Congrats to Contador

Contador wins the Tour de France, with Armstrong placing a respectable second third. I actually watched a lot more of this Tour than previous ones, the main reason being that versus was showing it in HD, and I could watch it while I was riding the $500.00 towel rack (that is what we call the exercise bike around these here parts). I still have no idea what is going on half the time, and fail to understand the strategy, but the announcers are always talking like there is some secret plan they are adhering to- I just sort of assumed the goal was to pedal faster than the rest of the folks.

At any rate, I was watching one day last week when Contador just burst off from the pack, charging up a hill that was probably too steep for most of us to walk, and he never stopped accelerating. It was pretty damned impressive.






79 replies
  1. 1
    bleh says:

    Armstrong placed third, actually.

  2. 2
    dcBill says:

    Not to be a nudge (clear warning that I am about to do so), but regardless of Contador’s ability to PEDAL, I’ll bet Armstrong PEDDLES better than any of ’em. Just sayin’.

  3. 3
    Downpuppy says:

    Andy Schleck is not amused. He is, however, 2nd.

    And I am third. But not a bike racer. Oh well.

    This edit function is the funnest.

  4. 4
    KRK says:

    The Boston Globe’s “The Big Picture” site has a collection of great Tour de France photos.

  5. 5
    geg6 says:

    I cannot watch sports I simply cannot understand the tactics the announcers discuss but that are impossible to discern from what is on your screen. Cycling is one and NASCAR is another. I think they’re lying to me when they talk tactics to make me feel left out.

  6. 6
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    I just sort of assumed the goal was to peddle faster than the rest of the folks.

    They go up the hill then down the hill. I think they have team strategies where certain team mates sacrifice themselves and set the pace to try and wear out the top opponents, so then the favs like Armstrong can like you say, peddle faster and win, or something like that. Sort of like lineman blocking for no glory, so hero halfbacks and quarterbacks get the touchdowns, and the girls.

  7. 7
    Nethead Jay says:

    Um, no disrespect to Lance Armstrong who I admire but my man Andy Schleck placed 2nd.

  8. 8
    Balconesfault says:

    Yep – in the stage in question, Contador did what Armstrong has done numerous times in the 7 Tours he won – pick an alpine or pyranees Category 1 or off category climb at the end of the stage, and charge up it shredding all his serious challengers hopes in the process.

    Gotta wonder what went through Armstrong head that day as the voices in his headphone kept telling him about the timechecks showing the gap growing bigger and bigger. But yesterday, on the Alp d’Huez, Armstrong still showed his champions heart by countering every attack by Frank Schrenk to secure his place on the podium today.

  9. 9
    west coast says:

    Armstrong is 10 years older and 20 pounds heavier than Contador; the fact that he was on the podium (third, already noted) is pretty amazing.

  10. 10
    Balconesfault says:

    @geg6:

    Cycling is one and NASCAR is another.

    Eh – NASCAR strategy – go fast, avoid wrecks, turn left, don’t run out of gas.

  11. 11
    Nethead Jay says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    I think they have team strategies where certain team mates sacrifice themselves and set the pace to try and wear out the top opponents, so then the favs like Armstrong can like you say, peddle faster and win, or something like that.

    Ayup, that’s a well-known tactic and there are others but I’ll restrain myself. One of the thing I find fascinating about cycling is the combination of individual and team performance.

  12. 12
    Balconesfault says:

    @Balconesfault: anyone know why when I try to edit my comments, I get:

    “You do not have permission to edit this comment”

    Bike racing is like cardiovascular chess. All day long, you have to expend energy to stay near the front of the pack, and to stay with key breaks to have a chance at winning. You chase too many of them, and you’re dead when the key break happens … you fall asleep at the wrong time in a 4 hour stage, and a breakaway is 40 seconds down the road and you’re having to fight your way past teammates of the guys in the break to have a chance at chasing it down. And like as not, one of those teammates is going to ride your wheel for as long as you pull him and then attack to drop you the first time you show any sign of weakening.

    I’m looking forward to Lance and his Radio Shack team. If he’s committing to coming back next year, I’m not writing him off.

  13. 13
    AhabTRuler says:

    @geg6: One watches car racing for the wrecks, and bicycle racing for the drug busts. It’s COPS, in tights!

