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Bradley Wiggins under Twitter attack after references to 1990s and Paul Kimmage, while Mark Cavendish goes off the deep end in Belgium

Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins have both been in the spotlight after being asked their reactions to Lance Armstrong’s confession in doping to Oprah Winfrey, part one of which is due to be aired on Friday morning in the UK on, of all places, the Discovery Channel. It will also be streamed live.

Wiggins, speaking to Sky News from Team Sky’s training camp in Mallorca, Wiggins said that the team wasn’t too concerned because they were concentrating on the season ahead.

He went on: But you’ve seen the reaction to it the last few months and there’s a lot of angry people about that are taking their frustrations and venting their anger in all different directions.

“But they need that closure in their life because they've been battling for so long for this.

"It will be a great day for a lot of people and quite a sad day for the sport in some ways," he said of Armstrong’s reported confession.

"But I think it has been a sad couple of months for the sport in that sense,” he added. “The 90s are pretty much a write-off now."

While that decade had been blighted by doping with use of EPO widespread in the peloton well before the Festina scandal of 1998, Wiggins’ remarks provoked widespread criticism on Twitter.

Several users pointed out that the first of Armstrong’s seven Tour de France wins that he has now been stripped of only happened in the final year of the decade.

Wiggins himself has been elevated to third in the 2009 Tour de France after Armstrong was stripped of all results dating back to August 1998.

Twitter users also focused on comments that Wiggins made about Paul Kimmage, although his remarks about the Irish former pro cyclist turned journalist are not in an edited version of the interview posted to the Sky News website.

However, that segment was included in audio of the interview included in Irish radio station Newstalk.ie’s Off The Ball show.

Earlier this month, in an interview published in German on newspaper Frankurter Allgemeine's website, FAZ.net, Kimmage said: "I don't know anyone who could say that the last Tour de France was totally convincing. If you apply the same standards to Bradley Wiggins as to Lance Armstrong, there are alarming similarties."

He went on: "Look how their teams are dominant. There are four, five riders who ride very strongly for three weeks without a bad day. The question is, is that logical?'

Referring to that interview, Wiggins said yesterday: “We saw last week with Paul Kimmage with me and the team, he’s just eaten up with it, and I think to people like that it’s just going to mean a hell of a lot. What they do with their lives after he does admit it is anyone’s guess."

After playing the interview, the Irish radio show’s presenters criticised Wiggins for having singled out Kimmage and, in their words – not his, as has been said – describing him as “bitter.” They also said that given his status in the sport, Wiggins should be much more forthright about his views of Armstrong and should be hailing a great day for the sport.

“What it has to do with Paul Kimmage and how bitter Paul Kimmage is, is an eye-opener for me,” said one.

In a series of tweets today, Kimmage said: “Interesting that Bradley Wiggins is still following the Lance Armstrong blueprint for success:

"1 Ignore the message 2 Attack the messenger

“If I still had a job [he was made redundant by The Sunday Times a year ago tomorrow], I'd be camped outside the Sky training camp in Majorca and would not go away until Wiggins adressed the message... the hiring of Gert Leinders, and the sacking of four key members of staff since he won the Tour.

Kimmage concluded: “Oh, last thing Bradley, if you would like to address those issues in an interview, I'd be more than happy to sit down with you.”

Even before he won the Tour in July, Wiggins learnt that being favourite for the race meant that his performance would be scrutinised from all angles and that questions would be asked about how he achieved it.

That’s unsurprising given the history of some of the men who have stood on top of the podium over the last couple of decades.

Until he and Team Sky manage to satisfy some of their more vocal critics, the hard questions will continue to be asked – and Kimmage will be foremost among those who want to ask them.

Meanwhile Cavendish turned the air blue at the Omega Pharma-Quick Step presentation in Ghent last night when he was repeatedly asked his opinion regarding Lance Armstrong’s reported confession.

His frustration is perhaps understandable – he was there after all to be officially presented to the public alongside his new team mates including Tom Boonen – and it’s also one that won’t surprise seasoned Cav-watchers.

According to ITV Sport, the former world champion had in fact already replied to two questions put to him on the subject.

http://www.itv.com/news/2013-01-15/cyclist-mark-cavendishs-frustration-b...

“There's been reports that he's confessed to doping but I haven't seen any interviews yet, so until then I can't really comment," he said in reply to the first.

Then, when asked if he would be watching the interview, he explained he wouldn’t, since he’d be travelling to Argentina where he is riding the Tour de San Luis, which starts next week.

