Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TdF - Science of Sport

Bikes are fun.  Riding them is fun.  Racing them is fun.  Buying them is fun.  Talking about riding them is fun.  Talking about racing them is fun.  Talking about buying them is fun.  But you know what isn't fun about bikes?  Having pro riders doping and then having endless discussions and speculation about who doped, when they doped, who didn't dope, who is involved in legal proceedings, etc., etc., etc.

While it would be more fun to just be watching bike racing during the Tour de France, we are also obliged to contemplate a couple of other related topics.  For instance, Brad Wiggins ad hominem attack after being asked about doping.  An "ad hominem" argument is one in which you the person, rather than addressing the issue.  Such as this, "Mr. Wiggo, what do you think about comparisons of the dominance of your team versus prior teams that are accused of doping?" and then the reponse, "Anyone asking that question is a wanker." 

Not sure that really gets at the core of the question.  Or actually anywhere near any part of the question. 

Frankly I was surprised 1) by this response from someone I would have thought was smart enough to say something like, " . . . we are and will always be a strong proponent of clean sport and we got to this point by working hard . . ."; 2) that when he didn't give that response or something like it, that he or the team didn't take the time to "clarify" or expand upon the response; and 3) that a bunch of pro riders/managers/etc. all thought that it was perfectly appropriate response. 

Um, no.  It wasn't.  It was a black-eye on the purported efforts of Team Sky to support clean cycling and that has nothing to do with Wiggo's salty language.

Next up, Lance Armstrong and USADA.  First of all, bad timing from USADA.  On the other hand, process is process and they would have opened themselves up to other accusations if they sat on it to wait until after the TdF.  Second, LA's federal court strategy wasn't unexpected, but the mighty slam-down by Judge Sparks was.  Find of the articles about it if you haven't read the judge's response.  Third, skipping over everything else, I will go on record as saying that I think LA will ultimately accept the penalty or some negotiated penalty rather than go to arbitration unless his ego gets the better of him.  By doing so, he gets to keep arguing that USADA was unfair, it was an unfair process and that the "never tested positive" argument should prove his point.  If they hold a hearing, the testimony from a fleet of riders will be damaging beyond repair.  Corporate think will prevail that it is better to have grey than let it get too black and white.  Haters gonna hate; believers gonna believe.  Not much going to change that with the bickering.  On the other hand, 5 or more riders on a witness stand will have a big negative impact.

Lastly, while believers are gonna believe, I think it's worth looking at some thoughtful analysis of the situation.  For that, a good place to check is the Science of Sport website.  They talk a lot about track/running stuff, but occasionally turn their attention to cycling, to wit, this discussion of power outputs during Stage 7 - http://www.sportsscientists.com/2012/07/tour-in-mountains-analysis-discussion.html.  Great read.  Also, check out this chart, referenced in the post.  Click on it to make it bigger, but the point is that the performance in some years is above that expected by scientists familiar with the limits of non-PED athletes, while this year's performances are in line with those expectations.

Interesting, yes.  Fun, not as much.

Enjoy your own riding and Tour watching.  Also, look for a transition during July from this blog, to the River City Red blog, where we will expand from bike talk only, to beer and bikes and a whole lot more. 


  1. On the fer-shiggle-Wiggle-Wiggins comments: I hear ya, but I appreciated his not staying on message. Your saying talking about doping is not fun and I agree with that too. And if rode (whihc of course means insane sufferring and training) like Wiggins or any of the guys in the TdF, I think I'd have answered similarly in that context.
    On an unrelated note, I was really bummed to see Samuel Sanchez injure out of the race. He's fun to watch.
    You can tell your rider, PM and his buddy that used to come to the scoop to watch TdF, we're streaming it, with streams of hot coffee, starting at 6am, on the porch tomorrow, thurs, and fri. That goes for you too.

  2. that would be my porch. not the scoops.

  3. Off message = good. Calling everyone who wonders about drugs in cycling a bone-idle wanker = not so good. At least I don't consider myself a bone-idle wanker but I do continue to wonder.

    On crashes, there are a bunch of people out or injured that negatively impact the race. I was disappointed to have the Race Director act like it was just part of racing to lose 10-20 people in a week to serious injury. Don't know the solution and I'm not in favor of bubble-wrapping everyone, but too bad to have Sammy Sanchez out, along with a bunch of others.

    And I will be sure that PM knows. Glad for the clarification of which porch.