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Le Tour est Termine’

July 28, 2010

Well, the Tour de France has concluded for another year.  Alberto Contador won without winning.  Lance finished his last tour with a whimper.  Andy Schleck gave his all…but it wasn’t enough.  Everyone crashed.  Conclusion:  it sucks to be clean.

More Human than Human

Is it just me, or did the entire peloton seem just a little more human this year?  Many debilitating crashes, riders without their usual “oomph” on final sprints, fewer climbing attacks–Contador appeared beatable in the mountains this year.  My opinion is with such a bright light on athletes and doping, especially in pro cycling, a greater majority of riders rode “clean” than ever before.  All of this being said, I also paid more attention to this Tour than any other, so part of it may just be me.

Stage 2 Destruction/Truce/Poor Thor and Co.

A motorcycle went down in Stage 2 and poured oil all  over the road, effective kryptonite for about 80-100 pro cyclists who hit pavement.  In the ensuing carnage, some were left back with injury, others had trouble finding their bikes, and so the peloton made a silent agreement to soft-pedal the last 25K.  No one attacked.  This consensus was not contested by the sprinters, although one had to feel somewhat bad for the lot, especially Thor Hushovd who busted his tail to keep at the front through the mountains and was ready to grab points toward the green jersey.  He was neutralized by terrible luck and injury in the peloton.

Fabian Cancellara, bearer of the yellow jersey in Stage 2, helped teammates Andy and Frank Schleck climb back in to contention, and lost the yellow jersey in the process.  It is really rare to give up the yellow willingly, but in order to help his team make the time cutoff, Cancellara did just that.  Plus, it would suck to not have any team support with 18 stages yet to race…I think it showed a good deal of sportsmanship on the account of Cancellara.  Did he bully the peloton to keep from attacking, or did they hold back, respecting the maillot jaune?  Who knows?  I would say that when you bite pavement, downhill at about 40mph, it makes you gun-shy in a bunch sprint at the end of the day.  Once again, these are humans racing, not robots. 

On stage three, amongst the cobbles, Chavanel flatted twice and Cancellara attacked, regaining the yellow jersey.  Some criticized him for this, but cobblestone stages are rough and you drop riders who flat and have minor crashes.  That is a part of racing.  Stage 3 is exactly what was expected, and Cancellara attacked as well he should have.  An oil-soaked downhill claiming a majority of riders in stage 2 is not normal, and the pros handled themselves accordingly.

The Mark Renshaw ejection for head-butting was interesting as well.  As Mark Cavendish I would be proud to have a lead-out man such as Renshaw willing to sacrifice himself (and potentially others) to help hand me the stage win.  I have no problem with some jostling for position–if you want to enter my line and lock handlebars, I will do what is necessary to protect myself and my line.  Using one’s head as a battering ram, however, should not be tolerated simply for the risk to the riders immediately behind.

Team Radioshack won the Team Competition, and received a stern talking-to by the UCI and tour organizers for changing their kit at the start and delaying the race.

All black "28" kit signifying the 28 million afflicted with cancer worldwide

  I agree with the Unholy Roleur that this was a shameless publicity stunt that could have been avoided by meeting beforehand with Tour organizers, and in response to his question:

Hey, if this is the new norm and if I drop my pants and start waving my schwantz around at a wedding, will saying “I did it to beat cancer” keep the cops from arresting me?

Probably, yes.  Cancer-fighting is the ultimate force-field.

As a ridculous side, conspiracy-theorist question, I submit:  What if Lance never had cancer?  By claiming that he did he could answer justifiably “yes” to whether he had ever taken EPO.  He says himself in Comeback 2.0 that the doctors esitmated his chances of conceiving naturally after his treatment to be essentially nil.  And yet he has since fathered two children…  Admittedly huge in its ridiculosity, and at the risk of stirring anger in Lance supporters and cancer-fighters worldwide, it’s not impossible.  However, the good that is done through LiveStrong fundraising (whom I myself support) far outweighs revealing the truth, were it to be so, in this instance.  Although I love as much as the next guy seeing a hero torn down due to impropriety, ignorance is bliss, and cancer doesn’t care.

The Dope Show

More allegations by Floyd Lanids cast a shadow amongst Tour riders including the likes of (of course) Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, and Dave Zabriskie.  The only thing different about his diatribe, this time around, is that Mr. Landis has stirred the ire of Jeff Novistky, an agent with the FDA, most memorable for his role in exposing performance-enhancing drugs in baseball and track and field.  If you haven’t read Game of Shadows that details this investigation, it is an eye-opening read.  I promise he was dumpster-diving behind Team RadioShack’s hotel. 

Were I doping, I believe I would choose to have one half-pint of my blood drawn, a few weeks before the race, I would remove most of the plasma component of my blood with my handy-dandy centrifuge (which Rich Dillen discovered you can buy on ebay), and have them injected back into my bloodstream at the appropriate time, enabling my blood to carry more oxygen to my tired, “Alberto-Contadored” muscles.  I bet Andy Schleck would have given up the left of two tender bits to have a few more oxygen-carrying red blood cells floating around in the Tourmalet.  The beauty of this is that there is no drug residue, as with EPO [EPO is the shorthand for “erythropoeitin”, a drug given to increase red blood cells–often given to cancer patients to help them feel much better during chemotherapy], for which to test.  If I were smart, and could afford it, I would hire a technician able to determine just how many RBC’s could be returned to my blood to give me an advantage and yet fall below the red-flag triggered by too high a number on a CBC (complete blood count).  [*Phew*]  I’m glad I’m the only person that’s thought of this.

So did Lance (and others) do this?  I think that doping was so rampant back in the early to mid-‘aughts that nearly all of the teté de la course enhanced their performance in some way, shape, or form.  Would the accused have strong enough character to refuse to dope when most other contenders surely were?  I doubt it.  Would I?  Who knows?  It’s pretty easy to sit back and wag fingers when my performance is irrelevant.  But if mere seconds cast over a period of twenty-one days could separate me from the millions associated with a Tour win in the GC, it would be a very tough call.  I think whether or not Lance doped, the playing field was basically even.  If everyone has the same advantage, what advantage is there?

Why is Government Getting Involved?

Well, if the US Postal Service team was selling bike frames on ebay in order to fund their illegal doping activity, as Floyd suggests, that is misuse of federal funds.  If Lance is a part owner of the team and found guilty of using and directing others to cheat using illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and/or selling bike frames on ebay, then that is a problem as well.  That is why Lance through his attorney has gone to great lengths to prove that he was just a foot soldier obeying orders.  If he can prove that he was just doing as he was told then he can effectively throw someone else under the bus.  I seriously doubt there is any evidence remaining that will be a smoking gun in this case–I think Novitsky is going to bluff and hope that one of them refuses to lie under oath.  Perjury is a credible threat, although the pro cyclisti (other than Floyd of course) appear to be unwilling to rat each other out–it will be interesting to see if anyone cracks.

Lance’s comments already imply a veiled threat to the prosecution.  In a nutshell:  I’ve done a lot of good for a lot of people with LiveStrong.  If you bring me down, you will deal a blow to the fight against cancer–and may kill people.  If you want their blood on your hands, have at it.

Next for Me

It hurts much less to sneeze, indicating that my ribs are indeed healing.  My left foot hurts less also, and does not hurt pedaling in stiff cycling shoes.  I’m hoping to enter a sprint to olympic-distance triathlon in the early fall before the commencement of ‘cross season.

One Comment leave one →
  1. brkeyes7 permalink
    August 17, 2010 5:54 pm

    Nice Rob Zombie reference! And I’d love to headbutt someone someday.

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