One of the questions I would like answered in this whole Landis versus Armstrong affair is who leaked the E-mails from Landis? Reed Albergotti, the journalist at the Wall Street Journal who broke the story, indicated that he received the E-mails from a source other than Landis. If Landis didn't leak the E-mails then who did?
Allegations aside, I think the identity of the E-mail leaker is one of the most important aspects of this whole affair. Most people have assumed that Floyd just jumped up on the digital soap box and let fly. If Floyd is not responsible for leaking the E-mails then who was the culprit and why did they do it?
Some of the E-mails were posted today on the Team Radio Shack website and one thing that is missing from those E-mails is threats by Floyd to go public with his allegations. In fact, many of the E-mails clearly indicate that what is being said is to be kept private between the parties involved.
I am not saying that Floyd didn't threaten to go public. I am just saying that those who have accused Floyd of making such threats haven't given us any proof of that claim. Sound familiar?
I feel it is very important to identify the person who leaked the E-mails. While Floyd made some very strong allegations, if he did so in private then it changes the whole way we must view this situation. Many have decried Landis for the timing of this whole incident, but if Floyd didn't leak the E-mails then he is not responsible for the timing. That responsibility lies with the person who did the leaking.
Regardless of the content of the E-mails, if Floyd meant them to be private between the parties expressly names in the "To:" and "From:" fields then he cannot be held to blame for what has transpired. We have all had frank discussions which we wanted to keep private. Is that the case here with Landis or did he have a hand in leaking these supposed private E-mails? What is the truth?
Day number five dawned on the Angen Tour of California and the only thing anyone was talking about was the overnight revelations by Floyd Landis that he had used performance enhancing drugs(PED's) and had witnessed a number of racers, including Lance Armstrong, doing the same. Landis supplied names, dates and details of the drug use; the particulars were specific enough to make some believe that what he claimed was true.
At the heart of the whole affair is the credibility of Floyd Landis. For four years he has maintained that he was innocent of the doping offense which stripped him of his 2006 Tour de France title. He even wrote a book proclaiming his innocense. Now, he has done a 180-degree turn and is admitting that he used a wide spectrum of PED's. Are we to believe the 2006-2009 Floyd Landis or the 2010 Floyd Landis?
Added to all the confusion is the claim that Floyd was trying to use this information to blackmail the organizers of the Amgen Tour of California into letting his team pariticipate in this year's race.
If you believe Floyd, from 2002-2006 there was widespread doping in the pro peloton and a number of high-profile American riders besides Lance were involved. If you believe Lance and the other riders, Floyd is down to his last gasp and is just trying to take a number of people down with him as he sinks further into the abyss.
What is really missing here is proof of Floyd's claims. At this point what we have is a "he said, he said" scenario which then brings everyone's credibility into question. Floyd's credibility is not that great. Lance's credibility seems to be pretty high. It really comes down to who do you believe.
There are always more stories surrounding a bike race than just the stuff making he headlines. Here are some stories and accompanying photos.
Usually, each rider has his name on his bike so the mecahnics can tel them apart. For the Amgen Tour of California (AToC) the riders on Team Radio Shack have the name of a cancer survivor on their bikes. Here is a photo of the bike of three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer. He is riding for Nate Wagner, a 3-year old cancer survivor from Santa Rosa. Nate has a lot of energy, unfortunately he prefers golf to riding bikes.
Several of the members of Team Bissell are having a goatee growing contest during the race. While the judging of such a contest is highly subjective, the consensus is Ben Jacques-Maynes (pictured below) is the early leader.
Paul Mach is a PhD candidate in Mathematics at University of California-Davis. He is a former All American 800m runner who switched to the bike about five years ago. He is also participating in the Bissell goatee contest. He is pictured here wearing the King of the Mountains jersey which he won on Stage 1.
Even though it was raining fairly hard for Stage 2, that didn't dampen the spirit of the fans in Levi Leipheimer's home town of Santa Rosa.
Stage 3 took the riders from San Francisco to Santa Cruz also known as Surf City, USA.
