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What Has Changed?

Old 07-05-23, 05:31 PM
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What Has Changed?

I know there are others here who have followed the sport longer than I have, and there are some who have raced (never did, but if I could turn back the clock, I'd try it). I knew who Eddy, and Bernard and Sean and Big Mig were, and I lackadaisically rooted for Greg, but really didn't take much of an interest until about 20 years ago.

Today, many of us witnessed something absolutely spectacular. A two-time Tour winner besting his PR for a serious climb, yet getting left in the dust by another rider. Ten years ago, the internet would have been abuzz with speculations and experts expressing their disbelief. Yet today, nothing. I've heard that there have been substantial advances in training and nutrition over the past decade, so perhaps that might explain the performance gains we are witnessing.

Mind you, I'm not accusing anyone of anything untoward, and my intent is not to cast shade on any riders. I'm not even intending to analyze scientific possibilities that can explain the performance. (Yes, I'm interested in that too, but that isn't my question here). What I'm attempting to understand is what has changed in the media, or socially. Why does performance that once would have triggered a battalion of critics to vigorously wave their red flags, elicit, well ... crickets?

Is it rider personality? Were Lance and Floyd (aside from being caught), just easier to dislike than, say, Froome, (who, yes, was caught) or Pogacar or Vingegaard, or similarly affable riders? Have the journalists who used to sink their teeth into juicy stories retired? Gotten complacent? Now believe the sport is clean as a whistle?

I'm eager to hear what others think, as I have nothing more than observation and speculation to go on.
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Old 07-05-23, 05:51 PM
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This website has details of this and yes, it does appear superman efforts are back at the TDF in my opinion.

EDIT AFTER THINKING ABOUT IT. Phil did mention about a tailwind and while Pogacar did break his personal record, more then just one man were faster up the hill with Pogacar in a bunch so I suspect it was just ideal conditions to climb that mountain today.. let's hope that is the case.

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Old 07-05-23, 09:34 PM
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I think it has become more widely accepted, and not just in cycling.
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Old 07-06-23, 04:47 AM
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IDK which one of these better fits your position and ask:

A) We know they"re doping so why no accusations?

B) Why no idle speculation about doping?

C) Are they doping?

Someone losing despite a PR is no smoking gun.

i have not seen any analysis in terms of watts/kg and sustained, repetitive efforts. It was a relatively punchy effort by GC standards anyway.

I was never a Lance zealot so I don't see doubt or inquiry as heresy. But it's a slippery slope from doubt to seeing every winning performance as proof of darkness.

For my own sanity, I like to enjoy the results (+/- suspicion) until there's some tangible performance science or non-sequitur.
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Old 07-06-23, 05:19 AM
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Miguel Angel Lopez and Nairo Quintana say hi to your "nothing."
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Old 07-06-23, 06:19 AM
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So - a 135# climber that is not only blowing the field away on climbs, but on long flat TT's as well. Nothing to see here...

So - a 175# power house climbing with the climbers, sprinting with the sprinters, and TT'ing with the TT'ers. Nothing to see here...


There will always be some form of cheating/seeking a competitive advantage in professional sports.

Pogs broke his own record and was beaten by multiple riders - could be that he wasn't full gas on his previous attempt - tail winds... many factors, not enough data to make any conclusions based on one climb.

However, last year's ascent up Huez - 5 riders finished in a group and all clocked times that are in the top 20 of all time. 90%+ of the top 100 times were set by known dopers in the doping era. A few outliers mixed in over the past 10+ years, but the majority of the times were set by dopers. But last year, 5 riders cracked the top 20.
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Old 07-06-23, 10:03 AM
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There are many factors that can effect a riders performance on a particular segment or climb at any given time. Grand tour championships are often more about smart or lucky game play than physical abilities. Look at last years tour, a sprinter lead for the first week by establishing a break and holding it but was long forgotten by the time they arrived to Paris. Same thing happens in CX. I think Wout should have won this last winter. He seemed to be beating Mathew at nearly every turn and yet Mathew was there at the end to out sprint him. My poorly made point is that I don't think winning proves doping. Timing and tactics plays a huge role plus a host of other factors.
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Old 07-06-23, 10:55 AM
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One difference - Lance Armstrong looks like a competitive swimmer, not a mountain goat. Ulrich - also not a mountain goat. Vingegaard is a mountain goat. Pogacar more like an all-arounder but still pretty skinny and goat-like. (Lance Armstrong passed me at a trade show and bumped my shoulder. The guy is seriously solid.)

