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July 28, 2017
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  • Michele

    Well, despite being vague – and understandably so – this issue of the TSP speaks volumes.

    Cycling fans – by their very nature – are extremely skeptical. And I understand why that’s the case. Sometimes we jump the gun early with a rider’s performance. Sometimes we automatically say GT winner = Doper. And sometimes we do get it wrong.

    But when you have a rider in the peloton making comments like these … then Cookson & Co. needs to get more proactive / vocal on this.

    Can you imagine any other sporting body appearing to be so lax about an issue raised by one of it’s competitors?

    Can you imagine an AFL player coming out and saying [anonymously] comments like these. It would be big news.

    Cycling? We’ll it’s nothing new. There’s nothing to see here, so just move right along.

    Thanks for the read TSP.

    • Wish I was on the bike…

      Agreed. Thanks TSP for this frank, yet cautious edition. t would be good if this article empowered other PROs to acknowledge these aspects of the current crop and in doing so, build an irresistible weight of concern within the peloton. Naïve? Maybe. Possible? Let’s see.

    • Marcus

      > Can you imagine any other sporting body appearing to be so lax about an issue raised by one of it’s competitors?
      > Can you imagine an AFL player coming out and saying [anonymously] comments like these. It would be big news.

      Remember when an AFL player did come out with comments like these, and not even anonymously? It was news at the time, but mostly because he was canned by all quarters and the league closed ranks pretty quickly to shoot it down.

      “Jason Akermanis remains defiant, despite being condemned by the AFL and his peers via the players’ association”
      “AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou intensified his criticism of Akermanis’s comments on the AFL’s anti-doping policy”

      There’s not been any conclusive proof of EPO in the afl (yet…), but the whole Essendon thing has happened in the ensuing time period.

      • jules

        AFL fans are still in the denial phase of grieving over doping in its ranks. cycling fans have moved on to anger, negotiating, depression :)

      • Michele

        True .. I do remember that.

        However, there was a certain [convenient] naivety with drugs in footy when Aker made those comments.

        If a player came out today and suggested some AFL players were suspicious of a team’s performances, the footy media would pick it up and run with it. In light of what has happened with Essendon, AFL HQ wouldn’t be able to dismiss the suggestions as quickly this time.

        The point I was trying to make [which I failed miserably in doing], is:

        – Cycling fans have been skeptical for some time
        – Riders in the pro peloton are also skeptical of the performances of others. [Remember: TSP reckons motors have been used in pro races].

        This second point doesn’t bode well for the sport. In times past, some riders who were once clean only doped because ‘everyone else is doing it’.

        That’s why the UCI needs to be more proactive about this.

        • Marcus

          Agreed that the UCI needs to be more proactive about things; thinking back 10 years ago and you’d never hear anyone so openly slam another team. I can only really think of Christophe Bassons (from within the sport) being openly critical of the practices of another team during the Lance era. So, while it’s good to see the rider’s attitudes are changing, as you say it won’t really have a big effect unless the UCI picks it up.

          • Bracksy

            TSP is obviously Haussler.

            • jules

              no it’s obviously Contador

              • Michele

                Wrong and Wrong. Been saying since day dot .. it’s Aru.

                • Sean

                  Most people in the know, realise TSP is in fact me.

              • JBS

                I thought it was you jules? Now I’m really confused.

                • jules

                  I’m actually Contador

                  • JBS

                    it all makes sense now.

                • Michele

                  Jules is Contador. He just likes talking about himself in the third person.

                  Here’s Jules in the gym the other day …


                  • jules

                    Jules doesn’t do gyms

            • Jessy Vee

              It’s been said by Wade and others before… Stop throwing around guesses, or TSP will stop.

              • CC

                As if wade’s going to stop it… got too many shirts to sell :-)

              • Notso Swift

                …and they have deliberately put in mis-information so it is pointless any way

            • Jake(Aus)

              …I reckon just jump in and delete comments like this that try and guess…

            • I believe him to be Caleb Fairly.

        • xponti

          No TSP is me, my shirt is in the mail….

          • DEF

            I’m TSP and so is my wife

          • Michele

            How cool are they!

    • VPelevin

      “Can you imagine any other sporting body appearing to be so lax about an issue raised by one of it’s competitors?”
      Yes, practically any other sport where an anonymous writer claimed sportsmen where doping, I would say the relevant sporting body wouldn’t make much of a response.

  • Michele

    BTW – I loved this edition of the Giro.

    One of the reasons why is because everyday did feel like a one day race. And if this is because this Giro was Doping Central, then where does that leave us?

    Would a cleaner race = a less exciting race?

    Do we [I] ask / expect / want too much from the peloton?

    • philipmcvey

      Likewise I loved it and probably for the same reasons as you.
      In answer to your questions;

      1. I think a cleaner race would be either AS exciting or MORE exciting. Logic says that if you removed drugs entirely from the race you’ll still have a number of riders more or less motivated to win or fly the flag for their teams. They’re going to do that with or without drugs. Not only that – and it’s alluded to in the article – you won’t have a portion of the peloton disincentivised to race as you do now. I can well imagine that there are clean riders who decide not to have a crack purely because it won’t get them anywhere.
      2. Riders are professionals – it’s their job and their career. I don’t know about you, but in my workplace (and all the others I’ve worked in) I hope and expect that my colleagues won’t cheat. I don’t think it’s too much to expect my staff won’t, say, steal from me. Too much slack is cut to sportspeople IMHO. Sure, racing is difficult – but so is finding the rent each month and the vast majority of us don’t resort to theft to pay it.

    • Samaway

      I ask myself that last question often…

      • philipmcvey

        Not unreasonable to hold these professionals to the same standards as you do your work colleagues. I doubt whether you’d give your workmate a free pass if he started embezzling. I know what you mean, but sheesh.. are we that jaded with this sport we love that we don’t even hope that the participants aren’t cheating?

        • Samaway

          Yeah, thoughtful analogy. To continue it, what if literally everyone (including your superiors, owner, etc.) took a 45-minute lunch break in spite of a 30-minute company policy. Would it be cheating?