  14. 14
    geg6 says:

    Balconesfault: Not according to my NASCAR friends. They talk tactics and strategy like it’s Fisher or Kasparov out there with the corporate sopnsored jumpsuits, surgically enhanced big haired blonde on their arms, and pit full of southern accents. ;-)

  15. 15
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Nethead Jay:

    In my youth, I used to do a lot of long distance cycling, not to race, but just for the challenge of riding a bike 50 miles up and down the Appalachian mountains, so I appreciate the grueling nature of the Tour DF done over many days. My hat is off to them.

  16. 16
    geg6 says:

    My inability to watch this stuff on teevee aside, I once saw Lance Armstrong in a race in Virginia (I think the town was Stewart) when he was plotting his comeback after the cancer. He blew away the competition. I didn’t know his story until after the race and was even more impressed.

  17. 17
    Nethead Jay says:

    @Balconesfault: Yeah, much as I hate it, that was the day he beat Armstrong and Andy Schleck. After that, there was no shaking Contador off, either on tuesday’s or wednesday’s mountain stages or yesterday on Mont Ventoux (not Alpe d’Huez, though that’s legendary too).

  18. 18
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    Interesting. Not one mention of PED’s or doping so far. You don’t think they ride 2000 miles up and down all those hills in 3 weeks, on peanut-butter and banana sandwiches, do you?

  19. 19
    Comrade Mary says:

    Huh! I was watching the finish this morning with my boyfriend and we were talking away about athleticism, body types and strategies.

    The guys who are good climbers are usually relatively lightweight. Some of the best climbers are very fit but rather small guys, many less than 140 pounds and some barely 130 soaking wet. The less weight you have to drag up a hill, the faster you can go.

    The sprinters tend to have more powerful physiques, with even larger thighs and more developed upper bodies than the actual distance cyclist. Think of Olympic sprinters versus marathoners: same idea.

    If you look at the final photos and video of the various winners and finalists on the podium together, you’ll usually see the winners fall into typical body types. But there are outliers, and you will see some people do well in more than one category, even though their body type suggest they’re best at one.

    And yes, Armstrong is a freak. His calves looked to be about 50% larger than anyone else’s, and he was also taller and broader shouldered. He has to have some mutant cardiovascular system to have such a history of destroying people on the mountains.

  20. 20
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    I watched a bunch of the Tour while working out on the elliptical trainers at my workplace’s gym. That was good viewing – I didn’t listen to the sound. Amazing to watch those guys go up hills, like John says, and nice to reflect that however much I’m sweating they have it way harder.

  21. 21
    MikeJ says:

    The guy I was cheering (Vande Velde) came eighth, but his team mate wound up doing much better than expected and got fourth.

    Oh, and fuck Lance and his disingenuous bullshit after poor widdle Georgie got his feewings hurt. Astana took three minutes off the break and Garmin took 30 seconds, and then Armstrong goes on about how he’d *never* do anything to hurt Hincapie.

  22. 22
    Ailuridae says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    Interesting post especially on body types. Most men over 30 who have trained endurance sports have heard the 2 pounds per inch maxim and watching the results of any marathon or bicycling race lends it some legitimacy.

  23. 23
    Nethead Jay says:

    @Gordon, The Big Express Engine: Can you name any sport that is more closely monitored than cycling and especially the Tour? I’ve followed this race in particular and cycling generally since I was fifteen in 1979, before EPO and other stuff even existed. Doping problems have come and gone, hell, yesterday they drove up Mont Ventoux where in 1967 Tom Simpson collapsed of exhaustion with cocaine in his body. It’s an extreme sport and too many riders have sometimes been willing to cheat and take risks with their health, but most serious followers of the sport take exception to the “they’re all doing it” denigration. So how about being a little less generalising?

  24. 24
    Montysano says:

    @MikeJ:

    Oh, and fuck Lance and his disingenuous bullshit after poor widdle Georgie got his feewings hurt. Astana took three minutes off the break and Garmin took 30 seconds, and then Armstrong goes on about how he’d never do anything to hurt Hincapie.

    You do realize that we have no idea what you’re talking about?

    I watch the Tour partially because I’m a cyclist, but mostly for the eye candy. The mountains, the 11th century villages, the crowds, the flags, the machinery, and esp. the riders, who are amazing specimens (my 55 year old wife loves her some Tour de France). And strangely enough, I like the live commentary on Versus.

