State of the peloton 2022

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I am new to this forum, so sorry for stupid questions. But why are you all so convinced that all the top riders / top teams are doping? Is this based on any verifiable and objective facts, or only your gut feeling?
Mostly history. Almost every single rider in cycling who has brought top performances has later been caught, admitted doping themselves or at least been credibly accused (for instance by team-mates) or their names wer found with doping doctors...
So all the people saying it's unfair accusations: no. It's normal human's brain deductions. Also, doping tests have rarely brought athletes down. We know of extremely many cases where doped athletes have beaten the doping tests (they are often caught because someone talked, not because the tests caught them) and anti-doping agencies have explained why it is so hard for them to catch dopers: because they are usually behind in development, they aren't funded that well, and the limits of allowed substances are so high that people don't get accused falsely - with the downside that there is a good deal of leeway for most athletes in terms of microdosing at least.
The doping omertà, as incredible as it sounds, has been proven to work.

Personally I am careful with "all of them dope". I don't know that. My personal believe is that there are huge differences in what the riders are doing and how far they are willing to go. I have no idea about percentages. I expect some to be more or less clean. But I don't know how many.
 
Personally I am careful with "all of them dope". I don't know that. My personal believe is that there are huge differences in what the riders are doing and how far they are willing to go. I have no idea about percentages. I expect some to be more or less clean. But I don't know how many.
My gut feeling is that in the WT (~500 riders), between 85 % and 95 % have doped. I’d guess that ratio is increasing these years. I definitely think it’s more common now to start at an earlier age.
 

Jns

Feb 25, 2018
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My gut feeling is that in the WT (~500 riders), between 85 % and 95 % have doped. I’d guess that ratio is increasing these years. I definitely think it’s more common now to start at an earlier age.
I do believe that there will always be individuals who use doping, but that ratio implies that almost all teams still endorse and organise a doping program. It seems incredibly difficult for a team to organise a successful and secret doping program on the long term. Even when we ignore the anti-doping measures, such program still involves so many people that it’s nearly impossible to keep it hidden on the long term. Therefore, the probability of getting caught is very high. If they eventually get caught, the impact is also very high, both for the team and the people involved (who, besides the financial and reputation consequences, even run a risk of prosecution). The risks seem so high for wide-spread doping usage organised by the teams.
 
Not all teams have to be involved. We've had several riders spill the beans that made it clear that teams weren't involved (for all of their riders). My estimate includes all levels of doping, and I could well imagine many to be on a pretty simple recipe (but I think the economic development of the sport has meant that more riders are using blood bags now than pre-Puerto).
 
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I do believe that there will always be individuals who use doping, but that ratio implies that almost all teams still endorse and organise a doping program. It seems incredibly difficult for a team to organise a successful and secret doping program on the long term. Even when we ignore the anti-doping measures, such program still involves so many people that it’s nearly impossible to keep it hidden on the long term. Therefore, the probability of getting caught is very high. If they eventually get caught, the impact is also very high, both for the team and the people involved (who, besides the financial and reputation consequences, even run a risk of prosecution). The risks seem so high for wide-spread doping usage organised by the teams.
What you just described as "incredibly difficult" is exactly standard modus operandi of all the really successful teams for, at the very least, the past 30+ years.

The rationalizations about "high risk" included.
 
I am new to this forum, so sorry for stupid questions. But why are you all so convinced that all the top riders / top teams are doping? Is this based on any verifiable and objective facts, or only your gut feeling?
We have all the bans, confessions, witness testimonies from not too long ago. Now they are faster. I see no other way. Windtunnels, nutrition, training, material - against some claims this did not change significantly in the last 20 years.

And obviously - a lot of the guys in charge nowadays are the dopers that embraced Omerta of the past.
 
