SAN JOSE -- One of the Bay Area's best pros was not surprised Wednesday by revelations that many of America's cycling stars acknowledged using banned drugs when testifying in a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into Lance Armstrong.
Ben Jacques-Maynes of Watsonville had come to grips with cycling's drug problems long ago.
"I know I have in the past, and will continue to race against guys who take illicit substances," he said Wednesday before heading out for a training ride. "I've had races taken from me by dopers and money taken from me by dopers. If I dwell on that and the amount of cheating in the sport you can work yourself up into such frenzy you can't sleep at night. You have to cut off the what-ifs and do the best you can."
The anti-doping agency announced Wednesday that 11 former teammates of Armstrong had given information about the use of banned substances and methods on Armstrong's U.S. Postal team.
They are: Frankie Andreu, Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Stephen Swart, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and David Zabriskie. At least four of those riders previously had publicly admitted taking drugs during their careers.
Leipheimer, of Santa Rosa, is a three-time winner of the Amgen Tour of California and the race's biggest promoter. He did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
Zabriskie is a four-time Tour of California
The anti-doping agency banned Armstrong for life in August from competing in cycling and other sporting events when the seven-time winner of the Tour de France did not challenge a case brought against him. Armstrong repeatedly has denied that he used performance enhancing drugs.
Representatives of the Texas cyclist attacked the anti-doping agency this week as targeting Armstrong while ignoring others.
Also Wednesday, Hincapie, Armstrong's most loyal teammate in his seven Tour victories, went public for the first time about his actions. Hincapie issued a statement saying he was approached by federal agents three years ago.
"I would have been much more comfortable talking only about myself, but understood that I was obligated to tell the truth about everything I knew. So that is what I did," Hincapie said.
Jacques-Maynes planned to spend the afternoon reading more than 1,000 pages of documents, including financial statements, emails and sworn testimony from 26 people that the anti-doping agency planned to release on its website at www.usada.org.
"I grew up at the wrong time," said Jacques-Maynes, who has lived in San Jose and Berkeley. "I was racing against guys who were evidently doped to the gills. I'm sure they are exceptionally gifted anyway, but with pharmaceutical help they become the stars of American racing."
The rider, who has built a reputation as a tough competitor during the Tour of California, expressed no bitterness about never reaching a level to race the Grand Tours or the famous spring classics in Europe.
Jacques-Maynes, 34, has switched to Team Jamis Sutter Home for the 2013 season. He will begin the year at the Vuelta de Chile in January.
Jacques-Maynes said he never was approached by anyone suggesting he take drugs to elevate his career. According to Hamilton and Landis top-level cyclists had a drug regimen that included blood transfusions, testosterone and erythropoietin, or EPO, a hormone that stimulates the kidney to produce oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
"I know I will never make that call," Jacques-Maynes said. "I can point to everything I done with my head held high."
In the 2009 Nevada City Classic he took second, from a three-man break that included race-winner Armstrong and Leipheimer.
Now the local cyclist is glad he doesn't have to face the same scrutiny as those who are connected to the Armstrong case because "their lives are forever altered and changed. Whatever they've done on the bike, the perception has changed. How much was all that worth it?"
Jacques-Maynes said he wouldn't change the way his career has unfolded, adding he rides a bike for the same reason as kids and recreational cyclists.
"I love turning pedals, I love feeling the wind in my hair," he said. "There are plenty of reasons to bike other than fame, fortune and ego."
The Watsonville rider acknowledged being angry in the past about the drug situation but also rejoiced when beating competitors who later tested positive. He won't worry about who he faces in the upcoming season, however.
In some instances, the witnesses in the Armstrong case accepted shortened bans, meaning the field at the Tour of California next May probably will not be diminished.
U.S. anti-doping chief Travis Tygart said in a statement he hopes those who came forward can resurrect their careers.
"I have personally talked with and heard these athletes' stories and firmly believe that, collectively, these athletes, if forgiven and embraced, have a chance to leave a legacy far greater for the good of the sport than anything they ever did on a bike," he said.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.