Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Floyd the barber

Floyd has been busy again this week. Quitting cycling and then calling for legalized, controlled doping as he seems to think cycling will never be clean, ever. We here at the Wagon like our riders to be racing sober and like our orange juice: free from artificial enhancements. We all know the Floyd story, and his protestations of innocence for years afterwards, which quite rightly has left him with "zero credibility". But we also know that Floyd was a pro cyclist from '99-'06, including being on the same squad as Armstrong. So he knows the finer details of doping, how it gets done and who did it. So why are we not to believe him? He might well be bitter but then he has the right to, if he is telling the truth about Armstrong. Whose yellow bands do we wear? That's right, they don't have any Landis wordplay on them, do they? We'd be pissed if we got caught doing something once that someone else did 7 times consecutively and was almost beatified along the way.

Stronger than Landis' allegations is the confession of another former pro, Bernard Kohl.He himself was caught after finishing 3rd in the 2008 Tdf, and has since quit professional cycling. Hearing him talk with honesty and without malice, it seems we should be very worried about the professional peloton, even now. Kohl admitted he was doping and passing the drug testing controls, this isn't shocking but it is disappointing that cheats cannot be caught and punished. Kohl claimed that the TDF "wasn't winnable without doping" and that he passed "99 out of 100" drugs tests before getting caught. Now that does sober us up. We've been trying to think about ways to beat doping in cycling, and this is our best pitch:

Why doesn't the UCI have a doping amnesty for riders willing to admit to doping? Not just an amnesty, but set up a prize fund too, for information leading to prosecutions and imprisonments for those who facilitate the dirty deeds. In terms of an amnesty we'd like to see riders coming clean, and with that would come no ban providing they signed some form of contract promising never to dope again. If they did dope again (detected by more rigorous hair, blood and urine testing as per the just signed contract) then a lifetime ban from racing and a lifetime ban from being involved in the professional organisation of the sport in any way. We'd like to see public floggings too, but we won't. If doping is as endemic as it seems, this could seriously help restore faith public faith in racing once again. Not only public, but faith from those people like us who love the sport and pay our monies to watch the racing and wear the jerseys of our heroes. This would give our heroes the chance to clean up the sport once and for all. We only this weeks have had more suspicions aroused by a DS referring a rider to a doctor with links to doping (who also worked for the US Postal team, LA era.

Going back to Armstrong. Again, it is well documented about how people have tried taking him to court in the past and how thus far he has always managed to come out intact, but mainly through out of court settlements binding the none Armstrong legal team from commenting on anything regarding the case , which doesn't do much in allaying suspicions of Armstrong guilt, and if anyone has the money and legal team to win court cases, it is Armstrong (and of course OJ Simpson)

Currently we await the outcome of Contrador's sanctioning by the Spanish Cycling Federation. We acknowledge the traces of clenbuterol were incredibly minute, but what about the reports of plasticizers, possibly from blood transfusions, being present too? You also probably know there isn't yet an approved test for these things, but now there are samples of the blood and urine in a lab somewhere so when the test is approved then guilt or not may be proven. But they we have another pitfall of loving cycle racing. We cheer the winners and respect their achievements only to be slapped in the face months or years down the line when the cheating is discovered. Anger, frustration, and maybe disbelief but not any longer. Its coming to be expected. If Armstrong and Alberto are proven as doping cheats, that leaves us with possibility that 9 out of the last 11 tours having been 'won' by riders using illegal substances. Maybe its time to listen to Floyd just one more time?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sky's the limit for Goss; Meyer just about makes it.

We sit here, hung over and tired, corrected. Goss didn't clinch the TDU overall victory after being beaten to the line for stage 6 by Sky's Ben Swift and Greg Henderson. This gave the title to Cameron Mayer by a 2 second margin, but Goss didn't finish off bare-backed, he still attained the sprinters jersey.

Congratulations to Cammy Meyer and his team for this first pro tour race victory of the season, and for also sacking Matt White for acting against team rules regarding sending riders to unapproved (by the team) doctors. The incident took place almost two years ago so we're not sure why it took so long for action to be taken now; we think there will be more to this story very soon.

