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Hot, sweaty, drugged-up men in tight pants.

Posted by cdc | July 25, 2007 4:14 PM

He should have asked Christopher, because in the Tour, it's all about the calves.

Posted by Ari Spool | July 25, 2007 4:19 PM

Nine hours for that? Yeesh. Refer to Wiki.

Posted by Gabriel | July 25, 2007 4:21 PM

The Tour is so grueling that it's clear why cyclists dope up. 115-120 miles a day for 3 weeks, each course on arduous mountain hills and climbs?! Good lord, I'd amp up my EPOs too if I had to do that every day for 3 weeks. That assumes, assuming years of training, that I'd even able to finish a day, let alone a week, let alone three weeks.

Even though he's never technically been rung up, I can't imagine Lance Armstrong was clean when he won his 7 titles. I can't iamgine anyone who finished behind him was either.

Posted by Gomez | July 25, 2007 4:23 PM

What's not to understand? He lied about his whereabouts. All cyclists have to report their whereabouts all the time, so that doping officials know where to find them in case they want to administer a blood test. He said he was in Mexico, where his girlfriend lives, but he was actually in Italy (and thus could easily have been tested). The assumption is that he lied because he didn't want to have those tests administered for some reason. So they booted him.

The blood testing of cyclists is one of the most arcane rituals in all of sports. The riders get poked with more needles than all the junkies on Broadway. In addition to the tests given by the anti-doping agency, they test themselves, CONSTANTLY, to make sure they're within allowable ranges of certain things.

This includes ratios of different kinds of testosterone, different groups of red blood cells, and the overall CONCENTRATION of red blood cells. The theory is that if your red count goes too high, it means you must be doping -- not with a stranger's blood, like Vinokourov, but with your own. More red blood cells = better oxygen supply to cells. The cyclists want ideally to be as close to this limit as they possibly can get without going over.

Cycling is all about efficiency of body processes. Cyclists are machines for moving oxygen through the blood. They are vastly more efficient than this than you or I, or even other athletes. Your average baseball or football player would have a massive stroke or coronary half an hour into the first day if they tried to do what these guys do.

And everybody knows what the limits are. That's why you always see the breakaways hauled back in -- it's just plain not possible to have the blood chemistry that makes it possible to break away like that.

If you understand what's going on, cycling is a fantastic sport to watch, a thousand times more interesting than auto racing. Are they on dope? Yes, of course they are, all of them, all the time. Does that make any difference? Not in the slightest. They are still the most remarkable athletes in the world, in a class of their own.

And yes, Michael Rasmussen looks like a skeleton, which is one reason why he's so good. They say that you can tell when a premium rider is just about in shape for the Tour, because you can start to see his internal organs through the skin -- liver, stomach, intestines.

Posted by Fnarf | July 25, 2007 4:27 PM

Or...maybe they're just a bunch of cheaters. They need to codify and regulate testing and make the whole process more transparent to the public.

Right now the Tour is more a contest for who the best cheater is, not the best rider.

It's still more fun to watch than car racing though.

Posted by Smegmalicious | July 25, 2007 4:44 PM

I think they should let them use whatever they want. That is the history of the Tour.

Posted by crazycatguy | July 25, 2007 5:13 PM

The Tour de France is the hardest sport in the history of sports. Those skinny little guys are the best athletes in the world.

Plus, the sport is all MAN. There are no women in the Tour and if there's a Women's Tour, I haven't heard of it. It's all about being a strong, silent MAN of MEN. More manly than climbing Everest, more manly than boxing, more manly than even rugby. No guy is in the shape of these cyclists.

So that's what the Tour is about. Manliness.

Posted by tour de Frank | July 25, 2007 5:53 PM

"They need to codify and regulate testing and make the whole process more transparent to the public."

Cycling has the largest, most rigorous, most codified, most regulated testing regimen in all of SCIENCE, let alone sports. These guys are tested CONSTANTLY, by the authorities and by their own trainers.

And it's as transparent to the public as the public wants it to be. None of it is hidden. Read a book if you want to know. The reason they don't talk about it in the media is because it's too much science, and the media doesn't know how to talk about science.

It's not as simple as "is there any a that bad stuff in there?" It's just not.

And it's nothing compared to what's happening in the musclebound sports, where all of the new cheats are completely undetectable by any science. You're going to have to lock all the baseball and football and basketball players in cages 24/7 to protect against that.

Posted by Fnarf | July 25, 2007 6:00 PM

You want manliness, Frank?

Try Eugene Christophe in 1913, when riders were still required to ride a single bicycle and make all their repairs themselves with no outside assistance. Christophe broke his front fork in the Pyrenees, on the Col du Tourmalet. He had to run back down the mountain several miles to the last village, with his 50-pound bike on his back, light the motherfucking fire at the forge in the village blacksmith, and MAKE a new motherfucking fork himself. The race organizer docked him another 10 minutes because a small boy worked the bellows.

THAT'S a motherfucking manly man.

Posted by Fnarf | July 25, 2007 6:21 PM

why is someone writing to you asking to explain the tour? are you some kind of authority on cycling? i don't get it. and your response wasn't even clever, although you obviously think it was.

Posted by fos | July 25, 2007 8:12 PM

If you want to root for somebody, how about this guy. Powered by jam and coca-cola, that's the way.

And Fnarf's comment about all of them being on drugs all the time is not quite true. There are some stridently anti-doping riders, like the ones who staged a sit-in protest and booed their co-rider Rasmussen. Interestingly, some of the biggest anti-doping campaigners are riders who were convicted in the past and now evangelize against it.

Posted by Gabriel | July 26, 2007 11:21 AM

Testing. Where did my comment go?

And why is someone else posting under my name (@2)? Registration please.

Posted by Gabriel | July 26, 2007 11:44 AM

Been here longer than you. You get a new handle.

Posted by Gabriel | July 26, 2007 1:18 PM

Sorry, Fake G, but I've been posting under this handle since Slog started. One of the originals. I play badminton with Original Andrew while Fnarf does cannonballs in the swimming pool. Find your own handle.

Posted by Gabriel | July 26, 2007 3:28 PM

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