Tour Shorts

Thursday, 12 July 2012


This is a French documentary on the one day race Paris-Roubaix but skip to 1m45s you can see some FDJ riders on a cyclo-cross trainig camp. Team manager Marc Madiot always makes his riders do this so they can improve their handling skills and bond during the off-season and watch whilst manager Martial Gayant is talking and the group approaches. It’s Wiggins who wipes out.

Gayant remarks “that’s a track rider, he’s got everything to learn” whilst Wiggins lies in the mud and demonstrates that he’s learned some things already, namely how to swear in French as he exhales “oh putain“.

How Much Does a Rider Eat Per Day?

The image is carefully arranged to showcase the team sponsor’s products but you get the idea.

Di Gregorio
For all the headlines and drama of police swooping on the race, the tale of Remy Di Gregorio looks rather petty and embarrassing after it was revealed he was linked to a 74 year-old “natureopath”, a sort of quack offering “natural” ways to boost his performance. He was arrested by French police on Tuesday and will now be charged… for injecting glucose. Yes, that’s right, doping with nothing more than sugar.

Jokes aside, carrying the kit to handle the injection of glucose is banned and a criminal matter in France, this is not just breaking the “no needle” anti-doping policy, as RTL reports. So it’s not the product but the method that is the crime, the specific charge translates as “possession of a forbidden medical means without clinical justification” and it seems Di Gregorio will get a fine and a courtroom appearance. It’s a sorry story and a pity that the rider felt he had to turn to someone like this. Worse, it means the Tour de France and pro cycling is once again linked to doping, all because of this. I don’t care too much for other sports but there does seem to be a bizarre asymmetry where cyclists are rousted for injecting glucose and make the evening TV bulletins for dopage whilst nobody even asks questions about other sports.

Team Prize Explainer
Last week Radioshack had three riders in the top-10 overall yet Sky were leading the team competition and wearing those yellow helmets. How come? Well the prize is awarded daily to the team with the best time for its first three riders on the stage. Then these performances are added up but it means that the times of different riders are added up each day. For example yesterday saw Jens Voigt finish third with Maxime Monfort 21st and Haimar Zubeldia 23rd when Radioshack-Nissan won the team prize. They won again today Frank Schleck, Chris Horner and Andreas Klöden as their first three. So for stage 10 the time take for the stage by each of the best three riders (Voigt, Monfort + Zubeldia) is then added to the time taken by Schleck, Horner and Klöden in Stage 11 and so on.

As for those yellow helmets, debate rages on Twitter but I’m indifferent. There’s a rule saying teams have yellow helmets but it is optional and Radioshack-Nissan seem to be one of the two teams not to opt-in.

Gary marshall July 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Totally agree, I wish the same magnifying glass was on Football. If only to shut up the ‘they all dope’ armchair ‘experts’.

Paul Jakma July 13, 2012 at 1:06 am

To be fair, doping is going to hit sports like cycling harder, because in cycling basic physiology almost entirely determines performance – where as in most (nearly all) other sports in Europe that have mass popularity, fine motor-control is the significant factor in performance, and basic physiological fitness is less important. That is to say, in cycling pure power is by far the dominant determinant of success. In sports like tennis or football, fitness is far less important. You need a certain level to be competitive, but that level is achievable to many people. In these sports, it is very fine, dynamic control of co-ordinated movements that makes the difference. I.e. the ability to put a ball in the corner of a net, or just inside a line, consistently.

Doping has less advantage in such fine-motor-control sports, at least any doping that enhances basic physiological processes and fitness. That said, there are drugs which potentially could. Whether they’re being used, I don’t know – never heard of any one being busted for the illegal ones though (some are legal).

jon July 13, 2012 at 1:44 am

Here’s a curiosity: Back in 98 a bunch of Parma players gave blood smaples with sky high hematocrit values (the third keeper Nista had 63%!). Now look at Parma’s honours: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parma_F.C.#Honours

Every single one of their big victories came in the EPO era of the 90s and early 00s. Could be coincidence, I don’t know the history of the club very intimately and there could’ve been other things happening at the club at the time to explain the spike in performance, but it is interesting. What you say is definitely true, drugs aren’t *as* useful for a footballer as for a cyclist, but if a club dopes all its players, then it I reckon it will make a huge difference. And there’s a snowballing effect when it comes to wins in club football, maybe you can’t win the Champions League just by doping your players, but if you can place in the Serie A, then you can buy better players with the money you make, and maybe win the Serie A next year and then buy more players…

jon July 13, 2012 at 1:45 am

Forgot to link to the newspaper article on the Parma players’ blood samples: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1309&dat=19981004&id=m1ZIAAAAIBAJ&sjid=uRQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2966,3507048

Abdu July 13, 2012 at 3:38 am

Surely Spain’s dominance in several sports over the past few years (football, tennis) isn’t anything to do with getting the good gear…? Remember Doctor Fuentes saying he had ‘treated’ several La Liga players and a tennis player but they only wanted the cyclists… Pretty easy to find, statements on the web are there by him.

