BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado (VN) — It sure was frosty in Colorado this morning.
The peloton awakened to a cloud-stuffed valley in Breckenridge and the news that one of its greatest champions would no longer fight doping charges against him.
Mum was the word on the Lance Armstrong saga Friday morning at the Garmin-Sharp bus. Garmin’s manager and CEO, Jonathan Vaughters, has been one of clean cycling’s fiercest advocates with his Garmin team and recently admitted to doping upon The New York Times opinion page. Two Garmin riders were expected to be part of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s case against the seven-time Tour champion.
Over at the RadioShack-Nissan bus, director Alain Gallopin, who worked with Armstrong during his comeback with Astana and RadioShack, said only, “For this, I make no comment.”
The Armstrong news, which broke on Thursday evening, stole the spotlight — perhaps only briefly — from an animated USA Pro Challenge and altered the atmosphere here drastically. Riders ducked in and out of buses quickly. Comments were hard to come by.
And then, there was Jens.
“(The) story’s going on for quite some time now,” said Jens Voigt. “I just hope it actually, finally, comes to an end. You’re probably not going to solve every single detail of it. But I just hope it comes to an end and we can, not start fresh, but now we draw a line — that is the past and we just let it rest in peace now. We just close that now. … And start looking forward and try to make our sport good, clean, proper in the future.”
Voigt is known for his candor and honesty. He’s the oldest rider in the race (40) and has said he hopes to leave a positive influence on the sport’s younger riders.
“Well, I hope that I’m allowed to say that I could be an example. I was cycling in the hard times. And I’m still here. I’m still alive, still able to do my job … to show the kids, ‘Look, there is no shortcut.’ It’s a sport where you need a lot of dedication. Hard work,” he said.
“And if you stick by the rules, you’re going to have a long career. People like you for that. I mean, maybe I’m not a multibillionaire, but I hope that I won the crowd. And that’s something important. Focus on the better part of our sport. Entertaining people. Be straight. You know?”
The German hard man took a beautiful win in Colorado on Thursday, when he ripped free of his breakaway companions and took advantage of a resting peloton, soloing across the day’s two summits and through the Colorado valleys into Beaver Creek. And a win like that, he said, could never be taken from him, not even years down the line.
“I know that even if they freeze it for a hundred years and test it with new methods 100 years from now, I know it’s my win,” he said of his sample given to anti-doping. “Because nothing’s going to happen. There’s nothing in my urine sample. So I’m safe.
“I can sleep and I can go with my kids — go for a swim, go for a barbecue and that I think is really worth the effort. I’m trying to teach the kids — go straight in life and you will be rewarded for that.”
Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) is one of those kids in the peloton. The 21-year-old, soon to announce a pro contract, said he was looking down the road and not back at Armstrong.
“All I’ve really heard is sort of what everyone has heard, from reading VeloNews, Cyclingnews in the morning. I don’t really have anything to say,” said Dombrowski, clad in the best young rider’s jersey. “It’s sort of before my time. For me, it’s sort of about the future at this point.”
The peloton soon embarked on stage 5, from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs, and into stormy skies.