Tour de Cleans?

Jan 11, 2018
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It's been striking me as somewhat odd just how many GC riders are seemingly out of form in this year's Tour. Porte, Quintana, Martin, Aru, Adam Yates, Bardet, Uran, Kelderman and Mas have all looked well short of their best. Thomas and Bernal both have known reasons, or at least public excuses, as to why they're a little off, and obviously they're still going pretty well, but Ineos as a whole seem to be missing the dominant level of previous years, even allowing for the absence of Froome. Nibali of course did the Giro and has allegedly been sick, but it's still been a little surprising just how invisible he's been, though I suspect he'll try something in the Alps.

Only Pinot, Kruijswijk and Buchmann seem to really be on top of their games. Alaphilippe is in a bit of a different category given that he's in unknown territory both for himself and for us as fans, plus he's the subject of his own active thread. Simon Yates looks great but he's free of the daily pressure of fighting for GC.

Are all these struggles simply down to the vagaries of form and health, or is something else going on? Are riders and teams wary of some particular new test or warning from the UCI, are we simply seeing the reality on the road of increasingly cleaner cycling (the Giro likewise looked relatively believable this year), or is there some other explanation? Is it notable and in some way instructive that a rider like Pinot, who's often been quite vocal in anti-doping matters and about whom there's been comparatively little suspicion over the years, is now looking so strong?
 
It is all down to the absence of Froome. Froome is the world's most powerful nuclear reactor and over the course of several days of him being in the middle of the peloton other riders start to get contaminated with his super powers. As for the one's doing well, perhaps they were the only kind souls to visit him in hospital.

In all seriousness it is interesting to see so many big names struggle and some lesser names thrive as well as the few people completely surprising everyone. Can't all be one big coincidence can it?
 
Apr 20, 2016
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Mamil said:
It's been striking me as somewhat odd just how many GC riders are seemingly out of form in this year's Tour. Porte, Quintana, Martin, Aru, Adam Yates, Bardet, Uran, Kelderman and Mas have all looked well short of their best. Thomas and Bernal both have known reasons, or at least public excuses, as to why they're a little off, and obviously they're still going pretty well, but Ineos as a whole seem to be missing the dominant level of previous years, even allowing for the absence of Froome. Nibali of course did the Giro and has allegedly been sick, but it's still been a little surprising just how invisible he's been, though I suspect he'll try something in the Alps.

Only Pinot, Kruijswijk and Buchmann seem to really be on top of their games. Alaphilippe is in a bit of a different category given that he's in unknown territory both for himself and for us as fans, plus he's the subject of his own active thread. Simon Yates looks great but he's free of the daily pressure of fighting for GC.

Are all these struggles simply down to the vagaries of form and health, or is something else going on? Are riders and teams wary of some particular new test or warning from the UCI, are we simply seeing the reality on the road of increasingly cleaner cycling (the Giro likewise looked relatively believable this year), or is there some other explanation? Is it notable and in some way instructive that a rider like Pinot, who's often been quite vocal in anti-doping matters and about whom there's been comparatively little suspicion over the years, is now looking so strong?
Out of form and dead tired! GC contenders getting unhitched and going backwards as soon as they hit the big climbs! I've never seen anything like this before. Quintana looks like he doesn't even want to be there! So much pain seen in the rider's faces this year...tramadol ban having an effect? How many guys are going to drop out before Paris?

And I noticed The Clinic hasn't posted their usual power data and net time for the Tourmalet...is it that bad?

I wonder if this is what actual clean cycling looks like? They certainly don't look superhuman to me anymore. I'm optimistic...could the highest level of professional cycling have finally turned the corner?
 
Sep 27, 2017
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Definetely something going on....as you say world class climbers and domestiques being spat out of the back before the climbing even really gets going, certain riders being able to kick again and again when in theory previous accelerations should have taken the ability to kick out of them, all of this without even looking like they're trying at times. Its all remarkably reminiscent of the unchecked era of EPO use....but i struggle to believe that en masse people have just started throwing caution to the wind again and going down this route.

