yup, read all about it here, on PEZ Cycling News…
yup, read all about it here, on PEZ Cycling News…
do it right
thanks to Matias Lauryssens for this.
Confessed dopers Tyler Hamilton, Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie are rumoured to be planning a surprise party for Stuart O’Grady, welcoming him to the club.
It’s a very select club, one that refused entry to the likes of Jan Ulrich, Floyd Landis and Riccardo Ricco.
In Ulrich’s case it seems he crossed the line by taking recreational drugs (ecstasy) and having a drinking problem – so he wasn’t ‘just’ a doper, he was also not quite presentable.
Ricco? He made the mistake of getting busted too early in his career (and not just once), and by not being ‘contrite’ enough when he was busted.
Not that it matters if the contrition is real or not.
And Landis? Well, he was just a mess from the off, got too big for his boots, got on Armstrong’s wrong side (many now see that the wrong side is in fact his only side) and got busted at a time when is just wasn’t fashionable to do so.
The Great White American Hopes in Floyd’s days were not supposed to be dirty – he was, as Ricco was once described by Mark Cavendish with a naivety that strayed well into stupidity, one bad apple in an otherwise healthy basket of bright, shiny and very clean apples.
A crock? Yep, obviously, but the majority of the cycling public smelt that load back then and declared it to be smelling of roses.
How times have changed.
Such are the levels of envy among former pros who did in fact dope, but never got caught, at the post-confessional financial successes of riders like Hincapie and possibly now O’Grady (if enough people buy his book), that many are thinking of making a comeback.
Of loading up on EPO, getting caught, then getting busted before they take a six-month career-ending ban to go off and write a book.
It’s interesting that O’Grady has titled his book Battle Scars. I can’t help think that the choice of title has been heavily influenced by the news of his doping.
Had he finished his career on the bike and not been exposed, how different it all could have been.
From hero to zero, so very quickly.
He says he’s just enjoying “being normal”, but I don’t know many ‘normal’ people that profited from doping (he says just once), got busted, wrote a book, made profits from that book and then headed out on a national book tour.
That’s not normal, not in my book (and no need to excuse that terrible pun).
In an interview with CyclingNews, O’Grady said, “We had pretty much wrapped up the book when my personal situation came out so obviously we had to rewrite it a bit and add a few chapters.
“It will be interesting to see how people take it on board. I just hope people can put into context and try to understand what it was like back then.”
So, the “extra chapters” – ie, the truth would about him doping and cheating – may never have been included had he not been busted.
Instead, his devoted fans would have read the ‘clean’ version, but now it is in there with ‘yes I did dope but please try to take it all in context’.
But wait – that was then, this is now. There is zero excuse for the fact that until the news of his positive came out he was quite prepared to bury it. That wasn’t ‘then’, it’s very much now.
So he was still willing to connive and perpetrate fraud by hoisting a blood, guts and glory but no mention of doping cos ‘I never did it’ tale onto a fawning public.
He also says he never had any idea that Armstrong was doping. Well, to counter that, anyone who has ever raced a bike kinda wondered, even if they were really into the Texan’s feats, if the big guy was maybe, just maybe, digging into Dr Ferrari’s bag of tricks to aid his superhuman performances.
Do we need any more wool foisted over our eyes? Do we need anymore ‘confessional’ books that make money for the confessors?
What ever happened to the ‘Son of Sam’ law that was enacted in the USA and Australia, to prevent criminals from profiting from their illegal activity?
Is it time that doping in professional sport be made a criminal activity on every country with an Olympic body?
I’m sick of these guys rolling out the books and the films and the Gran Fondos and the double toaster sets.
Vote with your wallets. Don’t buy this book.
Thrilled to announce that I’m going to be sponsored this year by LEZYNE, using their kick-ass products as I venture off racing road and MTB in Taiwan, Asia and the rest of the world!
I’ll be joining a select few athletes that also represent LEZYNE such as Cedric Garcia, mad MTB legend from France, the legally blind rider Bobby McMullen who is just incredible [watch this video below, awesome stuff], and Angie Hohenwarter, a freerider who brings a great shot of glamour to the greasy business of bikes.