The first two stages of the Amgen Tour of California are complete and while the winner of Stage 1, Mark Cavendish, was no surprise, Brett Lancaster's victory on Stage 2 was not as predictable. In the race for the overall championship, three-time and defending champion, Levi Leipheimer (Team Radio Shack) is still on track for win number four. But, his main challengers, save for Fabian Cancellara, have also finished at the front meaning the race is still far from over.
Stage 1 from Nevada City to Sacramento was held in warm, dry weather and until the race hit the three 2-mile laps of the finishing circuits in downtown Sacramento it was a pretty boring affair. That's not to say that the first day's four man breakaway wasn't deserving of their time off the front, it is just that with the powerful HTC-Columbia team driving the chase, a field sprint was inevitable.
Drenching rain greeted the peloton for stage 2 and it was another breakway which dominated the early and mid-race action, but as in the first stage, the escapees were caught. But, unlike the first stage it wasn't the whole field rather a select group of the overall contenders including Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie(Garmin-Transitions), Mick Rogers(HTC-Columbia) and Andy Schleck(Team Saxo Bank).
Noticably absent was Fabian Cancellara who started the race sick and succumbed to his illness and ultimately losing fifteen minutes by the stage finish.
Twenty five riders contested the sprint into Santa Rosa with Brett Lancaster(Cervelo Test Team) taking the win over emerging spring sensation Peter Sagan(Liquigas). Lance Armstrong, whose fitness had been called into question before the race, was also part of the lead group. Radio Shack had five of its eight riders in the front at the finish, a strong showing by their team which bodes well for the difficulties ahead.
Because of his stage 2 win and the accompanying time bonus, Lancaster assumed the overall race lead from Stage 1 winner Mark Cavendish. Tomorrow's stage, a hilly test from San Francisco to Santa Cruz will most likely cause a change in overall race leadership as well.
It is a new year and that means it is time for a few resolutions. I am not going to bore you with the 'lose weight', 'ride more', 'train harder', 'win the Tour de France' and all those other cliche and mundane resolutions. These are big, earth shattering, life changing, global planet resolutions/wishes.
-buy a clue for the UCI. Every year I do this, but every year the UCI seems to lose it. I just don't understand how the governing body of our sport can continue to make such bonehead moves as dumping the individual pursuit from the Olympics.
-get a peace pipe for Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador. Enough already. The Tour was finished five months ago and you haven't ridden together, or against, each other since. Here's an idea. Let your legs do the talking.
-find Floyd Landis a team. OK. The big rumour is that Floyd is going to Rock Racing and that is probably true, but let's give him one more chance to put the events of 2006 behind him and get back to rocking it on the bike.
-get the World Road Championships moved back to late August/early September. The titles shouldn't go to riders who don't have anything better to do in October.
-push for the USA to have a national tour like the Tour de France. This may seem to be a bit provincial, but let's lose the Tour of Georgia, Tour of Missouri and Tour of Utah and just let the awesome Tour of California become, like the Dallas Cowboys, America's Tour.
-get women's cycling some more credibility. While the men's ranks are loaded with depth, women's racing really suffers from depth of field. We need to attract more quality female riders to the sport which will make those victories both much more deserving and also exciting.
-get more cycling on TV. It is great that NBC Universal Sports has stepped in to pick up the slack as Versus seems to want to focus more on getting more high profile sports, but both of these channels are now owned by cable giant Comcast. We need to get cycling on the four major networks so we can all watch and not have to become tools of the Comcast empire.
I did a quick assessment and it looks like Santa knows that I have been "nice", as opposed to "naughty" so there is a real possibility that I might get a present or two under my tree come this Friday. Here are some of the items on my list.
-car drivers and cyclists find a way to get along. Things seem to be going downhill in the relationship between four wheel and two wheel drivers. I am hoping for some understanding on both sides of this issue. Car drivers need to show more tolerance for the slower, law-abiding cyclists and cyclists need to obey traffic laws. It is a two-way street.
-UCI adopts a rule that takes the time of a stage during a multi-day race with 1 kilometer to go. This will allow the GC contenders to be able to relax and not have to mix it up with field sprinters. This should lead to fewer crashes.
-if the UCI won't adopt my 1km rule, then at least stop taking time gaps at the finish of stages where the whole peloton crosses the 1km to go barrier intact. Again, the GC contenders shouldn't have to mix it up with the field sprinters in those hectic finishes as they do now.
