Bike Intelligencer » tour de france 2010 All bike, all the time Wed, 13 May 2015 21:53:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tour de France 2010: Andy, Bert are friends again! Tue, 20 Jul 2010 19:34:43 +0000 After Alberto Contador apologized on YouTube …

The two had a chat and hugged at today’s Stage 16.

Excerpt from VeloNews:

“(Alberto) came to apologize to me, that means a lot,” said Schleck, who wears the best young rider’s white jersey. “That shows he’s a champion and that he has character.”

Contador was roundly criticized for attacking Schleck when the yellow jersey dropped his chain about 3km from the Balès summit. By the time Schleck remounted his chain and chased over the summit, he lost all hope of defending the yellow jersey.

Contador was booed again Tuesday in Pau when he was awarded the yellow jersey, but Schleck called out to fans to respect the Tour race leader.

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This Day in Doping: Lance, LeMond jab and jabber Mon, 19 Jul 2010 09:36:52 +0000 Greg LeMond: “It’s the beginning of the end” for Armstrong. We did get a chuckle out of Greg’s marvelously syllogistic assessment that “Up until now, he [Lance] has achieved great things, if you consider he did it fairly, which I don’t believe.” ‘Nuf said!

Meanwhile, Lance drops the hammer on Greg, implying that LeMond juiced his way to the most thrilling Tour victory of all time, his 8-second triumph in the final time trial into Paris in 1989. LeMond should “tell the truth” about that Tour, Armstrong told French television.

We cannot recall anyone, Tour rider or otherwise, accusing LeMond of cheating. In any case, this seems a new twist in the Doping Wars that surprisingly has generated little followup — perhaps because it seems so far afield.

Slate logs in with another Lance bashup, and that’s all the doping news for today!

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Tour de France 2010: A sad day as Tyler Farrar withdraws Fri, 16 Jul 2010 15:46:24 +0000 A day after being possibly cheated out of his first Tour de France stage win, Wenatchee’s Tyler Farrar has withdrawn from the 2010 Tour de France with a broken wrist.

It marked a nightmarish end to what could have been Farrar’s dream Tour. After wins in the spring classics and Giro d’Italia stages, Farrar was primed to give HTC’s Mark Cavendish a run and perhaps grab a stage or two in this year’s tough Tour.

Instead, Tyler has been riding with a fractured bone in his wrist since the second stage, defying pain as well as medical reality. But as his team manager put it to Versus TV today, “The guy is in a world of pain.” Today’s climbs, after yesterday’s drama, were too much for the courageous sprinter.

Farrar was challenging for the win in Stage 11 yesterday when HTC racer Mark Renshaw swerved in front of him, a clear violation of racing rules. Renshaw was later tossed out of the entire Tour, and an angry Farrar said the move might have caused a crash had he not backed off.

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Easton Wheels Giveaway Keeps Rolling Along … Tue, 13 Jul 2010 06:26:04 +0000 Have you been entering Easton’s big wheel giveaway during the Tour? and the leading carbon-fiber bike company have teamed up to offer a free wheelset every stage for correctly answering a Tour trivia question. All you have to do is follow Cyclingnews’ live (text) coverage. When the question pops up, you fill out a quick form with your email address for return response, then keep your fingers crossed.

These aren’t run of the mill hoops. They’re carbon copies, so to speak, of the wheels that Easton-sponsored Team BMC Racing competitors are using in the Tour. That would include one Cadel Evans, currently holding the yellow jersey.

The questions have been pretty challenging — who has the most polka dot jerseys, who’s the all-time green jersey leader, and so on — but if you don’t know them off the top of your head, Cyclingnews provides a cheat sheet.

We’ve appreciated Cyclingnews‘ coverage, particularly on the (so far thankfully rare) occasions when we’ve had to be somewhere there isn’t Versus TV access (Channel 34 on Comcast in Seattle). Commentator Barry Ryan is entertaining and informative during the slower flat stages, but quick and to the point when the action gets hot. Real-time blogging is no easy task, even if Ryan makes it look that way.

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Tour de France 2010: Once again, mountain bikers vie for crown Mon, 12 Jul 2010 22:39:04 +0000 Since we made the transition from road cycling to mountain biking nearly two decades ago, we’ve tracked the fortunes of former mountain bikers in the Tour de France. Usually there are a handful of mtb champions in the Tour, and on occasion they’ve been among the leaders.

Twice, in fact, mountain bikers have won the Tour. But you won’t find their names on the roll call of champions.

