Is Traffic Furniture Making the Tour de France Dangerous?

July 13th, 2010

Lance Armstrong of Radio Shack

The first week of racing at the Tour de France has left the peloton battered and bandaged. It has left some people wondering if the course has been too dangerous. I don’t remember where but I did read one article that said it was just bike racing and it hasn’t been that bad. Chris Carmichael and Greg Lemond have both written that it was a rough week.

Lance Armstrong has had particularly bad luck in this year’s Tour. He lost nearly 12 minutes after crashes in Sunday’s stage. Honestly though I’m more surprised that he won 7 consecutive Tours without any bad crashes or getting sick. With 3 weeks of racing for each one, that’s nearly half a year without an illness at the wrong time. It did seem he had stomach ailments one year and sat in on some flat stages.

In Carmichael’s article, he talks about some of the reasons why there may be more crashes now and why there are more broken bones. One the reasons he talks about is more “traffic furniture”. He says, “the small towns and cities throughout Europe have been steadily placing roundabouts, speed bumps, chicanes, and narrowed sections of road in place in order to slow down traffic.” Not only do they increase the chance of a crash but can make for a harder landing.

Hopefully now that Lance is out of GC contention, he’ll go for some stage wins and make for some interesting racing. He has also said he’ll ride for Levi Leipheimer. There’s still plenty of exciting racing left no matter what Lance does.

- UltraRob

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Disappointed with Floyd Landis

May 20th, 2010

Floyd Landis and Dave Wiens at Leadville 100

In an interview with ESPN, Floyd Landis confirmed that emails the WSJ obtained to cycling officials and sponsors admitting to doping during his cycling career were his. He was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after testing positive for synthetic testosterone. He still says that he didn’t take synthetic testosterone in the 2006 Tour de France. There was sloppy lab work but after spending $2 million he still lost his doping case.

Not only did Landis, admit to doping but accuses Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie and other top American cyclists of also doping. I’ve long believed that most if not all top Pro cyclist are doping to some extent so I don’t find his accusations surprising. The thing is he says he doesn’t have any evidence to prove they did.

It’s one thing if he wants to clear his conscience of what he did. It seems like he’s trying to get back at others with his accusations.

- UltraRob

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Tour de France Insider Tweets

July 12th, 2009
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Twitter has become popular in the last few months. Lance Armstrong has been using it for quite a while and tweeting regularly. This year there are several riders, crew and commentators tweeting from the Tour de France.

I decided this weekend to put a page together that updates with the latest Tour de France riders, staff and commentators tweets. I’m intentionally not getting twitter search results for #tdf because of the large number of tweets.

Bookmark the page and get the insiders view of the Tour de France. If you have suggestions on improving the page or other feedback, leave a comment below.

Below is a sample of some recent tweets. Go here for the latest tweets.

http://twitter.com/tourfrance Tour-Armstrong has rendezvous with Contador in the Alps (Reuters) http://ow.ly/15Hxip

lancearmstrong Oops, sorry. This is the video link. http://tinyurl.com/nmcn9o

lancearmstrong On the plane to Limoges. It’s about 120 degrees in here. Hotter than donut grease. Haha.

LeviLeipheimer The crowd on the Tourmalet was RIDICULOUS!! It was awesome! Thanks to everyone who journeyed their way up there

CadelOfficial http://twitpic.com/a4no4 – We’re looking after our young Matt Lloyd as best we can….

CadelOfficial I got mooned racing through Lourdes today…. Err….enlighten me…. is that special?

mickrogers Stage went much better today. Back felt 100% better than yesterday :-) On the way to the airport to catch the TdF charter plane

LizKreutz http://twitpic.com/a4aol – Holy crap! Descending Tourmalet with French TV (since they have a green sticker and can be in the middle of t …

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Lance Armstrong Confirms Plan to Win 8th Tour de France

September 9th, 2008



Today a video was posted on LiveStrong.com with Lance confirming he plans to come back and win an 8th Tour de France. The Vanity Fair article that VeloNews said was to announce his comeback has also been posted online.

In the Vanity Fair article he says he had an epiphany at the Leadville 100. Even before that he must have been thinking about a comeback because he had already asked to be put back in the out-of-competition testing pool.

The impetus to come back, he says, sprang upon him quite unexpectedly over the summer, in Colorado. Armstrong had an epiphany on August 9 after placing second at the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain-Bike Race—a 100-mile “Race Across the Sky,” which climbs to more than 14,000 feet. That ascent, cycling upward in a crosscurrent, tripped something primal in him. “It wasn’t a lightbulb going off,” he says, but a realization, combined with a gradual frustration “with the rhetoric coming out of the Tour de France. Not just the Tour on TV but the domestic press, the international press, the pace, the speeds at which participants rode. It’s not a secret. I mean, the pace was slow.

“Then Leadville, this kind of obscure bike race, totally kick-started my engine. For me it’s always been about the process.… The process of getting there is the best part. You start the season a little out of shape, a little heavy. You get in better shape. You lose some weight. I mean you’re just crafting this perfect program. For several weeks I [had] trained [for Leadville] and went riding by myself. Obviously beautiful territory and fresh air, just feeling fit, losing weight, getting strong—living a very healthy lifestyle. I thought, This might be fun to try again.”