The TDU produced Australian winners for each category with the greedy Meyer of Garmin getting both overall and young riders jerseys, Goss of HTC getting the sprinters points jersey and Luke Roberts of UNI SA taking the king of the mountains. Congratulations boys on giving us an exciting start to the season.

Special mentions to Cav for coming home last in the lanterne rougue position, no dummies were spat and he finished almost 34 minutes back. Maybe he only races for green jerseys? We don't think you'd like him when he's angry

Greipel didn't manage to retain his title, or even win a single stage. Were hoping here at Wagon towers he is just settling into his new team and his legs are still a bit rusty. Because if his sprinting form thus far is anything to go by, Cave still won't have much serious competition this season.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Tour Down Under Catch Up...Bring on Stage 6!

Stage 4: Camerom Mayer may, er, win the tour, having taken the stage 4 as the 6 man break away managed keep the peloton behind them to the line."It's a little bit of a shock I guess to pull off a stage in the Tour, it's obviously renowned for the sprinters. It's a shock to have the jersey, but I'm thrilled", said Mayer. We think having to wear such an abominate item of clothing would shock us too.

Stage 5: Well well well. Cavendish is occupying the Lanterne Rouge spot again and we can only assume it is so he can expend some saved energy helping Goss win the race tomorrow. Before the race, the Tour Down Under was described as being pancake flat and suitable for the sprinters. Has Cav been having more cavity work done this season, or is it just his legs still coming out of hibernation? Hopefully the latter. We'd better not write him off just yet, like people did last season. We have faith 2011 will be his best yet. Lets just hope he is successful and gets tested positive for something, like a sparkling personality. That would make Cav the complete package.

Going into tomorrows final stage, a 90km race; 20 laps of a 4.5mk circuit, the race is perfectly poised for a thrilling finish. The top 6 riders are seperated by only 18 seconds, but our money is on Matt Goss. With the lead out train of HTC then winning the stage, and the race looks highly likely, especially given the 10 second bonus for winning and the intermediate bonus sprints will be highly important too. But we look forward to seeing how it goes. Hopefully this race is a sign of things to come this year, the racing has been excellent so far. But we suspect cycling will feature in the news much more prominently due to off the road investigations. Thanks Jeff.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Sports Illustrated vs Lance Armstrong, Floyd vs Floyd.

Where do we start? How about you read the full article to be published in Sports Illustrated on the 24th Jan HERE. Unless you've been hiding under Cadel Evans chin chances are you're already au fait with what it says anyway.

You know here at the Wagon we take a very dim view of doping in cycling (and other sports) and we also admire Lance for his remarkable TDF successes; we don't think there is anyone not aware of his cancer beating and conquering past and future quests, and how 28 million people now wear a yellow rubber band at the bottom of their arms. So to the article.

Landis, my oh my. Yet more accusations and lawsuits. The man who had everything and who now has nothing. At all. No friends in cycling, no wife whose shoulders must have been sodden by his tears of regret (for getting caught, and before she left him, obviously) no credibility, not many more loose screws to fall out of his head. We've talked about him before so we'll try not to bore you, or us, with too much more about him, but unfortunately it is relevant. Lets have a quote from SI:

After Armstrong's cancer diagnosis, former teammates say, even Ferrari questioned his methods. "I remember when we were on a training ride in 2002, Lance told me that Ferrari had been paranoid that he had helped cause the cancer and became more conservative after that," says Landis.

Hang on a minute, Roid. Are you saying that Lance gave himself testicular cancer, that almost killed him, by taking too many banned substances? That is beyond the pale, really. Just imagine that. LA, heralded as the man who beat cancer before going on to conquer the TDF, gave himself the disease because he was cheating at the sport he went on to rule. This is more ridiculous than the plot of Inception. Roid needs serious help. It is obvious to any sane person that anything that comes out of his arse mouth holds less credibility than the chances of the Ricco family medicine cabinet only holding paracetamol.

Elsewhere in the article it is alleged that Lance took HemAssist, an EPO like blood booster but without the blood thickening EPO causes. This is a drug that was under research and never produced commercially. Why wasn't it released to the world? Because it failed in its purpose of helping people who needed transfusions. So how could Lance take this? It is feasible he took it, but who knows if it had a marked effect on his performance? Maybe this drug has the PowerBand placebo effect. Whilst we here like to believe LA is innocent until proven guilty, it isn't beyond our capabilities to see how he might have been taking substances to aid his pedalling that he shouldn't have taken. Drugs testing is all well and good when you know what to look for, but it unless you know what to test for then its also pretty useless.

