Monday, September 21, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Contador ducks doping questions
Tour de France race leader Alberto Contador on Thursday refused to respond to questions relating to his stunning climbing performance in the 15th stage and Thursday’s time trial victory.
Spain's 2007 champion took another step towards overall victory when he won the 18th stage time trial to take a virtually unassailable lead of 4:11 over Luxembourg's Andy Schleck.
Coming less than a week after his impressive victory on the summit of Verbier in Switzerland, it has cemented Contador's reputation as the best stage racer in the world.
But asked to react to doubts expressed by former Tour de France winner Greg Lemond, present at the race Thursday, on his performances Contador refused to answer.
"I won't answer this question," Contador said through his translator when asked to explain his impressive climbing performance to Verbier.
Last Sunday Contador attacked a small group of favorites containing teammate Lance Armstrong 5.6km from the summit of the 8.8km climb to the summit finish of Verbier to win the stage and take command of the yellow jersey.
Moments later the determined reporter repeated his question.
"Otra pregunta (next question)," said the 26-year-old Contador.
When asked to reveal his V02 max, his maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen while racing, the Spaniard was evasive.
""Otra pregunta," said Contador again.
So far on the Tour, and despite increased efforts to weed out the cheats, there have been no positive doping cases.
Contador won his first Tour in 2007 as a member of the Discovery Channel team and, after his Astana team was not invited to the 2008 edition, he won the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España that year. Contador was also excluded from the 2006 Tour after his name and those of other members of his then Liberty Seguros team were included in dossiers seized in the Spanish Operación Puerto investigation. He was later cleared of those allegations.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Michael Barry on Hincapie's five seconds
Editor's Note: Michael Barry is a member of the Columbia-HTC team.
Pedaling up the climb without a car in sight, the sun beating down, my open jersey fluttering in the breeze and my legs turning fluidly, my mind started wandering. The road was one I had ridden countless times, alone, with teammates, rivals and friends. I know every meter of road after nearly 10 years of riding in Girona — it now feels like home. Daily, we meet for rides, forming a group that contains many of the best professional cyclists in the world.
As I ride over each road in this small province, memories of past rides, people and conversations comfort me in a way a tune evokes an emotion of an adolescent moment.
Over the weekend, while watching the Tour de France, I was thrilled to see my good friend, a friend with whom I have grown and matured on the roads of Catalonia, in a breakaway with a margin on the peloton significant enough that he had a chance at the yellow jersey. George Hincapie has given himself, selflessly, to every team and leader he has ridden for — from Armstrong to Cavendish he has always ridden for the goal of the team. Now, late in his career, I thought this was to be his brief moment to shine in yellow.
Rivalries between teams are innate, as are jealousies. We are competitive. We are bike racers. On training rides we race each other to mountaintops, we sprint for town signs and we attempt to break each others' records on the climbs we use to test ourselves. Yet, we also can sit back, watch our kids play together as we chat about the coming races, training rides, community events in town or our kids.
Sport is fun; business is ruthless.
George never wore yellow. It came down to the narrowest of gaps and he missed out. I wasn’t there so I don’t know the whole story, or why two teams — one, to which he gave himself through most of his career and another to which he has always been a friend — closed the gap when it wasn’t in their interest to do the work. Tactically, with or without George in yellow, their objectives would remain the same. He wasn’t a threat, on any level, to their ambitions.
In cycling, it is said there are no favors. This is rubbish. Life is full of favors, as is cycling. Teams help each other knowing the favor will be returned. Teams cooperate in every race I ride. The greatest champions have won not only because they are the strongest but also because other teams have given them support.
I know that the riders from Garmin, a Girona-based team, didn’t want to set off in pursuit of George. They had no reason to ride, aside from following the orders, which came over their radios. And, I know they now dearly regret their pursuit. But still they rode.
Somehow, I sense, the roots of a rivalry between managers have dug into the small community we have in Spain that has matured in the last 15 years. It saddens me that friendships, which have always managed to transcend feuds between teams and riders, now seem to be fracturing due to decisions made during a race. I am certain that without radios, the chase would have never occurred as it tactically made no sense — the pursuit was a waste of energy in a race that is won by carefully dosing efforts. Like a dog obeying his master’s commands, riders forget to think for themselves when they hear a voice yelling instructions.
