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Team Ineos (Formerly the Sky thread)

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probably our difference is I don't need to believe or not believe while watching the sport. and what we don't know if how mental side, training, goals, attitude, drive, sacrifices, etc work for this or that rider. there are so many tiny aspects day after day, km after km, pedal stroke after pedal stroke, that can lead you to one path or another, to one performance to another. in grey area involved, probably yes. do I care? no. are cycling fans too stuck in this view of "what riders can do and cannot because it has never been done?" yes
 
Thomas was never an untalented cyclist. The transformation was the type of cyclist he was. If Christophe Laporte turns into a mountain goat and becomes Vingegaard's last mountain domestique then wins the Tour de France in a couple of years' time, that would be the equivalent of what Thomas did.and the extent if change of the type of rider he was, and at that poiny in his career after nearly a decade as a pro we had had the chance to learn the type of rider he was.

Anybody that says Laporte is not a talented cyclist is flat out wrong, but anybody that says they predicted and expected him to win a Grand Tour is either lying or they're Christophe Laporte's mother. But Thomas did it, and you expect nobody to raise any eyebrows?
Alarcon and Laporte are very strange examples to point at when discussing Geraint Thomas. The transformation of Thomas was obviously not something anyone could easily have predicted, but in that context you need to compare him to riders with similar career paths, like McGee, Wiggins and Dennis who were all primarily track riders before getting better at climbing. Up until 2012, Thomas' focus was mainly on being as good a pursuiter as he could be, and when that career was over, his performances on climbs started picking up rather quickly. I haven't read his book or anything, so I don't know what he has said about it himself, but I'd imagine that seeing what Wiggins did would have been a major inspiration to see if he could do the same.

Bringing Laporte into this conversation is rather meaningless, considering he was for all intents and purposes a sprinter before he became stronger and more durable as his career progressed. And while Laporte has done well in shorter ITTs in smaller races, Thomas has been an ITT specialist since early in his career, and that has always been a better predictor for GC results than being a sprinter.

And as with @pastronef, I have no need to believe in anything while watching this sport. But I don't think you can stuff any classics rider full of substances and he'll then win the Tour. Point is I don't see Thomas' evolution into a GC rider as something completely outrageous considering what has happened before. But I also won't claim to have predicted it in 2012.
 
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Alarcon and Laporte are very strange examples to point at when discussing Geraint Thomas. The transformation of Thomas was obviously not something anyone could easily have predicted, but in that context you need to compare him to riders with similar career paths, like McGee, Wiggins and Dennis who were all primarily track riders before getting better at climbing. Up until 2012, Thomas' focus was mainly on being as good a pursuiter as he could be, and when that career was over, his performances on climbs started picking up rather quickly. I haven't read his book or anything, so I don't know what he has said about it himself, but I'd imagine that seeing what Wiggins did would have been a major inspiration to see if he could do the same.

Bringing Laporte into this conversation is rather meaningless, considering he was for all intents and purposes a sprinter before he became stronger and more durable as his career progressed. And while Laporte has done well in shorter ITTs in smaller races, Thomas has been an ITT specialist since early in his career, and that has always been a better predictor for GC results than being a sprinter.

And as with @pastronef, I have no need to believe in anything while watching this sport. But I don't think you can stuff any classics rider full of substances and he'll then win the Tour. Point is I don't see Thomas' evolution into a GC rider as something completely outrageous considering what has happened before. But I also won't claim to have predicted it in 2012.
I would say that if pastronef really cares as little as they claim they wouldn't be in the Clinic discussing the team this many years later claiming that there is no transformation in Thomas. I'd claim not to care that much either but at the end of the day I'm still here posting about it years later.

Alarcón is the right kind of rider for the absurdity of the style transformation, but he did not show as much talent as Thomas pre-transformation; Laporte is somebody who has the right kind of results and specialisms while being on the team where that kind of absurd transformation is happening right now, just as Thomas was in 2014-15 when he decided to be a climber and became one immediately, which is why I picked him. Picking people like Bradley McGee as a comparable when he had one top 10 in a Giro with both an awful route and an awful field and has been used as exhibit A of a meaningless GT top 10 for years doesn't really pass muster to me as a comparable for a guy that has won the Tour de France and podiumed it twice more as well as podiuming the Giro. Lots of people have anomalous top 10s in their careers - Paolo Betting, Niklas Axelsson, Thomas de Gendt for starters - but we aren't talking that with Thomas. We're talking a guy who is having a full GC career after a decade of being the kind of rider nobody would take seriously as a contender for one. Yes, Wiggins did that too, but somebody else having the same preposterous transformation doesn't make it any less inherently preposterous, just that it isn't unprecedented.
 
