The translation of the article
It's Schleck who is right, the poison still works
Fränk Schleck, the excluded doper, is right : le Tour is "poisoned". It has been for a long time, but the poison still works. To get convinced, comparing the power outputs of riders, in Watts, is enough. We noticed four of them that are particularly shocking this year. The first one kills more than it wounds. It's about the crowds' pet, Thomas Voeckler, who, as his clone, the Virenque of the greatest Festina years, holds the king of mountains polka dots jersey up, and the French hearts. Saint Thomas, in his own admittance, neglecting the will of his almost fleshless calves that seem so thin that they look like they're reduced to (the size of) his shin bones, is capable, like Richard once was, to perform mountain raids, maintaining over four mountains an engine power of "375-390" Watts, without weakening, accelerating whenever he wishes. He was first to cross the line atop Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourde, in 5 h 32 min 2 s, victorious concluding, fresh as a daisy, the 197 km at an average of 35,59 km/h.
This Pau - Bagnères-de-Luchon is a classical Tour de France stage (1980, 1983, 1998). In 1998 - always the Festina affair -, Marco Pantani let Massi win in 5 h 49 minutes 40 s on 196,5 km at 33,72 km/h : almost 2 km/h slower. Another reference got broken the next day by Thomas Voeckler : Menté, 9,3 km at 9,1 %. In 28'20", with an alien power of 442 Watts, he's carving his name on the tables, on the biggest chain ring in the last 300 m, on an 8 % slope. There, he is rather looking like the Rasmussen-Contador duo of the Great Years. It's the second important comparison : it knocks down more than it scares.
With an average of 430 W, the favourites swallowed, like during the great days, Peyresourde in 26 min 45 sec. From Saint-Aventin, they only conceded 34 seconds to the unreal time of Contador and Rasmussen in 2007 (23 minutes and 26 seconds), who were trying to drop each other with many sprints, just like as many injections. From there on, Froome and Wiggins then accelerated in the last climb, Peyragudes. They produced 470 Watts during 7'03" (2,95 km at 7,93 %). Froome waited for Wiggins, but was capable of getting near 500 Watts. If he doesn't restrict his engine any more to wait for his leader, he could enter the caste of world record owners, the best "performers" of all times : Pantani, Armstrong, Contador.
The third comparison, which makes smile more than it surprises, is to be credited to a suspended rider "Stronger Than Before", title of a book by Virenque. Alejandro Valverde won in Peyragudes, achieving a performance equal to Vinokourov's in 2007. The two riders, with a 5 years interval, climbed the Port de Balès and Peyresourde at the same level of power output, managing 285 then 405 Watts on both these ascents. Vinokourov, who had left the peloton with the morning break, won it solo in Loudenvielle. The Kazakhi was then excluded because of a blood transfusion.
The last comparison is more thrilling than bluffing. In 2011, after 16 years of scrambling for heavy doping products, we were at last cheering, in these columns, for the absence of riders performing above an average of 410 Watts on the last ascents of mountain stages : the detection threshold of poison. Alas ! There is again four of them, this year who crossed that bar : Wiggins, Froome, Nibali and Van den Broecke, with 415 Watts for the first three of the classification, and 410 Watts for the fourth one. We are now longing for 2013 and the return of Contador and his tainted meat ! Until then, it's doubtful a cure will have been found.
Former coach of Team Festina, Antoine Vayer is a performance specialist.