The order of the top three in the Tour did not get shuffled, but everyone is closer in time. This will probably not matter as Levi has already declared he will not challenge Evans for the number to spot and pull a “Vinokourov” on him. The reference to Vino is from two years ago when Alexandre Vinokourov took fifth place from Levi Leipheimer by sprinting for bonus times on the final day. This is a day that is usually considered an off day for overall GC contenders. The sprint seconds are really meant for the Green Jersey contenders.
Michael Rasmussen is still reeling from his firing from Team Rabobank. The 33 year old racer is back home giving interviews about his sudden sacking while leading the Tour. Whether he was doping or not, the missed tests and obfuscation of his whereabouts created enough concern from Rabobank management to sack the racer while leading the Tour. Rasmussen like any fired employee is in denial.
“I know very well that I was late with information about my whereabouts,” Rasmussen said in Friday’s edition of the Politiken newspaper. “For that I have been punished with a fine and warnings. But that it should lead to such drastic (measures) which have been taken, is out of all proportion.
“I have now had time to collect my thoughts and I can guarantee that I am not done as a rider.”
Unsurprisingly, He is bitter about the ordeal too.
“I was kicked out of the hotel like an animal,” Rasmussen told the Berlingske Tidende daily.
The real reason Michael Rasmussen was dumped from the Tour? According to The Daily Show not only was he suspected of doping, he was also smuggling plums.
One reassuring aspect of all of the latest doping related news is that the perception inside the peloton is changing. Cyclist are now angry at the dopers because they see sponsors going away and jobs being lost. Doping inside the peloton may be see as a reckless way to get ahead, with the doping racer risking not only his job, but that of the team and support staff.
So why dope? The issue has to do with money more than anything. In the high flying 90s when the miracles of EPO and other drugs were making pasty Italian guys fly up hills the sport was going a renaissance in Italy. More money and sponsors come in and expect results.
The Telekom guys such as Zabel and others said they had to dope to get results that the sponsor wanted.
If the whole field is doing something then in order to compete you must dope. To get a paycheck or keep your spot on a team you dope because otherwise the next guy who is doping will take your place.
Guys like Christian Moreni dope to survive another day and collect the next paycheck. When faced with the prospect of getting a real job vs. racing for a living it may be a no brainer.
Cycling is a target because there is no central control and it does not bring in enough money and have enough political connections like soccer does in Europe.
There is no powerful “players” union which would protect cyclist from various forms of doping tests. Could you imagine the NBA, NFL or Baseball having their players submit to regular out of competition tests? And have to tell some organization their exact whereabouts at all times?
It’s turning around now since sponsors are thinking twice about their commitment to the sport. Rabobank was weary of any doping related issues with Rasmussen which is probably why they decided to fire him. They did not want a Landis-style off season.
The testing process is flushing out the cheaters little by little. So now the incentive is to not cheat. If a racer is caught cheating he is basically putting his job and the entire team and supporters jobs on the line.
Teams like Slipstream, T-Mobile, CSC and others are putting testing processes in place so that their sponsors can be reassured that their racers are clean.
Its a tough process, but cycling is undergoing a baptism by fire to become a cleaner sport. Its something that other sports may face publicly in the future too. By that time us cycling fans will react with a “been there, done that” attitude.
With all of the stress both on and off the bike it seems like a great day to let a breakaway go for the win. Eight men moved clear of the peloton and gained a big lead that ended up with Daniele Bennati easily taking the win over the remaining three breakaway companions. Included in the break was Jens Voight who missed out on a win yet again.
The big news of the day was the lack of Yellow Jersey in the Peloton. With the sacking of Rasmussen for lies about his whereabouts during missed UCI drug tests, the Tour was missing its lead racer. Alberto Contador assumed the Yellow Jersey at the end of the stage, but he too is not squeaky clean as his name was mentioned in the Operation Puerto investigation. Contador is cleared at the moment, but his name is somewhat stained.
