Peter Sagan, Tinkoff, garnered both the yellow jersey as the race leader in today's steep uphill finish and the green jersey for most sprint points. As with Cavendish, this will be the first time that Sagan gets to don the yellow.
Today's route hugged the Normandy coastline from Saint-Lo to Cherbourg-en-Cotenlin, a distance of 183 km. It had categoried climbs with a steep climb -- 14% -- to the finish line. Rain and wind played their part as well.
Alberto Contador had another spill today reinjuring him. He was not a happy biker but remained philosophical about events. The 60 km mark of the route also saw three others take a tumble. Those who fell yesterday in the melee near the finish line rode today.
Four riders went off the front of the peloton early and maintained the gap for most of the day, but victory was not to be theirs. The last of the breakaway was swept up and passed with only 500 metres to the finish line. While Jasper Stuyven, Trek, lost his chance at a stage win, he will ride with the red number tomorrow.
Stage 2 finish:
Tomorrow's stage from Granvilleto Angers will be a 223.5 slog. The profile looks like it will be another exciting sprint finish.
More details and stats can be found at the official Le Tour site
Belgian cyclo-cross rider Femke Van den Driessche has been hit with a six year suspension for cheating. The Union Cycliste International (UCI) has also removed her name from last year’s winnings and slapped her with a hefty fine and orders to return her prize monies.
At the world championship cyclocross meet in January, Van den Driessche had the bad luck to have her bike scanned with new technology. The scan turned up a tiny motor. She has now the distinction of being the first person officially charged with mechanical cheating. Van den Driessche announced her retirement from professional cycling in March.
The 19 year old is paying the price for mechanical cheating, but with the cost of doping the bike hovering in the 50 000 Euro mark, it makes me wonder if there is more to this story.
About 100 bikes were tested during the meet using technology that detects magnetic fields. The UCI has been using this method to detect the tiny cheats since enacting strict penalties for mechanical cheating.
A team in Italy have developed a different method for detecting motors in operation using a thermal camera. When the motor is operating small amounts of heat are produced and can be detected with sensitive equipment.
It seems that even the high tech equipment can be fooled. Inventor and developer of very small bicycle motors, Stefano Varjas, is confident that his devices are very stealthy.
“If you have this system, you can stay with the group, but nobody hears it, nobody sees it, nobody knows about it,” he said of the devices
Professional cycling has been battling cheating with spotty success. Focus has been on doping of the athletes themselves. Ever more sophisticated tests have been devised to check body fluids for banned substances.
Rumours of tiny motors in bikes have been circulating for a few years and some riders who seem to make miraculous comebacks and find reserves of energy on a mountain climb have spurred the UCI to consider their possible use in a race.
Cycling season 2016 is well underway. Two weeks from now the first of the grand tours begins. The Giro d’Italia is a grinding three week affair that tests men and equipment. The UCI officials with their hand held devices and ipads are likely to become a familiar sight to fans of professional cycling.
New York Times
Professional cycling is big business. Along with big business comes the temptation to cut corners and achieve unfair advantage over competitors. The World Anti Doping Agency(WADA) has taken some much publicized action against cyclists caught doping.
Another kind of cheating in the cycling world has been rumoured for a few years. Allegations that some of the top performers have miniature motors secreted in their bicycles have been made. Top cyclist Chris Froome has had his bicycles x-rayed numerous times in search of possible motors. All his bikes were clean. Fabian Cancellara was accused of secreting tiny motors within his competition bikes. His bikes were disassembled in search of “mechanical doping”. He is reputed to have laughed off the accusations and pointed out that he had two motors – his legs.
Internet sites are available that show how a very small motor could be concealed within the tubing or wheel hub of a bicycle. Even so it all seemed pretty far fetched.
Until now. A competitor in the under 23 cyclocross world championships was caught with a device secreted in her bicycle. She claims an innocent mistake was made and that the offending bicycle was not hers. She claims that the race bike belonged to a friend and was mistakenly handed to her by her mechanic.
It’s absolutely clear that there was technological fraud. There was a concealed motor. I don’t think there are any secrets about that,” UCI president Brian Cookson told a news conference. Velo News
Two time TDF winner Chris Froome is taking the “mechanical doping” of competition bikes seriously and has spoken to cycling’s reform commission about the new form of fraud.
Just as the chemical doping of athletes with performance enhancing substances has evolved over the years, so too is mechanical doping. Apparently the placing of electric motors is now passé. The new way of cheating is to embed wires within the carbon structure of the rear wheel. Twenty to 60 watts of electricity are reputed to be generated to assist the rider. The athlete need never know that he is riding a doped bike.
They are required to wear helmets, but spandex provides little protection in a crash. Sometimes it is rider miscalculation as when a rider takes a wet corner too fast, but often it is the course itself that provides unexpected hazards. The outcome can be a career ending injury or too often, a life ending one.
For those of you who save their enthusiasm for the Tour de France the big race starts July 2nd. This year’s start will be in France at Mont St. Michel/Utah Beach.
The sprinters had been waiting for two weeks for their moment of glory and a hotly contested sprint was won by Andre Griepel, Lotto. He described it as the biggest win of his career and he is no stranger to success.
Even before the final bell on today’s race plans are being laid down for the 2016 TDF. Next year the start will be in France near Utah Beach.
Some riders will be looking for new contracts in the meantime. Some have new contracts to negotiate. Richie Porte who is currently with Sky has announced that he will be leaving that team. Speculation has it that he is moving to BMC but that cannot be confirmed at this time. Team Europcar has announced that they will not be sponsoring a professional cycling team next season.
Stage 21 Standing General Classification
1. Andre Griepel, Lotto 1. Chris Froome, Sky
2. Bryan Coquard, Europcar 2. Nairo Quintana, Movistar
3. Alexander Kristoff, Katusha 3. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar
4. Edvald Boassen Hagen, Qhubeka 4. Vincenzo Nibali, Astana
5. Arnaud Demare, FDJ 5. Alberto Contador, Tinkoff
198 riders started the three week race, 160 finished it.
For excellent background information on the Tour de France both VeloNews and Le Tour are good sources.
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