Two super athletes putting on a show in a venue tailored for them. And competing side-by-side in the biggest event there is. Big money, big prestige, history ... Both former winners. And they set some records? Is this really a surprise?

Oh, and there might have been a tailwind? IIRC the temps were about perfect also.
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Old 07-06-23, 11:16 AM
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And pure speculation - Pogacar's hand injury. I wonder if yesterday he rode his max without injury pain, saw his lead on Vingegaard go down the drain, and said the **** with it, I'm going today no matter how much it hurts. Big accelerations is where he excels. But I'm guessing his injury causes real pain when he does those accelerations. (I wonder if he is accepting the risk of perhaps lifelong issues with his hand in exchange for another Tour win. A bargain I l know all too well though my "victories" were a whole lot smaller. And at 70, I get reminded of those choices every day. I raced a last season after my head injury despite breaking my thumb that winter and having chondromalcia patellae come on that early spring. My hero was Bobby Orr who destroyed his knees celebrating the gift he was given as perhaps the most gifted skater the NHL has ever seen.)
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Old 07-06-23, 11:29 AM
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Nobody in the English-speaking world is even discussing TdF at all.
There are like 5 people who have even mentioned TdF here.
No one is discussing TdF at RBR.

In the general "cycling" ******, no one is mentioning TdF. There may be pro cycling ******s, and face book groups as well - but I have not gone out of my way to find and join.

I do not have twitter. There could be ppl discussing TdF on twitter. And, possibly discussing the unbelievability of some performances.

TdF viewership and discussion in the English-speaking world grew a lot with LA. But many years have passed. 2005 was his final.

Beyond that: there is a lot of regular testing. If anyone is doping, they can only do so much. There are only so many ways to dope. Each has its effect on your body, such as raising testosterone. So, they may not test for some drug, but they look at your "T."

So, arguably, they are clean until proven guilty.

We have billions of people on the planet. How likely is it that those who physically would make the best cyclists actually get into cycling? Then, get on the long path to international cycling, then into the world of Gran Tours? Arguably, as time goes by, those who are physically suited get noticed, and go up this path.

When I was a kid and doing "track and field," no one wanted to do "race walk." So, me and a couple buddies started doing the race walk at our local meets. I got to regionals. We were not that great - just no one was doing it. A few years later, more had become aware, and joined in. I was a nobody again. Cuz the gifted found their way int there.

So, arguably, across time we should see more of those with physical gift, and training, get into the GTs. And, with training, team, strategy, etc. beat the existing record.

Also, as some have said: temps, wind, and humidity play a role.also, stage lengths differ across tours.

Also, distances and placement mater. Today's stage 6 had Tourmalet. Mid-way, not as a finish. Several times, Tourmalet has been the finish. So, arguably, riders were more fresh with Tourmalet mid-way like today, and so were faster than when Tourmalet was the finish. Also, there are 2 spots TdF has used on top of Tourmalet as finishing spot. A ski resort, and the literal summit. If you only have to ride to the ski resort, you will be a bit quicker.

Bikes are probably not getting notably faster. They have a weight limit - you cannot go under this limit. So, bikes are not getting lighter. Arguably, disc brakes are helping riders descend faster, since braking is better. But that has no effect on the climbs!

Those are some thoughts.
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Old 07-06-23, 11:30 AM
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I said red it and face look, and it asterisked it out. LOL.
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Old 07-06-23, 11:40 AM
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PJay120 good points, some better than others.
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Old 07-06-23, 01:01 PM
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Bikes are absolutely getting faster, as are the clothing. Both aerodynamics and rolling resistance are now being optimized like never before in bike racing. Teams have realized it matters much more than a couple hundred grams of weight.

