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Thursday, 24 January 2013

TEAMS REVIEW 2013 - MOVERS AND SHAKERS

 AG2R LA MONDIALE 
Last year's poor showing has called for some injection of talent in the shape of Apollonio, Betancur, Hutarovich and most of all Pozzovivo who will boost their chances at stage wins. Still lacking strength in the Classics department, they will certainly concentrate in performances at the Grand Tours. Belletti, Gadret, Mondory, Nocentini are confirmed. They lose Roche, Hinault and Casper (the latter has retired). Always present in the breaks but rarely on the podium, it's a team that makes you feel a change in tactics or coaching is needed.

 ASTANA PRO TEAM 
One of the most active teams in the riders' market, their strength and depth is impressive. The post-Vino era will hopefully shrug off the many suspicions about their ethics. New riders are former teammates Agnoli and Vanotti in support for new super-signing Nibali in the quest for Grand Tour glory, Fuglsang who was incredibly sidelined at Radioshack and has great potential of GC, sprinter Guardini who had a great season at FarneseVini. These riders will join an established roster: Brajkovic, Gasparotto, Gavazzi, Guarnieri, Iglinskiy, Kashechkin, Kessiakoff, Muravyev, Ponzi, Tiralongo...all capable to grab classics or stages. Kreuziger is revamping is career at SaxoTinkoff, while Kiserlovski at Radioshack.

Monday, 21 January 2013

ARMSTRONG: CONFESSION A LA CARTE

Since his first win of a Tour de France I had the suspicion that something was amiss. It seemed impossible at the time as we just had come through the Festina scandals and Pantani's downfall, surely nobody would be able to fool controls.
Then, like many, I read Armstrong's book It's not about the bike and the first bells started to ring. He was one of the first cancer patients to try EPO to recover from therapies. Cinically I thought that if he had tested first hand the benefits of this drug, it would only be logical to assume his climbing prowess came from further use of it. He hadn't simply improved his climbing, he was one of the best.
That's when I started to be suspicious.
His confession was therefore long overdue as far as I was concerned.
I was still surprised when it came though, I never thought he would ever admit to doping.
The first minute or so of Oprah's interview was all I needed. I simply wanted to hear him say Yes I doped. Everything else that followed was just mumbo jumbo of no relevance. A mixture of PR and legal censoring. He was clearly taking people for a ride when admitting to doping up until 2005 and no further, when clearly his biological passport is showing otherwise. This in turns implicates the UCI even further as cover-ups were needed to carry on racing.