July 29, 2007
The tour finished today after a long hard road. As the peloton come into the city of Paris, its size was testament to the battering the Tour took during this last week.
Still, the riders rose to the occasion finishing this race proud. I am left with the feeling that I can not fully enjoy Contador’s victory as it has come at a high price for the sport. On the other hand, I have a growing feeling in my gut that cycling turned a corner.
I feel bad for Cadel Evans. Finishing second that close to the top step must also be a mixed bag of emotions. Hopefully he will come back next year with even more determination and fire. I hope he does not torture himself over the winter by looking for those 23 seconds somewhere along the Tour route. Replaying the three weeks over and over again in his head. This Tour was too atypical to try to conduct a postmortem.
All in all, This was a tough Tour but one we needed to have if we are ever going to get to the other side. Human nature is to only fix things when they truly reach a crisis mode. Well, we are there. Here’s to those riders who raced and finished Le Tour!
July 28, 2007
This morning, three riders laid everything on the line to take the yellow jersey. Levi Leiphiemer pushed himself to the limit to catch the man in front of him, Cadel Evans. Actually, he pushed himself beyond the limit as he began to crack in the final 5 kilometers thus stopping his ability to take time on the Austrailian.
Cadel was forced to fight a war on two fronts. First, he set his sight on taking back 1:50 on the Climber Alberto Contador. Having to fight Contodor on the young Spaniard’s terrain all week, he must have felt good to turn the tables on Alberto and fight the final battle on vans home turf. The problem was, he didn’t count on the assault from third place Leipheimer. Stalking your prey while being stalked is not my idea of fun. In the end, Cadel used his last bit of energy to evade capture by Leipheimer by 9 seconds.
Then there was Contador. Riding out of his element, he had 1:50 to give away. On the plus side, he lost only 1:04 to Evans in the first time trial. On the down side, this was relatively flat and played more to Evan’s advantage. Contador gave away time at every check point to Evans but was able to avoid riding beyond his limit, cracking mentally then physically. He gave time then defended a scant lead in the final few kilometers in what turned out to be a very exciting finale.
While Alberto Contador will be given the honor of wearing the yellow jersey on the podium tomorrow evening, I do believe each of these men deserved to win the Tour. Currently the top three are only separated by approximately half a minute after three weeks of riding.
The last day is just ceremonial right? They don’t actually race. Or do they?
July 28, 2007
Riders are apparently planning a demonstration on Sunday before entering the city of Paris. The twist is they are demonstrating against other riders.
In 1998 when the Festina scandal hit. Riders protested as well. Then they protested against the police who conducted the raids. This time, the protest is against those who cheat and are threatening to destroy their livelihood. Another sign that the tide is turning.
July 28, 2007
I missed my anniversary. Thursday marked one year on the blog. I was worried if I would have enough to talk about. Within two days, that would no longer be an issue.
July 27, 2007
“Better to remain silent and thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
It seems that Greg LeMond is always looking for a chance to pile on. It is actually becoming a trademark. Today, he did a drive-by, spraying the sport with indiscriminate shots. Quoted in cyclingnews:
On Contador: “That’s sufficient for the red flag to come up.”
The only piece of evidence Greg uses for this accusation is that Contador and Rasmussen weigh the same.
On Landis: “If I think about Floyd Landis, who defended himself by saying that the samples were manipulated, that the French were against him and that there is no culture of doping in cycling… Maybe he is just naive, or maybe he is malicious.”
On the sport: “It’s obvious there are still dopers in the peloton.” also noting that “Very few riders get caught.” The obvious insinuation is that many riders are dopers.
Greg took one more shot at Contador when he said that Contador was involved in Operation Puerto. If Greg was not blinded by jealousy that the Tour de France didn’t shut down when he was done riding, he would have checked the facts as it relates to Contador’s involvement in Operation Puerto. In his possession, Alberto Contador has a legal document signed by Manuel Sánchez Martín, secretary for the Spanish court heading up the “Operación Puerto” investigation, stating, “there are not any type of charges against him nor have there been adopted any type of legal action against him.”
July 27, 2007
I wish Dick Pound could just keep his mouth shut. In his quest for power over the UCI, he is willing to destroy cycling. Instead of congratulating Rabobank for making what must be an extremely tough decision to forgo a Tour de France victory and fire Michael Rasmussen without a positive test, Dick takes another shot at cycling.
