“Damn…this sport of ciclismo sure is hard on fans.
I woke up to the most dumbfounding news this morning, that my dear Samu has been nabbed for an irregular drug test. The optimist in me still hopes that this was some mistake given the absurdity of a 39-year-old with his foot out the door into retirement, a legacy and a career well intact, couldn’t possibly be that dumb?
But, then again, Cycling will always rip your heart out.
Of course it’s dumb to think of sports figures as “heroes”… the only cyclist worthy of such a label was Bartali. But, can’t we as fans just try to enjoy the entirety of our favourite’s career without the lurking anxiety of cheating and disgrace?
I was very much looking towards this Vuelta and the swan song of two Spanish Greats – AC & Samu, riding off into the sunset with once last bromance romp – for they have moulded my personality as a cyclist, an Iberian and Euro aficionado, and a fan beyond measure.
But, then again…Cycling will always rip your heart out.
This sucks, Samuel Sanchez”
The above words are from my friend, Josh. He posted this on his social media a few hours after the news broke here in Euroland due to the time difference out to New Mexico, Josh’s home. It struck a chord. It echoed sentiments – the upset, the disbelief, the sense of utter betrayal – that I’d been mulling over in my mind for a post at some point; the way this sport continually breaks your heart.
I’ve had mine broken in the past. Athletes – people – that caught my imagination and brought joy to my life with their endeavours and elegant panache, both on and off the bike: David Millar, Marco Pantani, Ivan Basso – take a bow. I even threw the clothes out onto the lawn and swore ‘Never Again’ at one point. That only lasted a couple of years, though. I’d lost my heart to Cycling for good – for better or worse – long, long before that. I know it’s stupid. I’m sure it’s way different from the other side of the fan barriers; this sport grinds down and has no misty-eyed soul of whimsy at the hard centre of commercial reality. But you really do break our hearts…
And, just like any hopelessly smitten soul who wants to believe that their true love can and will change, we take them back. We take Cycling back. This cruel mistress. With promises of change and an end to such foolish infidelities, we so willingly give our hearts again. Place our heartless lover back upon a pedestal. Yet the sheen and endless sunny days in the park of new-found love eventually dulls and each time the heart is just a little more jaded; ready for the next time.
But you really do break our hearts.
Photo Credits: Josh’s FB Feed