Contador out in stage 10 – another epic stage of the 2014 TdF

So I am running a fantasy team in the TdF on velogames and this year I suck bad picking all the people that are dropping out.

velogames - 3 of my 9 are out already
velogames – 3 of my 9 are out already

Spain’s Alberto Contador crashed heavily during the 10th stage of the Tour de France on Monday and was forced to abandon the race.


the race started with these standings

after stage 9
after stage 9

and ended like this


The double Tour champion spent several minutes being treated by race doctors, blood dripping from his right knee. He got back on his bike and was being helped by his Tinkoff-Saxo team-mates, some four minutes behind the peloton led by main rival Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana team. But having dropped further back the decision was made for Contador to drop out with more than 80km of the stage remaining. His withdrawal comes five days after reigning champion Chris Froome was also forced to abandon.


The action on the Bastille Day stage was expected to ignite on the concluding climb ahead of Tuesday’s rest day, but the Tour lost another leading protagonist after Mark Cavendish’s crash on day one and Froome’s exit.

Contador crashed on the approach to the third of six categorised climbs, the Col du Platzerwasel. The Spaniard received strapping to his right knee and lost four minutes as a result of the delay, falling nine minutes behind the day’s breakaway, which held a five-minute lead on the peloton.

The Astana team of Vincenzo Nibali led the main bunch and did not increase the pace on the 7.1km, category one ascent as Contador’s team-mates dropped back to help him.

Contador began the day in ninth place, four minutes and eight seconds behind Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol), who seized the race leader’s yellow jersey from Nibali. But the Spaniard struggled to reduce the arrears in the mist-shrouded Vosges mountains.

The finish at La Planche des Belles Filles was a reminder to Britons of the absent Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Froome won at the summit of the “climb of the beautiful girls” in 2012 as Wiggins took the yellow jersey he held until Paris, when he became the first British winner of the race.


But what happened – did his frame crack causing him to break – that would be something that the big S would really fear. Cannondale for years (in mtb aluminium) had the term CrackAndFail – and it really affected sales. this from velonews

that frame
that frame

Alberto Contador stood on the wet grass, blood pouring out of a deep cut to his right knee. Photographers swirled around him, the race doctor attended to his injuries. He motioned to his mechanic, a hint of frustration etched across his face. He sat down, dejected, and changed out his left shoe, its buckle smashed to pieces.

He’d just crashed on the descent off the Petit Ballon, just the second of the day’s seven major climbs. Rival Vincenzo Nibali cruised up the road, gaining minutes.

Perhaps it was optimism, or adrenaline, but Contador appeared calm, traces of pain just creeping into the edges of his face. He remounted and rode slowly away. Four teammates quickly came back to pace him.

But optimism waned, and adrenaline wore off — the two were certainly connected. 10km later, Contador pulled the plug on this year’s Tour de France. He gave his mechanic a small hug and slumped into the team car.

Confusion surrounded the crash; reports of a smashed bike, visions of exploded carbon, swirled around the press room and out through hundreds of thousands of television sets.

Initial reports on the Tour’s race radio, in French, and by NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, that Contador’s bike was “in pieces,” appear to be correct. “His frame snapped in half. They threw it in a heap in the back of the car,” Porino said, noting that he had arrived shortly after the crash.

Contador’s bike broke in the lower third of his down tube and on the top tube just in front of his seat tube. Both tubes were broken clean through, with just a few fibers holding the two pieces of the frame together.

How those failures occurred, though, is not entirely clear.

Specialized, Tinkoff-Saxo’s bike sponsor, initially denied reports that Contador’s bike had broken at all, either resulting in or as a result of the crash, or via some other externality. The company first stated that a bike had fallen off the roof of a car. That story was then amended — it still involved a car, but instead stated that Nicolas Roche’s bike had been run over earlier in the stage. This broken bike was the start of the rumors, it said.

“We have spoken to Alberto’s brother as well as his personal mechanic (Faustino Muñoz) and the mechanic who was at the scene (Rune Kristensen), and contrary to some early, unconfirmed reports, frame failure was not involved in Alberto’s incident today. Nicolas Roche was involved in a separate incident today and while his bike was laying on the road it was run over by a car causing it to break, potentially giving rise to the initial inaccurate reporting,” the original statement read.

But the photos do not lie. Contador is #31, and his race number is on the broken frame. The Roche incident relayed in this statement may be entirely factual, but it is clear that Contador’s bike broke as well.

Specialized later corrected itself again, stating that Contador’s bike that had been run over. A source within the team who was present at the scene of the crash explained that Contador’s mechanic, Faustino Munoz, grabbed his backup bike off the roof, then, seeing the condition of Contador, rushed to his aid, leaving the bike against the team car. The team car drove off and crushed the bike. Photos were taken, and the broken bike story took off.

