Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cycling Update: 2012 Tour de France / Armstrong Doping

In 1998 the top French team with all the top French riders got busted for doping practices.  It set the sport of cycling in France back for decades as their top riders and coaches were banned and the sport struggled to attract young riders because of the scandal.  There is a part of me that wonders if 2012 will be that year for US cycling.

US cycling has been on the decline with all the doping scandals already, but if the best US cyclist ever is not just found to have doped, but is actually accused of masterminding doping practices at his team, probably getting a lifetime ban, then I think it could have a crippling affect on the sport for years to come.

Sad to say for US cycling fans this is what the Tour has been about this year.  There are no real general classification contenders this year and Tyler Farrar is having a lousy season and an even worse Tour so far, so stage wins are looking unlikely.  Our only hope seems to be Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), but he is there in support of last year's winner Cadel Evans.

It should be an interesting Tour.  At this point there are really only two favorites Cadel Evans, who no one believes can repeat, and Bradley Wiggins, a Brit who just a few years ago was seen as nothing more than a time trial specialist.  The guy who was supposed to win at the beginning of the year, Andy Schleck, isn't in the race due to injury and would have not been a favorite anyhow as his season had turned into nothing more than a soap opera between him and his new team manager, Johan Bruyneel.  Bruyneel of course is most famous for being the manager behind all of Armstrong's Tour victories and is also facing a lifetime ban and is not in attendance at the Tour this year.

I am fairly certain the USADA will find Armstrong guilty and I'm about 50% certain that he will receive a lifetime ban from the sport.  He of course will always deny his guilt and will try to destroy the reputation of all those who accuse him, that's his move.  Depending on who is witness against him this will fail miserably for most US cycling fans and so the doping era will come to an end with the take down of the king of the doping era in cycling.

General classification after stage 5

1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 24:45:32
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
3 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:11
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:00:13
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:17
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:18
9 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp
10 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:19


  1. I know all of this doping stuff has been painful for cycling fans, but I'm hoping it's finally getting under control. Personally, I like baseball better without steroids, even if no one hits 60 home runs in a year.

    1. I grew up with cycling during the doping era and so for me it's now like watching a completely different sport. In some ways it's not as exciting. You don't see the unbelievable performances that you once did, but the sport feels more real now, more honest than it did during that time. What's even better is the teams, the riders, and the officials seem to have made a commitment to work to keep the sport dope free for the long haul.

      The hard part for the US fans who fell in love with cycling during the Armstrong years, is coming to accept that all of our heroes of the time period were cheaters and so the rise of US cycling was in many ways false.