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Posted by wetalkhablamos in cycling fans, team astana, tour de france.
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14th February and it’s St Valentine’s Day again.

Even my Spanish language calendar is exuding love at me. Te quiero, cariño. I love you, darling, it will whisper all day from the bookshelf.

Love and passion is a theme this morning on the forums and messages boards inhabited by fans of Alberto Contador and Team Astana.

In disbelief and anger at ASO’s decision yesterday to exclude Astana from the Tour de France, fans have laid bare their hearts and souls. I would walk to the ends of the earth and through hot coals for you.

I’m impressed.

What a pity this loyalty isn’t echoed from within the pro-cycling community itself. None have spoken out to support their fellow cyclists. It’s tough shit, mate, but hey, more chance for us.

My excitement for the Tour de France has slowly cooled since 2005, Lance’s last. I didn’t realise then, but a line had been drawn. Nothing has come close (so far) to the sublime pride for Lance and his wonderful team. We’d been together for a long time, team and fan. They were my special friends.


A year later, Chechu fell out of love with the Tour. We saw it in his face, his emotional distress captured in a quiet moment by Liz Kreutz. Yes, we know he was sick and the daily effort was really hard for him. But Operacion Puerto had broken his spirit. Still without resolution, it’s broken the peloton too.

I didn’t watch the Tour much last year, Chechu was in China. I didn’t miss it. And neither will the fans who plan to boycott this year’s event.

You have to believe in the Tour de France. It demands your passion and resolute faith. It seizes your heart and soul. And when you lose that feeling, it’s gone forever.

ASO have excluded new Astana whilst inviting teams who equally brought the race into disrepute last year. They’re exposed as hypocrites and not for the first time. They have turned a blind eye to doping for decades.

For many of us, the magic of this Gallic dinosaur is waning. And that can only be good for cycling.

California dreamin’, anyone?

Nicky, Edinburgh

Together, our voice is strong. Please leave your comments below, we promise to use them positively to support Chechu’s team.

If you’d like to write a post for this blog, please contact Nicky via the website. Thanks for reading.


1. Bruno - February 14, 2008

i wont watch this years tour. No.

2. Charlotte - February 14, 2008

I have drawn my line in the sand and will not step over it – as long as Astana is excluded, while other teams with similar past doping issues are included – as much as I love the Paris-Nice; Tour de France and Paris-Roubaix, I will not watch, I will not read, I will not care who wins, because when you univite the defending champion and his completely new team, anyone who wins – clean or not – did not win.

I have also pledged not to buy anything from any of the sponsors of the Tour, my money may be small money to them, but if we all boycott the products, maybe a small enough dent will be made to make someone take notice! Also to this effect every sponsor has received an email from me, explaining I had no intention of supporting their products and the exact reason why. (The ASO also received emails, but I’m sure they didn’t even bother to read them, as I expected.)

I also feel this is a direct slap in the face of Kazakh Astana fans and the riders who are caught up in this ugly mess and I’m sorry, just don’t “mess with my family” — Johan is the reason I starting supporting Astana — Johan, Astana and the really inconsistent thinking of the ASO is the reason you will see me at the Tour of California with a very large sign that I intend to stick in front of every media source I can find, that reads:

No Astana Le Tour


3. Anikó Szász - February 14, 2008

Well, I have still loved the Tour after the retirement of Lance, but for sure it wasn’t the same anymore. However after watching the ride of Contador last year, I thought maybe the old feelings can come back. But now ASO took it away from me! So no Tour for me this year and no other ASO races, despite I really would like to see George win Paris-Roubaix finally……..

