The atmosphere at the Tour de France hasn’t been great these past few days. Controversy, speculation and suspicion has once again tarnished the image of our sport. And our governing body, the UCI, has once again failed in its mission.
They seem to have dropped off the face of the earth. There has been zero communication, zero information. Where is the president of UCI? What does he have to say? What are their experts and technicians doing? Everyone comes up with numbers and interpretations, with the exception of our international federation. Leaders from other sports must be thinking that we’re amateurs.
In motorsports, there’s a closed area where cars get checked and controlled. It should be the same in cycling with riders giving their bikes and SRM and all modern tools that help measure their performances. Any rider or coach can release his numbers but we need independent scientists to monitor them and it can only be done under the UCI's watch. The Tour de France organisers have asked the crowd to calm down and to respect the riders, including the maillot jaune, but they should do more and put pressure on the UCI to be more proactive.
Some years ago, ASO requested that the UCI seriously take care of doping. It’s not the organiser’s job to chase dopers. It’s the organiser’s job to put everything in place for the governing body to control the athletes. The same goes for the bikes and the scientific data. We need reliable procedures. From one race to another, the exact same time trial bike can be declared in compliance with the rules or not, depending on which commissaire checks it. It’s a nightmare for the mechanics from all pro teams.
Unfortunately, whenever there’s a problem in cycling, the UCI is nowhere to be seen. Where was the UCI when a decision had to be taken on whether or not to cancel a stage at the Tour of Oman due to the heat? Where was the UCI when there were potholes on the road in the last kilometres of a stage of the Vuelta al País vasco? Where was the UCI on the incident of the railway crossing at Paris-Roubaix?
We’re at the 2015 Tour de France in the same situation as in 1998 when Hein Verbruggen disappeared during the Festina and the TVM affairs! I expected more from Brian Cookson, who promised upon being elected to restore credibility and I still expect more from a UCI president when there are problems to be solved.
I also hope that FDJ will win a stage in the Alps. Thibaut Pinot was close in Mende but we’ve checked the times of climbing for each rider. Froome and Quintana were the fastest. Cummings was only five seconds slower than Pinot and Bardet. It means he would have caught them in the last kilometer anyway, even if they didn’t look at each other. Pinot and Bardet haven’t done anything stupid. Ironically, they have been heavily criticised by the same people who go every day into ecstasies for Peter Sagan who has come second five times!
According to Sagan’s employer Oleg Tinkov, who apparently knows who I am now, thanks to Cyclingnews, I’ve become a socialist throughout the Tour de France whereas he called me a communist at the beginning. Maybe in Paris he’ll think I’m a Republican… if I join Velon! But I won’t do that. I don’t believe in their business model. But I believe in freedom of speech so I’ll continue voicing my opinion, regardless of Mr Tinkov’s threats. I hope someone can inform him that the guillotine is no longer in service in France and people have the right to disagree with some of the things he says.
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The irrepressible FDJ team manager Marc Madiot brings his unrestrained opinions and insights to Cyclingnews, giving our English-speaking readers a glimpse inside the culture of the French team, and French cycling.
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