Showing posts with label TDF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TDF. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Breaking: Landis Stripped of Tour de France Title

Landis Doping Ban Upheld
Two Year Competition Ban For Doping

From the Group News Blog Sports Desk

A 3 person U.S. Anti-Doping Agency arbitration panel stripped upheld a test showing Floyd Landis, the 2006 Tour de France champion, used synthetic testosterone on Stage 17 of the Tour.

Landis forfeits his Tour title and is baned from competing for two years, retroactive to January 30, 2007.

Landis may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


According to documents obtained by AP, the vote was 2-1 to uphold the results, with lead arbitrator Patrice Brunet and Richard McLaren in the majority and Christopher Campbell dissenting.

It's a devastating loss for Landis, who has steadfastly insisted that cheating went against everything he was all about and said he was merely a pawn in the anti-doping system's all-consuming effort to find cheaters and keep money flowing to its labs and agencies.

Landis didn't hide from the scrutiny — invited it, in fact — and now has been found guilty by the closest thing to a fair trial any accused athlete will get.

Landis, who has a month to file his appeal, is still weighing his legal options, according to a statement released by his legal team.

"This ruling is a blow to athletes and cyclists everywhere" Landis said. "For the Panel to find in favor of USADA when, with respect to so many issues, USADA did not manage to prove even the most basic parts of their case shows that this system is fundamentally flawed. I am innocent, and we proved I am innocent."

Despite the result, it's hard to see this as a total victory for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which prosecuted the case. This was a costly affair for the agency, and it exposed flaws in the system.

In its 84-page decision, the majority found the initial screening test to measure Landis' testosterone levels — the testosterone-to-epitestosterone test — was not done according to World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

But the more precise and expensive carbon-isotope ration analysis (IRMS), performed after a positive T-E test is recorded, was accurate, the arbitrators said, meaning "an anti-doping rule violation is established."

"As has been held in several cases, even where the T-E ratio has been held to be unreliable ... the IRMS analysis may still be applied," the majority wrote. "It has also been held that the IRMS analysis may stand alone as the basis" of a positive test for steroids.

The decision comes more than a year after Landis' stunning comeback in Stage 17 of the 2006 Tour, one that many people said couldn't be done without some kind of outside help. Flying to the lead near the start of a grueling Alpine stage, Landis regained nearly eight minutes against the leader, and went on to win the three-week race.

"Well, all I can say is that justice has been done, and that this is what the UCI felt was correct all along," Pat McQuaid, leader of cycling's world governing body, told The Associated Press by telephone. "We now await and see if he does appeal to CAS.

"It's not a great surprise considering how events have evolved. He got a highly qualified legal team who tried to baffle everybody with science and public relations. And in the end the facts stood up."

Spanish rider Oscar Pereiro, who finished second to Landis in the 2006 Tour, said he hadn't officially heard the news yet.

"You never want to win a competition like that," he said. "But after a year and a half of all of this I'm just glad it's over."

Landis insisted on a public hearing not only to prove his innocence, but to shine a spotlight on USADA and the rules it enforces and also establish a pattern of incompetence at the French lab where his urine was tested.

Although the panel rejected Landis' argument of a "conspiracy" at the Chatenay-Malabry lab, it did find areas of concern. They dealt with chain of command in controlling the urine sample, the way the tests were run on the machine, the way the machine was prepared and the "forensic corrections" done on the lab paperwork.

"... the Panel finds that the practises of the Lab in training its employees appears to lack the vigor the Panel would expect in the circumstances given the enormous consequences to athletes" of an adverse analytical finding, the decision said.

The majority repeatedly wrote that any mistakes made at the lab were not enough to dismiss the positive test, but also sent a warning.

"If such practises continue, it may well be that in the future, an error like this could result in the dismissal" of a positive finding by the lab.

In Campbell's opinion, Landis' case should have been one of those cases.

"In many instances, Mr. Landis sustained his burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Campbell wrote. "The documents supplied by LNDD are so filled with errors that they do not support an Adverse Analytical Finding. Mr. Landis should be found innocent."

And in at least one respect, Landis, who spent an estimated $2 million on his defense, was exonerated because the panel dismissed the T-E test. But in the arbitration process, a procedural flaw in the first test doesn't negate a positive result in follow-up tests.

"An arbitration panel is entitled to rely entirely on the IRMS analysis as an independent and sufficient basis for finding that an anti-doping rule violation has occurred," the decision said.

In his dissent, Campbell latched onto the T-E ratio test, among other things, as proof that the French lab couldn't be trusted.

"Also, the T-E ratio test is acknowledged as a simple test to run. The IRMS test is universally acknowledged as a very complicated test to run, requiring much skill. If the LNDD couldn't get the T-E ratio test right, how can a person have any confidence that LNDD got the much more complicated IRMS test correct?"

It was confusion like this that led to the system receiving the harsh review Landis was hoping for during a nine-day hearing in Malibu, Calif., in May.

But Landis also took his share of abuse, and ultimately, USADA still improved to 35-0 in cases it has brought before arbitration panels since it was founded in 2000.

This was a nasty contest waged on both sides, with USADA attorneys going after Landis' character and taking liberties in evidence discovery that wouldn't be permitted in a regular court of law. And Landis accused USADA of using a win-at-all-costs strategy and prosecuting him only to get him to turn on seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, who has long fought doping allegations that have never been proven.