Dr B July 13, 2012 at 9:22 am

“In these sports, it is very fine, dynamic control of co-ordinated movements that makes the difference.”

this is true, but, these things are going to be much easier if your not tired. For examples, in football goals are more often scored in the final 15 min of games than at other points in the match- when fitness is really being tested.

I think the fitness threshold argument (ie that once a required level of fitness is reached, further improvments don’t lead to improved performance) is used to much to knock-back the questions of doping in skill sports.

Duncan July 12, 2012 at 9:23 pm

That clip is ace. Hard to imagine there’s a potential Tour winner doing a faceplant.

SilverSurfer8 July 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm

I don’t like the yellow helmets. The yellow numbers are better. Sky just looked ridiculous in those things! I had an idea for another jersey competition. The Gray Jersey! Award it to the highest placed rider over 35! That would give us spectators of a certain age someone to cheer for. Look how impressive Horner, Voight and Hincapie are! They should get a jersey! Think about it, ASO. I bet there are more viewers over 35 that there are under 25.

Mark July 13, 2012 at 2:09 am

Hincapie … Are you kidding ,is he in the race.BMC failure was said so well by Horner ,” that’s what you get when you load your team with multi million dollar classics riders”
I really think that Cadel and Nibali have paid for their teams lack of belief in them

Mick July 13, 2012 at 5:27 am

Nibali maybe should have kept the lid on his announcement of his impending departure from the team until after the Tour also…

Al__S July 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

problem is, as the track World Cup has proven, grey jerseys are just ugly (and grey skinsuits even worse!)

bobofett3 July 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Well now I look pretty stupid getting all hot and bothered about the Cofidis thing yesterday. May bad.

Any thoughts on “attackgate” and the subsequent Sky WAG war on twitter? It seems like a lot of people on twitter and in the media straight making stuff up. I’ve yet to figure out how Froome saying “I’m riding for Brad” equals dissension at Team Sky. Part of being on a team means sacrificing your own ambitions for someone else. And even though that sucks, I think Froome realizes that. I wonder if TJ’s wife went all nuts on Cadel’s because TJ sacrificed for his team leader today when he was obviously stronger. Strange how no one has brought that up.

diamondjim July 13, 2012 at 7:29 am

TJ isn’t in a position to win the GC, and the Maillot Blanc isn’t as big a deal as helping your leader try to win the Tour.

diamondjim July 13, 2012 at 7:32 am

Also – having just re-read your comment more closely, I wonder if Mrs LeMond went all nuts on Mrs Badger, or Mrs derKaiser on Mrs 60% :-)

BoboFett3 July 14, 2012 at 5:46 am

Yeah. My point was more that the media/WAGs are making a huge deal out of Froome dropping Wiggo when the exact same thing happened with Tejay and Cuddles and not a word was said about it. There was a point during Cadel’s attack on the first climb where Tejay accelerated and dropped Cadel, and you could see Cadel reach straight for his radio and say something, and Tejay immediately looks back and slows down.

Its just dumb. Everyone on twitter, and Bjarne himself, are saying that Froome should take over as Sky’s leader. Really? Their plan is going beyond perfect and people have the audacity to even think that Sky should change something. True, I am a Wiggo fan, but the logic of some people completely baffles me. I’m sure there is some sort of sociological rant I could go on about how we have been brainwashed to cheer for the scrappy, underdog 99% to topple the dominant 1% because its not fair for someone to be better than everyone else, but I don’t feel this is the place.

John T July 14, 2012 at 11:14 am

I agree “its just dumb” TJ was poor help for CE there, why was he always 5 metros away when supposed to be helping him. That Riis and others are saying that Froome should be the leader is just an attempt at sowing dissension.

Wags: how can they even get a mention?

Winternet_ July 12, 2012 at 9:58 pm

And what was all that ozone talk about?

Robbo July 12, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Click the link on the sidebar to the right for IAmTedKing and read his July 7 entry for a more interesting look at what a pro eats during a day of training!

muz July 13, 2012 at 12:57 am

Gels and drinks aside, I’d eat more than that on every single day of the week. x52 Acutally I’d say I ate more than that when I was 12.

Surely they eat more than that at breakfast and dinner during the race season.