Pound wants a “cycling summit” because obviously cycling can’t stop doping. I’d like to see a *ADA summit because they need to get their act together more than any one sport. What Dick should know is that fighting a problem like doping comes in phases.
- Problem is found and critical mass is reached
- New measures are put in place
- Cheats doubt measures and a few test the system
- Those who test the system are caught
- Remaining athletes say “darn, they’re serious!” Behavior changed.
I know the sixth step is someone goes back to the lab to devise a better system to evade detection. The fact that we have teams and fellow riders involved at an unprecedented level is encouraging. Maybe that’s what is bothering Pound. He is not the big dog in the fight against doping. If teams and riders can nip the problem and keep it under control, then Pound will not have anyone who wants to put him on TV. Funny thing he seems to be addicted to the camera. Is there a test for excessive levels of press conferencing?
July 27, 2007
All the young dudes (Hey dudes)
Carry the news – David Bowie
I continue to be encouraged by the next generation of cyclists. I think the attitude towards doping is clearly different. Scanning the blogsphere I see many young riders speaking out against fellow riders who try to cheat.
You would expect Bradley Wiggins to step forward as he has long been outspoken against doping. Other riders like T-Mobile’s Linus Gerdmann are stepping forward.
I’m not naive. Cheating in sports probably started about 5 minutes after sports first began. You will always have people who look for the easiest path. I firmly believe that if you want certain behavior, you make unwanted behavior harder than the desired behavior. That way, you can count on human nature to drive behavior to the easiest path. If a cheat can’t count on teammates to keep quiet and teams to turn a blind eye, you should have a much better system than one that just relies on testing as the main enforcement weapon.
July 26, 2007
What Rabobank was both courageous and a great statement for the sport. The message to those all is that it is not just about evading detection. If you comport yourself in any way that is not in keeping with the image of the team, then you are out.
One previous weak link was the teams. Their posture was reactionary. Whatever you do on your own time is your business. If you get caught, then we will take action. Until then, nothing.
First T-Mobile then CSC put into place more aggressive measures to prevent cheating. Rabobank was the first team to take action on their own. Before the authorities get involved. They also did it with ultimate impact! This is akin to the San Francisco Giants taking out Barry Bonds right now as he gets set to break the biggest record in baseball. After all didn’t he lie about knowing the key players involved in BALCO?
Rabobank has set the standards for the remaining ProTour teams. This could be the Tipping Point.
July 26, 2007
When the 2020 edition of Trivial Pursuit comes out with the question, “Who won the 2007 Tour de France?” no one will remember. They will recall that this tour was shaken to its core by the expulsion of Vinokourov, Astana, and Rasmussen.
That will be a shame. Saturday’s time trial is shaping up to be fantastic as a little more than two minutes separate the top two riders. For Cadel Evans, this may be his only chance to win a Tour. His gritty performance has earned him this opportunity. Alberto Contador carries on his shoulders the hope of the next generation. Both of these men do not deserve to have this happen during their opportunity at greatness.
With absolutely no air left in this Tour, one might want to pack it in. I say no. This Tour is cracking on the biggest hors categorie climb it has ever faced. Like its riders, it needs to settle into its own pace and soldier on.
While you think that no one cares, take stock in the fact that you are paving the way for the sport to survive and ultimately thrive once again. The road up to that goal will not be easy. There will probably be more steep sections that will come but they too can be overcome.
July 26, 2007
Rasmussen was always the one I feared would be implicated. I continued to carry my fear throughout the tour. I shared this with a few friends and alluded to it in some posts and comments.
Having seen trial by media and not wanting to talk out of both sides of my mouth, I kept it shut. Please understand, I am not accusing Rasmussen of doping. That would be against everything I have stood for. I am saying that his actions were not at the standard we need to have if we are going to clean up the sport.
We have an expression at work and I’m sure you do as well. Not only do we have rules of misconduct but one guideline we are expected to follow is avoiding the appearance of impropriety. Rasmussen, by missing two tests and lying to his team did just that. I do not think he should be suspended by the UCI unless there is proof of impropriety. Being pulled out of the Tour on the precipice of victory should send a clear message to everyone that teams will not look the other way, nor will they allow riders to skate close to the line. This and his sacking is a penalty that should send the right signal.
We will look back on this as a turning point when the dark night began to cede to the dawn of a new day.