Tour de France Stage 17 Preview

The shortest road stage of the Tour and possibly the best thanks to the repetition of Pyrenean passes before a famous summit finish. It’s live on TV from start to finish.

Stage 16 Wrap
The early breakaway went away and came back like a boomerang. 12 riders were clear but Garmin-Sharp missed the move. Given it was one of the last chances for a breakaway to stay away and possibly the last chance, riders and whole teams were under orders to place someone in the move. Once the break was brought back it went clear again, or at least many of the same riders went away accompanied by more to make a group of 21 riders this time with a Garmin-Sharp rider, Tom Jelte Slagter. Not that it mattered, Slagter’s a punchy rider but not for the long climbs. The move of 21 riders took more time than any other breakaway had been allowed so far in the race. The Port de Balès reduced 21 to 3: José Serpa, Michael Rogers, Thomas Voeckler led over the Port de Balès with Vasil Kiryienka and Cyril Gautier 20 seconds behind.

Europcar played the numbers game on the descent with Gautier getting away. But if you’re alone in a break against a team with two riders what do you do? You need to end the numerical superiority and the best way to do this is to wait for one of them to attack and then jump clear when you can. Rogers did exactly this, chasing down Gautier and passing him just before a small rise during the descent. The slope was enough to condemn Gautier’s chase efforts as Rogers had the momentum and got a gap big enough to exclude Gautier from his slipstream. If Rogers won with a late move he was dressed for success, wearing a skinsuit for the longest stage of the race. Many seemed delighted by Roger’s win but with such a past (I stress past) it’s hard for this blogger to get all that excited but that’s my problem, not yours.

While Rogers was winning the future of the sport was still racing down a mountain. Separate from the stage win we had second race with the GC candidates. Movistar upped the pace on the Port de Balès and several Astana riders fell out, a now customary scene. In time Tejay van Garderen cracked and it wasn’t a slight difference in speed, he was dropped like a sack falling off the back of a truck. The next big name to pop was Romain Bardet, this time less dramatically but enough to lose time. Both riders see their chances of a podium place evaporate but in this topsy-turvy Tour of surprises never say never.

Ag2r’s leadership question is settled and Jean-Christophe Péraud might still have an eye on the podium too. Movistar’s acceleration helped Alejandro Valverde but worked out perfectly for Pinot and Péraud as it distanced their rivals. Pinot took things into his own hands with a series of attacks that dropped everyone including Vincenzo Nibali for a moment although arguably the Sicilian just let him take a few metres knowing the descent would let him come back. Pinot rode a fine descent and helped by fine team work put more time into Bardet and van Garderen.

The Route

  • Km 57.5 – Col du Portillon (1 292 m), 8.3 kilometre-long climb at 7.1% – category 1
  • Km 82.0 – Col de Peyresourde (1 569 m), 13.2 kilometre-long climb at 7% – category 1
  • Km 102.5 – Col de Val Louron-Azet (1 580 m), 7.4 kilometre-long climb at 8.3% – category 1
  • Km 124.5 – Montée de Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet (1 680 m), 10.2 kilometre-long climb at 8.3% – category H

The start in St. Gaudens is right next to the foothills of the Pyrenees and the race heads straight up the Garonne valley and into Spain to continue up the Garonna valley. It’s here that the Col du Portillon starts.

The Portillon’s Spanish side is a regular road with a series of hairpins and a steeper middle section, short and not too sharp. It should not do too much damage by itself but it adds to the day’s vertical gain. The descent is steep to start with before a gentle middle section and then another steep drop into Luchon.

Like much of the Pyrenees, you drop down into the valley, cross a river, and climb straight up the other side. Next comes the Col de Peyresourde and the riders start by climbing the road they took in the final minutes of yesterday’s stage. It’s a long and steady climb on a very wide road – two buses can pass each other – and lifts itself up over the valley wall with a few hairpin bends. Nothing strategic here but it’s another draining climb. The descent’s shorter and has few bends.

