Jack Bobridge has never raced the Tour de France and yet he comes to torment him these days. Can one get used to stories such as his own, a hero turned pariah at the age of 29, an Australian Olympic medalist, sentenced Friday by the Perth court to four years in prison for ecstasy trafficking? He never ran the Tour but four times the Giro, and rolled for four teams currently engaged on the Grand Loop, Garmin (renamed Education First), Orica-GreenEdge (Mitchelton-Scott), Belkin (Jumbo-Visma) and Trek. Annoyance, grief, fright. And already the will to erase it.
In Australia, the city of Adelaide has announced that it will rename a velodrome honoring its fallen star. On the Great Loop, former colleagues want to move on. "No comment, declines Matt White, Mitchelton's sports manager. Nou I am here to talk about the Tour de France and positive things about our team, not a strictly personal situation. " The few memories come back under cover of anonymity. An ex-teammate: "He was a nice guy. You can interview 20 people and not one will tell you bad Jack. What is happening is a real catastrophe … that we had seen coming. "
Before the descent, there is always the ascent. Stride for Bobridge, promoted world champion against the clock in 2009 among 19-22 years. This wheeler attacks the mountain like a straight line: "I do not know where the summit is, I do not care, I attack before the foot of the pass and we'll see," he recounted. He wins a stage of the Tour Down Under, one of the Tour de Pologne, but it is on the track of the velodromes that he engraves his exploits: five world titles, two silver medals at the Olympics and a world record of 4,000 meters.
The first concerns arise in June 2012, when he stamped his car in a parking lot in Lloret de Mar, drunk, alongside his compatriot Michael Hepburn, present on the Tour de France this year. Bobridge is fired from his team, Orica – "from a common agreement"according to the release. The Australian clings. He pedal the day, deviates at night. Then he stopped his career with a snap in September 2016, after a new Olympic silver medal: "The body is just tired and worn out."
The substances had finally gained ground. A former team member testifies in the Australian magazine Wrinkled : "He was coming back to the hotel in the early morning, stinking beer and tobacco, taking a shower, and going out for a bike drive in the process." Another expressed his dismay at Release : "We often talked about Jack. They said, "Do you know the last one he made?" Some runners tried to help him, like big brothers, but he was unmanageable. " At his trial in mid-May, Bobridge admitted that he was conducting a "Fantastic lifestyle" of his career time and that he was taking "Festive drugs … cocaine," without it being directly a question of doping.
Haunting question in any smashed athlete story: is it sport that, by nature, leads to disaster? Bobridge says he was traumatized by the 2010 diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, a condition he had long kept secret but burned his joints. His lawyers insist that«Being a cyclist in Europe attracts you celebrity status as well as some people who tempt you». A former teammate, still working at the highest level, is moving in the same direction: "Yes, sport can really lead to Jack's life. When you are asked all the time to behave as someone exemplary, when you have a permanent pressure, you can lose the pedals. The most important thing is to follow a line we have drawn and know where we are going. I do not think Jack had a way. "
Immediately after the end of his career, Bobridge divorced his partner, the mother of her daughter, who is now 5 years old. Depressed, he increases his drug use, he tells the trial. He opens a gym in Perth and takes dozens of pounds. In 2017, police arrest a retired cyclist, Alex McGregor, on the verge of selling drugs to an undercover agent. Justice estimates that McGregor was reselling the ecstasy pills that Bobridge provided him with. The former world champion says it was the opposite. He denies the existence of traffic and talks about "Personal consumption". Since the revelation of the case, ruined, he was working as a mason. Judges who sentenced him to four years in prison – with the possibility of parole after two and a half years – defined Bobridge's career as a "tragedy".
Did he explode because of overfilling glory or did he suffer from not always having enough? In 2015, he had tried to go down in history by beating the world record of the hour, all cameras pointed at him, but he had failed to 500 meters. This experience of incredible brutality was, he said, "As getting as close as possible to death without properly dying". A friend who runs the Tour de France summarizes: "The cyclist was so hard that we had forgotten how weak the man was."
(tagsToTranslate) Tour de France (t) Australia (t) Perth (t) Ecstasy (r) Jack Bobridge (r) Cycling rider (t) Drug (t) Parole (t) Tobacco (r) Justice (r) Ride of Poland (t) Doping (t) Beer (t) Mâcon (t) Michael Hepburn (t) Lloret de Mar (t) Bicycle (t) Belkin (t) World Record (t) Record of the year