Another point worth talking about is the list of banned substances allegedly spoken of to two doctors by LA, in a room with quite a few people in it. If this really happened, as the Andreus claimed under oath, then why not find the doctors who LA told and ask them about it? Check the medical notes. We know there are issues with patient confidentiality but if LA is innocent then lets see the evidence to support that too.

We here at the Wagon realise that with the amassing volume of dirt being flung LA's direction, it is unlikely the great unwashed will ever really understand the sport we love. To most, cycling is and always will be sullied by crimes committed and alleged in the past. And then we have the vultures, who love to see a hero downed. If LA is found to have taken illegal substances then many people will smugly proclaim they knew it all along, blah. If he is found innocent of all allegations against him, we think he'll never be quite able to wipe all that dirt off his impervious Texan face. Shame. 

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Stage 3 - Cav plays Chicken and Griepel cant stop griping

Greipel failed yet again to prove to anyone he can win a sprint in a relatively minor tour (let alone a monument) after being beaten to the line by Rabobanks' Mike Mathews. "I am just upset because I couldn't do my sprint like I wanted to." whinged Herr Gripes. We too would be upset if we wanted to win something and couldnt (due to others being better). 

Goss goes back into the leaders horrible tangerine jersey after lousy support couldn't even swap out a flatted back wheel forcing him onto his spare bike with 10km to go. He came home 3rd.

Somehow Cavendish was unfortunate enough to not only have to race whilst battered from yesterdays troubles hurting his neandethalesque body, but he had cars to dodge too. Upon being asked about his potentially lethal experience and if he had to deal with cars and trucks et al he mumbled "Quite a bit yeah, you know, more than you want in a professional race I think." He thinks. Does he really? We here at the 'wagon think that during a professional road race there should never ever ever ever ever ever ever be any none race traffic anywhere near these highly strung athletes. Ever. Especially Cavendish: What happens if he tried to outsprint a car, did a tour de Suisse and caused another horrific pile up. Innocent car drivers could have been killed! Still, it might be better news coverage than watching the current Landis/Armstrong/etc carnage almost engulfing the periphery of mainstream media at the moment.

Prince Albert and two more pricks

It’s been a busy few days in the cycling world, what with one thing and another, and in all the hubbub it’s easy to miss little snippets of information as they come out. Fortunately though, your intrepid seekers of truth and justice here at ‘wagon towers rarely miss a trick, and like to keep our fingers in as many pies as possible. As a result there are a few doping (yes…sorry to keep banging on about it, but it is wrong!) related stories that we feel need discussing.
Firstly, the fable of ‘Prince Alberto and the Septic Steak’. News is emerging today that the Spanish Cycling Federation (herein referred to as SCF) will be waiting a further three weeks before deciding whether Alberto is guilty or not, and whether they will be issuing a suspension. This comes on the back of a statement from an un-named UCI member saying that he expects Contador to receive a two year ban.  Now, we’re all for due process and fair trial but this whole situation seems to have been mismanaged from the start (evidence of clenbuterol abuse surfaced DURING the tour…so why was he allowed to continue riding?). The fact that the SCF are dragging their heels over this can be interpreted two ways:
  • 1)    Contador IS NOT guilty and the long wait is due to a desperate scramble around for any evidence that can be used against him – unlikely.
  • 2)    Contador IS guilty and, in the wake of  Valverde’s doping scandal, the SCF are desperately trying to put some form of damage limitation in place for Contador, the Spanish Cycling Federation, Spanish cycling….or all three.
It’s up to each individual to draw their own conclusions, but the evidence certainly seems ominous for the Spaniard.
Moving swiftly on, and we come to everyone’s favourite nauseating little weasel Riccardo Ricco, who, it seems, has been claiming (to anyone foolhardy enough to listen to him) that it is possible to win the Giro d’Italia without doping, and what’s more, he’s going to prove it. Firstly, how on Earth Ricco would actually know anything about dope-free riding is beyond us as, by all accounts, he’s been a shameless and unrepentant substance abuser since his early amateur days. He’s miraculously changed his ways of late though. Funny what getting caught does to you, eh? Secondly (and this hardly bears thinking about), but if…IF by some despicable twist of fate Ricco did win the Giro without doping, we here at the ‘wagon think we speak for the silent majority when we say it’d be just unbearable as a spectacle. Again, we’ve nothing against giving people a second chance, but only if they’ve earned it – Ivan Basso, as a prime example. But Ricco hasn’t earned it. At all.
Lastly, but by no means least, we come to professional cycling’s very own pantomime villain: Floyd Landis. Yes, he’s back in the news again, this time with the outrageous (and not at all ironic) claims that doping should be legalised. So, the man who had everything, then lost it all, then conned his fans out of thousands and thousands of dollars, then lied in court under oath (let’s not forget this is a man from a very religious background), then lost everything again, then tried to claw back some credibility by accusing all and sundry of being drug-cheats, is now saying that because doping is rife and out of control, it should be legalised. Outstanding, Floyd, what a class act you really are. Cycling may very well be in a bad way at the moment, but to give up the fight and accept it as our lot? With that kind of defeatist attitude it’s no wonder he had to cheat in order to win….