After crossing the valley and circling the lake at Loudienvielle it’s uphill for the Col de Val Louron-Azet an unheralded jewel of a climb. It’s got a tight series of hairpin bends that allow the road to quickly climb up above the valley. It’s steep too especially at the start. Further up the slope eases but the roads gets more narrow. The descent has two sections with hairpins and straight into St Lary Soulan.

The Finish: “just” 10km but steep right from the start especially in the series of hairpins after three kilometres. It’s irregular all the way. The gradient eases when they come into the Pla d’Adet ski resort but if the green gradient above suggests the slope eases it’s still uphill to the line.

The Scenario: normally the GC teams will be keen to set a fast pace to control the race but will Astana want to do this? They led for much of yesterday’s stage only to get blown away later. I can’t see Astana supporting Nibali all the way to the finish so they might prefer to back off for the first part of today’s stage. This might give a breakaway a better chance to stay away.

The trouble for a breakaway is that as fast as they can go, they’ve got teams and riders who can go faster. So for the move to survive it needs some good climbers. This is no stage for a rouleur because as soon as one climb is done there’s a descent and it’s straight up the next climb.

The Contenders: Thibaut Pinot’s attacks on the Port de Balès briefly saw him distance Nibali and prior to this he’d shaken everyone else of his wheel including Alejandro Valverde. If he can repeat again the final climb then he’s a prime candidate for the stage win. Especially as he’ll look to exploit any weakness in Valverde and Jean-Christophe Péraud. Vincenzo Nibali though has been the most consistent uphill and voraciously so, he might want to add a win in the Pyrenees for the fun of it.

Leopold König is now a GC candidate and won’t get much room for manoeuvre so he too will have to try and match the GC riders and then clip away in the finish. Maybe Pierre Rolland could do the same but the Frenchman is starting to look stale.

Rafał Majka has a decision to make: go in the breakaway or hang with the GC riders? He’s got the ability to win in both scenarios but I think he’ll try the breakaway as this helps his bid for the polka dot jersey, he can rack up more points during the stage. Another breakaway candidate is Sky’s Mikel Nieve and the same for Joaquim Rodriguez although “Purito” isn’t quite so convincing. Alessandro de Marchi’s bound to try but the Italian’s probably not got the zing needed for such a short stage.

Thibaut Pinot, Vincenzo Nibali
Leopold König, Rafał Majka
Mikel Nieve
Roche, Rodriguez

Weather: sunshine and clouds with a top temperature of 24°C.

TV: live from start to finish. KM0 is at 1.45 Euro time with the finish planned for 5.25pm. If you can’t watch it all, the penultimate climb from Loudenvielle starts around 4.30pm.

52 thoughts on “Tour de France Stage 17 Preview”

  1. I was also a bit conflicted about Rogers’ win but I guess he took it well and I am not a fan of Voeckler’s antics. I was hoping for Kiryienka to blast past them all in the final KMs but he hasn’t seemed quite the same this year as previously. OGE must be bitterly disappointed that Albasini couldn’t hang with the breakaway on the climb: not a good tour for them at all.

    Kudos to GvA and Koenig on their amazingly quick descents today (and to Pinot for apparently overcoming this weakness). Every time I think the final podium is looking more predictable, someone falls away (Teejay today): a sign of a good race I guess! I’d think I am not alone in hoping that Nibali is flanked by two Frenchmen instead of Valverde.

    • Some of the quotes in that article are laughable. Levi, Big George etc – liars and hypocrits. The sport is better off without them. The sport will also take a big step forward when anyone who raced at this level prior to say 2008 retires! Omerta apologists and cowards. Such as everyone’s favouriite octogenarian who said nothing to stay in a job. I wish him a flat about 4km from Paris.

    • Mick, What you posted is a direct quote from the article link, but it’s from 2010. It wasn’t until May 2011 that CBS’ “60 Minutes” first broadcast the doping allegations and of course Floyd Landis made accusations in 2010. Well, 2010 was a pivotal year in the whole doping problem in cycling. But why did you post this 4-year old article here now? This article has all the (now known) dopers making statements that were all lies, and they represented themselves, or implied, that they were clean. And at that time, some fans likely believed that these riders were clean. Big George was the biggest disappointment for me. Hypocrites, yes!