And of course also in the LEZYNE stable is porribly the world’s best known cyclist, Danny MacAskill.
He was in Taiwan last year and I was lucky enough to see some of the making of this film that you can watch here below. Just mind-blowing, not only the tricks, but the effort he puts in.
Thanks to all the folks at LEZYNE for making this happen, I intend to crank on!
This isn’t a new story. It’s been kicking around now since the end of January.
Yet there’s been very little commentary written on the deal that will see last year’s surprise Vuelta a Espana winner of 2013, Chris Horner, twinkling his little magic toes all over the World Tour again this year.
I haven’t written more than a dozen words on Horner, ever, and I wasn’t going to write anything this time. You may be of the camp that thinks ‘Good on him’ – after all there aren’t many 41-year-olds who’ve won a Grand Tour for the first time in their life.
Well, there has never been another, in fact.
The magnitude of Horner’s feat did not go unnoticed, though the reaction to it was a little less in awe than I’m sure he would have wished.
The cycling forums went mad with all kinds of allegations and suspicions that were largely to be expected.
Horner’s win though came at a point in the history of this sport when older riders were suddenly finding themselves without contracts in greater numbers than ever before.
If you were older and had any kind of suspicion of doping infringements lingering around you, like Luis Leon Sanchez, then boom, you were cut loose and cast into the wilderness.
Horner was rumoured to be going to Christina Watches for some time until the news that he was being welcomed on to Lampre-Merida, a move that some in the UCI would have been less than thrilled by.
See, there is something about Horner that just doesn’t smell right. I’m not saying anything new there, but it’s still worth looking over the reasons why for a moment.
First of all, a little known rider (outside of the USA) named Matt DiCanio went on record as far back as 2005 to say that another rider, Phil Zajicek, was offered help by Horner to purchase EPO and HGH when both rode for the American professional team Saturn.
DiCanio has also gone on record to say that Horner once said many years ago “It isn’t cheating if everyone is doing it.”
Secondly, Horner’s blood values from the 2013 Vuelta “fit with the patterns that anti-doping authorities look for as a sign of cheating.” Not my words, those of Michael Puchowicz in Outside Magazine.
The article states that Hornet’s hemoglobin concentration is simply too high to be natural. The other marker is the lowered reticulocyte count which is another sign of the use of EPO.
Puchowicz’s observations were seen by Shane Stokes of VeloNation, who passed them on to anti-doping authority Robin Parisotto, who works with the Athlete Passport Management Unit in Lausanne, France.
“It is not 100 percent clear that there is anything untoward happening,” Parisotto told Velonation, “[but] there’s certainly unusual patterns.”
He compares Horner’s bio passport to other profiles he has seen working as an anti-doping authority and concludes that “…most of those that come across to us are suspicious. Most are there for a reason. What I have seen with this particular profile is similar to those other profiles.”
Why didn’t the UCI investigate this? No idea.
Is any of this enough reason to suspend Horner? My gut says no, but if an anti-doping authority is stating that Horner’s values are suspicious why isn’t the UCI investigating?
One person who is probably asking himself these very questions and who has far more of a divested interest in all this than just about anyone else is another American rider – or should I say ex-rider – Craig Lewis.
Some of you may remember the now 29-year-old rider, who has just announced his retirement.
At 19, riding in the Tour de Georgia, Lewis was hit by a car and suffered two punctured lungs, internal bleeding and several fractures all over his body, almost passing away as a result.
Months of recovery followed before he returned to the pro ranks with Slipstream before moving on to HTC, where he won the team time trial at the 2011 Giro d’Italia. Days before the end of that race he broke a femur, forcing him out and eventually on to the Pro Continental Champion Systems team, which folded just last year.
Then he got a berth on the Lampre-Merida team. Well, he would have had a place there, had the management not decided to go and sign a 41-year-old American called Chris Horner.
The same guy who says he saw no doping on Bruyneel’s teams, the same guy who defended Armstrong until it became impossible even for his greatest apologists to do so, the same guy about whom all those rumours have been flying around.
“I thought we had already hit rock bottom, but it keeps going down,” Lewis said in an interview recently with Cyclingnews. “The sport just doesn’t market itself, and it needs some big changes – a lot has to happen for the sport to be appealing for companies to sponsor. It’s not sustainable the way it is.”
