By Brecht Decaluwé in Diegem, Belgium One day after the news that Jonathan Page had missed a doping...
One day after the news that Jonathan Page had missed a doping control at the cyclo-cross World Cup race in Koksijde the American lined up at the start of the Superprestige race in Diegem, near Brussels. Before the start of the race Page repeated the explanation his wife Cori had sent into the world, that it was nothing more than a stupid mistake, again going through that day and talking about the frame-breaking crash that forced him to abandon that race.
"I hope it's going to be okay but I don't have a lot of faith in it. I just want this nightmare to be over," Page said. "Because of this I'm surely missing out on the day that matters most, the world championships, since it's impossible that I would be selected and to me that is a massive blow."
When asked what will happen if he receives a suspension, the former silver medalist at the world championships of 2007 said he would retire. "Then it's all over."
After the race in Diegem Cyclingnews caught up with Page again and asked him how he had felt during the hectic evening race near Brussels. "It felt good to be out there as every race can be my last one nowadays. I could get rid of a lot of anger. I saved something for tomorrow because Middelkerke has a course that suits me quite well; I will be better tomorrow," Page said. He finished as runner-up during the past two years.
During the evening race in Diegem, the 32-year-old crashed during the third lap when the rider in front of him hit an imprudent spectator. Page continued the race, though, showing his technical skills by completing the sand pit on his bike twice and eventually finished 28th. "I fell down pretty hard and I was glad to notice that I didn't crack any ribs"
Top riders shine light on missed control
The missed control from Page didn't go unnoticed and the local media were all covering the story. Cyclingnews asked two of the top cyclo-cross riders about the case and they gave an honest answer. UCI-leader Sven Nys felt very sorry for Page but said he had to be punished. "On the road it happens more easily and I was repeatedly told that one cannot just ride homeward after abandoning a race. Allowing this – although it is very sad for Page – would encourage others to benefit from this example," Nys said.
The fact that the American doesn't have the huge entourage like most Belgians that can warn him about a control wasn't an excuse for Nys. "Honestly, I'm not in favor of leaving this missed control as it is, even though I realize this is a disaster for Page."
Current world champion Lars Boom didn't share Nys' opinion and looked at things in a different way. "As a rider you're always worried that you're making a mistake. In The Netherlands there has a been a similar case where a young rider crashed, headed homeward and thus didn't know about a control; I think he wasn't punished for that," Boom said. "It's the same thing with the whereabouts. You always have to worry that you will be at the place where you have written you would be," the multi-talented Dutchman said to Cyclingnews.
That brings us to the main issue in this case. How can a rider know about a control if he cannot make it to the finish line? If a Belgian top rider would abandon for some reason then one might expect that someone would at least inform the rider about the control. Page doesn't have the huge entourage that most Belgians have and he relied on his mechanic, his wife and a few friends to inform him about a possible control. Nevertheless, Page acknowledges that he made a stupid mistake and he knows that he has the final responsibility of checking out about a possible control.
There's also the role of the chaperone in this case. His job is to get in touch with his rider when that person reaches the finish. Normally the chaperones are informed about the identity of the rider twenty minutes before the expected end of the race and by that time Page had already pulled out. The chaperone in Koksijde must have noticed that Page wasn't in the race so maybe this person can explain why he couldn't get in touch with the rider.
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