  25. 25
    Nethead Jay says:

    @Comrade Mary: Yes, you see many different body types among riders, and sprinters are usually pretty well-muscled, which in turn causes them trouble getting over the mountains.

    One of the most beautiful moment this year was on wednesday’s tough stage when Thor Hushovd, sprinter and good example of that body type, went on a breakaway across 2 early mountains to be the first across 2 point sprints to secure the green points jersey. Talk about choking yourself in terrain that’s not yours!

    And for the exact opposite type, look at the small, lean and lithe mountain specialists like Sastre or in the past Pantani and Virenque.

  26. 26
    MikeJ says:

    You do realize that we have no idea what you’re talking about?

    Hincapie is a former teammate of Armstrong when they were both on Disco. One day George goes on a breakaway, and gets about 8 minutes out. He was 5 minutes behind the maillot jaune, which was held by AG2R La Mondiale. None of the eventually winning teams had made any real effort at that point, because once you have it you have to defend, and that’s a drag. Astana (team for make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan), which is Armstrong’s team, shaved 3 minutes off the break. Garmin took another 30 seconds, which kept Hincapie from having his one day in yellow. He finished over 30 minutes back. Lance swore up and down how he’d never, ever do anything mean to his former teammate, and the only people to blame were those meanies over at Garmin.

  27. 27
    Mike G says:

    Likewise, I don’t know more than a handful of the riders or the racecraft, but the French countryside and village scenery is amazing.

  28. 28
    trollhattan says:

    I’ve been hooked on Le Tour ever since Lemond nicked Fignon in the final time trial–maybe the gutsiest ride ever. Lemond might have become one of the sport’s greatest riders had his bro-in-law not exercised his 2nd amendment right to blast him with a shotgun. Without him blazing the trail for Yanks, there would never have been a Lance.

    This year’s Tour was just what the sport needed after so much scandal. Too bad about Leipheimer, but Lance really showed me something, given he’s returning from a collarbone broken in late March.

  29. 29
    Nethead Jay says:

    @MikeJ: Actually, I kinda give Lance the benefit of the doubt on that one. Narrowing the gap as Astana did that day is what the dominant team usually do on such stages. Of course that made it easier for Garmin-Slipstream to narrow it a bit further.

    What caused the discussion was that there was no obvious reason for Garmin to take the lead since there was no possibility of entirely closing the gap and having a sprint finish. And there had been stories circulating about bad blood between them and Colombia-HTC. But certainly, protestations were a bit loud

    Van de Welde is an interesting rider but they’ll probably be promoting Wiggins now.

  30. 30
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Nethead Jay: And Hushovd won Most Combative, didn’t he? Really, really awesome. But the dude’s first name is Thor, so I guess he can do anything.

  31. 31
    Montysano says:

    @MikeJ: I had no idea that the Astana team was sponsored by the country of Kazakhstan, or that the team is broke because Kazakhstan is broke. Thanks, MikeJ.

    And yeah, John: Contador’s uphill breakaway was an amazing thing to watch. I can’t think of any other athletes that have the cardio fitness that these guys do.

  32. 32
    ploeg says:

    @MikeJ: It was in Astana’s interest to let Hincapie take the yellow jersey at that point. Columbia would have been a much more powerful partner in keeping attacks in check the next day than AG2R turned out to be. Astana just didn’t want Hincapie to get an advantage over a minute, and worked so that Hincapie didn’t get such an advantage. Maybe it would have made you happier if LA and the Astana people said flat out that they miscalculated. The fact is that they would have rather that Hincapie had the yellow jersey, but they didn’t owe him one, and they damn well didn’t owe him a three-minute lead.

  33. 33
    Balconesfault says:

    @Montysano:

    I can’t think of any other athletes that have the cardio fitness that these guys do.

    Go to the local HS track. Try running a lap in under 71 seconds.

    Now imagine running 105 of them. Back to back.

    That will put you on pace to match Gebrselassie’s world marathon record.

  34. 34
    Nethead Jay says:

    @Comrade Mary: Yep, he won Most Combative for that day, which is well done on a stage like that. And also he secured the green Points Jersey, one of the top 3 jerseys, the others being of course the yellow Overall winner and the red-white polka-dot Mountain jersey.

    Thor has a big following home in Norway, I’ve heard clips of the norwegian commentators when he’s doing something and it’s very funny. Something like Brazilian soccer commentators :)

  35. 35
    aschup says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    “He has to have some mutant cardiovascular system to have such a history of destroying people on the mountains.”