With riders like Horner still finding places to ply their trade, you’d have to agree with Lewis.
yes, it’s that time of year again, you know the racing has really begun when i’m back reporting on PEZ…
check out my take on Dubai, Qatar and what it means for the Classics right here…
Philippe Gilbert is one of my favourite riders on the World Tour – since he debuted with Francaise Des Jeux back in 2003, the man has done enough to be considered a living legend.
His first year in the pro peloton brought the Points Classification and a stage win at the Tour de l’Avenir, no small feat that.
2004 and especially 2005 saw a raft of wins in minor races, but it was in 2006 that the Belgian started to show his colors, flashing his peacock tail to take the mini-classic Omloop Het Volk with a raging series of attacks that saw him ride the last 7km alone.
In 2009 he again won Omloop and claimed the victory at Paris-Tours also, signaling to anyone with a modicum of bike sense that this was a serious prospect for just about any one day honor he set his sights on.
In 2010 he won Paris-Tours again, claimed the 20th stage in the Giro and managed his first ever Monument win in the Giro di Lombardia, a race he would win again the next year too.
Lombardia suited him, with its rolling hills and snaking lanes, but interestingly he was also third at the Tour of Flanders in 2010.
And who can forget his year of brilliance, 2011? He seemed to be able to win at will, with scintillating victories at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Amstel Gold Race, La Feche Wallone and the first stage of the Tour de France, among others.
It was an incredible run of form that brought him the accolade of the Number One ranked rider in the UCI World Tour for 2011.
He signed for BMC Racing for 2012 and things generally began to come apart for Gilbert – which might seem a ridiculous statement coming in the year he won the World Championships on the road, but it’s true nonetheless.
Later, Gilbert put his dip in form down to deviating from his usual training plan to adhere to the one devised for him by the BMC coaches, and also to a switch of pedals and saddle.
But whatever lessons were there to be learnt after a generally unimpressive 2012 didn’t seemed to have been heeded as the 2013 season unfolded.
Gilbert had a dismal season in the Rainbow jersey and was in serious danger of going winless through the year, something which would have had those who believe in the ‘Curse of the Rainbow Jersey’ frantic.
He finally managed a victory at the 2013 Vuelta a Espana on Stage 12, in what was undoubtedly his worst season, win-wise, as a pro.
And so on to 2014, and Gilbert has high hopes for a victory at Milan-San Remo.
Speaking at the unveiling of a new finish for the Italian Classic earlier this week, Gilbert said he was, “happy to see that San Remo is better for me and I will focus on this.
“San Remo is a race I love and I would love to win. I’ve been on the podium a few times and I’m still convinced I can win this and now even more.
“The riders make the race, but if we climb that climb with real climbing speed, I don’t see any sprinters – apart from [Peter] Sagan of course – being able to follow,” Gilbert said.
“Sagan is the exception, because he can climb, sprint and even [time trial], but the other sprinters, I don’t see a chance for them.”
Gilbert already knows a win at Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders is beyond him, partly because of his size (at 67kg he can’t compete with the likes of the 80kg-plus Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara) and partly because of the routes of those two races (Roubaix is too flat and the climbs of Flanders come too far from the finish).
But with the arrival of Sagan – whom Gilbert correctly points out as the main man for San Remo – the Belgian has an adversary that can beat him at his own game.
Sagan can and surely will win several Classics in the years to come, and was just pipped into second last year in San Remo by Gerald Ciolek. He won Gent-Wevelgem with a brilliant solo effort, as well as a host of other races.
His second at Flanders, to an incandescent Cancellara, was a great result even though he didn’t win.
Last year Sagan put down the markers for the older riders, announcing he has the legs not just to win the hard-men Classics like Roubaix and Flanders, but also the Classics more suited to the traditional all-rounders such as Gilbert.
For Gilbert – can he win Milan-San Remo? It’s a no for me. With fast men like Sagan and Marcel Kittel improving all the time, I can’t see him ever having another 2011.
And the other Classics where Gilbert has conquered all in the past? Pit a 100% fit Sagan against a 100% fit Gilbert, and I’d say the Slovenian gets the nod every time.
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