An alternative potential explanation is that Contador’s bike broke on impact with a large pothole, or on impact with the ground afterwards.

Contador crashed when he hit a hole in the road, according to representatives from his Tinkoff-Saxo team and riders who were nearby.

Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde said he saw Contador’s bars slip, which caused him to crash. “I saw him [Contador] crash right in front of me. His handlebars slipped when he hit a pothole,” Valverde told Spanish radio. “I realized at the feed zone that he abandoned.”

In the event of a direct impact with a large pothole, a compression fracture of the frame is possible, though it is unlikely to occur near the back of the top tube, where Contador’s bike separated. Contador’s fork or head tube would likely fail first. The top tube would likely fail just behind the head tube. If fractures to Contador’s frame did come from the crash, they are more likely a result of the bike hitting the ground or something on the side of the road than a direct result of the pothole.

The likelihood of Contador’s frame breaking before the crash, causing his crash, is close to zero. Munoz is one of the best mechanics in the world; Contador’s bikes are pampered, and Specialized has, historically, designed reliable carbon fiber frames.

The timeline from the crash onwards:

Contador got onto his second bike after the crash, an S-Works Tarmac with a normal Tinkoff paint job, and without a race number. A brief shot on television showed his mechanic picking up his crashed bike, still apparently in one piece. This could support Specialized’s story, or a few strands of carbon could simply have held the bike together. Without being there, it’s impossible to say.

Contador did not swap bikes onto Roche’s McClaren frame, as initially speculated. Roche finished the stage on his second bike, rather than his McClaren. That would support the notion that Roche’s first bike was also run over.

Whether the frame was broken by a car or a pothole, the result is the same. Contador is out of the Tour de France.



Oi Fatty …. yes you

from huffington post

This is the average American male in his 30s.

usa bodyHe doesn’t look too bad, right? Well, here’s how he stacks up against his international peers from Japan, the Netherlands, and France.

country measurements

America’s expanding waistline may not be new news, but throwing the average American male’s body into a line-up spotlights America’s obesity epidemic, which is exactly what Pittsburgh-based artist Nickolay Lamm did when he created these visualizations (which obviously deal only with body size and not ethnicity or skin color).

“I wanted to put a mirror in front of us,” Lamm told The Huffington Post in an email. “Americans like to pride ourselves on being the best country in the world. However, it’s clear that other countries have lifestyles and healthcare better than our own.”

Here’s a look from the front.

country measurements

And a side angle — Oof, not the most flattering comparison for the American. He’s second on the left.

country measurements

Lamm constructed the 3D models based on body measurements collected from thousands of men by universities and government agencies — including the CDC, the Netherlands’ RIVM, and France’s ENNS. The average American male has a body mass index (BMI) of 29 — significantly higher than Japanese men (who have a BMI of 23), men in the Netherlands (who have a 25.2 BMI), and French men (who have a 25.55 BMI.)

Lamm said he used BMI charts and photos for visual reference, and ran the models by Dr. Matthew Reed, an expert on body shape measurement, for accuracy.

“I chose the Netherlands because they are the tallest country and are clearly doing something right there,” Lamm said. He chose Japan because it is well-known for its longevity, and France because, he said, “a lot of Americans like to compare themselves to that country.”

So what are the Dutch and Japanese doing right?

Experts suggest it has to do with a complex combination of genetic, environmental and social factors. A good healthcare system, better nutrition, and more active lifestyles have been cited as reasons for the towering Dutchmen and long-lived Japanese.


Lemond wants to see the ‘power’ and I think he should

MONT VENTOUX, France (VN) — Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond likes what he sees these days in pro cycling from Chris Froome and Sky.


The American was atop Mont Ventoux for the Froome show on Sunday and fielded a few questions on the famous mountain’s summit.

LeMond has been sharply critical of performances by modern stars during their respective eras (Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador), but he held back from accusing today’s best grand tour rider of cheating.

Instead, he said Sky and other teams should release power data to be reviewed by independent panelists in conjunction with blood profiles to add to the biological passport program.

And he didn’t mince words about teams’ reluctance to release that data to experts.

“It’s bullshit. That’s bullshit. Because if you can’t release your watts … they’re doing it right now,” he said of teams reviewing power data following the stage. “They’re looking at it right now, bottom to the top.

“The worst part, there’s speculating on that. If you don’t have anything to hide, and you can repeat it, give it to everybody.”

Opponents of releasing data, be it blood values or power numbers, have said the figures are ripe for misinterpretation.

