Sunday Shorts

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Chris Froome Romandie

The Tour de Romandie used to be a race where you got clues for the Giro but this time we saw a glimpse of July through the icy clouds. The last two winners of the Tour de Romandie have gone on to win the Tour de France. It’s a neat stat that doesn’t guarantee anything but right now Chris Froome is the obvious pick to win the Tour de France.

Has Froome Peaked too soon?
As the cliché goes anything can happen. But last year some wondered if Bradley Wiggins had peaked too early when he won Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné. We can use hindsight now but I had him as my pick for July too.

Along the way Wiggins got lessons in how to lead a team and more. When the TV coverage ends the work for a rider is not over. There’s the daily media work each day for the race leader, attending the press conference and arriving late to the team hotel. Now Froome gets lessons in this too. If anything he’s getting extra lessons than Wiggins. He started early with the win in the Tour of Oman and got a lesson in defeat courtesy of Vincenzo Nibali in Tirreno-Adriatico but took the Tour de Romandie.

There are tactical lessons for observers too. Froome is not the same as Wiggins. Watching Froome ride away from his rivals with 8km to go in the mountain stage of Romandie showed a rider willing to take risks. Nothing wild, but enough to make the racing more exciting when arguably he could have stayed put to defend his overall lead.

Froome’s French Lessons
Froome lead the race from start to finish and this will have been useful experience for him, learning to head a team and handling all the extra-sporting duties like attending the press conferences and TV interviews. Like Wiggins last year Froome’s good level of French will be a bonus for the Tour de France as he can get the French media on his side, nothing pleases them more than a foreigner able to speak French on live TV. His next race will be the Dauphiné on 2 June.

Still, Froome’s microphone style is not the same as Bradley Wiggins…

Italian Lessons
If Ivan Basso was cold after Saturday’s snowy mountain stage, reading the Gazzetta Dello Sport on Sunday will have left him colder. The newspaper was critical of him and perhaps rightly so because the Cannondale rider came in almost 20 minutes down on Simon Spilak and Froome. Perhaps he eased up in the cold but told La Gazzetta there was “no alarm, no problem” only he didn’t start the final time trial stage.

It looks like Italian hopes rest solely on Vincenzo Nibali’s shoulders whilst Michele Scarponi and Mauro Santambrogio could be better bets than Basso the blueberry farmer.

Turkish Delight Turns Sour
Talking of pleasing the locals, a home winner for the Tour of Turkey should be cause for celebration. But last year Ivailo Grabovski soared up the hills only to get brought back down to earth by a positive doping test. The dissatisfaction in the peloton was obvious at the time, suspicion was on everyone’s lips and many people’s tweets. Sadly this year’s edition has the same feel with the relatively unknown Mustafa Sayar winning the race. But what if Mustafa Sayar’s innocent, in fact shouldn’t the principle of innocence apply? Last year’s sorry mess still casts a shadow over this year’s event. Many are praising the race but doubting the winner and it’s not healthy for anyone.

Contador On The Move
From home winners to domestic arrangements. Spanish website elconfidencial.com reports Alberto Contador is swapping Pinto, the Madrid suburb, for Lugano in Switzerland. Now personal housing arrangements are rarely of interest nor importance but reports say it’s a sign that the Spaniard is trying to change his surroundings. He might have won the Vuelta last year but El Pistolero is not hitting his targets in races this year. Away from daily media demands he could find a fresh start and team manager Bjarne Riis is nearby. And a lower tax rate?

Red Bull Road Rage
Finally entries are open for the Red Bull Road Rage event on Mont Ventoux. The legendary climb will be used for a mountain time trial… only downhill. The video below is from the 2009 edition held in the Pyrenees and won by Fred Moncassin, a former pro and winner of sprint stages in the Tour de France.

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{ 66 comments }

Darren April 28, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Is it just me or is anyone else feeling more and more embarrassed
by Basso’s insistence on remaining in the peloton, foto’s of him
at the start line, smiling as if he is actually going to perform?!!!

Steppings April 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm

No Darren your not alone.

TheDude April 29, 2013 at 12:31 am

Concur: Feeling the same sensation. Old guard “doping era” riders performing “retirement in place” seems to “block” opportunities for up and coming riders. Vandevelde and Millar also come to mind. A different story from Fredric Guesdon that continued to jump into breaks and animate races at the end of his career.

