The fourteenth stage of the epic 21-stage La Tour de France bicycle race ran through the wine country of the Alsace region in the northern part of the country. It was “won” by Russian rider Sergei Ivanov, but it was Rinaldo Nocentini who wore the sought-after yellow jersey denoting the overall leader at the end of the stage.
As seems to be routinely the case with Russians, their “win” was smeared with fraud.
American George Hincapie had led most of the stage, and seven-time LTDF winner Lance Armstrong said that he should have been the winner. But he ended up 16 seconds behind Ivanov and in second place overall behind Nocentini. By the end of the stage, Ivanov still did not rank in the top 50 riders in the field, and Russia did not have a rider in the top 15.
Hincapie lost the 14th stage, and the Russian won, not because of a great Russian performance (its rider was a shameless pretender) but because of an unsportsmanlike dirty trick played by a rival team called Garmin, altering the pace of the race for no sound competitive reason. Despite its antics, the team did not have a rider among the top five finishers. The stage was further tainted when one spectator was killed and two more injured after a motorcyle guarding the riders lost control and crashed into them. To complete the abject horror, a commenter on this blog attempted to tout Russia’s “achievement” on a post about murdered journalist Natalia Estemirova. We deleted the comment, of course.
So there you have it. Even when Russia “wins,” it loses.