All you need to know

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Watts/KG take a big, big jump when you can get that oxygen to the muscles. To do that, you need to increase the O2 carrying capacity of the blood. The ultimate test of how much O2 one can get their blood to carry, is a tough climb.

Plateau de Beille ; a steep 15.9 KM climb done at the end of 197 KM long Stage 14 2007.


Marco Pantani (1998) 43:30

Alberto Contador (2007) 44:08

Michael Rasmussen (2007) 44:09

Lance Armstrong (2004) 45:30

Lance Armstrong (2002) 45:43

Martial Gayant, coach of the Francaise des Jeux team after examining the times this year:

“It’s just like 1998 all over again.”

“The sport’s credibility is ruined. I’m gutted.”

“When you’ve got times that approach those of pre-1998, obviously you’ve got to be skeptical.”

“We all thought cycling was at a turnaround, but the battle (against doping) is still going on.”

“I don’t see things changing. The scourge (doping) is haunting us, we seen that in the stage to Plateau de Beille (Sunday).”

Climbing speeds and wattages are going to have to drop to late 1980’s levels before the sport gets credible. It’s not like human evolution made a huge progression in the last twenty years, but knowledge of illicit ways to get blood to carry more O2 sure have.

If a team is not doing longitudinal blood studies and publishing the results like CSC is currently doing, then they’re not being clean. It’s time for Discovery to do exactly what CSC is now doing on the blood studies.

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About Bush43

“Long time cyclist, skier and purveyor of all that is good in this life.” SLC, Utah, USA

15 Replies to “All you need to know”

  1. I agree. I think that what CSC and T-Mobile and Slipstream are doing should be done by all teams, and should be a requirement, and the files should be available for review at any point in time by the “powers to be”.

  2. So what were the late 1980’s times? I didn’t see any times in the article cited and, well, I’m a skeptic.

  3. You forgot the fact that it’s much easier to drag a 14 pound carbon bike with 1000gr wheels to the top of a mountain than a 21 pound steel rig with 1800gr wheels…

  4. LuckyLab,

    It would take the collective “community” to put that data together in a place on the web so that we all can see it. The data exist, but it’s mostly in the hands of cycling historians and trainers. That’s one of the projects I am trying to get DC to move forward on, and when I say DC, I mean us. Because if Big Jonny isn’t drunk, he’s fixing to be drunk, and if he’s not focused on getting drunk, he’s sleeping off the last drunk. So by us, I actually mean, me and you, that is if you don’t drop out, and if I can keep focused for more than 8 seconds, and given the ADD, I doubt that, so by us, I pretty much mean you.

    Anyway, what’s really important are both times OR wattages and weights of riders. According to the cycling gurus I’ve heard, there was a big jump in wattages and thus a decrease in climbing times when EPO came on the scene in the earliest 90’s. Lemond had an SRM and he talks about putting out about (roughly) 380-410 Watts sustained (>20 minutes on a mountain side within a long mountain stage). When EPO hit the scene, those wattages jumped (and realize there is a weight function in there, bigger riders put out more watts but usually have a lower strength to weight ratio, and the inverse for smaller riders) up to 430-480 or so sustained for the elite riders on the hard climbs.

    It’s that increased O2 carried by the blood from the EPO that drives up the wattages and drops the climbing times.

    What we need are a good data set of climb times and/or wattage of riders in undoped and doped sets. I realize this is a bit hard, but we just might have enough people of knowledge as DC readers that we can piece it together.

    Now we know that EPO is detectable, so the riders have to take really tiny doses so that it clears the system fast and doesn’t distort the reticulate (juvenile) to adult red blood cell population too much (again detectable) or they have to auto transfuse to get the same affect as EPO. That’s why it has reverted to to auto transfusion in the last few years, it’s undetectable and with a saline drip (by increasing total fluid volume relative to red blood cells, you can make it “appear” that your hematocrit is under 50) they can mask the hematocrit level
    Dr. Ferrari actually summarized the hematocrit “appearance” variables here:
    He’s researched it, for reasons you can guess.