From a business perspective I have never understood petty juvenile rivalries in which thinking is provincial instead of global. When LeMond was winning the Tour de France, cycling in America prospered, as it did when Armstrong was on top. In Canada, cycling flourished and pro teams were numerous when Steve Bauer was pounding over the cobbles and climbing the mountains in Europe. An American in yellow, no matter which American, no matter which team, would have been beneficial to the whole. This rivalry will end up doing more damage than good.
In George’s position I would feel betrayed. Cycling is a team sport in which one individual gains applause for the team’s efforts. He deserved a moment to receive that applause — not for his efforts in that one Tour stage, but for a career of efforts in the service of others.
At the top of the climb, I rode through a small mountain town. The town was quiet as the summer sun pounded down. The streets were empty. The few old men I see each time I ride through the town, sitting on the park bench, were motionless in the stifling heat. Outside a bar patio, just across from the two old men, a half dozen bikes were piled up. I stopped. Under the awning were several riders from two different teams — rival teams — together. Laughing, sitting comfortably and enjoying a short break on a long ride, I joined them for a drink. Then, we attacked the road home to Girona.
Monday, July 20, 2009
A tale of five seconds - The Besançon-Hincapie polemic, in their own words
Five seconds separated George Hincapie (Columbia-HTC) from the yellow jersey in Saturday’s hilly stage across eastern France.
How those five seconds are dissected will be the source for debate throughout the remainder of the 2009 Tour de France.
At the finish line Besancon, Hincapie seemed poised to move into the maillot jauneafter riding into the day’s winning 12-man breakaway on the hilly 199km 14th stage from Colmar to Besancon. The American started the stage 28th at 5:25 back and was the best-placed rider in the move.
Once the gap grew to 8:50 at the 120km, Hincapie was the race leader on the road. Ag2r moved up to defend leader Rinaldo Nocentini and with 25km, the gap was still hovering at 6:25.
Everything followed the script until Garmin-Slipstream put three riders on the front of the pack to help drive home the main pack.
Katusha’s Serguei Ivanov surged out of the breakaway with 11km to go to win the stage, 16 seconds clear of the chasing Hincapie, who crossed the line eighth on the stage.
All eyes were on the clock. If the difference was 5:41, Hincapie would be in yellow. Instead, the main group stopped the clock in 5:36.
Once the dust settled, Hincapie moved to second at five seconds back.
How it happened ─ and why ─ drew emotional reactions from everyone involved.
VeloNews pulled together reactions from the top actors in the unfolding drama.
Here’s the story in their words:
Why George Hincapie was a popular choice to inherit the yellow jersey:
Johan Bruyneel, sport director Astana: “Once we saw group was going, and who was in there, and who was best on GC, for us it was a good situation. There was nobody there from the big favorites, or contenders, but George was in there. When we saw George was in there, it was definitely our intention to keep the gap so that George could eventually take the jersey.
First of all we have a long relationship, he was on our team a long time and we still have a very good relationship with him. It would have been nice for him personally, and also for our own tactics it would have been good because I was pretty sure that if he took the jersey that tomorrow Columbia would defend the jersey or try to control the race. So that’s a pity. Naturally AG2R didn’t agree with that gap, so they started to work. But it looked to me like they had no chance to close it.”
Bob Stapleton, general manager of Columbia-HTC: “Our plan was to race for green and we thought we had a good chance at the finish and to pick up at the intermediate sprints. But the only way we can really get other teams to cooperate with us is to have somebody in the break. Whenever we can we try to do that. And George got in the break, and got in the break with a lot of strong guys, and they were able to stay away to the finish. For us that was an okay outcome. We really had a chance there for yellow.”
Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner: “The break goes, George is in there, he’s the best placed rider on GC, which means he has a chance at the yellow jersey. For our team, that’s a good thing, and for me personally, it’s a great thing, because he’s my best bud in the peloton. The scenario of George in yellow was perfect for our team. His team would have ridden (at the front) all day tomorrow. It’s exactly what we wanted.”
Ralf Aldag, sport director at Columbia-HTC: “We were willing to risk green and some points because we really wanted to have George in the yellow jersey. We believe after 14 years in the road captain and being one of the key guys helping Lance Armstrong win seven Tours, he really deserves a day in yellow.”
