Below is a link to a very good piece written by Robert Millar about this whole UCI/Lance drug deal. He chronologically goes through the era and states his opinion. If you don’t know Robert Millar, here is a link to his Wiki page. He rode the Tour de France close to a dozen time and won the KOM (Climbers) jersey in 1984. A very good bike rider.
Anyway, the first race I did in Europe on the US National Team was the Tour of Vaucluse in Southern France. It was a Pro/Am race that was maybe 4 or 5 days long. There were just a few Pro Team, only from France. But, Bernard Thevenet, who won the Tour in 1977 was riding. Along with Bernard, Robert Millar was his domestic.
It was the first time that I’d witnessed a rider setting tempo on a climb, only to be spit out at the 2 km mark. Millar would ride at the front, (I was completely at my limit), and then explode about a mile from the top, and I would pass him at twice his speed. Usually a few kilometers after the bottom of the descent, here Robert would come back riding up to the front. I couldn’t believe that the guy could do that day after day and still be competing at the level he was. It turned out that he was one of the best climbers of his era and a contender in long stage races.
One of the stages we rode up Mt. Ventoux. We’d all heard about how hard the climb was and we were scared to death. Jeff Pierce and I stayed near the front of the field climbing. We got close to each other and said something like we were doing pretty good. We thought that we were pretty close to the top. As it turned out, we hadn’t really even started the climb. We did a left hand corner and there was a wall, plus a 10km to the KOM sign. It was completely demoralizing.
I did learn something important that day. When we were climbing in a big field at the bottom, when you needed to make some room for yourself, I noticed that the guys around me would just stand and ride off their seats for a bit. They did it even when they had no reason to stand. I tried it and it worked very good. It kept the space around me open and allowed me not to be so stressed, even though though I was at my limit.
Both Jeff and I eventually got popped pretty far from the top. I remember seeing the 500 meter to go sign before the KOM. It seemed like I rode 2 miles and there was a 200 meter to go sign. I think I only had a 21 in the back. Maybe a 23, but probably a 21. And a 42 in the front. If I could have made a wheel change with a bigger cog in the back in the last 200 meters, I would have.
Anyway, we lost a lot of time that day. The race went pretty well though. I finished 5th in a stage and didn’t get completely destroyed. Laurent Fignon was riding on the French National Team along with Pascal Jules. Lot of guys that had great Pro careers were in the race.
Anyway, check this link to Robert’s Blog on Cyclingnews.com. He makes sense.