No big surprise- Lance will be doing Triathlons in 2011, including the World Championship. Thanks to Mark P for sending me the link. He was in the shop just yesterday when we were talking about when Lance might make the move, and voila, this morning comes confirmation that it’s sooner rather than later. For us Trek dealers, the writing was on the wall when we saw the HUGE new commitment Trek made to the Tri market this year. We’ve now got the coolest, fastest Tri-bikes on the market! And now quite possibly the fastest person riding one. –Mike–
Tomorrow’s the day the TdF announces the mountains & cities it will visit next July. Normally they’d have the past winners of the yellow (overall leader) and green (best sprinter) jerseys but not this time, as both are subjects of ongoing doping investigations. It’s been quite some time since doping allegations haven’t been a major part of media coverage of the event.
But regarding the route, it will be counter-clockwise this year, hitting the Pyrenees first and saving the toughest climbs in the Alpes for the finish. The Galibier, Chamrousse and yes, the Alpe d’Huez all get crammed into the last week, at least according to usually-reliable sources.
And yes, plans are for Kevin (my son) and I to return, again, with our BikeFriday folding travel bikes, and bring you close-to-live coverage. In fact, with this new wordpress blog format, I can update from almost anywhere using just my iPhone!
This assumes of course that Kevin’s kidney issues will finally be a thing of the past by then. Right now I’m writing this from the surgery waiting room at Kaiser in Santa Clara, where he’s undergoing a 4 hour robotic surgery procedure that will hopefully put his severe abdominal pains behind him. Well, they’re sort of behind him now (lower back), so I guess what we need is for it to become an out-of-body experience.
For those wanting to know how I decided to make appropriate reservations for seeing the decisive stages in the Alps for the 2011 Tour de France, well yes, I did a whole lot of internet searching (like everybody else) but eventually came across this site that seems to likely have it down best.
If you’d like to try and do the TdF thing in the Alps on your own, it could be pretty tough to find a place to stay right now. Just about everything booked up 10 days ago when a few more rumors firmed up, specifically regarding the likely stage finish on the Alpe d’Huez on the last Friday and the individual time trial up Chamrousse on Saturday. There will be plenty of opportunties to book with tour companies though, including Trek Travel. Another exciting option would be to ride the “citizen’s race” known as the Etap du Tour. This is held each year on the exact routing of what would be considered the “queen” or most-pivotal stage of the TdF, and this year, it is rumored to be the stage that finishes at the top of the Alpe d’Huez, and will take place on Sunday, July 17th.
After seeing the TdF in person many times, I’d have to say my preference runs to the Pyrenees, but I’ve always thought it most interesting to watch the final week, when the winner is determined. This year, that means the Alps, while for 2010 it was the Pyrenees.
I’ll stick my neck out and say Contador’s going down, but in a carefully-managed & orchestrated fashion that allows cycling to not lose further (or perhaps excessive) credibility.
Essentially a plea bargain in which the plasticizer evidence is ignored and they let him off with just 3 months saying that the amounts were so low they cannot be certain of their source, and the lack of establishing a legal limit of clenbuterol did not reflect the realities of a world in which it’s made its way into the food chain. A level will be set, probably only slightly above where AC tested, essentially legitimizing one more aspect of doping up to a certain amount.
AC loses the 2010 TdF title but is able to come back for 2011 and fight again. The three month suspension will have no effect on anything but his TdF win.
And in the meantime, everyone’s scrambling for new ways to dope, knowing that transfusions appear to have some serious issues. Maybe there will suddenly be a whole lot of medically-required rehydration IVs to explain plasticizers in the blood?
That’s my prediction. What say the tribal council?
There’s an excellent article on the Contador doping situation on Sports Illustrated’s on-line site. Apparently there was more than just Clenbuterol found in Contador’s samples; they also detected “plasticizers” which are used to improve the suppleness of blood bags used in transfusions. Transfusions are every bit as illegal as EPO or any other banned drug, but there is not as yet a limit to how much “plastic” you’re allowed to have in your body (because they’re still working out standards and tests). What isn’t asked & answered in the article is whether such materials are used for the bags used to rehydrate cyclists (saline solution), which, as far as I know, is completely legal. [I've since learned that using IVs for rehydration was made illegal around 2007, with exceptions made only for those deemed medically required and must be done with a doctor present. It's also come out that the "plasticizers" would be found in bags used for saline IVs as well, not just blood bags. In the end, it means that finding plasticizers in any current doping sample is going to get someone in a lot of trouble.]
At this point, I’m no longer of the opinion that Contador is innocent simply because the amounts of Clenbuterol are so low, as another explanation is that he had a blood transfusion, using his own blood (that’s what you do so it’s not detected), and when that blood was drawn from him at an earlier time, he had been using Clenbuterol… and so contaminated himself. That’s just one possibility and doesn’t negate others. He may yet be an innocent victim, but hopefully not in the same manner as many other Spanish cyclists of the past, who have turned out to be part of a wide system of abuse that their government has looked the other way from (Operation Puerto).
Note: I had to disable comments on this piece because it’s attracting a zillion robotic spam zombies. Probably the references to drugs. Sigh.