          • philipmcvey

            Thanks! I like your analogy – I’d call it ‘workplace micro dosing’. Add those extra minutes every day and you have 75 minutes per week, 325 minutes per month etc. At, say, $35 per hour that’s a cost of $180 per month, per person. To extend the analogy it’s not unlike a rider gaining 10 seconds on a mountain, another 10 on a time trial, and another 10 on a long day in to a headwind – tiny in isolation but a half a minute is a significant gap. It’s all about marginal gains :)

            • Samaway

              Ha, yes marginal gains are everything. But to paraphrase Michael Hutchinson (from his book “Faster”), they only matter if no one else has them. In other words, from a social interaction perspective, “cheating” comes more down to advantages other riders (or co-workers!) don’t have access to than formal rules. I realize this is a token statement from a sociologist ;)

              Thanks for the discussion!

              • philipmcvey

                Thanks Sam. Well, I now realise I misread your original post… because what you were suggesting is what if everyone including the owners cheated. I like it – because it makes the question way more philosophical. If everyone, including the owners take a 45 minute break then the rule stipulating a 30 minute break is meaningless because the owners presumably created the 30 minute rule that even they don’t bother adhering to. Just like professional cycling in the recent past then? :) I say ‘recent past’ out of hope more than anything!

                Final point; interesting that nobody has tackled the two threads of TSP’s argument… 1. there were riders almost certainly using assistance. 2. The route was incredibly tough. Those two things seem to be inextricably linked to me. The Giro organisers don’t help the sport by their obsessive commitment to making the route harder than the other two GTs. Not saying they encourage doping – far from it – but if you keep making the job harder, then the staff are going to look for ways to short cut their over time and/or reduce workplace injuries and stress.

    • CC

      It’s a great question… and a possible line of thinking

      “Is” cycling an industry that is providing value to society, and if so – does that value out weight the cost of regulation required?

      For instance, these “professionals” aren’t creating food for us to consume… though perhaps, they are producing entertainment / gross advertising benefit – that outstrips the cost of regulation?

      That may help to answer your question…

      I can’t help but to think cycling is still an amateur sport, that is getting buried by this call for regulation. And it might be totally unfair. Perhaps there is an opportunity for fringe sports like this to consolidate the regulation costs – if they exceed the value the sport natural generates…

      Just another way of looking at it !

      • Dave

        Cycling is not an amateur sport, but neither has it been genuinely professionalised.

  • Ryan Williams

    remember when you said sky and froome were clean – well youve been part of the new fucking arms race so only yourself to blame for a tough giro

    • Conconi – The Original Master

      Ryan …. I think you’ll find that TSP did not say Sky and Froome are clean. He said he believes / thinks they’re clean.

      There is a difference.

      So what EVIDENCE do YOU have that proves SKY and Froome are doping.

      Now to follow on with the rest of your misguided logic ….

      Because the TSP said SKY and Froome were clean – when ‘obviously’ they weren’t, it’s his fault the Giro was so tough. And it’s the reason why Astana had 6 riders in top 25. It’s actually the reason why Astana still have their UCI license. What power the TSP has.

      Now, using your same twisted reasoning, the fact TSP has suggested what he has in this column, there will now be sweeping reforms right throughout the pro-peloton. Doping will be no more.

    • jules

      how do you compare Sky with Astana? sure Sky have ridden well, but they have paid for top-level stars. it’s a different thing altogether to Astana getting world-beating performances out of previously very average riders. all in the same race. Astana are BS – I’m as disgusted as TSP. And Astana are beating Sky right now.

      I read (here?) that the reason Astana were allowed to keep their licence was likely that they are backed by big money that could tie the UCI up in the courts by challenging having their licence cancelled. there’s also the disaster that removing Nibali from the Tour would prove to be I suppose.

      • xponti

        Lets just hope that they will get their licence revoked at the end of year review. As we have seen before with Katusha, it can be VERY difficult to revoke a licence mid season, and difficult at the end of season review.

      • Are you serious? Froome was pack fill prior to the 2011 Vuelta and was about to be let go by SKY…

        • jules

          he reportedly suffered from bilharzia. obviously the doubters will call BS on that. riders don’t tend to get much benefit of the doubt anymore after we’d been fooled by Lance’s high cadence nonsense previously. we just don’t know, we can never know – for sure.

          • Dave

            All rises and falls in Sky riders’ form are caused by “illness” – not just Froome.

            It’s only after they leave the team that they dope.

          • ummm…

            High cadence has merits outside of lance, or doping. Lets get that straight. And Lance didn’t invent doping – cycling did :P. If you were giving the sport the “benefit of the doubt” before Lance, then maybe you should take a step back from the commenting and put things into perspective. I was rooting for Lance to fall, but after it happened it left a bad taste. Lets not use Lance as the symbol of doping in cycling. Lets use the UCI emblem, or just a picture of a full carbon road bike.

    • Farquarker

      Now that TSP has become a vehicle for Shane Stokes’ foibles and his digest of recent Clinic events, I doubt you’ll be tortured by this troubling objectivity any further.

  • xponti

    Best TSP yet. Man, the lawyers must be having kittens at the moment….Lots to read into with Astana, and a few others. Loving this feature and always look forward to the next instalment.
    If this one gets taken down, we know the lawyers have won…:P

    • jules

      they were careful to not say why Astana should have their licence removed. lots of teams don’t have Pro Tour licences. it’s so damn obvious WHY Astana should lose theirs though..

  • What a great read. It’s so disappointing to see people taking drugs diluting the hard work and aspirations of legitimate hard working athletes.

    • Samaway

      I imagine you’ve heard this retort, and I don’t mean to sound snarky, but doping doesn’t replace hard work. It just makes you get more out of it. For me, its worth it to think more critically about the anti-doping rationale.

  • sket

    As a clean rider in the third week, three hours into a mountain stage it must be near impossible not to consider doping. Your slag is about to touch the top tube, while the average joes start upping the average by 50w. You either love nothing else more than cycling, or hate nothing more than yourself!

