Monthly Archives: December 2014

Let’s Just be Done with Astana

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The Gazetta dello Sport, an Italian sporting newspaper, reported today that Dr. Michele Ferrari was present at Astana’s first training camp for the 2014 season.  They cited information for the Padova inquiry that there are pictures of Michele and Astana riders outside their team hotel.  Remember, Dr. Ferrari is banned from all cycling, on a global basis, so hanging out with the Astana riders is a serious no-no.

Astana has declined to comment on the Gazzetta article.   Oh, really.

Let’s just get rid of these guys.  It is such a joke that they are still riding around.  Alexandre Vinokourov used Dr. Ferrari when he was busted for blood doping when he was a rider.  5 of their guys have tested positive this season.  It all seems like such a farce.

Anyone with a brain should be able to realize that if cycling is serious at all about trying to rid itself from drug use, it can’t just keep turning a blind eye to consistent and non-remorseful dopers.  And that is what Astana is all about.

Vinokorov has already said he won’t testify at the UCI commission for doping.  Even Lance has talked to them, and he doesn’t run a Pro Tour team, like Vino.

The only guy that I’ve seen that publicly supports Astana is Katusha’s team manager Viatcheslav Ekimov.   He doesn’t think it is right to suspend the license of Astana for a few riders doping on their own.  I don’t really give a shit what Eki thinks.   Eki’s team, Katusha, was denied a UCI license by the UCI for doping positives in 2012, but that was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

You remember Ekimov, the guy that rode in support of Lance forever, has the gold medal from the Athen’s Olympics, since Tyler gave it back.  I bet he feels pretty great about winning those Olympics.   I wonder if Eki and Vino get together, over a glass of vodka, and congratulate each other on their Olympic  victories?

On Wednesday, supposedly, the UCI is going to announce whether Astana gets a license to race this year.  Hopefully they have brains, then their decision will easy.   But, money talks and the whole system is polluted, so don’t hold your breath on them making the right, and easy, decision.

 

I've never been a fan of Vino.  Who goes and gets a jersey made with their own head sublimated on it?  Nice comeback statement.

I’ve never been a fan of Vino. Who goes and gets a jersey made with their own head sublimated on it? Nice comeback statement.

 

Track Racing is So Overlooked

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I saw a few articles about Bobby Lea’s 3rd place finish at the Track World Cup in London this past weekend.  This was following his winning a World Cup a few weeks ago.  He is leading the omnium World Cup overall competition now.  This is pretty unprecedented for US track cycling. Pretty great.

It got me thinking about track cycling and how it has pretty much disappeared off the radar screens of cycling fans.  Road, cyclocross, even MTB racing has a greater media and fan base than track cycling does currently.  I’m wondering how that happened.

I know that, here in the US, the USAC doesn’t put any emphasis in track cycling.  I know that they would disagree with that statement, but I know of no organized track program, which doesn’t mean that there isn’t one, but it has to be pitiful ,at best.  I would bet that Bobby Lea’s success this track season is because of his individual efforts and training and nothing to do with a USAC track program.

I have a friend, Jim Thiele, that has been going over to England the past few years to compete in the Master’s World Track Championships in Manchester.  He told me that when the British track team takes over the track for training, it is amazing.

The riders are riding their full race equipment, with telemetry on each rider’s bikes and the track, with guys with laptops looking at real-time data as they train.  He said there were probably 5 support for each rider.  And this was just for training.  He compared that to our sprint program where there is a half empty apartment in LA for the riders and having to pretty much fend for your own.

He said that there is no way that the US riders have a chance to compete with the British, taking the two programs into consideration.  I would have to agree.

But the organized track program doesn’t make the sport seem a fringe sport, even compared to other aspects of cycling, which is a fringe sport on its own.   It has just fallen off with popularity, which is too bad.

Track cycling is super fun to watch, in person.  Maybe it is because there are so few tracks where spectators can go and see it live?  I dont‘ know.

Bobby comes from Lehigh Valley where the Trexlertown Velodrome is located.  They have a super healthy track program going on and Bobby can train and race at a level that is much superior to the rest of the United States.  But, it still isn’t Britain or Australia.  These two countries track programs are off the charts superior to ours.  And the results show it.