Larry T. April 29, 2013 at 8:44 am

Never been much of a fan of Basso with his wimpy excuses like “I banked my blood but never used it” but the final straw for me was seeing Nibali’s chances sacrificed time and again for “Gramps” to win the Giro. He’s gotta be the most boring guy in cycling at present. In my younger daze the downhill race would have been lots of fun – these days I’m too old to take many chances going downhill, but I still enjoy a brisk pace on pretty much the only terrain where I can still hold my own against younger riders. Pro cycling has only itself to blame when doubts are expressed about an “out of nowhere” type of victory as in Turkey. Froome may be the TdF 2013 favorite but his racing style is right up there with Ivan Basso’s in the excitement category.

Scott April 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

Millar won a stage of the Tour last year with a great bit of racing – kicking on a bit, but not in the same boat as Vandevelde or Basso.

Q April 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm

It should be pointed out that Vande Velde did win a stage race last year (Colorado). The older riders can be valuable assets, especially when they are willing to be both a mentor and domestique as the need arises. I would assume Vande Velde is planning on supporting Hesjedal in the Tour, so I don’t think he’s getting in the way of anything.

sam April 28, 2013 at 11:07 pm

cadel is looking like the new basso lately.

Sidamo April 29, 2013 at 12:01 am

You’re joking? Cadel may be off form, but he’s nowhere near as bad as Basso.

The Inner Ring April 29, 2013 at 8:31 am

Both aren’t getting any younger and both ride in a “diesel style” but Evans has more wins and results in recent years. Both will have a big test in the Giro.

Darren April 29, 2013 at 7:43 pm

And then there is Thor Hushovd!
Missing his S5 maybe!
Constantly wanting him to be more aggressive and take chances, joining
breakaways, much like he did in TDF 2011 Stages 13 & 16! Now that was awesomeness!
Ok, he did have a shit 2012, what with his difficult-to-detect virus, but feel
he is too busy playing it safe. As they say, the less risk taken, the less the chance
of gain!

Igam Ogam April 28, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Is it just me or is anyone else able to see the “The video below is from the 2009 edition…”?

Dieter April 28, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I don’t see it either

The Inner Ring April 28, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Fixed, the code dropped out. Sorry.

BC April 28, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Froome must be the man who should be leading SKY for the TdF. The deafening silence from the team suggests that Sir Brad is still considered as a potential leader. Froome is much more explosive on the climbs and shows some exciting aggression, against Wiggos better but dull time trial ability. Lets hope common sense prevails.

I didn’t bother to watch the final stages of the ToT. You may wish to give the benefit of innocence INRNG, but I am confident enough to rely on my own observations. I certainly would not rely on the present testing regime or it’s masters !

Owen April 28, 2013 at 9:58 pm

NO deafening silence from Team Sky, whilst it wasn’t a formal announcement, Tim Kerrison stated last week that Froome would be leading the team in France.

Ablindeye April 28, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Fine to rely on your own observations in private but imo everyone has to have the benefit of innocent until proven otherwise or else anyone who wins is guilty and we might as well all pack up and go home. Interesting that many have publicly judged a certain Sky rider’s improved form just as you have done with Sayar. Is it only justifiable to publicly doubt less known riders in small teams or should we not adopt a universal, questioning approach that seeks evidence and assumes innocence until proven guilty for all?

Sidamo April 29, 2013 at 12:06 am

I was very skeptical whilst watching it live, but his estimated W/kg for that effort is well with normal ranges, so I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt now. As has been mentioned elsewhere, it’s not like he rode away from 2009 Contador.

Local rider prioritising ToT as his biggest race of the year, beating 2nd-rate climbers who haven’t targeted the race, all well within the bounds of what’s considered doable on a climb?

Not that unbelievable after all.

GP April 29, 2013 at 11:23 am

Sidamo, could you post a link to the W/kg estimations? I completely agree that his ride needs to be viewed in the context of the race and his competitors. An otherwise unremarkable performance by a rider at peak form could appear suspicious when viewed alongside others operating at 90% form.

Monitoring power outputs would be a good way of spotting suspicious/unnatural performances. I realise teams would be reluctant to share this information publicly, but is there any chance they would be willing to share it privately with the UCI?

Doubter April 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm

The w/kg figures are practical maximums and not every rider can get there. Froome has never shown an ability to ride at 6 w/kg, and neither has Porte. But the Sky homers are treating it like it is solid evidence that these guys are clean. Like any of the guys on this board can do it.