On what happened when Garmin moved to the front:
Matt White, sport director, Garmin-Slipstream: “Our guys only starting rotating on front in final kilometers. The main thing I told boys – and I make the calls from the car – is that we’ve been caught out two times in this race for riding in poor position. It happened to (Bradley) Wiggins a couple of days ago and then on stage 3 when there was a split in the peloton. In every single finish, whether you are riding for the win or for 14th place, the safest place is to ride a fast tempo and be in good position in the final.”
Armstrong: “When the break got to be about five or six minutes, we put two guys on the front so it didn’t get to be 10 or 11 minutes. There were 13 guys in the break and two guys riding moderate tempo. That is by no means a chase. It’s the Tour de France. You can’t let a break have 15 minutes. When George became the virtual leader, AG2R decided to ride. We immediately stopped, everybody back in the peloton. They started to bring it back, and they got it down to about a minute. Then Garmin came and closed the rest.”
White: “We only started riding from 5-6km to the line – AG2R rode full gas from 50km to the end to defend the jersey – and for good reason, every single day in the jersey is good for the team, good for the sponsors – it was an unfortunate circumstance that it came with George missing the jersey.”
Aldag: “We asked the boys to really slow it down. They went to the front and they didn’t go full gas until it was absolutely necessary. If they wouldn’t be there at all, they would have come closer. If they are in the front, the ambition to overtake them is very low. It was more the fact that other teams started to start chasing with 10km to go. That was what made the difference of five seconds.”
Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale), race leader: “We had our guys riding at the front and then we saw Garmin put riders on the front. I don’t know why they did it. I didn’t speak to any of them, so I don’t know their reasons. But we didn’t mind at all. It helped me stay in yellow.”
Hayden Roulston (Cervélo TestTeam), member of breakaway: “I didn’t care if George got yellow or not. I was there to win the stage. I think George was there to win the stage as well. Then the gap went out to eight and a half minutes, the gap started to come down really slowly. I think with 25km to go, I think he really had a chance to get yellow. I think everyone did their fair share in the breakaway.”
Bruyneel: “(Ag2r) had been working already a lot the whole Tour and they were blowing up. But when I saw Garmin coming to the front, that’s something that tactically I don’t really understand. I don’t think that has anything to do with the race, or defending your own interest, or your future strategy.”
Aldag: “Danny Pate started to chase, we were wondering a little bit, then they put two other guys, and that really made the difference, they start chasing – it’s hard to understand for sure.”
Stapleton: “I don’t know how Garmin was riding to accomplish anything. I think that’s a reasonable question to ask.”
Armstrong: “I completely understand why Ag2r would ride. They had the yellow jersey. I have no idea why Garmin would pull. It has to be something to do with Garmin against Columbia. There’s no love lost between (Bob) Stapleton and (Jonathan) Vaughters. I asked (David) Millar, ‘What are you guys doing?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know.’’
Aldag: “We wanted to wait as long as possible, we don’t move to the front to pull hard. We went to the front and slowed it down.”
White: “The gap was coming down, but even with 3km to go it looked too far out for George to lose jersey. Looking at the TV, it looked like Columbia was at the front and led out the sprint. I can’t control the pace of the final kilometer. Our guys were only there for one reason. It was touch and go in the end and no one knew the exact time gaps.”
On rivalry between Garmin and Columbia:
White: “Me and George are good friends. It’s not something personal. We’re not out to ruin someone’s day in yellow. I’m here to look after the objectives of my team – that’s all I am interested in – whether it’s George or another Australian, I am looking out for my team and my sponsors, and to put Christian and Bradley Wiggins in best position on every stage.”
Stapleton: “I think the relationship is fine. We share the same basic goals, clean and fair sport, to grow the sport in the United States, and to show the beauty and drama of the sport worldwide, and to develop young athletes. So I think there is a lot of commonality there of goals. I don’t think there is a big rivalry.
Sure there has been some trash talk around some pretty minor things, but the fact of the matter is we’ve won a ton of bike races, so if we were keeping score, I think it would be pretty lopsided in our favor. I think we try and refocus on what we are trying to achieve long term here and try and work toward that together.”
White: “There’s not a problem there at all between our team and Columbia. We are here to win the Tour de France. We’ve been caught out twice already, we didn’t want to make that mistake a third time.”
