Archive for October, 2008
Today greenjersey attended the Pedal Club luncheon at the RAF club, Picadilly. The guest speaker was Jean Bobet whose articles in Sporting Cyclist a young greenjersey would read avidly. Jean had studied for an English degree at Aberdeen university and as he may well have been the only educated English speaker in the Pro peleton at that time Jock Wadley signed him up to write for his mag.
Unfortunately it would seem that in the intervening fifty plus years Jean had no reason to practice english and he is now far from fluent so the question and answer session was not as illuminating as it could have been. That said M. Bobet was in great nick for his age. His memoirs have just been published in English and Mick Clark had arranged for Jean to sign copies in the adjacent pub. Greenjersey asked Jean which Monument he considered to be the best test of all round ability and he said Liege-Bastoigne-Liege. It is slightly sad that Jean Bobet, himself a winner of Paris-Nice, is only remembered as the bookish brother of Louison.
I came across this photo of the prizewinners at the Southport schoolpersons races. How do you like those prizes donated by Terry Dolan? Although Terry is Liverpool Mercury to the core he has for many years been a friend of the Southport club and his generosity is extraordinary. How times change, greenjersey remembers winning a box of Brillo pads in a circuit race on Morcambe promenade!
Never has the old saying, If it seems too good to be true it’s not, been more appropriate. Remember Ricco leaving everybody for dead. Or Schumi thrashing Cancellara in two TTs for heaven’s sake. And dozy looking Bernard Kohl climbing like Charly Gaul on speed. Unbelievable but, heh, this is the new clean wave, untainted by the bad habits of the Museeuw generation. If only. Greenjersey considers himself a cynic but if so he would have stopped his subscription to Eurosport in 1998. He must be an incurable romantic, why else would he continue to love this tainted, dirty sport full of cheats.
On hearing the news Geert Coeman, the Silence team boss, told Austrian agency APA that Kohl’s contract would be annulled if this positive test was confirmed. “We have not yet been able to talk to Bernard,” Coeman said. “But if the test is confirmed, we will take the necessary action. His contract with us would be made null and void.”
Marc Sergeant, the DS of Silence, told Belgian TV Sporza: “This has been a real slap in the face. We spent a lot of time and energy getting him to join us, thinking he was a great recruit. I feel betrayed.”
Armstrong used an SRM powermeter during his occasional appearances in the spring classics.
Greg Lemond attended Armstrong’s press conference at the recent Las Vegas show. Naturally the Texan wanted to talk about his come back but LeMonster insisted on asking LA and his anti-doping guru Don Catlin a bunch of tricky questions about their programme. Greg has queried Catlin and Armstrong’s collaboration to make the results of Armstrong’s blood values and testosterone/epitestosterone ratio public on the internet saying that it is not enough. LeMond wants to see riders’ VO2 Max results; he says power output is a much better gauge of whether a rider is doping. Following the press conference, where the animosity between the two Tour winners was palpable, LeMond and Catlin got together to continue the debate.
“I just hope that Don will look at that aspect of testing as well as ‘traditional’ testing,” said LeMond. If that could happen, that would be great. I have a lot of respect for Don, and told him that. I am just amazed by the lack of critical thinking from doctors, journalists… If anybody read half of what’s out there about physiology and how you produce power in aerobic sports… It’s very simple”.
“It’s all very well checking blood values,” LeMond continued. “But if you’re a smart doctor, you just always keep your rider’s blood values high. EPO is only detectable within a few days, and that’s why it’s hard to detect it. Autologous blood transfusions, however, are not detectable at all except through a carbon monoxide test.”
LeMond wants to see SRM-type power meters employed to measure riders’ power outputs. “In SRMs, we have a quantitative way to do that, but unfortunately there have only been a few riders who have ever given out that personal information,” bemoans LeMond. “I talked to ASO boss Patrice Clerc (since sacked) about having everyone on an SRM that is sealed. It would be controlled and calibrated by doctors, the police – but not the teams.
“You’d get a continuous output of power recorded during a Tour stage and then if you found someone who had a VO2 Max of 80 and he was doing 500 watts for 30 minutes, you’d know that that was statistically and mathematically impossible to do. So then he’s positive – boom!, he’s out, that’s doping, that’s it, simple.”
Greg praised the efforts of teams like Garmin-Chipotle, who are employing their own anti-doping medical programme. “Jonathan Vaughters is doing a phenomenal job,” says LeMond. “What they’re doing is good, but really that testing has got to be done by an independent group, and not policed from inside. What good is self-policing? It’s like a wolf guarding a hen house. You’ve got to have a group with no self-interest.”
“It should be up to a group like WADA. The riders just want to know that they can trust the system – that’s all. If a crime’s a crime, you’re going to get busted. Cycling is so black and white when it comes to watts and we can have that data now – it’s not a mystery. Last year there were climbers doing 450 watts but weighing 58-60kg – that’s nearly 8 watts per kilo. That’s impossible – unless we’ve all had some kind of genetic mutation over the past 15 years.
“There are certain physiologists who could blow the sport apart,” says LeMond. “But they all earn their living by the sport, too, so they have something to lose, so there’s this omerta. That’s the thing about cycling, it has its chance to make itself clean, and that is the direction the Tour de France organisation was going in. But with Patrice Clerc, the boss of ASO, having recently been removed from his position, we have just taken a huge step backwards”.
“Armstrong can come back as many times as he wants, I don’t care, said Lemond, but the old management of the Tour was really in the process of changing the sport. And something happened between they day they split with the UCI and now. It’s not just that they thought that Patrice Clerc wasn’t doing a good job. Something else got in between.”Lemond said that he had decided that he was walking away from professional cycling and would no longer be a part of it. “I’m going to still be in the bike business, because I still love cycling, and I’ll still go and do Gran Fondos. To me, cycling needs to be more about the purity and the fun and doing your personal best”.
Greenjersey is always prepared to listen to Lemond but is unsure what to make of his SRM idea. Is he suggesting that the whole peleton ride SRM cranks at all times? Furthermore Greg believes that every aspect of the current system can be got round so why would his proposal be any different? There seems to be so many aspects to it that there will surely be weak links to be discovered and exploited. Full marks for effort but it could be back to the drawing board on this one Greg.