Today's Tour de France stage saw Greg Van Avermaet, BMC, ride into Le Lorian solo and more than five minutes ahead of the next competitor Thomas De Gendt, Lotto.
It was a difficult day for the peloton as they rode the mountains of the Massive Central. The day was hot, the tarmac was melting, the distance was over 216 km and there were six peaks to conquer. The run to the finish line was uphill but wasn't given a category. Riders were in the saddle for about five and a half hours.
Two crashes occurred in the day's final descent. Serge Pauwels and Cyril Gautier were in the second break and descending a tricky patch when they both hit the pavement. They continued with their ride, but did not place in the top five cyclists.
Alberto Contador, Tinkoff, is having a bad start to the Tour. He crashed twice early in the race and sports a large bandage on his right arm. The TV commentators have speculated that he is more injured than he wants the public to know. Competitors have been known to continue in the TDF with broken bones.
Stage 5 Standings
The World Anti Doping Agency(WADA) is now in possession of 200 bags of blood that were seized when a doping scandal broke in 2006 in Spain. WADA may try to identify whose blood has been stored. The time limit for imposing any bans has passed as the limit is ten years. It would still be interesting to know who had blood stored for reintroduction before a big competition. Blood that has been stored and transfused increases the number of oxygen carrying cells and increases the body's endurance.
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
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