Discussion on the best recent performances at The Tour on the Alpe d'Huez

1. Pantani 36’50″, 1995, 22.5 kph
2. Pantani 36’55″, 1997
3. Pantani 37’15″, 1994
4. Armstrong 37’36″, 2004 (ITT)
5. Ullrich 37’40″, 1997
6. Armstrong 38’01″, 2001
7. Indurain/Zulle 38’10″, 1995
8. Riis 38’15″, 1995
9. Virenque 38’20″, 1997
10. Landis 38’34″, 2006, 21.5 kph

The above list was posted by The Hog in another forum.

I felt that my interest in it more belonged to The Clinic.

Does this list seem to greatly emphasise the possibility that Ullrich doped less (more cautiously) after the '90's? I know that there are some variances on stages due to the heat, terrain prior to the final ascent and how hard the field raced before reaching the final climb. But to me (the mere viewer and fan) it seems 'impossible' that anyone could ever compete with Lance in '01 Alp form. Yet there is Jan going faster in '97? The thing is, is that I believe Ullrich to have been in career best form (at least in a general fitness sense) in '01 (or at least close to '97 level), at least fitter than in 2000, and he did still race very well up the Alp in '01 (after all he beat all the other supposed climbing specialists), but only did about an even forty minutes. It seems to a possibly less naive me these days that this is perhaps the best 'evidence' for the unlevel playing field that may have existed in the peloton during the Armstrong years (on the hypothetical that he and his team could be doped to the gills without fear/risk of being caught).

Obviously pre '98 it was a total free for all in that regard.

It's surprising to see that Lance's time trial in '04 is only 25 seconds faster than his '01 ride - given that he should have been far fresher?

The 2006 time of Landis really stands out on this list. Were non Postal riders forced to dope less during the Armstrong years and then had the shackles released in '06? Obviously Landis was caught later, but remember that Kloden rode with him all the way to the top in this stage, and it seems strange that he could go a 38:34 while Ullrich only goes a 40:01 in '01. We pretty much know that T-Mobile went all out in '06 to win (the Freiburg clinic revelations), so it suggests strongly to me that Jan wasn't doping too extravagantly in '01 (remember that he beat Beloki who was a great climber and rode for ONCE - renowned for their doping practices), especially as Kloden wasn't even probably at his absolute best form of '04 (in about March of '06 he did a collarbone and struggled to reach full fitness for The Tour).

What this list suggests is that the Armstrong/Ullrich battle in The Tour of '01 could have been an absolute epic if both were going "all out" (on an assumption that Jan wasn't doping as heavily in '01). What do knowledgeable fans think about this? And do you guys feel that Armstrong was doping as freely during his seven wins as what the leading GC guys were doing during the '90's?

And regarding the 2011 Alp stage: Does it even matter that the stage is only 109 kms? Maybe it doesn't matter too much how fresh the riders are at the start of the climb, otherwise wouldn't have the time trial times of '04 been faster?
 
Jan 27, 2010
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total waste of time speculating on most of this, in my opinion.
Ullrich was obviously not as fit or focussed during the 2000s.
meanwhile Pantani and Virenque are the only natural 'climbers' on the list.
 
There are reasons to suspect Ullrich didn't dope too much in the early 00s, but there's nothing solid. Hearsay about something Livingston said, and considerably more dubious statements by Pevenage.
 
May 30, 2010
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2003

Re Ullrich and doping and performance in the 2000's. What about 2003? He was the closest he ever was to Armstrong with a lowly makeshift team who couldnt support him in the mountains and was a serious time triallist at the tour.

All the more remarkable when you think about the supercharged and highly organised and systematic postal boys that surrounded LA.

For me, Ullrich's 03 performance was a stand out
 
Mar 13, 2009
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galaxy1 said:
total waste of time speculating on most of this, in my opinion.
Ullrich was obviously not as fit or focussed during the 2000s.
meanwhile Pantani and Virenque are the only natural 'climbers' on the list.
Fitness and possibly weight. Not sure of his exact racing weight but it wouldnt be a surprise if he was 2-3 kg heavier in his later years. He definitely looked more solid in a few editions.
 
Apr 13, 2010
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hrotha said:
There are reasons to suspect Ullrich didn't dope too much in the early 00s, but there's nothing solid. Hearsay about something Livingston said, and considerably more dubious statements by Pevenage.
I like that the whole debate gets turned upside-down - we have to suspect someone of being clean :)

Anyway, I think after Festina in 98 that Telekom severely cut down on the medicines - later they did blood doping via Freiburg and Ullrich via Fuentes, and that alone shows to me that it went underground even within the team - otherwise they would all do the same, right? Or did Ullrich turn to Fuentes only after moving from Telekom?

From Riis' autobiography it's related that he (and probably the rest of the team) dumped the rest of the epo in the toilet and he never started it again - probably had had enough by then... I think it's very likely that Ullrich only did a little after Festina as well - don't know about the blood doping though...
 
Apr 13, 2010
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enrecul said:
Re Ullrich and doping and performance in the 2000's. What about 2003? He was the closest he ever was to Armstrong with a lowly makeshift team who couldnt support him in the mountains and was a serious time triallist at the tour.

