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“Team Sky rode a perfect race,” says Garmin captain.

Garmin-Sharp rider and reformed doper David Millar has sprung to the defence of Tour de France leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) after Froome was asked questions about doping when he took the race lead Saturday.

After Saturday’s stage where he set the third-fastest time ever on the climb of Ax 3 Domaines, Froome was asked to confirm that his win was clean.

“100 per cent,” he said. “I think it’s normal that people ask questions in cycling given the history of the sport.”

Team Garmin-Sharp captain David Millar, who served a suspension in 2004 for doping and has since become a passionate advocate for clean cycling, later took to Twitter in support of Froome and Team Sky.

“Team Sky rode a perfect race, and for the record, I believe they are clean and deserve respect and admiration for it,” said Millar. “I don’t think they deserve to have mud thrown at them when they work so hard to do it right. It doesn’t seem fair.”

At Saturday’s post-race pres conference, Froome said: “I know the sport has changed. There’s absolutely no way I’d be able to get these results if the sport had not changed.

“For me it is a bit of a personal mission to show that the sport has changed. I certainly know that the results I get are not going to be stripped 10, 20 years down the line. That’s not going to happen.

“Anyone who actually spends a bit of time with the team, with us... see that this is months and months of preparation - going to these training camps in altitude all together, the support off the bike from the sport staff, from my fiancée, this is so much preparation that it’s not ‘wow’, it does add up.”

Froome’s fiancée Michelle Cound took to Twitter in support of her man: “Could I stand by, claiming how proud I am, supporting & cheering Chris all the way if there was even a possibility he was doping?  Hell no!”

Millar expanded his defence of Froome and Sky before Sunday’s stage. “We as a team at Garmin have been flag bearers for clean cycling,” he said. “We want to try to prove to the public and media that it is possible to perform at the biggest races clean. We love the sport so I will occasionally step in and defend someone who I think is being treated unfairly. Chris has dedicated his life to racing, he does everything right but Sky perhaps don’t defend themselves as well as they could. So I stepped in and did it.”

Team Sky looked far less superhuman on Sunday, and team manager Sir David Brailsford took the opportunity to defend his riders. “That's what we keep trying to tell everybody. People don't want to believe it. Maybe they will after today. The bigger picture may not be such a bad thing.”

Brailsford has been criticised for not publishing his rider’s power data. He told VeloNews that there was no point releasing data few people can interpret. “There is so much pseudoscience out there right now. If you release the data, there are very few people who can properly interpret and understand that data. All you’re going to do is create is a lot of noise for people who are pseudoscientists. You can even write magazines about it. They’re so wide of the mark in what they’re doing, it’s quite scary. You can do anything with stats. You can use that with a cynical view.”

Publishing the data also gives away the team’s competitive advantage, Brailsford said, and Millar agreed.

“If we had their numbers, we would be copying their training files and we'd know what to do to beat them," Millar said. "It's better for them to remain slightly enigmatic. If you have a recipe which obviously works, why would give away that recipe?

“I think transparency, as regards numbers, is very debatable. We’re a competitive, professional sport. It’s one thing satisfying the sceptics but at the same time you have to be professional, wanting to win races. It’s a tightrope Sky are walking, trying to be transparent but also keeping their training secrets.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

50 comments

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georgee [170 posts] 3 years ago
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Anyone know where I can place money on Movistar to have a rider caught this tour?

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Decster [246 posts] 3 years ago
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Saint Millar, how can you defend a guy who beats riders proven to have doped on the same climb? This sport is never gonna learn, especially not with pathetic apologists like Millar stating rubbish like this!

Even Vaughter's couldn't defend Froome and his reply when asked abotu Froome's win was 'I dont know.

Froome a guy who was so bad before the Vuelta'11 Sky were going to let him go then bang, miracle 2nd place and now on his way to a TdF victory.

In this sport that only means one thing.

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Welsh boy [316 posts] 3 years ago
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Sorry Decster, it could also mean that he went away, thought about his weaknesses, worked hard on them and came back better. Agreed, it could mean doping but i dont think so in this instance.

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mr-88 [4 posts] 3 years ago
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Decster wrote:

Saint Millar, how can you defend a guy who beats riders proven to have doped on the same climb? This sport is never gonna learn, especially not with pathetic apologists like Millar stating rubbish like this!

