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Letters to Cyclingnews - July 27, 2007
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Due to the amount of letter that we have recieved in the past week, we have decided to split them into two parts.
Part 1: 80's style
back in fashion?, A great few days for cycling, Vino excluded, but why the whole
team?, Another drug test result leaked, ASO discretion in administering Tour
justice, Astana in stage 5, Astana’s tactics, Bad day for Australia, Bloody
dopes, Cadel Evans, Catching Vino is good news, Conspiracy?, David "what a joke"
Millar, Doping, Doping controls, Tour ethics, German TV, LeMond, the voice crying
out in the desert, How many big bastards in the peloton?
80's style back in fashion?
Although I secretly love it, I have to ask the question, have manufacturers been getting a discount on neon yellow plastic?
I’ve now seen riders in the Tour wearing glasses from Oakley, Specialized and Rudy Project all with hideously fashionable 80’s style neon yellow frames. That mixed with the excessively large sport-shield type lenses makes me wonder one thing: Where can I get a pair? I sure hope a return to 80’s styled team kits isn’t far behind (think Renault)!
It may sound bizarre considering we have just seen Vinokourov and Astana as well as Moreni and Cofidis kicked off the Tour and as I sit here about to sleep I see Rasmussen has been kicked off the Tour as well.
The reason I say it has been great is that at last the stakes in cycling's battle with the dopers has finally taken a significant turn in favour of a clean sport. At last we see the old guard getting caught out and kicked out.
The battle is far from won but at last the tide has turned. For any long time Pro cycling fan the Astana affair was no shock. I think the links with the old T-Mobile (Vino, Klöden, Godefroot) meant that we all knew what this team were up too.
In the first time trial Astana almost got a 1-2-3 but eventually had to settle for 1-3-4, had all the hallmarks of the 1994 Gewiss, Fleche Wallone 1-2-3 and we all know that was because they were the first to use EPO.
Now with Rasmussen that shows that riders are still able to get away with it and so hence the battle is not won yet, however where in the past the team would have kept things quiet they are having to be more transparent and clearly feared keeping quiet on information such as this.
The out of competition tests is the key and must be made more frequent. There are still dirty teams out there and I think there are serious doubts about certain characters in the sport.
Bjarne Riis needs to go as he has been tainted throughout his career both as a rider and a manager, Johan Bruyneel is another who must be regarded with suspicion, Landis, Hamilton, Basso all riders who have passed through his hands and all never got caught while under his protection but did when they left his side or in Basso's case before he came under Bruyneel's wing.
There are clean teams though Credit Agricole for instance and T-Mobile looks like they are now genuine. So a bizarre week but a key point has been made the risks now are starting to outweigh the benefits of doping lets hope the last few dodgy characters can get their marching orders and once again we can start to believe.
Andreas Klöden, why should an unblemished performer be excluded? Many people had secret hopes pinned on him.
No flair, just very capable and one of the most consistent performers in the Tour de France; no doping history; brilliant time triallist; great climber. Oscar Pereiro owes him a debt for the 2006 Tour.
Just as mysterious is why he was ever in the same team as Alexandre Vinokourov.
It seems a drastic over-reaction by ASO to request the whole Astana team to withdraw. The others hadn't transgressed and were very strong and consistent throughout.
Individuals spend month after month preparing and training, just to have all efforts washed away by organisers with no personal knowledge of the sacrifice and dedication required to be in such splendid condition.
Penalise only the defaulters, not the innocent and unknowing. Let's see fine judgement by knowledgeable and sympathetic people. And fewer of these broad sweeps by organisers whose approach is hardly different from that of the British generals during WW1, who prepared to sacrifice any amount of personnel for their own final victory.
Moreni is gone from the Tour due to his positive drug test result. While I don't defend doping in any way, I have to wonder why once again the test result of the A sample was immediately leaked to L'Equipe.
This leaking of results seems to happen every single time there's a positive test. Why is there no investigation of the leaks? This time the news was published five hours before the rider was even told about it. That's ridiculous!