-keep Lance healthy and fast for at least two more years. Yes, he gets a lot of press and attention, but that's exactly why we need to keep him in the sport and riding well. No single cyclists in the history of the sport in America has even come close to raising public awareness of our sport. Lance may not be your favorite rider, but a rising tide floats all boats and Lance is just about as strong as the moon when it comes to our seas in cycling.
-more mountain-top finishes in the Tour of California. Please don't let this race come down to the time trial as it has for the past four years. Let's force the strong teams to work and work hard to win this race. The fans deserve it.
-bike manufacturers need to find a way to make carbon fiber frames which will accept a full-size frame pump. Using CO2 cartridges is about as "un-green" as you can get and those silly little mini-pumps are really silly.
-have the folks who make the Bike Friday include a clown suit, free of charge, with every bike purchase. You might as well dress for the part. BTW, there are several good Real(TM) bike options (S&S and Ritchey BreakAway). No one should be forced to endure 20" wheels and more extensions than Brittany's hair just to ride a bike.
-have all the people who wear MP3 players when they ride turn down the volume enough so that they can actually communicate with their fellow cyclists when a greeting occurs on the road.
-a real playoff in college football. Think all cyclists have tunnel vision? Think again.
Here are some more photos from the Team Radio Shack pre-season camp.
The boys coming back from their 100km training ride. Lance is leading the team with Levi to his left and Haimar Zubeldia on his right.
Chris Horner had a very up-and-down season in 2009. He showed signs of brilliance in the mountains during the Giro, but it seemed like everytime he was just about to hit his stride he went down in a crash. Here's hoping that he has much better luck in 2010 including a ride in the Tour de France.
The Trek-Livestrong U23 team was also training in Tucson at the same time as their professional big brothers. Taylor Phinney is the team leader of the squad. He won the U23 Paris-Roubaix and the World Championship in the 4000m pursuit in 2009 while he was still a teenager!
Jani Brajkovic is undoubtedly Slovenia's most talented cyclist. He had a breakthrough year in 2009, his best racing came at the Giro where he was very strong in the second and third weeks.
South African Daryl Impey is probably best know for being taken down in a sprint finish in the Tour of Turkey by Theo Bos. He is recovered and motivated to ride well.
I attended the Team Radio Shack pre-season camp this week. It is being held in Tucson where the weather is usually warm and sunny, but the first few days were a bit, sub-par weather-wise. That didn't stop Lance and his 25 teammates from having some fun out on the roads and doing a bit of team building. Here are some photos from the camp, note that since this is a pre-season camp the riders are all contractually obligated to wear their current team's clothing until December 31st.
Here is a photo of the man himself. He is looking very fit for December. That probably means he is planning to throw down hard in his first race of the 2010 season, the Tour Down Under, in late January.
Andreas Kloden is sporting some very striking facial hair. Johan Bruyneel has tipped Andreas, Lance and Levi as triple threats to win the 2010 Tour de France.
Jason McCartney or JMac has moved back from Saxo Bank to his buds at Team Radio Shack. He won a stage of the Vuelta a Espana for Discovery Channel in 2006.
Chechu Rubiera said he was going to retire two years ago. But, he is back in the saddle and ready to ride for Lance once again. He told me that this was definitely his last season.
Johan should be looking happy. He was able to get eight of the nine riders from his 2009 yellow jersey-winning Team Astana onto Team Radio Shack. No points for guessing who didn't make the switch.
There are several items worth adding. First and foremost is that Lance Armstrong has apparently made his decision whether to ride the AToC or the Giro which had conflicting dates. The good news is that Lance has said that he will be on the start line in Nevada City when the AToC begins on Sunday May 16th.
Lance's participation in the AToC is a huge boost to the race which has been extremely popular, but has yet to show a profit for AEG, the event's owner. Having Lance on board will give the AToC it's best chance at success. Rumor has it that if the race doesn't show a profit this year, AEG may decide to either sell the race or disband it.