Aldag: “I don’t know if there are any open wounds between Garmin and George, but it’s definitely not something you do to destroy somebody’s else’s race. There was no way it was for their own success anymore. I don’t think you can say that you can chase down five and a half minutes when the winner, Ivanov, was already taking a shower when they started chasing. It’s pretty difficult to understand their ambitions.”
Bruyneel: “I think it was more personal, or a clash between two American teams, and one American team not wanting another American team, or another American guy, in the yellow jersey. I don’t think that is nice. Everybody, of course, has to decide what they want to do, but I think if you start to race against others having his moment of attention. If Hincapie takes the jersey, I don’t think it affects anything in terms of Garmin’s race.”
Aldag: “Sure, there is a rivalry between the teams, but there’s also between us FDJeux, between us and Astana. We try to keep it on a sporting level, not on a personal level. If someone else does it for something else, that’s really sad because this isn’t what sport is about. Sport is about fair competition and not to destroy somebody else.”
On potential fallout:
Bruyneel: “Obviously it was clear they didn’t want to see him in the jersey. If you start to race like that, to go against the success of other people, ultimately it comes back, and I think that is what is going to happen.
Columbia is not going to be happy. It’s going to be a battle of American teams, and it’s not a battle of results. It’s a battle of not wanting somebody else to be in the spotlight. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like what I saw. I don’t think George will be very happy. I know George has a lot of friends on Garmin. I don’t know if they wanted to do what they did. I expect that this will have another story to it in the future.”
White: “It is unfortunate, but it’s my opinion we wouldn’t even be talking about it if it wasn’t George. If it was another rider, or another team or even someone else at Columbia. But we’re talking about it because George is American and he’s friends with the guys in team. But this was just the unfortunate consequence of guys riding at the front.”
Armstrong: “It’s a shame for George. He deserved it. He was going to be in the jersey by two minutes, and that’s tactically perfect for us and for him. The last thing I want to do is screw over my best friend. I talked to Rogers, I talked to (Bob) Stapleton, I talked to Cav. I’m really upset about the confusion, but more importantly, I’m upset for George. This is going to be an interesting week. A lot of people are going to be suffering. It’s gonna be survival of the fittest.”
Roulston: “George is a great guy, it would have been great to see him in yellow. He’ll be gutted to lose it by five seconds.”
Stapleton: “It’s too bad for George. How many more chances is he going to get? That’s a guy late in his career, having a chance in yellow, I think that’s something pretty special, and something that every that athlete would aspire to, and everyone would like to see. I think George is focused on calming down and trying to have a good recovery. His whole family came today and he was thinking he had a chance to celebrate a big day with his family, that’s a little disappointing I’m sure.”
Bruyneel: “Tomorrow we don’t know what will happen. I’ve no idea who will be in yellow tomorrow night. Not the slightest idea.”
Aldag: “We missed it by five seconds, tomorrow’s another day.”
Sunday, July 19, 2009
OVERALL STANDING ON TIME
Result after stage 15
Total distance covered: 2581.5 km
Standing Rider Rider number bib Team Time Gaps
1. CONTADOR Alberto 21 ASTANA 63h 17' 56"
