Friday, December 29, 2006

Now You See Him...Now You Don't

I always thought this business of Our Boy Lance and Bad Boy Floyd participating in the Leadville Trail 100
So now it turns out that Lance won't be there.
"Lance had a scheduling conflict come up and he regrettably cannot participate in the event," said mountain-bike race in Colorado next August was premature.Mark Higgins, the seven-time Tour de France champion's manager.
OBL's as-yet-to-be-stripped successor as Tour champion, Floyd Landis, also has expressed interest in racing the Leadville 100. But the event carries a NORBA sanction, which means Landis would not be able to compete should he be suspended for his positive testosterone test at the 2006 Tour.
The course starts at over 10,000 feet of elevation and peaks at 12,600 feet. Armstrong's longtime coach, Chris Carmichael, raced in the 2006 event and finished in 9 hours, 18 minutes.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Return of Paolo Savoldelli

Remember Paolo Savoldelli, who was rather unceremoniously discarded by the Discovery Channel team during their off-season house cleaning?
Savoldelli now rides for Astana, and he plans to ride in both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France next year.
"In 2007 I will focus on the Giro and Tour. The Giro is open and up for grabs and it will be better for my chances. At the Tour I will support Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden, but I will also have my own space.
"In 2005 I was at the side of Lance Armstrong, launching him to his seventh Tour victory, and I was successful in conquering the stage to Revel."
Savoldelli also won the Giro that year, his second title in that tour (his first triumph came in 2002).
It looks like Astana is shaping up to be a strong team as the pro cycling tour reshapes for 2007.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oscar The Grouch?

You gotta feel sorry for Oscar Pereiro.
Sometimes, even Oscar starts to feel sorry for himself over still be called the "virtual Tour de France winner."
It almost sounds like a video game.
Last July, the Caisse d'Epargne rider finished second in the Tour to Bad Boy Floyd Landis. However, BBFL tested positive after the 17th stage and ... well, you know the rest of the story.
"If the decision finally comes that I have won the race, then I prefer to know it today unstead of in some years so I can still enjoy my victory," the Spaniard told the Spanish sports paper Marca.
"Everybody gives me the feeling of having won the Tour de France, but I haven't and I am still ranked second."

Abt: 'An Extremely Bad Year'

How does Samuel Abt, the official cycling writer-favorite (next to Granny) of the Crankset, characterize the year in cycling?
Writes Abt in the International Herald Tribune:
"A bad year, an extremely bad year, nears its close for the sport of bicycle road racing, which, after a series of scandals and loose-lipped suspicions, has now acquired all the credibility of professional wrestling. The next season hints at no improvement."

'You Might As Well Win'

Our Boy Lance's former Director Sportif, Johan Bruyneel, has a website. On it, you can read the first chapter of his not-soon-to-be-published motivational book (Houghton Mifflin, Spring 2008), aptly named "You Might As Well Win."
On the site, you can read short columns by Bruyneel, news updates, and even book Johan for YOUR events.
What, you don't have events?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Why Do These Things Take Forever?

The American anti-doping agency USADA will announce its verdict in Bad Boy Floyd Landis' case in March 2007, Landis said during an interview with Belgian sportspaper Sportwereld.
"I want to be a cycling pro again. I don't know if this will be the case next season, or the year after. But in March I'll show to the world that nothing happened," said the 2006 Tour de France winner.
"And after that, I'll do anything in order to win the Tour a second time."
Anything?!
A lot of folks already think you did "anything" to win the Tour.
Watch those translations, Floyd.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

To Granny, Tooth and all our cycling friends!!!

Gift For The Season

"It gives readouts for speed, maximum speed, time, distance, cadence and number of dog turds you've run over."

It's Bad Boy Floyd and Valverde in 2006

In case you missed it, Bad Boy Floyd Landis was VeloNews magazines choice as the top North American rider of the year.
Making its 19th annual awards, the magazine's 2006 International Cyclist of the Year was Spain's Alejandro Valverde, the overall champion of the UCI ProTour.
"No category produced a more debatable outcome than top North American man," said VeloNews editor Kip Mikler. "Whatever the outcome of the yet-to-be-resolved charges that Landis used testosterone on stage 17 of the Tour, he outperformed his fellow Americans, including George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, throughout the rest of the season. Though the coverage wasn't always positive, Landis landed on five VeloNews covers in 2006, a Lance Armstrong-like achievement."
During the first five months of the 2006 racing season, Landis won the inaugural Amgen Tour of California, the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race in France, and the Ford Tour de Georgia prior to finishing the Tour de France in Paris wearing yellow.
How do you feel about the VeloNews choices?