Another striking thing, as noted by a few commentators, is just how lean most of the riders are looking...take Valverde as an example, for someone so deep into their career to suddenly drop a couple of kilos has to raise questions.

Leads me to think about Ketones....we know that Sky have been using them for several seasons, and at least a couple of the other teams, notable the ones performing exceptionally well, have admitted they're now using them. There may be other teams who are using them but keeping it quiet.

So, have Ketones been one of the big 'secrets' to Sky/Ineos success in recent years and now the playing field has been levelled with other teams now in on the 'secret'......

Most of what you can read on their effectiveness is either marketing by supplement companies who sell the product, or anecdotal based on very limited studies.....nothing illegal in their use of course, but i just wonder if they really are the big thing making the difference this year?
 
Quintana and Adam Yates got dropped early last year too, Martin is not a GC rider, Aru just had a major surgery, and Kelderman started the race with an injury. Uran has been very good other than the last Pyrenees stage. Porte is getting old, Mas is in his first TdF. Bardet is a bit shocking but he hasn't looked right all season.

The only shock to me is Ineos. The whole team is way off their usual level. It could be that they don't have full confidence in their leaders to finish off the job, but last year Kwiatkowski, Castroviejo, and Moscon were doing monster pulls on the front in the mountains. This year they're all getting dropped on the penultimate climbs without actually having done any work. They're all clearly missing "something".
 
Jul 9, 2012
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zlev11 said:
The only shock to me is Ineos. The whole team is way off their usual level. It could be that they don't have full confidence in their leaders to finish off the job, but last year Kwiatkowski, Castroviejo, and Moscon were doing monster pulls on the front in the mountains.
Simple Froome ain't there and they are lacking belief.
 
Jan 11, 2018
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zlev11 said:
Quintana and Adam Yates got dropped early last year too, Martin is not a GC rider, Aru just had a major surgery, and Kelderman started the race with an injury. Uran has been very good other than the last Pyrenees stage. Porte is getting old, Mas is in his first TdF. Bardet is a bit shocking but he hasn't looked right all season.

The only shock to me is Ineos. The whole team is way off their usual level. It could be that they don't have full confidence in their leaders to finish off the job, but last year Kwiatkowski, Castroviejo, and Moscon were doing monster pulls on the front in the mountains. This year they're all getting dropped on the penultimate climbs without actually having done any work. They're all clearly missing "something".
I can go along with most of this except on Martin. He has 4 GT top 10s, despite a propensity for crashing. I grant that he's not a pure GC rider, but he's certainly been capable of hanging with the best for a long time in years past. This year he's nowhere near that level.

I'm certainly willing to put all the poor form down to just a combination of bad luck, age and injuries, but as I said, it's just the extent of it that is striking and unusual.

Quintana and Adam Yates are probably the strangest. Not so long ago Nairo was the only guy able to consistently get close to Froome at his turbocharged best, now he's miles off that, while Adam simply hasn't progressed like his twin despite having the same prep and what you would assume is a near-identical physiology. I'm not necessarily suggesting that doping-related factors are responsible in either case, but they're both curious.
 
Kind of sucks that certain riders 2nd and 3rd places in prevoius years would absolutely destroy this mob.

Contador, Shleck, Evans, (2013,15) Quintana would be laughing at Pinots attack the other day and put minutes into him.
 
Apr 12, 2017
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On the "Avondetappe" on dutch television there was a professor therapeutic gene modulation, Hidde Haisma, telling about his new test for genetic doping.
Apparently it's really easy to do genetic EPO doping and it's not detectable at the moment. You can order it online, and basically inject it yourself... micro dosing, and your body will start to produce more natural EPO. So why wouldn't this be used...

His test (together with another) will be used by WADA in Tokyo.

On the other hand, blood samples get stored for 10 years. So even if someone is using something that is undetectable at the moment, it might still get detected in a couple years.
 
