Wednesday Shorts

One year ago Daryl Impey was basking in the yellow jersey, now he’s announced a positive A and B test for banned substance probenicid. It’s normally a treatment for gout because, to keep it simple, it slows the kidneys from filtering stuff from your blood out to the urine. So it’s handy as a “masking agent”, a rider abusing steroids might use it to retain the anabolic substance in their body for longer and stop it getting into a urine sample. However the mask is obviously very detectable that either Impey’s prodigiously stupid or there’s a genuine explanation somewhere.

There are questions for others too. It took 137 days between giving the sample to notifying Impey, a long delay. Apparently it’s explained by “the unfortunate passing of a key staff member at the doping control laboratory in Bloemfontein in March 2014 also affected the standard turn around time of presenting the final result of the samples from the SA Road” championships. So staff issues rather than anything political.

South African Winner
Impey’s A and B sample findings means there’s little way out for him although the tests are only evidence, it’s for a hearing to determine the “anti-doping violation”. But with both samples showing the prohibited substance a ban is looming. If so he’ll be stripped of the stage win in the Bayern Rundfahrt as all results following the anti-doping rule violation are disqualified. A small irony is the second placed rider that day in Bavaria is a fellow South African, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg of Giant-Shimano.

Now for another tale of doping irony. Diego Ulissi’s provisionally suspended following a megadose of asthma medicine salbutamol in an A-sample from the Giro. This time the test took less than a month. His father named him Diego after the footballer Diego Maradona… who tested positive for an asthma medicine in the 1994 World Cup.

Tour coming?
I’ve had a few messages asking whether the spate of doping stories is related to the Tour de France, perhaps even a push to discredit the sport and gain maximum publicity? Au contraire. Take the Impey case if anyone wanted to hit the sport and get maximum publicity they’d wait until he’d started the Tour de France and perp-walked out of the race. As for Kreuziger it could be co-incidence but it does suit everyone to address the passport case before the Tour de France so that again he’s not withdrawn mid-race. If you want to know what’s discrediting the sport it’s not testing agencies, it’s anyone using banned substances.

The Planche des Belles Filles chalet has burned down. A fire broke out at the weekend and the only building at the top has been destroyed. It’s thought to be an accident and should have no impact on the Tour de France’s stage finish as the building was not going to be used by the race, although its owners now miss the bonanza of food and drink sales on the day.

Tour of Yorkshire
The Tour de France seems guaranteed a warm welcome of the nicer kind this weekend in Yorkshire. The only worry is that the visiting is fleeting, the race will flash past. But ASO and Welcome to Yorkshire, the regional tourist promotion agency are planning to create new stage race, the Tour of Yorkshire. The plan is to put it on the calendar from 1-3 May 2015, subject to the UCI’s approval. Following the Olympics there’s the one day “Ride London” race in August and now the British calendar expands with another stage race in the wake of the Tour.

Giro Rosa
From rose to rosa now. All the talk is of the Tour but don’t forget the Giro Rosa or to give it the full name, the Giro d’Italia Femminile. The women’s Giro d’Italia is a 10 day stage race, so much more than the exhibition criterium “La Course” offered by ASO on the Champs Elysées. A challenging route, a big field and now even the website is working. The race’s only problem is that it competes against the Tour. It does get good TV coverage in Italy but what if it was in August, the perfect remedy for the post-Tour blues? Maybe but it’s for women’s racing to act as a substitute.

BigMat switch
Building materials supply chain BigMat is dumping the Continental team BigMat-Auber. The team’s existed for years with the support of a Paris suburb and BigMat but the business is switching allegiance to sponsor the French national federation, it’s likely to feature on the national kit as a sponsor. Handy for Rio but it leaves the road team high and dry?

French “Team Sky” Update
Remember those plans for a French “Team Sky” with the national federation building a dossier to present a national team to potential sponsors? You could be forgiven if you’d forgotten. The plans have not got very far and there’s nothing in the pipeline either for 2015 or beyond.

Cofidis in the World Tour?
How about a fourth French team in the World Tour? Cofidis are closing to signing Nacer Bouhanni while also having a clear out of their more established names. The likes of Rein Taaramäe, Christophe Le Mevel and Jérôme Coppel are on high salaries but have few results. It could be an agents delight as the team looks to rebuild, all while Belkin and Giant-Shimano are uncertain to remain in the peloton. If there are 17 teams in the World Tour Cofidis could move up but they’d probably only incur expenses because with Bouhanni they’d be a sure-fire wildcard invite anyway.