4. Juls - February 15, 2008

I am pretty good at keeping my heart shielded from hurt and pain – on the relationship front. Never did I think I would need to shield my heart from a sport. This is the most heartbreaking sport on the face of the earth.
I don’t understand the promoters of the this sport. What is their objective? I guess I need that defined to understand. I always thought the origins of a sport was due to the love of it. When it catches on, sure money is involved. Human nature, there. But, in every other sport – nurturing of the sport takes place. It is protected. It is advanced. The best of the best are given a forum to shine. The up and comers are given opportunity to break through. The sport needs the players just as the players need the sport.
In some sports, the player has become bigger than the sport. Not good. Equally, it is not good when the sport has become bigger than the player. In this case, there are those who feel, the cycling venues are bigger than the rider. Not good.
Does Alpe d’Huez make the rider? Does the rider make Alpe d’Huez? Neither can be “legend” with out the other. Why is Alpe d’Huez legendary? It’s just an alpe. It’s not the tallest. It’s not the steepest. It’s not the longest. It’s not the only mountain that has switchbacks. What makes is so “legendary”?
How about the epic battles fought upon it’s pavement? How about the riders who used every last ounce of gas in their tank to ride to the top? How about the riders who never made it up? How about the unknown rider who out rode the best? How about the best who got dropped by the unknown? How about the average person standing inches from these men who drag their bodies up this mountain.
It is clear we need balance to move this beloved sport forward.
But, that brings me back to my original question. Just what is the objective? It is not clear that those who promote these races want the sport to grow, to progress. It doesn’t seem certain that they want to share the sport with others. If they did, surely they would be doing everything in their power to foster growth. They would be working with an organization that is trying to set boundaries. To set rules. To set guidelines. They wouldn’t be acting like a defiant teenager that thinks, “I know everything”. “I don’t need your help”.
Is the objective to keep these races the way they were 100 years ago, unknown to the outside world? Individual races that are not part of a greater picture?
I feel like an unwanted guest trying to score an invite to the biggest party in the world. The party is promoted as being “The party to be at”. But, when I try to enter, I am not greeted with a smile and a, “Make yourself at home. Enjoy the show”.

So, I say this to the race organizers: Just what is the objective?

5. Martha - February 15, 2008

I didn’t think the organizers of the Tour would be so blatant showing the cycling world their ineptitude, lack of vision and pessimism. The time has come where the sport on the on the other end of the sword, resting right on its neck.

By excluding Astana, they are disrespecting the leadership of Bruyneel, and disallowing Contador to rightfully defend his title.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I am very sad for the sport and more sad for the champions that wear the Astana jersey.

6. kris mortela - February 15, 2008

The Tour is the best race we have. By having the best cyclists ride the Tour year in and year out, it brings out the tradition of excellence in competition as it has been known since time immemorial. However, by excluding the best riders (two podium finishers last year and a two time podium finisher in previous years), the tour I believe will end up as a second class race. Remember, a race is always defined by the quality of competition. That is why the best rider rides the Tour, prioritizing it over the Giro and Vuelta.

It is not fair to exclude Astana. Did Tour officials look into the current riders of the team? Who among the present crop of Astana riders have doped during the period 2006 and 2007 which they are referring? The team is now totally different. Thus, it could not be judged because the people of 2006 and 2007 they are referring to are no longer there. Those who violated some rules are no longer riding for Astana. So why punish a team that has completely changed its management, riders, and has adopted strict mechanisms to control doping.

Tour without Astana is not the Tour I have known. I started to watch the Tour because it is where I saw the best in competition. I watch it every year hoping to see the best cyclists struggle against each other. I can relate and internalize the race because it is real, where i see riders hurting, much like the people i see everyday in the street, at work, on TV, and even in other sports. I learned to love the Tour because of that. But this year, my hope of seeing the best race on earth has been shattered. The hopes of the best racers to join the race have been totally broken. The hopes of fans to see a great race is now lost. This is such an unfair world.

To Astana, we will always be by your side. Truth will find its way so dont despair. Someday, somehow, the best that the team has will be known. It may not be in the Tour, but in other races. God bless the team. May you find your strength from this challenge.

7. carambs - March 4, 2008

“ASO have excluded new Astana whilst inviting teams who equally brought the race into disrepute last year. They’re exposed as hypocrites and not for the first time. They have turned a blind eye to doping for decades.”

I totally agree with this. You know what’s sad? Cycling is getting messier and dirtier everyday.

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