Hincapie's Plans Spring Eternal

The Discovery Channel's sometimes forgotten George Hincapie will, once again, pursue the Spring Classics in 2007, according to CyclingNews.
"With Hincapie, we have a deal that he will going after the Classics again this year," said directeur sportif Dirk Demol. "In 2006, Hincapie focused on the Tour, which didn't work out. He was disillusioned with his performance and put aside his Tour plans again."
With the departure of Leif Hoste, Roger Hammond, Max van Heeswijk and Vjatcheslav Ekimov, Discovery has lost some of its panache for a successful pre-Tour de France Classics season.
"We are weakened for the Classics," Demol admits.
But Discovery still has Vladimir Gusev and Stijn Devolder in addition to Hincapie for the spring in Belgium and Northern France.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Comings and Goings

Erik Zabel, now 36, is one of the classy guys in pro cycling.
No one ever accuses him of doping.
Of course, he rarely wins anymore.
Zabel plans to races two more seasons, according to EuroSport.
"It's only two years until the 'long vacation'," the six-time Tour de France green jersey winner told the CyclingNews."I still enjoy the sport ... I would like to stay involved in cycling. But I have Plans A, B and C for the time after I stop riding. One of them has nothing at all to do with the sport."
Zabel plans to participate in the Tour de France and Vuelta.
On the other hand, Jan Ullrich, who is 33, would like to ride one more year. But it won't be on the pro tour.
"I have understood that there will not be a place for me on a ProTour team," Ullrich told French daily L'Equipe on Monday. "But I want to ride at least one more season."
Maybe on the W&OD Trail?
"I imagined winning the Tour de France this year and announcing my retirement the night of the arrival in Paris," Ullrich said. "Events upset my plans.
"So, I want to have another chance, and even with a Continental Pro team that would be able to allow me to ride a Grand Tour, like the Giro for example.
"I don't have any reason to be angry, but I just want to show certain people that they were wrong about me."

Still Not Sure About Floyd

Among the things I'm not really sure of (although it does appear that I've successfully converted to a new Blogger account and interface), I still wish I was convinced that Bad Boy Floyd Landis was a cheater -- or not.
Ever since this scandal inside a scandal that sidelined the two '06 Tour de France favorites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, then knocked out the apparent winner after a spectacular Stage 17 appearance, I just haven't known who or what to believe, who or what to care about. I'm not reading as much about the sport, not keeping up with this blog, not even riding as much as I did before the summer. I don't know that I can legitimately blame the latter on the scandals of the past year, but I do know that after several years of increasing enthusiasm for the sport, my interest has definitely peaked.
Will it return, rebuild, regenerate? It's still too early to tell. But I can feel Floyd's pain, that's for sure, when he says, "As things stand now, I don't see myself as a bike racer."
As of now, I don't seem myself as the cycling fan I once was.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Went to Spin Class...

and this guy ends up being my instructor for the day! YIKES! "Ahh, sir, excuse me sir, but this isn't supposed to be one of our intensity interval days..." Crazy thing is, some of those hardcore "spinners" probably fed the "Hope" his lunch (at this point in his off season training).

Tom Danielson leading a spin at a local Denver gym

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cranky, YES...Surly, You Bet!

Oude Granny was taught to never judge a book by its cover...but sometimes the cover just fits. Take for instance the case of former elite sprinter, Jarmila Kratochvílová (inset right) of the former Czechoslovakia. In a side-by-side comparison to her contemporaries, her, and what has been described as, "less than feminine features," certainly made her stand out and bring to question whether the sprinter was less than honest about performance enhancing drug use. Of course those were during the days where drug controls weren't the standard.

Now comes word that former elite cyclist, Tammy Thomas, wasn't so forthright is her BALCO testimonies. A picture says a thousand words...in this case it might say anabolic steroid use. Cranky...yuppers...Surly...as Burly as Surly gets!


For the full story, Velonews.com

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Weather Outside Is...

Well as of 12-11-06, it isn't really that frightful. But for us northeners, we all know its a comin'. For Oude Granny, the image that always pops into my mind when I see snow is Andy Hampsten muscling his way over the Passo Gavia, as a Velonews reader exclaimed..."My god...it would have paled in comparison to what the hard men of days gone by suffered through. When Hampsten rode over the Gavia to secure his 1988 Giro win in a blinding snowstorm, it was -4 Celsius. He was knocking snowballs from his hair for god's sake (and he had quite a head of hair!)"


On a lighter note: here's Andy, Bob Roll, and Ron Keifel (Team 7-Eleven) on a much different type of road machine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What Now...

An ethical stand to clean up the sport...or the equivalent to taking your ball home when you don't like the rules of the game? Whatever the case may be, one of the most internationally laden teams in the ProTour is now excluded from it. Oh, they still have their license, but what does that mean? You're part of the Pro tour, but you're really not? Go figure, its America's team, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling.

The why...because of Ivan Basso's signing. The question is, however, would there even be a Pro Tour if they excluded all the teams who had someone "implicated" in Operacion Puerto on their respective rosters?

For more, read on...Velonews.com

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Eyes...

"The real voyage of discovery comes not in seeking new vistas, but in having new eyes..." -Marcel Proust


Two years ago, Tyler Hamilton, asked us to simply BELIEVE. Maybe that charge was intended for his defense of doping charges, or maybe it was a charge to believe in the possibility(-ies); the possibility of humans erring, of erroneous tests that claim to be 100% full proof. But whatever way you've chosen to employ that charge, belief rarely belies reality. As they say, "the proof is in the pudding." Unfortunately for Oude Granny and the rest of cycling's fanbase, the pudding is a murking tapioca concoction. The LA Times article below is just another ingredient.

Cyclist blames 'flawed' test: Tyler Hamilton says the blood exam that labeled him a 'cheater' was rushed into use

By Michael A. Hiltzik, Times Staff Writer

To anti-doping officials, the case against Olympic and Tour de France cyclist Tyler Hamilton for an illicit blood transfusion ranks among their greatest victories: a sanction for "intentional cheating at its most sophisticated," in the words of Travis T. Tygart, general counsel to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

To others, including independent scientists who worked on Hamilton's defense, it underscores one of the most glaring flaws of the international anti-doping system - its reliance on scientific research performed hastily and on the cheap.

