Monday, July 31, 2006

Man Fuel

Mostly because there's not much else to talk about, here's some more interesting facts about Testosterone testing and the like courtesy of the ever-amazing

A study of nearly 4000 male athletes reported the median T/E ratio to 1/1 with 99 percent of the men having a ratio less than 5.6/1. Another sample of about 5000 male athletes found the mean ratio to be 1.5/1.

However, there are documented cases of non-doping athletes with T/E ratios greater than 6/1; as a result, additional testing is required to determine the etiology of the elevated ratio.

This whole ordeal is really starting to depress me.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Phonak Legacy ran an interesting piece on the sorry legacy of Team Phonak. One guess, and it rhymes with "mope". Nine doping cases in two years. Ouch.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ask The Experts

Funny thing about testosterone, it's not something you can inject or apply to the skin that works overnight, and overnight application doesn't produce phenomenal results such as Floyd Landis' victory in Stage 17 of the Tour de France. From

"This effect takes several weeks to come into play," said Charles Yesalis, a Penn State University professor of health and human development, in a telephone interview today. "I don't want to sound like Oliver Stone, but it raises some questions in my mind as to what's going on here."

For more information on methods of testosterone delivery, follow this link right here. Happy doping.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Well Crap

I'd love to be able to say this is a total and complete shock, but seriously, we're talking about pro cycling. Need to win a stage of the Tour? Well, just shoot up!

Floyd Landis failed a test for high testosterone levels just after his amazing win in Stage 17, and now he awaits results of the "B" sample to confirm.

Great. Super. Awesome. Swell.

Just what we all needed after the bullshit of the Operation Puerto case. Looks like Landis may get a longer recovery period than he expected after his hip operation. Or perhaps his "hip problem" was just a pre-emptive cover story to use if he ultimately got busted for shooting T'. That would figure...

EDIT: And I would just like to accept the dubious honor of having predicted this whole sorry affair. In my post on Thursday, July 20th, I wrote:

All I have to say is how does a man who completely cracks in the mountains one day come back to win by six minutes the very next? With all the drug scandals and rumors floating around, I just wonder if Landis really should have been so bold today. I guess it just doesn't matter if you're racing for the maillot jaune.

So I've got that going for me. Wonderful.


Peloton Fodder somehow managed to double its daily traffic total yesterday, and I didn't even post anything special! I'm not even going to ponder how the site got so popular, if even for one day. Thanks to all visitors, new and old, for a few moments of your attention.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hot And Tough

Well, so much for short rides. Today I did 3 hours (60 miles) with a couple of Papa Johns buddies and two other guys on a route out to Shelby and Oldham counties on the outskirts of sunny Louisville, KY. Though originally planned as an "easy" ride, a couple of times we turned up the pace a bit. All in all a great ride and good company.

Now, back to resting. Oh yeah.

Hot and Dull

Not much to write about these past few days. The Tour is over, the weather is hot, and I'm pretty much finished racing for the season. It's hard to believe I've already been turning pedals in anger for six months this year. To say that my body is tired and my mind burnt-out would be an understatement. My rides for the time being are easy and fairly short, and will remain so for the next couple of months.

Starting in August I'll make my triumphant return to the gym. Several years ago I weighed 20 pounds more than I do now, but it wasn't fat---it was muscle. I used to be an aspiring (albeit skinny) body-builder and hit the gym no less than five days a week. My plan this time will not focus on super heavy weights and power reps like back in the day, but it will see quite a lot of overall volume (lower weight, higher reps). Should be painful, nonetheless.

So, other than that, not much going on. I'll figure out something exciting to write before long, though.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tour de Floyd

Another Tour de France in the history books, another American winner.

Last photo courtesy of Sirotti

This year's race was just as crazy and chaotic as everyone thought it would be. I think some fans will have a greater appreciation of how Armstrong and his team controlled everything during the last seven Tours, if not for the guy himself. While I appreciate their control, I prefer a race that's more open and contested, like this year's.

Despite the loss of the big pre-race favorites, this Tour didn't let anyone down. Let's hope next year is more of the same!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Oh Man...

An American winner of the Tour de France eight years straight? Oh man, the French are gonna be pissed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Landis The Winner....WTF?!

One day after sucking harder than he's ever sucked before, Floyd Landis regained his legs and crushed the field on the final Alpine stage of the Tour de France, finishing nearly six minutes ahead of second place Carlos Sastre.