    His heart and lung size are both to the far right of the bell curve, but that’s the case with most competitive cyclists. There was actually a piece about Armstrong’s body in the Journal of Applied Physiology a few years ago. It hypothesized that a large percentage of his success was due to his insane training regimen, rather than any innate physical superiority. The article is behind a subscription firewall, but lucky me I’m in grad school. Here’s the abstract:

    “This case describes the physiological maturation from ages 21 to 28 yr of the bicyclist who has now become the six-time consecutive Grand Champion of the Tour de France, at ages 27–32 yr. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) in the trained state remained at ~6 l/min, lean body weight remained at ~70 kg, and maximal heart rate declined from 207 to 200 beats/min. Blood lactate threshold was typical of competitive cyclists in that it occurred at 76–85% VO2 max, yet maximal blood lactate concentration was remarkably low in the trained state. It appears that an 8% improvement in muscular efficiency and thus power production when cycling at a given oxygen uptake (VO2) is the characteristic that improved most as this athlete matured from ages 21 to 28 yr. It is noteworthy that at age 25 yr, this champion developed advanced cancer, requiring surgeries and chemotherapy. During the months leading up to each of his Tour de France victories, he reduced body weight and body fat by 4–7 kg (i.e., ~7%). Therefore, over the 7-yr period, an improvement in muscular efficiency and reduced body fat contributed equally to a remarkable 18% improvement in his steady-state power per kilogram body weight when cycling at a given VO2 (e.g., 5 l/min). It is hypothesized that the improved muscular efficiency probably reflects changes in muscle myosin type stimulated from years of training intensely for 3–6 h on most days.”

  36. 36
    The next-to-last samurai says:

    We can haz Vice president for Life and Minister of Smelly Goo Lily, please? Also, some dipshit politician was on the news tonight blathering about “We don’t want to take away the American people’s freedom of choice in health care.” who are these American people who have this freedom? It sounds great and I want to get on whatever insurance plan they are on.

  37. 37
    Tom Roud says:

    Comment 28 speaks about Lemond, as the first US Tour winner; interestingly, Lemond has spent the last three weeks or so writing interesting papers for LeMonde, where he explains pretty much every day how all of the current cyclers (and above all Contador et al.) must be full of dope to climb mountains twice as fast as anybody before. Did the US media tell about this ?
    By the way, it might seem a bit unfair to tell “they ‘re all doing it” but if we look back, all the “leaders” that Armstrong crushed in the past (Ullrich, Pantani, Virenque, Vinokourov, Llandis, etc …) and many people after the Armstrong era (e.g. Rasmussen) has been proven guilty of doping. The rumour this year is that there is a new drug which can not be detected yet; this is the reason why for the first time in 10 years (I think), nobody has been caught, and this is also why the labs will keep all samples another 9 (!) years to test them later and eventually catch the cheaters.

  38. 38
    MikeJ says:

    Pleog, I have no problem with Astana cutting into Columbia’s lead. It’s a bike race, no gifts. What I hated was Lance in the interviews afterward pleading innocence.

    Yes, it was in Astana’s interest to narrow the lead, and possibly to give it Hincapie. Anything that was good for Astana was bad for Garmin. Garmin was competing. In was in their best interest to not do anything that would help Astana, just as it was in Astana’s interst to not let Hincapie run away with it.

  39. 39
    wvng says:

    Balconesfault #12 did a fine job describing the core strategy of any race. Cardiovascular chess, always being in position as a team to respond to any dangerous attack, calibrating your responses so you don’t go too deeply into oxygen debt and blow up, planning individual/team attacks in advance at opportune points of the race, responding opportunistically to promising attacks by other teams/individuals, not blowing your wad in futile efforts, placing teammates into attacks so they will be available to help when/if you bridge up to the front. Starting, of course, with a fitness level and ability to apply power that ordinary humans can’t even imagine. I was a good category 3 racer 25 years ago, and on my best day ever I would have been chewed up and spit out the back of a fast moving Tour de France peleton (on level ground) in a matter of minutes. That finish in Paris today was terrific.

  40. 40
    Robert says:

    The two characteristics of mass-start cycle racing that drive every strategic and tactical decision are: 1) a group of riders is faster than an individual rider; and 2) unlike sports like baseball, basketball, football, or hockey, there are more than two teams on the field of play. This means you collude, collude, collude until the moment when you pull out the shiv and stab the guy you’ve been colluding with between the third and fourth ribs.