“But that’s what they said about drug controls. ‘It’s subject to interpretation’ … it isn’t,” LeMond said. “You’d never use it as a positive. You’d look at [data] along with your blood profile. It wouldn’t be a positive.”

LeMond said releasing riders’ data “would end the speculation,” the whispers that attribute every great ride to doping.

“It would be great to end that,” he said. “It’s for the riders. It would be ideal for everybody. You get rid of the speculation.”

Speculation hasn’t been in short supply at this Tour, after Froome’s displays of mastery over the climbs, the time trial, and former rivals now quarreling over podium scraps.

Riders at this Tour have been asked repeatedly about performance-enhancing drugs and surreal performances, a hangover from the Lance Armstrong scandal, the confession of Jan Ullrich, and many other bitter post-mortems.

Releasing power data could put an end to some of those questions, LeMond said.

“It could be released six weeks after, six months. … It’s very simple, actually. You take the guy’s weight. You get the temperature, from here to there, and there’s the watts. So [Sky’s Dave Brailsford is] better off just putting it away, just showing it,” LeMond said.

“If they use watts. If not, it’s all going to be speculation. Because the ultimate energy, everything you put in, everything that goes out of you, has to go through those pedals. It’s power, and that’s it. It’s so basic, I go, ‘Why is everybody avoiding this?’”

Sky’s management has made a point of zero tolerance in doping, releasing staff who have admitted to involvement in the past, such as coach Bobby Julich.

They’ve also made a point of promoting a “marginal gains” approach, meaning no detail is too small to worry over if it can help take time from competitors.

“They put the money in it. They run it the way they should,” LeMond said of the team. “If you have that money you should run it really professionally.

“I think it’s great. They’ve got a professional attitude. I think the British cycling, just the whole cycling in Britain, has been great. It’s really brought people into cycling. It’s a good thing. It’s a really good thing. The only thing I have negative to say is that part. The watts.”

On Froome, LeMond said the holder of the yellow jersey (by more than four minutes, as of Sunday’s destruction on Mont Ventoux) was a natural if ever there was one.

“Froome looks like a talent. I would say the only question is, back it up with watts. Because if he comes up [Ventoux] as 475 watts average, that’s going to be 6.8 watts per kilo. …”

And so it goes.

Asked if he thought it logical that a clean rider would eventually surpass the high-water marks of a doped one, LeMond said yes. And he thinks there are clean riders competing today.

“I do believe. I absolutely believe that,” he said.

“I don’t want to come and speculate about shit, I really don’t. Because I love the sport, and I think riders, you know … they’ve been in an incredibly difficult situation.

“I think you could eliminate so much … I want to defend riders, too.”

more Lance Pharmstrong analysis

this chap doesn’t mince his words and boy is he putting any lance fanboys through the ringer ….

There’s a lot of misinformation out there following Lance Armstrong’s decision to accept a life ban rather than contest charges of doping. Let’s correct some of it, and show you the man behind all of the myths. As we go along, you’ll see that allegations against Armstrong have been there not just since he began winning the Tour de France, but that he’s been associated with people around doping almost since he began competing in organised sport. Be warned: This is a very long read. I intended it to be as concise as possible, and for that reason I’ve been unable to shorten it.

Lance Armstrong was 18 when he first met Chris Carmichael, in 1990. Carmichael was the new head of the US cycling team, and was an ex-professional with experience on the American 7-11 team, competing in one Tour de France which he failed to finish. Carmichael was named and sued by two other cyclists also training with him at this time, Greg Strock and Erich Keiter, for doping them with cortisone, steroids, and other various products during the 1990 season. Carmichael settled this case out of court, in 2001, but the evidence was damning – there was systemic doping and corruption in the US coaching system during Carmichael’s time there.

The doping undertaken by Carmichael and others on these junior riders posed significant health risks to both of the men, a core concern about the risks of doping in sport. Of course, Lance Armstrong was a team-mate back then. Armstrong would go on to work with Carmichael for the rest of his sporting career.

Yet this week, Carmichael’s response to Lance Armstrong’s acceptance of is ban is simple: He believes that Lance was the best athlete, but at no point does he say that Armstrong never doped – he only made a statement that he’d never seen him do so. The lack of a specific denial there is key and follows a very clear theme – Armstrong would never say that he’d never doped. Instead, he would say one of two themes, that he’d either never tested positive (note here: this isn’t correct, and we’ll go over that later), or that he’d never been caught.

Armstrong went on to race in Europe after that period with Carmichael and the US team. In 1992 he raced with Motorola, and in 1993 he won both the US national title and the World Championship in a race in horrible weather, including roads covered in a torrential downpour, rendering the road surface slippery like ice due to the diesel and oil on them. The inclement conditions resulted in one of the smallest finishing fields in history, and the withdrawal of the majority of race favourites citing the danger the weather presented.