Even Vaughter's couldn't defend Froome and his reply when asked abotu Froome's win was 'I dont know.

Froome a guy who was so bad before the Vuelta'11 Sky were going to let him go then bang, miracle 2nd place and now on his way to a TdF victory.

In this sport that only means one thing.

If you want to think so negatively about the sport and what some teams are doing, why follow it ? Froome was second in the TDF last year and wasn't bad in the Vuelta. Froome like the Moviestar rider in stage 8 of this TDF is a very good climber (their place of birth backs that).

The following saying is perfect for some TDF/Cycling fans emotions towards Team Sky, "If you want to make enemies, try to change something".

Team Sky just did good planning and then perfect execution, you can't knock them for that.

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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The status quo continues it seems.

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zanf [869 posts] 3 years ago
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mr-88 wrote:
Decster wrote:

Froome a guy who was so bad before the Vuelta'11 Sky were going to let him go then bang, miracle 2nd place and now on his way to a TdF victory.

In this sport that only means one thing.

If you want to think so negatively about the sport and what some teams are doing, why follow it ? Froome was second in the TDF last year and wasn't bad in the Vuelta. Froome like the Moviestar rider in stage 8 of this TDF is a very good climber (their place of birth backs that).

The following saying is perfect for some TDF/Cycling fans emotions towards Team Sky, "If you want to make enemies, try to change something".

Team Sky just did good planning and then perfect execution, you can't knock them for that.

Froomes record shows someone getting progressively better. Not, as Decster would suggest, someone who suddenly explodes onto the scene from nowhere, indicative of artificially enhanced performance.

If the Sky team were doping then they (Porte, in particular) would have been able to keep with the main group on the climbs yesterday, instead of dropping back after giving it their all the previous day.

I think with people like Decster, they will always bleat away.

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Stumps [3414 posts] 3 years ago
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those "same riders who doped" had to dope to get where they were. Without it they are also rans.

But hey ho thats life and unfortunatley it will never be proven one way or the other.

In sports you do get people who are naturally gifted and dont need drugs to compete at the highest level, Messi, Ronaldo in football, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah so why not Froome in cycling, and what about Evans winning at the age of 34 ? no spurious comments against him despite taking the same early season route as Froome in winning the tour in 2011

Its because of cyclings past discrections that people cant accept this and look beyond blatant ignorance of the fact. No doubt people will disagree but to be honest i'm not really bothered about other peoples views, they are entitled to them though and that should not change.

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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The delusion continues

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Colin Peyresourde [1773 posts] 3 years ago
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stumps wrote:

In sports you do get people who are naturally gifted and dont need drugs to compete at the highest level, Messi, Ronaldo in football, Usain Bolt, Mo Farah so why not Froome in cycling, and what about Evans winning at the age of 34 ?

I would not be tempted to hold out any name of our current sporting heroes as non-dopers, even those of a skills based bias. After all the suggestion is that either Real or Barcelona have strong links with Fuentes. I would also not look at Bolt (freakishly tall for a sprinter, strange sprinting style) or Farah (disappears to Kenya - where there are links to EPO doping).

The problem is that we are talking elite sportsmen whom have worked very hard to get noticed. What we see in many many sports is young athletes coming through, but not really competing with the pro-level. Then suddenly a jump to a 'new level' when they join a pro-team, or join the full squad. The human body is capable of dealing with a certain work load, but will break down under continued stress - the correlation is that the work load increase in going pro/performance improvement is due to extra-corporeal assistance (drugs).

Let us be frank. The demands of high level sport are so stressful that in order to get your body to produce a high hematocrit (we're talking periodization) you have to push your body to breaking point. The body compensates in the period of rest before competition and then improves to a new personal best, this is a short period phenomenon. Which is why athletes cannot carry this level through a 3 week race.

But let us look at Froome. He performs averagely, if not poorly for a season, for Sky and then on threat of being let go makes a rapid improvement in ability. And consistently maintains it. Does this not remind anyone of Mr Millar's story of coercion into drug use?

I think there is a fundamental lack of understanding of how exercise and training affects the body, and what is possible. Humans peak athletically in the early to mid-twenties (in terms of power), and thirties in terms of endurance. Endurance is a factor in cycling, but what this means is that you can consistently maintain a performance, but not that you maximise a performance. So the potential of young athletes (20-24) is effectively them at their maximum performance (all things being equal - training at their peak), they may change the style of their performance as they age, but not really much more. What we see is massive step changes in these athletes - taking it to a 'new' level. This is effectively the dope.