Given the numerous leaks and other problems at the lab, it boggles my mind that the Tour still uses the same lab for all their drug testing. Or are the leaks from tour organizers themselves when they are given the test results but haven't told the riders yet? We may not know, but that's partly why an investigation is needed.
Drug test results should never hit the press before the rider has been informed and had the option of getting the B sample tested. Like the riders who are truly guilty of doping, the dishonest people passing on test results to the press prematurely should be sacked.
How is it that Stinkywits (Van de Velde Spelling) of T-Mobile receives notification of a positive test while riding the tour – well except that he crashed and happened to be in the hospital when the news breaks – and T-Mobile remains in the tour. To my knowledge, the balance of the team was never asked by the Tour de France to leave the race and so many members of T-Mobile, who presumably are not cheaters, are allowed the opportunity to continue, but, Vino returns a positive test and the entire Astana team are asked to leave the Tour.
How is that remotely fair or equitable? Another example is that of CSC boss Bjarne Rise who was pressured not to be at the Tour, after, of his own accord, admitting to doping the year that he won. At the same time, Erik Zabel who made precisely the same confession as Bjarne was allowed to start and continues in the race at this point.
Michael Rassmussen – on the one hand they jump on the UCI for supposedly announcing the information at an inopportune time for their race - i.e. don’t disgrace the maillot jaune during the race and on the other hand they make statements that Michael should not have been invited due to his transgressions (keeping in mind he hasn’t violated the rules at this point in a way that subjects him to any disciplinary actions – like an employee who has taken all of their sick days, but no more – yet).
To me, it seems arbitrary and inconsistent and it is precisely these kinds of arbitrary and inconsistent actions by the ASO and the Tour de France that create suspicion as to the accuracy of rider’s tests and lend credibility to riders such as Landis.
It appears that the organization has it out for certain riders and teams. If they dispense justice to one team by kicking them out and yet allow another team with a similar violation to remain in, one may, as I have, develop the perspective that they may be willing to handle the testing procedures for one athlete or team differently from others.
Bottom line, it causes me to question the integrity of the ASO and the Tour de France which leads me to doubt the accuracy of results of tests that they or their lab leak to L’Equipe.
Not to defend doping or dopers by any means, but does anyone else not find this completely discretionary, arbitrary and inconsistent behaviour by the ASO and the Tour de France, not to mention the French media coverage, a bit disconcerting? I’m also interested to know if anyone has an explanation for what seems to me to be completely arbitrary behaviour.
I must wonder whether Kevin Nealon ever really watched stage 5. All but two of Vino's team mates dropped back, and were all shelled out by the time he started going up the climb, because they worked themselves to the bone for their team leader. Vino was just too strong for them going up the climb, through the chaos of a race ripping open at the seams. A group would only have limited his ability to get through the carnage.
The team left two overall contenders in the front group just in case Vino's crash would affect him in the following days, which it did. So they made a wise decision. It is understandable that Vino had to drag his group home over the last couple of miles - no one would dare help the tour favourite get back to the main bunch.
At least I hope that stage 11 opened your eyes to the strength and dedication of the team.
Allow me to begin by quoting Mr. Nealon's letter from 7/20: "Seriously, what the hell is going on with this team?"
When the team decided on stage eight that Klöden would stay with Vino (and I'm not sure, really, who made that decision) they seemed to be giving away the GC. I know that Vino is the Great Hope of Kazakhstan, and that Klöden was hired to work for him, but Klöden is at this point clearly more capable than Vino to contend the overall. So why didn't they let him go? Why handicap him with his injured team captain, just because he was labelled captain? Especially when the young Kashechkin was allowed to go off the front as part of Moreau's anchor!
And don't tell me that Klöden just didn't have the gas to go with Sastre and Menchov--I was watching it live, and I saw him stop pedalling at least twice, waiting for Vino to get back on his wheel. It reminds me of when Jan was struggling in 2005 and Klöden stayed back to help--the only difference being that Jan was head and shoulders above Klöden, and he justified the sacrifice by slowly moving up the GC to third overall. Is Vino even really demonstrably stronger than Klöden, even when healthy? Well, he's a Kazakh, and that seems to be the #1 requirement for leadership of this team, healthy or not.