Campell's decision complained that the LNDD laboratory had "cherry picked" the data in order to find the adverse result, and stated, "From the perspective of 'safeguarding the interest of athletes,' any anti-doping system must be held accountable, like the athletes. If there are flaws in procedures for testing, as evidenced above, those flaws should be immediately disclosed [...] Drug testing agencies should not be playing hide the ball when athletes' careers are on the line."

Landis's case was argued in a public hearing in May, and a ruling had initially been expected prior to this year's Tour. Landis spokeswoman Pearl Piatt told Agence France Presse that he has not decided whether to press his case before CAS.

"We're still digesting the report," she said. "They are still reading the opinion closely and looking at it."

At one stage, Landis had said the cost of making such a fight might be more than he could afford, although he has maintained his innocence throughout the doping fight.

One of his lawyers, Maurice Suh, called the ruling "a miscarriage of justice."

"The majority panel's decision is a disappointment, but particularly so because it failed to address the joint impact of the many errors that the AFLD laboratory committed in rendering this false positive," Suh said.

"To take each of these errors singly is to ignore the total falsity of the result. The majority panel has disregarded the testimony of Mr. Landis' experts, who are pre-eminent in their respective fields, without analyzing the impact of the errors on the final result."

The USADA full decision is available to read

This final selection is from people I personally believe have the best coverage of the Landis case. I trust their judgment enormously. They are fair and careful journalists of the Landis case.

Trust but Verify will continue to update their report ongoingly -- I am quoting from their breaking coverage. Check back later for more in depth reporting. Quite simply, TBV has the best and least biased reporting on Landis anywhere.
Trust but Verify

Hue's View

I have said it before, in a "real" court, in Europe or in North America, the flaws identitfied by all 3 Panel members would cause the case to be dismissed before the fact finder would apply the standard of proof.Sad day for justice. Great day (and vindiction) for WADA, the Federations and USADA.

The decision is very technical and makes decisions on the science. The majority did not find the testimony of Joe Papp "helpful in determining the issues before it..." and held Papp's testimony " no regard ..."

Panel finds Landis's testimony on his conversation with Lemond did not constitute an admission of guilt. Calls Lemond's testimony "incohate" when he refused to answer questions the Panel determined to be proper. Panel accepts the statement and explaination of Mr Landis and rejects the testimony of Lemond to the extent he claimed Landis confessed to him.

Campbell says Landis not only proved his case by a preponderance of the evidence but in many ways, "beyond a reasonable doubt". Says LNDD has not "been trustworthy from the beginning". Finds LNDD violated International standards, fails legal and ethical standards and should not be "entrusted with Landis' career."

The Panel ordered USOC to pay its fees and Dr Botre's.

The decision is very technical and makes decisions on the science. The majority did not find the testimony of Joe Papp "helpful in determining the issues before it..." and held Papp's testimony " no regard ..."

Panel finds Landis's testimony on his conversation with Lemond did not constitute an admission of guilt. Calls Lemond's testimony "incohate" when he refused to answer questions the Panel determined to be proper. Panel accepts the statement and explaination of Mr Landis and rejects the testimony of Lemond to the extent he claimed Landis confessed to him.

Campbell says Landis not only proved his case by a preponderance of the evidence but in many ways, "beyond a reasonable doubt". Says LNDD has not "been trustworthy from the beginning". Finds LNDD violated International standards, fails legal and ethical standards and should not be "entrusted with Landis' career."

"62. Because everyone assumes an athlete who is alleged to have tested positive is guilty, it is not fashionable to argue that laboratories should comply with strict rules. However, if you are going to hold athletes strictly liable with virtually no possibility of overcoming a rcported alleged positive test even in the face of substantial and numerous laboratory errors, fairness and human decency dictates that strict rules be applied to laboratories as well. To do otherwise d doesn't safeguard the interest of athlctes."

63. WADA should be writing rules that mandate the highest scientific stantiards rather than writing rule for a race to the bottom of scientific reliability so convictions can be easily obtained, as this cased demonstrates. Givcn the plethora of laboratory errors in this case, there was certainly no reliable scientific evidence introduccd to find that Mr. Landis committcd a doping offense."

From paragraph 52:
"When you consider all the errors and ISL violations in this case, the fact that the results also do not comport with known science is dispositive. I cannot be comfortable satisfied that LNDD’s results are correct."

From footnote 13:

13. I was very concerned with my evaluation of the errors associated with Mr. Landis’ tests. To confirm that there was a problem with cherry picked of data I asked the Panel’s expert, Dr. Botrè to review my concerns. His response was that he could not figure out where the data came from. While this is certainly not evidence in the case, Dr. Botrè’s response is in accord with what both parties agreed, that the Panel could have an expert to explain complicated scientific information. His response confirmed my suspicion of the problem.
My view...

This is absolute bullshit.

Campbell, Hue, even the two panel members who voted against Landis, all have clearly identified sufficient grounds that as has been said over and over again, in any court of LAW, the so-called evidence would have been thrown out as hopelessly contaminated, the laboratory records as so confused and possibly forged as unusable and potentially perjured.

No District Attorney or Federal Prosecutor in a criminal case (or their equivalent in west Europe), no matter how reckless or desperate their need to win, would ever use this evidence (or would be allowed to by the Judge. And Gods help them if they tried. The Defense Attorney would ask to have them disbarred and thrown in jail on contempt charges; the Judge would do it.)

All the Landis evidence in any real court (not this rigged "guilty until proven otherwise and we can change all the rules on the fly till we get the verdict we want, plus we'll just freaking ignore anything that doesn't work for us", and no, sorry, I'm actually not kidding) would be:

A) Thrown out.

