Bike Intelligencer » George Hincapie All bike, all the time Mon, 20 Jul 2015 21:20:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 This Day in Doping: The noose tightens Fri, 06 Aug 2010 13:57:40 +0000 To the surprise of no one, Lance Armstrong buddy and teammate Levi Leipheimer is fingered for doping.

To the surprise of no one, former Lance teammates are implicating him in a culture of doping.

To the surprise of no one, Lance’s attorney is trying to cast Armstrong as the victim. But — no surprise here either — Joe Papp is having none of it.

To the surprise of no one, Lance himself continues to stonewall. But when he puts forward syllogisms like, “You can’t prosecute somebody for something they didn’t do — normally,” you have to wonder if he wasn’t just doping but smokin’ something as well. We repeat — fess up, Lance, and we can all move on.

A useful public service from Cozy Beehive, preserving the Floyd Landis — ABC Nightline interview before the links disappear.

And the crackdown continues on the little guys, this time Brit Dan Staite.

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This Day in Doping: Floyd Says Lance Is Unclean Thu, 20 May 2010 07:11:38 +0000 Big big news in the cycling world. Lance Armstrong has had the doping finger pointed at him by someone who should know.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, Landis has for the first time fully acknowledged using performance-enhancing substances, i.e. blood doping, and says he is naming names re others’ use. The biggest on the list of course would be the King himself, Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong has been implicated repeatedly over the years, in documents, books, court testimony and by association with physicians linked to doping. But he has managed to raise enough doubts to deflect suspicion. And for the record, he has never actually been caught — or at least if he was, it was never made public.

The list of names already disclosed in Landis’ accusations, which comprise a series of emails to cycling officials, is depressing, sad and unsettling: George Hincapie, another rider considered straight and narrow. Levi Leipheimer, currently favored to win the Amgen Tour of California (where Lance is riding in his support). Johan Bruyneel, Lance’s longtime team manager and confidante, currently head of Team Radio Shack in the Tour of California. David Zabriskie, the current leader of the Tour of California. All American riders, considered all-American riders as well.

If true, Landis’ accusations mark the potential passing of an era similar to what baseball went through a couple of years ago with congressional hearings and all-star confessions regarding use of steroids. No one knows if usage has really been stopped. But the aura of sportsmanship for the “roids era” of baseball has been forever tarnished.

If there’s been a pattern to doping in any sport, it’s that athletes need assistance to pull it off. And typically the cover gets blown when someone steps forward. In Lance’s case, his inner circle has been consistently tight over the years. We always guessed his former wife would be the one to finally state the case. But Landis beat her to it. [See Joe Papp’s post on this point.]

Lance has been subdued in the Tour of California and uncharacteristically muted about his racing form and ambitions so far this season. If he had any inkling of Landis’ action, it might explain his low profile. Now the cycling world will be in an uproar — the equivalent of the BP Gulf oil spill — while news media continue to probe and investigate Landis’ allegations. It will hardly be a copacetic environment for pursuing racing glory this season.

Our stance on Lance has always been that his charisma, commercial drawing power and huge international following put doping authorities in an impossible bind. Even if they did manage to test him positive, what would it mean for them to disqualify him from an event like the Tour de France? It would cost the event and the sport millions in lost sponsorships, American disenchantment, TV and media coverage, advertising and general tainting of the grand and glorious sport of cycling.

Our theory has always been that mum was the word. Now, as details emerge from the Landis confessions, we may see if our suspicions were correct.

Our hope is that Lance will make a clean breast of it and move on, so that his foundation and his worthy work all over the globe for fighting cancer and bringing fans and attention to cycling can continue without a morbid cloud hanging over it. It takes a true champion to own up to his or her faults. People like to forgive and forget, and if Lance comports himself moving forward as well as he has in the past, he can put all this behind him with an “everybody did it” defense. In that sense he can rise above Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds “syndrome” — stars who were jerks before they were accused and remained jerks afterward.

One last thing: We can only hope that Lance was clean last August when he rode away from the field in the Leadville 100 to deprive local hero Dave Wiens of a 7th straight championship. To think that Wiens, a true sportsman and humanitarian, was deprived of a legitimate win on the basis of drug cheating would be one of the more depressing circumstances we’ve encountered in our lifetime of cycling obsession.

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Today's Tour stage: Making sense of the senseless Sat, 18 Jul 2009 19:24:40 +0000 How does that saying go? A friend of my friend is my friend unless my friend is Lance Armstrong?

As much as I beat up on Lance for grandstanding and truth-avoidance, I can’t point the finger at him for cheating Hincapie out of the yellow jersey today. If anything, it was Lance’s “friends” — Team Astana — who dictated keeping Hincapie within shouting range during the stage. I think Astana, or at least Lance and Bruyneel, really wanted George to take the yellow — by a few seconds. Not by a few minutes. And there lay the rub.

When the Hincapie group threatened to expand its margin over the peloton too far, their breakaway forced Astana’s hand. George may not be the best climber in the Tour, but he’s a good one. In this Tour, uncertainty rules. The prospect of giving a rider of Hincapie’s capability a multi-minute lead with the Alps looming was just too much for Astana and race favorite Alberto Contador.

Lance would have been happy for Hincapie to take yellow by a narrow margin. But the question was: How do you keep it “manageable?”

So Lance and Astana decided to goose the pace and stabilize the Hincapie group’s margin. For what Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen estimated at about an hour, Team Astana moved the peloton along with their machine-like power and efficiency.

That may have been all well and good for Hincapie, as long as the margin was enough to give him yellow. Unfortunately, it opened the door to a wild card, which in this case turned out to be Garmin-Slipstream.

Garmin is a strong team. I’m not sure why it would want to deprive Hincapie of yellow. Perhaps it had no reason at all. Perhaps it just wanted to put pressure on Astana after the latter’s long pull in hopes of pooping out the team a bit before tomorrow’s supposedly killer mountain stage (I say supposedly because so far in this Tour, that prospect has turned to mush time after time with a listless peloton).

Whatever the reason, Astana’s calculated pull turned out to be miscalculated by a matter of seconds. Hincapie, who could only watch helplessly as the pack closed in on the finish line, was so visibly distraught, vacillating between tears and anger, that you had to feel for the guy in the post-stage interview.

Lance on the other hand hummed and hawed his way through the post-stage questioning. The best excuse he could come up with was “blame Garmin.” That charge doesn’t stick, because Garmin could not have managed to close the gap if Astana had not done its earlier monster pull of the pack.

At least it was an interesting day in this so far undistinguished Tour. Maybe it will get even more interesting tomorrow. If Hincapie can use his emotions for a bit of afterburner on the final climb, he could be in yellow at the end of the day. If so, he’ll prove he really deserved the maillot jaune after all.

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