Paolo Bettini won the
2008 2007 World Championship in Stuttgart for the second time in a row amidst boos and hisses, and only days after a judge ordered the race organizers to allow Bettini into the competition. The reason: Bettini refused to sign an anti-doping pledge that the organizers had imposed on all competitors. Many spectators believed he should not have been allowed to race.
This year’s championship has been controversial from the beginning. Alejandro Valverde, one of Spain’s best cyclists, almost did not start because the UCI (the cycling union) said there was enough evidence to link him to a large doping case in Spain. The Spanish did not believe there was enough evidence linking Valverde and put him on the list anyway, UCI took him off again and the courts intervened. The Spanish team was the favorite with riders such as Valverde, Freire, and Sanchez in the lineup. But they fizzled out in the end.
This was also Dutch rider Michael Boogerd’s last race before retiring and he did extremely well, finishing 12th behind Thomas Dekker, his teammate at Rabobank. Boogerd, one of the best riders from the Netherlands, rode an excellent Tour de France this summer, helping Michael Rasmussen keep the yellow jersey over the most difficult stages. Unfortunately Rasmussen was thrown out of the Rabobank team only days before the finish (see my earlier posts on this year’s scandal-filled Tour).