B) Used to impeach the prosecutor's case.

C) Just the fact that the flawed tests and lab procedures existed at all for anyone, would be a massive, truly fucking massive strike against the prosecution's case against anyone, as forensic screw ups strike at the heart and soul, the fundamental integrity and credibility of the laboratory giving the tests for anyone.

D) Jammed up the ass of anyone stupid enough to have not hidden it far, far away from the prosecutor who now is forced to disclose the results to the defense, thus screwing her case completely and setting the defendant free, as I've just spelled out above.

E) Of course an ethical prosecutor interested in Justice, not her conviction record, would want to know about the problem so she could disclose it. And pigs might fly out my ass.

But all this only in a Court Of Law.

What Floyd Landis got was not a Court of Law. He got a 3 person U.S. Anti-Doping Agency arbitration panel. They voted 2-1 to uphold the evidence against him, even if they had to bend, break, and fucking torque with a crowbar the rule book to get the man they simply knew in their gut to be Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!

We can not say Floyd Landis is innocent.
But we sure as shit can
not say he is guilty.

Except perhaps, of actually trusting that "the system" might be trusted. Or that panel arbitrators might put truth and honesty before voting their paychecks.

This verdict is a travesty. It is injustice.

From now on, every time you hear of an athlete who "is a doper", think of Floyd Landis and know... you truly do not know.

The system is rigged.

This has been a breaking news report and editorial comment LIVE from the Group News Blog Sports Desk, Jesse Wendel reporting. Good Day.
There's more...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tour de France: Stage 20

Marcoussis to Paris (Champs-Elysees) 146 km

Stage 20 ends the Tour. What a trip. GNB Sports. Welcome.

A beautiful day riding into Paris. Only 31 seconds separate Alberto Contador in Yellow leading the Tour from Levi Leipheimer in third, both riding for Team Discovery Channel. Cadel Evans 23 seconds back is in second for Predictor-Lotto. It's unlikely Cadel will try to move up but with only 23 seconds between them almost anything could be enough to cause the race lead to shift. The race isn't over till it's over. Discovery's job today is to protect the Yellow Jersey all the way to the finish.

After hours of meandering French countryside we're finally about to make the famous turn onto the Champs-Elysees, the roar of the crowd, and eight increasingly fast laps ending with a bell lap where the 141 riders of the 189 who started the Tour will scream past the cheering crowds in a dangerous sprint for the finish. AND ONTO THE CHAMP-ELYSEES THEY COME, around the right corner the peloton of the Tour de France led by Team Discovery the best team this year and George Hincapie leading out the team riding close around its leader Yellow Jersey holder Alberto Contador, the Discovery boys for the eighth year of the last nine, lead the way onto the fabled cobblestones for the first of eight circuits.

Across the finish line team Discovery rides at high speed with 31 kilometers left. And here we go... An hour of breakaways, quick reactions, attempts to sprint clear, tension, counter moves, and chases. What matters is Alberto Contador staying ahead of Cadel Evans, while Cadel Evans stays ahead of Levi Leipheimer. Any attempt by Discovery or Predictor-Lotto to make a move will be hit back hard and instantly. Everyone else can do as they wish as long as they're not seen to be riding in support of the main riders or a danger to the main riders.

Rabobank -- who you may recall pulled Yellow Jersey holder Michael Rasmussen out of the Tour after he won stage 16 claiming Rasmussen lied to the team, then fired him from Rabobank, then pulled the entire team out of the Tour -- has said that they, Rabobank will pay team members their shares of the GC winner's purse for their hard work over two weeks getting and then keeping Rasmussen in Yellow, that is paying the riders a full GC share just as if Rasmussen had gone on to win the Tour. An amazingly classy move by Rabobank.

Speaking of, Alexandre Vinokourov's B sample has come back positive; we know through a media leak, another violation of testing protocol via the French labs via the French press. Our experience with looking at the Floyd Landis case in lots of detail from a year ago through all of the hearings till today, short version, is we wouldn't want to be on trial on the basis Floyd is being tried. His case and that of other athletes in many sports lacks major elements of due process and what people in the U.S. would consider normal constitutional safeguards and protections. Additionally the presumption of innocence is reversed; the athlete is expected to prove a negative in many cases. Finally, the procedures of the French laboratories are sloppy past the point of being believable in any case where careers and reputation hang in the balance.

Having said all this, of course Vino may have doped. Desperate people do desperate things. We hope however no one reading this believes anything about doping because they read about it in the popular press or because the UCI or the Tour organization or the anti-doping laboratories say so, any more than most of us believe the main-stream media. In the same way, you certainly shouldn't believe the riders any more than we believe major media figures. About the Floyd Landis case, Trust But Verify has enormous credibility about doping. Want to learn more about all of the doping cases? Start there.

From London to Paris in 22 days around France. Now we're in the heart of Paris riding around in circles going faster and faster. The break of ten has 25 seconds on the peloton with two laps to go. A slight drizzle has started. The cobblestones are slick and increasingly dangerous.

Remember that stage 8 famous bidon pull Levi made to get back after mechanical troubles, the infamous ten second penalty? Levi's only down to Cadel by eight seconds. The unexpected penalty -- many would say uncalled for -- cost Levi second place on the final podium. Levi of course is nothing but gracious: "If it was for the win, it would have been more heart-breaking. We have two stage wins, the Yellow Jersey, the White Jersey and two guys on the podium. I think we can be happy with this Tour." Levi -- don't forget Discovery is about to win the Team Classification also!