I do believe that there will always be individuals who use doping, but that ratio implies that almost all teams still endorse and organise a doping program. It seems incredibly difficult for a team to organise a successful and secret doping program on the long term. Even when we ignore the anti-doping measures, such program still involves so many people that it’s nearly impossible to keep it hidden on the long term. Therefore, the probability of getting caught is very high. If they eventually get caught, the impact is also very high, both for the team and the people involved (who, besides the financial and reputation consequences, even run a risk of prosecution). The risks seem so high for wide-spread doping usage organised by the teams.
Well, why was then actually very rarely someone caught? Its always police raids or witnesses. Armstrong, Puerto, Aderlass…
 
I do believe that there will always be individuals who use doping, but that ratio implies that almost all teams still endorse and organise a doping program. It seems incredibly difficult for a team to organise a successful and secret doping program on the long term. Even when we ignore the anti-doping measures, such program still involves so many people that it’s nearly impossible to keep it hidden on the long term. Therefore, the probability of getting caught is very high. If they eventually get caught, the impact is also very high, both for the team and the people involved (who, besides the financial and reputation consequences, even run a risk of prosecution). The risks seem so high for wide-spread doping usage organised by the teams.
Everyone is on it.
 
I am new to this forum, so sorry for stupid questions. But why are you all so convinced that all the top riders / top teams are doping? Is this based on any verifiable and objective facts, or only your gut feeling?
Despite advances in training regimes (olistic approaches, hyper-personalized bikes etc..,better physiotherapy and recovery in the course of a season) I think the best achievable human fitness has not changed so much in the last 25 years. Human physiology and metabolism have limits. I never considered nutrition a game-changing factor in regards to maximal performances (while it's important for recovery and endurance)
What I'm saying is that the absurd 90s-00s are still a good measure for "weird" red-zone performances. If we were talking about Binda and Girardengo, then (example) Vingegaard's performances wouldn't look so outrageous because there's almost a century in between.

Let's say the most talented riders of the 90s ( + EPO ) already showed us the absolute limits of the current human body, in my opinion. it follows that everytime some modern rider gets close to that level ..beep beep. It remains to be seen how heavy and how widespread it is.
 
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It's been a weird old Giro and TdF this year. I didn't see anything from breakaway artists in either race to raise suspicion (unlike Bahrain of 2021) with none of this 'solo attack beating group of pursuers nonsense and lots of failed solo attacks through misjudgement of energy). I also found the Giro GC battle fairly credible.

But TdF GC podium plus WVA has been sensational, with time gaps and repeated sustained efforts seemingly now having little impact on recovery. I think we are seeing what happens when you get 'haves' and 'have nots' in the same race. Even allowing for the shortcomings of the riders in 4th to 10th these are decent athletes going balls to the wall for a GC finish and they are absolutely irrelevant in the race.

It got worse and worse as the race went on as the 'have nots' didn't recover from their efforts and the 'haves' carried on as fresh as a daisy. This magnified the time gaps as the race went on. 4th placed at 14mins for crying out loud! You wouldn't normally be inside the top 10 with such a gap (see 2017 through to 2020). 2021 we started to see crazy time gaps begin at the TdF and it has just gone to a completely different level with this race. And that's me taking into account if the Froome years saw him sandbagging to win by the minimum to reduce suspicion (which I think he did). The gaps from 2nd or 3rd to 10th were still in the realms of beleivability on those years.

Personally, I think we are seeing a lot of the peloton either playing fair (due to sponsors) or having not yet stumbled on the safe method of being undetected or being nervous about suspicions around Bahrain. I also think some teams have specific doped performers to try and reduce risk compared to a full team. But TJV and UAE (now that we see McNulty, Bjerg plus a Covid infected Majka). Happy to extend my suspicion fully to Thomas at Ineos despite him being over 8mins back and Ineos generally seeming underwhelming in GTs of late despite their budget. There are far too many decent performers 5-15mins back on Thomas and he received little Ineos train assistance, so was making a lot of solo efforts.

Overall, if there is continued silence in terms of positive tests, biological passports and suspicion indexes then this sport has will go down the toilet as excessive performance enhancement through doping will spread to more teams and into stage hunters.
 
