Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bahati Foundation to Race at Tour of Utah

Hey boys and girls, it is time once again for the Tour of Utah! Billed as America's most difficult stage race with three thousand feet of climbs: including the infamous Little Cottonwood canyon climb, thirteen kilometers at eight percent, with a mountain top finish at Snowbird ski resort!

The USA Cycling sanctioned Tour of Utah will include five stages with the time trial prologue at the State Capitol. Stage 1: Ogden to Salt Lake includes East Canyon Lake, Big Mountain, Emigration Canyon, Little Mountain, a good afternoon ride, ending at Research Park in Salt Lake City. Stage 2: Thanksgiving Point to Mount Nebo. Stage 3: Individual Time Trial at Miller Sports Park. Stage 4: Park City, Utah: Downtown Criterium. Stage 5: The Queen Stage, ending with a brutal climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird Ski resort.

The teams have been announced but the team rosters have not! The Tour of Utah press release mentions BMC Rider George Hincapie as a participant. Jeff Louder, winner of the 2008 Tour of Utah and who in 2009 placed third overall, will race. David Zabriskie will be in town. Bahati Foundation will field a team, for the Tour of Utah without Floyd Landis, who was recently released from the team after Landis accused seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of doping allegations. Floyd Landis raced at the 2009 Tour of Utah with OUCH presented by Maxxis, with average results. However, the decision of Bahati Foundation to part ways with Floyd Landis after he admitted to performance enhancing substance use during the 2006 Tour de France, may have prompted OUCH to withdraw as a sponsor. Consequently, there have been conflicting reports that the Bahati Foundation Cycling Team will cease to exist for financial reasons. So will Bahati Foundation race the Tour of Utah? Stay tuned for further updates.

Also missing from the 2010 Tour of Utah; Rock and Republic Racing and 2009 Tour of Utah winner Francisco Mancebo. But, as Strbuk pointed out in the comment section, Micheal Ball is currently under subpoena in the Jeff Novitzky doping investigation.

It has been widely reported that Levi Leipheimer will race at the Tour of Utah.

To the people who write and print the Tour of Utah race program: Steve Miller, guys, please include the rider bib numbers this year when you publish the team rider lists. Last year at the prologue the fans I talked to all complained about this omission of the rider numbers; be more circumspect, please!

I will try to update information on the race as it becomes available and include some photographs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2010 Tour de France; Alberto Contador Wins

The 2010 Tour de France was an odd race with many problems and with consequences that may have lasting effect for a good number of years. The first two stages were mired by multiple crashes, rain soaked roads transitioned into ice skating rinks, when riders attempted to navigate turns in the road, the bicycles refused to respond. Unattended dogs ran onto the course causing further mayhem. By the time the race covered the seven sections of cobblestone road used in Paris-Roubaix, the Hell of the North, over half of the peloton had fallen, some with serious injuries. The Stage three cobblestone road was a hot, dusty affair with additional crashes. Frank Schleck retired with a broken collarbone. Mechanical problems were common on the cobblestone road. Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador both lost time due to flat tires.

The fact that the riders continued to race on the cobblestone roads after the bloody mayhem of the first two stages confirms the fact that pro tour riders have balls of steel. Unlike some wimp sport such as the National Football League where injured players retire to a training table for treatment and where players have a whole week to recover from injury, professional cyclists hold on to a medical car traveling down the road at thirty miles an hour, are patched up on the spot by a doctor, and then paced back to the pack by teammates. Failure to return to the pack after injury means the broom wagon. And in contrast to the NFL, riders are required to ride stages day after day with little or no recovery time. This is why the Tour de France is considered the toughest sporting event in the world and why it is beloved by cyclists. Cyclists have an astonishing ability to crash, to be injured, to shake off the dust, and to continue to ride, just like their heroes! Some dolts don't get it and never will, but morons like Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio who don't understand the majesty and beauty of the Tour de France, do have an astonishing ability to generate vitriol against cyclists among people who are prone to be aggressive drivers. Drivers who spit on cyclists, who throw objects, who honk horns in your ear, who shout obscenities in your face, who open car doors, who give you the middle finger salute, and who try to run you off the road. Among other crimes.