The peloton swallows the break. It's all coming down to a sprint finish as we hit the BELL LAP. Alberto Contador and his Yellow Jersey is enroute to victory, tucked away and protected by his teammates about 20 riders from the front. It's the sprinters now racing flat-out for the stage win in a long line AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME AT OVER 55 kilometers per hour at 250 meters to the final finishing line, teammates swinging off, Bennati, Hunter, Thor Hushovd, Hunter, Zabel, Boonen, it's Bennati! Daniele Bennati on the line the man from Italy wins today in Paris.

Final Results 2007 Tour de France

Alberto Contador the 24 year old young man wins both the Yellow Jersey of the Tour de France Overall Win and the White Jersey of the Best Young Rider. Tom Boonen wins the Green Jersey of the Points Competition (Sprinters). Mauricio Soler wins the Polka-Dot Jersey of the King of the Mountains. And Amets Txurruka wins Most Aggressive rider.

2,200 miles, 21 days, and 31 seconds -- that's 500 meters at speed -- separates the three leaders from each other in the second closest ever finish in Tour history, behind only the 8 second gap of winner Lemond and Fignon. Alberto Contador may be the future face of the Tour, the first rider since Jan Ulrich in 1997 to win both the Tour and the White Jersey, although certainly Cadel Evans wants another chance to win Yellow. And Levi may have his eyes set there as well.

The Discovery Team wins the Team Classification award for the first time ever including all the years they rode for Lance. George Hincapie looks SO happy. *sighs*

That's the 2007 Tour de France. No way to sum up this Tour. Our article on doping and trust will be published this week. Thank you for for an amazing 22 days, for your insightful comments and for welcoming this series. It's been fun and worthwhile. Go ride a bicycle.

From the GNB Sports Desk, this has been Jesse Wendel. Goodbye.

Today's video highlights -- Great Tour coverage at VeloNews

A Feast on Wheels: Behind the scenes Tour coverage by correspondent Bonnie DeSimone of ESPN, Boston Globe and the Oregonian.

Cyclelicious -- What's Your Source of News for Le Tour?

TDF Stage 20 Results -- Top 5:
The top five in the 20th stage of the 2007 Tour de France is:
1. Daniele Bennati (ITA) LAM
2. Thor Hushovd (NOR) C.A
3. Erik Zabel (GER) MRM
4. Robert Hunter (RSA) BAR
5. Tom Boonen (BEL) QSI

TDF: Standings after Stage 20

1 112 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP DSC 91:00:26.000 00:00:00.000
2 041 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 91:00:49.000 00:00:23.000
3 111 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA DSC 91:00:57.000 00:00:31.000
4 031 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC 91:07:34.000 00:07:08.000
5 071 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS 91:08:43.000 00:08:17.000
6 018 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 91:12:03.000 00:11:37.000
7 027 KIRCHEN, Kim LUX TMO 91:12:44.000 00:12:18.000
8 118 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR DSC 91:12:51.000 00:12:25.000
9 073 ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP EUS 91:14:40.000 00:14:14.000
10 011 PEREIRO SIO, Oscar ESP GCE 91:14:51.000 00:14:25.000
There's more...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tour de France: Stage 19

Cognac to Angouleme 55.5 km

Time trial. Racing. GNB Sports, Stage 19. Hello.

Didi Senft, our old friend the Devil is jumping up and down near the start gate as Leipheimer takes the field. *smiles* What good luck for the riders today.

All riders are on course. The three who count for the podium: Levi Leipheimer, Cadel Evans, and Alberto Contador, none of whom have reached the first time check. Unofficially Leipheimer is kicking everyone's ass.

Here comes the first check for the final three: Leipheimer is under 20! First person under 20 minutes. 19:49 for Leipheimer. Evans 14 seconds back at 20:03. Levi needs 59 seconds on Evans to take over second place. Alberto Contador takes the checkpoint at 20:12. Okay, here it is. Evans is gaining on 1st place Contador but losing ground to 3rd place Leipheimer. All three riders are coming together. Right now we can't say who will be 1 - 2 - 3 in the Tour 40 minutes from now or what the gap will be. Which leaves an interesting question... Traditionally no one attacks the Tour GC Leader on stage 20 into Paris. But if the gap between 1 - 2 - 3 is tiny? This has not been a traditional tour...

Vladimar Karpets takes a new best time of 1.04:40. Levi will win the stage we believe so Karpets' time isn't going to hold up. Doesn't mean we're dissing it.

Programing Note: We're not certain where all our colleagues are either but at the moment y'all seem stuck with just us. That's why this is the Group News Blog.

Second check point. Levi blowing everyone away @ 39:44, the winner of the Tour de California this year. Go baby go! He's doing over 40 kph uphill. Tear it up... Pereiro just crossed the finish. May move him into a top ten finish for the Tour. Cadel Evans crosses the second check @ 40:19, giving Evans just a 29 second advantage over Leipheimer in the GC classification from the start of today. Evans damn well better catch Contador because Leipheimer is catching Evans!!!

Here comes Contador across the second check: He's in trouble! 41:13 puts him in fifth overall for the checkpoint, letting Evans come up on him easy. We can't do maths in our head easily but the quick version is, Evans needs less than a minute more either of him going faster or Contador going slower to take the Yellow Jersey off Contador. But that's not enough because Levi Leipheimer is tearing up the GC on Evans; it isn't enough for Evans to catch Contador. He must fight off Levi Leipheimer who could win the Tour de France right here, right now.