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The margins are something I'm curious about. Back in the Sky era, the margins weren't that great despite Sky's clear superiority - I think a lot of this was down to both a) parcours design which encouraged close gaps, but more importantly b) a more controlled style of racing which discouraged attacks. The second bit has completely gone out the window, the only "sky-style" GC day was arguably ADH where the GC guys more or less finished together behind a break. Thomas was down by 8 minutes in 3rd and it's not as if Ineos is a "have-not" team.

Historically I think the Sky-era gaps are more anomalous than the gaps in the last few years. 10th place was something like -7:30 in 2016 (one of the worst Tours ever).
 
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Just as an example, margins of victory to 10th place from 1976-1985

1976 - 19'
1977 - 27'
1978 - 22'
1979 - 44' (!)
1980 - 21'
1981 - 27'
1982 - 17'
1983 - 18'
1984 - 29'
1985 - 14'


Now the Sky years -
2012 - 17'
2013 - 17'
2014 - 21'
2015 - 17'
2016 - 7' (!)
2017 - 9'
2018 - 14'
2019 - 7' (again!)

To be clear that trend started before Sky (2008 had one of the closest GC top-10s ever), but I think the large gaps are arguably more in line with history than the close gaps.

This kind of historical shift could be due to a lot of things (for instance - doping) but ironically it's actually the relatively close gaps starting at about 2005 or so that's associated with some of the most infamous years (like 2007) ever.
 
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No wonder Kloden was able to pick up so many top 10s. :p

I think it's a fair point that the Sky train combined with a 'win by the minimum' mentality from a sandbagging Froome will have limited distances from 1st back to 10th. But how far would you have to go back to get gaps to 4th of anything like 14, 10 & 6mins from 1st, 2nd and 3rd?

I don't think the Parcours or defensive train riding can explain much of that. With Roglic and O'connor Gaudu may have only been 6th, but we get top contenders crashing out of contention in many years.
 
I like looking at results, so hey.

'76-85, gap to 3rd (I like this because it's still "modern" but generally agreed to be relatively clean of anything stronger than cocaine and speed)

1976 - 12'
1977 - 3' (a famously close tour, Kuiper was +0'48'')
1978 - 7'
1979 - 26' (!!!)
1980 - 8'
1981 - 17'
1982 - 9'
1983 - 4'
1984 - 11'
1985 - 4'

For fun, here's the "Festina era"
1996 - 4'
1997 - 14'
1998 - 4'
1999 - 10'
2000 - 10'

(I need to mention 2007, one of the most nuclear tours of all time - 0'31'' if you don't throw out Leipheimer's 3rd!)

Armstrong -
2001 - 9'
2002 - 8'
2003 - 4'
2004 - 6'
2005 - 6'

and now Sky -
2012 - 6'
2013 - 5'
2014 - 8' (even with the competition crashing out)
2015 - 5'
2016 - 4'
2017 - 2'
2018 - 2'
2019 - 1' (!)


Basically, I'm not sure how much conclusion we can draw from doping based on margins-of-victory and the style of racing seems more important. Thus concludes my report that there is nothing to report. Frankly, if anything large margins are more associated with eras generally seen as relatively clean, though I'm certain this isn't really the conclusion anyone here would take from this race.
 
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What I actually find interesting is that given the dynamics of the racing, the eras with a clearly dominant team (Armstrong/Sky) had smaller margins. Of course anyone who saw the racing knew what was going on - we were seeing a team in full control of a race that didn't feel the need to detonate the race on every mountain stage (and had enough control to prevent anyone else from doing so)

Kind of goes back to the cycling thing where larger time gaps frequently represent more exciting racing than small ones.
 
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No wonder Kloden was able to pick up so many top 10s. :p

I think it's a fair point that the Sky train combined with a 'win by the minimum' mentality from a sandbagging Froome will have limited distances from 1st back to 10th. But how far would you have to go back to get gaps to 4th of anything like 14, 10 & 6mins from 1st, 2nd and 3rd?

