Saturday, May 28, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Tyler Hamilton is set appear on 60 minutes this Sunday where it is said that he admits to doping and also says that he witnessed Lance Armstrong dope. This is the second high profile rider to go on record as saying he witnessed Lance dope. Now only two have officially came out and said so much, the first was Floyd Landis, who after years of denial and spending his fans money on denying her doped came out roughly this time last year. Now, Hamilton, does the same, on the day that Lance's ex-teammate Chris Horner takes over the race lead at the tour of California.
Lance's publicist has of course denied the that he is a credible source, but lends no claims other than "He's was the most tested athlete" and that Mr. Hamilton is only doing this to gain publicity for his book. Now this is what we call in the Philosophy world as a Red Herring and a personal attack. Neither one of these refutes the claim and is only a way to distract the listener from the fact that there's really no claim being made.
Now, I will lay out I do believe at one point in his career lance took a banned substance. I don't know when it was or how long or in what context. Though, I do believe that an important step forward is to accept that the sport has a problem and then learn from it. If for no other reason than to give hope to individuals who are trying to make it into the pro ranks now. The first step to cleaning the peloton is airing out it's "dirty laundry" so that we can start to solve the problem in it's entirety. Make it transparent, we don't have to know everyones Biological Passport and their test results, but knowing what the doping agencies are doing to combat this horrible scourge of the peloton would be a good start. The problem has to be attacked head on, and I'm sure a lot of Pro's and team members will be hurt and lose their job, but it will be in no way even close to how much they've already hurt the sport.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Today, Le Equipe published a list, ranking every rider from last year's Tour De France on how likely they were to be doping based on their Biological Passport. That Biological Passport is a health record of every pro rider, chronicling their blood values over their career, the idea behind it is that if levels change in a dramatic and erratic fashion it can point to someone who is doping. What does this list mean then, well each rider is placed in a number from 0 (no suspicion of doping) to 10 (high suspicion or evidence of doping) with anything under 5 being unlikely to have doped. This list was supposed to be used as a tool to guide testers on who to test during the tour. It should be noted that none of this proves that someone has or hasn't doped. There's no proof in this evidence at all, and the numbers can be swayed by a large amount of factors (illness, crashes, even a rider who is completely clean can have a higher than normal reading because of getting into shape.)
So what does this mean? Well, first and foremost, it means they are actually using the biological passport. We haven't heard much from the UCI and WADA in regards to actually being able to catch someone in the act. So it's good news for all of us fans to know that they are using this information to clean up the sport of cycling.
Second, that most of the peloton was in under level 5. Out of 198 riders, only 42 riders where above the upper limits, meaning 156 riders were below the upper limits. That's a good majority in the lower half, or safe zone. Even ten years ago, if they had this the numbers would surely have been swapped. Even the highest zone 10 only had two riders, Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), and Yarasloz Popovych (Radioshack.) In fact if you put all the members of the team together. The top three times most likely to dope are HTC, Astana, and Radioshack. All 4 french teams were the least likely to dope, followed by Garmin and Cervelo.
Overall, I think this is good news for cycling fans and the majority of the peloton, and can only hope bad news for anyone in the upper 5.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Today we remembered Wouter Weylandt in the most fitting way. As I watched today's coverage I was touched by the rolling memorial. Each team taking 10 kilometers to show their respect to Wouter. Each team silently on the front paying their respects to a man that gave his life to a sport he loved. Finally, at the end Leopold Trek taking the front, lined up in race order with Tyler Farrar, Wouter's best friend taking his positions in the line. Watching them come towards the line brought me to tears as you can see the sadness behind their sunglasses and helmets, and see some of the toughest athletes showing their grief at the loss of one of the friends.
David Millar showed pure class in orchestrating the memorial. He talked to the team and asked if they wanted him to wear the leaders jersey, and what they wanted to do. When they decided on the rolling memorial, he went around to all the teams and made it happen. He's a true patron of the peloton. Watching over them and being the voice of reason. Since his return he has greatly impressed me, and I have even further respect for him now.
The most stirring moment had to be when Tyler, out of respect for the team moved back to let Wouter's teammates cross the line together. The team, however, slowed and pulled him forward and the two closest members put their arms around him as he visibly broke down into tears. Wouter's 8 remaining teammates and his best friend crossed the line together as one, showing their respect for their fallen brethren. With Tyler being hugged as he crossed the line broken down.
It will forever be the a day that will be etched into my mind. Not only for the sadness, and reminder of the danger I face every day I get on a bike. More so, the class and respect that was displayed by each rider. Each rider put their own goals and ambitions on hold, and instead showed the greatest respect for one of their competitors. I don't know many sports that have this level of class. It was a moment that transcended sport and showed compassion, today all 206 riders weren't teammates or rivals, they were family. No moment of silence will ever compare to the 216km rolling tribute and the emotional end.
Follow this link to watch the emotional end. Fast forward to about 20 minutes in.
Monday, May 9, 2011
I'm sure all the follow professional cycling are feeling the same thing that I'm feeling. A deep sadness and emptiness after hearing of the tragic crash of Wouter Weylandt. It's a stark reminder of the dangers that we face every day we sling our legs over our top tube. Yes we take our precautions and we ride as safely as we can. But everyday we take our lives into our hands, and it's days like these that remind us how lucky we are.
My heart goes out to his family, teammates and friends. I'm sure their hearts are heavy with the lose of a loved one. I can only fathom what they must feel, along with the entire peloton, who must get on their bikes tomorrow and ride again. He will be remembered for his kind heart, and his sacrifices for his teammates. Today, was a dark day for professional cycling and may he rest in peace.