Donations, Caps and Socks
Work is ongoing for socks and caps, there’s design, specification and more before manufacture. This site has sponsorship for July but beyond this the tip jar might appear in August and with it some news on the gear.

34 thoughts on “Wednesday Shorts”

  1. Thanks for the roundup. I concur with your clear and concise view concerning ‘ If you want to know who is discrediting the sport it’s not testing agencies, it’s anyone using banned substances”.

    If you intend to introduce a tip jar, can you please ensure those of us without a paypal account are able to make contributions.

  2. It really is sad to see that even teams with good results such as Belkin and Giant-Shimano still suffer with the rat race of finding sponsors. But as you’ve explained before, from a corporate point of view it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to back cycling if you could get a lot more media attention with your name in the jersey of a mid-level Premier League team.

    I don’t know about other countries, but in Brazil we can blame football – it’s the only sport anyone cares about until the Olympics, when everyone will demand gold medals from athletes that have gone through four years with little support. Voleyball does ok, mainly because Brazil is so strong and the companies have tax incentives to sponsor sport teams – in the end though, the incentive just means a pipeline to football. If we had specific tax incentives for sponsoring a few Olympic sports, things just might be a little better.

    • Stop that. Blaming football for cycling failures here is just absurd. Football being successful here improves other sports chances. A lot of football clubs invest money into other sports, namely, volleyball (more so in the 80s and 90s, when it was not as professional), basketball, running (think Cruzeiro, for example), artistic gymnastics (I have no idea how this is called in English, hope I’m right, though), and all sorts of water sports are developed by the culture around the traditional Rio clubs.

      So don’t go that route. We do much better than a lot of other third world countries in the Olympics and we do invest a lot of money into that. CAIXA, Banco do Brasi, Correios and Petrobrás are always sponsoring that. Would it be better if were more successful? Of course, but the failures have nothing to do with the fact that football here is world-class.

      • Heitor, there are a few issues here – please keep in mind that I also love football:

        (i) since the public demands football, that’s where most of the money goes. If our interests were more diluted, you’d see sponsors across the board in different sports. Think of the US and football, hockey, basketball, baseball, even MLS. So the main reason is the lack of interest from the public, that’s what really harms other sports.

        (ii) All of the companies you mentioned are state-owned, so they’re pursuing an agenda that goes beyond the marketing interest a private company could have. You see plenty of private sponsors in volleyball, but even they struggle a bit. In other sports, there are virtually no private sponsors, except for a few honorable exceptions.

        (iii) other sports in football clubs are a mere afterthought. Think of the examples of gymnastics and swimming in Flamengo – Olympic medallists in the teams, and they were unmade in a blink. Football is what matters first and foremost.

        (iv) comparing ourselves with other third world countries just won’t do. There are 200 million people here, with the 6th greatest GDP. Our lack of medals comes from a lack of a true policy for sports, not a lack of funds or talent.


  3. The most interesting thing for me n the Impey case is that it appears the procedural disclosure rules were actually followed; it didn’t become public until after the A and B samples were tested.

  4. I have to say something – does Stage 2 of the TDF from York to Sheffield not look a bit frigging mental to anyone? 201km with 9 climbs and many more hills and tricky roads? Really?

  5. The ASO Yorkshire race is interesting and the ASO race empire continues to expand with ownership now of the Vuelta and a stake in the Tour of California.

    RCS and the Giro is looking a bit squeezed. Also ASO may be a bit miffed at losing out to SweetSpot for the rights to the Tour of Britain so this is there response.

    On the up side, I can never remember a time when cycling (and road cycling) was so prevalent in Great Britain with the Women’s Tour off to a great start this year, the Tour of Britain moving up a UCI level, and the town centre criterium series which is well supported and televised.

    I hope British Cycling can eventually put together a bid for the World Road Race Championships, I can think of several regions of the UK where this would work really well.

    And agreed, the Women’s Giro is in totally the wrong place in the calendar and is overshadowed by the Tour de France. It needs to move.