Below is a post I found on the net, regarding the latest doping “scandal” (Contador’s positive doping control for clembuterol), with my response below it. –Mike–
This is why pro cycling is finished as a sport. No result is ever
final. Look at Lance, he’s probably going to lose TdF victories from a
decade ago. Landis stands on the victory podium, only to be stripped
of the title in the months to come. Now Contador, winner in July,
loser in August. Given this uncertainty, why would anyone invest any
kind of fan devotion to the sport? It’s a joke.
No, it’s (fan devotion to cycling) not a joke. The ‘Tour isn’t like baseball, with well-defined statistics that people use to compare one era to another. Few care about average speeds, or how long it took to climb Ventoux one year vs another (except those focused entirely on doping). There’s no ERA equivalent, no passing completion percentage, no goals blocked, no free throw percentages. Instead we enjoy the spectacle, the strategy, the man-against-himself aspect that rarely comes out in other sports. The ‘Tour stands on its own, with or without doping.
Would it be better if there were no doping controversies? Certainly. But people are naive to believe it doesn’t go on in other sports. My guess is that other sports federations are well aware of what goes on behind closed doors, and enjoy the fact that cycling gets all the attention.
Are “sports” finished, in general, due to doping? I doubt “sports” have ever had a dope-free era, and despite scandals elsewhere, I don’t see their traditional fan base moving off to something else. And cycling in particular? The only reason cycling has more vulnerabilitly to scandal than some other sports is the degree to which it is dependent upon sponsorship (100%). So to some extent, what goes on reflects upon the people paying the bills. But even there, the scandals of cycling almost serve as distractions to the scandals of the business world these days.
Now, what about that kid who grows up idolizing an athlete, shaping his or her life to follow in their footsteps? Shattered dreams, how can you put a price on shattered & crushed dreams???!!! Well yeah, there are so many kids who dream of growing up to be professional cyclists aren’t there? You can try and make a possible exception for Lance, who has cancer-stricken folk who look up to him, but even there I’m not so sure they’re unable to separate what Lance has done for cancer vs his efforts as a cyclist.
“You would have to be an imbecile or a crook to imagine that a professional cyclist who races for 235 days a year can hold the pace without stimulants.”
Jaques Anquetil made that remark eons ago, and it didn’t erode cycling’s popularity one bit. It’s my opinion that the relative ethics of cycling vs the world have narrowed significantly since then. What is sad is that we play this game of pretending otherwise, with cyclists obliged to deny, deny, deny instead of even tacitly coming to terms with the reality of competitive sports.
I would much rather that cycling was clean, but I can settle for rules that limit the extent of doping that can be gotten away with. I recognize the absurdity of rationalizing doping as “legal” as long as you don’t go over the limit. It’s not how I live my life, and it’s not how I want my kids to live theirs. But realistically, it’s how the world works.
Who WOULDN’T want this stuff? Wow! Is this the holy grail or what?
Effects and Dosage
Clenbuterol is a non-steroidal ?2 adrenergic agonist with some structural and pharmacological similarities to epinephrine and salbutamol, but its effects are more potent and longer-lasting as a stimulant and thermogenic drug. It causes an increase in aerobic capacity, central nervous system stimulation, and an increase in blood pressure and oxygen transportation. It increases the rate at which fats are metabolized, simultaneously increasing the body’s BMR. It is commonly used for smooth muscle relaxant properties.
This means that it is a bronchodilator and tocolytic. It is usually used in dosages anywhere from 20-60 micrograms a day when prescribed. A dose of about 120 ?g should never be exceeded in a day. It is also prescribed for treatment of horses; however, equestrian usage is usually the liquid form of clenbuterol. Clenbuterol is also a sympathomimetic in the peripheral nervous system.
So let’s see… for me, I can lose weight (YES!), breathe better (YES!) and have better oxygen transportation (YES!).
Only downside I see is the blood pressure, which could be an issue for me (but for all those benefits, I’m willing to work around that one). Wow, I may finally have a reason to see a doctor regarding my asthma. Doc, I want the good stuff!
Having said all that, perhaps Contador’s story is plausible after all- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19680955
I’m leaning towards Contador being innocent in this one. The detected levels are so low that it makes abuse unlikely, and this is one of those unusual tests in which even a trace amount means you’re “positive.” This is not at all like Floyd’s testosterone issue, where you are OK up to a certain level. You’d have to be crazy to dope using something where any trace amount could lead to a suspension.
This is the first Vuelta that I’ve really paid much attention to, even though RadioShack/Trek was excluded. Seems like a much more interesting course this year; none of those endless days through dry scrub with no signs of people like we’ve seen in the past. Finally, Spain looks like a place worth visiting!
As for Nibali, I think we’re looking at the future. He’s young, strong in the mountains, and doesn’t suck at time trials. If he gets strong support from his team, I’m thinking he’s potentially the equal of Andy Schleck, maybe better, for the GC in the Tour de France next year. I’m not convinced that Alberto Contador is unbeatable, just not sure who it is that’s likely to beat him. It could be Nibali.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve included feeds from a few Pro Cyclists. Their comments make for interesting reading, and this page updates to their latest ramblings automatically. If you want to see more, just click on the “tweet” and it will give you a complete listing of the rider’s comments (tweets). –Mike–