I don't think the Parcours or defensive train riding can explain much of that. With Roglic and O'connor Gaudu may have only been 6th, but we get top contenders crashing out of contention in many years.
I find the idea that Froome was sandbagging that much a bit funny, maybe in 2017. Other than that the guy was always greedy as hell and wanted to win everything he could, just look at him sprinting at intermediate sprints in the 2017 Vuelta to grab the points jersey instead of Trentin, when he had the gc wrapped up.
 
I find the idea that Froome was sandbagging that much a bit funny, maybe in 2017. Other than that the guy was always greedy as hell and wanted to win everything he could, just look at him sprinting at intermediate sprints in the 2017 Vuelta to grab the points jersey instead of Trentin, when he had the gc wrapped up.
He rarely tried a long range attack, whenever he feigned weakness he wouldn't lose much time (and would sometimes win) and he only ever lost time AFTER he had a tour winning lead (never once did he lose any time when he wasnt already ahead). If someone rides quite intelligently like that from a PR perspective you are never going to look as suspicious as Pog 2021 and Vingegaard 2022 (if you remove the nameplates and career history).
 
I don't think it has anything to do with looking suspicious - it's just what happens when a team has total control over a race. People thought Pogacar could close like a 2:30 gap in the Pyrenees - if Froome had that gap entering the last mountain stages everyone would know it was race over because his team wouldn't lose control over the race in that way.
 
He rarely tried a long range attack, whenever he feigned weakness he wouldn't lose much time (and would sometimes win) and he only ever lost time AFTER he had a tour winning lead (never once did he lose any time when he wasnt already ahead). If someone rides quite intelligently like that from a PR perspective you are never going to look as suspicious as Pog 2021 and Vingegaard 2022 (if you remove the nameplates and career history).
Yeah, but I've never seen him as the kind of gentleman patron like Indurain, who'd gift stage wins.
 
I like looking at results, so hey.

'76-85, gap to 3rd (I like this because it's still "modern" but generally agreed to be relatively clean of anything stronger than cocaine and speed)

1976 - 12'
1977 - 3' (a famously close tour, Kuiper was +0'48'')
1978 - 7'
1979 - 26' (!!!)
1980 - 8'
1981 - 17'
1982 - 9'
1983 - 4'
1984 - 11'
1985 - 4'

For fun, here's the "Festina era"
1996 - 4'
1997 - 14'
1998 - 4'
1999 - 10'
2000 - 10'

(I need to mention 2007, one of the most nuclear tours of all time - 0'31'' if you don't throw out Leipheimer's 3rd!)

Armstrong -
2001 - 9'
2002 - 8'
2003 - 4'
2004 - 6'
2005 - 6'

and now Sky -
2012 - 6'
2013 - 5'
2014 - 8' (even with the competition crashing out)
2015 - 5'
2016 - 4'
2017 - 2'
2018 - 2'
2019 - 1' (!)


Basically, I'm not sure how much conclusion we can draw from doping based on margins-of-victory and the style of racing seems more important. Thus concludes my report that there is nothing to report. Frankly, if anything large margins are more associated with eras generally seen as relatively clean, though I'm certain this isn't really the conclusion anyone here would take from this race.
I apprecite the figures. I said to 4th from all on the podium because 3rd this year is also suspect. Racing in the 70s and 80s was likely a different beast in terms if stage duration, team tactics and general (legit) medical awareness and professionalism to prevent bad days (catching chills, hunger knocks etc) so time gaps may understandably be wider. I think we'll just have to agree to disagree whether there is significance in the general increased spacing out of time gaps last year and the further sizeable increase this year. Depending on the Vuelta lineup I'll make a prediction on whether we see big gaps or of it'll revert to something a bit more in keeping with most of post 2007.

I can certainly buy that Pog and Vingegaard are showing signs of having far less PR intelligence than Armstrong and Froome (by displaying their superiority every stage) and that this will have an impact on the analysis.
 
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