Nationality aside, this limiting of Klöden is absurd. He has had the best results in Le Tour of any of its current riders (2nd and 3rd in '04 and '06, respectively). He can climb with most of the leaders and he can time trial better than the all of them, (In 2006's final TT he put an astounding three minutes into other GC contender, Cadel Evans!) how simple is this choice?
Of course, Astana has now said that Klöden can go on his own and that he will receive the support of the team; but he's already given up at least a minute to the other favourites in a lapse of judgement on stage eight, simply because Vino, regardless of who was going better at the time, was designated captain beforehand. "Stay the course" is a damning strategy, and I would have expected Astana to make better decisions. Instead they have seen the chances of both of their overall prospects fall in one stage.
But still, what a Tour it has been: on to the TT!
Did you watch the same stage as me? Cadel did attack, and sure he sat up and was caught but he still managed to eat some time into his competitors. Towards the end of the stage you have seen a mini break that Rasmussen and co got on Evans and Klöden, yet Evans still managed to dig deep and make some time.
Where is Moreau now? I also think that Cadel’s time trialling should be stronger than Mayo, Valverde and streets ahead of Rasmussen. Klöden is possibly the only one he needs to watch in the time trial.
People often say they need to attack, if it was only that easy we’d all be racing.
Are you sure you’re not just after another opportunity to kick a Vic?
Bad day for Australia #2
This is a pretty stupid position to take. Cadel Evans has shown that when the chips are down that he is actually a bit of a "hard arse". He didn't attack because he was smart enough to see that attacking into a headwind is pretty stupid and that unlike a certain Frenchman, there is more to winning the Tour than making the play on one stage.
By making Moreau work to close the gap the following day he showed that he has the patience and nous to use the impatience of others when there are still ten days to go as well.
You attack when you can gain time on your opponents. When you can't you follow the wheels, and make sure your opponents work, that is the beauty of cycling - sometimes you have to gamble to win.
People give Cadel a hard time when just by looking at him it is clear that he is on the rivet on every mountain stage. He is not stronger than the others; he backs himself in that he can ride closer to his limit more consistently than the others. Give the guy a break. He has put himself in the perfect position for the second half of the race and all you can do is criticize him.
Bad day for Australia #3
I disagree with David Beattie regarding Cadel Evans performance in the Tour so far. He has been watchful and has tried to do a few things without wasting too much energy. He was the only rider able to follow Contador on the Galibier but relented when he realised that Contador was going too hard for him to follow without blowing up. He chased on the descent then waited for Rasmussen's group. He still had an easier ride than Contador who was aggressive but had nothing to show for it at the end of the day
Like the other top contenders he is worried about the last week with 3 mountain stages and 2 time trials in 8 days. I think him and his team have been superb and still think he can win the race. If Klöden can get through the mountains and limit his losses, I see him as Cadel's main rival along with the unpredictability of Contador. Go Cadel!
After the controversy associated with the ‘winner’ of the 2006 Tour de France, I somewhat naively assumed that the 2007 race would finally be the ‘clean’ version that many cycling fans have yearned for.
I took the opportunity to fulfil a long held desire of watching parts of the tour in person and to suffer on a bike up some of the renowned climbs in the Alps. Unfortunately, some of the event’s biggest drawcards are bloody dopes.
They have brought shame on themselves and, by implication; have immeasurably tainted the TDF and the sport of cycling. The real stars of the Tour de France are the French countryside and the millions of fans that continue to watch the event roadside and on TV despite the antics of (some) of the competitors. Vive le Tour!
In what is a brilliant and exciting Tour de France this year, one thing has started to get on my nerves. Cadel Evans - or the way Cadel is coming across in TV interviews.
Cadel is an amazing rider & his result may have a positive impact on the way cyclists are accepted on the Australian roads.
He has however made at least 5 references to his team as an excuse for not finishing stages better. Last night he was quoted as saying “not all teams can afford riders like Rabobank & Discovery”
Now I believe the role of team domestics is to deliver their GC riders in the best possible spot before the real action starts. Cadel, with the help of Chris Horner has been there at crunch time each stage & has not been able to match Contador & Rasmussen when it counted.