Laporte wasn't a double Olympic gold medal winner in team pursuit though. There is clearly some kind of overlap between the physical talent required to do well in pursuit and what is required to become a GC rider, as we have seen with some pursuiters like the ones I mentioned. It's also clearly not a predictor, as a lot of pursuiters haven't become climbers, but some overlap is undeniable.

I can also not think of any examples of pursuiters who have been top level GC riders at the same time as focusing on the track (but combining the track and classics seem to work for many riders), so Thomas starting his transformation after the London Olympics and then improving steadily as his transformation progressed makes sense.

I just don't see the logic behind the argument that his transformation is particularly preposterous. That requires you to think that he is doping while others are not, or that he somehow is doping more and better than others. If that's the argument, then I have nothing more to add, because I don't believe it's as simple as that. I don't buy the idea that a rider supposedly un-suited to climbing is the only one doping. If it was that easy to fraud your way to the top, then surely somebody more suited to being a GC rider would do it with more success.
 
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Laporte wasn't a double Olympic gold medal winner in team pursuit though. There is clearly some kind of overlap between the physical talent required to do well in pursuit and what is required to become a GC rider, as we have seen with some pursuiters like the ones I mentioned. It's also clearly not a predictor, as a lot of pursuiters haven't become climbers, but some overlap is undeniable.

I can also not think of any examples of pursuiters who have been top level GC riders at the same time as focusing on the track (but combining the track and classics seem to work for many riders), so Thomas starting his transformation after the London Olympics and then improving steadily as his transformation progressed makes sense.

I just don't see the logic behind the argument that his transformation is particularly preposterous. That requires you to think that he is doping while others are not, or that he somehow is doping more and better than others. If that's the argument, then I have nothing more to add, because I don't believe it's as simple as that. I don't buy the idea that a rider supposedly un-suited to climbing is the only one doping. If it was that easy to fraud your way to the top, then surely somebody more suited to being a GC rider would do it with more success.
Ganna is now as old as Thomas was at this point in 2014. He has shown more on climbs so far than Thomas had back then.

It'd be outrageous if he became a Tour winner.
 
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probably our difference is I don't need to believe or not believe while watching the sport. and what we don't know if how mental side, training, goals, attitude, drive, sacrifices, etc work for this or that rider. there are so many tiny aspects day after day, km after km, pedal stroke after pedal stroke, that can lead you to one path or another, to one performance to another. in grey area involved, probably yes. do I care? no. are cycling fans too stuck in this view of "what riders can do and cannot because it has never been done?" yes
I also don’t need to believe (or not) to enjoy the sport and root for certain riders. But I also think thinking about and talking about a rider’s historical development, including their resources ($$), and biology ( and possibly pharmaceuticals) is a reasonable (and interesting) to ponder and discuss here. In fact, to be me it’s a more useful discussion because at least we have some data to compare, unlike things like “motivation,” “desire,” “mental edge,” etc., which unless you are that rider’s coach, friend, or partner—all you have to go on is what the rider says in interviews or posts online.
 
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Bringing Laporte into this conversation is rather meaningless, considering he was for all intents and purposes a sprinter before he became stronger and more durable as his career progressed. And while Laporte has done well in shorter ITTs in smaller races, Thomas has been an ITT specialist since early in his career, and that has always been a better predictor for GC results than being a sprinter.

And as with @pastronef, I have no need to believe in anything while watching this sport. But I don't think you can stuff any classics rider full of substances and he'll then win the Tour. Point is I don't see Thomas' evolution into a GC rider as something completely outrageous considering what has happened before. But I also won't claim to have predicted it in 2012.
Gee, there was this guy who was a big strong classics rider with no GC potential who ended up dominating the Tour for many years, but now when I look at the Tour results I can’t find any record of him? There may have been some “stuffing” if I recall?
 