Jun 22, 2010
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TourOfSardinia said:
Some people consider Sastre's tour was cleans
People also considered that things would change after Armstrong retired (the first time, after 2005, then operation puerto happened in 2006, with top riders like Ullrich, Basso, Mancebo, etc not allowed to start the tour. Then Landis happened. Then when Perreiro was moved to first, everyone thought it was clean. Then Vinokourov happened, and Rasmussen's expulsion...then it was wide open in 2008, but Ricco was caught, then Kohl was caught and who did Sastre beat in that tour? The likes of Menchov (later found out) Schleck (later found out), Valverde (later found out), Valjavec (later found out), Vande Velde (later found out), Sanchez (later found out). I am guessing Ricco would have likely finished in the top ten without his DQ, so if his name stuck and Kohl also wasn't DQ'd, that's 8 of the top 12 that were found out to have doped.

Are we really supposed to 'consider' that Sastre and/or Evans were clean in that tour? Why? Was it their riding style? Was it their personalities?
 
Aug 19, 2011
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I do find this year strange. It's not even like there is a dominant super-domestique or team who was dropping GC contenders and I dont think heat can explain it. I don't have a theory to explain what we have been seeing or if it is indicative of more or less excessive doping.

BullsFan22 said:
TourOfSardinia said:
Some people consider Sastre's tour was cleans
Are we really supposed to 'consider' that Sastre and/or Evans were clean in that tour? Why? Was it their riding style? Was it their personalities?
Sastre made one attack in that entire tour and fully conserved energy on all other days, (barring a solid and unspectacular ITT performance against an underperforming Evans). The attack meant his teammates the Shlecks couldn't cover it and had instead to mark Evans. The attack was not extreme and the rivals (other than Evans) had no track record (at that time) of competing for GC at the TdF or had some other failing/obstacle. For example, Van de Velde was on Garmin.

A cheating donkey like Kohl or Schumacher can still potentially be beaten by a clean thoroughbred and Sastre was a very consistent top 10 performer in GTs and had the strongest team in the mountains at the TdF. It is risky as hell to assume clean riding in 2008 by anyone (especially on CSC with Riis), but I had little difficulty then, or now, in giving Sastre the benefit of the doubt based on what we saw and the fact he has never been directly implicated in anything even as other skeletons from that era are uncovered.

A Danish investigation into doping at CSC implicates many people, but Sastre stands out as reportedly being angered at being encouraged to dope and that this contributed to him quitting the team. Sure, someone on CSC could have made that up, but it is unclear what the motivation would be to do that.

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/danish-doping-report-riis-team-csc-and-the-main-revelations/

Apologies for a lengthy off topic, but I dont think it is helpful to assume everyone is sh*ting on the sport as much as confirmed dopers.
 
Jan 11, 2018
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brownbobby said:
Definetely something going on....as you say world class climbers and domestiques being spat out of the back before the climbing even really gets going, certain riders being able to kick again and again when in theory previous accelerations should have taken the ability to kick out of them, all of this without even looking like they're trying at times. Its all remarkably reminiscent of the unchecked era of EPO use....but i struggle to believe that en masse people have just started throwing caution to the wind again and going down this route.
It looks more to me that the climbs have been quite slow and disorganised, with no one team being able to control things or force the pace, so that the very few guys who actually are in form have been able to skip away, and have a couple of good kicks in their legs, in ways that simply haven't been possible in recent years. That strikes me as being more likely to be symptomatic of less doping, or at least less systemic doping, rather than more.

I found it interesting the other day when Yates won that on the final climb, despite him having been in the break most of the day and having no real need to go absolutely full gas up the slopes as he had no close opposition, the chasing GC group put almost no time into him. I haven't seen any climbing times, but to the eye, and from little clues like that, they seem comparatively slow-ish, making Pinot's attacks in particular look excessively strong when, in reality, while he's certainly been impressive, they've not been ridiculous.

I do wonder with Ineos if Ratcliffe has made it clear that he doesn't want even a hint or possibility of scandal in the team's first big race in the red and black, and, while he'll obviously still want success, he's nonetheless seen to it that the team pull back a bit on some of their more grey, boundary-pushing practices.
 