Ben April 29, 2013 at 5:25 am

Froome didn’t show class last year in the TdF, while Wiggins was the named leader. What he showed was competitive spirit and the desire to prove himself, even against his own team. A good coach/director might be using this obvious motivation to keep Froome running hot coming into the TdF by not making a public declaration of a leader.

And, of course, Wiggo enters the TdF as the defending champion. You have to respect that. They say that this route suits Froome better with more climbing and less solo time trialing, but if they’re both on the road, and this time, Froome can’t keep up and Wiggo can?

I want to point out that Wiggins is one of the few riders who have been able to transition themselves from world-class status in Olympic events to road time trials to (maybe) climbing in road cycling. Again, while staying among the top handful of people in the world the whole time. Drugs aside, I don’t think his focus and attention to detail in training has been seen since Armstrong (and I really hope the drugs are aside for good). It will be interesting to see if he’s been able to improve his climbing significantly for the Giro… which would serve him well in the TdF.

(of course with all this jawing about Froome and Wiggins, Sagan runs away with the GC in the first week)

Doubter April 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Wiggins has no comparison. No track champion (not just track rider….champion) has EVER won a grand tour. In fact, the only thing the guy could do 5 years ago (after years as a pro), was contest short prologues and second tier tt’s.

The Inner Ring April 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Apart from Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser and Miguel Indurain who each set the hour record?

Doubter April 30, 2013 at 5:08 am

The hour record, while set on the track, Mr. INRNG, is not a track event, and requires much different physical attributes and training.

Moving from a world class pursuiter to GT winner has not been done until now.

Q April 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Wiggins’ pursuit skills translate rather readily to road TT skills. Taylor Phinney is making the same transition right now, though he seems destined to be a classics rider rather than a GC rider. Some TT specialists can do GC, others can’t. Tony Martin gave it a shot a few years back and apparently decided he just didn’t have it. It seems the key is whether you can get light enough to climb well without losing power. That seems obvious now, but my perception is that nobody gave it much thought until the last decade or so. TT guys like Wiggins who have got light enough to climb can still be dropped by someone like Rodriguez.

For the record, I’m not really a big Sky or Wiggins supporter, so I don’t think my view is colored by that. I’m not naively assuming that everything in cycling is clean now either. It’s just not obvious to me as it seems to be to others that doping is the only plausible explanation of Wiggins’ success.

Anon April 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Pursuit requires a monster VO2max, which is one of the backbones of good endurance cyclists.

Doubter April 30, 2013 at 5:09 am

The point, which your facts actually support, is that no dedicated track champion has won a GT. Lots of guys have ridden the track and competed on the road, but Wiggins was more than that on the track.

Winning a classic as a track rider can and has been done before. Not the grand tours.

Mike Fay April 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

It’s not like its been impossible to come anything near, though. Bradley McGee was only about six minutes down on first place in the 2004 Giro d’Italia, and he was getting Olympic medals on the track three months later. That’s swapping from one to the other in a few months. Are you saying it’s definitely impossible to get that six minutes to go from eighth to first if you concentrate entirely on the three week grand tour training and give up the track?

Frankly, I expect Wiggins will merely be the first track champion to go on to win a Grand Tour – sooner or later, some rider who has won on the track as a youngster (as you see with the likes of Taylor Phinney, Cameron Meyer and Rohan Dennis, to give non-British examples) is going to also make the transition to a three-week GT winner.

This is in the same way that you now get riders who have transitioned from mountain biking to grand tour winners (Cadel Evans and Ryder Hesjedal). I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that all the riders I’ve mentioned speak the same language.

Doubter May 1, 2013 at 5:09 am

You homers just don’t get it. There is a big difference between 6 minutes down in the Giro to decimating the field by being the best climber and best tt’er in the Tour de France. It hasn’t been done. And we won’t ever see it done by a clean rider.

And Taylor Phinney will never win the Tour. You guys are too deep in your kook aid to see straight.

TourDeUtah April 28, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I don’t think Wiggo will have anything in the tank for ther TdF. This years Giro more resembles a TdF. Long time trials and loads of big passes to climb.

As for Basso, I am surprised Nibali left Liqui. Basso would have been a fabulous domestique for him. Ivan can still grind out a hard tempo in the mountains, but he no longer has the burst he once had. He would make a super domestique.

