(Article from Humo)
Belga Sport was a series of TV show on Canvas, public broadcaster in the Northern part of Belgium. It has now been taken over by Telenet. Sadly I can't get Telenet, so impossible to watch the show but interesting things are already revealed by the article.
Sammie Moreels was a youth hero of mine along with Edwig Van Hooydonck and I've long heard about the fact he was one of the Belgian talent to get screwed by the EPO storm. The show programmers seem to suggest likewise. Sammie was 9th at the Tour of Lombardy as a neopro in 1989. 3rd at the GP de Wallonie in 1992 (I was rooting for him at that time, remember that weird race very well, though I was 8)
The title says The Pancake Generation Comes Back
I think Peter Post referred to a "potato generation" or something of the sort. That is how the Dutch and Belgian generation of the nineties got qualified for poor performances.
"Mario De Clercq and Sammie Moreels didn't lack great legs, they lacked EPO."
In La Plagne on 11 July 1995 (Golden Spurs Day), 4 Lotto riders came out of time limits. Another one had called it quit during the race. Lotto was the laughing stock of the cycling world. [If I remember well, only two Lotto riders finished the Tour of France that year: Andrei Tchmil and Peter Farazijn]
Dan Van Nijverseel, the programmer of the show says that the riders could feel there was something going on.
Certainly since the spring classics in 1995 in which they were dropped as though they had been laying on the sofa for the whole winter. They only didn't know exactly what played a role. Only on the evening after La Plagne they did talk it over for the first time with Jean-Luc Vandenbroucke after the latter had pested against them but he didn't want to believe it. Perhaps he wanted to stick his head in the sand but Vandenbroucke started as DS at a moment there was no talk of EPO and with respect to medical back up Lotto was lagging far behind the rest of the world. There was no team doctor and the riders had only one heart beat monitor that they had to share to each other. For as much as we can tell, they really were in obscurity.
The riders feel that they had been the victims of an injustice. Alex Zulle who won in La Plagne was later caught and punished but he could earn a lot of money in cycling while a rider like Rudy Verdonck had to get back to work after his career. Sammie Moreels finished top5 in Liege-Bastogne-Liege as neopro in 1989 and in what should have been his prime years he was blown away. That insincerity hurts. Plus the image that they were remembered for: "The Pancake Generation", lazy bones who did not live for their sport. This label has shadowed their whole career.
About the fact that Mario De Clercq also was involved in a doping affair later [the Landuyt-Versele Affair along with Museeuw] the show did not investigate. It stops in 1995. But it's clear how hard this La Plagne day affected Mario and he also said he would trade his great palmares in cyclocross for the road career that he's been stolen. The show is not meant to be a doping investigation but rather a human story about these honest riders who could not follow and thus had to keep on living with the blame.
It should be said that once Vandenbroucke was promoted from DS to manager he started defending dopers in his team such as Abdujaparov. By the late nineties things had already changed, riders started to perform as if they were doing like everybody else. And all of a sudden, Vandenbroucke got fired by Lotto for the 2000 season.