Levi Leipheimer passes Carlos Sastre who started ahead of him by three minutes, Sastre who sits in fourth place in the Tour de France. We've never seen anyone ride like this except perhaps Lance Armstrong. This is a ride of the old man who is seeing Yellow. Levi Leipheimer is going to win the stage. He is riding now for the right to wear the Yellow Jersey.

Remember the 10 second penalty Levi got for the bidon pull early in the Tour? He had to get back to the peloton before they started the climb. Had to. So no complaining about it now. One does what one must and deals with the consequences later.

Levi's under the 1 km red kite. Faster, faster! The long straight to the finish has a nasty climb. He's going over 50 kph. Ride Levi. He's in an aero position no one else has seen. He is 8 seconds behind Evans at the last time check. Levi must take Evans RIGHT NOW to win the Tour.

Levi crosses the line. Levi is over with a time of 1.02:44, that's 53.1 kph! Here comes Cadel Evans trying to hold on to a final ranking above Levi. And he does it! Cadel Evans does it. He saves himself with a magical last 5 kilometers over Levi. Alberto Contador on the final kilometer may make it in with 10-15 seconds to spare. He's racing with all he's got. Cadel could still win this and we're not even talking about time bonuses tomorrow. Lance Armstrong rides in the car behind him the greatest rider ever with Johan Bruyneel the greatest team manger ever coaching their rider...CONTADOR SAVES HIS TOUR. CONTADOR STAYS IN YELLOW. CONTADOR WINS BY TWENTY-THREE SECONDS. The final Tour podium is: Contador - Evans - Leipheimer, with Leipheimer wining stage 19 with a glorious ride.

Nineteen stages and the GC first to third place is just 31 seconds. Levi is only 8 seconds behind Cadel Evans. While there are time bonuses on the road and at the finish tomorrow, Levi just confirmed in a television interview what anyone who has watched Levi over the years knew: Levi respects Tour tradition; he will not attack Cadel on stage 20. These are the final podium placements.

Congratulations to Alberto, Cadel and Levi for their final placement in the Tour, for riding an amazing stage today, and special congratulations to Levi Leipheimer after all these years of being the true professional for everyone else now finally winning a Tour stage for himself and for finishing on the podium in Paris: Way to go Levi. Thank you for years of wonderful racing. More than anyone else, you and George are the true heart of American racing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This is GNB Sports. See you tomorrow for the ride to Paris and the final podium. Good day.

Stage 20 LIVE in the U.S. on Versus: Early Start: Sunday, July 29, 7:30 AM - 12:00 PM ET/4:30 - 9:00 AM PT.

Today's video highlights -- Great Tour coverage at VeloNews

A Feast on Wheels: Behind the scenes Tour coverage by correspondent Bonnie DeSimone of ESPN, Boston Globe and the Oregonian.

Cyclelicious -- What's Your Source of News for Le Tour?

TDF Stage 19 Results -- Top 10:
The top 10 in stage 19 is:
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) DSC - 53.1kmh in 1h02'44"000
2. Cadel Evans (AUS) PRL at 0'51"
3. Vladimir Karpets (RUS) GCE at 01'56"
4. Yaroslav Popovych (UKR) DSC at 02'01"
5. Alberto Contador (ESP) DSC at 02'18"
6. José Ivan Gutierrez (ESP) GCE at 02'27"
7. George Hincapie (USA) DSC at 02'33"
8. Oscar Pereiro Sio (ESP) GCE at 02'36"
9. Leif Hoste (BEL) PRL at 02'48"
10. Mikel Astarloza (ESP) EUS at 02'50"

TDF: Standings after Stage 19

1 112 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP DSC 87:09:18.000 00:00:00.000
2 041 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 87:09:41.000 00:00:23.000
3 111 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA DSC 87:09:49.000 00:00:31.000
4 031 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC 87:16:26.000 00:07:08.000
5 071 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS 87:17:35.000 00:08:17.000
6 018 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 87:20:55.000 00:11:37.000
7 027 KIRCHEN, Kim LUX TMO 87:21:36.000 00:12:18.000
8 118 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR DSC 87:21:48.000 00:12:30.000
9 073 ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP EUS 87:23:32.000 00:14:14.000
PEREIRO SIO, Oscar ESP GCE 87:23:43.000 00:14:25.000
There's more...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tour de France: Stage 18

Cahors to Angouleme 211 km

Good morning, GNB Sports. Stage 18.

Today Contador is in Yellow. He doesn't look quite certain he deserves it. The 140 other riders of the Tour don't seem to carry such doubts. This may be the first Tour Discovery manages to put two riders on the podium. If Levi Leipheimer has a good day tomorrow, perhaps Discovery will go 1 - 2. Take that Lance Armstrong!

Still haven't put in yesterday's stage notes. Will try and get it done today. Had computer issues last night at home. Not to mention went for a long ride last night to clear my head. Hurrah -- my Cilosport HAC4 Plus cycling computer (plug, plug) works like a dream. LOVE it. Needed some service for the first time in three years. Treated me as if I was the only person in the whole world. Good people. This is the model U.S. Postal used three years ago. Great stuff.

Today's transition stage, the fast version:

A five person break got out early. Sandy Casser and Axel Merckx are the people who matter. Willems hit a dog (yes, the dog is fine) taking down Sandy with him. Willems (LIQ) shuffled back to the peloton. Casser has major road-rash. The person who let the dog loose is a fucking idiot.

