Barry was a teammate of Hoste’s at Discovery Channel at the time and makes the thinly-veiled accusation in a passage of his recently published autobiography.
Hoste said that while he had he had taken turns on the front with Boonen when they found themselves in the winning break, the pair did not discuss money. Boonen duly disposed of Hoste in the two-man sprint in Meerbeke to claim his second Tour of Flanders victory.
In Shadows on the Road, Barry claims that when Hoste attacked with Boonen in the finale of the 2006 Ronde, they reached a financial agreement that also ensured that another Discovery Channel teammate, George Hincapie, was removed from contention. Hincapie won the sprint for third place, 1:17 down, although the result has since been disqualified after he confessed to doping in 2012.
“Immediately they [Hoste and Boonen] cooperated, forging a gap ahead of George and the others. As I watch the scenario unfold, the riders spoke for a few moments together and then with our directeur, who followed in the team car. It was apparent that a deal had been made, with George left out, his legs strong enough to win but his hands tied by shady racing tactics and backroom deals,” Barry wrote. “Money had determined the outcome, as it does in far too many races, merely adding to the corruption of the sport.”
The passage was published in Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad newspaper on Wednesday morning and the chain of events was immediately disputed by Hoste in Het Laatste Nieuws.
“I think that it’s not unusual to talk and negotiate in that type of situation,” Hoste said. “At that moment, I was in front and my teammates were behind. With the team, we concluded that I wouldn’t collaborate if George was chasing us alone. That wasn’t the case, so I continued to ride."
“Second place was the best result that we could have. If I had refused to pull, we would have been caught and George would have maybe finished sixth or seventh. There was talk, but not about money."
Shadows on the Road is the third book that Barry has written, but the first in which he acknowledges having doped during his career. The Canadian retired at the end of the 2012 season after belatedly confessing to using EPO, human growth hormone and testosterone from 2002 to 2006 when questioned by the US Anti-Doping Agency as part of its investigation into doping at the US Postal Service team.
In May 2010, however, when Floyd Landis first went public with his knowledge of doping at the US Postal team, Barry, then at Team Sky, had denied the accusations and attempted to discredit Landis.
“I was shocked when I was told about it,” Barry told the Toronto Starat the time. “But at the same time, Floyd has lied under oath already and he’s pretty much thrown everybody who’s been associated with him in cycling into this. It also doesn’t really surprise me. I also really don’t understand why I’m involved. It’s not true.”
Yet in the statement announcing his retirement in October 2012, Barry claimed that “In the summer of 2006, I never doped again and became a proponent of clean cycling through my writing and interviews.”
George Hincapie also confessed to doping as part of USADA’s inquiry into the US Postal Service team and retired at the end of the 2012 season. Like Barry, Hincapie claimed that he had had stopped doping in 2006.
Leif Hoste finished second at the Tour of Flanders on three occasions – 2004, 2006 and 2007 – and also retired following the 2012 season. Shortly after his retirement, the UCI opened proceedings against Hoste after detecting anomalies in his biological passport and he was handed a two-year ban by the Belgian cycling federation.