    Mass-start cycling is n-person game theory in action, with asymmetric loss functions, time perdurance on agreements, temporary coalitions, side payments, reneging on bargains, bluffs, calls, unenforceable contracts, payback, and fuck-your-buddy prisoner dilemmas. This stuff is great. Plus, you get to see guys ride until their temples explode.

  41. 41
    Balconesfault says:

    @wvng: I was a good category 3 racer 25 years ago, and on my best day ever I would have been chewed up and spit out the back of a fast moving Tour de France peleton (on level ground) in a matter of minutes.

    Cat 2 around the same time myself, and while I was enough of a cardio beast to ride with that level rider for awhile on flats, and even with some climbs … on any course where there were technical aspects involved, I’d quickly get kicked out the back end of any race with a lot of pros and 1s in there.

    That’s another thing that is staggering about these riders. Their technical abilities – Vincenzo Nibali descending … Cavendish picking his line for a sprint … the incredible precision of everyone in the peloton winding around a 90 degree turn at 35 mph setting up for a finish.

  42. 42
    wvng says:

    Balcones – or that remarkable finish today, with Hincapie taking second lead-out position and just flat lining the pro field behind him, followed by Cavendish’s #1 leadout rider going into that final bend accelerating, and then Cavendish blowing past him. Great stuff.

  43. 43
    hoipolloi says:

    I just sort of assumed the goal was to pedal faster than the rest of the folks

    Similar to what I used to tell my dad about the football team’s strategy: score more points than the other guy.

  44. 44
    Ked says:

    Huge fan of the TdF – even back in the days when we were happy to get half an hour a night doled out on ESPN2. Love all the grand tours, really, it’s a shame that Versus doesn’t do daily coverage of Spain and Italy any more but I’m sure the ratings tanked back in the years when they did.

    …but even as a longtime fan, I’m still sort of skeptical about the depth of strategy involved in the big races. Sure, there are tactical considerations – wind effects to deal with, pacing, choices whether to respond to attacking riders. But when it comes down to winning le Tour, it really depends on three things:

    1) How well you can ride by yourself in time trials.
    2) How well you can ride mountains, more or less by yourself. (Yes, having a friend with you is nice, but you’re not going to be riding fast enough to gain drafting advantage going uphill, and you really don’t want to be close enough to gain drafting advantage going downhill unless you’re really, really crazy.)
    3) How well your bike-handling skills and luck keep you out of crashes, from flying off cliffs, from badly-timed flat tires.

    Assuming reasonably competent teams (not always a given, and team time trials multiply those differences), the best rider wins.

    Single-day races are entirely different animals, especially when lacking mountains near the end. We don’t get nearly enough coverage of those in this country. …and none at all of track cycling. Velodromes are sexy, and track sprinting is one of the best sports on the planet.

  45. 45
    Comrade Mary says:

    @aschup: Thanks, aschup. Armstrong may be an asshole in many ways, but it looks as if he’s making the most of his natural advantages with a killer work ethic.

  46. 46
    wvng says:

    Ked, with very few exceptions, TdF winners have superb teams that support them when they are in trouble and work together to set up effective attacks and defend opposing team tactics. How many times did you see Armstrong win a decisive mountain stage after his entire team blew themselves apart to blow up the opposition before the final crunch?

  47. 47
    2liberal says:

    @Nethead Jay:

    Van de Welde is an interesting rider but they’ll probably be promoting Wiggins now.

    Van de Welde was hurt in the recent past – when he recovers completely he may still be up there with the elite.

  48. 48
    Balconesfault says:

    In fact, I can only remember one time a recent winner didn’t have the support of a strong team – and that was Lemond in 1989 with ADR. And then it took Fignon being too Euro-Traditionalist pigheaded to use aero-bars for Lemond to cinch the victory.

  49. 49
    Max says:

    @Tom Roud: Specifically what Greg Lemond wrote was that if Antoine Vayer’s calculation that Alberto Contador’s VO2Max reached a sustained 99ml/min/kg on one particular climb was correct, then Contador achieved a level of oxygen consumption that has never been matched by any athlete in any sport, ever.

  50. 50
    Silver says:

    @Nethead Jay

    most serious followers of the sport take exception to the “they’re all doing it” denigration. So how about being a little less generalising?

