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Revisionist History: Lance Armstrong Blows Past The Dopers On Mont Ventoux In 2000
If you were to identify Lance Armstrong’s greatest moment in cycling, it’d be hard to have a conversation without discussing his incredible surge up Mont Ventoux in
the Pyrennes Provence in Stage 12 of the 2000 Tour de France. Not only did he blow past many of his serious rivals while ascending the daunting mountain but he let Marco Pantani win the stage, in an expression of ‘sportsmanship’ that I’m sure Americans cherished. But with Armstrong dropping his resistance to the USADA’s charges last night, this phenomenal display of cycling can now be seen as was it is: a damning indictment of the role of drugs in the sport.
With 6 miles left in the race, a small pack formed for the ascent of Ventoux consisting of Armstrong, Roberto Heras, Santero Botero, Richard Virenque, Joseaba Beloki, Jan Ullrich and Marco Pantani. Pantani eventually broke bravely with Botero following in pursuit. Armstrong bided his time before exploding up the mountain. In doing so, he left behind Ullrich, who was “found guilty of a doping offence by the Court of Arbitration for Sport” this year and “retroactively banned from August 22, 2011″ with “all results gained since May 2005 removed from his Palmares”. He left behind former team-mate Roberto Heras, who tested positive for EPO during the 2005 Vuelta. He left behind Richard Virenque who was at the the heart of ‘Festina Affair‘. And he left behind Belocki, a rider who was named but later acquitted in Operecion Puerto. He eventually reeled in Botero, a cyclist who was dropped from Team Phonak in 2006 because of doping allegations pertaining to Puerto. In the end, he caught up with Pantani, who once served a three-month sentence for sporting fraud related to doping.
On one level, it was one of the most incredible performances in recent cycling history. It’s impossible to know how many of these cyclists were doping during this particular stage (the cases against Botero and Belocki, for instance, seem more like guilt by association), but each had allegations follow them at one point in their career. After yesterday’s development, we seem to have a definitive explanation as to how one man could prove so much stronger than both his competitors and the mountain itself.