Photo courtesy of AFP

Landis nearly reclaimed his entire deficit to the race leader Oscar Pereiro, and now sits just thirty seconds behind as the final time trial nears. It's no secret that Landis is one of the very best time trialists in this race, so once again the race looks to be his to lose.

All I have to say is how does a man who completely cracks in the mountains one day come back to win by six minutes the very next? With all the drug scandals and rumors floating around, I just wonder if Landis really should have been so bold today. I guess it just doesn't matter if you're racing for the maillot jaune.

Regardless, good luck to him. One thing is for sure in this race now---I'm done trying to make predictions!

Landis The Loser

Stage 16 saw some tough mountains, and Floyd Landis saw his chances of winning the Tour de France explode along with his legs.

Photo courtesy of Roberto Bettini

The American heir-apparent to Lance Armstrong sucked major balls on the final climb to the finish and is now 8 minutes behind the new race leader---a guy his team allowed to gain 30 minutes in a daring break back on Stage 13. Oops. I guess 13 is Oscar Pereiro 's lucky number so far.

Landis will have to do some major repair work today if he wants to reach the podium. My money is on Carlos Sastre, to be honest.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Snot-nosed Punks

Young Frank Schleck, winner of this year's Amstel Gold Race, made an even bigger splash with his impressive win atop Alpe d'Huez, the queen of all Alpine climbs. He flew up the 21 hairpins to the ski station like floating on a cloud.

Photo courtesy of AFP

Close behind in second place, another young powerhouse, Damiano Cunego. Though so far inconsistent in his performances, Cunego could be THE cyclist of the future. Now he just has to learn how to time trial.

Today's stage is already underway, and should prove to be even more decisive than yesterday's. With Floyd Landis back in yellow, look for a big attack from him to seal the deal. At least, that's what I would do...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Another Grim Reminder

Cycling is a dangerous sport, and not just when riding at high speeds on light bikes next to dozens of other racers desperate for victory. Sometimes casual group rides can turn tragic.

On Sunday a driver, suspected of alcohol and drug intoxication, plowed into a group of ten Cincinnati cyclists out on a casual group ride. Two were killed and the suspect now faces two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide (and hopefully also DUI).

This is yet another reminder of the risks involved for all cyclists, not just the racers. Whenever I hear drivers complain about unruly cyclists, I always shake my head---sure, cyclists can be negligent and stupid, but what poses more danger? A 16 pound bike or a 3500 pound car?

My thoughts are with the friends and families of Amy Gehring and Terry Walker, the riders killed in Sunday's crash. To everyone else who rides, keep your head up and ride safe, always.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Spin Punch Of Fury

Just in case you didn't know, I like to spend hours a day browsing the millions of video clips on YouTube. You can find pretty much anything on that site, and in an effort to prove my point, I offer for you, the valiant and dedicated readers of Peloton Fodder, this clip:

Now, some questions. In what race did this occur? Are these guys pros or amateurs? Is it just me, or do they look to be wearing the same kits, and therefore are teammates? Who taught him that killer spin move?

So many questions in life, so many...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Kentucky Summer

As you can see by the forecast below, summer has arrived in scenic Louisville, Kentucky:


You know it's going to be a miserable summer when 93 is the temperature at night. Oh, and don't mistake Louisville for Phoenix. Every day next week will have humidity between 40-50%, which essentially makes it feel like you're sitting in a sauna the whole time. I somehow doubt I'll be doing any heavy outside training over the next few days...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lazy Friday

Peloton Fodder podcast numero dos. Enjoy!

Discovery Back In Action

Discovery Channel was all but dead. That's what the web sites and the commentators were saying after yesterday's mountain stage, where George Hincapie, Yaroslav Popovych and Paolo Savoldelli all finished far back and lost tons of time to guys like Floyd Landis and Denis Menchov. Today, however, a redemption:

Photo courtesy of AFP

Popovych attacked his breakaway partners with 3 km to go and won solo across the line in today's Stage 12 of the Tour de France. He finished nearly four and a half minutes ahead of the main field, including Landis, Menchov and all the other contenders. Popovych now moves into tenth place overall, halving his deficit to the leader and positioning himself well as the race nears the Alps. The current overall:

1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 53.57.30
2 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 0.08
3 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.01
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 1.17
5 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.52
6 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 2.29
7 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 3.22
8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Agritubel 3.33
9 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 3.44
10 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 4.15

Every single day this Tour gives us more surprises.

