Cycling Vietnam for New Years

With the Tour de France over and millions of people (well, at least hundreds of people) now inspired to get those dusty and rusty old Schwinns out of the garage and see what they can do – here’s a cycling event you can join where you can be assured there are no doping controls whatsoever.

Why not ring in the New Year by cycling through Central Vietnam? This 10-day trip is “designed to take us off the main roads as much as possible, and explore scenic back roads” and the best part is that no experience is necessary.

In this adventure, we cycle over 450 kilometers in 7 cycling days with lots of time on this tour is spent sight seeing and exploring Vietnam. Participants can cycle as much or as little as they like and still enjoy the same views as the rest of the group.

The trip begins on December 28th and ends on the 6th of January – really, what better way to begin 2008 than on a bicycle with like-minded travelers, enjoying the scenery, food and people of Vietnam? And with more and more positive doping tests, y’all might be the only ones left to ride next year’s Tour – so get in some SE Asian training while you can.

For more information, read about the trip details here and call Donovan the Adventure Expert at 1-866-549-7614 (toll free in the USA), or you can sent him a Skype message from this page.

“Guilt by Association” and Other Doping News

Okay, here are the two things that are bothering me today. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that they both involve doping in cycling.
1. Danilo di Luca is denied a ProTour win because he’s associated too closely with a doctor who has been accused of giving performance-enhancing drugs to athletes.
I’m all for suspensions and fines if cyclists are found with doping products, or give non-negative samples, or admit to doping. But this is going too far. There are too many uncertainties here, it seems to me, to issue suspensions or pull someone out of the ProTour. Di Luca’s been chummy with a doctor who’s been accused – not convicted, not proven, but accused – of being a dope supplier. That, in my everso humble opinion, is not proof enough of anything more than perhaps bad judgment. Suspending di Luca is an over-reaction and unfair. If there’s more information behind the decision than just an association with a suspect, authorities should let that be known. But given the “evidence” they’re citing now, this is a crap call.
2. The Paris lab at the center of pretty much every doping controversy in the sport may have made yet another blunder.
Iban Mayo’s career was as good as over when it was announced he’d tested positive for EPO during this year’s Tour de France. Since that first test, the B sample came back negative after being tested by a different lab. And even though now the UCI is saying that the B sample isn’t finished being analyzed and the case is still open, the fact that there’s any question at all surrounding the first test done by the Châtenay-Malabry lab in Paris says to me that this is one lab that should lose its fricking license to do business. When it’s the same lab that comes up over and over again in these scandals, when it’s the lab that’s the common denominator, it stands to reason that even if everything were on the up-and-up you’d change labs now and then to eliminate even the vaguest appearance of impropriety, doesn’t it? Why do they insist on returning again and again to the Châtenay-Malabry lab when cases have been mishandled and/or leaked? And on another note, they’ve had Mayo’s B sample since August, and they’re still analyzing it? WTF?

Bert Grabsch of T-Mobile Wins Vuelta Time Trial

Bert Grabsch of T-Mobile Wins Vuelta Time Trial and Team Discovery Channel’s Stijn Devolder finished 45 seconds back in third place, fast enough to take over the GC Leader’s Gold Jersey. Now the team with no future has worn the GC Leader’s Jersey in two of the three Grand Tours, has won le Tour de France, various other races and placed highly in many others. Caisse d’Epargne leads the Team Classification. Tomorrow the Peloton heads back to the hills.

Many US cycling fans were dubious when Lance Armstong suggested that the business environment simply did not merit the investment risk associated with sponsoring a pro tour team. The evidence of the wisdom of his words is beginning to ring true. Not many of the fans in the US follow the professional tour either before or after le Tour, so The Discovery Channel probably behaved wisely by focusing so intently on that one race. The team definitely had the tools to compete in any and all races, but the treatment some of some of its prized “properties” by competing teams, not to mention the people who decide who will and will not be allowed to compete, demonstrates that some of their riders are suspect if not tainted.

For now, the Vuelta continues to be an immensely entertaining tour. Everyone should enjoy the rest of it.

Zabel Zips Past The Usual Suspects

German rider Erik Zabel of Team Milram won today’s sprint, beating out all other sprinters who survived two mass crashes, one about 30 km from the finish and another at about the 1km banner. Rabobank’s Oscar Freire (who won his third stage of the Vuelta yesterday) was not among the first group to finish. , who finished second today, has fallen just short of winning a Vuelta stage once again. Quick Step’s Paolo Bettini, the current world champion who also won stage three, finished third today.

Alberto Fernandez (Saunier Duval), who spilled into the concrete barrier near the end of stage three, and Bert Roesems (Predictor Lotto), who took the worst part of the spill outside of 30 km today, both were forced to abandon. Tomorrow will be the Race of Truth.

Freire On Fire

Rabobank’s Oscar Freire said he wanted to win a third stage in his home Grand Tour this year and he did just that today.

Four riders attacked early and eventually built a lead of just over eight and one half minutes before the sprinters teams put down the hammer on today’s flat run from Reinosa to Logroño. Liquigas’ Magnus Backstedt made a valiant effort to keep his break in front of the pack, but they finally were caught between 5 and 7 km from the line.

Once again T-Mobile tried to move to the front too soon and lost their momentum as the Milram Team pushed to the front of the Peloton. All the sprinters teams vied for the front during the last three km as the trains lined up to drive their sprinters across the finish line.