Maybe Predictor Lotto is not as strong as Rabobank & Discovery, but Cadel has had every chance to win the Tour & should really choose his words a bit better in the post race interviews.
Why all the panic over catching a rider doping? If anything, this only proves cycling is serious about having a clean sport, and that they got Vino, the most prominent rider in the sport and his team out of the race immediately furthers proves this.
If they had pulled Landis as soon as they discovered his doping, last years race would be settled by now. No more waiting a year to sort things out.
One more thing, I wish everyone would shut up about "due process" and proper procedures, and riders rights, these are private organizations and they can use any standards they want. Remember, we're talking about cyclists racing bikes, not somebody on trial for murder.
For years I have been glued to cycling...Lance, Postal, Pantani, Ullrich, they've been household names. My heart got broken by Floyd's news last year but I moved on. Vino stole my heart this year, such courage and strength, but yet another broken heart.
And it made me start thinking--I've never been so unlucky in love! Has my judgment of character failed me? My father used to shield me from unsavoury characters...what was I missing?
My ah-hah moment came suddenly when I could not recall a French rider or team being accused of doping in the Tour since Festina. Germans, Kazakhs, Americans, Italians. Am I missing something? Here's a thought, no French rider in yellow in Paris for over 20 years. Another thought, half of the interceding Tours won by Americans. Another, Vinokourov and his team knocked the French champion out this year.
Am I the only one who wonders about the testing programs in place in France?
What comedies to hear convicted drugs cheat speak out so strongly about the shocking things that are happening to our sport. Having so bravely confessed to his own drug abuse and then so stoically served his punishment...he has the incredible gall to criticise those who, in his words "use the system".
Ha! The man with about as much personality as a dead frog (sorry frogs) is a farce in himself. I wonder why he doesn't accept a small salary from his Saunier team and ply the rest of his ill-gotten gains into the UCI's hunt on other cheats.
Cyclists caught destroying the sport should never, ever be allowed to profit from it again. Compete clean if you are - but the fact that they can come back and make a fortune out of the sport that they dragged through all kinds of turmoil is just plain wrong.
Invest the money into young riders who used to look up to these guys. And make them see what pathetic lost people they really are. Be yourself, Ride without the drugs and make the sport enjoyable and less of a laughing stock for us all. He makes me sick and so, so angry!
I notice from the letters pages that there are people out there who believe that doping occurs throughout the professional ranks, that therefore nobody has any advantage, and so doping is not a problem (see Kaan Erdener's letter of Friday July 13, 2007 for an example). I can't believe this attitude can come from anyone who is anything more than an idle spectator. There is a problem and it's not just because of the damage to the health of the riders.
I'm the same height and weight as Pantani was when he won the Tour in 98. When I watch video of him climbing say, Les Deux Alpes that year, or Alpe d'Huez in 97, I can easily believe that, with appropriate training, I can do that too.
Sometimes that is enough to keep me going. Other friends of mine have other professional cyclists they use as inspiration - a sprinter mate is a Zabel fan for example. If we believe that our cycling heroes were doping, then we can no longer believe that it is possible to emulate their efforts, and the inspiration to work at it is gone. Beyond rider health, that's the wider-reaching problem, and it's bad for the whole cycling community.
Reading you Latest News article today (Monday July 23) and the comment made by the Lawyer in the "Lawyer Versus Doping Fighter" story, I was gob smacked to read that the "chaperon" process seems to be a bit vague, how did a stage winner and a top 5 rider like Klöden manage to get to a team van before a doping control. This is a fundamental element of the testing process.
In another guise I coach a senior Ice Hockey team and we recently went through the doping control cycle. Not only were my selected players chaperoned from the moment they left the ice, the controllers also requested that as team coach I accompanied the players as a witness. Everything was done in the correct way according to the WADA testing protocols and we could not question any part of the testing.
Now if a small sport in a small country with few resources can manage the process properly, why can't a major sport, in the biggest cycling race on the planet not do things correctly? Now Klöden’s vague test will go to LNDD for some routine and usually very vague testing, who knows what vague results we'll get from that!
