Category Archives: Cycling – Pro

Caso Contador

So, Contador is officially a doper. I’d be happy, ‘cept, not really.
On one hand, I’m happy he’s busted – that cycling has absolutely the most aggressive no tolerance policy in all of sport is something to be touted, especially after the legacy of the 80s and 90s.

On the other hand, the CAS case against Contador’s especially weak – it doesn’t make a clean case that Contador was systematic doping, leaves open the possibility that it really was contaminated meat, and doesn’t make any accommodation for 18 months of racing, lots of testing, and winning freakin’ two grand tours, really decisively in the case of the 2011 Giro.

24 months seems to be the CAS’ standard sentence for a doping positive. So, it’s not surprising that Contador got the standard.

On the other hand, CAS left itself open to the counter charge that it’s screwing Contador just to make an example. In which case I’m disappointed – The amount of clenbuterol in his system is a tribute to our ability to detect minute concentrations of anything. Stripping him of two titles earned under extremely close scrutiny serves only to throw closer scrutiny on the existing cycling anti-doping efforts, and impugns every other cyclist currently riding.

That it took almost two years to come to this decision, during which Contador continued to ride under threat of having results overturned, keeping the entire sport in limbo, is an indictment of CAS process. Justice delayed is justice denied. For a career that really spans from about 24 to 34 for most Grand Tour contenders, two years means that there’s going to be a lot of asterixes as drug tests continue to improve.

I still don’t like Contador, but he’s getting screwed. He deserves something for popping positive, but two tours stripped, two years late? Not justice.

Update – The long arm of Justice is still reaching out for Armstrong – WADA requested the evidience the US Grand Jury accumulated while looking for Fraud at US Postal.

Paris-Roubaix next weekend

I dug this article at Velominati (as well as much of the rest of the site). He is, however, breaking a cardinal rule of belgian beer by using a pint glass, but everything else is good.


(Proper glas via Vestio)

I cannot recommend Paris-Roubaix enough. Hugely long race (more than 250 KM) through the North of France, across the fields of Flanders, and with almost 20 sections of cobblestones dating back centuries. Most poignant for me is the stretch through the Ardenne, where vicious battles were fought in both WWI and WWII.

It’s a hugely old race, finishes with three laps on the velodrome at Roubaix, and has been won by most of the legends of the sport. AND, this is the next to last time George Hincapie will toe the line.

Tour de Jank, Stage 7 – Newport

The Ride

There’s a couple of rides around here that are completely epic, and of which I don’t think I’ll ever get tired. Today’s stage was one of them – the loop around southwest Aquidneck Island, specifically Ocean Drive. Sure, there’s some traffic downtown, but in general, it’s awesome.

Headed out with Tracy, who’s in crazy good shape. Part of the highlight for me is riding through downtown Newport – there’s enough traffic that it’s going slower than you can go on a bike, and it’s a trip to dodge traffic. Once you’re past downtown, Ocean Drive weaves along the Atlantic, and takes you into Bellview Drive and the legendary mansions.

The last bit of the ride is out Burma Road – undeveloped property that the Navy’s been hoarding for a while.

This is why I love cycling.

The Race

First day in the mountains, and, as expected, not much shakeup.

Tour de Jank Stage 6, Jamestown Island

The Ride

Lovely, lovely ride Friday Evening – about 23 MPH around Jamestown Island, 16.9 MPH. The ride’s feeling good – the spin is coming back, and I’m digging on it.

Tonight was almost perfect, ‘cept for locking my keys in the car at the end of the ride, and needing to get Missy to come bail me out. But, sitting and watching the day fade into twilight was perfect.

The Race

CAV! Man, another bunch sprint. Beautiful.

Tour de Jank, Stage 4* – River Road and Neighborhood Crit

The Ride

The ride was a short one for Stage 4 – just 9.5 miles needed. I headed down to River Road in the rapidly fading twilight, rode it into town, turned around, and rode back. Once I got to the Neighborhood, I did two laps of the place at roughly a mile each to bring the total up to 11 miles. Such an overachiever.

The Race

Man, lots to talk about in the Tour. First, there was the disaster that was Stage 2 – who freaking cancels 20 km of racing due to rain? Though, to be fair, there was a huge amount of carnage in the peleton – VdV out, everyone down. But the interview with Thor Hushvold after he got his stage win stolen from him…

Stage 3 was no less gripping – Thor coming back from insult in stage 3 to take the stage on the cobbles; the remaining Schleck stunning the world by riding well, Lance Armstrong losing time and giving yet another classic sound bite (“Riding between cars and trying to pass, eating dirt – literally!”)

