Saturday, June 15, 2013

Unbelievable!

I had some other things in mind for today's post, however an article on Velo News the other day caught my attention and won't let go. Here is the link:

http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/06/news/new-report-presents-data-driven-doubts-on-performances-past-and-present_290708

In a nutshell, the article is an overview of a digital publication based on research going back up to 30 years. Here is a quick excerpt giving you the gist of it:

"Not Normal? An insight into doping and the 21 biggest riders from LeMond to Armstrong to Evans examines riders both old (Bernard Hinault) and new (Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins), and labels performances across an index of suspicion versus believability.
It’s the result of years of research by its editor, Antoine Vayer, a French journalist and a Festina trainer from 1995 to 1998 who has written for French dailies Le Monde, LibĂ©ration, and l’HumanitĂ©."

 More bits from the article:

"The authors claim their projected data comes in at about one-percent higher than actual watts generated by Horner on marked climbs, though one measurement differs by as much as 9 percent, up the west Tourmalet ascent, so it’s important to take the metrics with a grain of salt."


"In short, the findings aren’t particularly kind to many of the riders, and generally indicate what most keen observers already suspected: most great rides, according to the publishers, are slightly suspicious at the very least, and can veer into superhuman performance."

They have ranked 21 riders based on their times up iconic climbs (mostly in the TDF). It ranks the riders into green (normal), yellow (suspicious), orange (miraculous) or red (mutant) categories. Here's where I go into a tailspin: recent riders such as Evans, Wiggens and Froome. Evans and Wiggo come in under yellow, along with Vinreque, Moreau, Fignon and Hinault, and Voeckler!  Miraculous riders are Landis, A. Shcleck, Valverde, Vino, Jalabert and FROOME! And the Mutant riders (besides obviously Armstrong) are Ulrich, Pantani, Contador, Basso, Riis, and yes, Big Mig himself: Miguel Indurain (who had publicly stated that he believes Lance was innocent btw).

Do you see where I'm going with this? Sure, we pretty much know by now that the old-timer hero's were doping. I mean, is anybody disputing the red listed riders? I doubt it...they fall under the 'yep, we knew it' category for SURE. But in this current Biological Passport "CYCLING IS CLEAN" blah-blah blah-era, to have Evans and Wiggens as "suspicious" and Froome "Miraculous" just blows my mind! Say it isn't so!

Now of course I realize that this is just a report (based on math), and it has room for error. However, the data seems spot on with what we already know for the old-timers...(and they based a lot of the numbers on Horner). However, to throw all of this out saying it can't be right would be throwing math that we pretty much know are fact: ie the watts per kilogram of a rider and the numbers that are pretty much near the high-end capability of a person. Human beings haven't gone and suddenly mutated into some new form of life where they are all of a sudden capable of putting out ridiculous numbers in this category. That change will naturally be a very VERY slow creep of what's humanly possible (without artificial augmentation). Anybody who has numbers above that didn't get them naturally I'd venture to say.

So now.... we have all been led to believe that current 'players' are performing clean. Such as Evans, and Wiggo. To hear Wig's vehement response 2 years ago to nay-sayers after his Tour win suddenly reminds me of Lance, and how he not only vocally denied but CRUSHED any doubters. And now we have Froome, who is going to be Sky's captain for the Tour this year (AND the top pre-race pick for winning) is being shown as a highly-likely doper.

And so, here we are almost on the eve of the 100th edition of le Tour de France, and it would appear (if you believe any of this latest report) that we are still unable to believe they are riding clean. As we already know, just because you don't get caught means almost nothing.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe Wiggo and/or Froome are clean? How about Evans? (and I mean not only now, but the year he won?) Is it possible that after ALL we've been thru on the doping front that top riders are STILL putting it all out there and doping for a chance to win? I guess I have to say "why not?" I mean, really, not much has changed as to what's on the line: fame, power, $$MONEY$$...and ANY type of an edge a rider can get could be WELL rewarded (as long as you don't get caught).

And then there is the thoughts on Lance, and the other crop of old-time winners. Lance has had all his wins stripped from the record books....but the rest (including Riis who even admitted he doped for his win) still have their wins. 

Voeckler was one of the only 'recent' riders to respond, and he said "This is not the first time people wonder about my performances and I can conceive it, even if it hurts, because I sometimes doubt myself about those of some riders. However, I am quite surprised that this questioning is built, as often, on uphill cycling timings or power ‘calculations,’ because it seems logical that the actual power developed by a [rider] can not be exactly known unless the bicycle is equipped with a device aimed to measure power,” he wrote, adding that the calculations, in his opinion at least, failed to account for racing factors, such as slipstreams."

