HomeNews & FeaturesRoad CyclingUncertainty Despite Contadors Decisive Tour Victory

Uncertainty Despite Contadors Decisive Tour Victory

Though the 96th Tour de France commenced on a high, Astana’s inner team rivalry and the media speculation on doping has clouded the years biggest cycling event. This years winner, Astana rider, Alberto Contador was in the spotlight from early on together with team colleague Lance Armstrong, though it was the rift and leadership issues that dominated the news for 2009’s most successful tour team.

Seven time tour winner, Lance Armstrong, is one of cyclings most controversial riders and in his comeback this year, starting with the Tour Down Under and Giro d’Italia, he has regular kept his followers updated, mostly over twitter, inparticular about the regular drug testing. Lance’s participation is good news for hosts and tour organisers with his strong fan base and media attention although his chief goal, after returning from retirement, is the promotion of his LiveStrong foundation for cancer awareness and research into a cure. For Johan Bruyneels Astana team however, Lance Armstrong had more on his mind than custom painted road bikes? serious competition from team mate Alberto Contador who has revealed post-tour "He is a great rider and has completed a great race but it is another thing on a personal level, where I have never had great admiration for him and I never will.”

While the Astana team rode hard, often leading the peloton, the rift was obvious in the interaction between Armstrong and Contador on the road as the role of leadership seemed unanswered until Contador finally took yellow. To make matters interesting, Johan Bruyneel confirmed he was leaving Astana in the final week of racing and shortly after Lance Armstrong hinted and confirmed his new team for 2010, Team Radioshack which will be racing with Bruyneel as director.

Mixed into this was the announcement that Giro d’Italia second place getter, Danilo Di Luca had been suspended for doping and then after the Verbier clim, Contafor was attacked in the French newspaper Le Monde by race legend Greg Lemond for his Super Human climb and questioned on his level of oxygen transport (VO2). Although he refused to answer reporters questions, he was previously under fire due to his possible connection in the Operaci?n Puerto doping case (and was cleared). His tour victory was somewhat awkward, sharing the podium with uncomfortable looking Lance Armstrong (third overall) while the Danish National Anthem was played by accident.

A number of outlets have cautiously commented on the issue of doping and while testing results will be the first official indication of whether 2009 really was the first clean tour, Pierre Bordry, the President of the French Anti-Doping-Agency (AFLD), has stated that medicine and substances have been found in the rubbish bins of various teams during the tour. He holds serious doubts of a clean tour and hints that they are potentially facing a 3rd generation EPO product and Aicar which improves power and burns fat.

As part of the crack down, testing for the, the EPO successor, Cera, will be conducted retrospectively on 15 riders from the 2008 Tour de France.

While doping remains a dissapointing part of professional cycling, when testing is completed for the 2009 Tour de France riders, the best result is a clean results so that the farce of recent years can be avoided. If not, race organisers and the UCI may have to set the power struggles and political differences aside and begin working together to seriously combat doping before their very existance is put into question.

Regardless of all media speculation, it is up to the Anti-Doping Angency to undertake testing and report the results before riders can be judged.

Christopher Jones
Christopher Joneshttps://www.bicycles.net.au
Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a design agency, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.
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