Freire has not enjoyed much of a train and has been forced to pick a wheel to follow while waiting for his moment to jump. Perhaps the other sprinters should consider taking Oscar’s wheel because he now has won half of the stages run in this grand tour to date. His finish today was magnificent.

George Hincapie Wins Stage Two In Missouri

The Discovery Channel Team rider was in a twelve man break that entered the two, two-mile circuits through the streets of Springfield about 12-14 minutes ahead of the Peloton. Saunier Duval’s David Canada was the other major player in the break.

The last four miles were very exciting to watch, as Hincapie covered every attack that was made. Even Canada made a nice attack that looked like it might succede because George was back at about fourth place in the pack.

The final results have not been posted, but George also too the maximum points at the first intermediate sprint so he almost certainly will wear the leader’s jersey tomorrow. Hincapie’s teammate Levi Leipheimer had an easy ride today so he might win tomorrow’s time trial, but there is no way he can make up the huge gap he lost today.

It will be exciting to see whether any of the other rider’s in today’s break will be able to take the jersey from George tomorrow. As a fan of both George and of Team Disco, I would love to see him wearing yellow on the final podium of this great American team.

Focusing on the Vuelta

My trip to the Tour of Missouri has been canceled and the Vuelta starts tomorrow, so it now is time to focus our attention there. (I do not know how to type a tilde “n” on my computer so I guess I’ll have to misspell “Espana” for the next three weeks.) Here is the list of starters.

CSC is racing a very strong team, but my early pick for the overall GC is Cadel Evans. He might still be tired but he looked incredibly strong in le Tour and he had excellent form. Chris Horner probably still has something to prove because he still has not signed a new contract that I have heard about.

The format includes three mountain top finishes in the first ten days. It will be interesting to see how that influences the various teams tactics. One thing seems certain: we will not have to wait for the third week to seem some exciting, aggressive racing. Now if they can just throw in some roads like we saw in the Eneco Tour this could be the best race of the year.

Robert Millar Might Still Be a Man After All

Image result for Robert Millar

Well, it appears that either the story about Robert Millar having a sex change is completely untrue or it’s been suppressed somehow. First, the sites which originally carried the story have removed the articles entirely, although they still show up in a search for “robert millar philippa york” on the almighty Google. Second, Wikipedia (also almighty) has removed a reference to its Robert Millar article citing what looks like one of the original pieces about the sex change (again, this still appears in a Google search, but probably not for much longer).

So – what can we surmise? The best bet is that the sex change rumors were completely fabricated, and some poor woman called Philippa York (who may or may not have been a man before, but that’s really none of our business) is being followed and photographed and assumed to be Robert Millar although she’s probably never heard of the guy, or Millar is York and wants the press to stop snooping around. Either way, it seems a reasonable request to leave both Millar and York – whether they’re one and the same or not – alone. Obviously neither of them wants to be in the limelight.

Around the Web on Wheels: 03.22.07

The wheels on the bike go round and round… All the way to Milano-Sanremo this Saturday. Wahoo!

  • It’s all Milano-Sanremo, all the time. Kind of. Here’s an overview of the race, here’s a course profile (with some closeups of the final climbs), and here are the start lists. Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) is still sick with the flu, so won’t be competing this year, which is too bad. This is the race every Italian would love to win. Remember Petacchi’s win a few years ago? The man was crying, for pete’s sake… And as far as I know, will be carrying the race live on Saturday on their Versus channel.
  • If you thought the last-minute pow-wow in Belgium that made Paris-Nice possible this year would solve all the ProTour issues, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you. Scroll down a bit here and look for “ProTour tug-of-war continues.” It’s amazing how petty some people can be.
  • Vino won’t be riding Milano-Sanremo, but he’s looking forward to having Tirreno-Adriatico winner Andreas Klöden on his Tour de France team.
  • Looking ahead to the Tour de Georgiafive teams have already confirmed their lineups – including Discovery, CSC, Quick Step and Tinkoff.
  • Team will be racing under a different name and jersey in France, since they’re not allowed to use their official name… They’ll now be Team wearing black and orange, but only in France. The UCI has already okay’d this move, they’re just waiting for a response from the ASO.
  • The Fat Cyclist thinks it’s not the dopers who are killing cycling, and I think I might agree with him. Choice line: “Somebody get a big, family sized roll of duct tape and wrap it around Dick Pound’s (WADA) and Pat McQuaid’s (UCI) faces until they can no longer speak. Every time they open their mouths, cycling gets worse.” Amen. Definitely worth a read, this article.
  • Semi-local boy Tyler Farrar (Cofidis) didn’t make it to the end of Paris-Nice (he had the sniffles), and is refocusing on the Classics.
  • Finally, I have no idea how they got this picture, but it’s damned cool.

Around the Web on Wheels – Rest Day Edition: 07.16.07

There’s plenty of stuff to talk about, and not enough time to do it. Let’s see if I can cram it all in here:

  • Poor Stuart O’Grady, his crash yesterday really messed him up. Thank goodness that one wasn’t caught on camera, I don’t think I’d have wanted to see it – especially over and over and over again the way they like to do with injuries.
  • Well, well – Jan Ullrich has broken his silence to trash former teammates Rolf Aldag and Erik Zabel after they both admitted to doping in the past. Wow…
  • More drug-related suspensions – Michele Scarponi gets banned for 18 months, and Matthias Kessler gets a 2-year ban.