ITV Sport says Cavendish then took a member of team staff to task, saying, “Why was I left alone there with that guy asking about Lance? One of you should have been around then.”

Despite that, it seems no-one thought to forewarn reporters taking part in a subsequent round of interviews, and when he was again asked his opinion Cavendish, whose autobiography Boy Racer, carries the two word quote “Cool Kid” from Armstrong on the cover of the paperback version, really blew his stack.

"**** off, seriously **** off if you're asking about this," he is reported to have said, before asking one of the team’s staff, “Can you get him away please. Please get this guy away. He just wants to talk about Lance, **** off.”

[We have a hunch the words asterisked by ITV all started with 'F' - ed]

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

72 comments

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TheSpaniard [98 posts] 3 years ago
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I can't blame Cav, Wiggo etc for snapping at reporters who keep asking questions about a washed-up never-was, they've been getting it for months now.

No doubt some sections of the media with an agenda on this will accuse these riders of maintaining the omerta because they refuse to give the same answers to the same questions over and over again.

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AWPeleton [3325 posts] 3 years ago
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Wiggins has every right to criticise Kimmage, he has made a veiled comment that Sky must have cheated as the team did the same for Bradley as the teams did for Armstrong.

The man has gone way way down in my estimation. How can someone who was to be sued for defamation come out with "Interesting that Bradley Wiggins is still following the Lance Armstrong blueprint for success"  14

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LeDomestique [34 posts] 3 years ago
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The TdF and other top races will need to be transparently clean for five to ten years before reporters are likely to stop asking these questions. The appalling legacy of the sport is such that it's hard to 100 per cent believe anyone - even Sir Brad - when they say they don't dope. Cav and Brad will spend the rest of their sporting lives answering these questions and - unfortunately for them - they'll have to get used to it. Sounds like the Pharma Quickstep PR's need to get their backsides in gear too.

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philallan [14 posts] 3 years ago
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I can understand why the guys may get cheesed off, but like it or not, Brad and Cav are the two highest profile riders in the world now. That fame and cash brings a degree of responsbility and status that means they absolutely would and should, in my opinion, be asked about the highest profile ex-rider in the world.
Cav has a point though, what the fcuk are press officers doing sitting on their asres? They should be pro-actively working with their riders and team management to scotch the rumours and nip the whispers in the bud. Sky and Brailsford in particular must accept that PR works both ways, you can't now just bask in the glory without accepting the scrutiny. Sure, be as pssied off as you like that Lance still casts his ugly shadow over your achievements, but hey, deal with it.
As much as what Wiggo says (or ghost wrote) rings true and strong, we've kind of heard similar before and look where that's ended up. All us fans want is to believe in the guys we invest so much time, emotion - and money - on.
Getting the Kimmage seal of approval would, if I were doing the PR, be a priority. Paul is beyond reproach and a GC-standard pain in the arse, but convincing him, through total transparency, pretty much gives a team (and its star turns) a "kite mark" for probity - surely worth the hassle of having him around for a while, as Garmin did.

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BigDummy [314 posts] 3 years ago
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Not impressed with these guys today.

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Chuffy [201 posts] 3 years ago
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philallan wrote:

I can understand why the guys may get cheesed off, but like it or not, Brad and Cav are the two highest profile riders in the world now. That fame and cash brings a degree of responsbility and status that means they absolutely would and should, in my opinion, be asked about the highest profile ex-rider in the world.
Cav has a point though, what the fcuk are press officers doing sitting on their asres? They should be pro-actively working with their riders and team management to scotch the rumours and nip the whispers in the bud. Sky and Brailsford in particular must accept that PR works both ways, you can't now just bask in the glory without accepting the scrutiny. Sure, be as pssied off as you like that Lance still casts his ugly shadow over your achievements, but hey, deal with it.
As much as what Wiggo says (or ghost wrote) rings true and strong, we've kind of heard similar before and look where that's ended up. All us fans want is to believe in the guys we invest so much time, emotion - and money - on.
Getting the Kimmage seal of approval would, if I were doing the PR, be a priority. Paul is beyond reproach and a GC-standard pain in the arse, but convincing him, through total transparency, pretty much gives a team (and its star turns) a "kite mark" for probity - surely worth the hassle of having him around for a while, as Garmin did.

