I bid you all a Happy New Year.
In order to celebrate this joyous day, I'd like to share a nice upbeat story that perhaps some of you don't know about. I'm talking about Michel Zanoli. Enjoy.
Michel Zanoli was a relative unknown to many, until the 1992 Tour Du Pont. In that race, Zanoli punched a motorcycle driver for causing his teammate to crash. Only days later, Zanoli punched Davis Phinney during a sprint, drawing blood and making Phinney look like he had a Hitler mustache. He was kicked out of the race (due to throwing a punch, not for making Phinney look like he had a Hitler mustache).
Motorola cut him from the Giro squad later that year, but not the team. His season ended shortly after he got the news about the Giro however, when he somehow cut six wrist tendons.
"It didn't happen during a race; it happened at night," he explained a year later. "Party," he said. "Somehow."
Zanoli died at the age of 35 of a heart attack. According to the awful Babel Fish translation of his Wikipedia entry in Dutch:
"Zanoli wrestled for some time with mental problems and died by the end of December 2003" "Other sources speak concerning suicide."
Before I'm accused of being a heartless douchebag (perhaps it's too late for that), I have to admit that I sometimes wonder if the kind of problems cyclists have (drugs induced suicides and the like) are common in other sports. Perhaps the numbers are no higher than they are in society at large. Is the pressure and physical toll worse than it is in other sports? Does cycling draw a certain type of person? Who knows. Regardless, these individuals bring us great joy through their hardships on the bike. As such, I will continue to thank all those who ride. Yes, Tyler Hamilton included. The emotions you felt watching him race with a broken collarbone were real. Sadly, it would appear, so were his inner demons.*
Having said that...go have a happy new year, or Zanoli will punch you in the face and make you look like you have a Hitler mustache too.
* This, by the way, is the closest I'll probably ever get to writing about doping...which is the most yawn-inducing and retarded topic within cycling, particularly when written about by idiots like me.