Oct 9, 2010
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Mamil said:
I can go along with most of this except on Martin. He has 4 GT top 10s, despite a propensity for crashing. I grant that he's not a pure GC rider, but he's certainly been capable of hanging with the best for a long time in years past. This year he's nowhere near that level.

I'm certainly willing to put all the poor form down to just a combination of bad luck, age and injuries, but as I said, it's just the extent of it that is striking and unusual.
Martin used to be a rider like Alaphilippe, but aimed higher in a GC. He changed his training scheme to tackle his lack of endurance, sacrificing his punch. It was clearly a bad choice.

Personally, I think the Tour is very enjoyable. Teams like AG2R that are not on ketones don't seem to stand a chance, and I'm looking forward to know who's been on AICAR, but there is no smoking gun for now. Perhaps Quintana's nose bleeding, at the same altitude as where he lives...
 
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Scatto said:
Mamil said:
I can go along with most of this except on Martin. He has 4 GT top 10s, despite a propensity for crashing. I grant that he's not a pure GC rider, but he's certainly been capable of hanging with the best for a long time in years past. This year he's nowhere near that level.

I'm certainly willing to put all the poor form down to just a combination of bad luck, age and injuries, but as I said, it's just the extent of it that is striking and unusual.
Martin used to be a rider like Alaphilippe, but aimed higher in a GC. He changed his training scheme to tackle his lack of endurance, sacrificing his punch. It was clearly a bad choice.

Personally, I think the Tour is very enjoyable. Teams like AG2R that are not on ketones don't seem to stand a chance, and I'm looking forward to know who's been on AICAR, but there is no smoking gun for now. Perhaps Quintana's nose bleeding, at the same altitude as where he lives...
It has been reported that the stuff on his kit was gel, not blood.
 
May 21, 2010
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its pretty clear that at least for Ineos domestiques,their program has been toned down a bit as none of them are doing well,kwiatek is completely out of form,poels is day in day out,van baarle was so slow yesterday Quintana gained on the bunch untill Bernal attacked...

how the turntables from previous years
 
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BullsFan22 said:
TourOfSardinia said:
Some people consider Sastre's tour was cleans
Are we really supposed to 'consider' that Sastre and/or Evans were clean in that tour? Why? Was it their riding style? Was it their personalities?
Well Armstrong was on record as saying the level in 2008 was a joke. He'd know.

But I also use Alpe times as a guide. Sastre did 39:30 in 2008. In 2006 they were doing 38:35 (Floyd). Sastre did 39:00 in 2006. So he was 30 secs slower in 2008. But 2008 was into a headwind. Evans not listed in top 100 in 2008 but probably about 41:45 since he lost 2:15 on the climb.

Evans had been carrying crash injuries sustained in stage 9. This together with his effort on the Alpe was what cost him in the TT.
 
Bernal the best climber in the race rocking and rolling top of the Iseran, almost stopped pedaling to stand up to accelerate over. Very poor
Climbing this tour especially with short stages every where
 
Jul 6, 2019
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Scarponi said:
Bernal the best climber in the race rocking and rolling top of the Iseran, almost stopped pedaling to stand up to accelerate over. Very poor
Climbing this tour especially with short stages every where
Well, there is definitely something going on ( climbing times/VAM should give us some hints), there are always lots of climbers and GC riders "not doing well" at the Tour, but this year it was probably more than usual (and you can find "good reasons" almost for everyone... even for Bernal or Gerraint if not performing well).

But if you look at the winners, it looks like naturally hyperEPOed high altitude south-american climbers are winning this year (Carapaz, Bernal, although... could have been Shark and G) - still, perhaps a sign of "cleanish" peloton - general doping level going from "to the gills" down to "let's not overdo it and expose ourselves too much" (people are mentioning antidoping measures like long term sample storage and retesting, tramadol ban... and genetic "natural EPO factory" doping not yet in the production mode for whatever reason... any tests?).

Now imagine next year... Brailsfraud comes with four best GC guys (with Carapaz and full genius Froome) in the peloton and will have to decide not just who wins, but who won't be on the podium. And they will not have to do anything extraordinary, just keeping their high SKYborg tempo, and nobody will even dare to attack as they know there are FOUR guys that can respond.