Yup. Wiggins just seems hellbent on saying the stupidest things. It doesn't inspire confidence. Kimmage has a lot of kudos, but you have to ask what he will be satisfied with, at what point will he be happy that things are better? Kimmage is the canary in the coalmine, but he's painted himself into a corner where pointing fingers and being cynical is all he can do. Teams should indeed be working to convince him, but he really is a chippy little git and I can understand why many riders dislike him, regardless of the state of their conscience.

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jollygoodvelo [1422 posts] 3 years ago
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Kimmage is right that the style of Wiggo's win was very much like US Postal. We all said it at the time.

But the substance is completely different. Simple power output analysis of la Planche des Belles Filles earlier this year showed that a rider giving the output that Lance, Pantani, Riis etc used to would have been minutes ahead of this year's riders.

Cav's reaction is daft though. I know he's always like that, but he has to realise it loses him fans?

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Johnty [4 posts] 3 years ago
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I find all of this really frustrating to read and digest, Team Sky and in particular Wiggo had a very good year last year culminating in a TDF victory and yet they are now having to justify winning!! from what I remember from watching last years (not just the ITV highlights) they played it right tactically they didn't win every stage or build an unassailable time margin, it was close right up to the last TT stage. I don't read of criticism of Peter Sagan for example a relative newcomer yet took a number of stage victories. Yes their is bad history in the sport yet it comes under such intense scrutiny while other sports get none at all. You never hear of anyone questioning how a football team can win x amount of trophies in a season which is played over 9 months and then they do it again the following year and so on yet 1 Team win a TDF and it's automatically assumed by a certain element that they must have cheated. I can understand Cav and Wiggos frustrations they are now assumed Guilty until proved innocent by some.

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Simmo72 [603 posts] 3 years ago
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Kimmage is like a witch hunter, if you drown you are innocent, if you float then burn the f****r. It reeks of bitterness. Why doesnt wiggins want to talk about it, coz hes sick of the subject thats why, he's pissed that his season was blighted by armstrong and the epo fall put. Anyway, how can you talk about it when the interview has not been aired. Time to let loose kimmage on another sport, I'm sure there is some drug use in football, send him on to sniff it out, he's going to feel empty now armstrong has fessed up.

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 3 years ago
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stumps wrote:

Wiggins has every right to criticise Kimmage, he has made a veiled comment that Sky must have cheated as the team did the same for Bradley as the teams did for Armstrong.

The man has gone way way down in my estimation. How can someone who was to be sued for defamation come out with "Interesting that Bradley Wiggins is still following the Lance Armstrong blueprint for success"  14

Yep, couldn't agree more. The comment was below the belt and given all the testing Wiggins will have had for the tour and the Olympics, it'd take some kind of magic for him to have been a doper. The same goes for Cavendish and the rest of the team. It was a stupid and offensive remark by Kimmage.

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paulfg42 [387 posts] 3 years ago
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Telling a reporter to f off loses Cavendish fans? I doubt it somehow. And Kimmage's innuendo deserves all the scorn it gets.

I'll believe Wiggins is clean until he starts making donations to the UCI.

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Brummmie [58 posts] 3 years ago
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Kimmage needs to get a grip before cycling fans like us decide that he's just bitter.
For goodness sake has he not seen the data comparison between Lance Tours and 2012's Tour where Brad won?
Totally out of order in my opinion.

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_SiD_ [162 posts] 3 years ago
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Have to say Sky/Brailsford more or less dug this hole.

You can't go around pronouncing you're team is squeaky from top to bottom, win the Tour and then hold a Show Trial where it transpires that most of your key back room staff, responsible for the win were dopers/facilitators.

Sky said they were 100% transparent. They clearly weren't and their reputation has been badly dented. It was their own doing. Can't blame Kimmage for simply pointing this out.

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koko56 [330 posts] 3 years ago
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It is interesting - yellow almost makes people blind. Though I doubt Kimmage is a fool and maybe that is what he's going for like philallan said. In the midst of all this Sagan has not even been mentioned and I actually forgot about him until johnty mentioned him! Whether I don't want to think that Sagan or anyone else winning doped I don't know, but I know that when I see someone winning I don't think "prolly doped", I think wow, got form.

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CraigS [129 posts] 3 years ago
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paulfg42 wrote:

Telling a reporter to f off loses Cavendish fans? I doubt it somehow. And Kimmage's innuendo deserves all the scorn it gets.

I'll believe Wiggins is clean until he starts making donations to the UCI.

Makes me prefer him, would rather see personality and emotion come through in interviews rather than the scripted corporate lines you get in F1.

I can completely understand he must be fed up, he's there being presented as a top rider for a new team and all they want to ask about is a doper from the past.