Allegations about Armstrong’s involvement with drugs come from at least this far back. Steve Swart, team-mate of Armstrong’s on Motorola, said that Armstrong was the central figure in encouraging riders to dope. His claims were published in two books, and Armstrong sued after their publication: He dropped one lawsuit in France, and had another dismissed, being slightly more successful when obtaining a judgement in England after a newspaper there printed an excerpt about it. But where the books were published, in France, Armstrong never had a case – it was not proven the books were lying.

Armstrong enjoyed mixed success from that point onward – winning the occasional one day race or stage and podium places on a few others. There was nothing in his ability level which suggested he had the ability to win a Grand Tour – in fact it was the very opposite. In 1995 he managed to finish the Tour at the third time of asking, in 36th place.

Armstrong’s career continued along these lines, with sporadic wins, until he met (and began working with) Italian doctor, Michele Ferrari in 1996. Michele Ferrari is a doctor who has been implicated in evidence from a number of athletes, and banned for life by the Italian Olympic Committee. No Italian athlete is permitted to work with him, and breaches are punishable with bans. More on him a little later.

Armstrong famously got very ill in 1996, contracting cancer. The signs of this showed up very early in the year, but weren’t recognised. This is important: Armstrong, despite having cancer, put in some of his best ever performances. A debilitating disease (at least, Armstrong’s own foundation lists it as such) was having a chronic effect on his body and yet he was performing better than ever before, despite Armstrong’s own admission that he’d noticed abnormalities related to the cancer three years before his diagnosis.

But there’s a subscript to his cancer that hasn’t really been explored: Armstrong by his own claim is the most tested athlete on the planet, and given he enjoyed considerable success in 1996 and beforehand, would certainly have been subject to numerous doping controls. Some cancers – including the type Lance Armstrong had – cause enormously elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG), a naturally occuring hormone in the body, but at low levels in males. Now, there are rules for the amount of hCG permitted in an athlete, because it offers a competitive advantage – not enough to overcome the deficiencies cancers cause, but a good advantage in a healthy human being, because it produces testosterone. An athlete is often considered to have failed a drug test if the urinary T/E (Testosterone:Epitestosterone) ratio is greater than 6. So the UCI would have been testing for it, and Armstrong’s cancer would have resulted in an enormously elevated T/E ratio.

But Armstrong never produced a positive sample. Compare that with Jake Gibb whose life, it could be argued, was saved by USADA’s testing, when it detected those hugely elevated levels in an anti-doping test, and advised him to see a doctor. That ultimately led to the discovery of testicular cancer, and Gibb recovered. Lance Armstrong wasn’t so lucky – so we can assume one of two things. Either the UCI’s anti-doping measures were woefully below standard, and didn’t detect Armstrong’s elevated levels of hCG, allowing his cancer to worsen while competing, or the UCI’s anti-doping discovered Armstrong’s elevated levels and didn’t report them. Either way, it’s a massive condemnation in the UCI’s ability to validate itself as a serious entity in drug testing. At best it’s woefully ineffective, at worst it’s simply corrupt.

Ultimately nobody can fight off cancer without medicine, and Armstrong’s condition worsened, until he finally went to a doctor where the diagnosis was confirmed, and Armstrong began urgent treatment.

As part of that treatment, Armstrong, scared and with nobody with knowledge to consult about his condition, was asked in hospital whether he’d ever used any performance-enhancing drugs(PEDs). His response, as detailed by npr, and in evidence given by Betsy Andreu, was to list off a reel of drugs which he’d taken.

Betsy Andreu’s deposition was given and submitted as evidence years later, when SCA promotions was taken to court by Armstrong for non-payment of a bonus. SCA’s defence was that Armstrong had used PEDs, and they obtained Andreu’s evidence to defend that claim. Armstrong, by now estranged from the Andreus , had not spoken to them for years. But when he learned that the Andreus were to be subpoenaed, he made the extraordinary step of contacting Frankie Andreu in an attempt to influence his testimony, and that of his wife, Betsy, who declined to give a statement along Armstrong’s version of events. Frankie was rattled – he said in his evidence that he hadn’t wanted to testify but had been forced to by the subpoena – but he corroborated his wife’s version of events; that Armstrong had confessed to PED use. Armstrong, in a further attempt to intimidate Betsy Andreu when giving evidence, flew to witness her doing exactly that, sitting in the back of the room during her deposition, saying nothing, and then immediately flying back home. In the process that followed he attempted to characterise Betsy as fat, ugly, obsessed and jealous. Hard to characterise any of those as true if you saw her or listened to watch she had to say.

