"It's lonely at the front": yellow jersey Chris Froome (GBR/SKY) waiting for the start

stage 12: Lannemezan - Plateau de Beille (195km)
2015 Tour de France
  • Sun shine

    Froome himself may deserve better, but the sport itself doesn’t. Decades of fraud and a history that cannot be believed, and this is the fruits of what has been sown. The only caveat being the degree to which scrutiny and disbelief is applied, when compared to other sports.

    • Brandon Vereyken

      I think they should simply let them all do whatever they want to do, (drug-wise), because right now the best cheater wins. At least if it was all out in the open, we’d know who was doing what, and support this or that rider or team accordingly. Different jerseys for “clean” riders maybe? Clean being defined as not using this or that performance enhancer. All these rules and constantly evolving testing methods and cheating methods is just an unworkable situation. Nobody knows who is or isn’t, and how can you even support a rider, if you don’t know?

      Interestingly, I watched a body language analysis of lance armstrong’s cheating/speech/mannerisms on the web. Probably tens of thousands have watched it. Then I watched interviews with Chris Froome and call me suspicious, but it sure seems he is doing a lot of the same things. In other words, after watching him interviewed through the prism of the body language expert’s system, Froome is cheating. But who knows?

      Understand, I don’t really care if Froome is cheating. This is the (ridiculous) system we have now. We want to worship guys who can do the virtually impossible, and then accuse them of cheating is they use drugs/substances/chemicals that help them perform and recover. It’s the SYSTEM that’s broken. Froome, Armstrong, and every other rider who “cheated” or didn’t, is just trying to perform within a system which doesn’t work. It’s completely broken.

      This is where I disagree with people who want to come down hard on “cheaters”. What’s next, ban bananas? Ban weight training? I mean, bananas have chemicals in them and weight training can give one an unnatural advantage. Could this situation be ANY more ridiculous?

  • Michele

    So much I could comment on about this.

    Really enjoyed the piece; Lauren’ quoted comment, and Colin O’Brien’s piece in Rouleur is a must-read; and shows exactly why SKY shouldn’t had bothered releasing the data. It was never going to achieve anything.

    What I always find interesting when it comes to the TdF and Doping, is how the heat always goes on the current wearer of the Malliot Jaune.

    Froome’s performances really haven’t been that surprising [I will not say spectacular]. You could make a case that Thomas – who is a slim chance of finishing on the podium – has been a lot more surprising. But since he’s not in Yellow it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying he’s on the dope – far from it. I just think if anyone’s performance was “suspicious”, then it would be his.

    • Neuron1

      Give it a rest attacking Nibali. His power numbers are always less than Froome’s on equivalent climbs. Do the research. Ross Tucker is a very highly respected sports physiologist, not some nobody blogger. All of the “pseudoscientists” out there calculated Froome’s power outputs from 2013 within 1 watt based on the pVAMs (0.25% error). I think there are smart people that don’t work for Team Sky. Their doubts are reasonable. How about releasing all of the raw data for Froome, Thomas, Porte with accurate weights. Check out the Stages web page. They quote 2-4% power overage using oblong chain rings, not 6%, and Sky probably overestimate his weight. Each day I watch this Tour with Froome chasing down each attack, by himself, I can only question even more.

      And BTW Contador won the Giro.

      • Michele

        I’m not attacking Nibali Neuron. Please re-read my comment. I used him as an example to highlight that it was the ‘flavour of the month’ last year to question Nibali. And if these journalists wanted to, they could say ‘look at Nibali’s levels this year to last year… he must have been on something to win…’.

        That is all.

        But while I am at it, here’s Ross Tucker’s thoughts on Nibali from last year’s TdF:

        • Neuron1

          Read it, last year. Comparison but not equivalent. Also, as Tucker notes, Nibali had no competition in last years Tour and could sit in and save energy and attack at will. Why? Because, there were no other major challengers and he had no mishaps from which he had to recover.

          Regarding this year’s Tour. The first nine days looked brutal, yet everyone from Sky looked like they were on a training ride. If just Foome had a great day after the first rest, but the rest of his team bonked it would be believable. But the entire Sky team were dominant while most everyone else in the peloton had a bad day. This just defies logic. Again, I am not saying that I think Froome is juiced, but there is something amiss and skepticism is warranted at this juncture. The whole team seems to peak in harmony at all the right times.

          One final comment. Seems like Sky just hired a doper from Astana, M Landa. If I’m not mistaken he came in 3rd at the Giro and many commenters here thought he was stronger than Aru.

          • Michele

            Based on your comments, I’m pretty sure you are saying you think Frome is juiced.

            Yep, you’re right re Tucker. Which is exactly what I wrote in my post – comparison.

            Can I ask a question: What do you make of Puchowicz’s comment which I quoted above?

          • Tour de force Todd

            neruron 1 – any thoughts on Contadors remarkable climbing effort in the Giro ?

            • jakub

              Contador compared to Froome seemed way more vulnerable in several parts of the race. Indeed, he produced some impressive efforts, but usually the day after he seemed to pay the price for his efforts when Astana pushed on the pedals. He was gapped and left isolated several times and you have to remember how the final stage unfolded – he might have lost the Giro there.

