La Charge by Wiscot


Guilty as Charged?

As if losing their rising superstar Remco Evenepoel to a horrific crash in the Giro di Lombardia, Deceuninck-Quick Step now have the added “issue” of “the bottle.”  What was the wee white bottle removed slyly by Davide Bramati and slipped into a pants pocket?  What was in it?  It’s been called a bidon but not what we tend to think of when we think bidon.  This was no standard issue water bottle but more of a small flask.

Was it drugs as so many are speculating?  Frankly, I doubt it.  Deceuninck-QuickStep boss Patrick Lefevere is not stupid enough to juice up his star young rider with 50kms to go in a race he was favored to win.  Winning a Monument at age twenty and then failing a drug test could have serious ramifications for the rest of Evenepoel’s career.  The official team response was “As has already been stated publicly, the item that was captured being removed from Remco’s pockets was a small bottle containing nutrition products and was removed in order to help him to be placed more comfortably by medical staff on the stretcher.”

What was it then?  Was it a late race “pick me up” of caffeine, B12 and whatever to give a late-race jolt?  Maybe.  But I don’t think it’s anything new.  Look at this picture of Bernard Hinault descending the Croix de Fer in the 1986 Tour.  Look at his rear left pocket.  What’s that wee bottle?  It sure isn’t a regular bidon.  It’s more of a small flask.  I’ve never seen pictures of a rider being handed such a bidon or drinking out of such a container.  And Hinault never failed a drugs test.

In the wonderful 1962 French film, Vive le Tour, by Louis Malle, the riders are featured after another hot day in the saddle.  Most are drenched in sweat, gaunt and exhausted.  They talk openly about being “charged” with coffee and caffeine, stating that “it all gets sweated out.”

Maybe Bramati was safeguarding one of the best kept secrets in the peloton: a late race “jolt” that’s better than a gel but not enough to get you into trouble.  Cycling has enough problems with public perceptions of the riders “all doping” — a hangover from the Armstrong years — but with an exciting crop of young riders coming through, some secrets are still best kept.

Ed:  Wiscot provided me with the link to this video in a separate conversation but I thought it worth adding here.  Some telling moments and comments from the past and as Wiscot said – some great jerseys.  Hopefully, we can be thankful that medical intervention would be likely these days before a rider got into the sort of state as shown in the video.

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September 22, 2020 3:58 pm
Reply to  Teocalli

If they were doping, didn’t seem to help them any. As a Nairo Quintana fan, I’m hoping there isn’t any there there with this.

September 23, 2020 3:17 pm
Reply to  Teocalli
September 26, 2020 3:11 pm
Reply to  chuckp

This year is becoming (on top of everything else) The Year of Everyone Being Accused of Doping (again). I can’t help but wonder how many of the incredible performances that are being talked about from the Tour are actually quite believable once people remember that the runup to the Tour was unlike all other years, with everyone starting much fresher than they otherwise would. And then there is the question of the spectacular young stars. Even if you leave morality and sportsmanship out of the question completely, it still does not make any sense to dope 19-23 year old riders.… Read more »

September 10, 2020 12:17 pm

I know one speculation is that it is some sort of transmitter that can send rider’s power and other data back to the team car, which is prohibited by UCI rules. Why that’s a rule, I don’t know. But apparently it’s a rule. While Lefevere and the team have insisted that the item removed from Evenepoel’s pocket was a bottle of drink, the UCI are investigating whether it could have been some kind of data device to illegally transmit strategically important power data to the team car to gain a sporting advantage. On Friday, UCI president David Lappartient questioned… Read more »

September 26, 2020 9:59 pm
Reply to  Teocalli

I find this idea much more believable than any doping related explanation, in this particular case.

September 9, 2020 9:58 pm

Wiscot: Interesting article. It seems like it would be incredibly stupid for a young talented rider who is predicted to win the race to carry an illegal substance in his pocket to injest during the race, knowing he would likely have to go through dope control at the end of the race. A positive test would certainly tarnish and possibly ruin his young career. Most of us lived through the Armstrong era so we know anything is possible. Wouldn’t it be nice if the team or the rider would just tell us what was in the bottle. The reporting makes… Read more »

September 10, 2020 12:06 am
Reply to  dancollins

Yeah, it would be pretty dumb to give a young, hot prospect something that might give a positive test. I hope that the Evenepoels, van Aerts, Bernals, Pogacars, van der Poels of this world want to enjoy a career free of suspicion.

February 26, 2021 9:30 pm
Reply to  Wiscot

Wiscot: Don’t miss out on the start of the OTR league. Omloop het Nieuwsblad tomorrow morning!