      When Rogers won the stage, I thought like many of you (likely) about his boss, Bjarne Riis and what a dirty liar he is. Was Rogers clean? Time will tell. I certainly hope so.

      • Erm, let’s keep this in perspective.

        Whilst it’s entirely possible, that Michael Rogers, might view cycling websites, and indeed The Inner Ring.

        Yesterday, he nailed an outstanding road stage in the Tour de France. After interviews, massage, meal, hotel travelling, minor celebration, sleep, up early, more media, eating, is it that likely, he’d be posting on here…. really?

        Dodger, gave a great interview on SBS with David Mackenzie.
        Neither that interview, or the supposed posting attributed to him, are likely to match.

        • Flashing Pedals, I never intended to imply that “Mick Rogers” the INRNG poster was Michael Rogers, the TDF cyclist. What is posted are the actual quotes that Michael Rogers said during his winning run at the Tour of California in 2010.

          • If you’re a good bloke, you can’t be a doper.

            People will conveniently forget the fact or just not ask.

            This is the Aussie thinking, and goes for many US fans also.

            Not for one minute am I suggesting they doped, but the media and fans could never ask the hard questions of McEwen, Voigt, Horner, even O’Grady. After all, Stuey only used it once, but never inhaled or whatever he said. The teams and team mates make for interesting reading.

            In the meantime we have this stink in the elevator and everyone looking at the ceiling. There’ll be no spitting in the soup for those who want to get a job with current teams.

            Join the dots on the current old heads in the peloton, and some recently retired ones, and you’ll know who and what I mean. Then again, you can just be unlucky by working for teams that end up full of dopers. Just ask Stevo.

  2. Mike, of course the scourge of doping is killing the sport, this is self evident. You need to direct your comments at those involved, not the readers here. I am afraid I was another to sigh when Rogers won the stage. Whilst the shadow of the past exists, wise men will continue to keep their own council.

    Let’s hope today’s stage both produces a winner without baggage and shows the sport at its best.

    • I was another to sigh. Glad to find some likeminded souls on here, and look forward to the day when all those with known baggage have retired. Though the cynic in me knows the next scandal is around the corner – it’s just a question of what it is and who it affects.

      • This will never change, the current crop of riders is being directed by riders from possibly the dirtiest era ever.

        Go through every team, and you will find an ex rider who doped, or was “really unlucky” by being on teams that all doped (ie. the person in question does not have a positive test to their name, ala LA, but the team was later found to be systematically doping). Many of these ex pros now DS’ are unrepentant too, I struggle to find a mea culpa from Vaughters admitting to being a doper.

        When the current rider says he needs something to get him through this tough patch, or that extra 5%, or even that he wants to win the stage after a rest day, what does his team DS say?

    • Majka, another Riis product and his second stage win…hmmm. I agree with “BC,” “Whilst the shadow of the past exists, wise men will continue to keep their own council.”

  3. I loved yesterday’s stage, first time this year we really saw riders dragging themselves up in agony. It’s being a very demanding TdF, everybody is more or less cooked by now. Anything can happen today, or especially tomorrow.

    • Very unlikely… but look at the Dauphiné, it can happen. And the short stages encourage it, see the Tour de France in 2011 when the rode up the Galibier on the way to Alpe d’Huez. Contador went up the road, Evans chased, Voeckler in yellow too but he cracked. Such a scenario might be more probable on the Tourmalet tomorrow.

  4. Another great preview, thanks inrng!

    I’m just wondering, has ASO made a deal with the region’s of the pyrenees to bring the tour up certain climbs? Looking at the route from the last few years it seems that certain climbs get used every year ie Peyresourde, port de bales etc. Not to say these climbs aren’t great viewing but it would be nice to have some variation, such as climbs we haven’t seen for a while like Superbagnères.

