There's been a lot of talk lately about the death of pro cycling. After a Tour that seemed plagued by more positive dope tests, the European papers declared that cycling's biggest race was dead. A lot of people felt that the sport would not be able to withstand this kind of a blow when it was still trying to recover from a string of ugly revelations about cheating.
But there's one guy, a 34-year-old from Denver Colorado who knows a little bit about how to ride a bike himself, who disagrees with all of them. While the rest of the cycling world is off weeping, writing eulogies, and generally mourning the death of cycling, Jonathan Vaughters is busy quietly building up what may well become the next great team to dominate the sport - Slipstream powered by Chipotle
Since the final days of the Tour he has already announced that he has signed David Millar, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde. Today, we hear that he has also signed a former Paris-Roubaix winner, although he won't be more specific than that yet. However, according to Cycling News there are basically only five non-retired winners of that race around: Stuart O'Grady, Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen, Magnus Backstedt, and Peter Van Petegem.
This is going to be one hell of a team and Vaughters is hoping to get a wild card for the 2008 Tour to bring his new team over to Europe and really do something amazing.
And what's great is that Vaughters isn't just building up a new team with the intention of doing things the way they've always been done. He is using his team to take bold new steps in the war against doping. In February, Slipsteam announced a new partnership with the Agency for Sporting Ethics. The partnership has resulted in the most progressive anti-doping program being run in the sport of cycling today. All of the Slipstream riders are tested over a 1000 times a year by the team. According the team, "the testing program is comprised of both blood and urine sampling and will focus on 'bio-markers' as opposed to traditional, direct element testing. This type of testing looks for potentially illegal performance enhancing metabolic variances in the riders' test results, as opposed trying to find specific substances."
Jonathan Vaughers does not think that cycling is dead. He recognizes that significant changes need to be made within the sport and he is being creative and proactive about making those changes happen, but he sees a bright future ahead and he plans to be a big part of it.
I, for one, can't wait to watch him and his team as they beat a new path through the wreckage.
Plus, I can't wait to hear Phil and Paul have to say the word "Argyle" a thousand times as they try to point out the Slipstream riders in the peloton. Phil had better start practicing now how to pronounce "Chipotle".