The break stays 8-10 minutes ahead all day. Here's the call:

Under the red kite. Which would be a great name for a nightclub.

Axel Merckx in his last Tour in third. Casser back. Boogerd in great position.

300 meters to go. Here comes the sprint. Sandy Casser out in front rips for the line.

Axel fades. AND THEY DON'T CHALLENGE SANDY. Sandy Casser the injured man takes it all the way home by 4 to 5 bicycle lengths. The French for the French and Sandy gets his first ever stage win he's been chasing for so ever long. What a great day for Sandy Casser and France.

Peloton finally gets here, 8 odd minutes later. Boonen on the line over Robbie Hunter. Tom Bonnen should take Green in Paris.

See you tomorrow with our normal coverage for the individual time trial. GNB Sports, good day.

Stage 19 LIVE in the U.S. on Versus: Early Start: Saturday, July 28, 8:00 - 11:30 AM ET/5:00 - 8:30 AM PT.

Today's video highlights -- Great Tour coverage at VeloNews

A Feast on Wheels: Behind the scenes Tour coverage by correspondent Bonnie DeSimone of ESPN, Boston Globe and the Oregonian.

Cyclelicious -- What's Your Source of News for Le Tour?

TDF Stage 18 Results -- Top 5:
The peloton reached the 5km to go banner 9'30" after Casar's quartet. The battle for fifth place is due soon but before the bunch arrives, here is the order of the top four in Angouleme:
1. Sandy Casar (FRA) FDJ - 211.0km in 5h13'31" (40.38km/h)
2. Axel Merckx (BEL) TMO - (minus 1 second)
3. Laurent Lefevre (FRA) BTL - (minus 1 second)
4. Michael Boogerd (NED) RAB - (minus 1 second)
The peloton has finished the 18th stage with a deficit of 8'35" to Casar. Boonen led the bunch home and held off a strong challenge from Hunter, Zabel and Chavanel.

TDF: Standings after Stage 18

1 112 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP DSC 86:04:16.000 00:00:00.000
2 041 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 86:06:06.000 00:01:50.000
3 111 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA DSC 86:07:05.000 00:02:49.000
4 031 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC 86:10:18.000 00:06:02.000
5 071 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS 86:10:45.000 00:06:29.000
6 018 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 86:14:34.000 00:10:18.000
7 027 KIRCHEN, Kim LUX TMO 86:15:52.000 00:11:36.000
8 118 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR DSC 86:17:03.000 00:12:47.000
9 219 SOLER HERNANDEZ, Juan Mauricio COL BAR 86:17:47.000 00:13:31.000
10 073
ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP EUS 86:17:58.000 00:13:42.000
There's more...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tour de France: Stage 17

Pau to Castelsarrasin 188.5 km

GNB Sports, 141 riders, stage 17. Drugs? Drama?

Stage results tonight. Open thread till then. Today's results are fine to report/comment on.

Your text is the below [edited] question, promoted from comments (thanks Laure):

Can we get back to saving the Republic, Doc?

Huh? Can we? Please?

Cuz, Le Tour is just another business with The Man Holding Forth, and breaking the dreams of it's fans . . . and that just don't cut it any more.

The Reality Stakes are MUCH more real and important than sports, anymore

But, we need ya back for The Fight.

We really, really, need ya back, Doc.
Is that what we've been writing? Or has something else been going on...


WATCH THIS SPACE for very quick and dirty stage results tonight... a much faster read than GNB's normal Tour articles. Probably.

UPDATE: Middle of the night, early Sunday July 29...

What got updated: The photo at the top, the results at the bottom, and our quick & dirty stage results right here. We're only what, 3.5 days late? Whatever. Anyway, GNB Sports and a happy middle of the freaking night to you.


The Start: After yesterday's removals 142 riders left in the Tour. Menchov abandons leaving 141.
The Tour "Sans-Maillot Jaune"

There have been a few examples in the past few decades when there was no yellow jersey worn in a stage of the Tour de France. At the stage of stage five in 2005, Lance Armstrong said that he didn’t think it was right to wear the 'maillot jaune' because the former stage leader, Dave Zabriskie, lost it because of a crash at the end of the team time trial the day before. Armstrong did, however, stop at the 0km mark to put the leader’s jersey on at the request of Jean-Marie Leblanc.

There have been similar circumstances in the past. In 1971, when Luis Ocana crashed on the Col de Mente while in the yellow jersey. Eddy Merckx inherited the lead but did not wear yellow the next day.

In 1991 Rolf Sorensen broke his collarbone because of a crash in the final kilometer while wearing the yellow jersey. He was forced to abandon after the stage but no yellow jersey was presented that day.

In 1998 Chris Boardman crashed while wearing the yellow jersey in stage two. Erik Zabel inherited the lead and did wear yellow in stage three.
The Break: Daniele Bennati takes Markus Fothen at the line for his first stage and Lampre's first win this year in the Tour de France. Two other riders are with them.

The Finish: The peloton comes in 9 min later, Tom Boonen wins the sprint, ninth in the stage. Alberto Contador wears yellow. Wow...


Thank you for staying freaking GLUED TO YOUR REFRESH BUTTON for 3.5 days. *bows* This has been a GNB Sports update. We're going to bed before the stage-20 alarm wakes us up in less than two hours. Night-night.