In 2006 Floyd Landis took the yellow jersey home but was subsequently disqualified for doping. By now you’d have to have spent the past two months in a diving bell not to know that Landis, who for years denied wrongdoing, has come clean and implicated a whole culture of deception in pro cycling.

The following year an mtber also came close, when Dane Michael Rasmussen had the title wrapped up but was forced off his Team Rabobank due to failure to report his whereabouts in training.

Given the allegations swirling around the sport today, you have to wonder if the Nos. 2 in both cases, Spaniards Oscar Pereiro and Alberto Contador, were any cleaner than the disqualified winners.

You don’t have to wonder about the mountain biking champion leading this year’s Tour, however. Aussie Evans, riding for Team BMC Racing, has made it clear from the start that he doesn’t dope. No one has ever questioned Evans on the point either — and his bad luck and perennial bridesmaid status (which may finally be changing, as he’s also the reigning World Champion road king) has never given reason to doubt him.

The other ex-mtb contender this year is Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, whom we’ve followed since his junior ranks due to his close proximity to our Seattle home base (Ryder grew up on Vancouver Island). Lanky and muscular, Hesjedal does not fit the rail-thin physical profile of a typical Tour winner. But he’s sitting at 6th and most Tour watchers give him at least a shot at a podium finish.

Cadel in yellow, Ryder No. 2? Unlikely. But their presence alone cements our longstanding observation that mountain bikers are better overall athletes than road racers. So far there’s never been a roadie who has transitioned from Grand Tour competition to world-class mountain biking, and that includes Lance. [Note: An exception to the rule comes to mind: Three-time national NORBA champion Jacquie Phelan. The parallels aren’t as easy to draw on the women’s side, but we have little doubt Jacquie — who beat the majority of male riders she raced against — would’ve rainbow-jerseyed in both disciplines had Tour and World Cup equivalents existed for women during her prime.]

In any case, it’s great that mountain biking fans have riders to root for in the Tour.

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Lance’s Chances: Ironic Flashback of the Day Mon, 12 Jul 2010 22:22:02 +0000 From VeloNews coverage last Friday —

“Armstrong: The real Tour starts Sunday.”

Lance was both right and wrong. For most other General Classification favorites, the real Tour did start Sunday.

For Lance himself, it ended.

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Lance’s Chances: Exiting the Tour triumphantly Mon, 12 Jul 2010 14:24:10 +0000

Lady Luck may have abandoned Lance Armstrong during the Tour de France 2010, but it was Father Time who showed her the door.

Anyone who has raced in a bunch knows the difference between crashing and staying upright is mere chance. There are things you can do to lower your odds — correct positioning in the pack, fierce concentration, lightning reflexes, expert bike-handling skills — and Lance certainly had them over the years. But with a weaker Team Radio Shack this year than the dominant ensembles of Tours past, and the inevitable march of gravity against his conditioning and skills, Lance’s chances of eluding disaster were lowered out of the gate.

Lance’s 2010 season never seemed to get rolling. In early April he pulled out of the 4-day Circuit de la Sarthe with gastro-intestinal problems. He crashed out of May’s week-long Tour of California. Adding in his many promotional engagements and Livestrong commitments, Lance seemed to be spending too much time off the bike during critical training junctures.

The other question, of course, had to do with doping. If this really is, as we’ve suggested, the first post-doping era Tour de France, the difference between a near-39 year-old and next-gen racers in their late-20s prime could not be masked by artificial aids. The weight of growing allegations had to have bowed Lance’s shoulders as much as yesterday’s crash at around 40 miles an hour.

Lance just hasn’t seemed right in this year’s still-young Tour. His clipped and muted public statements have lacked confidence, his on-bike demeanor has missed the flinty focus and swagger, and excuses and shrugs have made their way into the Armstrong lexicon for the first time. Even before yesterday’s stage he had ridden unimpressively and lost major time on Stage 3’s cobblestones. As early as the Tour is, Lance looked haggard and distracted, as though he knew things the rest of us did not.

All the above said, this could still be a triumphant Tour de Lance. Freed from having to focus on winning, or even competing, Lance can finally lighten up and show some of the personality that those who have spent time with him say he reveals once the Klieg lights of celebrity are off — and which we’ve seen glimmers of in the Radio Shack commercials. Final rock-star tours aren’t the best they ever do, or even the most memorable. But they do conjure lots of great feelings from memories past. And that’s really their whole point.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect in the current Tour, but we look forward to future commentary from Lance during TV coverage. As one of the smartest and most strategically sophisticated riders ever to win the Tour, Armstrong can provide cycling insights akin to Andre Agassi in tennis, Charles Barkley in basketball and John Madden in football. He has never shown much inclination for the microphone, but his public profile has not been his primary concern either.