I'm not totally sure what to think about this. To calculate a riders power all you need is an accurate weight and a time up a known route (based on other riders data which they had w/ Chris Horner's). Now granted this doesn't compensate for road conditions (wind, rain, etc) and if it was only for one climb then yes I'd say the data is not likely to be accurate...however it appears they used multiple climbs to rank these riders. The slipstream that Voeckler talks about doesn't really come into play that much on the climbs...(and funny he should mention that, as his best climbs are when he's all alone out front on one of his famous solo breakaways).

Great googly moogly...will we EVER get away from doping? I'd say not. Human nature is what it is, and there will always be those who will risk everything for the chance to capture the golden ring.

Welcome to the 2013 Tour!

Cheers!

6 comments:

  1. It's sad, isn't it...as a long time Lance apologist your post today illustrates, to some degree, my reason for standing behind the man: the public humiliation he is suffering is not, in my view, equal to the crime. In fact, I have never considered him guilty of anything, other than lying about doping and cashing humongous checks based on those lies. That, in my eyes, is far less a crime than the ones perpetrated by any given politician on any given day.

    There's no answer, Matt. There never will be as long as avarice and winning at any cost is the American way.

    tj

    I'm saying

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  2. I'm kinda with tj on this Matt. I almost lean towards letting the athletes dope it up as they see fit. Ginormous dudes swatting HR's outta every ballpark, guys and gals high jumping over 18 ft pole vault bars and 360 lb linebackers running 4.2 40's killing each other.

    Obviously, I don't have the answers. I'm pretty sure the guys racing the great divide race this week are not doping, of course there is no money involved. I have way more respect for the athlete that does it for himself and the sport than TdF riders doing it for the money.
    That's my rant, thanks for giving me the space!!
    Jim

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  3. TJ/Jim, I've always looked at the Pro Peleton as "Open Class". It isn't high school or college sports, this is adults being paid to be the best they can be at their chosen profession. It's ENTERTAINMENT. If it wasn't ENTERTAINMENT there would be no money in it, and there would be very little doping cuz they'd be broke and doing it for the love of the sport.

    However; that said, it's been shown that there is doping even down in the amateur ranks...all categories. I guess it's just basic human nature to want to WIN. I believe it's a mindset that it's not cheating...I mean, the athlete is DOING the work. The dope just lets them work harder and recover faster. It's not like they take the stuff and lie on the couch and become Grand Tour winners. And then knowing that others are doing it? I think that just makes it all that much easier to self-justify. I'd sure hate to be in that position...to have to make that decision to dope (and have a chance) or not and go home (to the lower levels of cycling...the minors if you will).

    And just to top it off: if I could get a Dr's prescription (and guidance/monitoring) for EPO (to shore-up my near anemic red blood cell count to even an 'AVERAGE' level), quite honestly, I'd do it in a heartbeat. And I'm not even racing. I just would like to ride better (but not bad enough to ride 500 miles a week or anything like that)...yes, I'd like a shortcut. But that's not gonna happen, so I'll just keep chunking along the best I can (and cussing at the wind).

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  4. OH, and the GDR is this week? I love to follow that...those guys and gals are ANIMALS! WHAT AN EVENT! (same for the Tour Divide). I can't remember which one Jill Homer raced a few years back, but I followed her SPOT track the entire way (to a new womens record). And last year, watching those two guys (Ollie and another guy I can't remember) neck and neck the entire way...it was amazing! They were putting in HUGE miles EVERY SINGLE DAY! Can you imagine riding your bike 20 hours a day for 16 days straight? I can't fathom what makes them get back on the bike after the 2nd or 3rd day. I'd toss mine off a cliff and hike to a bus station I'm afraid. They all have something I sure don't have in the mental dept, that's for sure! ANYBODY who even finishes that in ANY amount of time is an animal beyond my comprehension!

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  5. Just checked...the Tour Divide race is ongoing (stared on the 14th). And the current leader is the other guy I couldn't remember his name: Craig Stappler! They're down in the lower parts of Montana moving fast.

    Here's the link to the TD race:

    http://tourdivide.org/leaderboard

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  6. davidh-marin, caJune 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Matt. Using your site to reach out to you about Davis. Allison(Wife#1) got an email saying work has Fatty not arriving till Saturday, and he suggests a round-up at the registration desk for the team around noon, and hanging out. I had not heard anything from Angie G about Friday night, so am keeping my cooking efforts for next year. I will bring PIE for Sunday, and am trying to get an idea of how many people we will have. (I really don't want to waste pie or have to bring it home). If you have heard from others please let me know. You can reach us at homerhouserugs at yahoo dot com

    Look forward to seeing you again Saturday and swapping lies.

    David Houston

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