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What a Mess July 26, 2007

Posted by gordonwatts in life, Marseille.

The Tour de France went through Marseille the other day (that is the stage winner cycling down the road my bus to work runs along). At the time the doping rumors were already starting to swirl around the Tour. But now… wow — it is going to take years for the organization to recover.

And it is so sad! In my past, when I was in much better shape, I was able to cycle 100 miles in a day. I was even pretty fast. I got there by riding 30 or 40 miles every day and then perhaps 50 or 60 on the two weekends. 100 miles at a good clip is hard. And I was doing this in Chicago — which is flat flat flat.

The Tour is amazing. In 22 days (it is over this Sunday) it will cover 3,550 kilometers (2200 miles). Of the 20 days of cycling, 6 are in the mountains. They rate the mountains they climb (Category 1, etc.). The finish line for yesterday’s stage was so steep it wasn’t even rated. Humans do this. And they don’t need doping to complete it either. But these guys push themselves to the limit. It is just amazing that we can do this.

Which is why the doping is so sad. How much performance does the doping add, in absolute terms? 10%? I can’t believe it was much more than that. And read any paper (at least in the US) about Le Tour and what do you read about? The doping and the scandals. What a sad mess. Yes, I realize 10% can make a big difference when you are trying to win the race — I understand, individually, why they have done it. But globally what a disaster!

I wonder if people will learn? Will next year’s be any better? How many sponsors will have been lost? I hope most of the sponsors that have withdrawn had something written into their contracts about no pay if doping is going on. The Tour is such a feat of human insurance — it is such a waste to be distracted by this doping!

P.S. How much more complex is this going to be as we started to get good at altering the genes of a person?



1. Fred - July 26, 2007

Hi Gordon,

It certainly is sad. Wearing the yellow jersey is starting to become a great burdon in the wrong sense. It seems like every other great rider is either withdrawing or being suspended each day. Assuming the guy currently at the top is ‘clean’, what are the chances that his teammates aren’t supplementing their own resources? Who wants to be under the intense scrutiny and inevitable suspision that has become the norm just to carry the torch? As I watch the Versus Network’s coverage of the Tour each morning, even the usually pro-event announcers are starting to sound a little nervous and defensively suspicious in their remarks. I don’t envy their position. However, I am still encouraged by the fans continued support even if it does thin out over the next few years. As you stated in the paragraph above, ” The Tour is amazing. In 22 days … these guys push themselves to the limit. It is just amazing that we can do this.” By the way, were you able to catch any of the action as it came through town?

2. gordonwatts - July 26, 2007

Fred — I agree! I don’t have a TV so I’ve not been able to watch any of this in real time yet — but I would love to be able to see more (and, sadly, i won’t have internet for another two weeks). I missed the action — I saw some of the setup. The Tour went right by the front drive way of one of my friends and she managed to get some good shots of it. But no, not me, sadly. Another friend did, and she has promised to post pictures on flickr. I’ll cross link those when she gets them up (she is, ironically, also waiting for internet…).

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