What isn't surprising, though, is George Hincapie's complete lack of contention for the overall win. At least, it's not a surprise to me. Just before this Tour started, tons of people---even some with credibility like Bob Roll and his OLN coworkers---were predicting Hincapie to win it all or at least finish on the podium. This for a guy who had only won a single stage of the Tour in the past 7 years and who had never been among the top contenders in high mountain passes. They were picking him above people like Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich (still set for the race at that point). I assume it may have been residual Lance-sturbation, but whatever the reason they chose Hincapie, it was wrong.

Seriously, Hincapie's a great one day rider and a strong climber in certain places, but he's no Grand Tour winner.

Look for Popovych to use Jose Azevedo in the Alps and ride a strong final time trial. He could easily finish in the top 5. As for the top spot on the podium, that's for Floyd Landis to lose.

Mountains Change Everything

Dennis Menchov wins Stage 11, Floyd Landis takes the yellow jersey, Levi Leipheimer remembers where he put his legs and gets second place on the day. Oh what a few Category 1 mountains can do to a peloton...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Drip Drip Drip

Oh my god it's hotter than balls outside today. I rode for two and a half hours and lost 10 pounds to the humidity. Louisville is nothing but a giant rain forest in the summer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What Really Matters

The point of bike racing is not to win races, the point of bike racing is to look good in the photos of the races. Duh.

Photos courtesy of Anthony Tan

Some understand this better than others. Cipo was the true master, though, because he looked good and won races. Nothing can really compare to that.


I hope the summit finish at the end of tomorrow's Tour de France stage will be more exciting than the yawn-fest today. Geez. A break that finished 7 minutes ahead of the main contenders, in the mountains? Where's Lance when you need him?

I thought I'd never say that...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Poor Tom

World Champion Tom Boonen finished the 9th stage of the Tour de France the same way he's finished all the others so far: as a loser. Of course, being a loser in cycling isn't the end of the world, since only one guy can win at a time, but failing to win a single sprint when given 7 chances is pretty bad if you're one of the world's very best in the discipline.

Photo courtesy of AFP

Oscar Freire scored his second stage victory by just barely beating a late-coming Robbie McEwen at the line. Watching the replay on OLN, it's amazing how far back McEwen was when he came around on the left, but he closed the gap and took second place within five meters. Amazing.

Not so amazing was Boonen, as it is clear in the photo above that even Erik Zabel beat him at the line. Dude, Zabel is like 60 years old.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Race Report: Madison Cycling Regatta (Criterium)

On Saturday, I lined up with 25 other Cat 4s (including four teammates) for a 50 minute crit in beautiful Madison, Indiana. Madison is home to the famous Madison Regatta boat race, but also to the somewhat less-famous Madison Cycling Regatta bike race. The weather was perfect, the course was scenic and the atmosphere was pretty laid-back. Even better, all the proceeds of the races will go to Bret Neylon, an Indiana racer recently paralyzed in a crash.

At the start I struggled to get my foot in the pedal but had no problem finding a spot in the pack because the first left turn took us up a steady power climb that slowed everyone down. I figured this climb would be the site of a winning attack by somebody, but it never quite worked out that way.

The first couple of six-turn laps saw me in my usual spot at the back of the field, assessing my opponents and learning the course. After five or six loops, I decided to get a bit more active and take some pressure off my teammates that had been policing the front. On the hill I hit it hard and came up on the right side (the road was four lanes of wide-open pavement, closed course) and took the lead. I sat on the front for a little while, and then just moved about in the front five spots for the rest of the race.

About half way into the 50 minutes, the initial attacks had been caught, the pace was slowing (due to fatigue, I assume) and the group was still all together. Ideal conditions for a bold attack, but I didn't quite have the legs and wasn't confident anyone would go with me. I needed at least one other guy to work with me but it was clear that everyone in the pack was marking our team---anytime one of us turned up the pace, ten guys were on our wheels. Flattering, but frustrating too.

Fast forward to the last three laps. I was comfortably sitting third wheel, still not suffering and still waiting for a good opportunity to try something. By the second-to-last lap, I knew I would need to attack on the hill and go for it, but for some reason I didn't. I stayed where I was and just waited like a tool.