Dr B July 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

check out this guy: https://twitter.com/teamskychef

describes (and photos) all the team sky meals :)

Sam July 13, 2012 at 9:41 am

Thanks for the link

eurotodd July 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm

If they tested Football, Baseball and Basketball here in the US like they do cycling (and applied the same punishments for violations) us Americans wouldn’t have a sport to watch. I get sick and tired of hillbillies I work with giving me grief about cycling and doping all the time. They are really going at it right now with the whole “Lance thing”. Meanwhile they watch Football and think those guys are naturally talented athletes…Right…

Anonymous July 13, 2012 at 11:20 am

So true. In the NFL, a sport that I love, players are barely tested, and still, some manage to fail.

TH July 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I’ve reverted to the rhetorical question

– why hasn’t anyone ever been disqualified for doping at the Superbowl/world Series?
– because they’ve never been tested

Duluth Baptist Clydesdale July 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I agree that other sports get away with doping far more than cycling. I actually wrote about this from an all-sports perspective a couple of months ago: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/ot-ped-principle-doping-modern-sports

My basic premise is that if there is a real benefit to doping, athletes will do it regardless of the sport. And if that doping is not policed, those athletes will rise to the top. Cycling is just an obvious case because the primary factor that determines victory can be affected by doping, but other sports benefit as well.

Barney July 12, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Is that Bradley Wiggins or Bradley McGee?

The Inner Ring July 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

Wiggins. You can see his face but also see the long “heron” legs and the deep voice.

MrTapir July 13, 2012 at 10:54 am

“‘The Heron of Kilburn” as no-one seems to call him’ said Gary Imlach on ITV4 highlights last night :-)

Mark July 13, 2012 at 2:39 am

Why does everybody hate wiggins?

JimW July 13, 2012 at 3:53 am

Nobody hates Wiggins really.
I think most people (myself included) are all disappointed at how he and Sky are handling this season in regards to the doping question. To go from zero tolerance to sort of not having it gives the perception that things are not what they were last year. To be so outspoken about the direction of cycling then gain the largest spotlight in sports a season later and avoid the question by acting like a brat is disappointing. Entertaining in a Jerry Springer kind of way but disappointing. Especially after having such a strict policy at inception. It raises questions, the old kind of Tour questions.

Frogboy July 13, 2012 at 7:31 am

However much I dislike Mr. Wiggins as a racer (an automaton with a metronome for a heart, a calculator for a brain, the emotion range of a turnip), I cannot hate him. The fact that he is very successful is just galling for someone who enjoys more gallic riders.
Now, when Mr. Wiggins said:”I’m not some shit rider who has come from nowhere” ( cyclignews.com july 11th), was he talking about Chris Froome, do you think?

MrTapir July 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

I doubt it, I think he was referring to people who are surprised that he himself is ‘suddenly’ doing well. There was a lot of disbelieving talk about his 4th place at the 2009 tour and subsequent transformation into a GC contender but his Olympic pedigree shows he is a capable rider and I thought a lot of the talk forgot this. Evidently so did he.

I also think you are being harsh describing him as an automaton and having the emotional range of a turnip. He is intelligent in interviews and knows what he himself has to do to win a bike race, so he is just good at his job. He is not a suicidal attack type of rider so he doesnt do this. Why should he?

TomC July 14, 2012 at 9:10 am
diamondjim July 13, 2012 at 7:33 am

I hate his socks

JimW July 13, 2012 at 4:39 am

The yellow helmet competition appears convoluted. You can’t really ride for it. It just boils down to how numbers pan out on the day it seems. It’s like a slot machine. Unless I am missing something?

I would rather see teams or riders fighting for another prize or jersey. Something that can be understood out on the road tactically and for the fan watching. The Giro has all those crazy competitions that keep it interesting for everyone.

Vitus July 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Don’t know what your point is. Team classement is the same as always, only difference are the helmets. The Giro has the same team classement as the TdF and nearly all other stage races. And teams always fight also for that competition, you go on the podium, you get prize money, you satisfy your sponsor

Rob July 13, 2012 at 9:43 am

> […] there does seem to be a bizarre asymmetry where cyclists are rousted for injecting
> glucose and make the evening TV bulletins for dopage whilst nobody even asks questions
> about other sports.

Swimming anyone? Daily new world records when competitions are going …

Toby July 14, 2012 at 12:52 am

Swimming is more to do with the technology. There’s a lot of drag in water so improvements in suits – which have been drastically invested in and developed over the past number of years and are continuing to do so – are resulting in much improved times. It makes comparing generations of swimmers difficult. Everyone thought Thorpe’s 400m free time was untouchable and then Biedermann beat it by 0ne hundreth of a second. This was in the “super suit” era which Thorpe didn’t get. Is Bierdermann better than Thorpe or did he get an advantage from the suit? Difficult to call but in answer to the question, swimming is difficult to judge due to vast technology improvements.

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