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Old 08-25-2012, 11:43 AM   #51 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Wall of text to follow. You've been warned.
(short version: Armstrong doped. Testing can't keep up with technology and the willingness of athletes to try anything for a competitive edge. I'm not sure how much I care or how much is too much, and that's disheartening.)


Re Armstrong: I'm not the least bit sorry to see the end of him in pro cycling. He'll likely be hanging around the c-level, TMZ regular, celebrity scene for months to come but he won't be intruding into anything I have interest in, making him easy to ignore. Saying he's passed x number of tests is meaningless. So have many other athletes who have gone on to be exposed later or to have admitted without ever receiving a positive.

The biggest drawback, from my perspective, is that the general public (and, importantly, certain sponsors) will look at this development as more evidence that cycling is an unusually dirty sport. I'd like to see the trainers, doctors, team directors and others who enable systematic doping investigated, and I hope that happens, but I don't know how much irreparable damage that would do to cycling's already weak reputation. It won't happen in the higher profile, bigger budget sports, leaving cycling as the scapegoat for a problem that exists across the sporting spectrum.

Why do I say doping is pervasive in pretty well all sports? Because I know the drugs are there. As soon as a young athlete starts showing promise the suggestions to take this or that, just to perk up some, build endurance or put on a little bulk - whichever is/are appropriate to the sport – will start. There's doping at the high school level. Trust me, there are guys and girls on your local basketball teams doping before they reach grade 12.

People on the inside, athletes, trainers, coaches, organizers and even doping experts (both pro and anti doping) know the percentage of competitors on some form of ped sits around 40-50%. Maybe even higher. There have been polls anonymously asking athletes Would you dope to win a medal? or, even more indicative, Would you dope to win if it meant years off your life? and the majority answer "yes". There's a saying along the lines of “If you won't try anything to win, you don't want it enough” and very, very few elite athletes make it to the top disagreeing with that notion.

I love the endurance sports, the speed sports and the strength events. I've been a track and field girl since grade school. I know what I'm watching, and even what I've raced in, are tainted events. In my ideal world, I'd be able to believe in pure human achievement but I'm jaded. I can't. As much as it hurts to admit it, I've come to accept low level doping as part of the game. That ideal level playing field won't ever exist in my lifetime. Science moves too quickly. Sports are money. For every medical advance that cures disease, there’s labs worldwide experimenting with ways to tailor that new knowledge toward performance enhancement and they are being paid huge sums to do it. The genetically engineered athletes are on the horizon, if they aren't here already.

So I watch guys like Armstrong collect ridiculous numbers of wins, athletes run and jump faster and higher year after year, hurl heavy objects across massive distances, swim at amazing speeds and pedal bikes far too fast but have reached a point where I can cheer and be pleased so long as they don't cross the line into ridiculous. It's the hardcore cheats, the ones who are taking it to extremes and everyone up against them knows it, that ruin it for me. You know who they are, they're the folks that other athletes complain about. A pretty good indicator that something's up is when ex-athletes make snide comments on-air in reference to these “wins”. I'm talking about the people who are publicly accused by their peers*, sometimes up to the point of others protesting their inclusion at events, based purely on the fact that they are obviously doped to the gills.

*Unless, of course, we're talking cycling (the much discussed, possibly still enforced omerta) or the big budget sports where almost no one says anything that might have personal professional repercussions.

As far as I'm concerned, someone like Armstrong being taken down has an almost equal amount of good and bad to it, and realizing I feel that way makes me sad. But I also feel a little sad when I see known doped records from the past fall, understanding what that likely implies. I can't help it. At heart, I'll always want 100% clean sport. Nowadays though, it's such a murky business, trying to decide where the line that defines cheating is.

As for what to do about vacated TdF titles, if it does actually come to that – I'd leave them empty. The folks behind Armstrong weren't exactly a collection of the cleanest of the clean either.
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Old 08-25-2012, 12:33 PM   #52 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Yeah, i agree with all of that.

Records falling of previous obvious dopers? Womens 4x100 relay? People were talking about what a great thing that was, while failing to recognize the potential irony of what they were saying?