It’s Giro week ! Il Corsa Rosa should be a fun one to watch this year !

The Inner Ring April 28, 2013 at 10:25 pm

One thing with the Giro is the 20-12-8 second time bonuses each day. Wiggins will have trained his sprints but it will change things compared to last year.

bob April 29, 2013 at 2:33 am

The cool thing about nibali is he also targets the classics. Doubtful he Would get much of a chance outside of lbl with Sagan on The up at cannondale. His support at gcs is Equal if not better at astana, plus he gets a free hand in the single day races

Ablindeye April 28, 2013 at 10:23 pm

With regard to Sayar, given the circumstances, doubt is understandable and in some ways it’s good to see riders like Kittel prepared to go public but…

…if public judgements are being made purely because of suspicion that someone’s capable of that performance without any other justification, well, it amounts to little more than finger pointing.

People will always make their own private judgements but going public with those views it’s a fine line to walk between omerta and mudslinging – failure to walk that line in either direction is equally deplorable.

To be clear I’m not implying anyone is clean nor that questions shouldn’t be asked but it’s a very slippery slope to make public judgements based solely on the suspicion that “he can’t do that…”. If someone has more information than merely suspicion they need to be explicit about that too.

BC April 28, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Sorry chaps but your comments require a response.

Ablindeye. “Walking the line” made a significant contribution to the series of problems that cycling has faced over the years. I repeat, that what I observed was enough for me to have no further interest in the ToT. Its not about mudslinging – its about a personal decision not to waste any further time watching a sporting event in which I had no confidence.

Owen. Sky TV sportsnews said today said no decision has been made on TdF leadership. Kerrison is part of a team, but the final decision is not his to make.

Ablindeye April 30, 2013 at 2:47 am

Clearly the context of it being a “fine line to walk” in my post is somewhat different to your own interpretation. If you don’t want to watch something because you no longer find it believable, completely your choice, obviously, however making statements that someone is doping without presenting any decent evidence is the very definition of mudslinging…

James Vaughan April 28, 2013 at 11:58 pm

The Sayar issue is difficult. For sure the performance was incredible, to ride away so powerfully is unusual and fans of cycling have every right to point and say “wow, I hope that was genuine”. Given the sports history, standout performances have tended to be (eventually) strong indicators of cheating.

I’m a fan, I want to know that what I’m watching is true athletic ability within the boundaries of the prescribed rules. What can the UCI do?, how about publishing a list of who’s been tested? I’d hope, that as a stage winner Sayar will have given blood and urine samples at the end of the stage as a minimum – that alone would be an elementary precaution. If not, well that would be quite daming for both the event organisers and the UCI.

hiddenwheel April 29, 2013 at 5:55 am

It begs a dog in a hat comparison, to be sure. Skepticism isn’t nearly the same thing as mudslinging, but how can Kittel or any prominent figure express the former without danger of the latter?

Ankush April 29, 2013 at 7:38 am

Sayar was tested on Stage 6 as his team finished the interview saying that he had to go for control. UCI chaperone would be on guard with him all the time to ensure there’s no hanky-panky. I too was baffled to see him ride away like that for a relatively unknown guy but then he’s been doing decent this year.

Yesterday, Alexandre Mignot mentioned that other podium finishers didn’t arrive for the final award ceremony (Inrng could probably confirm if that was the case). As the winner is innocent, I think that’s disrespectful behavior from respective teams towards dedicated race organizers.

David April 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Sayar is doping…did you watch the stage where he took the lead?

He rode away from the others like they were standing still. A total unknown with ZERO palmares up till now. It was absurd. A young phenom might have a breakout performance on a single stage but this guy did it several days in a row.

On Eurosport, Marcus Berghardt commented that Sayar reminded him of Frank Vandenbroucke. I agree.

Doubter May 1, 2013 at 5:10 am

Reminds me of the Sky rider of the moment.

PT April 29, 2013 at 1:53 am

I thought the use of the phrase “for sure” had been copyrighted by F1 drivers?

hoh April 29, 2013 at 2:55 am

I do like Froome as a rider, but his interview is so dry compared to Wiggo’s. He sounds like a university student who didn’t do his homework and hence struggled during tutorial sessions.

Alas, whilst the ability to talk funny is a good bonus, they are still paid to ride.