Yes, I was speaking of the Tour de France and got distracted on a tangent. Mark Cavendish won five stages. Cadel Evans wore the golden fleece but had to retire after suffering a fracture to his elbow during a fall. French riders won six stages, which may or may not indicate "clean riding." The race finally boiled down to a duel between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck; a contest that should have been decided on the Col de Tormalet in the French Pyrenees mountains. But!

Chain Suck Spoils the Day

Chain suck is caused when the chain skips a cog on either the chainwheel or the freewheel ending up against the frame or wedged between the freewheel and the spokes. During Stage 15, Andy Schleck with a :31 second lead and during an uphill attack against Alberto Contador on the Port de Bales experienced freewheel chain suck, his chain was stuck behind the freewheel against the wheel spokes. Schleck's bicycle rolled to a stop and at this moment Alberto Contador attacked, contrary to the unwritten law of cycling etiquette which states that the golden fleece is never attacked during a crash. Contador gained :39 seconds, which in an interview after the stage he considered "insignificant." The significance of the :39 seconds would become apparent at the end of the race, however.

Andy Schleck was an angry man at the conclusion of the stage and he vowed revenge. Schleck declared that he would attack on the Col de Tormalet and take back the time he had lost.

In the meantime, on Stage 16, Lance Armstrong, now hopelessly behind in the general classification, attempted to win a stage with a break away. Armstrong failed to win the stage, but his effort was appreciated by the fans, being that this is his last Tour de France. Team Radio Shack claimed that Lance Armstrong lost significant amounts of time during the race in order to conserve energy for the stage win attempt. No harm, no foul. Have a good retirement Lance Armstrong!

Stage 17 was do or die, win or lose, all in. Andy Schleck had to attack to make up the lost eight seconds he lost to Alberto Contador on the Port de Bales. The attacks were fast and furious up the fog and mist shrouded Col du Tormalet. Fist Andy Schleck attacked, then Alberto Contador counter attacked in a classic mono a mono duel. The duel ended in a draw and no change occurred in the general classification, however.

Alberto Contador did gain an additional :31 during the time trial stage and all was over. Andy Schleck lost the tour by :39 the exact amount of time Alberto Contador gained when he attacked the golden fleece. If Alberto Contador would have been a gentleman and waited for Andy Schleck to repair his chain; the race would have ended in a tie!

Andy Schleck was the supreme good sport and gentleman to Alberto Contador after his anger subsided; shaking his hand and sharing a joke; a picture of pure bliss. The behavior of Alberto Contador is a different matter, however. El Pistol should be aware that as of now he is a marked man. Cycling races used to be among gentlemen who worked as a team; not about me, me, me. Now it is Viva Yo, me first, piss on you. Alberto Contador has been a lucky man, he won his first Tour de France after Micheal Rassmussen was ejected by Rabobank for lying about his whereabouts and for missing out-of-competition drug tests; during a Tour de France which Rassmussen would have won.

Beware; Alberto Contador. Instant Karma is going to get you! Next time you may be the person with a mechanical problem! Expect to be attacked!

See you all next year!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Floyd Landis Doping Allegations Warrants Grand Jury Testimony

New York Times reporter Juliet Macur has reported that a grand jury will be assembled to hear testimony relating to the accusations made by Floyd Landis that Lance Armstrong used and encouraged teammates to use performance enhancing drugs during the era when Tailwind Sport was sponsored by the United States Postal Service.

The Federal probe is being lead by Food and Drug Administration investigator Jeff Novitzky. Novitzky is best known for leading the probe of Victor Conte and the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO): a company that trafficked a unique designer performance enhancing drug "the clear" to track athletes Marion Jones and Tom Montgomery.

Apparently, the Federal Government and Novitzky are most interested in determining whether Taliwind Sport or anyone associated with Tailwind Sport used U.S. Postal Service sponsorship money to fund the acquisition, purchase, or financing of performance enhancing drugs during the U.S. Postal Service Professional Cycling Team years. Associations could include rider Lance Armstrong as well as his teammate Floyd Landis.