    Kimmage summarizes classic blood doping (auto transfusion), I’ve copied it over and it’s from this article here:
    Here is the formula he gives:
    How blood doping works

    1 Athletes have up to two pints of their blood removed a few weeks before the event at which they want to benefit. The blood is centrifuged to isolate the oxygen-carrying red blood cells, which are then refrigerated. The body automatically replenishes its red blood cell levels

    2 Just before the event, the athlete has his red-cell-rich blood reintroduced, adding to the new cells his body has created in its absence. Alternatively, he can be injected with the blood of a suitable donor. It was this type of doping that Alexandre Vinokourov was caught using

    3 The effect of the doping is to increase the red blood cell count of the athlete. This makes him better able to carry oxygen from his lungs to his muscles and consequently better able to perform at the high levels of intensity that the Tour de France demands
    The Kimmage article is really good, except for the why David Millar was crying remark. He’s had a “history” with Millar and I think his bias is showing there.

  5. Tom,

    It has to be almost an immediate requirement that the teams have to do what Slipstream, T-Mobile and CSC are doing, otherwise no big event races.

    It’s expensive, and funding that is a real issue for smaller teams. Slipstream is a fairly small team, and funding it takes a big chunk of their budget I’ve read.

    But these longitudinal blood tests, really put a “clamp” on the ability to dope blood. When that is taken away, the playing field gets a whole lot more level, and conceivably then, even completely clean and talented riders will win a decent percent of the time.

    I think we saw in this Tour, the “two-speeds” time differentials really separate, as there seemed to be a decent number of riders who were clean. As the race went on, those riders had much deeper fatigue, and really dropped off. It would be interesting to plot the distribution of times of this year vs the previous years, and see if the distribution is shifted back towards pre EPO years at all?

    I predict when we can get Discovery to do the longitudinal blood tests by independent testers, we are going to watch their current dominance drop off. They won the team classification by a skeptical number of minutes.

  6. “Climbing speeds and wattages are going to have to drop to late 1980’s levels before the sport gets credible. It’s not like human evolution made a huge progression in the last twenty years”

    Don’t forget that the legitimate training methods have been substantially improved upon in the last 20-30 years. As has the weight, aerodynamics, and efficiency of the equipment that the riders are using. You will never see a drop off in performance all the way back to the 80’s, as the nature of sport is to keep advancing.

    Everyone wants to point the finger at doping as the cause of any great cycling performance these days (and with good reason), however, it is still very possible to have a great performance while racing clean. Please don’t forget about that.

  7. O.K., the dope is a bad thing in many ways. But any pub is good pub. A totally clean race would be boring to most of the U.S. population, that knows the name of only one cyclist. The longer all this controversy draws out, the more ink cycling will get in the media and best of all, it will be the first pro sport to clean up its act.

  8. I have a very significant interest in physiology as I do study it, that is to say I don’t know everything, but I know enough to be dangerous.

    What I meant was where did you pull the times you got? A book? Website? I know the data exist but may be in many places.

    Kimmage has some good info, but he proselytizes a bit. I am skeptical on many fronts, but autologous blood doping doesn’t make good sense to me. Without propping up your oxygen carrying capacity when you remove your own blood, your training and racing will go completely to shit. Physiologically, it can set you back as much as three weeks in your training. On the other hand, some riders train to “ride into form” during a long stage race so they may train to peak a few weeks before, back off and work to increase performance during the event. I’m not well versed in high-level training methods so it may work out peachy keen.

    EPO makes more sense as an effective doping mechanism as it doesn’t diminish training capacity in the weeks leading up to the event. It also won’t introduce cells with possible damage that would indicate refrigeration or histologically differing ages (my understanding is that can be revealed with some techniques, but those are complex and costly at this time).