Stage 18 LIVE in the U.S. on Versus: Friday, July 27, 8:30 - 11:30 AM ET/5:30 - 8:30 AM PT.

Today's video highlights -- Great Tour coverage at VeloNews

A Feast on Wheels: Behind the scenes Tour coverage by correspondent Bonnie DeSimone of ESPN, Boston Globe and the Oregonian.

Cyclelicious -- What's Your Source of News for Le Tour?

TDF Stage 17 Results -- Top 10:
The top 10 of the stage from Pau to Castelsarrasin is:
1. Daniele Bennati (ITA) LAM - 188.5km in 4h14’04" (44.515km/h)
2. Markus Fothen (GER) GST - at same time
3. Martin Elmiger (SUI) A2R) - at same time
4. Jens Voigt (GER) CSC) - at same time
5. David Millar (GBR) SDV - at 2’41"
6. Matteo Tosatto (ITA) QSI - at 2’43"
7. Manuel Quinziato (ITA) LIQ - at 3’20"
8. Daniele Righi (ITA) LAM - at 3’20"
9. Tom Boonen (BEL) QSI - at 9'37"
10. Sebastien Chavanel (FRA) FDJ - at 9'37"

TDF: Standings after Stage 17
1 112 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP
DSC 80:42:08.000 00:00:00.000
2 041 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 80:44:01.000 00:01:53.000
3 111 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA DSC 80:44:57.000 00:02:49.000
4 031 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC 80:48:10.000 00:06:02.000
5 071 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS 80:48:37.000 00:06:29.000
6 018 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 80:52:26.000 00:10:18.000
7 027 KIRCHEN, Kim LUX TMO 80:53:44.000 00:11:36.000
8 118 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR DSC 80:54:58.000 00:12:50.000
9 219 SOLER HERNANDEZ, Juan Mauricio COL BAR 80:55:39.000 00:13:31.000
10 073 ASTARLOZA, Mikel ESP EUS 80:55:50.000 00:13:42.000
There's more...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tour de France: Stage 16

FLASH UPDATE (3:25 pm PT):
Rasmussen pulled from Tour, fired from Team

Details at bottom of post...

Orthez to Gourette (Aubisque) 218.5 km

Toughest stage of Le Tour. Stage 16. GNB Sports. Attack!

Eleven percent. Eleven, eleven point five percent at the steepest all spelled out. The map truly is not the territory. The cameras of the Tour shave at least 3-4 percentage points off each climb. Watching television one simply can not grasp how steep a climb is of 11.5%. A hiking staff would make an enormous difference walking even a few feet. In the United States it is illegal to construct a national hiking trail this steep. The Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail -- by law none of these top ten percent.

Michael Rasmussen, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Levi Leipheimer, all the key leaders except Sastre are in the main group of twelve to fifteen. Sastre is in the breakaway currently 1:20 ahead heading to the last major climb of this years' Tour, the hors categorie climb up the Col d’Aubisque. The breakaway will be captured soon. The Tour comes down to this...

Eighteen brutal kilometers of climbing to a stage victory. Whomever has the fastest GC time at the end of this stage will probably win the Tour assuming they hold on in the stage 19 individual time trial. Unless he cracks this climb is Rasmussen's to lose to Contador. Contador must attack early and often. Contador needs 2:43 to pull even with Rasmussen; Rasmussen has two teammates with him to protect him and rides strongly. The chase, bah. It has only 43 seconds and will be caught.

It's about time Department: The Devil (Didi Senft) was on the last climb about one km from the top. If you don't know what this means, never mind... *smiles*

It has begun... Discovery Channel's three riders mass for an attack. Rabobank's three prepare to defend. As soon as it gets just a bit steeper Michael Rasmussen will be isolated and must protect his Yellow Jersey. The chase still has a minute, trying to stave off the inevitable.

OUCH! Watching riders crack hurts. One moment they're racing, sprinting up the mountain, the next a spectator must push them momentarily less the rider fall over. In the jargon, "they're riding backwards." No kidding. Like they hit a freaking wall.

Team Discovery sets the pace up the mountain. Popovych gives everything. Only six riders left, everyone else has been ridden off their wheels except one rider from Discovery, Popovych, Contador, Evans, Rasmussen & Leipheimer. The rider from Discovery goes. Now Popovych is done and Leipheimer takes over setting the pace. Four are left (in order) climbing: Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Contador and Evans. These are the four GC Tour leaders. They've dropped everyone else. They climb the mountain together.

Leipheimer sets up Contador who will attack soon, who must attack. AND CONTADOR ATTACKS! Rasmussen responds. Contador accelerates brutally and Rasmussen with 2:23 of GC time to respond takes a moment, then catches up. The only person Rasmussen must catch is Contador yet he also responds to attacks from Levi; he defends Yellow with ease. No one will break him today.

Seven kilometers to go. Contador goes again. Levi's cracked. Only three riders left. Contador, Rasmussen and Cadel Evans, and Rasmussen hits Contador who counterattacks in response. Six kilometers to go and the Yellow Jersey dictates the pace up the mountain.

Levi Leipheimer climbs back up to Cadel Evans. Michael Rasmussen answers every attack Alberto Contador throws at him. Attack, respond. Attack, respond. Levi leaves Cadel Evans behind, riding himself up to the two leaders. Two on one: Contador & Leipheimer on Rasmussen with Evans stuck ten to fifteen seconds back and falling further behind. Even though Contador has Leipheimer there to help him, he's no longer attacking. Rasmussen is too strong. Rasmussen clearly is in control. No one can touch him today. In his untouchability, reminds me of some dude who use to ride the Tour...