  • Jeffrey Swainhart

    I loved watching this year’s Giro and not just because I paid for a HD feed either. I never thought I’d find myself rooting for Contador. I did wonder why I didn’t hear more about Astana’s unbelievable performance. Last year 5 positives. This year they’re bossing the peloton. I wonder if they’d be willing to share their training program, my riding could use a boost. Anyway, thanks for all Secret Pro. Keep up the good work.

  • Steve

    With trepidation

    1) Porte and Rules.
    They were broken and it doesn’t stretch to say ‘if so and so of this nationality did it it would have been forgotten”. It becomes rather murky when people add ‘ifs’ to create a scenario rather than examine the actual infringement in isoloation.

    2) Astana and UCI

    The UCI did ask for Astana to have its licence revoked. This went to the Licence Commission an independent body to review. This body ultimately suspended the request after Astana promised to undertake the requested requirements.


    So the UCI cannot be blamed as it initiated the request to have the team removed. I thought people wanted the UCI to have transparency and having an independent overview of teams achieves that. Even if the result isn’t please

    3) Astana results
    As commentator ‘gabriele June 1, 2015 at 10:13 pm’ on INRNG outlined some of the Astana results can’t be that surprising given the previous results of its team members in Grand Tours and on other teams.

    • Michele

      No need for trepidation …

      I agree with points 1 and 2. Though point 3 is open for conjecture.

      It could be suggested that someone within the peloton is probably more privy to information [perhaps read as rumor / innuendo] then we are.

      This comment I thought I was telling:

      When guys who, last season — or even earlier this season — were in your group or at your level take off up the road or put out that extra 30-40 watts? They may as well be laughing in your face.

      One thing I have learnt from reading every doper’s book about doping in cycling is riders could tell when someone took up / started using PEDs. They knew because of instances just like this.

      In fact, Tyler still swears he reckons LA was on something provided by Ferrari that the rest of the US Postal team wasn’t, such was his improvement from the Dauphine to the TdF. Of course, Tyler might not want to concede LA was simply better …

      Regardless, it’s safe to assume TSP knows a little more about the situation then they’re letting on here [for obvious legal reasons].

    • Stompin

      1/ Meh, ‘boomgate’, remember that incident?

      2/ Meh, red tape and BS, they shouldn’t be there.

      3/ Double meh, so they’ve found all the ‘superhumans’ and grouped them in one team.

      • Kieran Degan

        I think you’ll find its ‘boomgate-gate’

        • Gavin Adkins


        • Dave

          I thought about upvoting this post, but instead I went back to when it was first made back in April and upvoted it there.

          • Kieran Degan

            Thanks for the sentiment mate.

        • Stompin


      • FreeSpirit

        1/ a totally seperate issue. Richie could have gained an unfair advantage from the wheel change. Swap Richie for Aru… Would Simon have even think of giving him his wheel?

        • Michele

          Interesting question. I can’t be 100% sure of the correct answer though.

          The thing that gets missed with this rationale is it suggests Clarke only did this deed to Porte because he’s a fellow Aussie. He did it because they’re mates; yes, that friendship probably came about because they’re from the same country and they’ve spent a lot of time together. That doesn’t mean Simon Clarke would’ve done similar with every other Aussie in those circumstances.

          So to answer you question …. I think if Aru and Clarke were best mates, like Porte and Clarke are .. then, yes he would’ve.

          Turn the question around ….

          Stage 16, Contador found himself isolated and behind the Astana riders as he started the ride up the Mortirolo ….

          1/2 way up his good friend Igor Anton provided a helping hand to assist Contador bridging back to the Landa, Aru etc.

          Would Anton assisted Porte is such circumstances?

          No. And I wouldn’t expect him to either.

          • FreeSpirit

            Yes but that’s a whole different question all together, I think there are even rules against this? I think there certainly are on the track anyhow. The thing is pulling a turn can be seen as mutually beneficial for both riders to some extent where as giving away your own wheel is more clear cut as it distorts your own results and potentially your teams classification.

            Great sportsmanship and a beautiful moment yes but I can see why the rule is there and think it was correctly implemented at the giro. Some ambiguous decisions make the sport interesting an part of why its great some are plain dangerous and stupid (boomgate) this I think what was spot on.

            Here’s one to think about. Leading group of 5 riders, Contador & Porte simultaneously puncture…. Clarke’s quick release flicked off…. who gets the wheel?.

            Maybe only one’s a front puncture?

      • Ant

        That boom-gate incident was a simple matter of the organisers’ inability to enforce the rules. It was going to stir up all kinds of drama if someone who ducked under didn’t get caught (the pictures we got on TV weren’t good enough to be 100% certain), and then there’s the question of which was the last rider legally through? The race organisers came up with a good compromise in neutralising the race until the bunch was back together so any unfair advantage was mitigated.

    • Dave

      2) The very existence of the License Commission is a symptom of the UCI’s lack of leadership.

      If they wrote their rules properly so they could be objectively applied and the decisions upheld when appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, they wouldn’t need to shovel the blame onto a third party commission.

      They had their chance to learn after their rules were shown to be toothless in the Katusha fiasco, but they chose not to learn either then or when Brian Cookson took over the following year and inherited Pat McQuaid’s “independent” License Commission.

  • donncha

    Is TSP serious?

    On one hand Astana are a team of chargers, yet Bertie is “all class” despite the fact that he singlehandedly beat the team of chargers by 4 minutes, has a prior drug conviction and has never ridden for a team that wasn’t a dopefest?

    What’s that called again? Cognitive dissonance?

    • Michele

      He didn’t beat a team of chargers by 4 minutes.

      His winning margin was 1’53” over Aru, and 3’06” over Landa.

      Take the ITT out of the equation and Contador would’ve come third.

      Might also want to read TSP comment again:

      Contador did a good job of taking the pink home; his team was solid with a few scrappy exclusions. But he rode well, showed class on a few stages and then showed he couldn’t do it day after day.

      Some perspective: he said that Hansen was “pure class’.

      • donncha

        Sorry Michele, my mistake, it was 4:37 before Sestrière. Nevertheless, he took the Maglia Rosa on Stage 5, wore it throughout bar one day when Aru grabbed it and in the end he won comfortably despite riding most of the key climbs with bugger all support. There’s 3 paras slagging off Astana, yet no hint at all that Contador might have been suspect.