    • The short answer is yes. But the longer answer is that there are only a few cols in the Pyrenees so the race has to cross the familiar ones every year. The Tourmalet is by far the most used climb in the race with 79 crossings.

      Luchon and the surrounding area seems to have bought the full package, we had the stage finish at Peyragudes in the Tour recently and this was also used in the Vuelta too (remember ASO owns the Spanish race now).

      Whatever the commercial dealings it’s making for good racing with Pla d’Adet a tough climb today and tomorrow’s Hautacam finish is one of the hardest going. The disappointment would be finishing somewhere boring.

  5. Haha indeed, I love the pyrenees for the climbs it brings every year, it does seem luchon get the big share of advertising each year which I presume they must pay handsomely for. Thanks for the response

  6. I have said it before; to my mind it’s my opinion, dopers are akin to thieves because they steal the results & winnings of clean riders.
    It sickens me to see (and hear on TV) lovefest coverage of past dopers and how well they are doing now.
    For the sake of the future our sport, think sponsorship money people, we a need a cull so we can say goodbye & good riddance to all dopers be they returning cyclist, team mangers/DS’s and team owners, so that we can build a sustainable financial model for the long term survival of our sport.
    It’s hard to believe but I have heard that some teams (non in the TdF that I am aware of) are so low on sponsorship money that are now taking on some riders in on “pay to ride” contracts…if there was ever recipe for doping this has to be it, not to mention that a wakeup call for how doping has messed with our sport.

  7. I agree Mr Inrng, just can’t get excited about the older generation who have suspicious links to the past. Looking forward to them retiring, leaving, hopefully, a new clean generation.

  8. As a bike rider myself, I enjoyed watching yesterday’s stage unfold.
    The TV images, jumped around a bit too much, but watching the break, and Voeckler showboating, just made watching Dodger take the win, apt.

    It did make me think of nationals, few years ago, when Rogers & Hanson, got walloped at the finish, but that’s another story!

    Dave Mackenzie (sbs) interview of Rogers was impressive, as was Dodger explaining his attitude change, to risk, etc.
    Honest and refreshing, worthy stage winner.

    Today’s stage, could blow the GC apart, Pinot strong contender for 2nd, providing his legs have recovered, equally Nibali was isolated, when will he have that “off” day, if at all?

    Valverde, well he’s just reminding me of the bike rider who’s stayed in the bunch too long.
    No magic tricks left, though he does rival Voeckler, for “deadsh#t” expressions.

  9. Dave, re your team finances/rider comment.
    That scenario has existed in lower ranks, for many many seasons.
    I have seen it gradually creeping upwards into higher level teams, so it’s no big surprise.

    One of the biggest scandals, exists from some race organisers, who “invite” lower level teams to their big stage race event, where they can compete against Pro Tour teams. Organisers are forbidden from charging entry fees, so they mask it as “marketing” expenditure, and charge accordingly.
    Lower level team sells their soul to get a start in the race, as it hopefully leads to exposure, which in turn, hopefully leads to financial marketing partnerships, occurring.

    I’m old school enough, to hope that a talented cyclist, will find a team that recognises the talent, and signs the rider on ability.
    I’ve seen riders, with wealthy associates, or big bucks from daddy, progress to big teams, where the rider can’t effectively, scratch his arse in terms of talent, or justify their place, yet got ride, because of the money on the table.

    I’ve seen teams sign riders with no individual wealth, or particular talent, solely on basis that, that rider, is from “X Country” and that company, based in that country, has “income/product” we need, etc.

    That is business marketing, but some bike riders, signed on that basis, are so evidently out of their league, it’s embarrassing to watch.

    I’d hate to see the point, in professional cycling, where it mirrors the financial F1 circus that drivers in that world, have experienced….

  10. In Rogers, I see a guy who has been riding better results ever since (assumingly) the peloton has become cleaner and cleaner. Every rider at the T-Mobile team has been linked to doping and therefore Rogers as well, but the fact that (apart from the ridiculous clenbuterol case in Japan) he has never been caught despite being a triple world champion (and therefore getting plenty of attention) speaks in his favor. But I have been wrong before.

