First up, I have made some modifications to this blog by adding a few more pages. Have a look at the websites i like. It is not comprehensive and will be built up over time, but lists a lot of the sites I like to trawl through.
The rumbles are starting to get louder.
The sports clothing manufacturer SKINS has launched a $2 million law suit against the UCI, claiming that their brand name has been damaged by the UCI’s governance of the sport.
Paul Kimmage Update
Remember Pauyl Kimmage, discussed here a few weeks ago. Well the good news is that Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen last week announced they were suspending defamation proceedings against the former Sunday Times journalist Kimmage pending the results of an independent report.
Even better news is that Paul Kimmage has now lodged a criminal complaint against the ICU’s president Pat McQuaid and Hein Verbruggen.
Kimmage’s slander and defamation suit, filed in Swiss court, charges that the journalist “was dragged through the mud (and) called a liar in public” after obtaining the publication of an interview with Floyd Landis, who criticized the conduct of the UCI and its management.”
Further, Kimmage wrote on Twitter: “I have lodged a criminal complaint against Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid.
“I have initiated these proceedings not for myself – this is not about Paul Kimmage, but on behalf of the whistle blowers – Stephen Swart, Frankie Andreu, Floyd Landis, Christophe Bassons, Nicolas Aubier, Gilles Delion, Graeme Obree and every other cyclist who stood up for truth and the sport they loved and were dismissed as ‘cowards’ and ‘scumbags’ by Verbruggen and McQuaid.”
UCI communications director Enrico Carpani stated that “……….Paul Kimmage’s response in launching legal action is therefore disappointing.”
Tour de France Average Winning Speeds
With some of the discussion floating around the place stating that he averag speeds have increased to ridiculous levels, all due the demands of the public, I thought I’d take a look at how the speeds have increased over the years.
To try and frame some context around the stats, I have plotted the change in TdF distances over the years to see if there is any correlation between the two. I also tried to find if there were any similar increases in performance on another endurance event, and chose to have a look at the Boston Marathon.
The Tour de France has never been a “clean” race. It takes only a cursory glance at the race’s history to find that, even a century ago, racers were doping (and often getting caught) in an attempt to grab cycling’s biggest prize.
The events over the last 15 years are “louder” than at any previous time in its history, probably in no small part to the internet and mobile phone age.
You can see from the above graph that whilst the improvements show some dips over the years, there was a relatively constant improvement up until the time Lance finished up, after which there appears to have been a slight drop off.
Looking at the Festina years leading up to the ” Festina Affair” drug scandal in 1998, there doesn’t appear to have been any huge leaps in performances when compare to other periods in the races history.
The race itself has been steadily decreasing in length, up until around 2003 where there was a slight increase before evening out. At this same time the average times leveled – can one conclude a correlation?
During the race history, the riders have become more professional. Teams have become more professional in their set up, support, nutrition, recovery, medical, training (on and off road) methodologies, so one would expect the average speeds to increase over time.
Bike equipment has also come ahead in leaps and bounds. The ability to transfer the increased power from the legs through the pedals, cranks, frame, bearings, spokes, rim, rubber onto the road has improved.
Hell, even the roads have improved. And don’t forget the introduction of radios in the 1990’s, which themselves do not improve riders performance, but does improve team tactics and the ability to control races and set paces.
Looking at the Boston Marathon, over the same period, there has been an increase of the average spead of around 28%, compared to the TdF of around 66% during the same period. Whilst it is difficult to compare different sports, could one expect similar performance gains? I certainly don’t know, but I would have thought the improvements would have been closer. I would have thought that athletes in endurance sports under the pressure to perform, regardless of the sport, would have succumbed to the lure of EPO, Testosterone and other PEDs to grab those extra seconds and improved ability to recover.
Cycling is obviously different to the one day marathons though, particularly the 3 Grand Tours where riders are expected to front up day after day for 3 weeks, dipping deeper into the well than any of us would ever imagine. Recovery in the last week is problematical. The body is close to empty, the legs and mind are heavy, and the pressure is increasing from the team manger and director. And when you see other riders scything up the mountains seemingly fresh as a daisy…….A hellishly difficult time for the riders.
So what can be attributed to natural gains and artificial gains?????? No conclusions – just food for thought!
Amgen Tour of California.
I’ve never come across this before, but consider this:
Amgen are the name sponsor of the Tour of California.
Amgen are a biotechnology company.
Amgen make drugs, including erythropoietin, otherwise known as EPO.
It’s a small world isn’t it.
Book of the Week – Slaying the Badger
From Campy Only.
In the midst of all this hand-wringing about drugs and cheats, comes a book that hearkens back to a (somewhat) more innocent time, when the three-week rolling soap opera that is the Tour was dominated by two men: Breton Bernard Hinault and American Greg Lemond. “Slaying the Badger” (Velo Press) provides a compelling insight into these two men and the Tours of the 1980s that cemented their reputations as two of the sport’s greatest riders. The fact that they did it (as far as we know) without doping makes the story all the more remarkable, and serves as a lesson to today’s riders: Yes, it’s possible to have an incredibly compelling race that doesn’t rely on illicit drugs.
Website of the Week : Lausanne – The Olympic Capital
“Our history, our passion and our community truly make Lausanne, Olympic Capital, the home of International Sport.
Today, close to fifty international sports organisations have made Lausanne and the surrounding region of the Canton de Vaud their home.”
Film of the Week – Senna
Unfortunately I missed the film when it was released on the big screen, but I came across Senna at the Burnside Library a month back.
It was every bnit as good as I was hoping it to be.
“Spanning his years as a Formula One racing driver from 1984 to his untimely death a decade later, Senna explores the life and work of the triple world champion, his physical and spiritual achievements on the track, his quest for perfection and the mythical status he has since attained”. via Rotten Tomatoes
The film is based entirely on footage drawn from hundreds of hours of newsreel, material from Formula One’s own archives, much of it previously unseen, and from the Senna family’s home movies. There are no re-enactments or talking heads looking back over the career.
The film traces the steady rise of Ayrton as he moves from team to team in this most dangerous and professionally competitive of sports. Along the way, he gives Formula One a jump start and becomes a national idol back in Brazil, a source of inspiration and a beacon of hope for a troubled nation. He has no illusions about Formula One – “it is political, it is money”, but his sheer love of racing is evident when he claims that he was happiest in his go-karting days when there was no money or prizes.
What fascinated me was the building rivalry between team-mate and then competiitor Alain Prost as his Dick Dastardly-like arch-rival.
You know how the film was going to end, but the detail and edge of the days leading up to his death after the death of Roland Ratzenberger was grotesquely engrossing.
Ayrton died, aged 34, after a crash in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. The official cause of death was suspension arm penetration of skull.
Many don’t believe this, believbe there was some sort of Italian conspiracy to cover up the real cause.
One theory floating around is that Ayrton was murdered by a sniper. Have a look at the reasons behind this conspiracy theory at F1 Technical. Fascinating reading.
Till next week