Will be even more boring but may look like even more "cleans" than this year (which is probably THE priority numero uno for Brailsfraud and his only worry - how to keep it looking real... looks like he realizes now they cannot keep doing these extraterrestrial alien attack in the infamous "washing machine" 200 rpm style).
 
May 27, 2016
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"He got off the bike and wasn't even puffing"

There is a new drug out there, and because it is so good, maybe people aren't taking the old stuff being wary of it. Is all I can think.

Losing the Friday stage had an impact also. Maybe teams had their run planned for then and Saturday and had been holding off all the way up until then?
 
Sep 27, 2017
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AustCyclingFan said:
"He got off the bike and wasn't even puffing"

There is a new drug out there, and because it is so good, maybe people aren't taking the old stuff being wary of it. Is all I can think.

Losing the Friday stage had an impact also. Maybe teams had their run planned for then and Saturday and had been holding off all the way up until then?
Leaving your best doping protocols until the last 2 days of the Tour would be an extremely risky gamble...don’t you think?
 
Jan 11, 2018
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Singularitarian said:
Now imagine next year... Brailsfraud comes with four best GC guys (with Carapaz and full genius Froome) in the peloton and will have to decide not just who wins, but who won't be on the podium. And they will not have to do anything extraordinary, just keeping their high SKYborg tempo, and nobody will even dare to attack as they know there are FOUR guys that can respond.

Will be even more boring but may look like even more "cleans" than this year (which is probably THE priority numero uno for Brailsfraud and his only worry - how to keep it looking real... looks like he realizes now they cannot keep doing these extraterrestrial alien attack in the infamous "washing machine" 200 rpm style).
Good points. The two major issues with Sky/Ineos have always been suspected doping and their significant financial advantage. I feel like the doping as an issue has taken a bit of a back seat - which isn't to say that it's gone away, but they've been riding in a more measured, plausible manner, based around a genuine high quality young climber. It doesn't suddenly make them saints, but it definitely largely takes the heat off them on the doping front.

But if anything the financial side is only getting worse. It's absurd that one team will boast 4 recent GT winners/top contenders all at once, besides retaining a number of very high quality domestiques, whereas other teams have 1 if they're lucky and 2 at most and probably 2-3 max top helpers to go with them. Movistar is the closest on this front and they're still miles off. It's not healthy for the sport. Nor is it really Ineos' fault - they've got the cash and they're allowed to spend it so they'd be silly not to. It's been said before that cycling has a history of dominant teams - that it's almost the norm - and that's certainly true. But I'm not sure it makes it right, or desirable. It's not a good selling point for the sport when we can say 12 months out that Ineos will almost certainly win next year's Tour again, it's simply a question of which rider.
 
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Scarponi said:
Kind of sucks that certain riders 2nd and 3rd places in prevoius years would absolutely destroy this mob.

Contador, Shleck, Evans, (2013,15) Quintana would be laughing at Pinots attack the other day and put minutes into him.
Haven't ALL the guys you've mentioned, been busted for doping too? So those roided up guys would beat these roided up guys?
 
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86TDFWinner said:
Scarponi said:
Kind of sucks that certain riders 2nd and 3rd places in prevoius years would absolutely destroy this mob.

Contador, Shleck, Evans, (2013,15) Quintana would be laughing at Pinots attack the other day and put minutes into him.
Haven't ALL the guys you've mentioned, been busted for doping too?
No.

I mean, not even close.
 
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86TDFWinner said:
Scarponi said:
Kind of sucks that certain riders 2nd and 3rd places in prevoius years would absolutely destroy this mob.

Contador, Shleck, Evans, (2013,15) Quintana would be laughing at Pinots attack the other day and put minutes into him.
Haven't ALL the guys you've mentioned, been busted for doping too? So those roided up guys would beat these roided up guys?
Also funny that "Quintana would be laughing at Pinots attack the other day and put minutes into him". Is that the same Quintana that was dropped every time the road went up a bit more this year?

But apart form that actually only one of those 4 was busted for doping... ;)
 

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