I think comparing riders who were largely outside any EPO or BioPassport system to riders that are is not the way to look at it re. transformation. I mean Alarcon was found with something like 20 passport violations wasn't he over just 7 years when they looked back?
I'd probably be more inclined to compare Thomas to Dumoulin who was also able to sacrifice enough to be competitive in both a flat TT and podium GTs continually. I think for Dumoulin he coped with the sacrifice for 5 years similarly for Wiggins, but struggled once they ticked the GT win to continue justifying such sacrifices being required. Thomas seems much more able to manage the sacrifice mentally needed for a tester to be competitive in GTs by basically writing off 6 months after LeTour where he isn't sacrificing anything, he's switched off until January and that seems to work well for him.
 
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I think comparing riders who were largely outside any EPO or BioPassport system to riders that are is not the way to look at it re. transformation. I mean Alarcon was found with something like 20 passport violations wasn't he over just 7 years when they looked back?
I'd probably be more inclined to compare Thomas to Dumoulin who was also able to sacrifice enough to be competitive in both a flat TT and podium GTs continually. I think for Dumoulin he coped with the sacrifice for 5 years similarly for Wiggins, but struggled once they ticked the GT win to continue justifying such sacrifices being required. Thomas seems much more able to manage the sacrifice mentally needed for a tester to be competitive in GTs by basically writing off 6 months after LeTour where he isn't sacrificing anything, he's switched off until January and that seems to work well for him.
You'd be more inclined to compare Thomas to a guy who was 5th in the Tour de Suisse at 23, nearly won the Vuelta at 24, and retired at the same age Thomas got his first GT top 10, as well as achieving more as a time trialist than Thomas ever did?

Gee, I wonder why your comparison comes out saying there's nothing at all questionable about Thomas.

Also Portugal does have its own biopassport, people like Antônio Amorim and Sérgio Ribeiro have been suspended under it. Obviously its efficacy is highly questionable, however, but it is worth noting that Alarcón will have been subject to it.
 
Gee, there was this guy who was a big strong classics rider with no GC potential who ended up dominating the Tour for many years, but now when I look at the Tour results I can’t find any record of him? There may have been some “stuffing” if I recall?
Armstrong was actually going for the general classification at the 1995 Tour de Suisse and still placed inside the Top 10 after the Albulapass queen stage. He went on a suicide attack up towards Flumserberg the next day and abandoned the race with illness then.

That was a strong Tour de Suisse edition actually. Tonkov beat Zülle. Jaskula finished 3rd. Zberg was always strong at his home race.

Not that it would indicate Armstrong becoming the world beater he became later on. But I've seen weaker races pointed out with a certain Chris Froome to prove his non-existent talent.
 
You'd be more inclined to compare Thomas to a guy who was 5th in the Tour de Suisse at 23, nearly won the Vuelta at 24, and retired at the same age Thomas got his first GT top 10, as well as achieving more as a time trialist than Thomas ever did?

Gee, I wonder why your comparison comes out saying there's nothing at all questionable about Thomas.

Also Portugal does have its own biopassport, people like Antônio Amorim and Sérgio Ribeiro have been suspended under it. Obviously its efficacy is highly questionable, however, but it is worth noting that Alarcón will have been subject to it.
I'm simply comparing both riders lack of any evidenced or even rumoured suspicion of doping across continued success in GTs being of similar weight, similar build and both being good testers. You could argue Dumoulin transformed from Kittels leadout/ a sprinter to Suisse as a transformation if you want to play 'spot the transformation game'.
The fact Thomas remained focused on Olympic Track and domestique Road makes your comparison rather pointless to that discussion and the fact riders like Alarcon couldn't sustain success and ended up with 20 violations in a similar amount of time in a similar period of anti-doping I think goes some way to showing your bias when both Thomas & Dumoulin s are generally seen by both fans and fellow riders as not doping to achieve what they have.
 
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I'm simply comparing both riders lack of any evidenced or even rumoured suspicion of doping across continued success in GTs being of similar weight, similar build and both being good testers. You could argue Dumoulin transformed from Kittels leadout/ a sprinter to Suisse as a transformation if you want to play 'spot the transformation game'.
The fact Thomas remained focused on Olympic Track and domestique Road makes your comparison rather pointless to that discussion and the fact riders like Alarcon couldn't sustain success and ended up with 20 violations in a similar amount of time in a similar period of anti-doping I think goes some way to showing your bias when both Thomas & Dumoulin s are generally seen by both fans and fellow riders as not doping to achieve what they have.
Ganna has focused on TTs and track so far (and now also classics).