              • Tour de force Todd

                Good point but you only need one massive day to win it. That day was remarkable and worthy of investigation just like from climb of pierre st-martin.

          • Push Bike Writer

            Your middle paragraph shows where our thinking can go when we have reached the point where everything unusual in the Tour looks suspicious or questionable. You’re not saying Froome is doping, but something is amiss for you because he and Team Sky are performing well, in harmony at seemingly the right times. You say it defies logic.

            If you don’t think doping is the explanation for these performances, then you probably have a view about other possibilities? Things like: training, nutrition and preparation; superior physiological and psychological capacities; having a generally stronger, better, more experienced ‘race-smart’ team; access to better team staff (performance, nutrition, soigneur etc) and facilities; maybe even a little luck?

            In any race, in any Tour de France, regardless of how you measure success (TTT or ITT winner, Sprint jersey, KOM jersey, GC jersey, stage wins etc) there is always a strongest or best rider and team. The ‘best’ don’t always win (sometimes accidents, human error, mechanicals, and other mishaps get in the way), but on balance they do well because the ‘best’ are more likely than not to have the above types of characteristics, or score ‘high’ on these sorts of things.

            So, what is it exactly about the ‘best’ rider or team actually winning or doing very well in the Tour that defies logic? Surely, that’s an outcome to expect rather than be surprised about. Someone has to win.

          • Pondo

            “Comparison but not equivalent” – you should tell the nobody bloggers that. The figures that they’ve written down whilst watching the race on TV, have they taken the wind into account? The temperature? The air pressure? How accurately have they timed it? Are their stopwatches calibrated? Are their TVs? Are their findings verified?

      • Runty Wilson

        “How about releasing all of the raw data for Froome, Thomas, Porte with accurate weights.” as ‘interesting’ as it would be, it can’t prove anything, as per Laurens TD quoted above.

        • Tour de force Todd

          let’s see all the data from the 10 top everyday and the winner of the stage plus TUE’s issued but as you know it won’t prove too much but will provide greater transparency.

      • Gaynor Gregory

        So Contador is ok with you, even though he has been caught doping in the past and has never been even contrite about it. In case you don’t know this, team sky was set up to be the first totally clean team in pro cycling and by using ”Incremental gains” and talented riders, they have achieved much. They have such an ethos to being a clean team, with no exceptions, that even when it was revealed that their exceptional DS Sean Yates had used in the past, he was let go of. Like the journo above states, the numbers can NEVER prove anything, and Froomey has never been tested positive, even though Contador and Valverde have, and are STILL in the peloton. Contador is usually just as good as Froome, and because he was in the Giro, this year, it is understandable that he has under performed in this Tour.Are peoples memories so short that they don’t remember this? And will Quintana be likewise accused after his incredible performance on L’Alpe D’Huez today? It seems to me that Froomey is paying for the sins of riders from the past. That and people like you, who can’t seem to stop the hating.

  • CC

    The honest response is, what kills the sport only makes it survive longer. Controversy support the media spin, which supports the ads and so forth.
    I’d like to hear someone have the guts to come up with a new story for this sport, so it can thrive, not survive.

    • There’s lots to celebrate in this year’s Tour, however the unfortunate part is the bad news and controversial stories reveal just as much about human interested in as they do about the media. I’m no different than anyone else – I’ll click on a story with controversy far before I’ll click on a good news story.

      • Fozzy Beavertail

        I’d be interested in seeing the website stats for doping stories vs other stories.. maybe that is why the media continues to reprint the same old stories..

        • We’re currently running a story today on how the Strava Everesting challenge raised over $80k. That provides around 16,000 people with clean water, three months of food for nearly 90 people, emergency shelter for hundreds, and three months of emergency medical treatment for 8,000 people.


          Sadly not many people are reading it right now…

          • Michele

            Hi Wade…
            I actually saw the link for that before [I always read my stories via the CT home page – old habits die hard].

            I thought I had read it previously: it had similar title to the what I now know is the other piece from earlier. And not sure why, but since it has ‘completed’ watermarked on it, I thought it was a ‘dated’ article.
            Just read it then. Great read; put it on the top of the Home Page :)

            • Thanks Michele. You raise a good point. The feature photo is similar to the older one. I’ll make sure that gets changed so people don’t make the same mistake.

          • Dave

            How about put it at the top of the page instead of Shane’s doping clickbait pages?

            Better still, why not sell that “Debate after Sky releases…” story to the Herald Sun or to the Daily Mail in the UK where it would be a better match for their house style.

          • Peter

            Wade, that article’s link is about 3/4 down the CyclingTips front page. It’s profile is not as high as the link to this article. If it was listed before or after the link to this article it would have gotten more reads, I’m sure.

            • It’s on the Ella homepage. Besides, most of our traffic comes through social media, not from the homepage. We even have articles that don’t make our homepage that get more widely read.