    Actually, most serious followers of the sport realize that everyone is cheating, always have been, and only the stupid ones get caught.

  51. 51
    Ked says:

    @wvng:

    Ked, with very few exceptions, TdF winners have superb teams that support them when they are in trouble and work together to set up effective attacks and defend opposing team tactics. How many times did you see Armstrong win a decisive mountain stage after his entire team blew themselves apart to blow up the opposition before the final crunch?

    Are the non-star riders in the tour superb riders? Sure. Especially in the tour, where the teams bring all their best and experienced pros.

    But how often are those pros really in trouble and need help? And how often does that help involve more than a stretch of really hard riding?

    As for entire teams “blowing up the opposition”, sure, they talk about it all the time, but it seems to me I saw Armstrong’s team get blown up just about as often as his opposition, and in the end it came down to which of the three to five top atheletes could power their way up the last hill the fastest.

    I think when you watch something for hours and hours at a time, it’s just human nature to read more into it than what’s really going on.

  52. 52
    wag says:

    Oh, and fuck Lance and his disingenuous bullshit after poor widdle Georgie got his feewings hurt. Astana took three minutes off the break and Garmin took 30 seconds, and then Armstrong goes on about how he’d never do anything to hurt Hincapie.

    I have to agree. Too bad he didn’t have the full support of his team. Maybe if he had worn the team jersey off the course instead of promoting himself and livestrong, hadn’t sulked in his own little pity party after getting his ass handed to him in the mountains an had been a gracious domestique when called upon, I might have a little more respect. As it stands, he is just another spoiled little American.

    Allez Contador, and ALB in next year’s tour!

  53. 53
    wag says:

    ABL=Anybody But Lance

  54. 54
    aschup says:

    LDR = Lance Derangement Syndrome

  55. 55
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    @Tom Roud: Exactly why I stay away. This is freak show athletics. Nothing more. The Olympics are nearly as bad… I stand by my PBJ and banana comment upthread.

    And by the way, my default assumption in MLB is that they were all doing it too.

  56. 56
    t jasper parnel says:

    Hills? Today I rode up some hills. The TdF goes over mountains for god’s sake. I know two people who rode Ventoux and one nearly died, metaphorically speaking. Stop calling them hills

    And another thing, leave George the fuck alone. Go watch the various Paris Roubaix and learn a bit about his selflessness in the TdF with Lance and watch what he did for that lout Cavendish today. And then go read about his overall all inspiring niceness. Garmin was wrong to deny him the yellow.

    And finally if AC hadn’t had the full support of Astana maybe he would have won by 10 instead of 4.

  57. 57
    wag says:

    I just finished watching the final stage (I was on the road, and couldn’t watch live).

    Anybody who doesn’t believe that the TDF is a team sport needs to sit down with anyone who knows cycling, and see a re-run of the final stage. Columbia was incredible. I have never seen a more perfectly set sprint, and the set-up began an hour prior to the finish of the race, with Columbia setting the pace and keeping their team in perfect position. Amazing!

  58. 58
    t jasper parnel says:

    And, you know, for years we have had to listen to people trash Lance as a doper because nobody could win that many tours sans dope; well AC won the last 4 GT in which he was entered and is the youngest to ever win all three. Odd that.

  59. 59
    t jasper parnel says:

    And by the way, Lance lost FS wheel because he stopped to keep Wiggo from following it was a classic domestique move: protect the patron. Furthermore, he refrained from chasing until Wiggo was too ill to move. Clearly, Alberto and Lance do not like one another but this crap about Lance behaving badly is such bullshit.

  60. 60
    wag says:

    but this crap about Lance behaving badly is such bullshit.

    I hate to call bullshit, but team mates don’t hold themselves above the rest of the team by pushing a personal agenda and having such a hard time saying anything good about their team mates. Any running back in the NFL (or Division 3 NCAA) football who whined about not getting the ball or who second guessed their coach the way armstrong did would find himself on the bench for a game or two, if not traded to a second rate team.

  61. 61
    Robert says:

    In #50, Ked wrote:

    But how often are those pros really in trouble and need help? And how often does that help involve more than a stretch of really hard riding?

    All the time? However, it’s usually not so obvious as it was during the 2002 Vuelta when USPS bought help from Acqua & Sapone to support Heras, or the 2005 Giro stage when Discovery bought help from Lotto to bail out Savoldelli. BTW, I understand that the other Lotto riders were really pissed that their help was sold so cheaply.