The novel blood test used to condemn Hamilton as a cheater and suspend him for two years was developed by researchers in Sydney, Australia, on a $50,000 USADA grant - that sum is a fraction of what's normally spent in medicine to develop and validate a diagnostic test.

"This test was not ready for prime time," says Carlo Brugnara, professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School.

Brugnara was a member of the peer-review committee that approved publication of an article outlining the test in 2003. However, he felt so strongly that it was prematurely implemented in Hamilton's case that he volunteered to testify at an arbitration hearing for the cyclist in 2005.

Hamilton, a native of Marblehead, Mass., was considered one of cycling's toughest and cleanest riders when he came under suspicion for blood doping shortly before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He went on to win the gold medal in the individual time trial.

At Athens, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee had introduced a new field test that had to be fast-tracked for the Games. Authorities feared a rash of prohibited blood transfusions among endurance athletes seeking a boost from extra oxygen-producing red blood cells.

At the Games, Hamilton's blood sample was declared negative, though "suspicious" for blood doping, by WADA's Athens laboratory.

A month later, he was tested again at the Vuelta d'Espana, a grueling Spanish race akin to the Tour de France. This time, authorities said the test - performed by WADA's lab in Lausanne, Switzerland - had identified a small concentration of foreign blood cells in his sample. He was charged with doping.

Richard W. Pound, the WADA chairman, trumpeted the results as vindication of suspicions in Athens. "We got him on the second bounce," he crowed.

On the surface, Hamilton's alleged violation made little sense. Athletes seeking a blood-doping boost almost certainly would transfuse from a stored supply of their own ? not only because it is nearly undetectable in doping tests but also because it carries no risk of illness or infection.

Indeed, use of another person's blood is so unlikely that one WADA scientist speculated that Hamilton must have done it accidentally. "The most likely scenario is that he meant to get his own blood but was given someone else's," says Michael Ashenden, a member of the Sydney team that developed the test.

Experts supporting Hamilton contend the concentration of purportedly foreign cells in his blood at Athens and the Vuelta was too low to have boosted his performance in those events and possibly too low to be accurately measured.

They say the test results indicate that if Hamilton transfused at all, it would have been more than two months before the Olympics, a wasted effort, because performance-enhancing effects would have worn off well before the Games.

"If someone was really doping, it would be really obvious," says David Nelson, professor of cell and molecular biology at the University of Rhode Island and a consultant on Hamilton's defense. "But these results were wacky."

Hamilton declined to comment for this article. On his website, he calls the tests "flawed and inaccurate" and says he "did not transfuse."

There is little dispute the test was rushed to implementation. Sydney researchers had published results from trials on only 58 blood samples using a process known as flow cytometry when WADA summoned them to teach the technique to scientists at the Athens Olympics.

For any diagnostic test to be used in medicine, regulatory agencies often require hundreds if not thousands of trials in a variety of clinical and field settings to demonstrate reproducible results under all conditions.

"It was appalling for me to see the low bar they set," said one of Hamilton's expert witnesses, Dr. V.K. Gadi, a blood specialist and oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. "The way the test was designed and implemented would never pass muster in any other regulatory situation."

During its first field application in Athens, the test encountered problems. The lab failed a proficiency test just before the Games, lab director Costas Georgakopoulos told The Times in an e-mail.

As a result, he said, he refused to certify Hamilton's sample as positive for blood doping, a decision that infuriated his blood-testing team. They considered the cyclist guilty.

With the lab's proficiency in question, Georgakopoulos said, "reporting positive cases would endanger the whole Olympic doping control program."

Meanwhile, on opening day of the Athens Games, Ashenden sent out a blistering e-mail complaining that the Lausanne lab was "not yet capable of performing the test to an acceptable standard."

He cited changes the lab had made in the test that might produce false positives.

Ashenden said in an interview that Lausanne had corrected all its flaws before it examined Hamilton's sample from the race in Spain.

"Lausanne was keen to rush through the test, perhaps prematurely," he said. "But it was only a matter of days before they started to get the results we wanted to see."

One scientist testifying at Hamilton's hearing contended that Australian researchers had not taken even rudimentary steps to determine how susceptible their test might be to false positives. David E. Housman, professor of biology at MIT, also told The Times in an e-mail: "This process wouldn't cut it in the world of testing for any medical condition."

Australian researchers had argued in published papers that false positives "do not appear to be a problem," without showing they had investigated the issue.

That seemed a "cavalier" dismissal to D. Michael Strong, chief operating officer of Puget Sound Blood Center, a Seattle blood bank, who testified for Hamilton.

"I don't know of a test that doesn't have false positives," he said in an interview. Common scientific standards require developers of diagnostic tests to identify and quantify the possible causes of false positives, Strong said.

At Hamilton's first appeal of sanctions, arbitrator Christopher L. Campbell issued a rare written dissent, citing "a number of bizarre and inappropriate occurrences" in the case.

For example, soon after the Athens Games, anti-doping authorities hand-picked an expert panel to reexamine Hamilton's Olympic sample. One member was a developer of the controversial blood test, an arrangement Campbell called a conflict of interest violating the "cardinal rules of drug testing."