    • Sir,

      Can you respond to my question about the Stage 2 parcours? Phrases like ‘hideously challenging’ and ‘way too dench bruv’ spring to mind. What if OPQS/Vanmarcke/Cancellara go into full classics mode, causing Team Sky to crash en-masse into a poorly positioned old woman, leaving only heroic GT to lose 40 minutes, crying.

      What if this happens? Who takes responsibility? I fully expect at least 3 genuine contenders to crash and Contador to spend the entire time shaking his head knowingly to the camera bike. I hope it rains to fuck. Please tell me Stannard is fit. At least give us our Ian.


      • I’m confused, it’s a bike race isn’t it? Don’t we want it to be hard? I’d be more worried about the cobbles to come rather than a mini liege-Bastogne, which the GT contenders have been involved with in the past.

      • I hope it doesn’t rain ‘to fuck’. Standing on exposed moorland for three hours with two sm,ll kids in torrential rain doesn’t sound that much fun. We are seriously considering taking a storm shelter along as the current forecast is for heavy showers. The forecast is also for a steady breeze, although it will be a tailwind after Holme Moss.

      • If that scenario pans out look for Simon Yates to hang on grimly and leave them all for dead on Jenkin road. I’d be worried about GT losing his bearings after Holme Moss and heading off to the Manchester velodrome.

          • btw thanks for the responses to my post…panic over I guess! And would be sod’s law to get rain/storms after an unusually excellent week of weather. Hopefully will be a belter.

  6. I’ve ridden stage 2, i’m a middle aged commuter that doesn’t get out that much. I cannot imagine the course will cause many issues for the pro’s except for the narrow sections with stone walls either side, (especially if it rains). An example would be the descent into Holme before the bridge that leads to climb. The climb itself will cause no great concerns to sprinters imo.

    A slight concern I found last weekend was the farm owners have put some large stone sleepers at the side of the road (I think to stop cars parking on the verges). If one of the peloton has to bail through lack of space moving up there could easily be a pile up.

  7. Re: the Impey case, I guess they only tested urine and not blood? Because the probenecid (if I read Wikipedia correctly) should increase the blood levels of whatever he was masking. Assuming he was masking something. But using stuff that was already detectable on Delgado and has been illegal since shortly thereafter as a masking agent indeed makes no sense. If I understand it correctly it is also included in some medicines like antibiotics but in that case it should be on the label and he should have checked.

  8. I have hypertension and was on a diuretic then developed malignant gout and my rheumatologist got me off diuretics asap. You tale allopurinal for gout. You take diuretics for high blood pressure.

  9. Keen as for the socks, as for Stage 2, it’s the tour its meant to be hard. My mate rode it yesterday he said it wasn’t to difficult.

      • Someone would very soon lose their GMP licence if that were the case. Most finished pharma production lines are dedicated to avoid such a problem. The only time you would have a variety of products would be if they had the same main active substance.

    • Maybe, he doesn’t want the burden of leadership at the team. Would make a good domestique. But he’s character, very dedicated to strict training. Marc Madiot once quipped something like “selecting him for a race seems to disturb his training plans”.

  10. Last night NOS broadcast a 30 min special on Bauke Mollema and Laurens ten Dam preparing for the Tour (and lead-up races) with altitude training. It was a nice piece if nothing to revelatory. Mollema trains with teammates at a sports hotel in the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain, doing 6-hour training rides and HIIT (8x 4min blocks up a climb). Ten Dam opts, with team blessing, to stay in California after ToC, to train at altitude in Truckee, does his grocery shopping at Safeway, and goes fishing with guys from the local bike shop. He uploads training data into a special software that they team can review, provide feedback on etc.

    Of course the purpose of the ‘documentary’ wasn’t to give super insight into the training, but for potential sponsors and skeptical fans to see “we make natural EPO at altitude; not by cheating”, and to drum up interest in three-weeks of TdF coverage by the broadcaster. Still, it was worthwhile – all in Dutch of course, I don’t know someone will post it up somewhere with English subs, called “Trainen in de Ijle Lucht” (

    Tonight, they will show the documentary of Team Giant-Shimano (then Argos-Shimano) from last year’s TdF, “Nieuwe Helden: In de Hart van de Tour” (New Heroes: In the Heart of the Tour).

  11. “If you want to know what’s discrediting the sport it’s not testing agencies, it’s anyone using banned substances.” Thanks for pointing this out. I’m really tired of the anti cycling conspiracy theories.

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