    Now, for today’s stage: there will be an equally interesting battle at the back as the heavier riders will struggle with the time cut today. How much time can they lose as an estimate? I did some calculations, and with the average time schedule at 34 km/h, they can lose 15 or 16% of the final time. On a stage time of roughly 3h40m, that means they have about 35 minutes. Tough.

    • Thomas, Lance Armstrong, “Seven-Time TDF Winner” (cough, cough) had also never been caught, never according to himself tested positive though he’d been tested over 500 times…until he was outed by his former teammates. So, not being caught means nothing. Microdosing and doctors who know how to keep their rider’s blood “under the radar” are still a problem. Having friends in high places and/or having money can get your positive test to just go away, like in Lance’s case.

      Agree with other posters. Until the older generation are all retired, get caught and kicked out, die of old age, are assassinated or get run over by a bus, suspicion will remain and for good reason.

  11. I’m rapidly losing interest in this TdF and I hate that I am.
    The Menchov/UCI publication thing gave me a really sour taste, but only because they’re not learning.
    The UCI are human and don’t get it right, but at least learn and improve continuously! Don’t keep making the same stupid mistake…..anyone who does is either completely not self-aware or deliberately obstructive to change.
    Being seen to be overly open and even making mistakes by publishing early results would be better because then they’d be seen as real protectors of the sport. Their job is to protect the sport, the riders should protect themselves by forming a Riders Union. It’s a critical contradiction that the governing body must consider the riders before the brand!

    Mick Rodgers being re-instated for accidental Clenbuterol injestion when Contador was punished makes almost no sense to me.
    It was in his body, tough!
    Did Alan Baxter (Scottish skier, 2002 Winter Olympics)) who used an over the counter nasal spray for a cold which had a banned drug in it (same brand in UK if I recall correctly was OK to use) still lost his medal due to Strict liability. The athlete is completely responsible for everything they have in their body.

    Simply put, Mick Rodgers should not be racing – his Giro and Tour stage wins leave me feeling sick!
    The UCI need to actually wake up and admit they have loads to learn and are not actually good at managing cycling…yet. Alcoholics need to admit failure before they can really be cured.

    And I don’t want to get started on Nibali and his management team of dopers who still do not admit they were wrong. Grrr
    IF…IF Sky are clean as they say, I think their model is the best approach.

    I DO NOT want to buy products draped on the shoulders of cheats.
    The sponsors should push for no inclusion of known cheats in their teams.
    Dopers should have to retire due to no work opportunities. There is ALWAYS another young rider who could make it to the top if the ex-dopers weren’t in the way taking up a seat!

    And relax!

  12. It was Daryl Impey getting popped for a masking agent that got me.
    You want to believe that ‘the new generation’ are clean, but that was a real kick in the teeth.

  13. Surely if it’s disconcerting to see Rogers win, it is also disconcerting to see two young guns for the GC getting popped by Piti Valverde’s team’s forcing too?

  14. I friggin love the Tour de France.

    I came in thinking it was going to be dull relative to some of the spring classics, but the vast majority of stages have been great.

    • Yup, the overall story and racing itself is crazy interesting, but is it real?
      I really hope so but there is currently almost nobody left at the front who hasn’t openly lied to the world about their abilities somewhere along the way.
      It’s still stinks of Omerta.
      I feel it’s like watching rodeo-riding. You know someone will get smashed soon, but you don’t know when to look and when to turn away 🙂
      Nibali, I just can’t see it. Maybe old-boy Horner will smash him today & tomorrow, like last year!
      Just please please don’t let Valverde win! lol

      • Hate Valverde yet hope Horner will win?

        My apologies, but I see that as very twisted.

        Horner has never tested positive, but geez he’s been really unlucky by riding amongst dopers on team after team. He’s also been a very average rider for years, then at aged 62 becomes a Grand Tour winner (and in the ‘loosest’ of Grand Tours).