Active.com takes a quick look into the team buses. Team CSC looks clean and modern, Scandinavian style. Stuart O’Grady’s number is up as a homage to the hurt racer. Saunier Duval seems to have a mor eluxurious bus with a built in espresso machine, various sodas on tap and a swanky second level. By contrast the Predictor Lotto bus is utilitarian. The bathroom and shower areas look like someones utitlity basement. Maybe they glossed over the cool parts.
Team Rabobank has pulled Yellow Jersey wearer Michael Rasmussen out of the Tour de France. Rasmussen is also out of a job to boot. This was a result of violating team rules on the issue of his missed out of competition tests. Basically Rasmussen was lying to team management about his wearabouts saying that he was in Mexico while he was actually in Italy meeting with an unnamed doctor. Rabobank decided to pull the man from a sure Tour de France win and avoid a rash of post Tour controversy that would surround Rasmussen after the Tour.
The Stage 16 winner has not been a popular Yellow Jersey wearer. He was booed at the podium and on the course. When he signed in the announcer would stop talking. Basically Rasmussen was persona nongrata at the Tour which was trying to recover from the Landis fiasco of 2006. The last thing the Tour de France needs is another scandal related to the Tour winner.
With three doping related departures in three days, the Tour is reeling with talk of doping and cheaters. It is probably not much fun being a weary Tour de France racer seeing that the end in Paris is near, but wondering if the sport will continue in the same way after that. The sport will survive, but with fewer sponsors. Hopefully some sponsors can see that the tide may be turning. With these high profile scandals the sport may be getting cleaner. It is a risk, but from afar this sport must look like it is gutting itself.
Now the only thing to do is look forward to the finish of the Tour in Paris. The Tour is not finished as I thought earlier today when Rasmussen won and put more time on Alberto Contador. Now Contador will inherit the Yellow Jersey. He may not wear it in tomorrow’s stage. On Saturday’s Time Trial it will be a showdown between Contador, Evans and Leipheimer. The podium can be totally shaken up perhaps with Evans even winning the whole race. So, for fans its time to take solace. The race is still very much open and an unpopular winner has been yanked. There may be hope for the better I hope.
This is totally unbelievable. What is it with these people that makes them continue to do this shit? I do not understand what the motivation is to still dope after all that has happened. From the Festina affair to Floyd Landis and Ivan Basso. These guys have thick heads and do not really comprehend what is truly at stake. They are pretty luck to ride a fucking bike for a living and earn some extra wages instead of taking up a regular job in some cubicle. So when the sport that allows you to do all of this is teetering on the brink of collapse because of doping what do you do?
It is totally unbelievable, especially now that the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France is under suspicion. The sport cannot catch a break. T-Mobile is deciding whether or not to continue in the sport as are several other sponsors. Discovery Channel cannot find a replacement to continue the team, yet numb fuckheads like Vino still need the extra juice to get across the finish line first.
Its just unbelievable…
The Pyrenees stages of the Tour have whittled down the list of contenders for the 2007 Tour de France to two names. Michael Rasmussen is still in Yellow but has a relentless Contador ready to pounce into the lead. After yesterday’s well played out win on Plateau de Beille, Contador and Discovery Channel have a leader they feel could win the Tour de France. Contador has launched several blistering attacks to take out almost every rival except for Rasmussen.
Wow the Albi TT was nothing but surprises all around.
Rasmussen does not meltdown or lose time. In fact he catches and passes his three minute man Alejandro Valverde.
Alejandro Valverde put in a time around Alessandro Ballan’s whoo must have been riding simply to get through the TT and hunt for stage wins in transitional stages. Valverde stunk up the road.
Fabian Cancellara crashes and does not win.
Lots of racers crash incluing Kloden, Gusev and others.
Vino crushes everyone to put in a memorable performance to come back in the contention for a breif time.
Levi Leipheimer does alright.
Alberto Contador is a contender for the Yellow Jersey possibly.