If he changed focus and won the Tour (including back-to-back mountaintop finishes) in 2028, would that be a credible transformation?
 
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I would be suprised, the days of +190cm Tour winners went with the end of the long ITTs, the numbers even with the possibility to add 10% through EPO don't stack up today and the likes of Pogacar, Remco, Roglic are close-enough to him even at his ideal weight as GT TT racers and better race craft too.
 
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It's todays lack of ITT km and the race exploring ever steeper / alternative mountain finishes that means the numbers for Wiggins and Ganna just don't work today regardless of how many % you think they would gain uphill from weight loss. The reason it used to work was the loss uphill was offset in the ITT, today it's much more of an all-rounder 3 weeks and why all-rounders do well in it at natural weight like your Pogacar & Roglics, not Thomas and Dumoulins so much.
 
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I'm simply comparing both riders lack of any evidenced or even rumoured suspicion of doping across continued success in GTs being of similar weight, similar build and both being good testers. You could argue Dumoulin transformed from Kittels leadout/ a sprinter to Suisse as a transformation if you want to play 'spot the transformation game'.
The fact Thomas remained focused on Olympic Track and domestique Road makes your comparison rather pointless to that discussion and the fact riders like Alarcon couldn't sustain success and ended up with 20 violations in a similar amount of time in a similar period of anti-doping I think goes some way to showing your bias when both Thomas & Dumoulin s are generally seen by both fans and fellow riders as not doping to achieve what they have.
Seen by fans in the UK, perhaps. Thomas gets a lot more leeway than Froome or Wiggins it's true, but that's largely because he comes across well, in the same way as people don't vilify Indurain the way they do many other dopers of the early 90s. Thomas winning the Tour was like a Brailsford flex more than it was a credible rider development. People need to focus more on people like Jalabert as the comparables for the change of style years into their career. Hell, if you took somebody like Enric Mas and he suddenly started becoming a cobbled classics contender then won Ronde and Roubaix back to back a couple of years later, I've a chaque a fair few people are going to balk at that.
 
Seen by fans in the UK, perhaps. Thomas gets a lot more leeway than Froome or Wiggins it's true, but that's largely because he comes across well, in the same way as people don't vilify Indurain the way they do many other dopers of the early 90s. Thomas winning the Tour was like a Brailsford flex more than it was a credible rider development. People need to focus more on people like Jalabert as the comparables for the change of style years into their career. Hell, if you took somebody like Enric Mas and he suddenly started becoming a cobbled classics contender then won Ronde and Roubaix back to back a couple of years later, I've a chaque a fair few people are going to balk at that.
Gets leeway from what exactly? There's nothing 'out there' on Thomas just like there's isn't on Mas, Pogacar, Roglic, Vingo or Remco either. I'd say take Thomas out of Maindy Flyers and the Olympic velodrome in that first decade and place him in a road club in France, Spain or Italy and he would have had a very similar road racing progression to someone like Mas or Valverde, but back when he started such a route into cycling really wasn't possible in Wales or UK and if it was you probably ended up in France and banned as a doper like Jalabert or Millar anyway at that time.
 
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Gets leeway from what exactly? There's nothing 'out there' on Thomas just like there's isn't on Mas, Pogacar, Roglic, Vingo or Remco either. I'd say take Thomas out of Maindy Flyers and the Olympic velodrome in that first decade and place him in a road club in France, Spain or Italy and he would have had a very similar road racing progression to someone like Mas or Valverde, but back when he started such a route into cycling really wasn't possible in Wales or UK and if it was you probably ended up in France and banned as a doper like Jalabert or Millar anyway at that time.
You think 2006 Geraint Thomas who couldn't climb a speed bump would have similar progression to one of the most talented juniors ever to hit the scene in Spain...who was also one of its most notorious dopers? Ok, if that's the level you believe Geraint Thomas' talent is, clean, then we're done here. It's a miracle he hasn't won every grand tour since 2007, and clearly he was failed by that pesky Olympic program that just happened to look at this miracle climber and say "you know what, you'll be better in the 4k pursuit". Thank heaven somebody saw sense in 2015 and let him try to race the kind of race he was clearly born for rather than pigeonholing him based on a century of professional cycling into a role that appeared to better suit his skillset, build and the talent he had displayed.
 