              • Jake (Aus)

                Interesting to know this as I only use the homepage, I must be out of touch:p
                I should qualify that I’m not being sarcastic, honestly had no idea…maybe I should sign back up to Facebook!

          • Karl

            Thanks for the link to the Everesting Challenge, a great fund raiser for a great cause. The fact that the Froome story is at the top of the page and the Everesting one is buried a long way down (apart from Ella where it is at the top) may have something to do with the page views.

          • Sean parker

            probably because it is a scroll 3/4 a way down the page and the rest of the headlines scream ‘racing’ at you.

            If the everesting story is so important stick it up the page and make it a two week sticky.

            At the moment it appears between ‘ignoring pain isn’t a solution’ and ‘photo gallery of some race’ that’s how important YOU’RE treating it. Why would the reader coment on a story that you’re making less prominent?

        • pcs

          Yeah Wade. Release the stats!

      • Ed

        Yes you are Wade, please don’t forget that you are now responsible for a cycling news site, yes you… you can’t shirk that responsibility and what it carries… it’s no longer good enough to simply comment, get what I mean?

        Regards, Ed

    • jules

      +1 CC

      journos don’t spend as much time hounding Mo Farrah (british distance runner, dodgy) or even questioning how Thorpey won all those records and medals. part of the reason is intrigue with the Tour. in the ten Dam article (linked in main article), Laurens suggests that part of the problem is that a lot of people just can’t wrap their minds around what the Tour riders achieve.

  • joel

    Craig, Your final paragraph of your excellent article sums up my thoughts exactly. There’s a story if the guy fails the doping test, but if not there’s no story. Unfortunately CT you’ve been sucked into this non-story forgetting the fundamental rule of justice that a person is innocent until guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt. AS you said Craig: Chris Froome, as the current leader of the Tour de France and the winner of the 100th edition of the race in 2013, deserves our support and admiration

    • Michele

      I agree with your comments about this being an excellent article.

      I struggle to see how CT have been sucked-in though. I don’t believe they have, at any stage, suggested he’s doped. They’ve ceratinly reported / quoted people who have suggested he has. But that doesn’t mean they’ve endorsed that view.

      And it’s not like CT can ignore the story altogther is it? If they didn’t report on it, then the accusation could be levelled against them that they are pro-Froome. I reckon they’ve been pretty balanced.

      DISCLAIMER: I am not a Froome fan. He can ride a bike, but he doesn’t float my boat [as the saying goes]. He’s the last person I want to win. In fact, if it wasn’t for Sagan, this would have to be the most boring TdF in recent history. With that in mind, I think the treatment by some sectorsof the media has been appalling. But CT doesn’t fit in that camp.

      • velocite

        Different strokes, as they say. I think this is a terrific Tour, despite the huge disappointment of Gerrans’ abandon and Matthews’ injury. There are all the sideshows, like Griepel’s form, and as you say, Sagan, plus fascinating breakaways. Last night had it all, with Bardet’s climbing followed by his chaotic descending, Gesche’s magnificent podium performance (!) and the the ever present question: what will happen the next time Quintana hurls himself at Froome? And speaking of human drama, the distressing spectacle of TVG’s collapse. I could go on, but won’t.

        Quite agree about CT: a sane approach to topic impossible to ignore.

        • Michele

          Fair enough.
          I’m also being a little unfair to the TdF. I should add, I haven’t really followed it this year. I’m in the States for a conference and the time zone differences mean I haven’t really seen anything for the past 10 days [aside from the Video Clips on here and a couple of other sites].
          I know exactly what you’re saying. I love watching the subtle sub-plots take place in the Tour. They’re usually more interesting than the battle for Yellow. Since I’ve missed most of the tour, I’ve also missed these nuances of the race.

          • Dave

            This year has been fairly good in my opinion, but not in respect to who is leading the GC. Even the teams classification is being raced on the road with MTN-Chewbacca going into the break for that purpose.

            It’s a bit like F1 last year – there was some absolutely incredible racing in every GP, but in all but a handful none of it was for the top one or two positions.

          • velocite

            The time zone thing is interesting Michele. In 2013 at TdF time I was cycling in the Pyrenees and the Alps, lucky me, and sometimes we’d ride in the morning and watch the Tour live in the afternoon. It somehow didn’t seem right! The proper thing is like last night, you sit in front of the telly till 1 am, watching what to me was the most interesting stage so far.

            Bangkok might be a good place to watch the Tour on the telly.

            • Michele

              I’ll ask the organisers to move the conference next year!
              Yeah it’s a shame. I’m getting up at 6 in the morning, leaving at 7 when there’s still 1.5-2.5 hours of racing left.
              Due to the nature of the convention, I don’t get access to results until 8 or so hours after the stage finishes.
              Plus the rest day threw me out. I assumed the second rest-day would be on it’s ‘traditional’ Monday, so I didn’t even bother turning the TV on that morning [taking into account the time zone differences].
              I discovered this the next morning when I went looking for the race on TV!!