Dachs April 29, 2013 at 9:33 am

Contador moving to a new country only means more complications for him.

Was it you who wrote he was trained by the banned Postal coach Marti?

The Inner Ring April 29, 2013 at 10:27 am

Was trained, yes. Marti was the Astana coach when Contador was there:
http://inrng.com/2010/07/contadors-mystery-training-plans/

I gather Contador wanted Marti to come with him to Saxo but Riis said no. It’s not clear when Contador stopped working with Marti, I seem to remember reading he was at the 2011 Giro.

Stephen_M April 29, 2013 at 3:27 pm

Perhaps Alberto spent so much time in Lausanne (CAS) that he grew to love it? I’d have thought his recent reported $3m settlement with the UCI might have put him off the place?? Or is he planning on saving a few air fairs when he has to make his next appearance….

DrHeaton April 29, 2013 at 12:21 pm

What is said in public about the Sky leadership for the TdF is pretty meaningless unless it’s not been decided in house.

It’s more than likely that Sky have made the call and informed the riders but are happy to leave their rivals uncertain so that they have two riders to watch and not just one. Keeping rivals wathing Wiggins will only benefit Froome in the race.

Sky are single minded, if Froome has a better chance of winning this year (and he seems to given his excellent form and the parcours) then Sky will 100% get behind him because more than anything else, they want to win.

Sam April 29, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Have to agree. So much seems to be made of the fact that Wiggins training is geared towards him being optimum for Giro AND Tour. Sky learned the lesson the hard way at the 2011 Tour of only having one GC guy when Wiggins crashed out. And there’s no point in having a back-up plan if his training’s been only geared towards the Giro and then just hoping his form hangs on for the Tour. Equally if Froome had flunked it in the pre-Tour races- which credit to him, he’s not done to date – or he has a mare between now and the Tour… if Sky have a Wiggins who’s flying…they’re in a happy place.

Daz April 29, 2013 at 2:30 pm

The Wiggo v Froome element at the Tour (assuming Wiggo is still in shape) this year is that it brings about an interesting situation which we did not see in 2012. It is very possible that Wiggo could take the yellow after stage 11 depending on how the earlier mountain stages have gone. This could make things fascinating as surely we will then see Froome attack Wiggins in the following moutain stages. Will Sky permit this, and if they do, will they allow Wiggins to go after Froome and defend his title – whilst risking Wiggins dragging other riders with him as he tries to diesel back to Froome? Lets hope Wiggins can arrive in France in decent shape after he wins the Giro! (we can hope!)

hoh April 29, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I suppose the mountain train would work for Froome and eventually setting him up for an attack. Meanwhile Wiggo could sit in the remain of the peloton after the train expired, marking the other GC contenders and having them dragging him up.

If Froome is caught, Wiggo’s still there without over spending his energy; if Froome is not caught, all is better if Froome can build an even larger advantage than Wiggo can get in time trials (besides, has Wiggo done any time trail this year?). Wiggo’s done quite a bit of “explosive type of mountain efforts” this year, I suspect the purpose of these trainings is to make sure that he can match any attacks by Contador, Evans etc.. He wouldn’t be attacking, but he would be on his own at the finale stages of a mountain top finish fending for himself.

This might give opponents some hesitation chasing Froome as they’d drag Wiggo up in the due process. Any such hesitation would be a blessing for Froome. This is a definitely a better utilisation of Sky’s GC advantage than having Froome working for Wiggo.

Marty April 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Sir Wiggo has gone on video today saying his aim is a Giro-TdF double this year. Gonna be very interesting between Wiggins and Froome this July. It’ll be Hinault-Lemond all over again!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cycling/22337098

DS April 29, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Is it me or Contador is (not even) the shadow of himself before his suspension?

He is clearly lacking the extra power he had previously.

Call me naïve, I was one of them who didn’t believe that Contador could take banned substances. (He seemed like a geniune good honest and modest guy).

Now, with his (under) performances of late, I am starting to realize that he probably did take banned substances to get that extra explosiveness.

Oh well.
I still like watch him race though.

