THE mood in Strasbourg this afternoon was bleak. The two outstanding favourites are on their way home and the teams in question have closed ranks. Cycling has been here before: one knee on the floor, taking a pummelling. It happened in Dublin in 1998, which, coincidentally, was also World Cup year, when a Festina team car was stopped by customs officials at the France-Belgium border and found to contain enough drugs for a city centre hospital.

This feels even worse. In a sporting sense, the Tour de France stood on the brink of a new era. An exciting, open race was on the cards with the showdown between Ullrich and Basso at its heart.

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Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.