I love T&f, Swimming, Cycling etc, every sport, but it's hard to watch and love knowing what's potentially helping to produce the results. Seeing the world so wrapped up with Bolt, being told that he's revolutionized athletics after it's questionable history. People talking about Phelps as the GOAT. Seeing BC dominate the track and now making waves on the road, cycling was the centerpiece of our home Olympic campaign and it feels so tainted. If the country ever found out there was a major doping program they would be devastated. There is so much positivity ATM, many have no idea, many either try not to think about it, or write it off somehow.

As much as i really want all these sports to get cleaned up, they have had so many problems in the past, that now at a time when interest is being built up in the next generation, i don't want to see it all come crashing down again. We can't continue with this situation any longer though, science is getting smarter and the rewards are greater than ever, something has got to give. The level things have reached means inevitably there are more and more stories and scandals to erupt and things will have to change, hopefully. I just pray that sport survives what is an untapped resource of shitstorms that need to transpire at some stage. It's not fair that cycling has to carry such a burden, when there is every likelyhood so many other sports are doing similar things, with nowhere near the same profile.
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Old 08-25-2012, 02:14 PM   #53 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Now that's what I call a freaking mountain. Amazing stage. Gutted that Contador didn't pick up the win but his fellow Spaniards were on a tear as they approached the finish line. Had Froome not performed that peculiar trackstand however I think him and Contador would have stayed away. Once we approach the third week I can't see Valverde or Rodriguez having the ability to stay in contact on the long climbs. They recovered today because Froome and Alberto were too busy playing mind games which riders ca afford to do at this stage of the game.

Who do you guys think will win the time trial on Wednesday?

On the one hand Froome is the best time triallist in the race but on the other hand Contador once beat Cancallera in a hilly time trial similar to the one in this Vuelta. I think it might be close but I'm leaning towards Froome with Contador losing around 20 seconds and Rodriguez maybe a minute.

Congrats to Valverde today though. It takes a hell of a man to beat Purito in an uphill sprint. This really bodes well for his chances at the World Champs.
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:37 PM   #54 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Now caught up with the HL's. Wow!!! What a fun stage that was! The momentum shifts were great, each rider displayed their strengths and one or two weaknesses. We had the Spaniards working together, Valverde attacking and not bringing Froome across. Bertie sitting in the wheel and asking questions, what have you got then? That burst at the end and then thinking he had the stage won only for Purito and Piti to close him down. Piti taking another win and looking very good. I think he has the fire we talked about after the crash. Positive signs for Bertie when people were expecting a response he gave it, shame he couldn't close out the win. Purito is still there and fighting, but lost out in the sprint this time round. Froome cracks, ha.

He rode a bizarre race today. Sky did so much on the front again, this time it caught up with them and they had nothing/no-one else for the last climb, they didn't break anyone really, but still delivered Froome. Who then threw his natural style out the window, which made it more exciting but he seemed way too over-confident and showed his inexperience. He basically did ALL the work trying to gap the others before the sprint and it backfired. They played it perfectly, got it tactically spot on and let him self-destruct. Sucked his wheel all the way and he lead them out, then he got dropped right at the end. That trackstand was typical of his day, an error which helped the others with catching him and Bertie.

Some people are asking questions same as they were with Bertie the other day, again, i don't think it's a major concern here, but this will/has to be a wakeup call. He's not strong/fit enough to ride like that, and the others are stronger than he thinks too. So far Purito is the only guy we've not seen getting dropped and he has mistakes/form issues to come as well IMO. He looks in the strongest position from a form/time POV, but as the others have already had a bad ride each and not lost too much time, i would worry he may not do the same. Even on their bad days guys like Bertie/Froome can limit losses to minimize any damage, i'm not sure the others can do this so much. Purito has fallen apart before and rode himself out of the race, still he's looking very good so far.

TBF they are all ATM, even though there are some potential issues with each, they are all looking like pushing each other on, to either better performances or losing time and falling back. The TT is the next big deciding factor, Froome's time gains there are going to balance his losses for sure, with the others needing to gain some time in the mountains to make up what they lose to him. With it not being a flat stage that helps the others too. Pace control should be his big strength but after today he looked cocky, can't see that happening in the TT, but his judgement isn't looking as clear as it did before, don't know about his legs. I still see him and Bertie as faves overall, with the pendulam firmly swinging back in Berties favour, especially if he has a good TT. If he can limit the gap it's advantage Bertie for the climbs in the last week when he will be fresher/stronger.