Anon April 29, 2013 at 5:43 pm

I think you’ll see that Tenerife training come in handy for the long, steady, and arduous climbs. That is, if everyone stays put when climbing. If people want to shadow box all day long along the slopes, Sky’s legs may not be ready for breaks in rhythm…

Chrisman April 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm

I haven’t seen Bradley’s comments, but maybe people are forgetting something – dude is a wind-up merchant. I’m sure that he’s even winding up Froomey about the TDF. I’m sure he’s enjoying torturing Froome over whether he’ll support him. But he will. Brailsford will ensure that. In the meantime, Bradley will enjoy creating controversy over the issue.

And the poor Turk! Everyone has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is usually nowhere. It’s true of every cyclist since the dawn of time – before they’d done something, they’d done nothing. If you accuse this guy, why not anyone else? Wiggins, Froome, Sagan, Gilbert, Rodriguez, Dan Martin, Tony Martin – at one point in time, all of these guys had won nothing. Then they won something. Seriously, you need to come up with some better criteria to decide if someone’s been doping.

If you really do believe that any cyclist that wins is doping, then why are you even watching? Seriously, why? What’s the point? If your faith has been destroyed to such an extent that you are prepared to condemn so quickly, then there is no place for you in this sport. It’s over. A raised eyebrow is fine, as in the case of Quintana. But to decide 100% ‘yeah, he’s doping’? That is WRONG!!

Chrisman April 29, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Actual comments from Wiggins:

“We are both on different paths and we’re both professionals. We have been there before. We’re on the same team and know what needs to be done. I would be comfortable in a supporting role but it’s not like I’m going to ride 200km on the front and swing off and lose 30 minutes. I want to be there at the death, I want to be on the podium. Somebody will need to make that decision. It will be quite hard, and I’m glad it’s not me, but Dave is good at it.”

So basically he’s going to ride in support of Froome, but will give him a ‘sh@t your pants moment’ to pay Froome back for last year’s aborted attack, and also where he angrily towed Wiggo to the finish in a display of 1 upmanship.

hoh April 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I believe Sky tactics would be the same last year, only no more towing Wiggo to the line by Froome thing (probably wouldn’t be any Wiggo break away chasing either if they can help it). Wiggo would need to fend himself on mountains or somebody other than Froome (Porte maybe?) would try to tow him if he really struggles.

I suppose that’s as much as a team leader could expect in a non-sky set up. Didn’t see any BMC guy towing Evans or any Cannodale guy towing Nibali last year.

And Honestly, I don’t see this set-up compromising the whole Sky effort. They don’t have Cav this year and didn’t have to spend Eisel looking after Cav, so that’s two extra riders working on the mountains already. Plus, Froome didn’t really have to blow himself last year anyway.

BC April 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Chrisman. I agree in full with your comments in the first paragraph – Brailsford WILL make the decision and the riders are paid to implement that decision.
For the second part you miss the point. I am sure no-one has ever said they believed everyone who wins a race is doping – that is plainly a nonsensical statement. Everybody however is entitled to have views on a surprise performance, based on observation, experience, knowledge, and the past history of the sport – you clearly have yours. For me there were six significant factors in this particular performance which set of alarm bells. It’s of little benefit to talk about ‘better criteria’ – in the short term there are none and we must rely on our own judgment. Time of course might tell where the truth lies – but given past history we could be waiting some time !

Chrisman April 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm

No, but you believe that Colonel Mustafa is doping. I’m sure you have ‘criteria’, but this criteria seems to be ‘he’s won a race in great style, having previously not done so’. My point is that that could be said of every cyclist at some point in his life.

If you stopped watching the ToT after his win, I presume you’ll not be watching any more races with Quintana in after his effort the other week? That performance covers many ‘criteria’. Maybe not all of yours, but definitely all of someones. But without any actual decent evidence, whether it be tests, associations, reliable witnesses – it’s all just totally unfounded speculation. It’s the worst kind of groundless gossip based on nothing but vague personal bias.

Yes we all rely on our own judgement. We also have the right to reserve judgement until some actual decent evidence turns up to support one theme or another. This guy gets nailed whilst Quintana gets a free pass. Yeah ok Quintana was a known prospect before, but Mustafa has only won the ToT – his home tour and a race devoid of top riders. It’s all relative and subjective.

The truth usually outs in some way, and when it does, that is the time to judge. Until then I think it’s right to reserve ire for those who actually have been found guilty of doing something more then just riding well and being good.

BC April 30, 2013 at 12:18 am

I guess we must agree to disagree so best leave it at that.

