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Old 09-18-13, 03:35 PM   #1
jyl
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How To Have A Non-Controversial Grand Tour Winner?

The controversy around Wiggins' TdF in 2012, Froome's TdF in 2013, recently Horner's Vuelta, makes me wonder: what would it take for cycling fans to consider a Grand Tour victory NOT suspicious?

I'm thinking it would have to be something like this:
- Rider is from mid-20s to early 30s
- Not Spanish, or Russian/East European, or Colombian
- Does not live in Spain, Russia/Easter Europe, Colombia, or in a region considered hostile to dope enforcement or inconvenient for testers to access
- Does not ride, and has never previously ridden, for a Spanish team (Movistar, Euskatel), a Russian/East European team (Astana, Katusha, etc), an Italian team (Lampre, Cannondale, etc), any team that Lance Armstrong was on (Discovery, US Postal, Astana, Radioshack), Team Sky, Telekom, Festina, and various other teams
- Has no past association, directly or through a team, with Ferrari, Fuentes, Conconi, Sauders, or a long list of other team doctors that I don't have the patience to type, or with a somewhat shorter list of team managers
- Has not been mentioned in dopers' books or affidavits or in doping investigations
- Has been winning at top level since his neo-pro year (a meteoric talent) or has steadily improved year after year (a natural development)
- Does not produce over 6.2 watt/kg for over 20 minutes based on theoretical models using time, vertical feet, and standardized rider weight
- Does not equal, or come close to, ascent records from the years 1995-2005 for any major climb
- Has at least one, preferably a couple of, bad days during the GT
- Publicly and vocally denounces doping, and has done so through his career
- Has no record of positive dope tests himself

I think that would about do it, don't you?

My further conclusion is that this rider would probably not be a climber, but rather would win the GT through strong time trials, misfortune of his adversaries, or a series of unusual events (cross wind gaps etc). He would probably be from an Anglo country or Western Europe. He would either be quite young, or have had an unusual career that avoided entanglement with the teams or persons mentioned above.

Looking at the GT winners of the past two years -

Bradley Wiggins actually seems like a fairly decent fit to my "non-controversial winner" profile, other than the unfortunate fact that he rides for Team Sky. His career on the track kept him away from problem teams and events on the road, and his track results leave no doubt as to his engine. And he's not a climbing specialist.

Ryder Hejesdal might be an even better fit, although I don't know his career that well. He does ride for Vaughters' team, a negative, but he also only won the Giro by seconds.

Chris Froome is not as good a fit, given his start in South Africa, supposedly rapid rise to top-level performance, the Team Sky connection, and his furious climbing speed.

Chris Horner has the curse of being a climber, with a complicated career, was teammates (gasp) with Armstrong and Contador, and lives in Oregon which some consider a remote and lawless backwater.

Vincenzo Nibali is Italian and rides for Astana, Alberto Contador has a record, both are climbers.

Looking ahead, I'm thinking that for cycling to enjoy some "non-controversial" GT wins, we need TVG to step up, one of the Classics roulers to figure out how to win a GT, or to see the renaissance of French cycling.

What are the odds? Should we just give it up and turn to gravity racing?
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Old 09-18-13, 04:19 PM   #2
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The controversy around Wiggins' TdF in 2012, Froome's TdF in 2013, recently Horner's Vuelta, makes me wonder: what would it take for cycling fans to consider a Grand Tour victory NOT suspicious?

I'm thinking it would have to be something like this:
- Rider is from mid-20s to early 30s
- Not Spanish, or Russian/East European, or Colombian
How can you leave the USA off of that list?
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Old 09-18-13, 06:05 PM   #3
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How can you leave the USA off of that list?
I think the current crop of young US riders, who were just school kids during the US Postal etc days, aren't necessarily at the center of some fans' suspicions. Though I could be wrong.
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Old 09-19-13, 02:55 AM   #4
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I think the current crop of young US riders, who were just school kids during the US Postal etc days, aren't necessarily at the center of some fans' suspicions. Though I could be wrong.
No it's because you're from the USA.
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Old 09-19-13, 09:46 AM   #5
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Controversy free.....Shutting down all the interweb forums for on-road cycling where people spew their hate and attempt to cast doubt on every good performance by the "wrong" guy might help.

My solution is mostly a joke but it has a lil' truth in it.
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Old 09-19-13, 01:36 PM   #6
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Horner isn't controversial. If he fails a drug test he will be, till then he's a winner.
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Old 09-19-13, 02:08 PM   #7
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Allowing my mind to wander freely, as one who is entertained / amused by conspiracy theories, I wondered if the Horner controversy isn't a concocted scheme for publicity. There is no real controversy but it gets some headlines after the attention of less involved fans start to captured by other things. Once we all realize there is no real controversy we all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that finally the sport is being cleaned up and so we all go buy team kits/bikes.

Of course, I think it will be a long time before every win or heroic effort is not automatically suspicious in some peoples mind. Full disclosure, I am one of those people.
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Old 09-19-13, 02:43 PM   #8
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No it's because you're from the USA.
OK, then I'll root for the French to rediscover top-level cycling - its been many decades in the wilderness, but they seem to have an impressive bunch of young riders taking stages now and none of them rode with Lance, Sky, Ferrari . . .
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Old 09-20-13, 01:37 AM   #9
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The USA was in a backdated 23 year GT wilderness till this Vuelta. Almost as long as Ireland's and Sean Kelly's Vuelta in 1988.
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Old 09-20-13, 10:15 AM   #10
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No it's because you're from the USA.
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Old 09-20-13, 10:19 AM   #11
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Hilarious post, jyl. and sadly aware.
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Old 09-20-13, 12:07 PM   #12
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No it's because you're from the USA.
I agree. I'm sure Colombians, for example, feel the same way about their talented group of young riders. I don't see how Colombia's cycling past is any dirtier than the USA's.
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Old 09-20-13, 02:10 PM   #13
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While some controversy is legit, much of it is created by idiots.

Studies show that the world's average IQ has dropped about 100 points in recent years. That's right, the new IQ baseline is zero.
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Old 09-20-13, 02:29 PM   #14
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I agree. I'm sure Colombians, for example, feel the same way about their talented group of young riders. I don't see how Colombia's cycling past is any dirtier than the USA's.
Alas, they are climbers from a remote country.

As we've seen from the recent GTs, winning a HC climb often requires producing over 6.0 w/kg and often 6.2 w/kg on longer climbs (30+ min), and even higher on shorter climbs (15 min). In this new era, those sorts of power/weight performances are considered suspicious, although "mutant" may be the term. So being a dominant climber makes you controversial.

As for the remote country aspect, you have people saying that the likes of Quintana return home to train because dope testers don't or can't reliably travel into the sketchy interior of Colombia and because Colombia's national anti-doping agency is not, uh, world-renowned.

I don't agree with this at all. I'm sadly commenting on it.
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