As someone trying to promote a credible cycle race, Jorge Sandoval is hardly doing wheelies over Lance Armstrong's sensational fall from grace.
Sandoval's five-day Tour of Manawatu starts in January and is again being financially supported by Sport Manawatu and the Palmerston North City Council.
Cycling's image has taken a caning since Armstrong was exposed as a drugs cheat and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
But, thankfully for Sandoval, that hasn't been enough to convince the local authorities in Palmerston North to want to distance themselves from his event.
"I haven't had any negative comments from the council when I'm talking to them about my cycle race. A lot of people are looking forward to it and treating the race as one of the biggest Manawatu events for next year," Sandoval said.
"But obviously, in the bigger picture, for a lot of people who don't really know about cycling, it's been really negative for the sport in general. But people have to understand that this issue is solely an issue at the very top of cycling and for the very top professionals.
"Our riders can hardly afford an entry fee, so I don't think they'll be able to afford EPO. But, unfortunately, everyone's been put in the same basket.
"I don't want to defend anybody but in all my years in cycling, and we test the riders in this race every year, I don't think we've ever found a positive rider."
Sandoval said next year's race would feature even tighter doping controls, even if it might not be warranted.
"The UCI [the sport's governing body] is tidying everything up, including our testing, but they're targeting the wrong area. They should be tidying the very top, not these races here."
Sandoval expects to have a field of between 100 and 110, with six overseas teams likely.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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