On the last lap, everybody jacked it up the hill into the second left turn, and with so much room to pass, I got boxed in and shoved back a few spots. My perfect position was gone. The rest of the lap went by quickly, and we hit the final straight with tons of speed. I was able to pass one guy in the sprint but finished a lousy 11th out of 25. The best result our team got was 9th place. Even worse, we all got beat by another 15 year-old, Clayton from the Papa John's team. I like Clayton, so I didn't beat him up in the parking lot after the race like I should have, but I can't promise to be nice much longer. Hopefully he'll discover cars and girls soon and quit racing bikes so the rest of us have some kind of chance for success...

What's In A Name?

Without going into a lot of details, let's just say that the first long individual time trial of the 2006 Tour de France didn't quite go as expected. Levi Leipheimer sucked. David Zabriskie and George Hincapie underachieved. Floyd Landis kicked ass again, but, like in the prologue, he suffered mechanical troubles and lost precious seconds.

The winner was not-so-surprising Serguei Gonchar of T-Mobile. Long a gifted time trialist (and former World Champion in the discipline), Gonchar flew to victory with more than a minute between himself and second place Landis.

Photo courtesy of AFP

So Gonchar won. Or did he?

Gonchar has long been a mystery to me because he apparently has several dozen names. Nobody ever talks about it, but it is apparently impossible to decide which spelling of his name is correct. To illustrate my point, we'll take a quick tour of some popular cycling web sites: calls him "Sergui Gonchar" in their report on the ITT results (linked above). In the shorter Stage 7 Wrap-Up, his first name becomes "Serguei". However, in the 2006 Teams Database on the same site, his name is "Serhiy Honchar".

In the report on the TT results, a photo caption lists the winner as "Sergei Gonchar" but the text of the report calls him "Sergie Honchar". That's not all, though, because in the results listings at the bottom of the page, the winner is listed as both "Serhiy" and "Sergie" Honchar. For those at home keeping count, that's three different spellings on one page! is more consistent, but still different, calling the winner "Sergei Gontchar" with a "t".

The official Tour de France site refers to the winner as both "Serhiy" and "Sergiy" Honchar on the same page.

But, the spelling of his name is "Serhiy Honchar" on the official T-Mobile web site and is the most commonly used version on most sites in general. You'd think his own team would get his name right.

Apparently not so. In an interview with just posted today, the man himself says that the correct spelling of his name is really "Serguei Gonchar". The "Serhiy Honchar" spelling comes from an apparent mistake on his passport, which he is therefore forced to use legally despite being incorrect.

Regardless of all that, he's quite a locomotive despite being 36, and definitely earned his stage win and his maillot jaune. Congrats to him, whatever his name is.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Off The Rails

Yesterday, Tom Boonen lost another sprint, this time to fellow World Championship winner Oscar Freire. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

Quick Step has absolutely no lead-out train whatsoever. In the sprint yesterday, only Pippo Pozzato and Steven De Jongh were in front of Boonen leading the peloton into the final straight. That doesn't sound so bad, except that their lead-out effort was so weak that the Credit Agricole train actually caught and passed them. Passed them! That left Boonen in a lousy position and the rest is history.

Boonen is not the kind of sprinter that can go it alone. Like Ale-Jet Petacchi, Boonen needs at least two, maybe three strong guys to lead him out in the final 1000 meters. He doesn't have that at all so far at the Tour de France, and it's pathetic to watch.

Who ever heard of the best sprinter in the world's lead-out train getting passed in the final 500 meters of ANY race, let alone a stage of the Tour? It's a damn travesty! Where the hell is Guido Trenti when you need him?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

We're Missing Out

So there's this computer game called Pro Cycling Manager, and apparently it's mostly just available in Europe. I did manage to find some interesting videos of the game online, though. Take, for example, the clip below, titled "Tom Boonen The One And Only".

Three questions here:

1. What the hell is wrong with the physics of this game? The corners are all 90 degrees and the riders don't lean at all through them. It's pretty weird-looking.

2. What's with the cheese soundtrack?

3. Why is Tom Boonen wearing what appears to be a Gerolsteiner kit?

I'm so confused by those crazy Europeans...but I kinda want a copy of PCM.