One correction to that quote from the Vanity Fair article is that the high point of the Leadville 100 is 12,600 feet instead of over 14,000 feet. The 14,000 number was also in articles when it was announced he was racing at the Leadville 100. It could be referring to the cumulative climbing during the race. I think there’s about 13,000 feet of climbing but I’ve also heard numbers higher than 14,000.

The Vanity Fair article addresses the question of why he’s coming back. He says it’s all about increasing cancer awareness and funding. He will announce an international LIVESTRONG strategy on September 24th in New York City at the Clinton Global Initiative.

Those close to him at the Lance Armstrong Foundation also realize it’s a huge risk. Even if he wins the Tour, it may not be a big deal to a lot of people. If he doesn’t win, people may use that to say he doped in the past to win.

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Will Lance Armstrong Race in Tour de France Again?

September 8th, 2008

Nate Whitman Leads Lance Armstrong at the 2008 Leadville 100

Nate Whitman Leads Lance Armstrong at the 2008 Leadville 100

Update: Lance has confirmed he plans to win the Tour de France again.

Lance Armstrong may have raced in the Leadville 100 to test himself for something bigger. Today VeloNews published the rumor that Lance Armstrong may come out of retirement and race in the 2009 Tour de France.

My initial reaction when I saw the headline was that it had to be a joke. The article seems serious though. Although I can understand him missing competition, he went out at the top of his sport and I’m not sure what he has to gain by coming back. Doing something like the Leadville 100 allows him to compete but not be compared to when he was at the height of his career.

According to the article, he would race for Astana for no salary or bonuses. Interestingly Astana is sponsored by Trek and Johan Bruyneel is the team manager. He would have the same bike sponsor and team manager as in his 7 Tour wins.

In addition to the Tour de France, he may do

  • Tour of California
  • Paris-Nice
  • Tour de Georgia
  • Dauphine-Libere

Related Links: Lance Armstrong and Dave Wiens Leadville Videos | Lance Armstrong’s Leadville 100 Bike | Leadville 100 MTB FAQ | 2007 Leadville 100 MTB pictures

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Greg LeMond’s Air Force Academy Speech

April 20th, 2008

Greg LeMond spoke at a fundraiser at the Air Force Academy last night. It was only $15 for USA Cycling members. I was considering going but with everything else I have going on I decided not to.

Did anyone else go? The only thing I’ve found about it was an opinion column in The Gazette.

I used to be a big fan of LeMond. When he was winning the Tour de France, was when I was really getting into cycling. I dreamed of becoming like him.

The last few years, LeMond seems to have become bitter. He’s squabbled with Lance Armstrong and accused him of doping. He accused Floyd Landis of doping. LeMond tries making it sound like he won everything clean. Cycling has a long history of doping even much farther back than LeMond. I’d like to think he won clean just like I’d like to think Armstrong and Landis were clean. Unfortunately with all the doping scandals of the last few years, I don’t think many if any top pros raced clean. There’s also the fight between LeMond and Trek.

LeMond was in town training and checking out the velodrome for a possible hour record. I think it was 1991. My friend figured out he was staying at the Broadmoor hotel. He saw him leave on his bike mid morning one day. The next day we just happened to be casually riding around the hotel about the same time.

LeMond came out and headed out for a ride. He kept messing with his shoes and we caught up to him and never let on we knew who he was. After riding with him for to the edge of town, he explained that the he was going to use the motorcycle in front of us to do some motor pacing. He said he’d be going very fast and would be riding very close to the motorcycle. He asked us to not stay with him.

Later that day, we found him at the velodrome. After he was finished training, I was able to get a picture with him. I haven’t seen it in a while. He also autographed my foam helmet. I still have the helmet in a box.

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Landis Loses Fight to Keep Tour de France Title

September 20th, 2007

Floyd Landis at 2007 Leadville 100

The arbitration panel released their decision in the Floyd Landis doping case today. It ruled 2-1 against Landis. He can appeal the decision to Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

He will lose his Tour de France title and be banned from racing through January 29, 2009. USADA had wanted the 2 year suspension to start today. Landis had wanted it to start from when he was fired by Phonak last year. The arbitration panel ruled he had voluntarily agreed to not compete internationally on January 30, 2007 and used that as the start of the 2 years.

USADA has posted the decision. It’s 84 pages and full of legalese and technical details of the testing. Although they agreed that the T/E testing was sloppy and didn’t prove Landis doped, they ruled the more complicated IRMS was reliable. Christopher Campbell, the desenting arbitrator disagreed. Even the 2 arbitrators that ruled against Landis issued a warning that they had concerns about the French lab that did the testing. Trust but Verify has a few posts with more details of the ruling.