Another interesting observation is that there will be a lot of climbing and, finally, a mountain-top finish. The queen stage of the race is stage 6 from Pasadena to Big Bear Lake which is rumored to contain over 13,000 feet of climbing. Unfortunately, the Station Fire, which ravaged a portion of the San Gabriel mountains may prevent the stage from climbing up to the Angeles Crest Highway.
However, if that hurdle is cleared, look for the very challenging stage to begin with a massive, 5000+ foot climb from Azusa on Highway 39 to the Angeles Crest Highway. This ascent, known locally as 'Cloudburst', is very similar in length and percent grade with the big, legendary climbs of the Tour de France like the Col du Tourmalet or Col du Glandon.
Once the race reaches the Angeles Crest Highway, there is a about 1500'-2000' of up-and-down ridge riding on the way to Wrightwood. If the race descends from Wrightwood all the way down to San Bernadino, the final ascent to Big Bear Lake is 5000+ feet. Though the grade of this climb is a bit shallower than 'Cloudburst' look for major fireworks on the long grind uphill to the finish.
With a 30-mile, flat time trial the next day in Los Angeles and a tough circuit race featuring the 2-mile, 10% Rock Store climb the final three days in the 2010 AToC will be nothing short of spectacular. Three-time AToC champion Levi Leipheimer is clearly one of the favorites, but with the switch to a May time frame he might find a few more competitors with potential race-winning form. On paper it looks to be a very exciting race.
While bike racing and baseball are both sports, besides that they have very little in common. You rarely see a pro cyclist scratching himself in public and when the rain comes pouring down in a bike race, they don't pull a tarp over the roadway and let the competitors head to the clubhouse to get warm and dry. But, if the stars align and some interesting developments actually develop, bike racing may soon resemble baseball.
Well, to be honest, it is only a momentary resemblance, but if things work out it might just be one of the most interesting happenings in pro cycling since some washed up, has been from Texas announced his return to cycling last summer (hint: Bret Favre lives in Louisiana and his cycling prowess is questionable).
The lineup of dominoes starts with Team Astana. The beleaguered Kazakhastan squad is hoping to get its Pro Tour license renewed for 2010. With the best stage race rider in the world, Alberto Contador, on the team the renewal may seem like a slam dunk. However, Lance Armstrong and Astana Team Director Johan Bruyneel left the team in 2009 and the squad is now being run by Alexandre Vinokourov.
You might remember 'Vino' from his 'exit stage right' performance at the 2007 Tour de France when he tested positive for blood doping. He served a two year suspension and is now back in the sport. But, as we have seen with other cyclists who were caught up in the web of doping, the sport of cycling sometimes finds it hard to forgive certain cyclists. Vino appears to be one such rider.
There is a rumour that because of Vino Astana will not get a Pro Tour license in 2010 setting up a very interesting baseball-like chain of events.
The first event in the chain is that when Astana does not get a Pro Tour license, Alberto Contador will be able to break his contract and become a free agent. The second event is that the new British professional squad, Team Sky, has been salivating over Garmin-Slipstream rider Bradley Wiggins. Not only did Wiggins turn a bunch of heads in finishing fourth at the 2009 Tour de France, but he's British (nothing he can do about that) and that's a very advantageous combination for Team Sky.
The third part of this scenario is that Wiggins has a buy out clause in his contract reportedly valued at $7-8 million US dollars. The last part of this whole chain of events is that Jonathan Vaughters, the head honcho at Garmin-Slipstream, wants Alberto Contador on his team in a very bad way (well, who wouldn't).
So here's how things could work out. Astana doesn't get a Pro Tour license and Alberto Contador breaks his contract. Jonathan Vaughters sells Bradley Wiggins to Team Sky to raise the money necessary to hire Alberto Contador. The only thing missing from this scenario is the 'player to be named later.'
Will this whole secenario play out? Who knows? Both Contador and Wiggins are exceptional riders and wherever they end up, they will continue to excite us all with their exploits. But, it is fun to play a little 'what if?'
The combined power of Lance Armstrong and Twitter was once again on display this past Thursday in LA (that's Los Angeles and not Lance Armstrong) as the seven-time Tour champion invited anyone within 'tweetshot' to come to famed Griffith Park and ride with him.
