Sporza got a chance to catch up with Tombo, as he drove a Ferrari halfway through Flanders. Don't worry, it was for charity. Leukaemia, in fact. The Borlée brothers were also there. Anyway. Sporza got a chance to catch up with Tombo, and they asked him some questions. On Cav, Levi, Lance and Rabo.
"For me, nothing changes. The races I ride now, or those where I sprint now, Mark probably won't sprint there. Mark's two main goals are the Giro and the Tour. And it's a huge advantage when you take a guy like him with you, that always brings a certain ambiance and schwung to the team when you can immediately win a few stages. He's the best sprinter I have ever seen, so it can only be a good thing for us."
In 2009, the two didn't really see eye to eye during MSR. Cavendish: "Crossing the line first was the second nicest point of the day. The first nicest point of today was passing Tom Boonen [he's gonna have work on that pronunciation] going backwards like a stone on the climb you know."
Tombo: "Mark is a guy who needs some confrontation to feel good. And you can tell, he never - or rarely - wins the early stages, like the first or the second stage. He always needs to be in a bit of scuffle with someone and then he can use that to charge himself up. And it wasn't different back then, he was still young and rash. And really, nothing happened. Just people asked me before the race who my favourites were, and I didn't mention him. And that was it. And that's what he used to draw energy from. A lovely story in the end, no? And if I can get him to do better, maybe he can get me to do better as well. Maybe it won't be so bad for me to have my nose right at the front of sprints again. In a bit of a better position than before, because you know if you've got Cavendish behind you then the others don't come battling for position. So it'll be fun for everyone."
"Rabo quitting, that's a sledgehammer blow for cycling. If you see that Rabobank quits after 17 years - I don't really care much about the rest. Everything else is just old information repackaged in a file. But if the sponsors start to drop out, like you see now... Finding new sponsors, that's gonna be incredibly difficult because there's a crisis, everywhere, and there's a crisis in cycling too. I think, replacing a sponsor like Rabobank, that's not gonna happen for the next 5 or 10 years."
Does he think more teams will follow? "I don't know. Rabobank was directly mentioned in the whole affair, their quitting has nothing to do with being grossed out by cycling. That wasn't the issue, it's just that they were compromised themselves. So, the teams that have nothing to do with this, I think it'd be real shame if they became the victim of all this."
"[Rabo calling the sport diseased and the situation hopeless] - I think that's a really, really stupid thing to say. And I got angry when I saw that. They've got a team, that team is super-duper ok. Filled with young talents, and I think it's a shame they don't give them the chance to prove themselves."
On Levi and Lance
"Levi's dismissal, that was only normal. And afterwards I read here and there that Levi had already told us everything, that's completely untrue. Alessandro* himself told me that Levi gave a big speech in the team bus, to say that all the allegations were false. And.. [shrug]. It was all a bunch of bullshit. So, [his being fired], that was only logical."
*I assume that's Alessandro Tegner, PR dude for OPQS.
"And all those things that now - you can't even say they see the light of day now - it's all old stuff that's being ruminated, that's all stuff from Armstrong's days. There's no new info here. And, pfff. In principal... What's that stuff got to do with us? It's not about the race any more. We keep having to talk about Armstrong, and everything that happened with him. Well maybe it'd be better if Lance himself were to talk about that stuff. I've never really been a fan of Armstrong, and definitely not after that first year I rode in the same team as him... But, because he won't clearly come out and say what went on, the issue just keeps going on. And it's been going on for so long. The only guy who can put an end to this, is Lance. He can't keep denying."
"Was it a big shock? Pff. Well. All the stuff that's come to light now, nothing about this is new. All this stuff has already been told, it's just put together in one big file now. And it's... USADA is also exaggerating. They're also pretending like they're the holiest business in the entire world right now, and they're also full of crap. "
Specifically, on the allegations that Hein was bought. "It's a rotten world, isn't it? It's about time to clean that whole stinking mess gets cleaned up."
"And the weirdest thing about it all, [the 'new' peloton nowadays] doesn't have to change anything. Everything right now is going well, on the right path. The only thing we can do - and I've been thinking about this - is to give a 'live' account of everything. To have people follow us around 24/7. I don't know, if that's what it takes to win back our credibility. Because apparently that's the issue, right now the entire world has to see absolutely everything that goes in cycling, for the entire year. And then maybe they can start to believe again. And that's, just... I'm not gonna volunteer for that position though (laughs). But... It's terrible.
"I know for myself what I do for this sport - and what I don't do for this sport. And I have no problem at all if they take the cheats out of it. Well, the cheats were already out of the sport, that's the worst thing about this whole affair."
If you understand Dutch or just wanna look at lovely scruffy Tombo, you can click here. Or here. That's the same link, but I like to give you options. Oh, even more videos here. That's actually a different link than the first two.