  62. 62
    Cassidy says:

    I seem to recall prior to the TDF that Lance flatly stated that he intended to support his teammate, the going in favorite, for the win. I’m not a follower of cycling in any kind of way, but I don’t think my memory is that bad. Either way, that sounds to me like what he did.

  63. 63
    R-Jud says:

    @Balconesfault:

    Go to the local HS track. Try running a lap in under 71 seconds. Now imagine running 105 of them. Back to back. That will put you on pace to match Gebrselassie’s world marathon record.

    Right. I seem to remember Lance remarking after his jaunt through the NYC Marathon that elite marathoners “were total freaks” and that squeezing out that 2:57 (or :58 or whatever) was one of the harder things he’d ever done. However, those cyclists are fitter overall: Gebrselassie, I’ve been told, can barely do pushups.

    I’d be elated with a sub-3:00 time myself– for a woman that’s still considered elite, Paula and company notwithstanding. At the moment, I’d be happy qualifying for Boston again, but it ain’t happening this year.

    As for cycling, I can’t watch, because I’ve wiped out so many times (I don’t ride much, I’m blind in one eye) that when I imagine them going at the speeds they’re going, I get the heebie-jeebies.

  64. 64
    Tom Roud says:

    well AC won the last 4 GT in which he was entered and is the youngest to ever win all three. Odd that.

    Well, this is because people in the US are only focused on LA, but AC has been accused to be doped in French papers and by Lemond in LeMonde. Journalists asked him about doping on Le Tour (in general), he refused to answer. As I told before, doping, at least in the past, has been everywhere, irrespective of the team or the nationality.

    For those who read French, the two drugs that will be searched in the samples they kept :
    http://www.lemonde.fr/sports/a....._3242.html

    There is a new EPO that keeps the hemoglobin level at high values, and a new drug to burn fat. The doctor tells that he has been struck how thin the riders were this year compared to the previous years, suspecting this last drug has been widely used. By the way, it is always interesting to see that these people get access to the drugs even before they are available for medical treatment (it has always been the case since the first EPO).

  65. 65
    Bob Cesca says:

    >>>Rasmussen) has been proven guilty of doping.

    Rasmussen didn’t test positive for anything. He lied to officials about his whereabouts.

  66. 66
    Bob Cesca says:

    Adding… I was excited about Contador’s wicked accelerations in the mountains, but when he beat Cancellara in the final time trial, I grew very incredulous. To wit: Stefan Schumacher, who beat Cancellara in the time trail last year twice, tested positive. Beating on-form Cancellara in a time trial is almost as impossible as beating Cavendish on the line.

  67. 67
    Nazgul35 says:

    @Nethead Jay:

    Don’t forget folks…Armstrong was playing the good team mate.

    The number one rule is that you don’t attack your team mates. If Armstrong had tried to bridge the gap created by Contrador, he would have pulled back Wiggins and Frank Schleck, which would have hurt Contrador. Instead, he had to wait until he thought he could lose them, and it cost him time.

    Next year, Lance won’t have to wait for anyone and will be riding his own race (and will have another year of conditioning under his belt).

    It should be interesting!

  68. 68
    lethargytartare says:

    @wag:

    “I hate to call bullshit, but team mates don’t hold themselves above the rest of the team by pushing a personal agenda”

    I presume your talking about Contador taking time from Lance in the Pyrenees, and then blowing Kloden out of the break in the Alps, right?

    “and having such a hard time saying anything good about their team mates.”

    Besides saying that Contador was the best rider in the Peloton, what did Armstrong need to say about a teammate who ignored the team’s tactics at every opportunity?

    “Any running back in the NFL (or Division 3 NCAA) football who whined about not getting the ball”

    I don’t think you’re watching the same NFL I am…

    “or who second guessed their coach the way armstrong did”

    You spelled Contador wrong – Armstrong’s the one who rode on Frank Schleck and Bradley Wiggins’s wheel when instructed, and then hired the coach to ru his new team while crediting the same coach for all his TDF wins.

    “would find himself on the bench for a game or two, if not traded to a second rate team.”

    I, too, am interested to see where Alberto will be racing next year.