Anyway, if you have a chance to catch so track racing, in person, I think you’ll be surprised how exciting it is.  Bobby Lea is currently doing something unprecedented in US track racing, for men.   It will be interesting following the rest of the World Cup season, which is one more race in Columbia, in January.    Wishing Bobby good luck!

 

It’s Wednesday Astana/UCI

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You know when all the best, new generation riders of American riders, say how clean the sport is, and how we need to believe, and then a current, systematic doping program is exposed within the Astana program, then it is all bullshit.

It’s not such a surprise that there are still full teams of riders doping, it is distressing that guys like BMC’s Tejay Van Garderen and Garmin’s Andrew Talanski say that the peleton is clean and we just need to believe.  They are experiencing the results of the doping first hand and they go and say it is all normal.

Tejay says – “I think the sport has turned a corner.” When asked about doping within the peloton.

And here are a couple tweets from Andrew after Danilo Di Luca, who contributed greatly  to the Padova investigation, made some public statements about doping within the pro peleton. –

I feel genuine hatred towards Di Luca. He’s a worthless lying scumbag making false statements that hurt the sport I love.

Thankfully his statements are delusional. I wouldn’t be in this sport if it was not possible to succeed at the highest level and do it clean.

I guess Andrew, you were wrong and Danilo was right.

Here is a link to today’s Cyclingnews article about the results of the Padova police investigation released in Italy.   It says that Vino and his guys are still doping and dealing with Dr. Ferrari and his son, Stephano.   17 guys on the Astana team are using their services.   And yes, Tenerife is one of their favorite locations for blood transfusions etc.

Here’s a full list of the guys that are named in the investigation.  Vino is last, but not least.

Full list of riders:

Leonardo Bertagnolli, Simone Boifava, Diego Caccia, Enrico Franzoi, Marco Frapporti, Omar Lombardi, Fabrizio Macchi, Marco Marcato, Andrea Masciarelli, Francesco Masciarelli, Simone Masciarelli, Daniele Pietropolli, Morris Possoni, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Proni, Michele Scarponi, Francesco Tizza, Giovanni Visconti, Ricardo Pichetta, Andrea Vaccher, Mauricio Ardila, Volodymyr Bileka, Borut Bozic, Maxim Gourov, Vladimir Gusev, Valentin Iglinskiy, Sergei Ivanov, Vladimir Karpets, Aleksander Kolobnev, Dimitri Kozontchuk, Roman Kreuziger, Denis Menchov (Rus), Evgeni Petrov, Yaroslav Popovych, José Joaquin Rojas (Spa), Ivan Rovny, Egor Silin, Alexandre Vinokourov

So, UCI, it’s Wednesday.  Let’s hear what you have to say about all this shit.

vino

F#%€ the UCI

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It’s time for the honest riders in the sport of cycling to just say fuck you to the UCI.  It is a joke that they issued the Astana team a UCI Pro Tour license, a day after it was reported that the majority of their team participated in a systematic doping program.

We just don’t get it.  The powers at be in the sport really don’t give a shit about the health of the sport or the riders or really even the fans.  All they care about is the money.  Even Bernard Hinault says it’s all about the money.  And the Astana team brings in a ton of money to the sport.

Here is a doctor that has been banned from the sport receiving, reportedly, 30 million Euros for currently doping cyclists.  And no one seems to really care.  At least the people that seem to have the power to do something about it.

The current Tour de France winner, Vincenzo Nibali says he’s good with the finding.  Actually, to quote him

“The problems in this team are also in many others. I don’t think our team is the worst because in other teams there are worse people than there are here, I won’t name names.  There’s Mafia in Sicily, as in the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean we’re all gangsters. As cyclists we’re always trying to show transparency. I’ve always practiced clean cycling and I will continue to do so.”

Wow, I’m not even sure what to make of that.  A report came out that said 17 riders on his current team are associated with a banned doping doctor and he says that.  So, he is implying, by his personal observations,  that “many other” teams are worse than his.  This is without a police investigation into these other teams, just Vincenzo’s personal views from his observations and interactions.

It is unbelievable that the current Tour winner could be so dismissive of something as important as this at this time.  The sport is in horrible shape, using Nibali’s beliefs.