It's not so straightforward though, plus we all know how easily your tour can go tits up in one moment. Today was a big test, Froome failed. He looked human. Things are certainly hotting up.

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Old 08-25-2012, 08:44 PM   #55 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread




In this stage, riders will have to face two 3rd category climbs: the Collada de Clara and Montjuit. Departing from Andorra and arriving in the city of Barcelona, the day’s route will be 196 kilometres long. The next day will be a rest day, meaning that the riders could potentially take advantage and give it their all before putting their bikes down for the night. It will be a quick stage, mainly of descents, with the Montjuic as a reference point for those wishing to attempt it at the final part of the stage. We will then leave the Pyrenees and arrive, 16 miles later, at the finish line located right next to the Barcelona Olympic Stadium. Andorra has already become a classic of the Vuelta a España, and was a stage departure city only two years ago. As was the case with Pamplona, they too had a stage cancelled back in 1991. But as far as classics of this race go, we cannot go past Barcelona. To this day, this city has hosted stage finish lines on 53 occasions, bringing the total to 54 after with this year’s edition. The race has not been to Barcelona since 1999.

Preview:
http://velorooms.com/vuelta-espana-2...%28196-3km%29/
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:13 PM   #56 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Yeah I think you're right, inexperience and stupidity cost Froome those seconds, not exhaustion.

Well today's stage was interesting. Beginning with Contador's stupidly timed attack (what the hell was he thinking?) to J-Rod's awesome escape and then finishing with Gilbert in God mode as he powered his way to the finish line. Very exciting stuff in the end as Purito takes some more of the valuable seconds that he is likely to lose in the TT. With that advantage, I think he'll still be within touching distance after the race against the clock, which means that Contador and Froome are going to have to defeat him proper in the high hills. Pretty much perfect opening half of the race for Rodriguez and he's actually quite unlucky to have been outsprinted to so many stages.

This has been the best start to a Grand Tour I've seen since for quite some time.
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:58 PM   #57 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Agree with all that, i'll take your word on the good start, i know i've enjoyed it a lot, and things look setup perfectly for the rest of the race. Good call on Gilbert too, you were tipping him for his first season win after being off form, and i can see why he had been doing so well before.

I think Purito knew he had no chance to beat him in the sprint, and that it didn't matter as he had put time on the others, another great showing from him. He's worn the jersey from his P/T home of Andorra into his hometown of Barca as well, so that would have been added motivation. Valverde also clawed back a few seconds, he's still thereabouts but with a weaker TT and only one tour in his legs after that long break, he's definitely relying on others to fail. Purito himself was playing down his own chances the other day..

“On paper, [Chris] Froome and Alberto [Contador] are going to be stronger than me in the time trial [39. 4 kilometres, on Wednesday],” Rodriguez said afterwards. “For me to win the Vuelta I’m going to have to ride the time trial of my life and then they will both have to have a really bad day.”

“Alejandro [Valverde, fourth overall] and I are more one-day riders who can win Grand Tours – I came close in the Giro and Alejandro has won the Vuelta back in 2009. But these guys [Froome and Alberto] are specialists in the Grand Tours, really good time triallists, and we’re more for the world championships or one-day classics.”


Gilbert/Purito were that bit fresher and smarter and made a perfect break catching everone offguard. It was a great move but i was a little suprised they were allowed to get away, with the chasing pack blown apart at last. No-one was going to help each other to get back on terms, the repeated attacks meant there was no control for the peloton and it made the stage more exciting. Not sure about that move from Bertie if he was just trying to push the pace or got his timing wrong or how much it affected his race, and i have no idea what happened to Froome. I think the exhaustation had definitely caught up by that point, he didn't look good, again. Sky as a team have certainly dipped and they as well as everyone else were probably glad for the rest day.

