Blazin' Saddles

Evans fights, Landis bites

Blazin' Saddles

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Phew, what a day. Filippo Pozzato finally broke Italy's barren year in the Giro with a well fought stage victory in Porto Recanati. Cadel Evans had a fight with Daniele Righi. A disgraced cycling Mennonite coughed up half his chest and spat in Lance Armstrong's soup. Lance took offence. Lance then took it out on a stretch of California tarmac with an ill-feted head-butt at top speed.

First up, the Giro - for isn't it the racing that we're most interested about? The sun was out again as Katusha's Pozzato gave the tifosi what they'd been waiting for. Since all their riders decided to go clean, stage wins in the Giro had been as commonplace as a Gordon Brown election win.

Up popped Pippo who, despite the best efforts of Thomas Voeckler and a reborn Jerome Pineau, ended the home nation's worst ever run in the Giro.

But the excitement was happening further back after TV crews caught Evans and Righi exchanging slaps and a few faint limp-wristed air-shots in the pursuing peloton. It was cycling's equivalent of handbags at dawn and - if Saddles is brutally honest - was all very pathetic.

It reminded BS of that game he used to play with his siblings called "touched you last". If you're unfamiliar with it the name kind of gives it away. The aim is to touch the other person and then scarper before they can touch you back. (The novelty wears off fast.)

A roadside photographer said the incident flared up after Righi nudged Evans in the ribs and muttered "Molly's a mongrel" - making a derogatory reference to the world champion's dog.

A more likely explanation is that Evans was incensed by the peloton's lack of composed reaction to the closing attack of a group including his rivals Vinokourov, Nibali, Basso and Cunego. You see, having no team-mates of his own Evans now has to rely on the goodwill of his fellow professionals to nurse him to the finish.

Saddles has another theory: the Australian was trying to win the award for the day's most combative rider. Boom boom.

Talking of combative - time to move on to what many are dubbing Floydgate (but which Saddles prefers to call Landisgrace). Now, BS doesn't want to dwell on this too much, but he will say a few things.

Firstly, news that Landis had systematically doped throughout his entire career came as no huge surprise. The real eye opener was that Landis, during his frequent all-night PED benders, had dabbled in female hormones. What was he trying to combat - period pains?

The thing is, if Landis - a man who fought teeth-and-nail to clear his name, including publishing a book called Positively False - can lie so resolutely about not doping, who's to say he can't do the same about taking drugs and implicating his former US team-mates too?

"I want to clear my conscience. I don't want to be part of the problem any more," he wrote in one of those infamous emails to US media outlets.

And yet in making his conscience clear, he has only succeeded in dirtying the waters of cycling. The lawyers of Armstrong, Leipheimer, Zabriskie, Hincapie and Bruyneel will have a field day. Landis has no proof, just a story to tell. That is the problem - and also the key to the man's motivation.

Make no mistake - this isn't about conscience, this is a career move for a financially wrecked man who has finally realised he can no longer make a living pedalling bikes so he might as well peddle something else instead.

Landis even admits it himself: "There are many many more details that I have in diaries and am in the process of writing into an intelligible story."

Not content with treating the whole world with the levels of contempt Biff holds for George McFly at the beginning of Back To The Future, Landis now wants to do it again. Maybe this time he'll call his literary colossus 'Positively Positive' and it will win a Pulitzer.

For once, Saddles is going to have to agree with Pat McQuaid on this one: Landis just has no credibility. While we are all certainly piqued by his words, the very fact that they come from Landis means they must be handled with as much care as game of football involving France and Ireland.

This is a man who reportedly raised almost a million dollars from the public for his defence fund (maybe true), and a man who many claim only took a liking to hip hop music a few years back because it mimicked his gait (not true).

Regarding the actual content of the emails, BS doesn't really have a point of view and isn't going to comment apart from say that it's nothing we haven't heard or suspected before. The truth is another matter.

In fact, because of Landis's reputation, the truth is almost irrelevant. Indeed, given his track record - and the lack of tangible evidence - it might as well be a simple vendetta because it isn't going to rectify anything. But it will be awfully fun watching the whole soap opera being played out.

Indeed, the latest rumour (that BS has just made up) is that Armstrong himself paid Landis to make those allegations in the hope that RadioShack will be kicked out of the Tour and the Texan will be spared the humbling he is in line to receive from Alberto Contador.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago. It speaks volumes of his mental state. (While the accusations are) definitely juicy and salacious, they're not even worth getting in to." Armstrong reacts to his former team-mate's fresh allegations at the start of stage five of the Tour of California.

Two kilometres into the stage, Armstrong, clearly with other things on his mind (such as how he can Tweet himself out of trouble), crashed heavily face first and had to abandon the race.

Cynics would go on about karma, but Saddles will just quote an old African proverb: "If the hippo is hungry, he will eat even a prowling lion."

Follow Blazin' Saddles throughout the Giro and the ongoing Landisgrace on

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