The Federal Government also is interested in probing whether Tailwind Sport used a organized doping stratagem for profit. This would constitute, de facto, sport fraud.

Greg LeMond is Subpoenaed as a Witness

The investigators have subpoenaed Greg LeMond as a grand jury witness according to ESPN. Although it is difficult to understand what sort of evidence Greg LeMond could contribute to the investigation in the way of knowledge of performance enhancement use by the U. S. Postal Service Team; there is still the issue of the airport telephone call where Greg LeMond accuses Lance Armstrong of making threats. In response to the grand jury subpoena Kathy LeMond is reported to have said "We are overjoyed, I hope the truth comes out." Yes! There are so many questions to ask Greg and Kathy LeMond. For example: How did Kathy LeMond compile such an exacting transcript of the alleged threat; did she have pencil and paper at the ready when Greg took the call? Or was the conversation reconstructed after the fact with embellishments? Kathy LeMond should remember that this is not an arbitration hearing where the prosecution witness is allowed to testify without cross examination. There will be defense lawyers who will attempt to discredit Greg LeMond, they will question his agenda, his motives. The grand jury will ask questions. This should prove interesting.

Greg LeMond: Mr. Clean?

Greg LeMond is one of the best cycling historical revisionists. LeMond claims to be the only Tour de France champion in history to ride clean; in a clean peloton. Is this claim creditable? No. There was doping going on during this period: Dr. Francesco Conconi was dispensing performance enhancing substances to Italian athletes with the blessing of the Italian Olympic Committee as early as 1980. These substances included rEPO and human growth hormone. Dr. Francesco Conconi also provided the following cyclists with performance enhancing drugs: Gianni Bugno, Laurent Fignon, both of whom were contemporaries of Greg LeMond. Francesco Conconi also trained another doping doctor who might be of interest to the Federal Grand Jury investigation: Michele Farrari. Nevertheless, myth one of the Greg LeMond fabrication is debunked.

Oliver Starr, who was a ten year member of the U.S. National Junior and Senior Teams made this revealing statement concerning Greg LeMond:

I raced against LeMond, rEPO couldn't be detected at the time but was widely available. Who says LeMond was clean? Him? Look at his performance from the beginning of the year to the end. His improvement was beyond miraculous the year he won the Tour de France after being shot-----it was indescribable. Dropped at DuPont by the sprinters on the climbs, to winning the Tour de France a few months later, unnatural is the only word that comes to mind for that kind of improvement and I was there to see it first hand. LeMond should shut up lest someone find an old vial of his urine on ice somewhere and run a few tests on it.

Oliver Starr raises an important point that cannot be ignored. How could a man who was dropped by sprinters suddenly solo to the top of L'AlpeD'Huez with teammate Bernard Hinault in the 1986 Tour de France? This exceptional exponential increase in performance in so short a time must place Greg LeMond as one in six billion as a cyclist. Unnatural? Perhaps. But there are no conclusive tests that Greg LeMond ever used performance enhancing substances. But Greg LeMond has an unusual aptitude for beating people who had known associations with doping doctors: Gianni Bugno and Laurent Fignon for two. Impossible to beat a doped man while clean? Not according to Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong. So yes, Kathy LeMond, I hope the truth comes out and clears the air, once and for all. If you are disappointed that your man rode dirty...well that can't be helped.

Will the Grand Jury file an Indictment?

Unknown. But until then everything is speculative and not of much use. The prosecutors might also want to invite Michele Farrari (doctor blood) to testify. But if Michele Farrari blood doped Lance Armstrong, he was privately employed, so there will be denial, denial, denial, no proof, and probably not much information coming from this source.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lance Armstrong Is Cooked

Good things don't last forever. Lance Armstrong has finally reached the point in his career where he cannot continue to win races. Armstrong had a run of bad luck with three falls during the 2010 Tour de France; he lost large chunks of time on the cols; he may have been injured more severely than he admitted to. Nevertheless, Lance Armstrong is cooked, his attacks of old and his former superior climbing abilities have waned. Lance Armstrong can't attack the young guys anymore. Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck, and Cadel Evans are too strong. Levi Leipheimer is the leader of Team Radio Shack now.