Today looks a basic stage to ease them back in a bit before the TT, which is looking even more important, with the way the guys are split by around a minute, hopefully this acts as a leveller and we can see the main guys as close as possible afterwards. As we get into the longer climbs it's going to suit the favourites more, you would expect Contador to come into his own and then it's whether Froome can stick with him. Still, we don't know how things will turn out and who has the form and the legs. One really bad day and you could be out the running.

Apparently the break could get away today.
http://www.podiumcafe.com/2010/9/6/1...uelta-a-espana
http://velorooms.com/vuelta-espana-2...28190-0-km%29/




As flat as Spain gets:
Sitting between the first rest day and the race’s only individual time trial, this is one of the route’s easiest days. Starting in Ponteareas, which hosted its first Vuelta stage start last year, the riders will head over the only categorised climb of the day after 30km. The route then sticks close to the sea, climbing over some headlands before a run in to the finish. The sprinters will naturally fancy this one but any breakaway riders should have a good chance of battling it out between them as plenty of riders will be holding back for the time trial. The wind could be a key factor, too, given the proximity to the Atlantic.

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Old 08-28-2012, 12:58 AM   #58 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Recap:
http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/...135218343.html
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:39 AM   #59 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Thanks for that link, nice read.

I think Froome is starting to suffer and will be hoping to don the time trial and at least put a minute into Contador in order to give him some breathing space before the next set of serious climbing. On that parcours however, I just don't see him winning by that big a margin and I'm actually going to out on a limb and say that Alberto picks up his first stage win on Wednesday by a matter of mere seconds.

Hopefully, Froome isn't going to be toast by the third week but even if he is, the idea of a fresh Froome vs fully fit Contador at next year's Tour De France (sorry Wiggo, these boys are in a different class) is mouthwatering especially if they put in atleast one long flat TT to suit the Sky man.

As for Rodriguez, I think he is selling himself a bit short on the TT. Yes, he did used to be a god awful time triallist a few years back but he is improved dramatically since then and this route seems much better suited to his capabilities. If he can lose less than ninety seconds then he'll still be a threat overall given how well he's climbing and his canny ability to pick up bonus seconds.

Anyway, most people aren't big fans of the race against the clock but I usually really enjoy them and tmr's definitely has me highly intrigued.

Edit: Oh yeah, this Vuelta really has me excited for the world champs too. This year's race is basically a one day hilly classic rather than a sprint fest and is looking like it's going to be an epic race between Contador, J-Rod, Valverde, Gilbert with maybe even the likes of Sagan and Cancallera contesting too. I think Froome would be best off enduring a long rest after this Vuelta however.

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Old 08-28-2012, 02:34 AM   #60 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Cycling discussion thread

Yeah, i also enjoy ITT's, they can be very deciseful. The race of truth is clearly apt. Each of the four will have to perform above average either to make or limit seconds won and lost. I also think Purito is expecting a better TT considering the course, his improvement, and form.

I still fancy Froome to do very well here. It seems whenever questions have been asked about one of the 4 they have been answered. He's in super TT form. If that were to suddenly evade him somewhat i would definitely be very worried about his shape heading into the last week, although i already am. This should be his major strength over the others, Bertie excepted, who even as an unknown quantity in some ways should at the least not get seriously dropped. Yet, we've seen some suprising things already, we could see another somewhere in the TT, it's unlikely each will be at their very best, and a good chance major time swings will happen.

With the bonuses, they are telling so far and will play a part in the end. I think Purito/Piti have 28 each, Bertie/Froome with 4 and 8, Vuelta's site isn't showing results for some reason. That should all change with differing stages, and will not look the same when/if the top 4 are not all contesting them. Still, an interesting indicator of how the race has been contested so far, with the momentum surely going to swing back the other way to a large degree with the progressive climbing. It couldn't be any better poised ATM.

As for tomorrow, from what i can find the odds are firmly backing Degenkolb again, there could be some serious money made from the guys in the break. Hard to predict which one obviously, but it seems many bookies haven't accounted for the fact it's a TT tomorrow and we're coming off a rest day so maybe the pack won't be riding so hard?

https://www.unibet.co.uk/betting/gri...00093599.odds#
http://www.oddschecker.com/other-spo...tage-10/winner
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