The panel did declare Hamilton's Athens sample positive. However, because a confirmation sample already had been destroyed, the official negative finding stood and the cyclist retained his gold medal.

Based on tests from the Spanish race, however, Hamilton was suspended for two years.

Campbell, highly critical of the entire test validation process, said that the arbitrators' decision to accept the test despite its deficiencies "establishes a dreadful precedent."

Hamilton's suspension ended in September, and he has resumed racing.

As for the feared crisis in blood doping that led to the crash implementation of the test, WADA never found it. Only two athletes have ever been declared positive, Hamilton and a second cyclist who chose not to contest his sanction.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tink-y Tacky

Here's Tyler Hamilton in his new team togs.

OBL Plays The Basso Drum

The Discovery Channel team -- George, Ivan, Levi and the boys -- have been in Austin this week training for the 2007 season. And yes, Our Boy Lance has been going along for the ride(s).

So, here's OBL on Ivan Basso:

"I know that he [Basso] wants to win the Tour. I will make available my time and passion. He is very concentrated in this new challenge; I am not only speaking of the sporting aspects. The personality of Ivan will be able to add a lot to this group. We are all with him."

Signing Basso was the culmination of a long process for Lance and the team:

"It is not a secret that we have tried over the years to sign him. We have come close [to signing Basso] at least on three or four occasions. To have him in the team has been a dream for a long time; now it is a reality. ... I became aware of him in the 2002 Tour, when he won the white jersey for best young rider. I got to know him better in 2003, at the century edition of the Tour, and the idea to have him [in the team] was already there."

Why did Discovery sign Basso, despite his guilt by association with the Spanish doping probe?

"Cycling has always been a sport with lots of integral conflicts. Everyone believes they have a reason to talk bad about the others. The truth is that all of the big teams wanted Basso. Ivan was acquitted by CONI [Italian Olympic Committee] and his federation, and for us this was the green light. "The case is closed, it is missing the other elements. Basso is clean. There is a telephone call that was linked to him, but nothing concrete. And then he gave his availability to DNA testing. What more can he do?"

And OBL asks my question:

"The real questions is why was this boy was not allowed to race the [2006] Tour?"

Gearing Up For Climate Change

David Kroodsma and Bill Bradlee plan to set out on their "Ride for Climate USA: Global Warming and Action" tour on April 21, 2007.

Their mission:
to raise awareness of global warming while encouraging action and promoting solutions.

They will be giving presentations in various communities along the way. And these guys know what they're talking about. Kroodsma, who's currently riding solo from California to the southern tip of South America, received his master's degree at Stanford University studying climate change and, in particular, how carbon dioxide cycles through the biosphere. Bradlee earned his graduate degree in environmental studies from the Evergreen State College.

Say What?

What is it about Italian that just doesn't translate well?
According to Johaan Bruyneel's Discovery of the year, Ivan Basso, Oscar Periero is the "moral winner" of the 2006 Tour de France. The Spaniard finished second to Bad Boy Floyd Landis, who is accused doping following his incredible Stage 17 victory.

Says somebody translating Basso: "For me, Pereiro is the moral winner. But still I hope that everything expires good for both Landis and Pereiro. But that is impossible."

No wonder there is so much confusion in professional cycling!
And you would think that Oscar would get the occasional cycling magazine cover, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First Look At The 2007 Giro d'Italia

Are the grand tours too tough?
If the climbs, if not the distances, were more reasonable, would there be a lesser tendency to cheat?

Do these races ask too much physically of the cyclists?

Well, the 2007 Giro d'Italia isn't lightening up, according to a wonderful review on the VeloNews site by John Wilcockson. The Giro returns to the Tre Cime de Lavaredo for the first time since 1989 to conclude stage 15 on May 27, then visits Monte Zoncolan to finish May 30 three days later.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Wide Brush

Maybe somebody can help me out here.
Hans-Micheal Holczer
, Gerolsteiner's team manager, still has his doubts about Ivan Basso and his plans to participate in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2007 for the Discovery Channel team. "It's just not going to be as simple as it seems," he said over the weekend.

Here's what I don't quite understand. Just why did Basso, and Jan Ullrich for that matter, drop out just before the start of last year's Tour de France? Just what was it that they did or what was it that they were guilty of? I realize that their names surfaced during the Spanish doping scandal, but who found them guilty -- or at least any more guilty than other top cyclists? You can paint all professional cyclists with a wide brush, like my fellow Crank, Tooth, or you can demand more proof.

I'd still like to see more proof in individual cases.
Like Basso's case.
Like Ullrich's case.

What does Holczer know that he isn't telling us? Does it apply to his former rider, Levi Leipheimer, who now rides for Discovery?

"I don't really want to comment on Basso's statements and prospects. I continue to assume that no rider will be allowed to start in any ProTour race unless he has made a DNA test, as the team managers agreed in Salzburg," Holczer said about Basso's planned 2007 comeback.

There seems to be plenty of anti-Basso and Ullrich sentiment. Deutschland Tour manager Kai Rapp said: "Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme will also be rigorous." Yet even when the Tour is rigorous, as it was with Bad Boy Floyd Landis, there's still doubt.