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Chuffy [201 posts] 3 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

Yep, couldn't agree more. The comment was below the belt and given all the testing Wiggins will have had for the tour and the Olympics, it'd take some kind of magic for him to have been a doper.

Try swapping the word Wiggins for Armstrong in that sentence. That argument has never held water and we know that 'never failed a test' does not mean 'must be clean'.

I don't agree with Kimmage on this btw, I think he's reaching a bit too far with his insinuations re: Sky - the numbers on the climbs suggest we're a long way from the bad old days, but Sky and Wiggins seem to be doing a grand job of making themselves look shifty and untrustworthy.

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colinth [191 posts] 3 years ago
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Kimmage is scratching around for something to do, his career is already on the slide and now that LA is old news he's got nothing to say worth listening to. Screaming unfounded allegations at Wiggins and then kindly offering to let him address them in an exclusive interview is sad and desperate. Seems like the only person in the sport who doesn't want to move on is kimmage.

Also, the point someone made earlier about him addressing doping in other sports is something I put to him on email. He's interviewed dozens of sportsmen but had never ever mentioned drugs in any interview other than with a cyclist

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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I think Kimmage should pull his copy of Moby Dick off the shelf and give it a read.

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stephen connor [39 posts] 3 years ago
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Unfortunately Sky as a team have shot themselves in the foot on a couple of occasions regarding transparency.
In 2010 they invited Kimmage to embed with the team during the Tour but Wiggins blocked it. Why? If you want to to prove your squeaky clean let the journalist in to see the setup. (www.bit.ly/Miakt6)
The hiring of various Directors Sportifs and doctors who where upto their neck's in doping. Leinders, Yates and Julich. Dave Brailsford knew their respective background's before hiring them, bad choice.
What about Michael Barry's signing, Landis linked him to doping previously.
Brailsford should not have set out his stall from the start as so high and mighty against doping and then hire these people. He basically played lip service to one of the main principles of the team's foundation

IMO Wiggins won the Tour clean with the aid of team orders (Froome was a lot stronger in the Mtns and could have lit the race up had he been free to do so). The bigger issue is that the team seemed to be utterly faultless everyday? I think that in a situation where a team is utterly dominant the whole team needs to be heavily scrutinised. At the end of the day a single rider doesn't win the tour without an extremely good team controlling it for him.

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ubercurmudgeon [169 posts] 3 years ago
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How come journalists aren't camping out outside the training camps and hijacking the team launches of other leading lights of the peloton, ones who had far greater connections with Lance, and doping convictions of their own? People like Olympic road champion, and eyebrowless wonder of the Kazakhstan steppes, Alexandre Vinokourov? Or former Lance team mate, and fellow Johan Bruyneel disciple, Alberto Contador? Or the human slug, Alejandro Valverde? Or Ivan "I only intended to dope" Basso, alleged friend and nearest challenger to Lance (i.e. the person with the second best doping programme in the mid-2000s.) The reason, I suspect, is that the journalists are hoping for the kind of reactions they got: peevish, annoyed, and after a decade of being in fear of Lance's wrath, over-cautious. Which makes good copy, especially for sports editors whose only interest in cycling is doping insinuations. Those other riders, on the other hand, will blow off the question, as they do questions regarding their own cases. A pity, as it would be interesting if they could get someone who was probably inspired to dope by Armstrong to talk openly about it (Ricco, maybe, after all he has nothing to lose.)

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bashthebox [751 posts] 3 years ago
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Sky's setup is a lot better than the other teams though. Other teams with the same money as Sky (Katusha, BMC) aren't as focused - look at the riders Sky had for the mountains, and look at the way they rode it. Reminiscent of Postal, perhaps, but only in the respect that they were incredibly well drilled and disciplined. Postal would have left them for dead in terms of speed.
I wonder why la Vuelta from last year is never talked about. The top three have either been convicted or strongly linked to doping in the past, and the attacks on the summit finishes were insane. Compared to Le Tour, it was daft. We had Wiggo plodding up the mountains in France, but in Spain attack after attack after attack by Bernie, Rodriguez and Valverde. That could have been a clean race too, for all we know, but to my eyes it was more suspicious. But it's not as high profile a target for bloggers and journos, is it?

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Simon_MacMichael [2450 posts] 3 years ago
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What would be interesting to see is how Sky would do against the Armstrong era USPS team.

You can't fault the tactics. Wiggins' best chance of the overall was always putting in storming ITTs and controlling the race in the mountains.

