Gaumont watches from a distance

Whistleblowing Cofidis rider Philippe Gaumont says he is happier in his Amiens bar than he was in th

Whistleblowing Cofidis rider Philippe Gaumont says he is happier in his Amiens bar than he was in th
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE While Stuart O'Grady was dedicating yesterday's stage win to absent friend and team-mate David Millar - something which, some suggest, caused more than a ripple of surprise at Cofidis HQ - one of O'Grady's former Cofidis team-mates, Philippe Gaumont, was watching the race on TV. A year ago, Gaumont was part of the Cofidis team that finished 14th in the 2003 Tour's team time trial. Now, Gaumont is Cofidis' equivalent to Festina's Willy Voet. Arrested by French police in the spring over doping offences, he sang like a canary, listing products, naming names. His decision set in motion a sequence of events that may not be concluded yet, but that almost certainly led the French drugs squad to David Millar's door, and to a restaurant table in Biarritz, where the world time trial champion was taken into police custody as he dined with Team GB coach, Dave Brailsford. Sacked by Cofidis after his revelations became public, Gaumont has retreated to running his bar, close to Amiens. He has watched the Tour to date with an amused eye. "I'm not sickened to the point where I don't watch the sport I love," he told Le Monde. "But now I see it as a spectacle, a circus." Expressing his disbelief at the speeds achieved in the team time trial, Gaumont, refused to accept that the Tour's directors were winning the battle to clean up their race. "The organisers of the Tour are obliged to say that they are fighting against doping, and doing all they can," he said, "but what matters more than most is making money. That's why they have to minimise any problems." Even the customers in Gaumont's bar have become hardened to recent revelations, he claimed, as they watch the race on TV. "But it's a show, and the word doping is always on their lips. "There are still plenty of people in the peloton who I've seen doped. They continue to say that they've never taken anything but they've been lucky because they haven't been caught." Gaumont claims that the arrest of Millar and the investigation into another Cofidis rider, Cdric Vasseur - who continues to maintain his innocence - were "logical." And the Frenchman says he doesn't miss the close-knit milieu that until recently he was very much part of. "I don't have tears in my eyes because I'm not racing," he said. "The system really disgusted me - I have suffered enough on a bike."
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