Blazin' Saddles

Quotes of the Week: “Kilometer zero for a new cycling”

After another action-packed yet testing week for cycling, Blazin' Saddles takes a look at the stand-out quotes from around the globe.

"Listen, everybody, this is kilometer zero for a new cycling. We start fresh. Now there is no mercy for the people who still haven't understood yet."

In a long and impassioned blog entitled "Turbulent Times", Jens Voigt assured fans that he was not about to become the next rider from the old generation to come out and admit to a doping past.

"I did not dope and I am sick — read it from my lips — I am sick of my wife [and children] getting asked in school if I do drugs," Jens stressed (before boarding a plane to singlehandedly tidy up New York following the destruction of Superstorm Sandy).

Jens's analogy is an interesting one. If we're only at "kilometer zero" for cycling, then the neutral zone has been one littered with all the drama of a 1,000-page novel, enough needles for the entire shooting of Trainspotting and more crashes than a picnic with Euskaltel.

What's more, Saddles likes the idea of Jens showing certain riders "no mercy". People would pay good money just to see that plan put in action — preferably with whips, chains and a series of torture instruments.

"On the eve of the Tour I realised the promise I had signed to Sky on wasn't really a promise. I was a backup rider. At the end of the day we weren't going for the two jerseys at all."

Two weeks after his much-publicised switch to Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Mark Cavendish blows off some steam about his short time spent at Team Sky. In a candid interview with The Telegraph, Cav opened up about his dis-satisfaction at Sky, claiming the team should have done much better than it had — despite Bradley Wiggins's clean sweep of stage race victories.

Cavendish should have won two more stages in the Tour, ditto Chris Froome, while Sky should have made it to Paris with both the yellow and the green jerseys. These were Cavendish's main gripes. The Manxman had asked David Brailsford for two riders to help him in the sprints — but in the end, Juan Antonio Flecha was overlooked, meaning Cav only had Bernie Eisel at his disposal. The same Eisel whose touch of wheels brought down Cav heavily in the finale of stage four to Rouen — presumably one of the five target stages on Cav's list.

It's hard to see just how Sky could have pulled off the double — something not achieved since Telekom's systematic doping (and bratwurst bidon) programme secured yellow and green for Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel in 1997.

Cavendish also explained how Sky failed to fully live up to their sponsor's slogan that says 'Believe in better'. By joining OPQS, it seems that Cav is doing just that.

"Throw doping sinners out for life. Doctors, riders, everyone involved."

Joaquim Rodriguez's declaration this week may have sounded a little sermonic but it's a breath of fresh air to finally hear someone from Spain actually utter something about doping that doesn't include a glowing eulogy about the legend of Lance Armstrong.

Speaking from the Caribbean (where Rodriguez is competing in the Amstel Curacao Race before, no doubt, picking up a stash of cigars from Cuba en route home) the world's leading cyclist from the 2012 season vouched for his anti-doping credentials, stressing all his results could be trusted.

"We, the riders of today, are the real losers. We lose sponsors, money, credibility and love of the people. Let us also look ahead," Purito added.

"The recent scandals in cycling have nothing to do with this decision."

After the cataclysmic withdrawal of Rabobank from Dutch cycling, the sport was (admittedly on a much lesser scale) rocked by BigMat's decision to sever its links with FDJ after just one season as co-sponsor of the French soon-to-be Pro Continental outfit.

A FDJ spokesman was quick to stress that the decision came down to "the current economic situation of [French building materials distributor BigMat's] foreign subsidiaries" — an explanation right up there with Team Sly's assurances that DS Sean Yates left "for personal reasons".

Building bridges will certainly be harder without BigMat on board — and we're not just talking logistics.

"It's time to put our values to work. Orica-GreenEdge believes a hard-line approach is an essential pre-requisite to continue in the sport with credibility."

Like Team Sky, GreenEdge are dabbling with a zero-tolerance approach following the fallout of the Armstrong USADA affair, which saw DS Matt White sacked this week.

Like Team Sky, GreenEdge's decision to wash their hands of White does reek of a PR exercise. It's all very well for owner Gerry Ryan to come out with pithy soundbites like this, but perhaps GreenEdge should have put their values to work in the first place when they were recruiting. White seems to be being made an example of not because he doped back in the Armstrong era, but because his name has appeared in the press over the past few weeks.

Former Sky coach Bobby Julich was heavily implicated in the USADA report and his departure from Sky was swiftly followed by those of Yates and Steven de Jongh. The question is now whether or not GreenEdge will continue putting their values to work and White's adieu is followed by the exits of Neil Stephens (Festina) and Allan Davis (Puerto).

Or does a hard-line approach only apply when it suits a certain narrative?

"I felt that because of the good will that is being extended to me by so many cycling fans, there was an obligation to take this suit and to counter-sue McQuaid and Verbruggen."

This is the news that Irish anti-doping crusader Paul Kimmage — not content with apparently buying a new suit with the some of the funds raised for him by online campaigners — will fight fire with fire and take advantage of Pat McQuaid suspending his defamation case against Kimmage by launching his own legal proceedings against the UCI for being "dragged through the mud".

It's fascinating to watch this one play out. With attack followed by counter-attack alongside hefty doses of feigning and sandbagging, all played out over unfavourable Swiss terrain and in ever-changeable conditions — this is almost as good as an actual cycling race.

"David Millar is not talking to the press today."

And so Saddles's hopes were dashed last Friday after he took half a day off to plan for a promised interview with the Garmin maestro. Promised 15 minutes on the phone with Millar before he spoke at an event in Aberdeen, Saddles was informed by a media representative half-an-hour after the designated slot that the multiple Grand Tour stage winner and doper-turned-good was in fact not granting any interviews.

Besides the raft of serious questions Saddles had scribbled down (regarding USADA, Sky's zero tolerance, the 2013 Tour route and Millar letting Armstrong off lightly in his book) your faithful blogger had also opened the mic to his followers on Twitter, who were keen to know what was Dave's favourite cheese, why he chose Archibald as a name for his son, and whether or not he had ever returned to that restaurant in Biarritz where it all started...

Oh well, another time perhaps.