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You think 2006 Geraint Thomas who couldn't climb a speed bump would have similar progression to one of the most talented juniors ever to hit the scene in Spain...who was also one of its most notorious dopers? Ok, if that's the level you believe Geraint Thomas' talent is, clean, then we're done here. It's a miracle he hasn't won every grand tour since 2007, and clearly he was failed by that pesky Olympic program that just happened to look at this miracle climber and say "you know what, you'll be better in the 4k pursuit". Thank heaven somebody saw sense in 2015 and let him try to race the kind of race he was clearly born for rather than pigeonholing him based on a century of professional cycling into a role that appeared to better suit his skillset, build and the talent he had displayed.
What I, as a stickler for facts and general nerdism, find annoying about most posts in the Clinic is that they're all based on performance. This or that rider has done a great performance, hence he must be doping. He wasn't able to do this before, hence he must be doping. Aside from the fact that this takes away everything sports are about, it's mostly annoying because there aren't any concrete allegations to back it up. Riding fast doesn't automatically mean doping.

I for one never expected Thomas to win the Tour, but somehow I find his Tour win less suspicious than Chris Froome, for instance. Froome literally went from nearly being let go because of lack of results to nearly winning the Vuelta, and of course there's numerous actual facts that make his performances less than credible. For Thomas it happened relatively gradually, and now a few years after he's still able to put out performances (at a relatively old age) that are respectable and probably close in terms of Watts to what he was able to do then... but the competition is stronger than it was. I don't find it all that fishy, to be honest.
 
What I, as a stickler for facts and general nerdism, find annoying about most posts in the Clinic is that they're all based on performance. This or that rider has done a great performance, hence he must be doping. He wasn't able to do this before, hence he must be doping. Aside from the fact that this takes away everything sports are about, it's mostly annoying because there aren't any concrete allegations to back it up. Riding fast doesn't automatically mean doping.

I for one never expected Thomas to win the Tour, but somehow I find his Tour win less suspicious than Chris Froome, for instance. Froome literally went from nearly being let go because of lack of results to nearly winning the Vuelta, and of course there's numerous actual facts that make his performances less than credible. For Thomas it happened relatively gradually, and now a few years after he's still able to put out performances (at a relatively old age) that are respectable and probably close in terms of Watts to what he was able to do then... but the competition is stronger than it was. I don't find it all that fishy, to be honest.
Thomas also has the problem of being the third shock development in a row for the same team who now, despite samhocking's endless contortions and playing the semantics game to find the most favourable interpretation of, have had a lot of smoke around them for a long time from a lot of different angles. Thomas is a Brailsford lifer, and his development and performance will forever be attached to Brailsford and his legacy, for all the good and bad that that entails.
 
What I, as a stickler for facts and general nerdism, find annoying about most posts in the Clinic is that they're all based on performance. This or that rider has done a great performance, hence he must be doping. He wasn't able to do this before, hence he must be doping. Aside from the fact that this takes away everything sports are about, it's mostly annoying because there aren't any concrete allegations to back it up. Riding fast doesn't automatically mean doping.

I for one never expected Thomas to win the Tour, but somehow I find his Tour win less suspicious than Chris Froome, for instance. Froome literally went from nearly being let go because of lack of results to nearly winning the Vuelta, and of course there's numerous actual facts that make his performances less than credible. For Thomas it happened relatively gradually, and now a few years after he's still able to put out performances (at a relatively old age) that are respectable and probably close in terms of Watts to what he was able to do then... but the competition is stronger than it was. I don't find it all that fishy, to be honest.

Aside from Froome's positive test what other 'numerous actual facts' are there vs the arguments used against Thomas?
 
Thomas also has the problem of being the third shock development in a row for the same team who now, despite samhocking's endless contortions and playing the semantics game to find the most favourable interpretation of, have had a lot of smoke around them for a long time from a lot of different angles. Thomas is a Brailsford lifer, and his development and performance will forever be attached to Brailsford and his legacy, for all the good and bad that that entails.
Froome is the only real shock development. He went from "lol, look at him crawling up the Santuario di San Luca" to "lol, look at him destroying everyone uphill" literally overnight.

Wiggins had already been 4th at the Tour when they signed him. Thomas had been close on GC before, but collapsed in the third week. Both of them ride uphill like the track cyclists they naturally are, it's not a joy to behold. But it's not a miracle transformation.