Heck, the advances have trickled down to amateurs, it's only that amateurs don't go uphill nearly as fast as pros for the benefits to be as noticeable on climbs. I get so much free speed from my CF frame and deep section wheels with Conti tubeless tires while wearing an aero jersey that it not only compensates for my lack of fitness on group rides, but gives me an undeserved advantage over the other riders.
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Old 07-06-23, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by slcbob
But it's a slippery slope from doubt to seeing every winning performance as proof of darkness.

For my own sanity, I like to enjoy the results (+/- suspicion) until there's some tangible performance science or non-sequitur.
After racing myself, reading numerous articles, and seeing some of my teammates work toward the upper echelons, I became fairly certain that humans likely can not achieve the level of performance seen in the grand tours without some "help". No proof, and I could be wrong, but that's my best guess. Not pointing fingers or complaining, just my observation.

Your enjoying the results for sanity is a good policy, and I don't give a hoot who gets caught. That's just part of the game as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 07-06-23, 02:26 PM
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Ten years ago when I did a few 24 hour races, casual acquaintances would insinuate that I must be doping. I'm a desk jockey who rides 3-4x per week and my numbers wouldn't impress anyone who knows anything about endurance sports, but to the average joe it probably seemed inhuman. That accusation was super annoying, because the training and effort were hard AF.

OTOH, pre Oprah interview, I was in the audience listening to one of Lance's boys give a talk about the life of a pro cyclist. When an audience member asked about doping, the racer boy (who we now know was EPO'd up to the gills) went ballistic on the dude.

I give them the benefit of the doubt, until I know otherwise. Then they're dead to me.
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Old 07-06-23, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by slcbob
IDK which one of these better fits your position and ask:

A) We know they"re doping so why no accusations?

B) Why no idle speculation about doping?

C) Are they doping?

Someone losing despite a PR is no smoking gun.

i have not seen any analysis in terms of watts/kg and sustained, repetitive efforts. It was a relatively punchy effort by GC standards anyway.

I was never a Lance zealot so I don't see doubt or inquiry as heresy. But it's a slippery slope from doubt to seeing every winning performance as proof of darkness.

For my own sanity, I like to enjoy the results (+/- suspicion) until there's some tangible performance science or non-sequitur.
There was a period of time where certain people would claim that, based on the fact that a rider weighed Xx Kg and could put out at most, Xxx watts, performance that exceeded what was possible was "suspect", or in some cases, smoking gun proof that something wasn't adding up. It seemed a very reductionist perspective to me, but they seemed so certain, and were generally correct in their assessments. In the past three years, I've not noticed this sort of analysis - justified by numerical analyses- at least not any that's making claims that fans should be suspicious. Was this sort of analysis overly simplistic and flawed? Have trainers and riders found new, legal ways to move beyond what was previously thought to be human limits?

In a way, I'm glad to not hear the constant conjecture, yet at the same time, I'm imagining there is a vulnerability in the passport protocol. Blood testing identifies inconsistencies between test periods (and I presume for known, detectable, banned substances). If whatever regimen is used does not generate inconsistencies... If I am capable of brainstorming a couple scenarios - well imagine what someone with a handle on the details of the system might come up with. I can't say I have the same degree of confidence in the system that the UCI publicly professes, and my observation that human nature is relatively constant.

At any rate, this is probably an artifact of my PTTD, and my conviction that several high profile DSs and numerous riders had scruplectomies through the Telekom-Mercatone-Postal-Liberty-Phonak-Rabobank-CSC-Gerolsteiner-Euskatel-Sky arc.

On a stray note: Can someone revive the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons? My dream job would be writing the intros for the next episodes.
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Old 07-06-23, 03:26 PM
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For you USAZorro



I recently watched the Netflix documentary Icarus. It started as a guy using amateur cycling as a vehicle to show how futile drug testing is. It spiraled out to become all about the Russian lab director at the center of Sochi. It doesn't add much to the science but surely touches on the process in very interesting ways.