Ultimately, modern medicine saved Armstrong. That fact has been distorted as years have gone by with Armstrong’s claim to be riding to ‘fight’ the disease – when the only time it’s been beaten is with the help of medicine and drugs. The ironic thing here is that steroid usage has been proven to cause cancer, and wassuggested by a former WADA spokesman to have possible been complicit in Armstrong contracting the disease.

Ultimately, Armstrong found it difficult to find a team after recovering, and ended up on the US Postal team, which from 1999 onward would have it’s management  under the direction of former ONCE rider, Johan Bruyneel. ONCE were a Spanish cycling team heavily implicated in EPO usage in investigations following the1998 Tour de France.

In 1997, Armstrong’s agent, Bill Stapleton, became an official of the US Olympic Committee. Sports Illustrated would report years down the track that Armstrong, in three tests the 90s, produced samples that indicated doping with testosterone. The anti-doping scientist who allegedly tested these samples was Don Catlin. He was unable to confirm two of the tests – a highly irregular occurrence – and refused to comment on the third. Don Catlin would later be called to oversee Armstrong’s “transparent” testing during his comeback – a process which covered only a single test before it was aborted. Having an atmosphere where two men so closely tied in business relationships with Armstrong wouldn’t be conducive to finding a positive test against him.

With Armstrong’s return to the bike in 1998 came the return to working with Michele Ferrari. Armstrong would later state to Floyd Landis, a team-mate on the USPS team, that Michele Ferrari was paranoid that he’d helped cause the cancer through his providing the drugs Armstrong was using in 1996. Ferrari, the team doctor on Gewiss-Ballan, had been famous for his statement that ‘EPO was no more dangerous than drinking orange juice’, when suspicions began to arise about drug use due to Gewiss’ sudden exceptional performances. Ferrari immediately got Armstrong back into an intensive program of drug use. The net result was Armstrong, cancer-free and drug-boosted, beginning to suddenly make the cycling world sit up and take notice with increased endurance, producing performances in stage races. Make no bones about it: Cancer does not cause this. It doesn’t transform an athlete into a super-athlete. This has never happened before, or since. That’s because it doesn’t happen. Armstrong’s 4th placed finish at the Tour of Spain confirmed the work Ferrari had been doing. The next thing to do was to take it to the next level.

1998’s Festina scandal did produce a diamond from the rough: Riders implicated in Festina’s team-wide doping scandal all said that Christophe Bassons had been the only rider on his team to refuse to take drugs. Bassons, cleared of any wrongdoing, was invited to write newspaper articles the following year when he was to ride, for a new team (FDJ), in the Tour de France. Bassons wrote largely innocuous columns, but one in particular came to the attention of Armstrong. Bassons had written that Armstrong’s return, suddenly to the head of the pack, had ‘shocked’ the peloton.

Armstrong’s response was to question the rider during a subsequent stage, inform Bassons that “it was a mistake to speak out” about doping, asking why he’d done it. Bassons responded by telling Armstrong that he was ‘thinking of the next generation of riders’. Armstrong’s response to Bassons was to tell him “Why don’t you leave then?”. Armstrong confirmed this version of events, and stated to the press that evening “His accusations aren’t good for cycling, for his team, for me, for anybody. If he thinks cycling works like that, he’s wrong and he would be better off going home.”

The problem was, of course, that Bassons had seen his entire team found guilty of it – cycling did work like that, and he was the lone voice at that point to speak up about it. Armstrong’s suggestion that he leave the sport was, therefore, an admission that Bassons was, at least in Armstrong’s eyes, unwelcome. Bassons was ostracised, and forced to leave the race. Armstrong had effectively bullied him out of the sport Bassons was trying to clean up. Bassons attempted to ride on for two more years, but it wasn’t a hospitable place. He now works in anti-doping.

This wasn’t the last time Armstrong would, mid-race, seek to influence another cyclist’s view on doping. But nor was it the only relevant point in that race.

In 1999, Lance Armstrong tested positive for a prohibited substance in a urine test: corticosteroids. Armstrong produced a prescription for a cream, claiming it was being used to treat saddle sores, a common ailment amongst cyclists. The problem with this was that riders are required to produce these prescriptions prior to use, and prior to testing. Armstrong had not done so, and consequently had indeed tested positive. Not only that, but Armstrong, as corroborated by a staff member at the time, obtained and then back-dated that prescription after the positive test had taken place.

