Naughty Medicine

I was watching today’s overview of the Tour de France on ITV4 with my five year old son. He was very interested in what he was seeing and had remembered the “spotty shirt man was the one who was best at climbing”. He liked the idea that the winner got a yellow jersey, and the fact that Tom Boonen was ‘big’. But things got a bit tricky when the Vinokourov and Rasmussen stuff came up. Also he wanted to know why Bradley Wiggins was being talked to by Policemen and why he was going home. So I tried to explain about doping and as is often the way when you try and explain something a bit tricky to a child it comes out kind of half-cocked.

So

Vinokourov had been taking “naughty medicine” and was told that he and his friends weren’t allowed to ride their bikes in the race and that they all had to go home. Rasmussen had lied to his friends about where he was so everyone thought he was taking ‘naughty medicine’ and because no one likes a liar his friends said they weren’t friends any more and he had to go home by himself and sit in his room. One of Bradley Wiggins’ friends had been caught taking ‘naughty medicine’ and Bradley was cross with him because the policemen asked Bradley if he had taken ‘naughty medicine’. Bradley hates ‘naughty medicine’ and thinks people who take it are very silly and they should go home and have to sit by themselves for a long time and not be allowed in races. David Millar had taken some ‘naughty medicine’ but he had been on the naughty step for a long time and now he was allowed to race again, now he doesn’t like ‘naughty medicine’ and promised he won’t take any ever again. Finally Alberto Contador was a very good rider and hopefully he hasn’t taken any ‘naughty medicine’, if he has he is not allowed to keep his smart yellow jersey or his golden bowl, but he hasn’t taken any so it will be ok.

I think there’s a children’s book in there somewhere.

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  

The Tour so far

I must say that, despite the (very) faint whiff of doping controversy, I’ve really been enjoying the Tour de France this year. Vinokourov crashing so badly so early on seemed to have blown the whole thing wide open, when he finished the first proper mountain stage in tears of agony I thought he wouldn’t be in the start up next day. Then there was his crazy solo breakaway on stage eleven with only 2km to go. Were you, like me, suddenly on your feet willing him to win it? It seemed so futile, so mad, he was breathing fast, the bandages on his stitched up knees a blur of white. It was inevitable that he would be swallowed up back into the Peloton, but for a moment it looked like a miracle was happening. However I was pleased that Robbie Hunter won it in the end, the first Maillot Jaune for South Africa. The British have performed well this year, sure the riders aren’t hugely high up in the general classification, but I think they have given good account of themselves. Bradley Wiggins in particular is worthy of praise. Early in week one, a suicidal solo breakaway into a headwind that looked just briefly like it might get somewhere, what a brave ride, even if it wasn’t planned. And then today, he really upped the ante on a day where many riders probably wanted to take it easy and prepare for the mountains. He started the time-trial in the dry and rode at a cracking rate through a downpour to set a time that stood as the fastest until Vinokourov blew it out of the water. Sixth against such powerful riders and on such poor road conditions was a major achievement.

Bradley Wiggins - photo from BBC website

Millar put in a solid performance today as well. Now there’s no real telling which way it will go. Vinokourov moved up ten places on one stage, Rasmussen looks precarious, Cadel Evans is doing well, I love a Tour when you can’t tell who is going to win.

Here, according to this week’s Cycling Weekly, are the winner’s average speeds for stages 1-8

Stage 1 – 27.12mph (43.65kph)
Stage 2 – 27.46mph (44.2kph)
Stage 3 – 22.25mph (35.81kph)
Stage 4 – 25.9 mph (41.69kph)
Stage 5 – 24.64mph (39.67kph)
Stage 6 – 23.17mph (37.29kph)
Stage 7 – 25.1 mph (40.41kph)
Stage 8 – 21.23mph (34.17kph)

the first one hundred kilometres of Stage three was raced at an average of 19.7mph (32kph) according to Bradley Wiggins’ cycle computer.

Although these speeds look pretty fast to me (remember my 19.3mph over 14.3 miles? Rubbish!) they are slower than normal for the Tour de France. Rumours abound that this is because a general doping clean-up has finally happened.

I can hardly wait for the Pyrennes… although that does mean I have to ride up Brassknocker Hill this week. I did ten hill-circuits in preparation today, it’s not going to be enough training so I think I’ll try and ride Winsley Hill first in the next couple of days, gulp!

Landis, LeMond, Cooke

I have tried to steer clear of any detailed news about the Floyd Landis doping case, I find it so depressing that the sport has reached this low a level. A recent article in the American magazine Bicycling to which I subscribe, gave readers the option to make a judgement based on the key evidence submitted by both sides of the story. I have to say that I came out against Landis, a lot of his defence is irrelevant to whether or not he actually took an illegal substance during the Tour, and from what I can see, it looks like he did. However my wife bought this week’s Cycling Weekly and there was a story of how Landis’ camp tried to blackmail Greg LeMond (the first American to win the Tour) into not testifying against Landis. It has completely shocked me and ruined what remained of Landis’ tattered reputation, in my eyes anyway:

See this link to Cycling News for the full appalling story.

We desperately need a clean Tour de France this year. Thank goodness for Nicole Cooke. As men’s cycling slowly implodes into doping, corruption, blackmail and scandal upon scandal, women’s cycling is stronger than ever, with a British champion at the helm. What a pity that this fantastic athlete receives scant coverage outside of the cycling press.
Nicole Cooke - champion cyclist