        • jakub

          Well, if you compare it to other grand tours like Giro or Vuelta within a span of last 3-4 years, Tour de France is undoubtedly (and sadly) the most boring one… The last TdF which had some decent action in was 2011 when Cadel Evans won. It is hard to admit, as for me (and I guess also for many others) this is the event I am looking forward to the most during the year. Yes, you have breakways and some minor stories (you have these in all races basically, in Tour they only bring a bit more hype with them), but that is not what makes a good race in my opinion. TdF is simply lacking the real GC action for years now which makes you excited and sitting at the edge of your seat until the very end. I suppose that Vuelta is going to be a cracker again, with Aru, Landa, and a bit worn-out Froome, Quintana, Valverde and perhaps Nibali going for it.

          • Derek Maher

            Got to agree jakub,Apart from some non GC riders taking a stage and Sagan hunting the green jersey the TDF is not a patch on the Giro.Just hoping the Vuelta raises the interest level again.

    • Joel, we’re trying to present multiple views and angles from this story. It doesn’t mean we’ve been sucked into any of them.

      • joel

        Copy that. Probably the wrong choice of words. Keep up the good work. Your tour coverage has been par excellence.

      • Karl

        Wade, where are the multiple views? You’ve got Kimmage and Tucker hyperventilating but no-one saying the obvious – that the data does not support an allegation of doping (nor does it clear them). This article does call for a balanced and fair reporting of the issues and due respect for a tour winner with a clean record, but it does challenge the fluffy arguments that are being put forward. Your previous articles on power analysis that had three different sports scientists (I don’t remember who they were off the top of my head) take on the data were excellent. Shane’s coverage on this issue is – to my mind – starting to feel a little one sided.

    • Push Bike Writer

      Thanks Joel. To be fair, the idea for this piece was actually prompted by Wade at CT.

  • roklando

    I agree that his machine-like riding style (and Sky’s style of management) make for a perfect storm, mixed with the Tour’s past. Sadly as a result I think this makes the TdF more and more unappealing overall: the unending questions on doping, petty cycling politics, the circus of former dopers giving opinions and commentating everywhere on their home networks, plus the frankly lame riding of its most dominant athlete drown out all the fun stuff. I have yet to watch a stage live this year and while I am sure there has been some great riding, more and more I see the Tour as I would a WWE wrestling match. A kind of fake spectacle to watch on re-runs. Still love the Giro though!

    • Michele

      I have to ask … If you can’t watch the Tour, how can you love the Giro?

      If the Tour if the WWE, then the Giro is the WWF , i.e. the poorer cousin.

      • roklando

        I find the circus feeling and the petty politics are not as pronounced at the Giro, which means you actually get to enjoy the racing, which in my opinion is always more exiting than at the TdF…but yes, I see your point, and to keep on the wrestling comparison I guess I just prefer the WWF..or better yet: Mexican wrestling!!!

        • Michele

          Fair enough!
          I know exactly what you mean. I see the Giro as a bike race. The TdF as an event. Bigger is not always better …
          Watch me get flamed for this :)
          U2 might be bigger, but Radioed is better.

          • Dave

            I agree that the Giro is still (just) a better bike race.

            But everyone is winning at the moment – the bike race aspect of the Tour is improving and becoming less formulaic thanks to Christian Prudomme’s open-minded approach to looking around at what works well in other successful races – including the Giro.

          • Whippet

            I agree Michele. Bigger means more marketing and hyper-hype. Both the Giro and the Vuelta offer better racing, more often than not.

      • Roger That

        Logic fail here. Why cannot you love the ‘poorer cousin’, when she is more beautiful? The Giro is in Italy (a country I personally prefer to France – others will of course differ). The Tour is a very large, complex event and seems ‘micromanaged’ down to the last detail. The Giro is looser, a little ‘wilder’ perhaps, not so micromanaged, and for me, is simply more fun.

        • Michele

          Yeah .. my original comment to roklando was based on the fact I completely misread his reason for why he called the Tour a WWE match.
          I wrongly thought he was suggesting the race is fake because of ‘doping’. I was implying that there is as much doping in the Biro as the Tour, hence the poorer [smaller] cousin comment.
          The Giro is my pav GT. Has been since the early 90s and will continue to do so; and that’s because of it’s ‘beauty’.

  • MattF

    Or Sagan for that matter – an astounding performance. Again, I’m not suggesting he’s doping. To me this animosity towards Team Sky and Froome is a combination of unrelenting pressure from the cynics (e.g. Kimmage – have you read his book? He is bitter and twisted about the sport and clearly needs to move on), jealousy from the French (perfectly personified by the ambiguous doper – Jalabert) and widespread scepticism about Team Sky’s training methods. Just two short months ago we witnessed astounding collective strength from Team Astana at the Giro. Contador was able to win the event regardless. Did we see similar levels of scepticism or accusations? No. This animosity is peculiar to Team Sky and I agree with Craig – it is unwarranted unless strong evidence comes to light of suspect practices. For goodness sake, just sit back and enjoy the race and the scenery. The polemics are destroying the TDF.

    • Michele

      Yep, agree 100% with your comments. Was going to include Sagan in my post above too – but found myself rambling.

