How The Race Was Won. My like Cyclocosm!

I am a big fan of the guy, and he has an amazing motor in his legs. He made a magistral demonstration of his power today and won the Strade Bianche race in Tuscany, around Siena.

In the words of Jered Gruber, in his great account of the race on Pez Cycling:

It has been far too long since we last saw Spartacus unleash massive nuclear fury on his pedals. It’s baptismal in its beauty and awesomeness. Cancellara is time trailing. Cancellara is gone. This is classic Cancellara. 

Cancellara – one attack, one solo effort, victory. There are few more impressive than Cancellara when he’s on. He doesn’t just win, he destroys.

The highlights of the race:

Christophe Le Mével on the Passo del Rombo (Timmelsjoch)
(via @inrng)

The Tour de France has now been on for over a week, but the really hard part starts now. Most (French speaking) fans buy l’Equipe, which has always great coverage. The online version is ok, but not fantastic. Which makes sense, since they want you to buy the paper version.

But the online coverage elsewhere is great, and here are my daily sources of information:

In French, I never miss the article in the daily Libération by Jean-Louis Le Touzet, who always has an alternative take on things. Despite being a total cynic, and sometimes a total idiot, he has interesting things to say. The article of the day is behind a pay-wall, but the ones from previous days are available for free. Le Monde also has interesting articles, but very doping-centric, which is tiresome.

For the live feeds, that is normally country specific. I use the Belgian french-speaking public broadcaster RTBF or just go to my office’s “common room”, to watch the finale on our big-screen TV, together with a multicultural set of cycling fans.

I am quite busy with work related things right now and have less time to post (or to ride for that matter). But vacation is nearing and will give me back some time to post again!

In the meantime, a great parody of the euro PRO style from Robin Moore, who had already given us Performance. Enjoy!




Amusing little interview of Ferdy Kübler, the Swiss cycling legend (and oldest living Tour de France winner) in the Tagesanzeiger, the Swiss daily.


When asked whether he would have been able to compete with the PROs of today he replies:

“Don’t insult me. We were much harder and robust than the PROs of today. There are no real moutain stages anymore. We had distances of over 300 kilometers and had to go over at least eight or nine passes – today, everything is much easier”.


BIG RING RIDING!

 

I have always wanted to see this kind of information from UCI: a list ranking the probability of PROs cyclists doping, on the basis of blood test and the biological passport. Well, now we have it, thanks to the venerable French sports daily L’Equipe (who is owned by race organiser ASO).

The list, without much commentary or context, is available on cyclingnews.com and a scan of the list is available on The Inner Ring blog.

  • I am quite happy to see that it confirms my gut feeling about racers who are clean and racers who are suspicious

For example, it confirms that some of my favourite riders are indeed probably clean: D.Cancellara(0), T. Voeckler(0),  J.Voigt(2), the Schlecks(2-3), E. Boasson Hagen(0), T.Hushovd(0), M.Cavendish(0), C.Sastre(2), S.Chavanel(1), etc.

Who do we find at the other end? Well, D.Menchov(9-HumanPlasma), J.Van Den Broek(8), A.Klöden(7-Freiburg Uni-Klinik), T.Martin(7), A.Petacchi(6-Mantoue), A.Ballan(5-Mantoue), A.Contador(5-Positive 2010, Puerto), A.Vinokourov(5-Positive 2007, Puerto), B.Wiggins(5).

  • What does the “suspicion score” mean?

0 and 1 mean that there is pretty much no suspicion of doping. For 2,3 and 4, there are some vague informations, with sometimes an isolated abnormal value, but nothing very serious. Starting with 5, the suspicions are much more specific, with some very affirmative comments on some of the riders. Above, for scores of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, we are talking about riders whose biological passport has already been the subject of a report by the UCI antidoping experts, without the rider being suspended. Some of those riders are the object of very serious allegations, such as recurring abnormal profiles, enormous variations, identified doping products and method of administration, etc.

So, bellow 5, probably ok. Above 5-6, probably not ok.

  • L’Equipe also made average scores per team.

The six cleanest teams are the four French ones (Cofidis, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Française des Jeux and AG2R-La Mondiale), followed by Garmin-Transitions and Cervélo. All those six teams are members of the Movement For Credible Cycling (MPCC), along with Skil-Shimano and Bretagne-Schuller. On the other end? Well, Astana and Radioshack…

  • They also made statistics by nationality.

The cleanest are the French, the Dutch and the Swiss, and the most suspicious the Ukrainians, Kazakh, Russians, Belarusians and Italians.

  • What to make of this list? 

I think it is good that information like that gets out, despite my unease with breaches of privacy rules.

It confirms what everyone is saying: riders are doping less in the peloton (only 27 out of 198 above 6, the average score of the 2010 Tour de France peloton being around 2,434). Sure, some of those with a very low score are perhaps just better at mastering the biological passport and ensuring a flat hematocrit and hemoglobin profile. But to do so, they cannot dope heavily like riders used to up to the mid-2000. They have to remain reasonable, which means less super-human (bordering on the absurd) performances by some riders, making cycling more fun to watch.

PS: The most comprehensive website (to my knowledge) on doping in cycling is in French: cyclisme-dopage.com.

 

I have not been following the Giro as closely as the Classics or as I will follow the Tour de France. But I thought it could be useful to mention the very well made website of the Giro, which even offers a free live webstream of the event.

Another interesting find (via the Inner Ring Blog) is the Road Book for the race, normally not made public but which for the Giro is available as a pdf. The level of detail is quite astonishing, with information on road surfaces for the finish for example, and main features of the stage. I wish Road Books were always made available for races!

Update: I almost forgot to mention that two of my favourite bloggers are writing about the Giro, one at Universal Sports (Cycling Inquisition, who signs as Klaus on U.S.) and another at Bicycling Magazine (Bike Snob NYC who signs as, well, BikeSnobNYC). Really worth reading!

“For anybody this is tragic; for us it’s even more painful and profound. This is because so many of us who follow the sport of cycling are cyclists ourselves. Not only can we empathize with the sadness of Weylandt’s family, friends, and teammates but we can also imagine his last moments much more intimately and vividly than we’d like. We’ve all crashed at one time or another, and even if we haven’t been seriously hurt on a bike we all know somebody who has. We know what it feels like when the exhilaration of riding suddenly becomes the horror of losing control, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who could practically hear that scissor snip next to my ear when we saw the doctors cutting Weylandt’s helmet straps.”

A great video from Holland Pro, the dutch tv show presented by Wilfried de Jong, on VPRO. In black and white and a great soundtrack, it really underlines the violence and pain of riding on those pavés. It feels like an charge from warriors of a by-gone area. It is worth it to watch it full screen.