So, yesterday I linked to a VeloNews bit on Jan Ullrich’s retirement.
I thought it was brilliant – As an opinion piece of the cyclist who’s drawn the karmic short straw for most of the last ten years, I thought that O’Grady was brilliant.
He gave credit for the distinguished Palmares that Ullrich earned during his career, acknowledged that Ullrich’s retirement would be credited as one of the finest cyclists to come along in a long time, but would have been even more amazing absent one single-nutted Texan, and gave grief to the boneheads behind Operacion Puerto for robbing Jan of last year without a shred of evidence coming to light.
Apparently, I’m in a strong minority among VeloNews readers. The majority reacted in typical lycra-wearing, weenie fashion, saying that O’Grady was kicking a man while he was down, blah, blah, blah.
A couple of my favorite excerpts:
- From Scott in Florida: Way cold. I hope you’re tutoring blind orphans in your spare time because otherwise your karma bank is gonna be way upside down afterthat number.
- From Scott in California: So, you are going to nail him for being second five times in a race where just making the team makes a pro career, finishing is a mark of true grit, winning a stage makes you a hero, and being on the podium makes you a God. * Uh, Scott – the plaque for second place is in the Ladies’ Room
- From Sam in Austin: O’Grady claims Ulrich underachieved and squandered his talents, but how many
professional riders would trade their careers for Ulrich’s? A Tour title and five second-place finishes is nothing to scoff at, yet he condemns the man. *Sam commits the sin that too many of these letters do, failing to acknowledge exactly *HOW* physically gifted Ullrich was. On paper, in a lab – there’s no way on earth that Armstrong should have been able to dominate Ullrich as thoroughly as he did. If Ullrich had fully kept his head in the game, the little faults that kept him on the plaque in the Ladies’ Room would not have mattered.
Finally, I’ve got to give Sven in St. Louis props for hitting the nail on the head:
Ullrich’s big crime is that he was born in the wrong era. Had he been born between Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain or Indurain and Armstrong he may have won a few more tours but the fact that he showed up every July and finished second is no small feat. … What’s sad is that this ridiculous Operación Puerto inquiry has ruined what should have been an incredible career from anyone’s standards. One to be very, very proud of. But nowadays it seems accusations are all that’s required to end someone’s livelihood. That is the true crime.
Again, I thought that O’Grady was spot-on: Ullrich was truly a great rider, but failed to live up to his potential. A string of seconds and two Grand Tour wins is impressive, indeed; however, the ease with which he was able to dispatch every other rider in the peleton makes his second places all the more poignant.
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