      Focussing on Kimmage, I do believe his “default position” is to go after the Yellow Jersey. But since this is a “British” rider, his views are amplified. And I feel this is because Froome would be getting a lot of publicity in the UK for his exploits, and Kimmage can feed his ego by the extra publicity he’ll receive by being so vocal in criticising him.

      • Andy Logan

        Kimmage needs to take a break in my opinion, as MattF has mentioned he has become very bitter and twisted about the sport. Whilst he was right about Armstrong, it seems to have hurt his ability to be impartial and stick to the facts from a journalism perspective. It’s almost to the point now that the Journo’s are so worried about being conned again that it’s easier to say someone is doping than it is to go out on a limb and say he isnt for example.

        My view is similar to Craig’s innocent until proven guilty and I just hope that I dont get burnt down the track. As has been mentioned below by Gordon yes there are issues, but compared to AFL/Rugby League are just kidding themselves about the issues they have, at cycling is trying to do something about it. It speaks volumes that the NRL were basically running a smear campaign against ASADA here.

      • Derek Maher

        Agree on Kimmage and Walsh a pair who made a living trying to destroy sports peoples reputations.Not my favourite people as they seem to go out of their way to hunt down anyone who succeeds in sport.Two very bitter individuals.

    • velocite

      I suspect Kimmage’s position is similar to that of a Vietnam war protester after that war had ended: his identity is tied up with the intensely moral position he’s adopted. As a journalistic position I think accusing the top riders on no evidence is just unpleasant noise. The important thing is keep working on the testing regime and to be ever alert to actual evidence of cheating.

      • Michele

        Brilliant comment velocity. That’s exactly how I see Kimmage; I just don’t have a way of words like you :)
        I think he sees himself as the official voice of doping in cycling, and he wants his voice to be heard.

    • William

      Contador at least had his “off” days where he looked like he was struggling on some stages of the Giro. Methinks that’s the difference.

    • Peter

      Merkcx had similar animosity directed towards him when he was at the top of his game. He was so good that he made the racing less exciting, more predictable – “not Merkcx again”. I think that is also a part of the concern from people with Team Sky.

      I think general cycling fans prefer exciting, action filled struggles for the podium rather than metronomic, robotic performances which take the spectacle away from each stage.

  • Gordon

    Another enjoying read, regardless of mine, yours or Craig’s views. I go from “they are all still on it” to absolute indignation when any colleague of mine who knows I follow cycling has a strong opinion that is similar to my negative thoughts.

    I have mentioned in comments before the current Essendon “supplements” saga and the somewhat naive view of many here in Melbourne. It shites me that everyone thinks all cyclists are cheats but many can overlook what is happening in AFL and blame it on Dank. If all the non cycling public are sure all cyclists are cheats they perhaps should look in their own back yard.

    Where am I heading with this rant….I believe the heading of this article sums it up brilliantly. Yes there are issues in cycling but blooming heck show me another sport that hasn’t had some issues.

    Vive Le Tour

  • Ted

    If Froome’s performance is suspect.
    Then why isn’t Sagan’s.
    He is going up hills with whippets, sprinting with the fast men all whilst being built.
    Sagan is amazing, but his results are less believable.
    Why is he not also caught in this storm?

    • What has journalists and fans so curious about Chris Froome is his rapid transformation as a rider in the middle of his career. There have been lots of explanations about why this is, but many are skeptical.

      • jules

        the phrase ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ is one I recall a lot with the cycling-doping debate. a lot of us want things like a rider’s progression to fall into a logical sequence, as evidence of their integrity. admittedly Froome’s transformation is a difficult one to comprehend, but I would reserve judgment.

        • Michele

          I actually thought the title of this piece provided the answer to this dilemma. The older Frome gets, the younger he becomes. It’s only natural he’s a late developer.

        • Anon N + 1

          With respect to Mr. Froome’s transformation, I have just four words: successfully treated for bilharzia.

        • Tour de force Todd

          hasn’t his been asked and answered ? Bilharzia ? Ask what TUE’s he is on now – if any and while your at it ask for winner of the stage at a minimum to know if they have had any TUE’s today.

          • Anon N + 1

            Mr Wallace said “journalists and fans [are] curious about Chris Froome[‘s] . . . rapid transformation as a rider in the middle of his career. There have been lots of explanations . . . but many are skeptical.” I think bilharzia is a sufficient explanation. Are are the skeptics aware of how insidious this disease is? Early in his early career he was strong, strong enough to have a professional contract, but prevented from reaching his full potential by undiagnosed bilharzia. Once he was cured of that he developed into the much stronger rider we see now.

            And to Ed, who directs us to Google, Wikipedia says “The discovery and subsequent treatment of the illness has been used to explain Froome’s rapid rise to form during 2011” There is also this quote from David Brailsford: “There was an inconsistency about him. The question wasn’t why he was good, the question was why we’d only seen glimpses. Why isn’t he like that all the time? When the illness was discovered, retrospectively, it made a lot of sense.”

