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Dopers, Testers, Tests, Lance Armstong, Tour de France, Vuelta, Giro, Garmin-Chipotle

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Well the Tour de France route for 2009 has come out, and there's some new old stuff, like the Team Time Trial is back. Some say this makes Lance Armstrong more likely to show up, some say less, and he seems to want some assurances from the organizers about respectful treatment or some such.

Meanwhile Contador sounded welcoming at first, but lately perhaps less so, and Vino's name has surfaced as well. Nothing solid here from me...just some impressions.

There was a pretty good read about the course and other issues, including how disappointing it was to see the tour highlights without the dopers we didn't know were dopers until later. This is why I didn't work so hard to see the Tour de France live in 2008, relying instead on educational-purpose-only tapes provided by others after I thought enough time had passed for all dopers to be caught.

Guess what! Not enough time had passed. To catch up on 2008 and read about the route for 2009, check out...

http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/Analysis_the_2009_Tour_de_France_route_article_270606.html

Reuters says "Seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong gave his thumbs up to next year's route and said he was eager to meet the new officials in charge of the race and clear up the uncertainty over his participation," giving the briefest of backgrounders here...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/feedarticle/7911559

VeloNews seems to think the route suits Armstrong well. This is an excellent write-up in my opinion, even if you just read the first few paragraphs.

"The 3435km route of the 96th Tour certainly favors a rider on a power-pack team, not only because of the return of the team time trial but also because the three early mountain stages in the Pyrénées will reduce the number of GC contenders to just a handful by the end of the first week."
http://www.velonews.com/article/84502/2009-tour-will-reward-consistency-team-strength

Armstrong will be at the Giro it seems, and is 50-50 for TdF according to Bruyneel. But you want to know what Lance says, right?

"I have been around long enough to know that cycling is a team sport and I am fully committed to supporting the strongest rider in any race. Whether that's me, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, or Andreas Kloden."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/other_sports/cycling/7684233.stm

Of course, the Giro taken on fully might take too much out of Armstrong were he to aim for the Tour de France. But there's time for all to change if there some kiss and makeup (not the band and their face paint) between the Tour owners and Armstrong.

Regardless it seems the Tour is trying to make the winning stage be on a mountain climb rather than at a time trial. But we'll see when the time comes...or a few weeks later, maybe, on tape?

Meanwhile who knows if we can believe in Jonathan Vaughters and the Garmin-Chipotle team, but let's hope so. There's a good piece in two parts at cyclingnews.com on his optimistic view that more riders are clean, and there's a bit about that power to weight stuff too...

http://www.cyclingnews.com/features.php?id=features/2008/vaughters_oct08a
http://www.cyclingnews.com/features.php?id=features/2008/vaughters_oct08b

In terms of his star rider's performance at the Tour, Vaughters said, "It's interesting, Christian never sustained more than six watts per kilogram at any point in the Tour; sustained meaning over a 30-minute period. To me that speaks volumes as to the cleanliness of the racing.

"It's just something that Christian has been capable of his entire career. He hasn't always done it, and in the past he's been heavier than he is right now – he got smaller this year – but in essence he was a bit more aerodynamic, a little bit lighter, more confident and working for himself rather than other people. You place those aspects together and just do the same power output you've done all your career, and boom, there you go."

http://www.cyclingnews.com/features.php?id=features/2008/vaughters_oct08b

It turns out the president of the International Cycling Union (called UCI you know for reasons of French word order and probably good because it might be confused for the Intensive Care Unit) is tired of "looking back" (ha ha ha ha ha wouldn't you be too, with all those dopers being caught?). As the article points out,

"The Chatenay-Malabry laboratory outside Paris rechecked samples from this year's Tour after a new test became available to detect CERA, an advanced version of EPO. Bernhard Kohl, Stefan Schumacher, Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli all tested positive."

So close your eyes. You can close your eyes; it's all right. As for the Olys, they seem willing to look back...

"The International Olympic Committee said earlier this month that it will retest samples from the Beijing Games for CERA."

But at least one major figure in cycling seems to be ready to say if you got past us so far, you're good...

"If we're going to start rejigging the podium of every major international race over the past two or three years, by finding new tests for new products...it makes a complete mockery of sport."
http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5g5yf80mjQ-1lsBsAaWp8ARA89CYQ

Hmm. It's too late, baby; it's too late. Maybe if you DON'T go back at least for this year, maybe for two, it KEEPS your sport a mockery?

At least at major outdoor skate races you know everyone MIGHT be a doper.

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Paris 75008
France
48° 52' 11.2836" N, 2° 18' 27.3096" E
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