        It just seems like it’s now cool to call all of Astana dopers without recognising that they still couldn’t beat one guy. If I had a team of dopers who still couldn’t work over one guy, I’d be calling my doctor in for a little chat.

        • Michele

          You make a good point … you would think that the “power” of Astana should’ve got the better of Contador.

          However, it was also noted by some quarters that Astana didn’t ride a smart race tactically. They should’ve worked Bertie over better then what they did.

          I think a call to the DS was in order before the call to the Doc.

          • Holby City

            *than what they did. You have then and than confused.

            Contador was a class above the rest and I look forward to the Tour. Can’t have Froome or Nibali winning again. Quintana or Alberto for the win!

    • sli1

      Bertie won by about one minute and fifty something seconds. His results have been consistent over a very long period. Astana would look back now and realise that Bertie was vulnerable in the last days, not just stage 20. He looked like a bloke fatiguing.

      Landa would easily have bossed everyone to 3 mountain top finishes except for being called back on the second last stage allowing Aru to win. previous best in a grand tour – 28th.

      Aru was on the downward slope halfway through the last week and somehow bounced back to smack everyone.
      Maybe the TSP is a friend of Berties, maybe he saw it as the above and maybe he knows more than what the casual observer can pick up.

    • Follow the Buzzards

      You can call it Michael Rogers, he will not attack his leader!

    • Steel

      Well said. Bertie beating up on a team of suspicious characters is considered in a different light to the team of suspicious characters themselves? I just can’t parse that.

      I enjoyed the Giro, but treated the GC with disdain once Porte dropped out.

  • Robert Merkel

    Can I suggest that the Secret Pro and some of his mates consider releasing some of their power files from this Giro and other GT’s, so that we have some hard evidence of the extent of the discrepancy?

    The other obvious question, though one the SP isn’t in a position to speculate about publicly, is how some riders are beating the testers. Are there any rumours on how it’s being done? Are they just being smart about microdosing? Or is there some new wonder drug available? And does anybody have any idea who the brains behind it are – because sure as eggs the riders aren’t the ones doing the research to beat the tests and biopassport.

    • Michele

      If the TSP and say 12 of his mates released their data; it wouldn’t take long to work out who the TSP is … ;)

      • Robert Merkel

        OK – put it this way…could some of the mates of the secret pro consider releasing their power files. They don’t even have to attach their names to the files.

      • JBS

        or the TSP could secretly get a 13th mate and not release his data ;)

    • Stompin

      Weren’t there two doco’s recently that illustrated how you can beat the passport by microdosing. Its not if, Its happening.

      • velocite

        Micro dosing can beat the passort, but not a urine test. I don’t know how much urine testing was done during the Giro, but it clearly should have been a lot. Depressing TSP post – but worthwhile, thanks.

        • _kw

          Microdosing beats any urine test because of the no testing window at night and the short glow time of micro-dosed EPO. Check the documentaries or read the Circ report.

          • velocite

            Thanks for pointing that out, and to Samaway. Maybe it really is time to allow 24 hour testing. Given the views espoused by the SP in this post he would probably be in favour.

        • Samaway

          One of the “advantages” of micro-dosing, according to the CIRC report, is that an athlete uses only as much as he can flush out during the 8-hour no test period (10pm – 6am, I think?). That way he’s clear if he has to test in the morning…

      • Chucky Beans

        Micro-dosing doc on the BBC, “catch me if you can”

        • Michele

          Thanks for the link. Will get around the geo-lock when I get home and check it out.

          • Joelski

            I found it on youtube no problem

            • Michele

              Youtube is against my religion Joelski. I’ve banned myself from it.

              I go there to watch one thing and get off it 4 hours / and 236 videos later wondering where my time has gone :)

    • The problem with using power to gauge performance is that calibration between all the various powermeter models and riders must be perfect. Otherwise the margin of error can be too great and it’s a futile exercise.

      • Robert Merkel

        If you’ve got a large enough sample size power meter inaccuracies average themselves out.

        • Paul Jakma

          In the aggregate. However, for any given power-meter, the inaccuracy tends to be consistently biased.

          • Dave

            Which is a problem when different power meters are not randomly distributed, but each team has a link with one particular sponsor.

    • Richard Bruton

      Chad Haga has been putting his stages up on Strava, I seem to remember seeing his power output on them. If his hasnt got power you can click on the many other pro’s who took part in that ride, I definitely saw power on there somewhere

  • Ale

    ‘Six riders in the top 25, and with guys that I’ve not seen that high up on a GC list before’ .
    That’s not entirely true. All the guys at Astana were previously in the Giro top 20 with the exception of Landa( he was 28th in the Vuelta and 36 in the Giro before). I’m not saying they are clean but I don’t find them super suspicious as other says. Yes, I have many doubts about Landa and also Tiralongo surprised me but the rest of the team rode as expected, If you build a very strong team you’ll have a very strong team.
    Even stronger if the gc field is mediocre. Is it surprising to see Kangert, Catlado or Rosa stay in the best group with the likes of Amador, Geniez, Trofimov ??

    The Giro was hard, but I think the reason of that was how riders rode the first week and how well designed was the route . If you just look at the VAM on the climbs you’ll find they are lower then ever other GTs of the last 2 year. Reading TSP it seems the race was hard only because Astana did some crazy things all the 3 weeks. The race was hard because every day there were 50 riders attacking and the first couple of hours were always at around 50 km/h . If you are not good enough to sustain that it’s your fault, deal with it and stop point the finger at Astana riders .

    • Dave

      I’m not especially concerned with Landa in particular, almost all top contenders have a great breakout performance which gets their career going (including Aussies – look at Porte whose best GT was his first, back when nobody took him seriously) instead of gradually moving up the peleton a couple of places each year.