Not to pour water on events this weekend - but I did note how certain ex-professionals were impressed by the volume of training by certain tennis players. This in a sport which does virtually no blood tests, and has a growing reputation for steroid abuse....the signs are all there and the no one is in a hurry to sort this out.

BUT - before I go on, I did like watching the stages this weekend. I liked it most that Richie Porte showed a very human performance. He gets my +1 for it. I enjoy the sport, but I keep my eyes open. There are very real ways of being able to show that you are clean, but I don't see anyone doing it.

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Puncheur-David [15 posts] 3 years ago
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Decster wrote:

Froome a guy who was so bad before the Vuelta'11 Sky were going to let him go then bang, miracle 2nd place and now on his way to a TdF victory.

In this sport that only means one thing.

Froome had a tropical disease - Bilharzia. Which is a water borne parasitic infliction. Parasitic meaning something that lives off a host using the hosts resources to sustain and replicate itself. That could (yes, could but not certainly does) explain a previous lack of performance.

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Colin Peyresourde [1773 posts] 3 years ago
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Puncheur-David wrote:
Decster wrote:

Froome a guy who was so bad before the Vuelta'11 Sky were going to let him go then bang, miracle 2nd place and now on his way to a TdF victory.

In this sport that only means one thing.

Froome had a tropical disease - Bilharzia. Which is a water borne parasitic infliction. Parasitic meaning something that lives off a host using the hosts resources to sustain and replicate itself. That could (yes, could but not certainly does) explain a previous lack of performance.

This is an explanation for 2010, but not 2007, 2008 & 2009 as a comparative, when he was at other pro-teams. The thing that I find amusing with all of this is that they always say 'it's our preparation and training - we have some new techniques which we use and we have got excellent results'. If this was the case, don't you think that the exponent of this training program would be keen to take it and sell it on to anyone with the cash (i.e. someone would take it to their competitors asap)?

And wouldn't these 'training' gains be sold to the wider general public in the form of a book or something once they were superseded by the 'next advancement' in training?

Basically, if anyone says this, read: 'we are using an exotic range of drugs, and our program is tailored to avoid the modern anti-dope tests so we are seeing excellent results!' If someone says the athlete has a very intensive training regime, it probably means that they have terrific steroids.

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dave atkinson [6258 posts] 3 years ago
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northstar wrote:

The delusion continues

I think it's right to be sceptical about a performance that seems to good to be true; after all, we've learned that to good to be true usually means not true. I'm not convinced i've seen one though. Froome was protected by Porte and Kiryenka on stage 8 to such an extent that the former lost over 17 minutes the next day, and the latter was eliminated: they worked so hard to put him where he was that they had nothing left, at all. no wonder he was fresh. Kennaugh, who put a massive shift in, lost 22 minutes too, although he did end up in a hedge at one point.

had quintana not danced off the front on the Pailheres and had to push on alone on the descent i've no doubt he would have contested the stage win with froome. over the two stages team sky's performance looks a lot more human than movistar's, who had three in the front group on sunday and three more not far behind. in any case, it's ridiculous to make an assertion of doping based on one stage in a three-week race. armstrong won because his team could lead him up the hills day after long day. Do we see that with sky? not so far, they've been pretty fallible. froome himself is in spectacular form, but he has been all year and it's still a long way to paris.

a blind assertion that froome isn't doping isn't really that useful. based on what? and similarly, a blind assertion that he is doesn't help either.

This is a useful and informing read: http://www.sportsscientists.com/2013/07/froomes-first-mountain-performan...

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

froome himself is in spectacular form, but he has been all year.

That's what concerns me.

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dave atkinson [6258 posts] 3 years ago
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northstar wrote:

That's what concerns me.

And you should be free to be concerned. i'd note froome's happiness to respond to doping questions and assert that he's clean, in marked contrast to armstrong, and even wiggins. and if i was team sky, i wouldn't be releasing the riders' data either, certainly not when the tour is in progress. i can't see how it'll help anyone other than the conspiracy theorists and the other teams, personally.

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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I doubt they will ever release the data, but all teams should be required to release their data at the same time and their bio passports.

Until they do, the question marks will hang (sadly).

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Stumps [3414 posts] 3 years ago
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Question marks ? only in some delusional minds.