The Return of Mc2wen

After yesterday's late attack and win by Matthias Kessler in Stage 3, everyone was looking to maillot jaune-wearer Tom Boonen to finally take a win in this year's Tour. Unfortunately for him, Boonen's arch-nemesis Robbie McEwen had something to say about that.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Devich

That's two stage wins already for McEwen, who now wears the Green Jersey. Boonen retains the overall race lead. Tomorrow's stage is another pan-flat pace session to what will surely be another bunch sprint finish---and hopefully for Tornado Tom, a big win.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Winding Down

I'm seriously considering making this weekend's crit in Madison, IN the final race of the season for me. I may do one or two more, but they will be purely for "fun". Madison will be the last one where I'll try hard for a good result.

We've been racing since late February, nearly five full months, and by the end of July I will probably have done 15 or more races. That's a lot of racing, especially for someone who just got into it this year. To be honest, with the summer heat and the months of hard training already under my belt, I'm about worn out.

I'm looking forward to easier rides and work in the gym starting in September. Then in mid-November, I restart my base period with tons of 4+ hour rides in the small chainring. Hopefully we'll have another mild winter, but who knows? What with this global warming crap, you never can be sure.

But, that said, the only thing I hate more than riding in 30 degree weather is riding the trainer inside. If I have to freeze my balls off, so be it. Considering how big they are, the loss of weight will probably make me a better climber.

Who am I kidding?

Thor de France

Stage 2 of the Tour de France proved to be much more than just a sprinter's stage. Far from being all flat, a steady string of categorized climbs made staying up front all the more challenging, and a late crash at the 2 km mark really split the peloton. The big sprinters were still up front for the finish, though, and Robbie McEwen took the win just ahead of a dejected Tom Boonen.

The real story is Thor Hushovd's return to Yellow, as his intermediate sprint efforts and a strong third place at the stage finish proved enough to send him back on top of the general classification.

Photo courtesy of Sirotti

Thor's strong riding was not without incident, however. Just one day after taking a deep cut to his right arm from a fan's sign during the finish of Stage 1, Hushovd managed to pull a foot out of his left pedal during the finale of Stage 2, nearly crashing into Robbie McEwen at 40 miles an hour. He managed to keep the bike upright and cruised across the line in third place despite pedaling with only one leg. Not too shabby.

The next few stages will remain relatively flat, so Mighty Thor may be able to keep his maillot jaune a while longer---but look for Tom Boonen. He's likely aching for a stage win after being frustrated the past two days.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Risky Business

Stage 1 of the Tour de France turned out to be more exciting than predicted. Tom Boonen got left alone by his teammates and wore himself out far from the finish line, Robbie McEwen couldn't get around Jimmy Casper of all people, and Thor Hushovd took a fan's sign to the arm---and managed to spray blood everywhere.

Even more noteworthy than all of that, George Hincapie became only the fourth American ever to wear the maillot jaune. He joins the illustrious club of Lemond, Armstrong and Zabriskie. Now let's see if he can keep it.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Droppin' The Hammer

Finally after one of the worst days in pro cycling history, the Tour de France got under way with a short and technical 7.1km Prologue. Dave Zabriskie and George Hincapie were favored to win, but sprinter/Classics rider/time trialist Thor Hushovd, the Norwegian Hammer, powered to an impressive win.

Photo courtesy AFP

George Hincapie barely finished second just .73 seconds behind, and Dave Zabriskie pulled out third place but farther back at nearly 4 and a half seconds.

All in all it was exciting (even for time trialing), with the major "highlight" being Floyd Landis' late start due to a cut tire. The clock ticked down and the starting beep could be heard, but Landis was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, some six to eight seconds later, he sailed through the starting tunnel and onto the course, and still managed to finish 9th. The margin by which he lost the race was almost equal to the time he lost changing his wheel. Was the yellow jersey his to lose? We'll never know.

Can't wait for tomorrow. The sprinters come out to play, which will likely see a head-to-head battle between the World Champion's jersey and the maillot jaune. And a little Australian named Robbie.

Peloton Fodder Goes Multimedia!

Click the play button below to hear the first ever Peloton Fodder podcast. Hopefully in the future there will be more such audio entries, and hopefully I can make them interesting. I might entertain the ideas of on-site race reports, interviews with other local riders (both off the bike and on), and maybe some other similar super-boring stuff. Try not to fall asleep while listening.