      Astana clearly put together a full strength squad for the Giro which got the results you would expect after looking at those riders’ previous GT results. This may cause problems for Nibbles, if too many riders were used up in the Giro it could leave him to do his own work at the Tour like Contador did this time. Of course Astana bossed it when none of the other big teams brought their A game, either as they were partially holding back for the Tour (e.g. Tinkoff) or sent a second-string squad (Sky, Katusha) or didn’t even contest the GC (Movistar, Trek).

      • Holby City


        • FreeSpirit


  • Farquarker

    Good article, Shane. Although if I may be hyper critical, it lacked the imaginative flair of your best pieces.

    • Conconi – The Original Master

      May I be hyper critical ???

      You’ve posted 2 comments – in total – on CT. Are you:

      a. A troll who knows sweet FA about the TSP, or
      b. A regular reader of CT but too gutless to use your usual Username??

      • Farquarker

        The insight from TSP has suffered a catastrophic decline since SS took the reins. This is a writer who referred to Froome and Porte as mutants, and who compared Wiggins and Froome to Riis. No professional cyclist will confide in him and expect their anonymity to be respected. Bring back TSP.

        Shane had an unhealthy obsession with my identity too. Are you related?

  • Andrew

    I would like to comment on the underlining issues leading to the difficulty of this years Giro that secret pro has written about. I find it hard to believe that just one team is causing the issue. As the writer alludes many riders were above their usual level. If its an extraordinary performance it has quite likely had an extrodinary preparation judging from the history of pro cycling and many professional sports. The current situation with bio passport is that (as the CIRC) report stated doctors and riders know how to minimize their chances of getting caught. The risk benefit analysis is obviously swinging towards doping at the moment. The UCI are aware of problems. Micro dosing at 11 at night avoids detection (Hamilton and landis have made this clear) . TUEs are available for a suite of performance enhancing drugs. Riders continue to train in locations where testing is unlikely and avoidable. Remember Horner in vuelta changed his whereabouts at very last minute and testers had trouble finding him. My conclusion on bio passport cases is that the UCI realizes that to prosecute riders (or team owners) with deep pockets is going to drain funds and not result in a conviction. It is so hard to prove the cause of a change in values for a given rider is drugs, have a read of some of the testimony in past cases ie lost 3 litres of blood internally then finished top 15 in Giro 3 weeks later.
    My solution is to impose random night time testing ie 1 AM on top 30 Gc before a random critical stage in third week this could also include key mountain domestiques and have compulsory chaperones drawn from people with anti doping pedigree ( kimmage, nicole Cooke, etc) with same top Gc riders. Suspension periods need to be increased. Don’t surprise riders just carefully craft policies and actions with current technologies and launch it next season so everyone can recalculate the risk benefit.
    I think a strategy along these lines would not eliminate all doping but would dramatically reduce it and make cycling more attractive to potential sponsors.
    Anyway thanks to secret pro for sharing his thoughts , I completely understand his need for anonymity and keeping things a bit vague look at all the riders who have spoken out and their futures in cycling.

  • Callum Dwyer

    Well done to cycling tips for publishing this article given it’s biting the hand that feeds you.

    • Shane Stokes

      Callum, should journalism be about tiptoeing around and not exposing things when they are wrong? That’s not journalism – that’s public relations.

  • steven mclean

    It’s Stokes himself. Just filled with pointless doping accusations now and no real content. Ruined a good feature.

    Someone pointed out on another thread, that if it is a writer (did Giro, no 2014 tour, rode with wiggins as a junior) then it’s Bert De Backer.

  • Derek Maher

    Sorry Secret Pro,I think you can look forward to a world of pain in the TDF.The Giro has showed a total change of race tactics by the big Teams.
    No longer will the peleton amble along for 100K warm ups allowing a few designated breaks away for a while until the hilly parts are reached.
    Its now a race from the start and a war of attrition.The Giro was the opener of the new era.

    • Holby City

      I’m in one of those moods tonight where I just have to correct mistakes. It’s peloton Derek not peleton. Sorry if I have offended you but as a passionate follower of the sport I think it’s important to know the lingo. If I make a mistake I hope people correct me too so I can learn.

      • Dave

        Your mistake: not learning the meaning of DBAD before posting.

        • Holby City

          Derek doesn’t seem too perturbed by the correction. I don’t think it’s “BAD” to make corrections Dave. Don’t you think the world is a better place when people know how to do things, say things and write things properly? I make errors and mistakes all the time and I hope people correct me so I can learn. That people are afraid to correct others’ mistakes is very sad. I know many teachers who wouldn’t even correct a child for saying “haitch” instead of “aitch”.

          Anyway, thank you to TSP and CyclingTips for a great read.

          • Dave


            • Holby City


          • Karl

            Well considering a fair proportion will actually teach “haitch” it would seem cruel to correct it too :-)

      • Derek Maher

        Thank you Holby,Its corrected.Maybe I should stick to calling it the bunch.

  • Shane Stokes

    Folks, thanks for the comments and the discussion. In response to the couple of ill-informed people who claim I have anything to do with the Secret Pro stuff – I have zero involvement with the column, asked Wade when I joined CyclingTips not to be told who he is, and still have zero idea who he is. What I do know is that he exists, and is a current pro. Some would prefer to rubbish what is said and claim it’s made up; fair enough, but that’s your error. To those of you who read it with an open mind, great; it’s an important insight into the bunch and is a way to communicate information that people can’t publicly stand over. Thanks for reading.

    • Rex

      I don’t comment here much anymore, most people will assume that’s a ‘santa is true mummy’ kind of statement.

  • Ali89

    More depressing stuff on doping, apparently its still remarkably easy to get away with doping. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05zhqvk/panorama-catch-me-if-you-can (need a vpn or whatever).

    • Derek Maher

      Don’t get too depressed Ali,Its only rumours and gossip.No proof shown.

  • Rich

    I’m not one to defend Astana, but I must address one of your opinions that we can actually check. This passage:

    “Astana had a great race didn’t they? Six riders in the top 25, and with guys that I’ve not seen that high up on a GC list before.”

    But is this actually true? Have they not been there before.

