Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘alberto contador’

A Wide Open Tour de France 2010?

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances, This Day In Doping on January 25, 2010 at 3:46 am

Yes it’s early, but we continue to see signs that this year’s Tour de France is shaping up as a real bike race (as opposed to a single team of prima donnas controlling a docile peloton). We think it’s good for the sport, especially because we may be spared endless Clash of Titans bloviating re Lance and Alberto. With a slew of contenders in the mix, maybe this year’s Tour will have actual, true, real, what’s the expression … suspense?

Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez says he’s gonna try to win.

Aussie “Tour Down Under” champion Andre Greipel wants a go, mate.

His coach says Lance is ahead of last year’s training (when he eventually took third in the Tour). Or is this just something to say every year to juice the buzz?

Last year’s winner Alberto Contador looks to put an early hurt on the peloton in Paris-Nice.

Don’t forget our personal favorite, Andy Schleck (and brother Frank).

And we’ve already talked about the Doper Reunion aspect. Whatever else you can say about these cheats, they can still ride.

We’ll be watching Vegas odds on this one with intense interest.

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This Day in Doping: Joe Papp on Cozy Beehive

In This Day In Doping on January 12, 2010 at 2:20 am

Over at Cozy Beehive, former pro cyclist Joe Papp unveils the secrets pros use to defeat anti-doping controls. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the cycling world’s subterfuge.

One point I’d like to see Joe or someone else close to pro cycling address: Just how much looking the other way goes on. I’ve discussed this before, that even if Tour officials found Contador or Lance doping, would they take action? The consequences to the sport would be beyond devastating. Better to just look the other way and beat up on the smaller guys in an attempt to 1) show you’re doing SOMEthing about doping and 2) present an illusion of cleaning up the sport.

We remain convinced that doping is a political and financial, not physical or athletic, issue, and must be dealt with on those terms.

Never too early to Talk Tour

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances on January 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The Tour de France is just only a mere six months away! Time to start ramping up the Clash of Titans trash talk between Lance and Bert! We’re glad to see Lance’s comments about beating Contador in the Tour this year. This kind of stuff is great for building commercial sponsorship, media attention and the Big Bucks.

Last year we scoffed at any notion Lance might win the Tour — or any other major for that matter. And despite all the overblown yammering about the Great Comeback, we were right. This year things are a bit different, largely because the two are riding for different teams. Lance says he’s being underestimated because of his age. We agree age isn’t the issue. Nor is conditioning, although we feel Lance will take a hit by not doing the Giro this year. The Tour of California, much as we love it, is not in the same class as the Giro. But Lance has the 2009 season still in his legs.

It’s strategy. And because Lance is a master strategist, and he’ll be riding for a team that’s All Lance All the Time, he has a number of weapons that possibly could maybe might undercut Contador’s obvious physical superiority.

Another factor: People love Lance, even the French who at one time despised him as a suspected drug cheat. People don’t particularly care for Contador, who has the charisma of a tethered cobra. Some riders can play off that to their advantage — Bernard Hinault comes to mind. But it’s not a given in Contador’s case. In fact, psychologically Contador is still somewhat of a black box. He’s a climbing God, but no one knows what’s going on behind his grim visage at any given moment.

Our best guess how it will work out: Lance will continue to chat up the rivalry, drawing lots of attention and generating huge interest. Contador will lay low and play his cards close to his vest. And in the race, they’ll jockey through the first week or two, riveting the cycling and sports world. Eventually, Contador will crush Lance in the mountains. But that will come late enough in this 180-day Kabuki dance that we’ll all have a delicious time enjoying the suspense.

Bicycle Net: Rivalry to intensify.

This Day in Doping: Jimenez Sanchez tests positive for EPO

In This Day In Doping on December 8, 2009 at 1:10 am

Spanish rider Eladio Jiménez Sanchez was suspended by the UCI after testing positive for EPO at last summer’s Volta a Portugal.

Doping violations are as we note a daily occurrence on the pro cycling circuit, but anecdotally it seems that Spain is more represented in recent months than any other nation. Not to implicate Spain’s most accomplished pro, Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, but it does make one wonder.