And Stage 4 was visually stunning – through fields of sunflowers, and ending with a full-on bunch sprint without major carnage.

Man, what a race

*I’m dink on Stage 3 – busy at work getting back on Tuesday, plus I’m looking for a suitable set of cobbles to ride. And, speaking of “busy at work” – Dave has a wonderful post about what a load of BS that is.

Tour de Jank 2010 – Stage 1, Old Mystic-Quanaduck Cove-Old Mystic

OK, so the premise behind the Tour de Jank is that, as the Tour de France is going on across the pond, I’m going to do a tenth of the tour distance every day, ‘cept in and around New England. Ideally, I’ll get back into posting pictures, but who knows. My guess is that this lasts all of one or two days.

I’ll probably be a day behind talking about the actual race, as I tend to catch the coverage in the evenings after the kiddos are in bed.

Stage 1 – Old Mystic-Quanaduck Cove-Old Mystic

Stage 1 was a sprinter’s stage, relatively flat run along Route 27 to Route 1 out to Quanaduck Cove in Stonington, and returning along roughly the same route, ‘cept coming up the Groton side of the Mystic River after a delay for the drawbridge. Legs felt good, bike was a little squeaky. Pretty good average speed – above 16 MPH for the whole ride.

TDF Prologue / Stage 1

First, a couple of suggestions on following the Tour.

In the US, Versus (the bull-riding and hockey channel who I may never forgive for pre-empting the finish of one of their Tour of California stages for a hockey pre-game (PRE GAME!) show) owns the coverage. Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwin, Bob Roll, and an increasingly competent Craig Gummer do the commentary. They’ve put a bit of a paywall in front of much of their internet coverage, but it’s not too shabby. I may try their iPhone app once my phone arrives.

My current favorite semi-pro cycling commentary comes from Cosmo Catalano at Cyclocosm (shout out to the Nutmeg State!). His twitter feed (@Cyclocosm) is phenomenal. Here’s an example of Cosmo’s work.

The Luckiest Man in the Peloton from Cosmo Catalano on Vimeo.

For the best of scrounged video, check out Cyclingfans. Their twitter feed is pretty good, too.

The prologue was good. Usually, I hate the time trial stages – just sitting around watching guys suffer without any strategy other than “Ride. Ride fast.” (Courtesy of Missy)

I’d also recommend following @LeviLeipheimer and @dzabriskie – Leiphimer because he’s freaking amazing, and Zabriskie because he’s pure gonzo cycling.

But the prologue was an exception. Maybe because it was only 10 minutes of effort per rider, or maybe because Lance FREAKING Armstrong came in 4th, finishing in front of Alberto Contador. I’m pulling for Armstrong, partly because I’m an ignorant American, and partially because I refuse to acknowledge that 38 is over the hill. (And, ’cause I’ve picked up a similar amount of grey hair in the last year).

What to Watch For

I’ll admit I’m a bit behind in pre-read for this year’s tour, because life has been a little hectic (in a good way). But, as opposed to most years, it’s good to get in front of this year’s Tour. Tomorrow and Tuesday are going to hit a good chunk of the roads in Belgium and northern France that are ridden in the Spring Classic races, and should end up shaking up the General Classification (The thing that Armstrong’s won 7 times) much earlier than most years.

The spring classics are huge one-day races held in March and April, nasty weather months in Northern Europe. Think rain and cobblestones. They’re also wicked long – Paris-Roubaix is close to 200 miles, with about 20 miles of cobblestones through places you heard about in World War 1 histories.

The race favorites are going to be trying to stay ahead of the pack, as with close to 200 riders going 25 MPH on cobblestones, it’s likely that there are going to be some major crashes. It’s also likely that some of the wafer-thin climbers are going to be sorted out, as having a little bit of butt helps out on bumpy roads.

I did catch today’s sprint finish, complete with massive crashes in the run-up to the sprint, one apparently caused by a wayward dog. Good on Allesandro Pettachi, who’s been out for a couple of years after a nasty, nasty crash. Good start to the tour.

Real People at le Tour

Hey, Doc – I’m all about a pilgrimage

Walking up the hill, I was aware how quiet everyone was. That is, until I turned a corner and saw hundreds of Flemish folk parked up on the hill. There were a couple of tents higher up, with a great sound-system belting out what are presumably Belgian hits from the past (or maybe it was the current top 10, I’m not sure). In any case, everyone around me knew the words, and were clapping and singing along – a great atmosphere.