      • horses

        Exactly. His seemingly overnight transformation from pack fodder to grand tour contender at the 2011 Vuelta surprised even his team. A proper explanation for this transformation would probably silence a lot of sceptics (more so than releasing dubious performance numbers for one climb, anyway), but who knows, maybe the ever-changing badzilla story really is all there is to it.

      • Ed

        Let me Google that for you… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Froome, sorry mate, are you serious?

    • jules

      I agree Sagan’s performances raise plenty of questions. and he also seems pretty immature, easily dazzled by the lure of expensive watches and Lamborghinis. I rest my case :)

      • Michele

        If ever there was evidence of someone doping it’s their love of Lamborghinis.
        Surprised Kimmage, Jalabert etc., haven’t picked up on this Jules :)

      • jakub

        Sagan is and was a prodigious rider, winning virtutally everything since he started cycling. He won the very first bike race in sneakers and baggy shorts on a borrowed mountain bike from his sister. Just check his palmares. You can’t compare this to the sudden transformation of Chris Froome.

    • Dave

      Sagan has been gradually improving as is the norm for a cyclist who is still only 25 years old, his performance on the hills (but not the mountains) is not out of the norm for an all-rounder.

  • SeanMcCuen

    fuck’s sake, does everything have to overanalyzed?

    • roklando


  • Steel

    I enjoy a bit of healthy skepticism, but using power to weight ratios as ‘evidence’ of doping is ridiculous. Maybe a rough guide for suspicion, but not enough to publish. Kimmage has been drinking his own Lance infused bathwater if he thinks this is a smoking gun.

    Some other skepticism filters that are as equally as plausible as power to weight ratios:

    You ride for Astana
    You come from countries with a history of doping athletes (US, Italy, Spain, others)
    You’ve previously been convicted of doping offences (a big one for me, personally)
    You see the same doctor as other known dopers
    You’re a nobody one day, then next you’re outclimbing the best on a big stage
    The rest of the pro peleton are suspicious of your results

  • Fozzy Beavertail

    I think a lot of this talk is because a lot of Journalists have egg on their face from the Armstrong era. They didn’t ask the question then, they lost a lot of credibility for peddling the Armstrong myth. So they now assume everyone is on the juice, just in case 10 years from now, they can say, I was the one who was looking for answers. Hard to put credible and journalist in the same sentence..

    • Michele

      I definitely think there’s an element of truth in that comment Fozzy.

    • Tom Wells

      Absolutely agree. However wankers like Jalabert and any ex-dopers can shut their f***ing mouths in my opinion.

  • higgott

    To paraphrase the great man “Shut up Wankers” and let me enjoy the fabulous spectacle of great riders putting themselves to an incredible test in such beautiful places. Find some evidence. I’m not interested in your pathetic thoughts on what who might be doing, not today not tomorrow. When you have facts based on solid evidence speak, until then. SHUT UP

  • Jake(Aus)

    Great write up and some up a lot of my thoughts exactly. A huge can of worms has been opened now and in some way it’s making cycling look worse, not better.

    • Jake(Aus)

      Edit: ‘sums up’ not ‘some up’

  • paolo

    Froome’s main problem is that he doesn’t look like a natural bike rider which makes it all seem more suspicious. If i pull out random names of GT winners (dopers or not) Contador, Ullrich, Pantani, Merckx, Hinault, Coppi, Anquetil and Indurain, they all looked classy on the bike and their pedaling and moving on the bike showed class. Froome looks like…i don’t know how to describe it,unnatural. That’s why Contador or Nibali did not get the same scrutiny. It also doesn’t help that he was bunch filler for years before shooting to GT podium. Compared to the majority of GT winners, who are usually winners from the first day they put a number on.

    • Tom Wells

      He had a parasitic infection that prevented him reaching his full potential. At least that’s what Sky claim.

      I agree he rides in an unnatural way though, he looks like a praying mantis on a bike!

      • jakub

        The whole bilharzia story has several inconsistencies. First, timing of events offered by Froome did not match in several interviews, together with conflicting reports by the Team Sky (their PR simply used few lines from Bilharzia wikipedia page). Second, the claim of “eating red blood cells” is certainly rubbish as well, as this occurs only in severe cases of the disease (basically in a stage when internal organs are affected) – this is certainly not possible with the regime of pro cyclist, Froome (if at all) suffered only from the mild case of Bilharzia. Third, there seems to be also some inconsistency with the treatment he received, as usually Praziquantel is effective after first treatment. He claimed several treatments in 6 month intervals – a period hardly seen before, as the follow-up if needed is usually after month. There is a thread on cyclingnews forums summarizing the whole “Badzilla” story.