So, show me the evidence if you're going to paint Basso, or Ullrich, with that wide brush.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Now You See Him...Now You Don't

I always thought this business of Our Boy Lance and Bad Boy Floyd participating in the Leadville Trail 100
So now it turns out that Lance won't be there.
"Lance had a scheduling conflict come up and he regrettably cannot participate in the event," said mountain-bike race in Colorado next August was premature.Mark Higgins, the seven-time Tour de France champion's manager.
OBL's as-yet-to-be-stripped successor as Tour champion, Floyd Landis, also has expressed interest in racing the Leadville 100. But the event carries a NORBA sanction, which means Landis would not be able to compete should he be suspended for his positive testosterone test at the 2006 Tour.
The course starts at over 10,000 feet of elevation and peaks at 12,600 feet. Armstrong's longtime coach, Chris Carmichael, raced in the 2006 event and finished in 9 hours, 18 minutes.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Return of Paolo Savoldelli

Remember Paolo Savoldelli, who was rather unceremoniously discarded by the Discovery Channel team during their off-season house cleaning?
Savoldelli now rides for Astana, and he plans to ride in both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France next year.
"In 2007 I will focus on the Giro and Tour. The Giro is open and up for grabs and it will be better for my chances. At the Tour I will support Alexandre Vinokourov and Andreas Kloden, but I will also have my own space.
"In 2005 I was at the side of Lance Armstrong, launching him to his seventh Tour victory, and I was successful in conquering the stage to Revel."
Savoldelli also won the Giro that year, his second title in that tour (his first triumph came in 2002).
It looks like Astana is shaping up to be a strong team as the pro cycling tour reshapes for 2007.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oscar The Grouch?

You gotta feel sorry for Oscar Pereiro.
Sometimes, even Oscar starts to feel sorry for himself over still be called the "virtual Tour de France winner."
It almost sounds like a video game.
Last July, the Caisse d'Epargne rider finished second in the Tour to Bad Boy Floyd Landis. However, BBFL tested positive after the 17th stage and ... well, you know the rest of the story.
"If the decision finally comes that I have won the race, then I prefer to know it today unstead of in some years so I can still enjoy my victory," the Spaniard told the Spanish sports paper Marca.
"Everybody gives me the feeling of having won the Tour de France, but I haven't and I am still ranked second."

Abt: 'An Extremely Bad Year'

How does Samuel Abt, the official cycling writer-favorite (next to Granny) of the Crankset, characterize the year in cycling?
Writes Abt in the International Herald Tribune:
"A bad year, an extremely bad year, nears its close for the sport of bicycle road racing, which, after a series of scandals and loose-lipped suspicions, has now acquired all the credibility of professional wrestling. The next season hints at no improvement."

'You Might As Well Win'

Our Boy Lance's former Director Sportif, Johan Bruyneel, has a website. On it, you can read the first chapter of his not-soon-to-be-published motivational book (Houghton Mifflin, Spring 2008), aptly named "You Might As Well Win."
On the site, you can read short columns by Bruyneel, news updates, and even book Johan for YOUR events.
What, you don't have events?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Why Do These Things Take Forever?

The American anti-doping agency USADA will announce its verdict in Bad Boy Floyd Landis' case in March 2007, Landis said during an interview with Belgian sportspaper Sportwereld.
"I want to be a cycling pro again. I don't know if this will be the case next season, or the year after. But in March I'll show to the world that nothing happened," said the 2006 Tour de France winner.
"And after that, I'll do anything in order to win the Tour a second time."
Anything?!
A lot of folks already think you did "anything" to win the Tour.
Watch those translations, Floyd.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays!

To Granny, Tooth and all our cycling friends!!!

Gift For The Season

"It gives readouts for speed, maximum speed, time, distance, cadence and number of dog turds you've run over."

It's Bad Boy Floyd and Valverde in 2006

In case you missed it, Bad Boy Floyd Landis was VeloNews magazines choice as the top North American rider of the year.
Making its 19th annual awards, the magazine's 2006 International Cyclist of the Year was Spain's Alejandro Valverde, the overall champion of the UCI ProTour.
"No category produced a more debatable outcome than top North American man," said VeloNews editor Kip Mikler. "Whatever the outcome of the yet-to-be-resolved charges that Landis used testosterone on stage 17 of the Tour, he outperformed his fellow Americans, including George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, throughout the rest of the season. Though the coverage wasn't always positive, Landis landed on five VeloNews covers in 2006, a Lance Armstrong-like achievement."
During the first five months of the 2006 racing season, Landis won the inaugural Amgen Tour of California, the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race in France, and the Ford Tour de Georgia prior to finishing the Tour de France in Paris wearing yellow.
How do you feel about the VeloNews choices?