This Day in Doping: Team Astana says move along, nothing to see here

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on October 16, 2009 at 7:45 am

Contador and Team Astana say they have nothing to hide. Quote: “This year’s Tour de France was remarkable for the fact that no riders tested positive during the race.”

Still haven’t heard from Lance on this, but then, he’s no longer with Astana…

2010 Tour de France trash-talking already under way!

In Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances on October 16, 2009 at 2:22 am

Lance says his main rival in the 2010 Tour de France will be Alberto Contador. Bert says his main rival will be Andy Schleck. The Tour is what, 9 months away? And the gamesmanship is already in full play.

And speaking of being coy, Lance still hasn’t made up his mind whether to race the Giro or Tour of California. So, hey, we’ll do it for him. Lance, you and I both know the Giro would be better training for the Tour. In fact, you might even want to win the Giro, given the fact you never have, it would be a nice feather in your comeback hat, and you and you won’t win the Tour. But you and I also know that Team Radio Shack is an American team, with American sponsors, and skipping out on the “Tour de France” of America — the Tour of California — which deliberately moved back its dates (despite the conflict with the Giro) to accommodate growing crowds and media interest, as well as the weather gods, would be a ginormous snub.

So, decision made: It’s Cali all the way. But for now, keep us all guessing. It’s more fun that way.

This Day in Doping: Did Lance, Alberto & Astana get preferential treatment?

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on October 8, 2009 at 12:38 am

Team Astana, including stars Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, got preferential treatment when it came to drug testing, two leading French newspapers have reported (linked by Bicycle.net).

This is part of an ongoing snit between the UCI, the international cycling governing body, and French anti-doping authorities over the rigorousness of dope testing during the Tour de France. The UCI undoubtedly considers the irregularities, including the infamous 45-minute delay at one point during the Tour, as trivial. If the AFLD is correct in its allegations, however, it raises serious questions as to the diligence of UCI procedures.

It’s hard to know — particularly based on a reading of press reports rather than original documentation — whose side to take, other than the truth’s, which will always remain in question. As we’ve said before, doping at this point is not an athletic issue or even a political issue. It’s a financial issue. Say they found doping on Team Astana and Lance and Bert got kicked off the Tour. Where would that leave the Big Money — TV and commercial sponsors — that makes the Tour possible? This is the main reason why the worst penalty a steroid-soaked baseball star can expect is an asterisk next to his records.

So cycling governance just muddles along, engaging in petty feuding and self-righteous posturing, while the doping continues.

Bert’s and Lance’s main transgression here may be that they’re not French. I mean, where was the AFLD (or equivalent) when Hinault and Fignon were ripping up the Tour?

BikeSnobNYC takes a swing at the doping scene as well, with his usual amusing speculation (every time Lance is tested he tweets? really? or does he tweet only when he knows full well that supposed irregularities will get reported?) thrown in for comic relief. Worth a read as always.

Meanwhile, doping is migrating its way down into the amateur ranks as well, and even the excuses are the same.

And back in Italy, yet another suspension.

Daily Roundup: Cleaning up after the long weekend

In Bicycle Racing, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Rider Down, Videos on September 8, 2009 at 2:22 am

PinkBike has video of the Worlds, including Brit legend Steve Peat’s long-awaited triumph. Peaty may be the only guy I’ve seen on a podium drinking more champagne than he sprayed, but to those who know and love the guy, they’d expect nothing less.

If you want to know why Peaty was so emotional after his victory, and what winning the striped jersey means to him, check out Clay Porter’s “The Tipping Point,” one of this year’s best mountain biking DVDs (included in our “Revolve” review). It will give you a heartwarming portrait of a guy everyone on tour considers one of the nicest, most generous and keep-it-real athletes they’ve ever encountered, or that any sport has had the good fortune to support.

Is Alberto Contador engaged in a sit-down strike? He hasn’t raced since his spat with Team Astana over 2010 (Bert said he wanted to ride elsewhere, Astana said they were holding him to his contract, which runs through next season), offering up pretty lame excuses. Methinks he’s slackin’ to avoid injury or lower-than-expected results that might reduce his market value (four teams are in the bidding so far).