The UCI licensing commission stated – “[The team] has initiated a reorganization of all the support personnel of its riders in order to strengthen its fight against doping within the team to ensure greater prevention and repression,” the commission wrote.  “In view of the heavy and repeated doping cases, which occurred within the Team, it is therefore essential to monitor the implementation of such measures on the ground.”

So, here’s a team that has been shown to have a systematic doping program set up and that the UCI is granting their license because Astana has agreed to “strengthen its fight against doping”.  What fight against doping?  It is contributing to the ongoing process of doping.   I don’t really think there is a fight going on anywhere at this point.

On another note, it’s so nice to see that United Healthcare just signed  Janez Brajkovic to race for them.  Janez has ridden the past three seasons for Astana, and the previous 6 seasons for Johan Bruyneel’s Discovery and RadioShack teams.  Maybe UHC can get a few more of Bruyneel’s guys or Astana’s rejects to come mess up our racing over here?

When Janez was asked about the Astana situation, a team he has ridden for the past 3 seasons, he said, “I’m not going to really think about it a lot. I think there are people in cycling that are deciding what to do, what not to do, how to sanction them. My job here is to deliver for this team now. I’m going to focus on this.”  Pretty profound.

I’ve been getting a few emails and messages from friends.  Friends that ride for UCI Professional teams here in the US.

Here are a couple-

“Steve, What the fuck?  Can you believe they gave Astana a license?  Who is paying these guys to govern our sport?  The whole thing is a joke.”

And another – “So when do we get to say, “fuck the UCI”?  We won’t start a race with dirty cheats in it.  If the other Pro team are really racing clean, Why would they ever start a Pro tour race with Astana in it?”

Anyway, I’m thinking the whole thing is a shame and that we, once again, are just nothing.  And by “we”, I mean all the bike racers that aren’t riding on UCI Pro Tour Teams, plus all the fans of the sport.  Maybe we can rely some on the sponsors to police this?  How about Specialized?  They’re are still probably patting themselves on their backs for Vino winning the London Olympics on their bike to pay much attention to this.

It’s time that there is a whole house cleaning here.  No, it’s time to burn it down.   The whole thing is so polluted that it seems pretty impossible to clean.

 

PS- Vino personally responded to the media reports on his team today.  He said he had no plans on taking any legal action just now.  He said

“That has never been our goal – of course it’s unpleasant, but we can talk to our lawyers to see what our options are. It used to be we fought back by racing hard on the road, so yesterday I talked with the team by Skype – everyone was really happy, and the last three days have been a deep team building experience – this whole experience has deepened our resolve.

“I told the trainers, Fofonov, Shefer, the riders, that they have to use this helpless anger to prove that the team has won before and will win again without doping – this whole thing has left a deep impression on the team and will motivate us all season, and that is going to help us a lot.”

So, on the bright side, at least this whole deal is giving the Astana Team extra motivation for next season!

 

uci copy

 

Doing Planks

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Bill has told me he has been doing planks on and off the past few months.  I’ve never done a plank, or had never done a plank before, but I do need to start doing some other stuff, core stuff, and I was a little interested about these plank things.

I heard that maybe they are good for the rotator cuff and mine is pitiful, so I thought I’d try it.  I’ve done it now, maybe 4 times.  I am very unfamiliar with what it is supposed to be doing or what gives out.  So, I did a little research trying to figure out what muscles it isolates.

Before looking, I really couldn’t figure out what would eventually fail.  After a couple minutes, my upper arms start shaking a little, but I can get that under control.  It seems like my lower back is the next weak point, but it doesn’t feel like it is just going to give, like when you’re doing pull-ups and you get to 13, then the 14th is impossible.

According to wiki, here are the muscle you are isolating.

Yesterday I did a plank for 5 minutes.  I had done it for 3 1/2 minutes the first couple times and stopped because I didn’t want to be really sore the next day.  I haven’t gotten sore at all yet.  I was going to stop at 4 minutes, it seemed like it was enough, but at 5 minutes, it didn’t seem any worse than at 4.  I’m not sure how long I could go, but it seems like a while longer.