All the more remarkable when you think about the supercharged and highly organised and systematic postal boys that surrounded LA.

For me, Ullrich's 03 performance was a stand out
I'm not sure the difference in 03 so much was Ullrich. Wasn't that the year when Armstrong had his "worst day ever on a bike"? Maybe Postal wasn't up to it's usual level that year? This has probably been done to death in other threads, so maybe let's not go too much into that detail...
 
May 8, 2009
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Also the Vaughters IM where it's rumoured Ullrich didn't race over 42% hct in the 2000s. In 1997 you would expect he followed a similar program to Riis in 1996.
 
Bumeington said:
Also the Vaughters IM where it's rumoured Ullrich didn't race over 42% hct in the 2000s. In 1997 you would expect he followed a similar program to Riis in 1996.
That's the hearsay I was referring to. The original source of that was Kevin Livingston.

Anyway, I'd say 2003 was different. A different team (Bianchi), and a better performance (yes, Armstrong was worse, but what about the others?).
 
May 12, 2010
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hrotha said:
That's the hearsay I was referring to. The original source of that was Kevin Livingston.

Anyway, I'd say 2003 was different. A different team (Bianchi), and a better performance (yes, Armstrong was worse, but what about the others?).
There was a similair discussion in another thread, it appears there was indeed a big increase in performance in the 2003 Tour. Does anyone know what the first year was that Ullrich went to Fuentes?

 
Feb 1, 2011
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As we all know Alp d'huez is often a tactical battle with riders not going flat out for the duration of the climb, so for real comparative purposes, it is probably necessary to compare the times for the first five riders on the stage over the years and not just who won, as this will give you an idea as to whether the guys were going flat our or not.

More often than not, only 20 - 30 secs separates the top guys, with most of them coming across the line in the same group or a few secs a part So in my mind a difference of even up to 1 mins over a 40 mins test is not conclusive proof as to whether one person doped more than another.

Also, the weather conditions need to be taken into account, as after hair pin 16 you come out of the trees into the open (all be it, with the big crowds this factor is slightly reduced given the protective affect of the crowds from the wind) it can often blow a gail or not, given the day thats in it.

So to look at this one climb, on one day is not conclusive as to whether someone doped more or less than the other guy no matter what year it is.
 
Apr 20, 2009
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Doping questions aside, the first post is a reminder of just how great a climber Pantani was. Troubled, doped...but perhaps the most exciting and explosive rider in the peloton.

To the question of comparing times: Other than ITT's, it's hard to know what was going on tactically that impacted times. That's why I'm amazed that even in an ITT (where effort is 100% for the whole ride), Armstrong could not reach Pantani's pace at the end of a mountainous stage.
 

Skandar Akbar

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Nov 20, 2010
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eleven said:
Doping questions aside, the first post is a reminder of just how great a climber Pantani was. Troubled, doped...but perhaps the most exciting and explosive rider in the peloton.

To the question of comparing times: Other than ITT's, it's hard to know what was going on tactically that impacted times. That's why I'm amazed that even in an ITT (where effort is 100% for the whole ride), Armstrong could not reach Pantani's pace at the end of a mountainous stage.
I have never seen tapes of Pantani doped flying up this mountain. Phil and Paul say Pantani would take off at the left turn so right away he would go all out. When Lance did 38 in 2001 he was still playing with Jan and the others almost to the second corner. So we know Lance is better than 38 minutes without joking with the others and then giving them 'the look'.
 
Apr 13, 2010
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Skandar Akbar said:
I have never seen tapes of Pantani doped flying up this mountain. Phil and Paul say Pantani would take off at the left turn so right away he would go all out. When Lance did 38 in 2001 he was still playing with Jan and the others almost to the second corner. So we know Lance is better than 38 minutes without joking with the others and then giving them 'the look'.
Which you can't really conclude much from - had LA gone earlier he would likely not have had the same power at the end as he would have spent more earlier. You could also start to analyse how soon before the finish line they start to celebrate, cos the more celebration the fast they could have gone...

I think, what's being brought up right from the first post, it's difficult to compare all these rides when not like for like. I think your post is an extra illustration of this as the correction we need to enter into it becomes quite speculative.
 
Apr 20, 2009
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Skandar Akbar said:
I have never seen tapes of Pantani doped flying up this mountain. Phil and Paul say Pantani would take off at the left turn so right away he would go all out. When Lance did 38 in 2001 he was still playing with Jan and the others almost to the second corner. So we know Lance is better than 38 minutes without joking with the others and then giving them 'the look'.
Watching Pantani over the Galibier and up Les Deux Alpe, 1998 is poetry in motion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2FQqHF8x5I&feature=related
 

Skandar Akbar

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Nov 20, 2010
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JPM London said:
Which you can't really conclude much from - had LA gone earlier he would likely not have had the same power at the end as he would have spent more earlier. You could also start to analyse how soon before the finish line they start to celebrate, cos the more celebration the fast they could have gone...

