While not quite as famous as the four words penned by John Lennon, these three words may do more damage to cycling than any other. Ivan Basso had cultivated an altar boy image. He displayed his “aw shucks” demeanor while in the public eye. In the movie Overcoming, we saw a vulnerable son visibly concerned over his mother’s illness during the 2004 Tour. That vulnerability was further accentuated when Basso called Lance Armstrong during the tour for help in obtaining treatment for Basso’s mother. During that call Bjarne Riis seemed to “admire” the head game he perceived Lance to be playing. Riis painted himself with the same brush he used to try to paint Lance. Basso was perfectly cast as a boy in a world of cold calculating men who took no prisoners. Then there was “The Promise.” The much publicised promise to his mother on her death bed that he would win the Giro for her. Even if that meant sacrificing the Tour de France.
Well, it seems that the Basso onion has another layer. That of a cheat. He occupied such a high pedestal that his fall will be dramatic. The problem is that we put cycling on that pedestal with him. He was the savior. He proved that nice guys could finish first. You did not need the killer instinct 24/7/365 to win. You could compete fiercely but be a good guy.
My three words are, “I was wrong.”