Pez adds to the speculation:

“Now speaking of Contador and his fatigue – well it seems that he is so fatigued for a very good reason – every team seems to be throwing money at him and we all know how that can be fatiguing, right?? All that counting of money, deciding which mansion to buy and what colour Ferrari etc, that’s always tiring!”

NPR: More on Toronto road rage against cyclists. Not much clue as to why. It can’t be Canadian — I’ve ridden for years in Vancouver, Whistler and other B.C. metros with nothing but courteous treatment, far better than in the U.S. There must be some particular factor at work in Ontario…

Mark yer calendars: Saturday Oct. 3 is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day…and that includes all you roadies!

Hope everyone had a great summer, August, and Labor Day weekend. Now strap on the backpack and clip into the pedals, cuz September is always the year’s Wringer Month!

This Day in Doping: Chief downplays ‘clean Tour’

In Bicycle Racing, This Day In Doping on July 28, 2009 at 11:40 am

Bicycle.net has a great update on the “clean Tour” of 2009, but as Prudhomme notes, it’s too early to declare victory. For one thing, detection techniques that today find nothing will tomorrow improve. People are looking askance at Contador, a little guy who somehow nonetheless can time trial with the best. But something about Contador strikes me as being honest. And since no one challenged him except Andy Schleck, whom I also feel is clean, then maybe this indeed was a dopeless Tour.

Time will tell. Well, time and the lab…

Armstrong Courting Schleck(s) for Radio Shack Team?

In Bicycle Racing on July 28, 2009 at 6:49 am

It was a small gesture, barely noticed. But when Lance Armstrong placed his left hand on Andy Schleck’s right shoulder and congratulated him “warmly” on the podium in Paris, it may have sent a signal about his machinations for the Tour de France in 2010.

The bad blood between Lance and Alberto Contador means the two already have established an intense rivalry for the 2010 season. But being realistic, Lance has little chance of beating The Pistol on his own. There’s a question whether anyone can beat Contador … anyone except Andy Schleck.

But for a couple of bad breaks and one missed opportunity, Andy and Alberto would have been separated by seconds rather than minutes as the Tour headed to its final decisive week. With a slimmer margin separating the two on Ventoux, there’s a question whether Andy would have held back in hopes of reeling his brother Frank toward the front. And if he hadn’t held back, maybe A.C. would not have been able to hang on as he did.

You never know.

Andy lost crucial time in two early misfortunes. He missed the late “Lance” break on stage 3, losing 41 seconds. And the Team Time Trial on Stage 4 hurt him as well, costing another 40 seconds. At the end of Stage 4 he was down by more than a minute and a half, a discouraging hole from which to dig out of.

Andy also could not hang with Alberto during the latter’s predictable breakaway on Verbier in Stage 15. Nor could Andy and Frank, working together, shake Contador during their stirring attacks on Columbiere in Stage 17.

Still, Andy was the one guy who looked like he could crack Contador in the 2009 Tour. Lance undoubtedly noticed.

Whether it would be in the Schlecks’ interest to hook up with Lance is an issue fraught with backstory intrigue. There are lots of pros, lots of cons. On the pro side, if Andy could get assurances that once he asserted himself, Lance would really work for him, it might be Andy’s best hope. Lance has shown himself time and again to be not just a powerhouse of a rider (still, at nearly 38), but a master strategist.

Some of the mistakes Andy made — I would call his hanging back for Frank a mistake, even if he had no chance at raising his overall placement — and his apparent lack of form early in the race, when he could not hang on Contador’s wheel, would not be repeated under Lance. No one knows how to prepare for a Tour better than the King.

Lance could also coach Andy in time-trialing, a past weakness but one Andy is overcoming.

The big “con” here is that Andy would have to stand in Lance’s shadow much of the Tour. That’s just the way things are. Andy has more ego and pride than he appears to have, as exemplified by his closing TV interview with Versus. He admitted he was disappointed to finish 2nd. A hundred and sixty other riders would have killed to be where he was. But it was a clear testament to Andy’s ambitiousness.

There are inevitable contractual issues for Andy and brother Frank (assuming the two would stay on the same team), and political considerations as well. But a Lance-Andy alliance for 2010 (Team Radio Schlack!) would set up the most potent rivalry against Contador, and wow, the media and cycling worlds would just go crazy.