Hincapie's Plans Spring Eternal

The Discovery Channel's sometimes forgotten George Hincapie will, once again, pursue the Spring Classics in 2007, according to CyclingNews.
"With Hincapie, we have a deal that he will going after the Classics again this year," said directeur sportif Dirk Demol. "In 2006, Hincapie focused on the Tour, which didn't work out. He was disillusioned with his performance and put aside his Tour plans again."
With the departure of Leif Hoste, Roger Hammond, Max van Heeswijk and Vjatcheslav Ekimov, Discovery has lost some of its panache for a successful pre-Tour de France Classics season.
"We are weakened for the Classics," Demol admits.
But Discovery still has Vladimir Gusev and Stijn Devolder in addition to Hincapie for the spring in Belgium and Northern France.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Comings and Goings

Erik Zabel, now 36, is one of the classy guys in pro cycling.
No one ever accuses him of doping.
Of course, he rarely wins anymore.
Zabel plans to races two more seasons, according to EuroSport.
"It's only two years until the 'long vacation'," the six-time Tour de France green jersey winner told the CyclingNews."I still enjoy the sport ... I would like to stay involved in cycling. But I have Plans A, B and C for the time after I stop riding. One of them has nothing at all to do with the sport."
Zabel plans to participate in the Tour de France and Vuelta.
On the other hand, Jan Ullrich, who is 33, would like to ride one more year. But it won't be on the pro tour.
"I have understood that there will not be a place for me on a ProTour team," Ullrich told French daily L'Equipe on Monday. "But I want to ride at least one more season."
Maybe on the W&OD Trail?
"I imagined winning the Tour de France this year and announcing my retirement the night of the arrival in Paris," Ullrich said. "Events upset my plans.
"So, I want to have another chance, and even with a Continental Pro team that would be able to allow me to ride a Grand Tour, like the Giro for example.
"I don't have any reason to be angry, but I just want to show certain people that they were wrong about me."

Still Not Sure About Floyd

Among the things I'm not really sure of (although it does appear that I've successfully converted to a new Blogger account and interface), I still wish I was convinced that Bad Boy Floyd Landis was a cheater -- or not.
Ever since this scandal inside a scandal that sidelined the two '06 Tour de France favorites, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, then knocked out the apparent winner after a spectacular Stage 17 appearance, I just haven't known who or what to believe, who or what to care about. I'm not reading as much about the sport, not keeping up with this blog, not even riding as much as I did before the summer. I don't know that I can legitimately blame the latter on the scandals of the past year, but I do know that after several years of increasing enthusiasm for the sport, my interest has definitely peaked.
Will it return, rebuild, regenerate? It's still too early to tell. But I can feel Floyd's pain, that's for sure, when he says, "As things stand now, I don't see myself as a bike racer."
As of now, I don't seem myself as the cycling fan I once was.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Went to Spin Class...

and this guy ends up being my instructor for the day! YIKES! "Ahh, sir, excuse me sir, but this isn't supposed to be one of our intensity interval days..." Crazy thing is, some of those hardcore "spinners" probably fed the "Hope" his lunch (at this point in his off season training).

Tom Danielson leading a spin at a local Denver gym

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cranky, YES...Surly, You Bet!

Oude Granny was taught to never judge a book by its cover...but sometimes the cover just fits. Take for instance the case of former elite sprinter, Jarmila Kratochvílová (inset right) of the former Czechoslovakia. In a side-by-side comparison to her contemporaries, her, and what has been described as, "less than feminine features," certainly made her stand out and bring to question whether the sprinter was less than honest about performance enhancing drug use. Of course those were during the days where drug controls weren't the standard.

Now comes word that former elite cyclist, Tammy Thomas, wasn't so forthright is her BALCO testimonies. A picture says a thousand words...in this case it might say anabolic steroid use. Cranky...yuppers...Surly...as Burly as Surly gets!


For the full story, Velonews.com

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Weather Outside Is...

Well as of 12-11-06, it isn't really that frightful. But for us northeners, we all know its a comin'. For Oude Granny, the image that always pops into my mind when I see snow is Andy Hampsten muscling his way over the Passo Gavia, as a Velonews reader exclaimed..."My god...it would have paled in comparison to what the hard men of days gone by suffered through. When Hampsten rode over the Gavia to secure his 1988 Giro win in a blinding snowstorm, it was -4 Celsius. He was knocking snowballs from his hair for god's sake (and he had quite a head of hair!)"


On a lighter note: here's Andy, Bob Roll, and Ron Keifel (Team 7-Eleven) on a much different type of road machine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What Now...

An ethical stand to clean up the sport...or the equivalent to taking your ball home when you don't like the rules of the game? Whatever the case may be, one of the most internationally laden teams in the ProTour is now excluded from it. Oh, they still have their license, but what does that mean? You're part of the Pro tour, but you're really not? Go figure, its America's team, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling.

The why...because of Ivan Basso's signing. The question is, however, would there even be a Pro Tour if they excluded all the teams who had someone "implicated" in Operacion Puerto on their respective rosters?

For more, read on...Velonews.com

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Eyes...

"The real voyage of discovery comes not in seeking new vistas, but in having new eyes..." -Marcel Proust


Two years ago, Tyler Hamilton, asked us to simply BELIEVE. Maybe that charge was intended for his defense of doping charges, or maybe it was a charge to believe in the possibility(-ies); the possibility of humans erring, of erroneous tests that claim to be 100% full proof. But whatever way you've chosen to employ that charge, belief rarely belies reality. As they say, "the proof is in the pudding." Unfortunately for Oude Granny and the rest of cycling's fanbase, the pudding is a murking tapioca concoction. The LA Times article below is just another ingredient.

Cyclist blames 'flawed' test: Tyler Hamilton says the blood exam that labeled him a 'cheater' was rushed into use

By Michael A. Hiltzik, Times Staff Writer

To anti-doping officials, the case against Olympic and Tour de France cyclist Tyler Hamilton for an illicit blood transfusion ranks among their greatest victories: a sanction for "intentional cheating at its most sophisticated," in the words of Travis T. Tygart, general counsel to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

To others, including independent scientists who worked on Hamilton's defense, it underscores one of the most glaring flaws of the international anti-doping system - its reliance on scientific research performed hastily and on the cheap.