IDK if there has been any peer review or light shed on the content of the show. So take it as it stands.
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Old 07-06-23, 06:11 PM
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To everyone except the actual riders and their staffs, it's just entertainment. The race has been entertaining, so maybe people are looking the other way.
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Old 07-07-23, 04:42 PM
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Some subtle changes have taken place in recent races that the "everyone's doping" squad may have missed, or dismissed.

Stages have become progressively shorter over the last 10 years or so, for one thing.

For another, where the pace was often relentless nearly from start to finish in Tour stages in years past, the riders have lately been taking occasional unscheduled rest-day-within-a-race-day breaks. For example, in one of the recent, mostly sluggish stages, Tom Pidcock's power meter data showed that he was putting out less than 100 watts much of the time for several hours.
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Old 07-08-23, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney
. My hero was Bobby Orr who destroyed his knees celebrating the gift he was given as perhaps the most gifted skater the NHL has ever seen.)
Guess what? Me too. As a lifelong Montreal fan, we hated the Bruins, even more than we hated the Leafs. But who could hate Bobby? He was the guy who did the impossible. A defenseman who wins the scoring trophy? Along with being one of the best skaters and all over most graceful hockey players ever? Bobby only knew one way to play, all out and all in
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Old 07-08-23, 04:43 PM
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I lean more training than other. Early posts of mine showed my kid sleeping in a hypoxia tent and doing massive weights at an age...these riders we see started at. I posted that the 17 year olds were the fastest in the USA because they were also doing these same things. I have no inside track, but the training now is massively different. A few generations ago they smoked...and doped.
It is also the attraction and money in the sport. Many riders can make over $1M now and many more $500K. The pay is ahead of inflation. That means some that chose not to continue in the sport do.
I'm not suggesting that all the backet ball and US football players would be cyclist if we paid them enough, but you do have the Yates, Remco types that were quite good and likely pro soccer players (at least Remco) who could justify moving to this other sport that traditionally paid peanuts.
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Old 07-08-23, 04:44 PM
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Nobody in the English-speaking world is even discussing TdF at all.
It's better to write 'nobody I know of'. The NY Times had a full page spread on the TdF before it started. I never saw that before, and my bet is that it evoked some comment.
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Old 07-09-23, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
Some subtle changes have taken place in recent races that the "everyone's doping" squad may have missed, or dismissed.

Stages have become progressively shorter over the last 10 years or so, for one thing.

For another, where the pace was often relentless nearly from start to finish in Tour stages in years past, the riders have lately been taking occasional unscheduled rest-day-within-a-race-day breaks. For example, in one of the recent, mostly sluggish stages, Tom Pidcock's power meter data showed that he was putting out less than 100 watts much of the time for several hours.
I actually did not notice that. It's still probably a game of what you can get away with and the testing might be better, but I could be wrong and humanity has suddenly had a boost in morality.
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Old 07-09-23, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil
Guess what? Me too. As a lifelong Montreal fan, we hated the Bruins, even more than we hated the Leafs. But who could hate Bobby? He was the guy who did the impossible. A defenseman who wins the scoring trophy? Along with being one of the best skaters and all over most graceful hockey players ever? Bobby only knew one way to play, all out and all in
One thing Bobby Orr did regularly and did so smoothly I never paid attention until years later watching re-runs - his U-turn short of the goal to shed the ubiquitous trailing forward who was banging his shin guards with his stick. Virtually every other defenseman would go around the net and skate up-ice with that forward still glued to him. Orr would shed him every time and start a 5 on 4 attack. Now that U-turn: a) how is a turn at that speed and that tight even possible? and b) what does that do to knees?

Like the young Louis Armstrong playing the high notes on his trumpet - higher, longer, more often and clearer than anyone else in the jazz world could do, knowing full well he was destroying his lip in the process.
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Old 07-18-23, 09:30 AM
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Watching today's TT. My suspicions are through the roof.
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