        Horner raced with US domestic (with a host of riders now since disgraced with their EPO and HGH use) Team Saturn. Horner’s team mate Matt DiCanio stated in 2005 that Horner once said many years ago “It isn’t cheating if everyone is doing it.”

        Horner’s blood values from the 2013 Vuelta had a high hemoglobin concentration, claimed by some as simply too high to be natural. An article in Velonation by Shane Styokes said, “there’s certainly unusual patterns.” He compared Horner’s bio passport to other profiles he has seen working as an anti-doping authority and concluded that “…most of those that come across to us are suspicious. Most are there for a reason. What I have seen with this particular profile is similar to those other profiles.”

        If Horner rides into the top 10 GC or a stage win “they” will have won.

        Thanks for at least giving it a line, because other cycling websites are glorifying Mick Rogers more than Phil & Paul did to Lance.

  15. The saddest thing… Fans unable to see cycling, they just see doping stats moving up and down the road.

    Well, no, maybe something is even sadder: the fact that all the doping stats these people “see” and consider are the result of the prevailing “discourse” (combination of rhetorics and power) in a given moment.
    Where “rhetorics” means mainly the depiction of some characters as “evil dopers” and of some others (especially teams or nations, not specific individuals, so that you don’t risk to lose the faith if a specific *good* rider is caught)… as the “army of clean cycling”. Whereas “power” means the fact that antidoping is not – quite obviously – equal for all, hence the paradox: structures (teams, riders) linked to established powers (ASO, UCI, big sponsors; riders’ agency or teams with good relations with the previous) produce less incidents, but at the same time they may in fact “dope more” without being caught. Or, for example, they may receive a *warning* (lesser incidents) preventing some big publicly recognized and remebered scandal.

    For example, people start suspecting Nibali becausa of Astana’s management, and maybe didn’t blink when HTC or Sky tried to sell themselves as clean teams (with sporting directors and doctors who…).

    What about FDJ and Madiot? – oh, yeah, he admittedly cheated “but only in crits, never in a race” 🙂
    I guess this is considered way better than Vinokourov, no? Because he “confessed” or what?
    Not to the mention the *problems* FDJ had under Madiot, both at the end of the ’90s and in the 2000s.

    Not that I’m saying Astana is clean, or FDJ is especially prone to doping, both statements would be just false. And just as I referred to FDJ, I could simply do the same with other teams, sporting directors and so on, who are commonly looked at as “clean” or representing “new cycling”.

    What I’m saying is that it’s impressive how distorted is the perspective of some fans on cycling history.
    Lack of memory, or – even worse – selective memory, commonplace opinions, non sequiturs…
    Maybe if these people tried to watch racing as such, they would discover that in the middle-long term it’s easier to recognise those whose performances actually rest *mainly* on doping.
    But are they interested in something like this? Recognising true cycling talent? Or are they football fans, whose only interest is finding a justification to blame the “enemy”, the “disliked cyclist”, while eulogising their cycling pets?

    • I agree totally. History gets shaded pink – but then that’s a typical human reaction. If we love something, we tend to forgive easier – see Pantani-mania. If we hate something we expand on it.
      Some of us hate cheats more than we love a specific “hero” and vice-versa.
      I thought Lance was brilliant! I admit it. But now, he is a disgusting cheat.
      He is still human though – he did raise millions for Cancer research so very likely saved lives.
      The fact we’re human and we’re competing for glory/money/marbles means someone will cheat.
      Should we try to weed them out – totally. Never accept cheats because winning clean gives the greatest satisfaction.
      For me personally, I LOVE watching pro-cycling. I love the battle on the road and the inter-rider battle too! I just lament the hidden side of it all.

    • The reason why it attracts so much attention is because it’s seems you have “openly” expressed your feelings about a particular rider. At least for me, this line didn’t surprise me because it’s about Rogers but because it’s the first time that I can recall you letting us readers know how you feel about a rider (or at least it seemed that way).

