Following the doping positives of Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, the Astana team suspended itself, forcing most of the riders into an earlier than expected off-season. Dutch rider Lieuwe Westra, writing in his blog on Friesch Dagblad, defended the actions of Astana, but expressed disappointment in his two teammates.
Westra was due to end his season after the UCI road world championship team time trial, but upon hearing of the doping positive of Maxim Iglinskiy, Westra quickly re-started his training in earnest for the Giro dell'Emilia and GP Bruno Beghelli.
"Yes, indeed I was to have ended the season after the world championships," Westra wrote. "With no races, I rode around like a tourist during training. But when I was told that I would have to show up this weekend in Italy, I went back to training like a man possessed. I went all in, doing uphill intervals and was actually eager to race. The watts I am seeing now are almost as good as when I was preparing for the Tour de France. Except I'm heavier by two or three kilos."
However, once the team suspended itself, all of the hard work went out the window. "An eight-day suspension also means no Italian races for me. It's actually quite a pity."
"Whether or not I would have been in the prizes in Italy, I don't know, but I had certainly would not been a laughing stock. However, the chance of a good performance is gone now. I am going to holiday in Turkey with my good blood values. Maybe I should go there and run a marathon."
Westra said that when the first doping positive of Valentin Iglinskiy was announced, it was not a disaster. "He had only been given a place in the team on a wager because his brother won a race. Maxim is a great rider. He once won Liège - Bastogne - Liège and was this year in the team where we helped Nibali to the Tour victory.
"However, he surprised me in France. All season I had seen nothing else behind his name in results other than Did Not Finish [Iglinskiy dropped out of the Tour of Oman, Pais Vasco, Milan-Sanremo and the Tour de Suisse], but in the Tour he was suddenly making us hurt. He was not with the other eight team members in the preparatory training camps. There I saw the other guys who were better, but that is also quite logical if you are training at altitude."
Westra defended the Astana team, saying he was "sure this doping was not organised by Astana, but by those guys themselves," and regretted the team now being shown in a bad light.
He admitted to taking recreational drugs before becoming a cyclist, but said that these days it's all just vitamins and nothing illegal.
"Today I get my kicks from other things - winning the yellow jersey with Nibali example. Or remembering the cobblestones stage of the Tour where I was perhaps the strongest of the entire field. Actually it was Astana kicking from beginning to end, the entire season."
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