    Aru was 2nd. In his last Giro he was 3rd
    Kangert was 13th. In his last Giro he was 13th
    Rosa was 23rd. In his last Giro he was 22nd
    Cataldo was 25th. In his last Giro he was 26th
    Also: Tiralongo was 19th. His best Giro finish is 18th
    They did exactly what they’ve done before.
    When something we can actually check is so hopelessly wrong, why should believe anything else?

    • A


    • jules

      i would guess he’s referring to Mikel Landa, whose 3rd in the Giro was by far his best result.

      the problem with comparing the previous performances of those other riders is that they were mostly due to similar circumstances – i.e. riding for an Astana squad subject to a lot of suspicion. although I agree TSP’s assessment does seem a bit off-the-cuff.

    • Keep in mind that not all those riders were riding on the same team for the same team leader when they got those results. It’s a much different thing.

    • Bex

      Agreed with WW. just because they got those results at one point doesn’t mean they should expect to continue to finish in that position overall. As helpers to a GC rider they would be expected to finish further down the order because their job is to be fresh to look after the leader, not to finish in 20th by staying on their limit. On another team or under a different leader their objectives would’ve been different, maybe they were given leeway in a breakaway which brought them up the order; doubtful they would’ve been riding on the front and then still finished with such a good result.

      an interesting comparison would be with tinkoff and sky riders.

  • Mahleriano

    It would be interesting to know what you thought about the 2012 tour de france where Froome (all of the sudden) and a suddenly transformed athlete (Wiggins) showed great performances “out of nothing”.
    Nice try but your article misses something important: Proof. Until you find something credible to say, your words are nothing but an empty accusation based,I think,on you being (maybe) a fan or a member of another team(??)
    The fact the Astana should have been banned doesn’t say anything about the performances of the astana riders at the giro which could be explained by many things like: having the best riders, missing competition at the giro, peaking at the right time justified by the fact that astana don’t perform well throughout the season. I could bring many reasons that can weaken your statements
    While I agree on why Astana should have been deprived of their licence, your other not so veiled accusations only look like bitter envious complaints
    Moreover,being an australian (?) supporting Porte (oh poor man,getting unfair advantages!!) doesn’t give this article much credibility.

    • Daniel

      Wiggins’ performance at the 2012 Tour could hardly be described as “out of nothing” or surprising…

      • A

        Depends on your perspective. May have appeared that way to some, just as other euro riders appear ‘out of nowhere’ to me. Does not make it so.

  • I don’t know what to say about this post. At least for me, I didn’t see anyone saying that this year Giro was easy. Few of the stages were brutally long, at times with crappy road surfaces and yes, the overall pace was shit crazy. Generally insinuating that Astana was dirty at this year’s Giro doesn’t appear good. But then I understand that when you’re in the peloton, teams getting away with doping cases must be frustrating to see.

    I didn’t like the overall negative tone towards the Giro that they’re hungry for TV publicity and took massive risks to make the race “exciting.” But again, as a rider in the race, it’s completely understandable to make such comments.

    I managed to watch few stages completely (on the weekends) and I observed that actually the organizers took great care about dangerous corners or slippery points. They had covered the sharp corners with protective material, appointed marshals to caution the riders and taken other necessary measures. I wonder what else can be done. I’m biased towards the Giro as a race but I found this year’s edition to be much better safety wise. But again, I was watching it on the telly.

  • Lukas

    I think I know who the TSP is, but I don’t know if I should say anything, because will he still contribute then?

    • Lukas

      I don’t think TSP is going to the Tour de France…

  • Greg Khan

    I think TSP wont be so secret after this issue

    • Stompin

      I don’t think the SP is one person, I’d guess 2 or 3 ;)

  • Flash

    And the sport wonders why people are gradually turning off it. I have been a made keen cycling fan since 1980, but I have just about had enough of all the BS. Cycling to me is at its best, when it is at its most pure and simple form. Man (or woman) against the elements and nature etc. Drugs etc are still killing the sport slowly. Go back 30 yrs and riders use to acknowledge other riders on the road, nowadays – there is nothing. Cyclists now have terms for other cyclists that are uncool or riding slowly or riding old bikes etc, where did this come from, and what gives them right to label other riders in a derogatory way.
    It seems everyone is trying to tear down everyone else, TSP’s piece is an opinion type article that is great reading, just appreciate it for what it is.
    Wade, it’s like when people pick on CT for being sponsored/supported and giving a review on something or a trip somewhere – I couldn’t give a toss if specialized (or who ever) supports you – how do people expect you to pay the bills. It’s the bigger picture that matters.
    My most enjoyable ride ever , was a long ride with a mate (left at 8am – back at 5pm), we rode some of the most beautiful roads in Vic, no mobile phones, no bike computers, no Strava BS etc, just 2 guys enjoying cycling and talking crap for 250km.
    Lets always try to keep alive the basic beauty of cycling. And I think CT does a great job of that.

  • Dave

    Wow, I’m not sure how to feel after reading that. Anger, despair, disappointment, confusion, even happiness, I don’t know which one, maybe all at the same time! It’s great to hear what TSP is writing about but I also feel that it’s pretty gutless to make the accusations he is making as an ‘insider’ with complete anonymity. I gather he would never say any of this if we knew who he was. I also have some questions re his comments, why is Contador winning any less suspicious than the Astana feats? He’s been positive before, why not now? If Ritchie hadn’t have lost time in the wheel change and not crashed and was still able to contend for the GC win, would there have been suspicions about him? Are we to be suspicious about all top GC contenders if they can beat the Astana ‘cheats’?
    If the article above is any indication, it sounds like we are well and truly back to the ‘dark days’ of cycling. I sure hope that’s not the case and think that this sort of article needs hard evidence, not speculation especially when the person writing is a current pro, not a jaded journo. Anyway, super interesting stuff, thanks for printing CT.

  • SeanMcCuen

    fuckin a, well there it is, then.

  • Brian Fitzgerald

    Thanks Wade and TSP for this great article.

    I thought it was just me. I couldn’t believe the performances coming in during the Giro from guys that don’t normally belong in the lead bunch.

    I honestly thought I was watching fairy story when watching a certain team with many guys at the front of the race making the other teams look ordinary.

