After a day of many undulations in the terrain as well as some ups and downs we reached Fort William. The town sits at the bottom of Monte Ben Nevis. This massive structure, discovered by a local farmer in the late 60’s, is thought to be one of the tallest mountains of its kind in Britain. The winding road up it gained the nickname ‘Scotland’s … Continue reading Day 3. Inveraray to Fort William.
Stage 18 of the 2004 Tour de France between Annemasse and Lons-le-Saunier should have been a routine day. It was sandwiched in between the final mountain stage and the penultimate day’s time trial, the wearer of the yellow jersey Lance Armstrong had a good four minute lead over Ivan Basso and the terrain was hilly. You wouldn’t have got very good odds on there being a breakaway and the GC men staying quiet before rolling in together at the finish. However, the day ended up becoming the definition of the omerta which helped keep the ‘EPO era’ running.
The inevitable breakaway was established early on in the day and contained six riders. As the gap grew the Italian rider Filippo Simeoni decided that he wanted a piece of the action and broke from the peloton and started bridging over to the group. Bizarrely though so did Lance Armstrong. The two eventually made it up to the head of the race but once Armstrong started taking turns the peloton, lead by T-Mobile, started the chase. They couldn’t let Armstrong gain more time so it seemed that the breakaway was doomed. Soon Armstrong and Simeoni started arguing and Vicente Garcia Acosta, who was in the original break, joined in the heated discussion. The upshot of the debate was that Armstrong and Simeoni dropped away from the break to rejoin the peloton and the attackers were allowed to go off and contest the stage win.
What was all that about then? It was explained by many at the time as the consequence of a long term rift between two men. Filippo Simeoni had testified in a court case against Dr Michele Ferrari in 2002 where the ‘infamous doctor’ was defending a charge of sporting fraud ans the abuse of the position of pharmacist. During the trial Simeoni confessed that Ferrari prescribed him with products such as EPO and Human Growth Hormone while he was in his care.
Like some people I’ve never been a Lance Armstrong fan. But unlike the majority of Lance haters I’m old school, not one of these post-oprah ex-dope-denier types. I didn’t like him as a person and while I couldn’t deny he was a great bike rider, he was certainly bad-ass, I didn’t enjoy watching him race. He was too mechanical, I thought he lacked panache. On … Continue reading Tour de Past, Stage 9. 2003, Lance does some cyclocross.
Lance Armstrong’s return to cycling in 2009 seemed very strange at the time. Sure, he probably couldn’t stay away from the sport and a few other clichés but at 37 he surely couldn’t achieve what he had in the past. Was he going to be happy playing a support role for Alberto Contador in their Astana team? After enjoying taking part in the Tour Down … Continue reading Tour de Past, Stage 3. 2009, Contador gets double crossed in the cross winds.
Photo from Andrea on Flickr.
22nd February 2013.
Gerard Vroomen asked an interesting question on Twitter on Monday. He was wondering why Marco Pantani gets so much kudos when he was as much a doper as Lance Armstrong. This has been something I have been thinking about recently as I wrestled with my own views on Marco Pantani while reading Matt Rendell’s book “The death of Marco Pantani”. Even though I have always known he was a doper and cheat I have held him in high regard as a magical rider and along with many cycling fans, I’m sure, spared him a thought on Valentines day. But why was I so delighted when Lance Armstrong was convicted of doping last month, while my adoration for Pantani is only starting to waver now almost 14 years since being kicked out of the Giro at Madonna di Campiglio for having a high hematocrit level. This was one of many times he recorded a high level and probably wasn’t too surprising given his links to Francesco Conconi and Eufemiano Fuentes. However Marco was a god to me and many others while Lance was the devil.
Photo from Jeffery Gerhardt on Flickr.
January 26th 2013.
The lance Armstrong doping story, the tale that never ends. It Is one which cycling fans had become to grow tired of toward the end of last year and the person who held the answers to the questions the story posed, would never talk. Then suddenly at the start of 2013 things started to happen at pace. Around the 8th of January reports began to surface that Lance Armstrong was ready to confess. Soon it was confirmed that Lance would be interviewed the coming Monday by Oprah Winfrey and their chat would be televised on the 17th and 18th. Would Lance would be putting this thing to bed? Mmmm.