“Era” of doping in cycling over: Sutton
Australian cyclist Chris Sutton is confident “that era” of widespread doping is over and a new generation of young riders is poised to move the sport forward.
AUSTRALIAN cyclist Chris Sutton is confident “that era” of widespread doping is over and a new generation of young riders is poised to move the sport forward.
As the dust settled on Lance Armstrong’s dramatic fall from grace, cycling’s reputation was sullied further in London on Thursday when another former professional confessed to cheating.
And this time it was close to home for 28-year-old Sydneysider Sutton, who was despondent after hearing that his Team Sky coach Bobby Julich resigned following his admission he used the blood-boosting drug EPO during his racing career in the late 1990s.
“I was sad to see that,” Sutton told AAP on Friday at the launch of the NSW Grand Prix series.
“But it was the right thing to do. I admire him for that.
“This year, he looked after my training, especially while I had a (back) injury. He was calling every day to see how the recovery was going and pushing me forward.
“He’s a great guy and a great coach.”
Australian team Orica-GreenEDGE is in a similar position with former rider Matt White, who has has stood down from his management role while the team decides whether he should be sacked.
Sky – the team of reigning Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins – require all their riders and staff to sign a statement promising no previous or present involvement in doping.
Sutton, who has been with the UK-based team since 2009, re-signed the pledge in London last week and insists there’s a solidarity in the peloton to clean up the sport.
“There’s a new generation of riders. It would be nice to see people not slander our sport for everything that has happened and concentrate on the younger guys coming through and stick by them.”
Sutton can’t fathom the mindset of cyclists who turn to doping despite the demands of the three Grand Tour races – Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana – which cover more than 3000km in three weeks averaging around 40km/h across some nasty terrain.
“A Grand Tour is probably the hardest thing to do in sport,” said Sutton, who has competed in two Giros and one Vuelta and, as a sprinter, finds the mountain climbs particularly punishing.
“The stuff we go through is mentally and physically challenging. It changes you forever, especially the last week. It’s brutal.”
Sutton is looking forward to a big 2013 given he’s over his back injury and more opportunities in big races are likely to arise after the departure from Sky of the world’s leading sprinter, Mark Cavendish.
But just as importantly, he’s optimistic that cycling can bounce back from the recent drug-tainted period.
“That era is over,” Sutton said firmly. - AAP