Tour de France - Performances Still Believable?
How jaded have we become?
“I’m sorry if you don’t believe in miracles.” – Victory speech by Lance Armstrong at the Champs-Élysées podium – 2005 Tour de France.
Baring catastrophic accident or some other unthinkable circumstance, Chris Froome of Team Sky will win the 2013 Tour de France.
He came to France as one of the strong favorites, looking to step into the role of captain after his teammate and the defending Tour champion Bradley Wiggins was unable to start due to a virus he contracted during the Giro d’Italia.
With the second and final rest day in the books even the most casual observer can’t help but notice Froome’s dominating performance.
In Stage 8 the Ritche Porte/ Froome one-two punch not only left their opponents reeling, but set off the armchair analysis of their performance. “Not normal” was the buzz phrase of the day.
Stage 11 in the individual time trial Froome led through the first check points. However, in the last 11 kilometers of the stage he couldn’t keep the same speed and finished 12 seconds slower than time trial world champion Tony Martin. More importantly the Kenyan born rider put time on one of his biggest rivals, Alberto Contador, who during his Astana days used the race against the clock to solidify his lead. Instead the Spaniard finished the day in 15th place – two minutes, 15 seconds behind Martin.
The Ventoux will be known as the place where Froome sealed his victory in this year’s Tour. Spinning a high-speed cadence, the Sky rider caught and then attacked Nairo Quintana of Movistar, leaving him behind.
Once across the line the speculation of the legitimacy of the win was called into question. “Not normal” once again became the buzz word of the day.
Anyone who knew how to make a spreadsheet, bar graph or Venn diagram immediately started posting times of past riders and comparing them to Froome’s. Depending who you listened to Froome was either dirty as hell or it was a clean win.
Some sources of information came from good sources while others are self-proclaimed. Regardless, it created more and more noise and casted doubt on a performance millions of people had just seen.
At the Sky press conference team principal David Brailsford pleaded with the journalists for help on what could he do to convince people they were racing clean. On some level I sympathize with Brailsford as how do you prove a negative? He’s facing a loaded question similar to, “Have you stopped beating your wife?”
So has Team Sky “stopped doping their team?” I have no idea. As we come out of the shadow of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, many in the media and fans have taken a “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” attitude. Who can blame us?
The history of professional cycling is now littered with riders with stripped results or suspensions due to doping from Eddy Merckx to recently popped Tour of Turkey winner Mustafa Sayer. Wary sport fans have taken a jaded view of the sport. A couple of