28 July, 2009

Finishing the Tour like getting out of prison

I guess that's good to know for all those who aspire to ride the big loop.

The quote comes from Bradley Wiggins talking to The Telegraph, the British Garmin-Slipstream rider who finished in fourth place, a huge deal for British cycling.

"'It's a huge relief it is finally over,' he said.

'It's a bit like getting out of prison. I won't know what to do with myself next week.

'I won't have to eat rice and omelette every morning, and get on a bus. It's been mind-blowing these three weeks.

'I never thought when starting in Monaco that I'd see the end of the Tour.'"

Was the 2008 Tour dope-free

That what Jamey Keaten of the Canadian Press asks in a syndicated story. Certainly a fair question, but one that will take time to answer.

He does point out a few things we should all be aware of.

"France's anti-doping agency said Sunday it will retest blood samples from last year's Tour, mainly for CERA - an advanced form of banned endurance-boosting drug EPO"

"This year's tests didn't always go smoothly. During the second week of racing, Bordry accused the UCI on French radio of "laxity" in the testing. He later said the UCI had resolved his concerns."

"Bordry has expressed concerns that a secret wonder drug could simply be under the radar, in what has become a perennial cat-and-mouse game between cheaters and anti-doping testers."

"Before the race, 50 riders faced enhanced testing - including team leaders, race favourites and an unspecified small number of riders with suspicious profiles."

I think it's fair to wonder. With all the new attention and scrutiny on the Tour, it could be seen that nobody getting busted at the Tour would be good for the sport. And, as such, the UCI might want to back off. After Armstrong's kerfuffle with taking a shower while the tester cooled his heels--and not getting punished, critics are right to wonder if UCI testers are going easy on him, and then everyone at the Tour.

Tour de Teamwork

Love the post of this editorial in the Christian Science Monitor.

While I'm disappointed that they think that drugs made teamwork irrelevant, or as they write, "With chemicals no longer the deciding factor, team strategy and tactics took center stage." Should have been "with chemicals no longer front page news, team strategy and tactics took center stage."

We have the good quote from Armstrong, "'Self-interest is isolating,' Mr. Armstrong has written. 'Teamwork is not only performance-enhancing, it's comforting.... The fact is, no one ascends alone.'" So many ways to read this.

THey close with, "Success is often seen as a product of talent. But as Malcolm Gladwell argues in his latest book, 'Outliers,' it's the result of hard labor – and favorable conditions. Authentic teamwork can seem like a lost art in professional sports today. So when you see the yellow jersey, think of the teammates who made the victory possible."

Riding on real butterflies. Armstrong has, and you can, too.

In yet another mega-marketing move, Lance Armstrong has been riding custom-painted bikes at the Tour. They are supposed to go on display and then auctioned for charity.

What I didn't realize is that the frame Damien Hirst worked on for Armstrongs Champs-Elysees jaunt has real butterflies under the paint. apparently the butterflies were specially-bred for Hirst and are supposed to shimmer in the sunlight. I wonder if we're being punk'd, but stranger things have been ridden. I guess.

Here's the story from UK Eurosport.

Here's Trek's press release.

Apologies for the radio silence

Sorry I haven't been in touch. The weekend was a bit bigger and longer than anticipated. six hours of driving and the Tour of Hilltowns road race Saturday and two hours of driving and the Freedom Tour crit Sunday. Didn't watch either stage live. Still trying to figure out how to watch Stage 20s video on demand. With Stage 21, the finale on the Champs-Elysees, wow. Garmin's train looked anemic compared to Columbia's and it almost seemed as if Julian Dean dropping anchor gave Columbia a huge gap that gave Cavendish the win and Renshaw, his leadout man, second.