    I am in total agreement on the longitudinal analyses, but the cost burden is too significant to be born by the teams themselves. Bravo to those who do fund it, but I think this would be where the cash and influence of WADA, UCI, et. al. would be of use. If it’ll really fix “the problem”, they pay for the tests. How often are these tests undertaken is a question which also must be answered.

    Cycling needs to clean up its act. On the flip side, its athletes are among the most tested in the world and it is already making an effort, contrary to some other sports totally blowing it away in terms of monetary gain, like, say MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL… (seriously, Merriman? Bonds?) So in the end, how dirty is cycling? I’m inclined to believe it’s not as dirty as the scadalous stories make it appear. With modern bikes (scientifically shown to shave seconds), modern training methods (scientifically shown to increase power output) and the guys who race at higher levels than I training harder than I do, I’m not sure I really think cycling is as filthy as the average joe on the street. Of course, I don’t know what the guys do on their own time, but I know some and I’d have to be a really shitty judge of character if they are doping. (And I might be.)

  9. Oh, yeah, and the political infighting in cycling’s various governing bodies has got to freakin’ stop.

  10. Do What you got to do to win..WHATEVER IT MAY BE…Youre only a cheater if you get caught…If all our morality were the same we would be Robots…If you dont want cheaters, Catch them cheating..Competitive people, will do ANYthing to win/get their way.We have two in the Whitehouse, MANY that rule the world via Big buisness, Are they cheaters, No..Most people concider them successful..But they didnt get there by Being GOOD moral people…The did what they had to do to win….Evil Rules..It always will..It unrealistic to think people will be good Christian God loving peaceful hippies, doing good all the time…Competion breeds inmorality, By definition youre trying to be better then everyone else, Thus not equal…..Thus doing whatever it takes to win…If you want to eliminate doping..Eliminate competition, Or life in general for that matter…The only reason Humans Rule the wold is because no other animal can Compete with us, Take it further..Lets invade every non “democratic”, country in the world, because democracy is the best, and if you not you should be..were right youre wrong.. Again people WILL cheat to be better, WAR will happen, to make people “better”..Money will be prasied above all else cause it makes you better…BUSH43…The name of the site is DRUNCKCYLIST, Not pansy ass pussy, straight edge god fearing faggot dot com…Youre an ASSFUCK CUMFACED, DUMBFUCK…GET A CLUE, stay away from Church..Get drunk, and go fuck youre MOM while youre DAD ass bangs your tigh ass…..EVIL RULES, BAD WINS….

  11. Bicycle improvements particularly in climbing have gone in reverse since the weight rule was introduced. ONCE was riding 13lb giants in the tour back in the Olano days. With regard to training, while it’s true that training methods have improved, fitness alone will not take you to the power output of a Marco Pantani with a 60+ haematocrit. It just won’t happen. Not even taking into account recovery effects of doping in a 3 week race, just a straight mountain TT. No fucking way. Guys going that fast are on the juice.

    I’ve been curious about doing the statistical analysis of climbing speeds to see if you actually could find the “two speeds” of the sport. Taking weights, climbing times, and throw in 15lb for the bike and plot the distribution. Do you get two peaks? I don’t have the time or the patience for this, and not sure that it would work. Saw a prior comment about it as well.

  12. Nik- 2 things;

    First, switch to decaf dude.

    Second, peace loving hippies and god loving christens are rarely the same people

  13. I like climbing and drinking beer.

    I personally don’t think it was coincidental that the early camelbaks were…40 oz. Yeah, thats right. Out slides the bladder, in slides the 40.

    As far as the doping goes.

    People are going to be riding faster than they were 20 years ago.
    Thats natural. Perhaps even evolutionary?
    And they will climb even faster with more red blood cells.
    Its a double shot.

  14. From the longitudinal blood data kept by those teams currently doing it, it would be very interesting if they could see changes over time that were health-related.

    Like, Matt White has been treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – are his blood numbers any different? If some rider who is tracked comes down with a blood cancer, is there anything funny in his or her historic numbers that could lead to an early diagnostic indicator?