Whatever the future holds for Lance, and however bad his fortunes have been the past week, the next fortnight presents a golden opportunity to ride into the sunset smiling and waving his helmet as befits the greatest Tour champion of all time.

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Lance’s Chances: Not looking so good but it’s early Wed, 07 Jul 2010 14:34:27 +0000 Although much is being made of Lance Armstrong’s loss of time during the cobblestone stage — putting the King in 32nd place, 2:08 minutes behind — it’s still early in the race. In Lance’s prime this would’ve been brushed off as bad luck and no indication that he was in trouble.

Lance Armstrong in contemplative mode

Our observation is that Lance has not looked comfortable so far in the Tour. Obviously there’s a backstory with the doping allegations hanging over the Tour. But in Team Radio Shack, Lance also does not have the powerhouse train behind him this year, for the first time in memory. The prospect of keeping contact with and/or fending off numerous younger challengers with equally if not better team support cannot be too heartening for the 7-time winner either.

In any case, the Tour so far this year is not the rock-star farewell that Lance might have expected when he announced this would be his final go. There’s still plenty of time for the situation to change, but if the Tour keeps serving up twists and turns on a daily basis — as happened with the Giro this year — then the mere unpredictability and excitement of the stages will distract the press corps and public attention from Lance, especially if he isn’t in the thick of things.

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The Strangest Thing in the Wall Street Journal Series … Sat, 03 Jul 2010 07:18:59 +0000

… is Landis’ insistence that he did not use testosterone during the Tour he won and was later disqualified from — for using testosterone.

From the story:

By that fall, Mr. Landis had decided to appeal the drug test, he said, because he hadn’t taken testosterone during the Tour. That, he believed, meant the whole testing protocol must have been scientifically unsound.

The implication here is that Landis, for all his earlier transgressions and current admissions, was disqualified on phony grounds. If so, it would confirm a suspicion we’ve long held that doping authorities regulate by choice rather than the book — playing favorites along the way. This would suggest a system of corruption extending far beyond the riders.

Why the UCI (governing body) would target Landis is a bit of a head-scratcher, though. His come-from-behind performance was a ride for the ages. One can only speculate that some undisclosed pressures or broken promises came to bear in the UCI’s action. (All this assuming that Landis is being truthful.)

By now, Landis has no reason to deceive on this key point. He’s not going to polish his image on this one contention. We’ll be intrigued to see if this aspect gets explained or explored further in the investigation.

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This Day in Doping: The Wall Street Journal series Sat, 03 Jul 2010 06:59:27 +0000 Timed for the start of the Tour de France 2010, the Wall Street Journal is running an explosive series on doping in the ranks of pro cycling, focusing primarily on Lance Armstrong and his inner circle. The allegations stem from a single source, former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis, but the articles make it clear that the official investigation involves a large number of figures close to cycling.

Obviously the series is timed for highest point of impact, the first day of the Tour. Speculation immediately is focusing on its impact on Team Radio Shack, which includes Lance and several holdovers from the era in question. Some suggest that Lance will withdraw, or that the team will be forced out by stringent oversight.

We think Team Radio Shack and Lance will continue through the Tour as though nothing has happened. We also think they’ll be squeaky clean throughout. Which means lowering expectations, because a clean Team Radio Shack will be in no position to challenge for leadership roles in this year’s Tour.

We reiterate that Lance’s announcement that this will be his final Tour was a calculated attempt to deflect attention from the doping allegations and redirect focus to his ride as a triumphant farewell rock-star tour. Although the Journal‘s series elaborates on several key facets of doping, naming names and identifying dates, it does not constitute a legal action that would require either TRS or cycling’s governing body, the UCI, to withdraw from competition.

Although we’ve gotten pushback for being naive (see comments), we still think Lance will — at the right time and place — own up to the doping years. There are too many witnesses, too many associates involved, for the scandal to avoid litigation. Rather than dragging everything out in court and risking permanent blackening of his reputation, Lance will choose an “everybody did it” defense. As Richard Nixon famously put it, “It’s not the crime that kills you, it’s the cover up.”

Around the Web:

Cozy Beehive: Testimonies in the Lance Armstrong Doping Crisis.

Joe Papp: Books, Angry Motorists, Greg and Lance.

Bonnie Ford, ESPN: Crunch Time for Lance.

VeloNews: Bikes sold to finance doping.

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