"Hey LA - get out of your cars and get on your bikes. Time to ride. 7:30 tomorrow am. Griffith Park, LA Zoo parking lot. See you there.." was a Tweet Lance sent out to his nearly two million followers on Wednesday. Over five hundred cyclists showed up the next day to accompany Lance on three laps of the popular Griffith Park loop the following morning. It was only a one-hour ride, but that's not the point.
The transparency provided by Twitter created an opportunity for bike racing fans to meet their hero and enjoy an early-morning spin. Lance recently invited cyclists to join him on rides in Dublin, Ireland and Plano, Texas as well. After the LA ride, Lance tweeted "Great ride in Griffith Park. Thanks, LA!. . . Off to Montreal . . ."
If you are a fan of Twitter, stay tuned, Lance may be coming to ride in a city near you.
Chris Horner's run of bad luck this season continued at the Vuelta as a crash on stage four into Liege resulted in a fractured wrist and his premature departure from the race. It was a huge crash caused by a rider touching the wheel in front of him as the peloton went through a roundabout with about 2 kilometers remaining. The crash occurred right at the front of the peloton which caused over a third of the riders to go down with the remainder caught behind the carnage. Only six riders at the front were still upright and able to contest the finishing sprint.
Chris's misfortune is yet another setback in a season beset with bad luck. Chris injured his knee in a crash in the Tour of California. He returned to racing at the Tour of Basque Country only to break his collarbone in a fall when the teammmate he was following broke his chain. Through all of this, Horner persevered and came back in super form for the Giro. He was the only rider on Team Astana who was able to keep pace with Levi Leipheimer on the climbs and was clearly a critical player for the team's overall hopes. However, on stage 10, he crashed on the descent of the Monte Cenis and broke his leg.
His Giro crash put him off the bike for twelve days, but again, his determination saw him accompany Lance and Levi to Aspen for a pre-Tour training camp. Long miles at altitude saw Horner regain his Giro form, but politics kept him off the team and he was denied the Tour de France for a second year in a row. Most likely in response to his Tour snub, he was given the team leadership role at the Vuelta. He was clearly headed for a top ten finish at the Giro; single digits at the Vuelta was clearly in the realm of possibility.
Horner is one of the nicest guys in the pro peloton. He is always available for interviews and gives frank and insightful comments. It is an unfortunate side of professional cycling that there seems to be a lot more bad luck than good. Obviously, you can't win all the time, but if you have paid your dues like Horner, you should get your chance to shine in the sun. Hopefully, Chris will be back in form for the Giro di Lombardia in early October, a race where he has been top 10 several times.
Today, September 1, the gag order on discussing rider transfers inside the pro peloton was lifted so a number of riders and teams were able to announce their key signings for 2010. Here's what's up.
Levi Leipheimer has signed a two-year deal with Lance Armstrong's Team Radio Shack. Team BMC made a strong run this summer to try and lure Levi to their team, but in the end Team Radio Shack won out probably based on the fact the Levi has had the best results of his career under Johan Bruyneel.
The Garmin-Slipstream team made a number of signings. To bolster their leadout train for fastman Tyler Farrar, the argyle crew signed South African sprinter Robbie Hunter who has won a stage of the Tour de
To fortify their classics campaign, they signed Johan Vansummeren who was most recently with Silence Lotto. He has finished top ten in Paris-Roubaix twice.
Peter Stetina, son of former US standout Dale Stetina, moves up from the development squad to the Pro Tour team. He rode exceptionally well against the likes of Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer at the Tour of Gila.
Tom Zirbel, the former distannce runner and current US road pro with Bissell brings his considerable time trialing talents to the team.
Fredrik Kessiakoff is a four time Swedish National Mountain bike champion who is currently riding with Fuji Servetto and will be looked on for his uphill talents.
Team BMC has acquired four big European stars, will next year be the year they ride the Tour?
Undoubtedly the biggest name coming to BMC is George Hincapie who leaves Team Columbia-HTC.
Marcus Burghart, who won a stage at the 2008 Tour de France also leaves Columbia-HTC for BMC.
Reigning World Road Race Champion Allessandro Ballan will move from Lampre to BMC.
Karsten Kroon has also been named to the BMC squad.