According to the internet -The longest time in an abdominal plank position is 4 hours 26 minutes and was achieved by Mao Weidong (China) in Beijing, China on 26 September 2014.

I’m a little surprised that is so short.  It seems like if you could get to the point of doing the plank for an hour, then you could do it indefinitely.  I guess that isn’t the case.

The plank is just another spin on doing exercise.  I saw another article on the internet listing 5 exercises that are a waste of your time.  Of course, included on this list, sit-ups and push-ups.  I very much doubt that doing these are a “waste of your time”.

Any exercise, virtually every exercise in today’s society, isn’t a waste of time.  Hopefully it helps a rotator cuff, so I don’t have to pull out the Campbell soup cans or 2 lb weights.

These are the muscles it uses.

These are the muscles it uses.

 

I've done this before.  It is very unrewarding.

I’ve done this before. It is very unrewarding.

How to Prove You are NOT Doping

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I got a message a couple weeks ago from Eric Marcotte, current US Pro Road Champion, expressing his frustration with not being able to prove that he is riding clean.

He sent me a link to a NBC SPorts article that says he was the most tested athlete, here in the US, of all athletes.  He had 12 drug tests in the third quarter, 4 more than Michael Phelps, the swimmer.

He wanted to know what he could do if the testing isn’t proof he is not doping.  He has a good question, but there isn’t an answer he wants to hear.

I replied to him

Eric-There is nothing you can do to “prove” that you are racing bicycles clean. This whole situation is just a by-product of the times. And it not only in cycling. You do have to understand that the testing is total bullshit. Lance probably is most to blame for this. He was tested somewhere between 300-500 times and, in theory, was never positive. None of the guys that testified to USADA ever had a positive test, other than Levi, when he was an amateur and Tyler, of course. If I were you I wouldn’t worry about it at all. People on the internet are making accusations about me all the time and I don’t think a thing about it. I know I”m not taking drugs, so why would it bother me. I suggest you just keep doing what you’re doing and let the guys making the accusations just do their thing. It ain’t gonna change.

That was pretty short, but pretty accurate.  There isn’t a way to prove that you’re racing clean.  At least, not that I know of.  All of us, nearly any bike racer that has any results, gets accused of doping.  It’s not anybody’s fault, but we are in a sport that opened that Pandora’s Box.   Our sport opened, or at least exposed ourselves to this by trying to eradicate doping.  We had good intentions,  but in reality, we showed the world that most of the ways we try to police  doping hasn’t really worked.

I personally think that only draconian sanctions will make a dent into the problem.  I don’t think a 4 year ban, that WADA recently enacted, is enough.  It was a good move, but not enough.  Just making it impossible to compete isn’t enough to stop it.  There has to be huge monetary fines.  Because, in reality, most the guys doping, on a professional level, are doing it for the money.  Then the trickle down effect happened, and it spreads to other segments of the sport.

The fines in cycling need to be levied to the riders personally, and the teams.  That way, the teams will pay much closer attention to who they initially hire.

But all this, doesn’t really help guys like Eric much.  Our sport is polluted, still, and it isn’t going to change over night.  He is going to have to try to just to dismiss his frustration and go about his life and career.   Hopefully, the rest will only get better for all of us.

Here are a couple photos from Eric’s Garmin before the World Road Championships a few months ago.  Pretty crazy.  He was obviously ready to race.

Check out the power here.  That is average for 6 and 1/2 hours.  Pretty nuts.

Check out the power here. That is average for 6 and 1/2 hours.

And the speed on this ride.  This is training.  He said he rode 4 1/2 alone, 40 minutes with a group, then motorpaced the rest.  Whatever, it's still nearly 25 mph for 150 miles.

And the speed on this ride. This is training. He said he rode 4 1/2 alone, 40 minutes with a group, then motor paced the rest. Whatever, it’s still nearly 25 mph for 150 miles.

My ride yesterday.  At the end, my Garmin said I had a 266 watt average.  I am not in shape, but there is no way, in any shape, I could ride 6 + hours training, with a 285 watt average.

My ride yesterday. At the end, my Garmin said I had a 266 watt average. I am not in shape, but there is no way, in any shape, I could ride 6 + hours training, with a 285 watt average.