  • BBB

    Let’s be honest here, since day dot, cycling has had a drug problem. Until it comes to terms with this and really does something about it, then no the sport does not deserve better. The sport finds itself in a curious halfway house where one bloke is banned for life (and justifiably so) and another can be in charge of one of the more successful (and dubious) teams on the circuit. For example. It does need to take a good look at itself and do something about its past, present and future. While cycling is no Robinson Crusoe, it is the sport that is responsible for the modern drug testing regime (following the death of Tom Simpson) and the creation of WADA (following the Festina drug bust). That’s not to say that it hasn’t done some good things (bio-passport), but it could do more. It could be honest.
    ‘We’ as the people on the sidelines are as guilty as they are. We enable. We tolerate. We perpetuate. Take this site for example. Trek have big banner sponsorship, yet they are the company they are today on the back of Armstrong’s behaviour. They backed him. They actively sided with him against LeMond. Do you really believe no one in Trek knew what was taking place or was it content to hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil so long as sales remained high? If Armstrong gets rubbed out of the history books then those supporting and profiting from him should too. If this standard was applied, then Trek would not likely be in a position to sponsor this site. ‘We’ visit this site and ‘we’ ride Treks and hence ‘we’ are complicit. Again, this is an example only (and it’s not a dig at this site, just an illustration). Another could be ‘we’ as Australians like Green Edge, yet one of the directors thought he was taking vitamins (or being injected with vitamins). The multi-millionaire team owner claimed to know none of this despite backing the sport for years. Really? ‘We’ like Contador for his daring racing style, yet get turned off by Froome watching his power metre. However, Contador’s performances now versus then are like night and day. ‘We’ like Jens Voigt for his pithy one liners (‘shut up legs’) and his attacking riding yet his best performances came at CSC, the team which had a cloud over it for years and which has only been recently been exposed. Was he really on bread and water when he chased Ullrich across the Alps in 2004? Do you really believe that? Maybe there is a lot more grey in all those examples, but they do go to show that we are complicit.
    Against this backdrop you have Froome and Sky. Sky came into the sport in 2010 when the winds of change were blowing in the right direction. It wanted to have a squeaky clean image. People laughed at the marginal gains and figured the boss of a track program (albeit a successful one) couldn’t micromanage the road scene. Come the end of 2010 the common consensus was right. By 2011 things had turned around and had he not hit the deck, then it is hardly a stretch to imagine Wiggins and not a Schleck troubling Evans for yellow. Then they had the 2011 Vuelta where a man with little to no performance to speak of almost jagged a three week tour. Strange? Maybe. The squeaky clean image took a dent with doctors and riders jumping ship when the drug microscope was applied (and yes one of those who jumped was an Australian). Sky ended up winning the TdF two years running and with different riders and claims of clean and transparency got lost amongst the background noise of a sport with a deep drug history. Is it any wonder that people doubt Froome, who came from nowhere, when you consider the history of the sport? It may be not fair on him personally, but it is hardly surprising.
    It is for cycling and the people involved to address this problem. Where is the UCI during these polemics? The ASO effectively own the sport, yet all we have heard from them is to respect the yellow jersey. Cycling is a wonderful sport, but it has an awful lot of skeletons in the closet.

    • Push Bike Writer

      All fair points BBB. Thank you.
      Craig Fry

    • jules

      there is none of the dirt on Sky that was held on Postal and Armstrong. yes there were a couple of dubious hirings but the reality is it’s hard to find good, experienced staff who weren’t embroiled in doping. there is no connection between Froome and anyone like Dr Ferrari. no ’embittered’ ex-staff or team mates actually just telling us Froome is doping. no 6.7 w/kg performances (I don’t think) – Froome looks bad (or good?) as his rivals are clearly not in top form this year.

      stuff like Sky came in in 2010 and started dominating quickly – that’s not real evidence. I await real evidence before casting judgment.

      • Tom Wells

        This is the most unbiased and well-thought reply I’ve seen on this website by anyone. Just because a team is doing well doesn’t mean they’re doping.

    • Tom Wells

      It’s worth adding (as a bit of a moot point) that the 2011 Vuelta didn’t have the best lineup as well. I wasn’t surprised myself to see Wiggins up there at the time, though I was surprised to see Froome on the podium.

    • Whippet

      BBB–thank you for acknowledging the turd on the table!

  • PsiSquared

    The problem is that fan’s don’t realize that suspicion is not the same as guilt. Likewise, as we’ve seen, passing tests does not necessarily mean innocence. Nevertheless it’s a big failure of critical thinking to assume that someone is doping just because they’re riding fast or winning a race. Without evidence, not a single fan knows for sure that any given rider is doping. Until evidence surfaces each and every rider deserves respect.

  • Peter

    Why doesn’t athletics get the same level of scrutiny about doping as cycling does? Athletics had 95 cases of doping in 2014 vs 16 in cycling (from MPCC).

  • _kw

    I disagree regarding the general position that there is no need to disclose power date. Instead, I agree with people like LeMond who would put it in context with the bio passport. A lot of riders already release their data on Strava. They do not release all rides nor their specific training schedule or interval program. Yet for the general public repeated power profiles for certain durations and an understandable gradual development rather than an explanation based on a sudden discovery and treatment of CF’s medical condition would in my opinion be far more convincing than all the BS Sky have put forward so far – let alone their ridiculous transparency lingo when they are clearly not transparent even with non-power related information.