The novel blood test used to condemn Hamilton as a cheater and suspend him for two years was developed by researchers in Sydney, Australia, on a $50,000 USADA grant - that sum is a fraction of what's normally spent in medicine to develop and validate a diagnostic test.

"This test was not ready for prime time," says Carlo Brugnara, professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School.

Brugnara was a member of the peer-review committee that approved publication of an article outlining the test in 2003. However, he felt so strongly that it was prematurely implemented in Hamilton's case that he volunteered to testify at an arbitration hearing for the cyclist in 2005.

Hamilton, a native of Marblehead, Mass., was considered one of cycling's toughest and cleanest riders when he came under suspicion for blood doping shortly before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. He went on to win the gold medal in the individual time trial.

At Athens, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee had introduced a new field test that had to be fast-tracked for the Games. Authorities feared a rash of prohibited blood transfusions among endurance athletes seeking a boost from extra oxygen-producing red blood cells.

At the Games, Hamilton's blood sample was declared negative, though "suspicious" for blood doping, by WADA's Athens laboratory.

A month later, he was tested again at the Vuelta d'Espana, a grueling Spanish race akin to the Tour de France. This time, authorities said the test - performed by WADA's lab in Lausanne, Switzerland - had identified a small concentration of foreign blood cells in his sample. He was charged with doping.

Richard W. Pound, the WADA chairman, trumpeted the results as vindication of suspicions in Athens. "We got him on the second bounce," he crowed.

On the surface, Hamilton's alleged violation made little sense. Athletes seeking a blood-doping boost almost certainly would transfuse from a stored supply of their own ? not only because it is nearly undetectable in doping tests but also because it carries no risk of illness or infection.

Indeed, use of another person's blood is so unlikely that one WADA scientist speculated that Hamilton must have done it accidentally. "The most likely scenario is that he meant to get his own blood but was given someone else's," says Michael Ashenden, a member of the Sydney team that developed the test.

Experts supporting Hamilton contend the concentration of purportedly foreign cells in his blood at Athens and the Vuelta was too low to have boosted his performance in those events and possibly too low to be accurately measured.

They say the test results indicate that if Hamilton transfused at all, it would have been more than two months before the Olympics, a wasted effort, because performance-enhancing effects would have worn off well before the Games.

"If someone was really doping, it would be really obvious," says David Nelson, professor of cell and molecular biology at the University of Rhode Island and a consultant on Hamilton's defense. "But these results were wacky."

Hamilton declined to comment for this article. On his website, he calls the tests "flawed and inaccurate" and says he "did not transfuse."

There is little dispute the test was rushed to implementation. Sydney researchers had published results from trials on only 58 blood samples using a process known as flow cytometry when WADA summoned them to teach the technique to scientists at the Athens Olympics.

For any diagnostic test to be used in medicine, regulatory agencies often require hundreds if not thousands of trials in a variety of clinical and field settings to demonstrate reproducible results under all conditions.

"It was appalling for me to see the low bar they set," said one of Hamilton's expert witnesses, Dr. V.K. Gadi, a blood specialist and oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. "The way the test was designed and implemented would never pass muster in any other regulatory situation."

During its first field application in Athens, the test encountered problems. The lab failed a proficiency test just before the Games, lab director Costas Georgakopoulos told The Times in an e-mail.

As a result, he said, he refused to certify Hamilton's sample as positive for blood doping, a decision that infuriated his blood-testing team. They considered the cyclist guilty.

With the lab's proficiency in question, Georgakopoulos said, "reporting positive cases would endanger the whole Olympic doping control program."

Meanwhile, on opening day of the Athens Games, Ashenden sent out a blistering e-mail complaining that the Lausanne lab was "not yet capable of performing the test to an acceptable standard."

He cited changes the lab had made in the test that might produce false positives.

Ashenden said in an interview that Lausanne had corrected all its flaws before it examined Hamilton's sample from the race in Spain.

"Lausanne was keen to rush through the test, perhaps prematurely," he said. "But it was only a matter of days before they started to get the results we wanted to see."

One scientist testifying at Hamilton's hearing contended that Australian researchers had not taken even rudimentary steps to determine how susceptible their test might be to false positives. David E. Housman, professor of biology at MIT, also told The Times in an e-mail: "This process wouldn't cut it in the world of testing for any medical condition."

Australian researchers had argued in published papers that false positives "do not appear to be a problem," without showing they had investigated the issue.

That seemed a "cavalier" dismissal to D. Michael Strong, chief operating officer of Puget Sound Blood Center, a Seattle blood bank, who testified for Hamilton.

"I don't know of a test that doesn't have false positives," he said in an interview. Common scientific standards require developers of diagnostic tests to identify and quantify the possible causes of false positives, Strong said.

At Hamilton's first appeal of sanctions, arbitrator Christopher L. Campbell issued a rare written dissent, citing "a number of bizarre and inappropriate occurrences" in the case.

For example, soon after the Athens Games, anti-doping authorities hand-picked an expert panel to reexamine Hamilton's Olympic sample. One member was a developer of the controversial blood test, an arrangement Campbell called a conflict of interest violating the "cardinal rules of drug testing."

