Rolf Sørensen has expressed sympathy for former rival Laurent Jalabert. The pair were rivals during the 1990s, competing in the one-day classics and year-long World Cups. Earlier this year, Jalabert stepped down from his role as national road coach, while in recent weeks he lost his position as a French television and radio pundit after it was announced that he had returned a retrospective positive test from the 1998 Tour de France.
"I feel really sorry for him. First of all he had a troubled year, maybe the worst year in his life with his big accident on his bike. After that he resigned as the coach at the French Federation, perhaps as a consequence of what was going to happen," Sørensen told Cyclingnews.
"Then French television took him out just before the start of the Tour. I feel sorry for him. There's been a lot of confessions, some haven't confessed but it was a shit time. But he was one of my biggest competitors and we were rivals on an even basis. He was very good at what he was doing and was a humble guy. I know him as a real professional. It doesn't only come from doping but I feel sorry for him and I could have been in the same position," Sørensen added.
Sørensen's confession came after years of denial but he says that his decision to tell the truth was down the realisation that he was taking fans' intelligence and trust for granted.
"I thought the time had come. The crowds watching cycling in Denmark know a lot about the sport so I felt like I was lying twice when I was saying no. The time came when I had to stop treating people like fools and also because a lot of young Danish talent coming up, they didn't earn or deserve a reputation for being involved in doping, so I think the time was right."
Sørensen pointed to a number of young riders who are coming through the ranks. "It's been a sad time but I think that cycling is turning into a new era and the young guys are doing a great job. I'm still proud of being a cyclist, and I'm here and I'm praising the new riders now."
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