As of today, the US Discovery Channel cycling team has riders in first and third — Contador and Leipheimer respectively — in the GC at the Tour de France. They lead the team race by nearly 17 minutes. Contador will hold rights to both the white (by 13:31 over Soler) and yellow (by 1:53 over Evans) jerseys tomorrow morning. It is hard to say that the US is not the dominant force in professional cycling.
Of course, Contador was back by over three minutes from Rasmussen before his team kicked him out for missing an off-season drug test and lying about his summer whereabouts. Oh, and Astana was winning the team race by a couple of minutes before their top rider was busted for doping and the whole team pulled out of the race.
Still, We’re so #1 it’s not even funny.
De-fault! De-fault! De-fault!
USA! USA! USA!
The Rasmussen news really is a shame, as he’s been having a spectacular race. His stage 14 finish with Contador was amazing. I haven’t even seen today’s stage; supposedly he pulls 25 seconds off the other leaders in the last km. I don’t feel so bad about Vinokourov, as he was busted for doping during the race. (Why this is somehow different than skipping out on off-season testing I can not say. Seems like it shouldn’t be.) The whole Astana team quitting, on the other hand, seems odd. I guess the teams are serious about some of their stated “zero tolerance” policies. (Update: Astana was asked to leave by the tour. Oh well.)
One thing I do wonder about: is drug testing technology today really that much better than it was two, three or four years ago? From everything I’ve read, Lance Armstrong was tested before and after every single stage for the last few years he rode in the tour, yet he never had a positive result. If he actually was doping, why was he never discovered while Landis and Vinokourov and so many others were. (The simple explanation, of course, is that he wasn’t doping, which I buy based on what I’ve read about his training and the teams that were put in place around him. But that leaves out all sorts of fun conspiracy theories, so forget that.)
Oddly enough, I still find the Tour compelling even as so many riders get sacked for the EPO or whatever it is they’re mixing in to their coffee in the morning. The races are all against the rest of the field, so even if you kick out the supposedly juiced-up super-riders, you’re still going to have good, competitive races between everybody else. Contador and Soler alone would have made this year’s tour for me. (Just so long as they don’t get kicked out as well!)