2. ARMSTRONG Lance 22 ASTANA 63h 19' 33" 01' 37"
3. WIGGINS Bradley 58 GARMIN - SLIPSTREAM 63h 19' 42" 01' 46"
4. KLÖDEN Andréas 23 ASTANA 63h 20' 13" 02' 17"
5. SCHLECK Andy 31 TEAM SAXO BANK 63h 20' 22" 02' 26"
6. NOCENTINI Rinaldo 87 AG2R LA MONDIALE 63h 20' 26" 02' 30"
7. NIBALI Vincenzo 95 LIQUIGAS 63h 20' 47" 02' 51"
8. MARTIN Tony 76 TEAM COLUMBIA - HTC 63h 21' 03" 03' 07"
9. LE MEVEL Christophe 106 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 63h 21' 05" 03' 09"
10. SCHLECK Frank 36 TEAM SAXO BANK 63h 21' 21" 03' 25"
11. SASTRE Carlos 1 CERVELO TEST TEAM 63h 21' 48" 03' 52"
12. VANDE VELDE Christian 51 GARMIN - SLIPSTREAM 63h 21' 55" 03' 59"
13. HINCAPIE George 74 TEAM COLUMBIA - HTC 63h 22' 01" 04' 05"
14. EVANS Cadel 11 SILENCE - LOTTO 63h 22' 23" 04' 27"
15. MONFORT Maxime 77 TEAM COLUMBIA - HTC 63h 22' 34" 04' 38"
16. KREUZIGER Roman 93 LIQUIGAS 63h 22' 36" 04' 40"
17. KIRCHEN Kim 75 TEAM COLUMBIA - HTC 63h 23' 01" 05' 05"
18. SANCHEZ Luis-Leon 118 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 63h 23' 23" 05' 27"
19. ASTARLOZA Mikel 61 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 63h 23' 33" 05' 37"
20. KARPETS Vladimir 161 TEAM KATUSHA 63h 23' 52" 05' 56"
21. CASAR Sandy 101 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 63h 24' 29" 06' 33"
22. FEILLU Brice 174 AGRITUBEL 63h 25' 00" 07' 04"
23. VELITS Peter 187 TEAM MILRAM 63h 25' 54" 07' 58"
24. GERDEMANN Linus 181 TEAM MILRAM 63h 26' 16" 08' 20"
25. BOTCHAROV Alexandre 162 TEAM KATUSHA 63h 26' 33" 08' 37"
26. SORENSEN Nicki 38 TEAM SAXO BANK 63h 26' 38" 08' 42"
27. GOUBERT Stephane 85 AG2R LA MONDIALE 63h 27' 58" 10' 02"
28. ZUBELDIA Haimar 29 ASTANA 63h 28' 26" 10' 30"
29. MENCHOV Denis 41 RABOBANK 63h 29' 19" 11' 23"
30. VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen 17 SILENCE - LOTTO 63h 30' 00" 12' 04"
31. SORENSEN Chris 37 TEAM SAXO BANK 63h 30' 02" 12' 06"
32. POPOVYCH Yaroslav 27 ASTANA 63h 30' 06" 12' 10"
33. KNEES Christian 185 TEAM MILRAM 63h 30' 21" 12' 25"
34. ROLLAND Pierre 148 BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM 63h 31' 13" 13' 17"
35. GOMEZ MARCHANTE Jose Angel 3 CERVELO TEST TEAM 63h 32' 58" 15' 02"
36. LARSSON Gustav 34 TEAM SAXO BANK 63h 33' 28" 15' 32"
37. CHAVANEL Sylvain 151 QUICK STEP 63h 33' 44" 15' 48"
38. ROCHE Nicolas 89 AG2R LA MONDIALE 63h 35' 37" 17' 41"
39. GUSTOV Volodymir 4 CERVELO TEST TEAM 63h 36' 23" 18' 27"
40. PAULINHO Sergio 26 ASTANA 63h 37' 02" 19' 06"
41. MONCOUTIE David 121 COFIDIS LE CREDIT EN LIGNE 63h 37' 43" 19' 47"
42. ROY Jérémy 107 FRANCAISE DES JEUX 63h 38' 24" 20' 28"
43. TXURRUKA Amets 68 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 63h 39' 14" 21' 18"
44. TROFIMOV Yury 149 BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM 63h 40' 28" 22' 32"
45. MARTINEZ Egoi 64 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI 63h 41' 10" 23' 14"
46. PELLIZOTTI Franco 91 LIQUIGAS 63h 42' 22" 24' 26"
47. DUPONT Hubert 84 AG2R LA MONDIALE 63h 42' 39" 24' 43"
48. PASAMONTES Luis 116 CAISSE D’EPARGNE 63h 47' 17" 29' 21"
49. LEFEVRE Laurent 146 BBOX BOUYGUES TELECOM 63h 48' 40" 30' 44"
50. TEN DAM Laurens 49 RABOBANK 63h 48' 43" 30' 47" read more
Monday, May 4, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
I along with my better half ran a 5k race this morning in Marietta. I was planning to take it easy but that did not last longer than the first 15 feet. The lady was wanting to run a bit faster and I decided to follow. Struggled a bit on some hills but made it to the finish. I was pleased to find out that I actually placed 2nd in my age group. The lady as well placed 3rd in her age group. This gives me hope for the future that maybe someday I will be a better runner than I was as a child.