That staff member was Emma O’Reilly, a soigneur (basically a jack-of-all-trades within a team, but commonly a masseuse). She also stated that Armstrong had made her dispose of syringes, traffic drugs for him and use make-up to cover up needle marks on his arms. Armstrong, in an attempt to discredit O’Reilly, would stoop as low as he could go: He alleged she was having multiple sexual relationships with riders on the team, called her a liar, and her employment was disposed of, for telling the truth.

Perhaps out of complicity, or perhaps out of guilt for not detecting Lance Armstrong’s cancer, the UCI then decided to take no more action. Armstrong’s positive was seemingly buried into history with his repeated claims that he ‘never tested positive’.

Armstrong, fresh from that success in the 1999 tour, went on to win in 2000 and 2001, where the most serious and damning issue in his whole career took place.
The Tour of Switzerland is one of two races normally ridden as preparation for the Tour de France, the other being the Dauphine Libere, and Armstrong headed to Switzerland as part of his preparation for the defence of his Tour de France.

Armstrong, fresh with a warning from Michele Ferrari not to use EPO, as a test had been formulated and ratified, tested positive for exactly that in Switzerland in 2001. This has been corroborated by multiple people, including ex-Armstrong team-mates, and the lab director (Martial Saugy) who, although initially stating through the media that this hadn’t occurred, later corrected his stance, and told the only anti-doping agency to ask him, that it was a positive. Saugy has also stated that he was told by a prominent person at the UCI that it wasn’t going any further. The directive to make it disappear was delivered by none other than the head of the UCI at the time, Hein Verbrugghen.

This is worth emphasising: A number of people testified that Lance Armstrong testified positive for EPO, and that Armstrong’s influence with the governing body of the sport made that positive test simply disappear. That’s another nail in the coffin of Lance’s “never tested positive” diatribe. Two positive tests, two years apart. But that wasn’t to be the end.

What came out of that was the most damning evidence of corruption possible. Armstrong made two payments to the UCI, totalling $125,000. The UCI has said these were to purchase anti-doping equipment. They have never produced the receipts to corroborate this. Regardless of where that money went, it is unprecedented that an active athlete would voluntarily pay a sum of money to a governing body. If it’s happened before, or since, I’d be amazed.

In 2002, Armstrong was exposed as working with Michele Ferrari. This caused considerable consternation due to Ferrari’s history and comments about drugs in sport. Floyd Landis, a team-mate of Lance Armstrong’s, would later disclose that Michele Ferrari would withdraw blood from him, to be transfused back into his blood stream at the Tour de France – as serious a doping breach as has ever taken place.

Fast-forward to 2003, and an Italian cyclist named Fillipo Simeoni becomes enemy number one for Lance Armstrong. Simeoni had admitted in evidence that he’d (Simeoni) begun doping in 1993 and Armstrong’s doctor, Michele Ferrari, had prescribed and showed him how to use products like EPO and HGH in 1996 and 1997. Simeoni subsequently served a suspension in 2001/2002. Armstrong’s response in 2003 was to call Simeoni a liar in a newspaper interview – as though Simeoni would, for no reason, gain himself a suspension and make it up. Simeoni’s response was to then sue Armstrong for defamation, announcing any winnings would be donated to charity. Things reached a head in the 2004 Tour de France.

On the 18th stage, Simeoni put in an attack, and joined a breakaway of 6 other riders. That breakaway posed no threat to the leaders of the tour, and normally would have been let go, to be chased down later in the stage, or to win it. But Armstrong had other ideas. Vengeance was the plan, and it was exacted. Armstrong himself attacked, and immediately closed the gap to the breakaway. The riders, in the knowledge the peloton would not let Armstrong get away, knew they would be caught. The other six in the break implored Armstrong to return to the group, but Armstrong would not leave unless Simeoni did also. Simeoni sacrificed his own race, rejoined the group and Armstrong did the same. When Simeoni dropped back, he was abused, and Armstrong made a famous gesture of zipping his lips. The implication was clear: shut your mouth, or you will never get any success. Armstrong subsequently was indicted by Italian authorities and was lucky to escape charges of witness intimidation. Simeoni, due to Lance’s actions, was ostracised, spat at, abused, and finished his career as a journeyman of sorts, mostly untouched by cycling teams at the highest level. He was persona non grata, for speaking out against the man who’d helped him dope, and who just happened to be Armstrong’s doctor.

2005 brought more things to light. Armstrong’s former personal assistant, Mike Anderson saw a box of androstenone – a steroid – when cleaning Armstrong’s apartment. Anderson’s deposition in a lawsuit against Armstrong detailed systemic bullying and harassment against both Anderson and his wife, both in the period of Anderson’s employment and afterward. Armstrong settled the case out of court.