Not only is cycling plagued with doping stories and problems but the big organisations, WADA, the UCI and ASO can't get this fundamental part of the process right, talk about shooting yourself in the foot. The more these issues continue the nearer we need to get to an amnesty because it appears no-one is in control. Things are so bad that even Didi Senf's German Sponsor has pulled the plug on him.
I thought all the riders signed an ethical declaration against doping prior to London.
Subsequently we are informed that Rasmussen has missed four drug tests, and Vino is caught blood doping and expelled along with Astana team mates.
IMHO Rasmussen should be withdrawn immediately from this years Tour to save any last shred of credibility. To potentially have him win this Tour would be disastrous, especially after his incredulous Time Trial performance, newfound climbing acceleration ability against Contador, Vino’s stage 15 win after the bonk, and Landis last year. It is now patently clear which performances are suspect rather than supreme.
What in heavens name is going on in Germany? The third rate hacks who appear to be running the country have decided to punish all of the cycling fans by removing the Tour de France from public TV, for which all Germans pay one of the highest rates of tax in the world to support all because of one yet unconfirmed non negative dope test. They are now very unhappy that a private channel in what is supposedly a free country has started broadcasting it.
Frau/Fraulein Schenk, former president of the German Cycling Federation is calling for Rolf Aldag to be fired because he was not willing to dismiss Sinkewitz on the basis of a rumour.
German TV #2
I can't understand the decision of both German TV stations to stop covering the Tour de France because of a doping case which first of all still needs to be confirmed. What if the B-sample would turn out to be negative?
At the same time this particular case has nothing to do with the Tour de France since it dates back from before the start of the Tour. If it hadn't taken five weeks to come up with the results, Sinkewitz would not have been in the Tour in the first place, so some room for improvement there.
Both TV stations try to justify their action with reasons such as they've had enough from deceptive people who have committed fraud and violated their commitments to fight doping and perform clean. Why didn't both TV stations stop covering the war in Iraq then? A war which is fought on the fundaments of big lies and deception, sponsored by the powerful war industry.
Will ARD and ZDF also consider stopping to cover World Athletics (recent doping case with high jumper Vaneva) and will they put on the same attitude during the Olympic Games and the next Football World Cup if athletes get caught?
I guess not. Why? Because cycling is an easier target and because it's pay back time for the fact that T-Mobile walked out of the 1 million Euro sponsorship deal to cover the Tour programs on German TV.
I am therefore convinced that the decision was not only premature, but basically unreasonable, dishonest and totally unjustified.
I agree wholeheartedly with Claire Dormant's letter regarding Greg LeMond. To me he is the real hero of American cycling, for both his performances on the bike and for his undisputed opposition to doping.
While I admire Lance and his performances, it seems to me that a lot of the LeMond knockers are Johnny-come-lately fans of the sport who think cycling began and ended with Armstrong.
The impact LeMond had on the cycling world in the 1980's was, in my opinion, far greater than that of Lance's impact in recent years. Fair enough, Lance took what LeMond started to a whole new level but it was LeMond who basically revolutionised the sport during the 1980's.
For me, Greg LeMond will always remain a true champion on the bike and a person of great integrity off it.
LeMond, the voice crying out in the desert #2
I was super interesting to read about Lemond and his fight against doping during his career.
I didn't know that, but it is well documented that none of the big teams wanted to sign him, and that he rode without getting paid in the 1989 Tour, and only because if he won he had a chance to relaunch his career.
Perhaps his openness against doping played a part in his unpopularity?
Based on Eric Boyer's, Cofidis Team Director, comments regarding Vino, should we be expecting a brave confession from Moreni, or will he be coward and deny his doping?
Eric Boyer, Team Manager, (Cofidis):
"I feel sick. I hope that Vinokourov won't be a coward and deny everything. He said that he worked with Ferrari just for training plans. He always told us what a brave guy he is, that he is stronger than the pain that the French ride behind everyone else because they are lazier.
Now we see that he is a big bastard. These practices discredit all of cycling again."
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