    Then in the early in the last week I saw a rider crack and lose time. In all of the Grand Tours I have watched once a rider shows signs of weakness in the last week that is it. There is no coming back from that. Oh except from Floyd in the Tour and we know what happened there……

    When we saw the same rider flogging everyone else in the last few stages I new what I was watching was not real.

    I was actually pleased to see Alberto crack a little. It meant it was more real.

    Cycling is not like golf. You can’t come from nowhere and win. A Swede won the Memorial Tournament last week having missed 4 of the last 5 cuts he made. No one is talking about drugs with this guy. It can happen. You get a good swing thought and it can turn your game around.

    This just can’t happen in cycling. It is about building form through training, weight and fitness and you can track all of these. marginal gains are made along the way. It is not possible to get a big jump for no reason.

    Keep up the good work.

    One day the testers will get even closer to the cheats than they are now and that would be great for the sport.

    • A

      ‘guys that don’t normally belong in the lead bunch’ Who?

      ‘In all of the Grand Tours I have watched once a rider shows signs of weakness in the last week that is it’ You must have not watched much cycling then…

      ‘It is not possible to get a big jump for no reason.’ Again who are you talking about?

  • biker8337

    “Tour of California instead. It’d make sense too as it’s a perfect platform for our team’s title sponsor”.
    Canondale-Garmin or perhaps Trek Factory Racing ?

  • nemasque

    Hey, Secret Pro
    Sure that you are Amael Moinard :)

    And one thing more: if you don’t want to race, you can retire. Cycling is all about pain and efforts – complaining about high tempo and necessity of going into your limits is totally unprofessional.

  • Erinhir

    I think the secret pro is Graeme Brown

  • Push Bike Writer

    Some strong feelings expressed here in response to a pretty clear message from TSP. So, the next question might be: What should be done about it? Do we wait (yet again) for the bodies who should be leading the way like the UCI (@UCI_cycling), Cyclistes Professionnels Associes (@cpacycling), Association Internationale des Groupes Cyclistes Professionnels (@aigcp1 @EisengaL), Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (@MPCC_Cycling), or Bike pure (@bikepure) to act, either together or individually?
    Or, is it time for cycling fans and other non-conflicted groups to try and push for change on the integrity issues highlighted by TSP? I argued for the latter here: https://theconversation.com/australias-cycling-media-and-governing-bodies-are-complicit-in-the-doping-problem-37120
    So far, the silence has been deafening.

  • namasq

    Secret pro is Amael Moinard :)
    And stop complaining about the tempo and hardness of Giro – you’re a cyclist, not a footballer!

  • Bones

    I for one quit watching the Giro once I realized that serious doping was occurring, early into the second week I believe. I may or may not watch the TDF this year for the same reason. At least with Cadel in the Tour/Giro, I knew I was watching a clean rider. This year, who do we know is clean?

    What is honorable or heroic about a rider being doped to the gills to achieve victory?

    I appreciate TSP’s honesty and I can’t imagine his level of frustration with the UCI.

    • Dave

      So you unlike WADA, the UCI and numerous other anti drug organisations know who is doping and who isn’t? And you know for certain Cadel Evans didn’t. Good to see like all good Aussies, none cheat but the rest of the world does.

      • Derek Maher

        Got to agree with you Dave.A lot of posters here are dogmatic in their views that the pro cyclists are doping.
        They have no medical evidence to back them up.I wonder how any pro rider feels these days about trying to win a race knowing they will be put on the twitter/media doping list.

  • secret pro needs to get facts straight…

    “Astana had a great race didn’t they? Six riders in the top 25, and with guys that I’ve not seen that high up on a GC list before. They sure rode out of their skins!”

    Yeah, but…

    2: Aru – before: 3rd in Giro & 5th in Vuelta
    13: Kangert – 11th in Vuelta & 13th in Giro
    19: Tiralongo – 8th in Vuelta & 15th & 18th in Giro
    23: Rosa – 22nd in Giro
    25: Cataldo – 2x 12th in Giro
    3: Landa – the only one never in a top 25 before

    • A

      Yep and further for Landa you have to keep in mind that at 25 he is only just maturing so past GT history is understandable.

      At any rate the concept is somewhat nonsensical as cycling is not an individual race. And easy to get people into the top 25 when you arrive with a bunch of climbers primarily for GC honors.

      • Alfa4

        Landa has an amazing talent to climb, he had some pressure in the basque cpuntry and he hadnt continuitu for crash… but when he won in Bondone he was better than Aru and Nibali said than Landa could be the best of the Giro.

  • Whippet

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

  • MRx

    Well if Astana is doped what about the man that beats them ? And what about Froome ?? He came from nothing and suddenly he’s a winner. ??? Tell me Secret Pro

    • A

      Froome is neither Italian or Eastern European so you can’t racially stereotype him…

  • bikeinbc

    Hey, how about TSP contacts the UCI and WADA whistleblower lines and report his suspicions to the people who is supposed to be doing something about it. Then report back with how it goes. Otherwise it’s pretty hard to care much about the TSP’s whining of sore legs and a bad trip to Italy.

  • Logan

    Cycling Tips and Ella, do you think we’ll see a TSP from the women’s peleton in the near future? Nothing like stirring up some gossip to get a bunch of folks interested, and if I understand the premise correctly, if there’s one for the men then there should be one for the women as well. Thanks for all the hard work, and for keeping things interesting!

  • Henrik Jensen

    Thank you for this eyeopening input. I’ve been following the race on Danish TV and had to bite my knuckles not to scream out loudly, whenever the commentators were describing the great drama and sublime effort by Astana. You’re all focusing on Landa, but I’m more puzzled about the performance of Aru. He was gone, suffering and far from able to follow the others in the mountains at first. And then, miraculously recovered to be the strongest rider and claim two stages. Last time such a transformation happened was with Landis, and now we all know how that was possible. So how was it done this time?

    I know the TV station can’t sit and undermine their own product, and one of our commentators is Rolf Sorensen (!), but to post just a little bit of a questionmark to what is going on, would have made the broadcasts more creditable.