The most explosive issue though, was the discovery of Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France samples. A test for EPO wasn’t available back in 1999, and so samples couldn’t be tested for it at the time. As was practice though, samples were stored in the event they could be retested later. After an EPO test became available, Armstrong’s samples were amongst a batch to be retested. Six of Armstrong’s samples tested positive for EPO, a result one of the world’s leading anti-doping scientists verified as being almost impossible to have occurred any other way than through drug usage. Chalk that up as another nail in the “never tested positive” coffin. Unfortunately, Armstrong wasn’t prosecuted (again!) on these EPO positives – the retests were for research purposes, not anti-doping ones, and so the UCI declined to pursue the matter further.

Armstrong retired, confident in the knowledge his cheating hadn’t been punished.

Except that, in 2008, he announced a comeback. This is important today for two reasons:
1) Without this comeback, he wouldn’t have finally been caught and banned.
2) It provided the evidence that finally caught Lance Armstrong.

As mentioned earlier, Lance announced, to much fanfare, that he was going to be tested by Don Catlin, once and for all, to prove his innocence, and publish the results on his website.
Armstrong stopped the arrangement after a single test, presumably fearful of it actually turning up a positive result. He did continue to post his bio-passport figures though, including changing some of themafter their publication in an attempt to make them less suspicious.

Armstrong was permitted to ride despite not having fulfilled a mandatory period of testing for the new bio-passport prior to competing – yes, that’s the UCI being complicit in shifting the goalposts again.

Regardless, science and the sport had moved on somewhat, and Lance’s blood values ultimately assisted in bringing him down – his values in the Tour of Italy in May were largely what should be expected of an athlete competing in endurance sport. But in the Tour de France, they were the opposite, and displayed evidence that he had been receiving blood transfusions during the race. This was to form part of USADA’s case against Armstrong – and he knew it.

In 2010, more bad news: Armstrong’s former team-mates began to admit their own doping histories, and when asked, admitted that Armstrong had both used doping products and facilitated the supply of them to his team, along with doctors and management. Armstrong’s response was to smear the character of the individuals – a tactic which I’ve shown was a standard response for every allegation dating back to the mid 90s.

Finally, in 2012, an anti-doping agency would finally collate all the evidence to bring charges against Lance Armstrong. Armstrong would identify the extent of his guilt, and accept the charges without contest. But he’d intentionally obfuscate, lie, and make false allegations about the entire proceeding to prevent the evidence from becoming public, and to smear those presenting them. He’d enlist the help of organisations who helped cover up positive test results, who he sent money to, and who fought themselves to try and keep it quiet.

Yellow wristbands are too important you see. Lance was never doing it for cancer. His actions prove – Lance was always doing it for himself, and by extension, he became worth a lot to other people.

If you’ve read this far, congratulations. You’re probably in one of three mindsets:

  1. Stunned at the extent of what has gone on and amazed. This isn’t uncommon amongst people who discover the truth. My only request to you is that you don’t allow lies and misinformation to distort the wonderful work of the people in anti-doping. They aren’t conducting witch-hunts. They’re after clean sport, and to protect the lives of athletes. They’re trying to stop cyclists dying in their sleep from EPO thickening their bloodstream.
  2. Completely disagreeing with everything I’ve shown you here, and labelling me a hater. If so, you’re looking for something you’ll never find. Enjoy your yellow wristbands, post on Lance’s facebook about how he’s an idol and role model. People who saw his behaviour will disagree, and they’ve a little more experience than you.
  3. Thinking ‘I knew this already’. Yes, but for every one of you, there’s a thousand people who don’t know it. Send them here. Show them the truth, so that we can stop this behaviour happening again.

Me? Even while writing this I was still stunned by how much there was, and I’ve known about much of it for years. I never thought I’d fill almost 4,000 words detailing bullying, harassment, and efforts to keep drug-taking in sport quiet. I pray nobody has to again. Even now, I know I missed a lot of it. I may have to do some edits to give even more detail and context.

Am I a hater? You bet. I’m a hater of drug-taking athletes the world over. Most of all, I detest behaviour that ostracises, punishes, and abuses people simply because they dared to tell the truth, to rid themselves of guilt, and seeks to ruin their lives. I hate corrupt organisations that run sports, and I hate the people who foster that corruption.