      This just goes to show how we’ve all become used to the balanced analysis that you provide, which is one of the main reasons why myself and many other readers continue to read your blog. Keep up the good work!

      • True although it was more a note that it’s hard to get excited about a lot of older riders, it’s less about the individual here. Like I say above he’s got his past but do many.

        To touch on the clenbuterol point above, there’s much greater probability of contamination from eating in China (and other countries, eg Mexico) than Contador’s Basque steak hypothesis and this probability explains the varied outcome.

    • It wasn’t that like Chris pointed out “you openly expressed your feelings about a particular rider” It was how you described yoursel as a mere blogger! Mais non siryou are totally more than that and i thankyou for your excellent work

    • Before I had scrolled down to your comment from 1:52 pm while reading the comments I already intended to ask whether you regret that you made that comment (in your text) about Rogers.

      I don’t want to elaborate on this not least because gabriele already contributed a post with which I very much agree. But I can’t help but wonder why you deviate from your otherwise very thoughtful dealing with the doping theme. To brand a rider like Rogers as a doper or ex-doper – and that’s what you did at least for the perception of most of your readers – has not been your style so far and I’m sure it will not become your new style. So what’s your special problem with Mick?

      You are not one of those guys who dreams of and yearns for a “better” professional cycling circus where all those who were already involved in the sport some ten years ago somehow suddenly leave the scene, do you?

  16. It’s an unfortunate consequence, of ingrained behaviour, that’s led to the present state of professional cycling.
    Bike riders cannot have it both ways.
    The scrutiny with which professional cyclists, team managers, team owners, et al, find themselves under, is a reflection of the current state of professional cycling.

    As one generation of former cyclists moves into team management, sportdirectors, team helper roles, trainers, and if it then occurs that a rider, or riders from that team are then suspected, implicated, caught, sprung, whatever of doping, then it’s viewed as old hands passing knowledge to the next generation.

    What’s the solution?
    Is there actually one, possible?
    Lance Armstrong was viewed as the biggest “catch” out there, but in reality, he was not even close.
    He, was simply one of the most technically efficient. Others, with far more connections, and skeletons, remain within.

    The biggest issue for many enthusiasts, and self appointed “moral monkeys” is that of the many bike riders, who remain racing, they knew and saw, or suspected what many thought, yet remained, silent.

    Now, with the finger pointing and whining, all directed at Armstrong, or previously suspected, or caught riders, you can’t reasonably expect to be assumed clean, or riding eau.naturel.

    I enjoyed yesterday’s stage win, and the way the GC began to unravel.
    That’s bike racing.

    • We’ve all got to deal with the past. Many don’t want to see Vinokourov and Martinelli at Astana but it’s not going to change. Also a manager with a personal doping past who became a manager and knew his riders were using EPO?

      Meet Marc Madiot who has a past but has completely renounced it, supported by a sponsor and now runs a team universally regarded as a healthy place and it’s been so for years and the place for many riders to turn pro (Gilbert, McGee, Wiggins, Pinot) etc. With this in mind it’s not necessary the past but how it’s handled.

      • Well put
        Proof, that word “transparency” and consistency are a way to demonstrate real change.
        But how many (ex)pro-cyclists are actually pro-PR men, pro-business men, pro-anything else other than hard-wired driven competitors?
        Probably no surprise they can’t meet such high demands

      • I think a lot of the responsibility has to come from the UCI doing the hard thing – catching the dopers, making a big deal out of it, cleaning up the sport as much as possible for the good of the clean guys, for the good of those who are trying to break in and for the good of the fans. Some riders will always want to do the ‘wrong thing’, it’s up to the organisers to stop them gaining anything out of it.

        (Having said that, I understand they don’t want to make a big song and dance out of it during Le Tour).

      • Totally agree. It’s like the way Millar handled his ban and comeback compared to how Valverde, Contador etc did. A right way and a wrong way.

        • Going straight to the most hypocrite and highly controverse team around? Show contrition while being often ambiguous about what he knew of the doping system in cycling? I admire Millar, but I wouldn’t define *his* way as right against a *wrong* one.

