A. Bike Pure was born out of our love for cycling. And if you love something you will want to protect it. The concept was simmering for 5 years or so. “Someone should do something!" we said, so we did. No one was really resolving the doping problem, at an independent level and through the total frustration of the positive dope tests during the 2008 Tour de France, (Piepoli, Ricco, Schumacher etc) we had to act. We no longer wanted to sit idly by and watch the reputation of Cycle Sport disintegrate before our eyes.
The general public perceived all pro cyclists were dopers - all pros were tarred with one brush. We wanted to promote the clean, honourable riders, to give a platform for the honest fans and riders connected with the sport to stand up and say 'we are totally against what these cheats are doing to our sport.'
The main intention of Bike Pure is to send a powerful message to the cheats that we don't want them involved in cycle sport. We wish to encourage riders who are tempted to dope that they must remain true and race with their heart to retain respect. A simple stance, but an honest and sincere one that speaks volumes.
What is important for us as an organisation is that young riders and kids coming into the sport understand that doping should never be an option. It's vital that these kids can have sincere role models whom they can look up to, whilst at the same time learning that they can succeed in the sport without resorting to cheating.
We were and still are, overwhelmed by the support of people across the world, but we are basically cyclists working for cycling, from everyday cyclists to a world champion who take the time to show their support for us.
Q. You have a lot of high profile supporters across all types of cycling. How have you found the response from these elite athletes?
A. Our growth is basically because normal cyclists, fans who love the sport, want to be able to trust and believe in the performances of the pro riders and are tired of the drug headlines. It goes both ways. A clean professional cyclist doesn’t want to be viewed as a doper. The Bike Pure symbols are there simply to let the public recognise a rider who admits there is a problem and wants to distance himself and protect their reputation.
Q. I can imagine that not all riders would be receptive to your concept, how do you handle this and do you think it's a case of riders possibly having something to hide?A. Sometimes in the early days, we would be amazed why everyone would not want to associate with a campaign that promotes trust within a damaged sport. We may have been naive but we continue to develop and learn on a daily basis. We petitioned about 500 riders at the start and the silence was unreal from some quarters. It is not everyone’s thing, and we accept that. All are welcome, we can’t judge, nor are we calling those who don't form part of Bike Pure, dopers. Seeing Bike Pure riders and teams gaining success has revived our love for the sport, and we hope this feeling is mirrored by our many members.
Q. I know you're a handy rider yourself, how does it feel when you compete knowing that it may not be an exactly even playing field?
A. Ha ha, I'd say I was an average junior rider but the transition of junior riders into the senior ranks was a difficult one back in the late 80's early 90's. I enjoyed racing World Championships in Cyclo-Cross and winning national leagues, it brought a lot of self confidence and huge enjoyment. When I look back on the fact I was able to race around Europe at such a young age, then I was privileged. I think any rider who works hard and does the correct preparation regarding training and racing will always do well. There are so many elements that make a good rider, but whether the playing field is level or not, you can only do your best and hope that the cheats are 'weeded' out from the system at some point.
Q. Rumour has it that you're in the process of moving to Australia, will we see you out there ripping some of the Aussies lads legs off?
A. Ha ha, not too sure about that. I'd like to compete when I'm out there but my commitment will initially lie with my family once we settle there. There are so many opportunities, especially for my kids, once we get there. I would like to become involved in the local cycling scene as I feel that as a sport it’s a fine way to meet new people. We were out there last year and passed through Gosford, just north of Sydney on the Central Coast. They have an outdoor track there and it was great to see hundreds of kids racing for the whole day. We met some of the local organisers of Central Coast CC and I was overwhelmed by the family friendly atmosphere. I may plan to establish a Bike Pure amateur team in Australia once I get there to help spread our message, especially to young kids, that drugs should never be an option. I have pretty close links with Cycling Australia and they are happy that many of their young riders form part of our organisation.
Q. After Liege-Bastogne-Liege there was a lot of disappointment at the result. Bike Pure's Facebook page generated a lot of comments, some of it was quite heated! What were your feelings? Vino is allowed to race. So we must accept it, it doesn’t mean it is good for the sport. The mainstream media reported LBL as ‘A former drug cheat wins’- Once again promoting the wrong face of cycling. Rather than just complain about it, we want the UCI to consider our members proposals to improve cycling. We have to ask if the current two year ban is enough of a deterrent. Let’s not forget Vino helped ruin the reputation of the sports biggest event, yet under the current rules he is allowed to race.
Q. The 'general public' perceive cycling as a dirty sport as so many Cyclists get caught, yet the cycling community believe it is better for the sport to kick the cheats out. Do you feel it's a case of short term pain for long term gain, or should cycling be like other sports and not make cheats names public?
Not enough has changed yet to give the sport a better image. It’s not the riders, it’s the system, if riders think they can cheat and get away with it they will. We need to tackle the decision to dope head on. All aspects from supply to testing need to be rock solid. Taking drugs must never be an option. Each factor that makes up a riders decision to dope‚ must be examined. If the system treats dopers more severely, if the drugs are not as easily available, if omerta is killed making it unacceptable to all, etc etc. There are so many aspects that need to be looked at. Cycling is a victim of its own success regarding doping, they are doing an awful lot more than any other sport, but the doping headlines have to be reported unfortunately. Hopefully Bike Pure is part of the solution and if we can make riders think twice about doping then that is a reward, not only for us, but for the many thousands of cycling fans who have a right to watch honest performances.
Q. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
A. All the stuff that stops me climbing with the front of the bunch! You really can’t beat an espresso and an apple scone half way round winter spins. If we can just get some races where the whole bunch stops for a coffee on lap three we might get a win!