They'd ridden Paris-Nice, Romandie and the Dauphine as full-blown rehearsals, and in the Tour it showed.

Also needs to be acknowledged that the competition wasn't particularly strong last year, which played into Sky's hands.

No Contador, no Andy Schleck, Evans well below par, Nibali the only one really to have a proper go.

How would they have coped with Contador say at the top of his game? Could have taken big time in the mountains, wouldn't have lost much in the ITTs.

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AWPeleton [3325 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon, you can only beat whats in front of you and the Sky riders destroyed themselves to get rid of any challenge from other riders.

Contador at the top of his game ? rightly or wrongly there will always be doubts now about his ability after the steak incident.

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AWPeleton [3325 posts] 3 years ago
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Just looked at 2012 TdF results.

After Wiggins and Froome the next set of riders for Sky were:

Michael Rogers at 54:52
Richie Porte at 1:20:49
Edvald Boasson Hagen at 1:52:34.

They were all pushing hard throughout the mountain stages until they could push no more and dropped away as their overall times show. If they were all on drugs as insinuated by kimmage than their times should and would have been better.

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colinth [191 posts] 3 years ago
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Unfortunately Sky as a team have shot themselves in the foot on a couple of occasions regarding transparency.
In 2010 they invited Kimmage to embed with the team during the Tour but Wiggins blocked it. Why? If you want to to prove your squeaky clean let the journalist in to see the setup. (www.bit.ly/Miakt6)
quote]

Maybe because he wanted to concentrate on the race and not worry about kimmage sneering over his shoulder ? Kimmage is trying to set up a racket to save his career,"give me an exclusive or I'll call you a doper".

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_SiD_ [162 posts] 3 years ago
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This is Kimmage from 1999.
The man is consistent in the face of popular consensus.
I don't think he's pointing the finger at wiggins - more Brailsfords lack of transparency and double standards.
I don't see bitter - surely the mans doing his job.
Phil Ligget calls himself a journalist as well - I know who's opinion I trust more.

http://www.independent.ie/sport/reserving-the-right-to-applaud-403806.html

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stephen connor [39 posts] 3 years ago
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@Colinth
Sky should never have said yes to Kimmage's request to embed with the team and then said no. It just gives Paul Kimmage ammunition and an angle to start a discussion.

Regarding 2012 TDF results none of the team barring Froome where ever going to get too high on the GC. Its the fact that during the mountains it tended to be the same guys everyday, day after day being able to ride hard tempo for longer than any of the other teams and indeed alot of the GC contenders. I don't think that Sky's technical and performance staff can have that much more knowledge or a silver bullet which gives them such an edge over the other teams which is giving domestique's the ability to match and exceed performance of GC riders in the mtns.

Unfortunately having Gert Leinders as a doctor within the team and then terminating his employment within months of winning the tour is not the best PR. Never mind the other team members who have admitted to doping and as a result of admission have be proven liers. Can these people be trusted!

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pmr [197 posts] 3 years ago
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Wiggo seems pretty relaxed about the whole thing and keeping calm, I dont tink he's going to take the bait from this Kimmage muppett, and dont believe he has to.
Cav is just a legend, what a great quote "**** off, seriously **** off if you're asking about this," he is reported to have said, before asking one of the team’s staff, “Can you get him away please. Please get this guy away. He just wants to talk about Lance, **** off.”

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 3 years ago
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Chuffy wrote:
OldRidgeback wrote:

Yep, couldn't agree more. The comment was below the belt and given all the testing Wiggins will have had for the tour and the Olympics, it'd take some kind of magic for him to have been a doper.

Try swapping the word Wiggins for Armstrong in that sentence. That argument has never held water and we know that 'never failed a test' does not mean 'must be clean'.

I don't agree with Kimmage on this btw, I think he's reaching a bit too far with his insinuations re: Sky - the numbers on the climbs suggest we're a long way from the bad old days, but Sky and Wiggins seem to be doing a grand job of making themselves look shifty and untrustworthy.

I can totally understand why Wiggins is pissed off at Kimmage for making those snide remarks. I think I'd feel the same.

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_SiD_ [162 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:

Also needs to be acknowledged that the competition wasn't particularly strong last year, which played into Sky's hands.

I agree. It wasn't a great tour race-wise.
It was a 3 week team time trial in the same fashion of USPS in their 'prime', but looking at the times you have to admit that it's no where near as dominant, which does suggest a cleaner race.

With most of the top GC contenders out or out of form, it was Wiggin's best opportunity - he took it, fair play.

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