Three in four Danes believe it is impossible to win the Tour de France clean. But the country’s only winner of the race, Saxo-Tinkoff manager Bjarne Riis, who himself admitted to doping says they are misinformed – and insists that people within the sport are doing all they can to clean it up.
According to the Copenhagen Post, a survey of 1,005 people by Voxmeter asked them if they thought the Tour de France could be won by a rider without doping, with 77.2 per cent answering “no.”
But Tinkoff-Saxo manager Riis, stripped of his 1996 Tour de France title after admitting doping in 2007 – he was reinstated the following year with an asterisk to record his doping – maintains the people surveyed do not have enough information to express an informed opinion.
"The people who have been asked have no knowledge of it and they haven't got a chance to learn more," he said. "They speculate and they guess. That is all there is to it.
"Cycling has its history and we can't communicate it any differently to how we do," he continued.
“We are doing our best to ensure a clean sport. We can't expect everyone to know what's going on."
Riis stood by Alberto Contador after the Spaniard, who had joined Saxo Bank in 2011, received a ban the following year, was banned as a result of his positive test for clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France, with the overall victory instead going to Andy Schleck.
The views of the general public in Denmark about doping in cycling may have been coloured by high profile media coverage over the past year and a half of former pro, Michael Rasmussen.
In January 2013, he admitted to having doped throughout his career, including while at Riis’s CSC Tiscali Team – now, Tinkoff-Saxo.
In 2007, Rabobank sacked Rasmussen while he was leading the Tour de France with four stages remaining for breaking team rules after it emerged that he had lied about his whereabouts while training for the race.
He had claimed to be in Mexico, but was spotted in Italy by former pro cyclist turned TV commentator, and now Italian national coach, Davide Cassini.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.