Passing of the Torch

Before the 2010 Tour de France Lance Armstrong told the world that this would be his last Tour. Armstrong told the world that it was time to spend more time with his five children. An excellent, commendable idea. But Lance Armstrong said the same thing in 2005 when wearing the golden fleece in Paris, he said, "fair well to the Tour forever."

This retirement did not last long. Lance Armstrong joined Johan Bruyneel, Alberto Contador and Team Astana in a "comeback." There was immediate team friction between Contador and Armstrong, a rivalry that turned vicious during the 2009 Tour de France. Alberto Contador won the 2009 Tour de France and amazingly Lance Armstrong finished third. Some critics claimed that the 2009 Tour de France would have been a Astana "sweep" Contador, Armstrong, Leipheimer, if only Contador would have been more of a team player and followed the orders of Johan Bruyneel. During the 2009 Tour de France, Alberto Contador launched what most cycling experts consider a foolish attack; this attack dropped teammates Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer and allowed Frank Schleck to win the stage and Andy Schleck to reach the podium in second place overall in Paris.

During the awards presentation of the 2009 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong announced the formation of a new team, Radio Shack. While Team Astana was celebrating the 2009 Tour de France victory, Lance Armstrong and his new Radio Shack lieutenants were having a banquet celebrating the formation of a new team.

Alberto Contador and team Astana may feel justified, if not smug, for the 2010 Tour de France collapse of Lance Armstrong. It is an end of an era for the man who many considered indestructible. Lance Armstrong should have never returned to professional racing, he has suffered physical injuries, broken collarbones, eye lacerations, injuries to his hips and shoulders; accidents that never seemed to occur during his seven year Tour de France reign. The goddess of cycling seems to have turned her back on her favorite son and the result has been devastating.

Age has caught up with you Lance Armstrong. For your own safety; quit now. Enough is enough. How much fame and money do you need anyway?

It's Not About The Bike

Sadly, the Lance Armstrong saga is not over. Off the bike may be a bigger challenge than colliding with the pavement at forty miles an hour. It is not "only about the bike." There is still the Floyd Landis federal investigation of allegations that Thomas Weisel Partners and Tailwind Sport committed sport fraud when Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis were teammates on the United States Postal Service Professional Cycling Team. There are accusations that Lance Armstrong encouraged Floyd Landis and other U.S. Postal teammates to use performance enhancing substances. The doping crimes seem to have been organized.

Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, and the other people involved had better pray that this case does not drag on for the next seven years!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cobblestone Causalities

The 2010 Tour de France has been most interesting. Multiple rider crashes, blood, broken bones. General Classification favorite Frank Schleck suffered a broken collar bone and withdrew from the Tour. Stage three of the race included eight sections of cobblestone road. The greatest causality of the cobblestones, Lance Armstrong. While Lance Armstrong was getting a wheel change, Alberto Contador, Alexander Vinokourov, Cadel Evans, and Andy Schleck hammered to gain time. Indeed, the Lance Armstrong flat tire in the Arenburg Forest (the most difficult section of cobblestone road in the world) was lethal. Armstrong will never make up enough time to win the Tour de France; this is not 1999 and his incredible luck seems to have vanished.

Amaury Sport Organization has, once again, lost their collective minds. Everyone knows that early stages of the Tour de France has skittish, nervous riders, and the early race is accident prone. To include a stage three that contains eight sections of cobblestones, after the probability of bloody mayhem of the first two stages, is a feat of bad planning comparable only to sadistic acts of cruelty once enjoyed by loathsome miscreants; Henri Desgrange or the Marquis de Sade.

In the old days when riders used to carry their spare tires around their necks, begged housewives for provender, when riders shared bottles of wine while riding the road, when the stages were hundreds of kilometers long, when the mountain roads were unpaved single track, when bicycles were so heavy that they had to be pushed up hills, when saboteurs who wished to influence the outcome of the race threw nails into the road, when new inventions like the derailleur were promptly banned by L'Auto and the brake was attached to the front wheel; and when the riders had to perform their own bicycle repair; Henri Desgrange was considered a man who could teach the Marquis de Sade how to make people suffer.