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Swift-ly does it, leaving Cav in stitches. Lance, again. Tour de San Luis.

Sky's young buck Ben Swift managed to avoid the final 3km carnage and out sprinted Radioshack's vet paceman/jester Mcewen to the line. Cavendish and Goss both went down, with Cav looking like he'd had a night on the tiles back in Douglas. Unfortunately for Greipel it seems both Goss and Cav will be fit enough to ride the remainder of the tour.

Good to see a strong finish from 'Wagon fave Romain Felliu. If there is any justice in the peloton his Vaconsoleil team leader Ricco-ck will crash arse first onto a bollard or fence post sustaining awfully debilitating but none life threatening injuries allowing Felliu or Hoogerlands to take the captains armband. Pleeeeease.


It seems the inverted iceberg shaped pedastal of honesty and integrity Lance has been teetering on for a few years now might soon give way. Yet more allegations about to published in Sports Illustrated (we didn't realise they did more than swimsuit editions either) Here is a preview of a larger article to be published on Jan 24th, with more allegations of Armstrong using a Ferrari (not the cars) to go faster. Since Lance will have re-retired his ego and his legs, he should have plenty of time to come up with reasons or excuses to refute the claims made by all these other people. We here at the Broom Wagon just don't know what to make of the Armstrong saga. Is it really possible that the greatest TDF rider of all time was doped? Or was it possible he was clean? Both arguments are entirely plausible. Doping involves too many traceable elements, and we don't mean in pee, blood or hair. The doctors, the emails, phone calls, text messages, meetings, payments. Its surely all too easy to be sold out by anyone of the people involved, which leads us (and desperately wants) to believe Lance rode, and won clean. Though we should also say that if Lance is proven guilty of having doped, it will be the last straw before his fall from grace. We don't know Lance, and the closest we have been to him is about 3ft from him at the 2009 TDF Annecy time trial, but we suspect, like he proclaims, he won't be 'losing any sleep'. And neither will we.


Why is it that whilst I look out of my window onto another severe frost, there are people getting paid to ride bikes in really lovely places. By lovely I mean warm. Like in the Tour Down Under, and also just across the South Pacific ocean the Tour de San Luis is underway. Whilst not a Pro Tour even we find its worth tracking as some pro tour teams are taking part: Liquigas, Ag2r and Movistar. Stage 1 was taken by Roberto Ferrari, no relation to the above mentioned Dr. we hope. Stage two featured a mountain top finish, that sounds rather exciting. What a shame its not on any media over here in the Shire.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Stage 1 to Gossy Gossy Gander and bye bye Roid.

When, will I, will I be famous? Matt Goss can answer that with his legs. Very soon. Four wins in two weeks now for Cav's teammate, but where was Greipel? 4 Seconds back. A looong time at a sprint finish. Goss shouldn't have too many worries about being cold during tomorrows stage, he'll be wearing at least 3 jerseys the greedy devil.