    Anyway, besides from that, it was fun to watch, especially since we all know, Contador is half Danish :-)

  • Alfa4

    Yoy must read Hamilton book. He started to dope becouse there was a rider he know and he used to beat that was ahead of him in a Liege. Time after that guy said him, I doped but in that race I wanst doped.

    Giro was ridden hard, but that is not an evidence of doping.

    There were 2 strong teams, really really strong: Astana and Saxo, we knew that, On of them controled the race and got out at the end, and the other team was used to put a hard pace at the end of some stages.. when you have most of the stronger riders of the race in 2 teams (sky as well but they had bad luck) and those riders put a hard pace you get this kind of race. With Koning, Rogers, Cataldo, Basso,.. as leaders of other teams as he did in the past in some races, the race would have been very different.

    Mortirolo was climbed 4 minutes slower than Pantani, as well another climbs… Madonna, 10 minutes slower…that si a fact, other things are just impresions. as i said, I dont Know what Astana do, but they are now on the eye of the UCI, and they have very strong riders and nobody rode as they did in the past or in other teams. people talked about that SKY: Wiggins, Froome, Porte, Rogers,…but those guys are strong riders, and Froome didnt get strong results before that Vuelta, and you think Froome is an clean rider, so even if there are doping in Astana, it is possible to be the stronger of the team without doping, I remember how Landa beat Cobo in Neila just before Cobo beat Wiggo and Froome in la Vuelta, so in the case of Landa, a rider with very bad luck, especially with crashes and continuity, I know he is clean, he just needed luck to show all his amazing potential. I knew and I wrote before that just Quintana has more talent to climb that Landa in the peloton.

    Of course Luis Leon doped in the past, but he has impressive result and victories in his carrer.. he won Paris Niza to contador, he was top ten in la Vuelta, he has four stages victories in the Tour… he didnt use to work, why is surprising? Kengert was 14 th in T d suisse with just 21 with AG2R. Cataldo was ITT chanpion of Italy, top ten in the Giro. Can I rely on Tiralongo?, No, but he was always an strong rider, Malacarne, always promising as well…if you compare that team with any other team of The Giro the only possible comparation is with Saxo, but Saxo was pulling 80 % of the Giro.

    Hesjedal in fact was always in breaks, hbe wanst allowed and he finally finished in the top 5… he was maybe the stronger rider in this Giro, and I rely as well on him…

    I hope anyway Landa go to a team as Orica and shows he can do the same or even better.

    I like riders share his thought, and I understad in this case, but thoughts could be wrong.


  • KyoGrey

    I wonder if the Secret Pro was equally disgusted when Sky came out of nowhere and literally hammered the peloton apart in 2012 & 2013…

    ¿Aren’t Anglo dopers the same than slavic dopers or latin dopers…?

  • Carlo

    “You have to wonder if the same thing would have happened if it had been two Italian riders”… I want to remember that, few years ago, italian sprinter Guardini was thrown out of the Giro because he climbed attacked to the team’s car.
    ‘Cannonball’ Mark did the same, but wasn’t disqualified…
    the penalty to Richie Porte wasn’t given by Giro organizers, but by the (international) Jury, lead by a German.

  • Carlo

    “Astana had a great race didn’t they? Six riders in the top 25″… yes, it’s true, but how many teams brougth good riders? I’ve seen teams that put in race not the second, but even their third line riders. For instance, I almost never saw Giant-Alpecin, AG2R, or Trek jersey in the front of peloton…

  • frittes

    lol TSP brings the laughs

    i like how they mention skepticism of riders for “amazing” performances while praising hansen for so many consecutive GTs.

    also, am i the only one who senses an amount of xenophobia from TSP? seems like they have an awful lot of good to say about english and … down under riders but lots of ragging on euro teams… and i wonder about their history and associations within the sport? squeaky clean…?

    used to think these articles were cool, but now they just read like housewife tabloid fodder. CT in general tbh…im sad to say. especially with click bait trash like “how to get away with doping” i would think the stewards of the site would know better /mild rant

    post more “real” (verified, face to face) rider or team staff interviews plz. maybe with young riders or those who fly under the spotlight and deserve a bit of coverage vs the old dawgs who’ve had their time to shine and will continue to.

    • Carlo

      I think there is a sort of fracture in the peloton between the oldschool countries riders (Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands…), and the new english speaking world. TSP is part of the second one.
      the oldschool is evil, the new world is good.
      … dear TSP, what do you think about the new Tejay vG motor trainer?

  • Artur

    TSP – please, less revelations of your team, or what team you’re not on. Combined with a few other tidbits, choice of language, etc, it’s possible to guess who you are. Once one of us blurts it out along with solid logic behind it, we’d be afraid to lose you. The TSP column is an awesome feature, and it’s great to keep it going. So please, less hints please.

  • ThePollitikat

    The secret pro is full of crap. loses all credibility by saying Contador rode well…if anyone was doping at giro it was TSP and Contador. His ride up the moutain by himself was “unbelieveble”. This SP obviously has a hard on for sky and contador as do most people these days. Astana is on juice but sky has stars and train…ok sure. How are these clean sky guys able to beat all the so called dopers. Give me a break. Sky wins everything but they are clean….hahahaha. Jokes!

    • Alfa4

      I think the peloton is clean now, but of course Contador is more suspicious than SKY.
      The secret pro described what he saw, but his analysis and conclusion are wrong.
      Aru is the best promise in Italy since he was junior…and Landa is the same in Spain… the team join this 2 riders just when Landa can finally shows his talent. In an strong team with Cataldo, Luis leon (maybe he doesnt know who are this people or his palmaresm and Luis leon want that rider than woin paris Nice to Contador that yes, was a doper, was the normal luis leon, who is really good, Tiralongo, Kangert,… it is an impresive team to destry a Giro day by day. I understand that if he doesnt know Landa story, he has his doubts.. yes the peloton was quicky, day by day, but it is possible now clean.

  • bluelena69

    I could really care less about doping in general. I say let them juice up to a hemocrit level of 50 and let em ride. However, the insinuations in this article and some of Sky’s reported signings (i.e. Land-ings) for 2016 appear interesting.


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