I’m not surprised by the ruling. Although I think doping is common in cycling and other sports, I think the anti-doping establishment is corrupt. They have rules that make it hard for one lab directory to point out errors made by another lab. The French lab leaked Landis’s positive tests and have leaked other results. In the US you have to agree to arbitration to race. USADA chooses the acceptable arbitrators. Not surprisingly this case makes USADA 35-0 in cases brought to arbitration .

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Michael Rasmussen Kicked Out by Rabobank

July 25th, 2007

Michael Rasmussen has been sacked by Rabobank and kicked out of the Tour. Rabobank sacked him when they found out that he was in Italy during June when he claimed he was in Mexico training. His wife is from Mexico.

I can understand not letting the UCI know every day where you’re going to be. It does seem it would be a pain but lying about where you are that’s just wrong. I could look past him not keeping his whereabouts up to date and I think it’s not uncommon. It doesn’t look good but doesn’t mean it’s intentional. Lying where he was says to me he was up to no good.

Looks like the current Top 5 in the Tour is:

  1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Discovery 76 hours 18 mins 25 secs
  2. Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto @ 1 min 57 secs
  3. Levi Leipheimer (US) Discovery @ 2 mins 49 secs
  4. Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC @ 6 mins 2 secs
  5. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel @ 6 mins 29 secs

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Yet Another Doping Incident at the Tour de France

July 24th, 2007

VeloNews Photo

I’ve liked Alexandre Vinokourov riding style for a few years. He’s does a lot of attacking. Some of his attacks didn’t make sense when he was riding for Ulrich on T-Mobile but at least it made for interesting racing.

He was the favorite to win the Tour de France this year. A crash during Stage 5 left him banged up and he needed a lot of stitches. He limped through the Alps but came back to win the time trial on Saturday. Then yesterday on a brutal stage in the Pyrenees he won another stage.

It’s just been announced that he tested positive for homologous blood doping after his time trial win on Saturday. Of course he can ask to have his B sample tested. So what is homologous blood doping? It’s using someone else’s blood. Riders don’t like using their own blood for doping because they can’t train as hard for a few weeks after blood is drawn. What was he thinking? At least when Tyler Hamilton got caught he didn’t know a test had been developed to detect homologous blood doping and was the first to be caught. The report is that the whole Astana team has withdrawn from the Tour de France.

In other doping news, Pat McQuaid, UCI president has said he doesn’t want Michael Rasmussen to win the Tour. Rasmussen has failed a drug test but has missed 2 random out of competition tests. It doesn’t look good but it takes 3 missed tests to be considered a positive test.

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Is the UCI Trying to Ruin the Tour de France?

July 21st, 2007

This year’s Tour de France may be the cleanest Tour in recent history but that still hasn’t kept doping from being in the headlines. During the early stages, Versus had to adjust their programming schedule because the stages were taking longer than expected. There was talk that maybe the riders didn’t feel right without their drugs.

First it was that T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz had failed a doping test while during a training camp before the Tour. Just like Floyd Landis, he had elevated testosterone. Only the A sample has been tested and Sinkewitz has asked for the B sample to be tested. Before the positive had been announced he had crashed and was out of the Tour from hitting a spectator.

This week the doping news was that yellow jersey wearer, Michael Rasmussen, had failed to keep anti-doping officials informed of his whereabouts and they couldn’t find him for 2 random drug tests. He hasn’t failed any tests but missing 3 tests is considered a positive.

Also on Friday he was accused of trying to get Whitney Richards, a former mountain bike racer from Boulder, to take a Biopure to Italy for him. Whitney had been told it was a box of shoes but he opened it because he was having trouble getting everything to fit in his suitcase. Cyclelicious posted an article with more about Biopure including a link that says it isn’t performance enhancing.

I’ve long believed that the top pro cyclists were doping. I also think doping is a problem in other sports. How about Barry Bonds and the giant football players? It doesn’t seem people care so much about them though. Maybe it’s because in the US cycling isn’t as well understood.

I’m all for cleaning up cycling and other sports but there seems to be an attempt to attack the Tour de France. With Floyd Landis there were leaks to the press and mistakes by the lab. Throughout his whole case it has seemed that anti-doping authorities and the UCI have wanted to take him down no matter what.

Now with Rasmussen, the timing seems to an attempt to make the Tour de France look bad. The random tests that Rasmussen missed were on May 8th and June 28th (I’ve also seen a couple other dates close to those). Rasmussen was warned on June 29th by the UCI. Why was it not announced until July 19th while he was wearing the yellow jersey? It’s not like they had to wait for tests results. They just couldn’t find him. The Danish Cycling Federation says it announced that he was off the national team because he incorrectly stated he had only missed one drug test. He has been given blood tests on June 30, July 5th and 17th and he has given urine samples on July 15th, 17th, 18th and 19th. The UCI hasn’t released the results of those tests.

The UCI should be promoting cycling but instead it seems intent on destroying a part of it. Tennis and soccer players were also involved with Operation Puerto but the governing bodies haven’t allowed names to be released. The UCI and ASO that puts on the Tour de France have been involved in a power struggle the last couple of years. The UCI wants their ProTour to have the prestige and power instead of the Tour de France. Let’s clean cycling up but let’s not destroy riders because of a power struggle.

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