Leipheimer is amazing pulling Rasmussen and Contador up the mountain. This is the best Leipheimer has ever done in any Tour. He dreams of a podium finish in Paris and we hope he gets it. Rasmussen has it nailed. Short of a disaster Rasmussen wins in Paris. Two kilometers to go, absolutely no pressure at all on the Yellow Jersey. Contador simply has no legs left. What a beautiful afternoon this is in France. Doping, no doping; we love the Tour, riders and cycling.

One kilometer to go, Leipheimer, Rasmussen, Contador as they go under the 1 km red kite. RASMUSSEN CRACKS CONTADOR AND RASMUSSEN RACES UP TOWARDS THE LINE, RASMUSSEN RACES TO THE LINE ALONE.

Here comes the Tour de France winner presumptive all alone racing to the line. This is the man with all the added pressure of years of scandals breaking over his head. He rides as if buoyed up the mountain by the scrutiny, stamping out his personal mark on the Tour, increasing his lead in the GC all the way to the finish where a 20 second time bonus awaits him and with each stroke he gains time on everyone who dares question him. Contador rides backwards and Levi drops back a touch to help guide his teammate in, the young 24-year old rider needing the old man Leipheimer to drag him up towards the mountaintop finish as Michael "the Chicken" Rasmussen, holder of the maillot jaune, holds both arms high in the air in triumph over the whole goddamn world at the highest point of the Tour here on top the Col d’Aubisque as he takes his second stage win this Tour, crossing the line, winning stage 16 a full 26 seconds ahead of Leipheimer in second, 35 seconds ahead of Contador in third.

American Levi Leipheimer needs only 56 seconds to move up over Cadel Evans from GC 4 to GC 3 and place on the podium in Paris. Those seconds may well be his on Saturday in the individual time trial of stage 19 where third place is very much up for grabs.

Congratulations to Solar Hernandez now wearing his very own King of the Mountains' Jersey. Previously Hernandez was in second with Rasmussen first in KOM points but as one can not wear two jerseys at once, Hernandez wore KOM as Rasmussen wore Yellow. After today however, KOM belongs to Solar on his own merit. Well done Solar!

Today was one hell of a stage finally settling the top spots of the Tour. Tomorrows' stage is mostly flat. A break might well succeed. See you then. GNB Sports, thanks for everything.

Levi directly after the stage (on TV): An extremely hard stage, maybe the hardest stage I've ever seen.

Riders remaining: Starting Stage 16 there were 151 riders left of 189 who started the Tour. We don't know if anyone abandoned during the stage.

Doping: Another positive test leaked to French press; French/German riders stage sit-down at start of Stage 16; VeloNews Live just reported UCI saying Cristian Moreni was the rider who tested positive after Stage 11. The positive result was a skewed testosterone/epitestosterone ratio.

Stage 17 LIVE in the U.S. on Versus: Thursday, July 26, 8:30 - 11:30 AM ET/5:30 - 8:30 AM PT.

Today's video highlights -- Great Tour coverage at VeloNews

A Feast on Wheels: Behind the scenes Tour coverage by correspondent Bonnie DeSimone of ESPN, Boston Globe and the Oregonian.

Cyclelicious -- What's Your Source of News for Le Tour?

TDF Stage 16 Results -- Top 5:
For the second time this year, a rider in the yellow jersey has won a stage. The top five of stage 16 from Orthez to the Col d'Aubisque is:
1. Michael Rasmussen (DEN) RAB - 218.5km in 6h23'21"
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) DSC at 26"
3. Alberto Contador (ESP) DSC at 35"
4. Cadel Evans (AUS) PRL at 43"
5. Mauricio Soler (COL) BAR at 1'25"

TDF: Standings after Stage 16

1 058
RASMUSSEN, Michael DEN RAB 76:15:15.000 00:00:00.000
2 112 CONTADOR, Alberto ESP DSC 76:18:25.000 00:03:10.000
3 041 EVANS, Cadel AUS PRL 76:20:18.000 00:05:03.000
4 111 LEIPHEIMER, Levi USA DSC 76:21:14.000 00:05:59.000
5 031 SASTRE, Carlos ESP CSC 76:24:27.000 00:09:12.000
6 071 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS 76:24:54.000 00:09:39.000
7 018 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP GCE 76:28:43.000 00:13:28.000
8 027 KIRCHEN, Kim LUX TMO 76:30:01.000 00:14:46.000
9 118 POPOVYCH, Yaroslav UKR DSC 76:31:15.000 00:16:00.000
10 219 SOLER HERNANDEZ, Juan Mauricio COL BAR 76:31:56.000 00:16:41.000

Updates (3:15 pm PT):

Team Cofidis leaves Tour

Swiss Paper drops Tour coverage; only covers Doping

FLASH UPDATE (3:25 pm PT):

Rasmussen pulled from Tour, fired from Team

Michael Rasmussen, Yellow Jersey holder and winner of today's Stage 16, has been pulled out of the Tour de France by Rabobank, his own team, and then fired from Rabobank for lying about his location during June. Rasmussen has said he was in Mexico when he reportedly was in Italy. Rasmussen is said to have been fired for violating Team rules.

With Rasmussen's departure, Alberto Contador of Discovery, age 24, is now the leader of the Tour de France. Australian Cadel Evans is in second, and American Levi Leipheimer also of Discovery is now in third.
There's more...