The panel did declare Hamilton's Athens sample positive. However, because a confirmation sample already had been destroyed, the official negative finding stood and the cyclist retained his gold medal.

Based on tests from the Spanish race, however, Hamilton was suspended for two years.

Campbell, highly critical of the entire test validation process, said that the arbitrators' decision to accept the test despite its deficiencies "establishes a dreadful precedent."

Hamilton's suspension ended in September, and he has resumed racing.

As for the feared crisis in blood doping that led to the crash implementation of the test, WADA never found it. Only two athletes have ever been declared positive, Hamilton and a second cyclist who chose not to contest his sanction.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tink-y Tacky

Here's Tyler Hamilton in his new team togs.

OBL Plays The Basso Drum

The Discovery Channel team -- George, Ivan, Levi and the boys -- have been in Austin this week training for the 2007 season. And yes, Our Boy Lance has been going along for the ride(s).

So, here's OBL on Ivan Basso:

"I know that he [Basso] wants to win the Tour. I will make available my time and passion. He is very concentrated in this new challenge; I am not only speaking of the sporting aspects. The personality of Ivan will be able to add a lot to this group. We are all with him."

Signing Basso was the culmination of a long process for Lance and the team:

"It is not a secret that we have tried over the years to sign him. We have come close [to signing Basso] at least on three or four occasions. To have him in the team has been a dream for a long time; now it is a reality. ... I became aware of him in the 2002 Tour, when he won the white jersey for best young rider. I got to know him better in 2003, at the century edition of the Tour, and the idea to have him [in the team] was already there."

Why did Discovery sign Basso, despite his guilt by association with the Spanish doping probe?

"Cycling has always been a sport with lots of integral conflicts. Everyone believes they have a reason to talk bad about the others. The truth is that all of the big teams wanted Basso. Ivan was acquitted by CONI [Italian Olympic Committee] and his federation, and for us this was the green light. "The case is closed, it is missing the other elements. Basso is clean. There is a telephone call that was linked to him, but nothing concrete. And then he gave his availability to DNA testing. What more can he do?"

And OBL asks my question:

"The real questions is why was this boy was not allowed to race the [2006] Tour?"

Gearing Up For Climate Change

David Kroodsma and Bill Bradlee plan to set out on their "Ride for Climate USA: Global Warming and Action" tour on April 21, 2007.

Their mission:
to raise awareness of global warming while encouraging action and promoting solutions.

They will be giving presentations in various communities along the way. And these guys know what they're talking about. Kroodsma, who's currently riding solo from California to the southern tip of South America, received his master's degree at Stanford University studying climate change and, in particular, how carbon dioxide cycles through the biosphere. Bradlee earned his graduate degree in environmental studies from the Evergreen State College.

Say What?

What is it about Italian that just doesn't translate well?
According to Johaan Bruyneel's Discovery of the year, Ivan Basso, Oscar Periero is the "moral winner" of the 2006 Tour de France. The Spaniard finished second to Bad Boy Floyd Landis, who is accused doping following his incredible Stage 17 victory.

Says somebody translating Basso: "For me, Pereiro is the moral winner. But still I hope that everything expires good for both Landis and Pereiro. But that is impossible."

No wonder there is so much confusion in professional cycling!
And you would think that Oscar would get the occasional cycling magazine cover, wouldn't you?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

First Look At The 2007 Giro d'Italia

Are the grand tours too tough?
If the climbs, if not the distances, were more reasonable, would there be a lesser tendency to cheat?

Do these races ask too much physically of the cyclists?

Well, the 2007 Giro d'Italia isn't lightening up, according to a wonderful review on the VeloNews site by John Wilcockson. The Giro returns to the Tre Cime de Lavaredo for the first time since 1989 to conclude stage 15 on May 27, then visits Monte Zoncolan to finish May 30 three days later.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Wide Brush

Maybe somebody can help me out here.
Hans-Micheal Holczer
, Gerolsteiner's team manager, still has his doubts about Ivan Basso and his plans to participate in the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France in 2007 for the Discovery Channel team. "It's just not going to be as simple as it seems," he said over the weekend.

Here's what I don't quite understand. Just why did Basso, and Jan Ullrich for that matter, drop out just before the start of last year's Tour de France? Just what was it that they did or what was it that they were guilty of? I realize that their names surfaced during the Spanish doping scandal, but who found them guilty -- or at least any more guilty than other top cyclists? You can paint all professional cyclists with a wide brush, like my fellow Crank, Tooth, or you can demand more proof.

I'd still like to see more proof in individual cases.
Like Basso's case.
Like Ullrich's case.

What does Holczer know that he isn't telling us? Does it apply to his former rider, Levi Leipheimer, who now rides for Discovery?

"I don't really want to comment on Basso's statements and prospects. I continue to assume that no rider will be allowed to start in any ProTour race unless he has made a DNA test, as the team managers agreed in Salzburg," Holczer said about Basso's planned 2007 comeback.

There seems to be plenty of anti-Basso and Ullrich sentiment. Deutschland Tour manager Kai Rapp said: "Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme will also be rigorous." Yet even when the Tour is rigorous, as it was with Bad Boy Floyd Landis, there's still doubt.

So, show me the evidence if you're going to paint Basso, or Ullrich, with that wide brush.