I think, what's being brought up right from the first post, it's difficult to compare all these rides when not like for like. I think your post is an extra illustration of this as the correction we need to enter into it becomes quite speculative.
Then tell that guy upthread to take down that chart since the conditions are not equal from year to year either, just like they aren't on this mountain like you say.
 
Apr 13, 2010
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Skandar Akbar said:
Then tell that guy upthread to take down that chart since the conditions are not equal from year to year either, just like they aren't on this mountain like you say.
Oy! You guy further up thread - take down that chart.

Some of the places where the chart has been used it has been very discussed to what degree you can compare mountain times, but the one thing that the chart can definitely be used for, as I see it, is looking at the power of the yellow jersey and especially the number of riders able to high wattage.

I don't think there's any arguing that it shows years with more rampant/powerful doping...
 
Aug 13, 2009
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enrecul said:
Re Ullrich and doping and performance in the 2000's. What about 2003? He was the closest he ever was to Armstrong with a lowly makeshift team who couldnt support him in the mountains and was a serious time triallist at the tour.

All the more remarkable when you think about the supercharged and highly organised and systematic postal boys that surrounded LA.

For me, Ullrich's 03 performance was a stand out
Ulrich was sick on the Alp d'huez stage in 2003, he had a fever and serious stomach issue. Even had to make a "Pit stop" on the side of the road. He lost 3:36 that day to Mayo because of it. likely would have won the Tour if he had not be sick
 
Jan 27, 2010
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JPM London said:
I'm not sure the difference in 03 so much was Ullrich. Wasn't that the year when Armstrong had his "worst day ever on a bike"? .
JPM, I respectfully would like to ask you if we can believe anything LA said or says. He has mislead fans, the public, teammates and foes during races, before and after. Can any of us really believe when he actually had a good year or not, a bad stage or not?

NW
 
Jan 27, 2010
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gregrowlerson said:
1. Pantani 36’50″, 1995, 22.5 kph
2. Pantani 36’55″, 1997
3. Pantani 37’15″, 1994
4. Armstrong 37’36″, 2004 (ITT)
5. Ullrich 37’40″, 1997

?
I've always said that dopers do not, and cannot (financially), dope equally, so I agree with you.

It is pretty clear that LA et al. had systematic, forced, doping. There is more and more evidence that LA was not as big an engine as Ulle and others, and the propaganda of cadence, work ethic, recons...snooze are bunk. LA bought off officials to win races and was doped to the gills. We will never know if Ulle, Mayo, Beloki... had access to the same drugs, the same 'programs', the same autologous blood on rest days.

Hopefully the Feds, Landis and a tsunami of impending autobiographical books out in the next decade with shed some light on the mismatches.

NW
 
Race Radio said:
Ulrich was sick on the Alp d'huez stage in 2003, he had a fever and serious stomach issue. Even had to make a "Pit stop" on the side of the road. He lost 3:36 that day to Mayo because of it. likely would have won the Tour if he had not be sick
Ullrich has always been one of the 'what-ifs' in cycling for me. Crazy that he only got one Tour win :(
 
enrecul said:
Re Ullrich and doping and performance in the 2000's. What about 2003? He was the closest he ever was to Armstrong with a lowly makeshift team who couldnt support him in the mountains and was a serious time triallist at the tour.

All the more remarkable when you think about the supercharged and highly organised and systematic postal boys that surrounded LA.

For me, Ullrich's 03 performance was a stand out
I don't rate Ullrich's '03 Tour with his '01 one. It is my opinion that LA was in worse form (for whatever reason) that year. In fact it should be pretty obvious that it wasn't Ullrich that had raised his game, because numerous riders, most notably Vino, were competitive with the 2 big guns in the mountains that year. If you look at the '05 Tour you will see that Ullrich was superior to Vino in most mountain stages (yet still inferior to LA and Basso) but in '03 they were pretty even, though I don't think that Vino had bad form in '05 (just the one really bad day when he lost 5 minutes).

Also compare the Luz Ardiden stage in '03 with the Alp du'ez in '01. Ullrichs good form was good enough to dispose of all other riders in '01, but in '03 a pack of about 6 climbers was able to keep with him. And if you need more proof that the difference between '01 and '03 was LA's form, then just look at the fact that LA was 2 minutes up the road in '01 and 40 seconds in '03. And on the Alp in '03 LA failed to even break forty minutes.

The one stage that Jan did perform one of his all time great rides though, was in the first ITT. To beat LA by 96 seconds was awesome, and it wasn't like LA had a horrible day; he still finished 2nd on the stage.

My take on the outcome of '03 is that the TTT played a big part. LA gained 40 seconds I think on Jan. If he didn't then Ullrich would have put on the yellow jersey later on. I suspect that the climb up the Perysorde may have been decisive, when Ullrich did all the work to keep a flying Vino in sight and LA sucked wheels. Without the TTT the opposite may have happened, and Ullrich might have had more energy for the stage to Luz Ardiden. He also may not have rode so aggressively on the Tourmalet on that same stage if he was already in yellow. And if still in yellow come the final time trail it might have been LA pushing too hard in the wet and crashing.
 

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