Feel free to quote, reply, criticise all you want.

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Decster [246 posts] 3 years ago
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So many want to look for excuses to explain a guy who was not going to get a new contract suddenly explodes to 2nd on the 3rd biggest race in the calendar. A blood disease that miraclously only needs to be treated in the off season and never when he needs to ride a GT. That he was climbing sideways before and got kicked of il Giro for hanging on to cars on a climb all point to a climbing talent.

But the idea the Sky train harder than everyone else is true, just like Armstrong, ...."busting his ass 6 hours a day on his bike, what are you on?"

The UCI have not changed, still control dope testing, the ASO fired the guy who wanted to clean up the sport and appoint Prudhommme, all the other teams are full of dope enablers and Sky are winning on bread and water.

So many fall for the tricks that history has shown to be nothing more than smokescreens.

Dont buy too much Sky gear otherwise it will be hanging beside your USPS, Disco, Astana, Radshack gear pretty soon.  3

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northstar [1108 posts] 3 years ago
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stumps wrote:

Question marks ? only in some delusional minds.

Feel free to quote, reply, criticise all you want.

lol I know you have no time for anyone else's opinion (it seems it's a shame for you, you can't "police" the internet).

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lookmanohands [119 posts] 3 years ago
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Shock horror, someone doing well gets slated!

I doff my cap to you mr froome

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shay cycles [346 posts] 3 years ago
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There seems to be a growing feeling that riders can't really make any significant improvements through better training, better focus and techniques and that all such improvement must be down to drugs. If that we're the case then lets just measure everyone's levels at age 24 and then just play Fantasy Cycling after that as they can't get better.

Fortunately riders can and do make improvements (and fall back) during their careers, during the season and during a single race. If you've ever been close to athletes then you might understand that very few (even among the well prepared pros) actually reach their maximum potential; all sorts of things stop them because they are actually human! As they strive towards that potential they have ups and downs and that combined with the fact that every race is different is what makes sport worth watching.

Am I the only rider who ever had some special days without drugs? Of course not, time triallists are familiar with special days, amateur road and track races know about those days when you feel invulnerable when the only drugs around are your body's own adrenaline and endorphins.

If you could spot the dopers by simply watching their performances think how much the UCI and WADA could save; but you can't and that's why we have drug testing and human nature is the reason why we'll always need it.

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Colin Peyresourde [1773 posts] 3 years ago
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Yes, people have their ups and downs. That's what they mean by being 'human'. The point with the modern athlete is that they are 'super-human', and they never have bad days.

Much of the drive to dope is the pressure to minimise downs, and maximise the ups. But (from what starts out being a sticking plaster) it becomes the norm and then we don't really know what we are seeing. As you note from your experience, you have highs and lows. But as I mentioned, these are ironed out. This isn't training, this is pharmacology. I mentioned Porte's drop-off as being a positive sign - though he probably worked his heart in the red zone for too long.

I think there are a lot of problems with the drug testing. It is only really a sticking plaster. The blood passports are a good idea, but equally subverted - look at Armstrong in 2009 and 2010.

Your argument about stopping play at 24 doesn't hold true though, particularly because of the 'ups and downs' you mention. The point is that the performances would be human, and not super-human. The suffering would be much more visceral and the destruction of riders would be more explosive.

I'm not saying you cannot enjoy what you have seen, just keep you mind open to what they say and do.

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Dropped [94 posts] 3 years ago
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Decster wrote:

So many want to look for excuses to explain a guy who was not going to get a new contract suddenly explodes to 2nd on the 3rd biggest race in the calendar. A blood disease that miraclously only needs to be treated in the off season and never when he needs to ride a GT. That he was climbing sideways before and got kicked of il Giro for hanging on to cars on a climb all point to a climbing talent.

But the idea the Sky train harder than everyone else is true, just like Armstrong, ...."busting his ass 6 hours a day on his bike, what are you on?"

The UCI have not changed, still control dope testing, the ASO fired the guy who wanted to clean up the sport and appoint Prudhommme, all the other teams are full of dope enablers and Sky are winning on bread and water.

So many fall for the tricks that history has shown to be nothing more than smokescreens.