Voeckler always a treat to watch on the TdF

Thomas Voeckler knows how to get the maximum out of himself at the Tour de France. He’s out of contention for another stint in the yellow jersey or a top four overall finish in the race like he achieved in 2011 but on the day to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine he did enough to earn three appearances on the podium. First, he led over the first ‘hors categorie’ climb of the 99th Tour – the Col du Grand Colombier to take the lead of the climbing classification, then he was voted the most aggressive rider of the 10th stage and, ultimately, he timed his race to the finish line to perfection. He won the stage from a break that took almost an hour to establish on a day when the average speed or the first hour was a formidable 49.8km/h. There were 25 men in that move and, by the end, only 10 of them would finish ahead of the yellow jersey’s group. The best was Voeckler. He is a racer who puts on a show. The French adore him, and he duly respond to their cheers. It was his third stage win in the race.
For all the action, the first stage in the high mountains yielded little change to the top 10. Okay, Vincenzo Nibali demonstrated that he’s willing to try attacking when he can and the downhill after the Grand Colombier served him well but it was too far from the finish for real gains to be made. He had to succumb to the strength of the Sky team which again did everything required to get their leader one day closer to the ultimate objective: victory in the 2012 Tour.

Tdf – looking back looking forward and getting excited

Good stuff on TIME about the tour de France

When it comes to sustained, frenzied fan enthusiasm around an athletic spectacle, few contests anywhere can match the Tour de France. Yes, the World Cup and the Olympics are phenomenal, and phenomenally anticipated, happenings that devotees follow, utterly riveted, for weeks on end — but they’re quadrennial events, which might account for at least some of the hype and the slavish attention they enjoy. The Super Bowl, meanwhile, has ballooned through the years into an unavoidable mid-winter juggernaut — a gaudy, hyper-macho circus that draws in fanatics and the curious, alike, from all over the globe — but these days a huge number of American football fans admit to paying more attention to the TV commercials that (happily) break up the action than to the often long, long, long game itself.

For the Tour de France, on the other hand, entire countries seem to stand still. For the three weeks that the riders are pushing themselves to the very edge of human exertion, and then pushing beyond, millions of people think of nothing else, talk of nothing else, watch and read of nothing else. C’est tout!


That said, of course, not everything Tour de France-related is quite sweetness and light, no matter how overwhelming the attention it receives or how celebrated its history. After all, it’s impossible to even touch upon the tour without addressing — not to put too fine a point on it — the sport’s colossal and enduring doping problem, an issue so well-documented that big-time bicycling can sometimes make horse racing feel, by comparison, like an utterly pure, unblemished pursuit. Indeed, there are times when it seems as if every bicycling champion in recent memory has either tested positive for a banned substance, or has been and will forever be hounded by shrill, undying accusations.

Bicycling’s drug problems didn’t begin recently. There have been charges and admissions of cocaine and amphetamine use, for example, since the 1940s, while rumors of riders taking everything from nitroglycerine to exotic concoctions that today might be classified as “bathtub” or “designer” drugs (depending on who’s doing the cooking) have dogged the sport for close to a century.

And yet … every year, as midsummer approaches, all of France and millions of other aficionados in bicycling-mad nations the world over blithely put their indignation and their suspicions on hold and avidly follow the circuitous stages of La Grande Boucle, a three-week traveling carnival of superhuman exertions, spectacular crashes and the type of drama that routinely unfolds when profoundly bitter, supremely competitive rivals vie for supremacy day after day after day.

Here, on the eve of the 99th Tour de France, offers vintage (and in some case, previously unpublished) photos from the 1953 version of the great contest — pictures made at a time when most of LIFE’s readers were probably only marginally aware that each summer people rode bikes for a few thousand miles on the mountain roads and through the sunflower fields of France and, occasionally, across the border into other European nations. The magazine’s brief discussion of the atmosphere surrounding the race manages to sound at once slightly bemused and openly admiring — a reaction that will not be unfamiliar to countless Americans, 60 years later, as the peloton again begins its grueling, inevitable fast-paced slouch toward the Champs-Élysées:

Read more:


This challenge looks interesting

A Ride With GPS Tour de France Competition!

This year the Tour de France celebrates its 99th running and covers 3,497 kilometers (2,173 miles). The event spans 23 days starting Saturday, June 30th and finishes July 22nd. Find out if you have what it takes to ride like the grand tour competitors, and discover who is the strongest (or has the most time on their hands) amongst your friends! Dates – June 30th to July 22nd Sign up here for one of three competitions, and challenge yourself to something you can achieve!

  • Full TdF: 3,497 Kilometers / 2,173 Miles
  • Half TdF: 1,748.5 Kilometers / 1,086.5 Miles
  • Quarter TdF: 874.25 Kilometers / 543.25 Miles

Prizes will be awarded for the following results in each competition:

  • Yellow Jersey: first to achieve the goal distance
  • Speed Demon: highest average speed achieving goal distance
  • Climb Master: highest average VAM achieving the goal distance
  • Iron Butt: most distance ridden in 23 days
  • Captain Calves: climbs the most elevation in the 23 days