You wonder what the point of doping control is, when it seems clear the world’s media don’t have any faith in it whatsoever (Sky’s Dave Brailsford offers Wada access to data to quell doping talk.). If Froome being tested three times a day isn’t enough to clear his name, then nothing ever would be.
Last year the More or Less stats programme on BBC Radio 4 looked at Wiggo’s overall average speed. Wiggins won with a speed of 39.83 km/h, whereas the 2005 winner was cycling at 41.654. Wiggins’ speed is comparable to those of the 90s, when bikes were much heavier than they are now (I believe the minimum weight is 6.8kg). The last steel frame was used in 1994, and weighed around 9kg. Modern riders have carbon wheels and carbon frames and electronic shifters etc..
Here’s my theory, which is as worthless as any other armchair expert’s.
Armstrong won the TDF several times in a row, and was able to maintain high levels of performance, day after day, attacking aggressively on mountain stages. That would be the drugs.
I think the modern cyclist can perform aggressively on a single mountain stage, but probably not for two days in a row. Froome, you’ll notice, has timed his attacks for days before a rest day. I also suspect that, in a clean sport, a pro cyclist’s career at the top is likely to be shorter than of old. I just don’t think the human body can take that amount of punishment for year after a year without cracking under the strain in some way. I’m no particular Froome fan (doesn’t fit my concept of British, for a start), but it is clear that he’s having good days and average days. He’s not having good days in an unbroken sequence.
This is based on my observations of this year’s tour and last year’s. It’s clear that Contador, for example, is unable to perform to the same level that he did a few years back. Also Andy Schleck. Yes, you can blame injuries, but there’s evidence of my thesis: recovery from injury takes longer and may not be a full recovery, without the assistance of, you know, drugs.
- Sky’s Dave Brailsford offers Wada access to data to quell doping talk (guardian.co.uk)
- Froome saddened by doping questions (bbc.co.uk)
- Tour leader Froome frustrated over doping questions (itv.com)
- Tour de France – Performances Still Believable? (roadcycling.com)