  69. 69
    Paul in KY says:

    Interesting comments from everyone. My cousin one time mused that maybe Lance had an advantage over other riders, because he had lost his balls to cancer.

    His theory was that since Lance lost his testosterone producing thingies, he is injected each morning with his ‘dose’ of testosterone. Thus, unlike those of us still with em (and all the other Tour riders), his testosterone level never fluctuates. He always has the same testosterone level. Does that help you when doing super-hard physical feats for a period of 3 or more weeks? I don’t know, but I thought it was an interesting comment.

  70. 70
    Q says:

    Great tour! All the rest of that controversy/strategy stuff is typical in any sport. I am happy for Contador though I too was very surprised by the time trial win over Cancellara, you have to wonder at that. The best part of the tour for me is the coverage by Versus especially the Phil Ligget and Bob Sherwyn calls, I look forward to the coverage all year long, it is the highlight of my summer.

  71. 71
    Steeplejack says:

    @Paul in KY:

    My cousin one time mused that maybe Lance had an advantage over other riders, because he had lost his balls to cancer.

    Lost “a” ball to cancer, according to Wikipedia. And was able to father a child born just last month. (“Conceived naturally,” again according to Wikipedia.)

  72. 72
    BikeBreath says:

    As a road cycling blogger I thought I should throw in on a couple of things discussed here.

    • Lemond has had a bug up his ass about Armstrong for a long time. Not sure why. He’s made more than a few oblique suggestions that LA is a doper. Lemond’s thing lately is the ascent rate for climbing. Trouble is that to figure this out requires one to estimate a lot of factors. That said, even w/ conservative estimates these guys are climbing at stunning rates. So the bottom line on doping in the 09 Tour is we don’t know for sure. It’s good that they’re keeping the samples for so long. Love to see the cheaters get whacked. I wish the big names would speak out more on doping. Lance talks very little about punishments for doping or what it’s done to the sport. He always wants to just move on and I think that makes a lot of people think he is (or was) dirty. Contador seems to be the same way. The tests are always behind the dopers. Recently busted Bernhard Kohl said he doped his entire career, but was not caught until last year.

    • There is strategy and tactics involved in cycling, but it’s not rocket science or even chess. A team might have to make 3 or 4 calculations about the other teams and riders on each stage, but it’s pretty easy to do. And it’s not that exciting. I am an avid racer (almost every weekend) and cycling fan and I prefer to TiVo the longer flat stages and blow through most of them at double speed. In the last 5k of a stage that will end in a sprint it comes down to mostly sheer fitness and guts. However, a good lead-out train (as displayed by Columbia-HTC) is a thing of beauty to watch. It may look as simple as 5 guys towing their sprinter into position to go for the line, but it is not easy to coordinate. The best lead-out ever was Saeco-Cannondale’s for Mario Cipollini.

    • Here’s a fun thing to try next time you’re at the gym. When Chris Boardman broke the hour record (49.4k) he averaged around 400 watts for 1 hour. Hop on a LifeCycle and see how long you can hold 440 watts. I’d bet for most people it’s under 1 minute.

  73. 73
    Max says:

    @BikeBreath: Hey, I can do 50 watts over 8 hours, which works out to the same thing!

  74. 74

    I’m looking for the cookies over here.

  75. 75
    html monster says:

    me want stale cookie.

  76. 76
    Vanni says:

    Paul Sherwen and Phil Ligget are the commentators.
    Interesting comment about testosterone Injections. Is this a verifiable fact

  77. 77
    Robert says:

    Bob Cesca wrote:

    I was excited about Contador’s wicked accelerations in the mountains, but when he beat Cancellara in the final time trial, I grew very incredulous.

    The wind changed speed and direction between the time Cancellara went and the time the last dozen riders went. That’s why the final riders all had blistering times through the first time check and then faded tremendously on the northbound run to the finish.

  78. 78
    ck says:

    Sure, Armstrong’s comments about Hincapie were lame. But Contador’s comments post-tour were unsportsmanlike, and he’ll never have my support again. Not denying that the man can ride, just saying, Lance gets lots of attention and lots of criticism, there are other riders who are arseholes.

    The tested Armstrong virtually every day. Contador every other day (if not more). That doesn’t mean they’re not doping, of course…

    The commentators on Versus are awesome. If you watch it every day one year, you’ll learn what the hell they’re talked about. That’s what I did.

  79. 79
    ck says:

    @ck: I meant “talking about”.

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