Well, in 2010 the fans are more sophisticated than to throw nails into the road; but very little else has changed. Amuary Sport Organisation still loves to make riders suffer with cobblestone roads in the early part of the race; when bloodied and bruised riders are trying to recover from broken bones, road rash, and sleepless nights. In addition to the above trauma, cobblestone roads make life miserable for riders and teams in other ways; flat tires, broken bicycles, lost time in repairs. Viva le Tour!

ASO says that the fan loves a bloody spectacle, like feeding the lions warriors at a Roman coliseum. Grand, but a hundred riders on the ground from multiple falls and some eliminated from General Classification contention after three stages; what a bore.

Friday, July 2, 2010

2010 Tour de France; Will Team Radio Shack Survive?

It is time for the Tour de France, which in America is the only race that matters. The rest of the year America slumbers through the bicycle racing season like a somnambulist, only an occasional newspaper story appears related to doping.

Floyd Landis is still alive and talking to the federal investigators about traffickers; past teammates and support staff who he alleges aided him with his nefarious past performance enhancement abuse.

The results of this investigation into performance enhancing drug abuse by Floyd Landis is confidential; but some comments appear to indicate that the investigation is still in the infancy stage. No new career threatening revelations seem to be forth coming; at present.

This is good news for team Radio Shack. Lance Armstrong and his team have not been banned. Johan Bruyneel is still sport director, even though Floyd Landis accused Bruyneel and the United States Postal Service Professional Cycling team of receiving midnight blood transfusions at a French mountain peak rest stop. Allen Lim is still a physiological consultant to team Radio Shack; he has not been arrested, even though Floyd Landis accused Lim of giving him performance enhancing drugs.

Allen Lim is a mystery man and suspect; because anyone associated in any way with Floyd Landis is suspicious. Allen Lim has a huge Cheshire cat grin and an immense ego; he figured out that yarn pasted onto riders could be used to model air flow. Lance Armstrong, the most wind tunnel tested man in the world, has worked to maximize his time trial position with computer generated air flow models using sophisticated computer programs. But the Allen Lim yarn model works better than computers for team Radio Shack.

Allen Lim, the great innovator, has even determined that body core temperatures are critical in performance! When Jan Ullrich was warming up in a air conditioned bicycle shop while Lance Armstrong was warming up under the shade trees; and when Ullrich beat Armstrong by 1:15 in the time trial; and when Lance Armstrong was riding in squares with a dried salt saliva ring around his mouth; and when later Armstrong admitted that he wanted to quit that day; well even the thickest of cyclists learned that body core temperatures were important. Recently, Allen Lim designed ice filled jackets to lower body core temperatures. This is a very good innovation, but not space age design, because cycling clothing manufactures have been working with wicking away of moisture and improvements of air flows through clothing for years. The goal of these clothing innovations? Lower rider body core temperatures.

Allen Lim is suspect because even though he works for cycle-ops and is an expert in power by riders measured in watts; he must have known that the impossibly high watts generated by Floyd Landis during those training rides in Spain must have had an artificial source, performance enhancing drugs, if Lim is half the physiologist that he claims to be.

So, the nonsense that Allen Lim asserts as to the shock he experienced when Floyd Landis tested positive during the Tour de France is difficult to believe, even though Lim proclaims himself as a tour de force anti-doping crusader. If something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Because no matter how you spin it riders need help to defeat doping tests and that help must come from a medical or physiological experts of some sort. The excuse that the WADA anti-doping laboratories are incompetent, though true, is not enough to explain how a rider could abuse performance enhancing drugs for years without being caught.

Team Radio Shack is alive and well today but will they survive the 2010 Tour de France? Will some revelation of wrong doing destroy the team? Will the team be expelled during the race?

WADA, the UCI, and The Dope Testing

One footnote: The dope tests will be done by the WADA laboratory at Chatenay-Malabry once again. WADA will do a report on the UCI anti-doping efforts done during the 2010 Tour de France. We only hope that this report is more than self serving drivel written by WADA.