    • Push Bike Writer

      Fair enough _kw. But what does all this data tell us? Or more to the point, who gets to settle the inevitable differences of opinion (like we’re seeing now around Froomes data) and interpretation about the data between the expert sport scientists, exercise physiologists, and any other commentator or journalist? If the experts disagree on what rider numbers mean, how do we know what the truth is?
      Craig Fry

  • Tom Wells

    The easy solution to this is to not make the data public, but at least supply the data to the UCI? So long as the agreement is that the UCI cannot share the data with anyone else then I don’t see a problem with that, much like the bio passport.

    I think a more thorough ‘passport’ needs to be created. Something like a ‘rider profile’ that stores extra information alongside the bio passport. Things like VO2 Max, HR data, Power etc.

    Easy enough for teams to do and legally it should be fairly easy for the UCI to sort out.

  • Mark

    “For what it’s worth, at this point in time I believe Chris Froome deserves the benefit of the doubt… ” – Ya reckon? Could that maybe be because there is ZERO evidence otherwise? What a non-issue. All this does is increase my respect for Froome.

    • Push Bike Writer

      Thanks Mark. Well, there are plenty of people who wouldn’t agree that there is zero evidence. There’s ample expert, public, and media doubt about Froome and it is growing. I’m saying the doubt alone is not enough to warrant the claims of doping, and Froome the past winner and current TdF leader deserves our respect and support. So it looks like we’re in vigorous agreement there.
      Craig Fry

    • Push Bike Writer

      Thanks Mark. Well, there are plenty of people who wouldn’t agree that there is zero evidence. There’s ample expert, public, and media doubt about Froome and it is growing. I’m saying the doubt alone is not enough to warrant the claims of doping, and Froome the past winner and current TdF leader deserves our respect and support. So it looks like we’re in vigorous agreement there.
      Craig Fry

    • Don Cafferty

      For Froome and others, it is not just respect that is asked but admiration as well – in this article for example, “Chris Froome … deserves our … admiration”. For me, it is the demand for “admiration” that ignites questions. I am comfortable with respecting others but “admiring” them is a taller ask.

  • Augsburg57

    The doping question is more sensational, but I wonder why journalists do not look closer at the technique and equipment differences employed by Froome. For example, his use of Osymmetric chainrings and the fact that he rarely stands during a climb – preferring to sit and pedal a high cadence. Even when attacked on a climb, he sits while he reels the attacker back in. Does sitting allow a larger framed climber exert more power? Froome is reportedly 6’1″. Although Froome is not the only cyclist to employee these tactics, his rivals apparently do not. Are the tactics difference makers? I bet that’s what the other teams are wondering right now.

  • Martin Riis Sønnichsen

    A very good article with very good points – the thing with proving clean or not clean, the riders as humans and Froom as inhuman. But all the speculation by spectators and journalists is logical I think because of cyclings history… and still riders are caught doped, every year. The problem is, that many spectators and journalists reacts with suspicion – at least I think – when it is just outcome (the big difference in performance) of a hard race. The La Pierre-Saint-Martin climb/stage was a result of Froomes good legs, the first climb in the race and rest day – my opinion. Many riders have experienced the big difference it can make on a climb if one is feeling good and others are tired… you try to hang on, and suddenly you ‘die’ because your body and legs are filled up with lactic acid, and you can’t get the benefit by hanging on to your wheel. Many riders ‘died’ on the mountain that day. But the tests isn’t good enough at all … riders these days can use epo and growth hormones without being caught, also cortisone – at least that whats the doctors who knows about the subject says. So maybe all the riders on the moutain were doped – we don’t know. One of the big problems in cycling – at least if we want a clean peleton – is that many of the DS in the cars, soigneurs, doctors and other staffs are people/persons who have used doping systematically and maybe motivated others to do the same thing.

    • Push Bike Writer

      Thanks Martin. That’s a nice summary. Glad you liked the article.

  • Kellen Hassell

    “In addition to the contribution that journalist authors like David Walsh and Paul Kimmage have made to telling and shaping the story of professional cycling, what they also showed aspiring cycling journalists everywhere was that you could make a name and career for yourself by asking the tricky unpopular questions of suspect Tour de France riders.” YUP! I rather like Walsh…. Kimmage, on the other hand, is a curmudgeon…… a bitter old man w/ an axe to grind. He got ‘lucky’ (if we can call it that) and found a bastard file in Lance Armstrong, but now continues to swing it at anything that wins with the same sour perspective he used a decade ago. Recall the “our cancer has returned” comment? Despite most cycling fans had acknowledged LA had doped when that comment was made, it was too far and is further evidence that Kimmage a just not a relatively classy or graceful man, regardless of his insight & history in the sport/industry. I completely agree with this article….. do we question the legitimacy of valedictorians after their commencement speeches? do we ask them to openly release all of their completed assignments to the public or journalists or future/current employers after graduation for scrutiny in an attempt to PROVE they didn’t plagiarize or act with any academic dishonesty? No, we allow their professors, department chairs, peers, and advisors to monitor and evaluate their contributions for quality and authenticity.

  • Sean parker

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