      • Are you so sure about FDJ as a healthy place?

        I look at Madiot “confessions” as at Ivan Basso’s (something like “I smoked pot but didn’t inhale!”). Strategic. I respect their intelligence, not sure about their (full) sincerity, at least the sincerity of their *words*.
        At least Basso subsequently showed a change in attitude.
        I’m not sure about Madiot.
        He was misteriously saved by the investigation during the Festina scandal, when doping tools were found in his team bus (someone said he hadn’t been incriminated thanks to the “miracles of procedures”).
        He hired Magnien after the Festina scandal, and the rider went on with his *problems* again in FDJ.
        In the late ’90s (with Madiot in charge) there were various cases of soigneurs / dealers trafficking with FDJ (can’t recall their names, but I’m pretty sure they’re easy to find googling around).
        They were working with the riders without Madiot knowing anything?
        What did he think when he hired Berzin? Didn’t he know anything about Gewiss? Though, the big worry was about Berzin’s lack of “team spirit” (to which Madiot answered: “his reputation? I don’t give a damn!”)

        Sorry, I can’t accept neither his policy nor the truth of his declaration: “I didn’t know nor care if riders were taking EPO, what mattered to me was that they weren’t caught”.
        I believe he knew, in the ’90s… and in the 2000s.

        I’m not sure about his conversion (when, how and why? Not just after Festina… that’s for sure. So: when, how and why?).
        Nevertheless, I really hope you’re right, Pinot is a big talent, indeed, it would be a pity if he started to *mutate*. We’ll see on Saturday 😛

  17. Laurens ten Dam said something interesting today. He thinks Van Garderen and Bardet got in trouble yesterday because it was such a long stage. It’s something you hear a lot about Paris-Roubaix and other long spring classics: you need to be battle hardened and experienced to be able to ride them, whereas shorter races favour younger more explosive riders. Why wouldn’t this go for long, hot stages in the Pyrenees?

  18. “…we all have to do everything we can to get away from the doping issue because it’s killing the sport.” could be a quote from the UCI’s Mad Hatter or Mr. Mars. The only way to do such a thing is for the riders, teams, sponsors, etc. to STOP doping. Short-term, win-at-all-costs, ends-justifies-the-means thinking is what brought the sport to this point, only reversing it will save it. While some progress is being made, there are still cheaters out there as we’ve seen recently with various riders being caught, despite having plenty of time to know all about the “new, clean, cycling”.

  19. What a farce! You all sound so ridiculous and utterly naieve. PEDs in one form or another have always been a part of cycling, whether you want to admit it or not. So why not allow a registry of pharmacology where riders and teams must disclose what they are on. This will allow transparency so that the UCI or whatever governing board can kepp track of, test and restrict, if necessary, the PEDs circulating throughout the peloton. Look, whether it’s out in the open or clandestinely done, PEDs will always be around in pro cycling. Just look at this blog for example; everyone loves the excitement of seeing breakout super performances, yet so many are quick to point the jagged finger of “j’accuse, monsieur!” Or worse, some are watching the grand tours with a skewed eye seeing a “doper” in every championship performane. In either scenario, cycling no longer is honest and praiseworthy. Like the abolition of prohibition, or the legalization of marijuana, it is time to look again at the issues and redraw the lines of what is tolerable, rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to the proposal of PEDs.

    • Joe K, each to your own opinions.
      Most contributors to Inner Ring, are enthusiasts,
      usually bike riders, past or present, and have read elsewhere, similar voiced thoughts such as yours above.

      Quite wide ranging knowledge, backgrounds, etc, with some intelligent, thoughtful comments, to a variety of diverse subjects, over the years.

      You’re right, PED’s have been in cycling for a long time.
      Quite a few people, for a long time, have been trying to eliminate, or minimise the use thereof.

      I would suggest the naivety is;
      “So why not allow a registry of pharmacology where riders and teams must disclose what they are on. This will allow transparency”……

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