Dont buy too much Sky gear otherwise it will be hanging beside your USPS, Disco, Astana, Radshack gear pretty soon.  3

So what you are saying is that the whole of the Sky squad is doped up to the eye balls even though the team was set up on a profoundly ant-doping platform. You make these allegations on the basis of some cherry picking of results without any real evidence. Gossip and anecdote do not make a case unless you are a fake moon landing / 9/11 truther loon.

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Leviathan [2266 posts] 3 years ago
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It seems by Decster's logic that we should just stop all pro racing for at least a decade, as anyone who beats anyone who used to be a doper must be a doper themselves ad infinitum.

And who appointed David Millar as the world authority on such issues? I am getting tired of his 'I am so sorry I doped, doping made me really unhappy, but please ask me about it all the time and buy my book,' schtick.

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Simon_MacMichael [2466 posts] 3 years ago
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Couple of observation of issues lost among the noise.

The Armstrong and Laiseka times in 2001 were set a couple of days after Alpe d'Huez, and the route to get there had more climbs (admittedly none of those as tough as the one preceding on Saturday).

But Ax 3 Domaines was the first mountain stage of this year's race, and one on which Sky clearly had a game plan.

Factor in other variables such as wind or the heat and a time gap of 12 years, and it's like comparing apples with oranges.

I'm all for healthy sceptcism; given what this sport has done to us over the years, it couldn't be otherwise, and its right questions are being asked.

Naked (and uninformed) paranoia, however, less so.

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step-hent [723 posts] 3 years ago
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The one thing I don't get is this: why, if someone is convinced that the winners are all doped, do they bother watching the racing in the first place? Unless they don't care about the doping. In which case, why comment so forcefully on the Internet about it?

It's much more mystifying to me than any of the doping data/stories/questions that get asked. Maybe their enjoyment of the sport is being artificially enhanced?

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dave atkinson [6258 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:

Couple of observation of issues lost among the noise.

The Armstrong and Laiseka times in 2001 were set a couple of days after Alpe d'Huez, and the route to get there had more climbs (admittedly none of those as tough as the one preceding on Saturday).

But Ax 3 Domaines was the first mountain stage of this year's race, and one on which Sky clearly had a game plan.

Factor in other variables such as wind or the heat and a time gap of 12 years, and it's like comparing apples with oranges.

add to all that the fact that i've seen no particularly credible evidence thus far for the timing of froome's climb, even less so the one from armstrong it's being compared to. i'm told it's the third fastest, but no-one really seems to be able to back that up with much

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manu_anfield1892 [4 posts] 3 years ago
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the Movi(e)star rider you are really struggle to write about is Quintana?

Do you know any teams or riders in this competition?

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Fizzing Foxes R... [10 posts] 3 years ago
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Doping has shown to give you an advantage of 15% over the non doping competitors, so when Sky set out to find that 15% through legal means, be that training, nutrition, recovery, equipment etc, why is it a surprise that they get the results they do?

Team Sky and British Cycling is kind of one and the same, are you all saying that all the success British Cycling has achieved in the last few years is because of doping? There is something wrong with the UK when we are ready to try and destroy the achievements of some of our cycling greats.

Is anyone asking the same of Andy Murray? A superhuman achievement to win in straight sets, why aren't we all slating him? Just because other heros that may have been worshipped have let us down does not mean they all are...

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bashthebox [751 posts] 3 years ago
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The peaks and troughs in form argument - that by rights, for every good day Froome has, he should have a bad day?
DO you think that all the team doctors just lounge around all day? That the sports scientists text their mums? The dieticians just eat Big Macs whilst waiting for the riders to come home? Or do you think that all day, every day, they're working to eliminate the uncertainty of a rider's form and physiology?
Sky pay attention to every detail, no matter how small. It all adds up. Marginal gains isn't just about wearing aero helmets. It really works.

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Paul J [908 posts] 3 years ago
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Simon,

In '03 they had a few more stages in them. Ulrich and Armstrong times that day would have clearly beaten *everyone* on '13, *except* Froome. Ulrich would have been 43s ahead of Porte, 1m01s ahead of Valverde, but circa 4 to 6s behind Froome. Armstrong would have finished 37s ahead of Porte, 54s ahead of Valverde, but 14s behind Froome.

Can we draw any direct conclusions from this? No. However, if fatigued dopers from '03 can trounce all of the '13 field bar one, you at least have to ask questions.

If Froome is genuine, then he is a stunningly exceptional athlete. Not just capable of humiliating other top athletes, but even beating the best of the blood-doped generation.

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