The smell of burgers and onions on the barbeques filled my nostrils, and I suddenly realised that I hadn’t eaten anything today – we skipped breakfast at last night’s hotel because the place just didn’t inspire us at all and got on the road as soon as we could. I said to Ed this morning that the hotel reminded me of what a borstal would be like (a “bad boy’s school” as my mum would have called it). [From PezCycling News – What’s Cool In Pro Cycling]

2008 Tour de France

Here’s the deal – I’ve got nothing concrete to say about this year’s Tour de France. In a way, it’s a phenomenal race – after two and a half weeks, there’s seconds separating the top riders, and a couple of time trialists within minutes before a 50km trial on Saturday.

But I’m still kind of cold on the whole thing. All of the leaders have been riding the careful, calculating, race that’s all about waiting for other riders to make a mistake instead of riding away with the race.

But if that’s what a clean Tour looks like, I’ll take it.

Other observations:
Podcasts – The best, by far, is the ITV podcast (search for “ITV Cycling” on iTunes). Great British regulars, and a regular dose of Bob Roll. Today’s stage, stage 18 (day late), started with Phil Sherwin and Johann Bruyneel, and the rest of the commentary is the greatest.

My second favorite is the podcast with James Start. It’s short, and the production value is terrible, but Start’s got a great combination of wide-eyed wonder and akwardness, highlighted by his handling of the sponsor – the Saab 9-3 Turbo, Born. From. Jets.

The last one I’ve found worth listening is the podcast. The biggest drawback is the intro and outro by Brad Gibson. He just sounds artificial in a way that isn’t amenable like Start’s. But aside from that, it’s usually pretty good.

***Breaking News***
Astana, Johann Bruyneel’s team, and somewhat a continuation of USPS and Discovery Channel, canned Vladimir Gusev today for abnormal blood chemistry in the team’s internal testing program. Sucks for the Goose, and a bold, bold move by Bruyneel, who wasn’t invited to the Tour despite having last year’s winner.

Johan Bruyneel to Astana Pro Cycling

Interesting. Johan Bruyneel is heading from Disco (After their dissolution) to the Kazakh team, Astana. Astana, as you may recall, was withdrawn from le Tour after their leader popped positive. Optimists will say that this is a sign that Astana wants to run a clean program. Pessimists will say that they want the best doper in the business heading their show – after all, how could Lance have won 7 in a row straight, and haven’t a string of Disco alumni popped positive once they’ve gone on to other teams?

Anyway, here’s the press release:

New management structure to usher team into 2008.

Astana, Kazakhstan. – Today, the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation (KCF) in cooperation with Johan Bruyneel, officially announced a partnership which results in the continued support and commitment to the Astana Pro Cycling Team. The KCF is steadfast in its support of the Astana Team as a part of its global strategy to promote cycling in Kazakhstan.

The KCF sought out Johan Bruyneel, arguably the most accomplished Sports Director in the history of cycling. Bruyneel who has eight Tour de France titles to his name will take on the role as Astana Pro Cycling team General Manager beginning in 2008. “It was not an easy decision to return to cycling after my recent announcement in August, however, in my new role with Astana I have found new challenges and I am excited to help the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation grow the sport in the country”, stated Johan Bruyneel. “After the 2007 season, this team had no choice but to make big changes if it wanted to continue on, and I am proud to be the person they have chosen to lead this program”.

As we recall this year some of team’s riders were linked to using performance enhancing drugs. In spite of these issues the KCF firmly decided to move forward, having conducted large-scale changes in its activity management.

Besides the KCF has stated that the Astana Pro Cycling Team will have no connection at all to any of the implicated team members (Kessler, Mazzoleni, Vinokorouv, Kaschechkin) either directly or indirectly.

Under Bruyneel’s guidance, the Team will strictly abide by the UCI Pro Team Code of Conduct as well as any and all anti-doping measures agreed to by the UCI or the Team’s Union.

Additionally, the Astana Team has taken further measures by prescribing to the anti-doping program developed by Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard and utilized by Team CSC in 2007. The Damsgaard anti-doping system is currently the most effective and comprehensive program available.

KCF’s Chairman Danial Akhmetov noted that “Astana Pro Cycling Team is a national project. And we will by all means help it on to become one of the best professional cycling teams. I am fully convinced that our riders will occupy a worthy place in world’s elite”.

Although the 2008 Astana Cycling roster has not yet been finalized, the composition will include a mix of Kazakh and other world-class riders from around the globe.