By Susan "Tick" Ticknor Westemeyer
The dominant red and white of CSC gave way to T-Mobile's magenta this
weekend. "Matze" Kessler surprised everyone -- except himself -- and
repeated his win at the GP Miguel Indurain. And not only did Steffen
Wesemann "fulfill his life's dream" by winning the Tour of Flanders,
T-Mobile also placed two other riders in the top ten, a la CSC.
It was heartbreaking to see Joseba Beloki pulling out of the first stage
of the Basque Country Tour. One really has to start wondering whether
he will return at all to the sport full-time, much less to the level he
was before. His team recently announced that a thorough medical
check-up showed no further problems, but obviously, something is still
It is clear that having not raced since last July and not having been
able to train much of that time, he has a lot of catching up to do. So
much physical damage was done to his body that he simply needs more time
than these few months to fully recover. We won't see him on the TdF
podium this year, but a stage win or two should be possible, and next
year the podium is a sure thing, say some.
But will he even be at the Tour this year, others ask. The German
Eurosport commentator wonders if Beloki is slowly beginning to doubt
his own ability to come back -- doubts that could prove fatal to his
career. The head plays an extremely large -- and important -- role in
such cases, and can undo everyting the body builds up. And certainly
dropping out of every race during or after the first stage can only have
a very negative effect.
CyclingNews.com raises yet another question: why did Beloki even start
the Basque race? They suggest that his team was invited only on the
condition that Beloki appear ... shades of Cipo and the '03 Vuelta...
The mudslinging on doping continues, with Manzano and Belda swapping
more accusations. French authorities have arrested two Cofidis riders
-- what a Freudian moment, I wanted to write "Festina" -- and the
company Cofidis is publicly speculating whether or not to end its
sponsorship because they don't want to be associated with doping. They
should look look back to Festina -- this time it's ok to write it --
which had its all-time high public recognition after the '98 Tour --
remember, bad publicity is better than no publicity....