I would add that my criteria are a little more sophisticated and well tried than you imply, and are nothing to do with “vague personal bias”. If you had experienced in person the hidden side of our sport, you might also have some questions and doubts. You raise Quintana – yes a surprise result and certainly someone to watch, but I wouldn’t have a view one way or another concerning that particular surprise performance – he has performed well before. What I think many of us feel, is that we can not sit and accept all that we are seeing as passive beings, without question, given previous history – to do so would be rather unwise and probably just what those who control the sport would prefer. A great shame for the vast majority of riders as well as the fans.

Ablindeye April 30, 2013 at 2:36 am

There is a difference between asking questions and drawing firm conclusions then making them public. Comments on this board are in the public domain…

If you care to check Sayar’s history he had a rough year last year, some credible results the year before that and has been on form this year. Other factors include the numbers not being that impressive on the last climb, a field lacking the best climbers and the potential for him to be targeting the race in a way few others would. By all means feel free to share your own criteria.

To be clear none of the above proves he is clean just as “I don’t believe he can do that clean” proves he is doping. There’s the performance, the team history and, more pointedly, his reaction to questions in the press conference that give rise to suspicion but that’s where it stops for me – suspicion.

Apart from seemingly picking and choosing which riders you think this approach should apply to, thankfully we no longer live in a time when the equivalent of screaming “witch!” constitutes enough evidence to condemn someone.

I’m with Chrisman on this one – personally if I’d reached that level of cynicism I think any joy I’d get from the sport would be long gone. So indeed let’s agree to disagree :)

BC May 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Ablindeye, Chrisman: I was going to let sleeping dogs lie, but possibly it would help you both if you were to read my posts with a little more care.
Lets leave aside ‘criteria’. From your responses I suspect you wouldn’t understand, far less agree, even if I spent hours explaining – These criteria have been accumulated the hard way, over 50 years of experience and 15 racing on the roads of Europe, where I have seen more than is good for any on person !
You are the one’s who use the ‘d’ word, make accusations about ‘picking and choosing’, ‘mudslinging’ and ‘screaming witches’. In contrast I consider my posts were reasonably measured – certainly not ranting. I repeat that I chose not to follow the ToT as I had no confidence in it’s sporting value – my choice. I am not cynical about our sport, you are certainly wrong on that one – I am a great supporter of the majority of those decent hard working riders who complete honestly.
In deference to INRNG and his excellent contribution to our knowledge base this will be my final post on this subject.

Anonymous April 30, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Questions and doubts? Hell yes. Judgement and condemnation? Hell no. There is a huge difference between the 2.

Tim April 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Love the trash talk of wiggo vs froome. Don’t care who wins as long as it is by slugging it out on the road. Maybe new rule required – no team order a la Formula 1!

Also really looking forward to nibbles and wiggo in the giro. Could be a ding dong between opposing styles.

Agree with comment on Contador, his relative poor form this past year increases my doubts. In my world he is now old news like basso and a few other old dogs. Not cadel though – i like his unpredicatable grumpyness. We need characters to make the events exciting on as many fronts as possible.

bob April 30, 2013 at 5:27 am

Where are you guys getting this meme that Contador has been in poor form for the last year? He won the only GT that’s happened since he’s been back from the ban against the best climber in the peloton currently. He also won his first single-day race against tough competition. After not racing for over a year. I just don’t understand how you can say the man is in poor form after such a spectacular performance at the Vuelta, especially when his next goal is the biggest race in the world in July.

Anonymous April 30, 2013 at 10:02 am

I don’t know what some people look at in cycling. They seem to think that a poor show in February means the Tour can’t be on the agenda in July. For pity sake, why don’t some folk take a little look back and see how Big Mig or Greg rode the early season. The British press have just discovered the GIRO exists now that the Marginal Gains squad have a contendor

Vitus April 30, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I couldn’t agree more with both statements above by bob and Anonymous.
Dumb talk of people who discovered cycling lately and see all through the pink Sky glasses. Reminds me of all the “experts” that joined cycling along with Mr.Gundersons “success”

Chrisman April 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Yes, how dare anyone follow cycling for less time than me. And then they have the nerve to have ‘opinions’ about it!??! Why don’t they just shut up and listen to me? Dam Team Sky. They’ve ruined EVERYTHING. And Tony Blair. Him and Dave Brailsford have a LOT to answer for.

‘Marginal Gains’

Anonymous April 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Please, do educate yourself a little.

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