How about those new Euskaltel helmets then? Very snazzy. When viewed from above, which will be mostly never, they reminded us of something Munch might paint. Have to say during todays break away how old fashioned the Euskaltel bikes looked too. Shallow dish rims, skinny tubing. Like being back in the 80's.

Best hair in the peloton? Obviously goes to Matty Perget. Such lavish, luscious flowing locks. Aaaaah. Now Pellizotti's cut his mane off this is the bonce to watch we reckon.


It seems Roid Landis has finally accepted he is hated by so many people that he can't find a job, and doesnt want to race anymore anyway. Boo hoo. His drug cheating was so bad he couldn't get into the now defunct pro-cycling rehab team that was Rock Racing. Bye bye.

Pretty Vacant-soleil

Vacansoleil seem to have put out a firm statement of intent with the recruitment of convicted dopers Ricardo Ricco and Ezequiel Mosquera. Indeed, by promoting Ricco, or 'the Cobra' to give him his self appointed nickname, to team leader Vacansoleil have well and truly nailed their colours to the mast. Quite what impression this gives to the younger or harder-working members of Daan Luijk's squad is open to interpretation. Do the younger rider, such as Wout Poels, Pim Lithgart, or Martijn Keizer now pick up the message that it's ok to cheat? And what about the slightly older, hard working riders who've stayed clean throughout their careers? Riders such as Johnny Hoogerland, Stijn Devolder, and Matteo Carrara may now feel that they have somehow 'missed a trick' by not fuelling themselves up with a Floyd Landis special. It's one thing to offer a second chance to someone who has strayed, such as in the case of David Millar, who has repented his once questionable ethics and now works actively to try and clean the sport of cycling up. On the other hand though, to bestow the team leadership on such and unrepentant (not to mention arrogant and odious) wretch as Ricco? We find that hard to stomach.

Speaking of Johnny Hoogerland, he is a rider whom we hope to see much more of over the coming season. He falls into something of a niche category, along with riders such as Philippe Gilbert, Dan Martin, and Vincenzo Niballi, as rider who are hungry and attack-minded - ultimately a joy to watch! Las years Tour was, at times, almost nauseating due to the Contador-Schleck love story. In fact, there were times when the tactical bike-chess and blatant homo-eroticism looked as though it'd end up in a John and Yoko-esque bed-in.
Schleck is a rider who is infuriating for his obvious natural abililty, but complete lack of ruthlessness. After the infamous (and now tedious) chaingate affair Schleck promised us that he was angry and that he'd have his revenge, and we, like so many other deluded fools out there, expected him to come out fighting. In fact, he did quite the opposite and, despite a surprisingly good effort in his final time-trial, he seemed to gift the tour to Contador by not attacking. Ever. Andy Schleck may have won over a lot of new fans with the somewhat dignified way in which he took the moral high-ground over the chaingate affair (see Avram Grant at Chelsea/West Ham for a footballing equivalent), but we're sure he also lost a few fans too, with his passive response on the bike.

With the Tour Down Under kicking off a brand new season in the cycling world we find ourselves bouyant and excitedly optomistic (like a 16 year old whose girlfriend is coming over to stay whilst his parents are on holiday) as to what the coming year will bring. We pray (to the God of Thunder) that the sport that we love so much isn't let down by dour, negative racing and damning doping scandals.

For now, though, it's time to roll....

Monday, 17 January 2011

Welcome, readers!

And so here we are, at last! The 2011 cycle racing season commences down under with a line up that some Americans, and a French sports daily, might call 'dope'. 

It has been reported that Greipel, wish some Pharma motivation injected into him might just get the Ochre jumper. Or should that be an Ogre jersey?

Lets hope that without any Contrador-Schleck smooching towards a drugs tainted mechano failure gifted race win a la 2010's Tdf, the Aussie tour is a bit more meaty with its racing. Even if meek Bertie wasn't suspended there isn't much chance we'd see him in the Hindmarsh Most Agressive rider jersey anyway.

It is a shame Lance is quitting the pro race circus circuit after Australia. Lets hope he goes out with a bang, and not a (test) failure. 
Being Brits, we won't hide our dislike of annoying mod wannabe tour failure tWiggo, or our love for the simple but very fast Chavendish.

First post over, if you're still here then lets hope you check back throughout the season. 

Let the racing commence!