Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Monday, 15 July 2013

#TDF13: Froome's triumph on Ventoux prompts doubts

Mont Ventoux from a vineyard in Rasteau

Chris Froome produced a great ride on Ventoux yesterday to win the stage and pulverise his rivals. He is the first holder of the Yellow jersey to win on Ventoux since Eddy Merckx in 1970. Sky, in particular Peter Kennaugh and Richie Porte, did a great job in thinning the peloton down to just Alberto Contador by the time there was 7 kilometres to go. At this point Porte peeled off and Froome attacked Contador pedalling at a very high cadence but remaining sitting in the saddle – often riders stand on the pedals to launch an attack. Contador rapidly fell away unable to match Froome's speed. 

Nairo Quintana had previously attacked (12K from top) and built up a maximum advantage of some 40 seconds, which Porte's acceleration pulled back to no more than 10/15. Froome quickly caught Quintana a little before Chalet Reynaud. They stayed together despite several attacks by Froome until within two kilometres of the summit and just by the Tommy Simpson Memorial, when Quintana cracked. On the finishing line Froome had 29 seconds on Quintana and much bigger chunks on the rest of his rivals – Mikel Nieve and Joaquim Rodriguez (1.23 min), Romain Kreuziger and Alberto Contador (1.40), Jakob Fulsang (1.43), Bauke Mollema (1.46), Laurens ten Dam (1.53), Jean-Christophe Peraud (2.08) and Alejandro Valverde (2.32).

Earlier Froome had benefitted from long stints by Europcar and Movistar on the front of the peloton to limit the gains of the breakaway. 

Yesterday's victory takes Froome's TDF stage wins to three

Perhaps because they failed to properly investigate Lance Armstrong, some of the Press has been keen to express doubts over Froome and Sky's claims that their riders are clean. There have also been many comments on Twitter.

All this is suspicion. There is no evidence that Chris Froome is not clean: he hasn't tested positive and the biological passport makes doping more difficult than it did even in Armstrong's time. I'm not surprised he dropped Contador, who is not the same rider as he was in 2009. Alberto has lost his thrilling acceleration on the climbs, had a horrible time on the climb to Ax 3 Domaines and clearly blew just before the end of the Ventoux climb yesterday. Quintana, who is only 23, may well have made his effort too early, so was unable to match Froome at the end of the climb. Also in last year's Tour it was pretty clear that Froome could out climb everyone else including Nibali and had to be restrained by Sky from tearing off up several mountains. 

Until I have good reason to doubt I'm ready to accept David Brailsford, Froome and Sky's explanation that Chris' performance is down to the training programme that harnesses his natural ability. After all Brailsford transformed UK track cycling. It is very sad but not surprising that the recent history of doping with Armstrong and many others along with the failure of leadership by the UCI has tarred cycling. This hasn't, however, stopped many thousands from coming out to watch Le Tour.  

Overall standings after Stage 15    

 1. Chris Froome                       61.11.43
 2. Bauke Mollema                        4.14
 3. Alberto Contador                     4.25
 4. Roman Kreuziger                     2.28
 5. Laurens Ten Dam                    4.54 
 6. Nairo Quintana                        5.18 (White Jersey for best young rider)
 7. Jacob Fuglsang                        6.22
 8. Joaquin Rodriguez                    7.11
 9. Jean-Christophe Peraud            7.47 (the leading French rider)
10. Michal Kwiatkowski                  7.58 
11. Daniel Martin                          8.28
12. Michael Rogers                        9.54
13. Andrew Talansky                    12.32
14. Maxime Monfort                     13.47
15. Alejandro Valverde                 14.42
16. Cadel Evans                          15.40
17. Mikel Nieve                           18.12
18. Andy Schleck                        19.14
19. Daniel Moreno                       21.42
20. Daniel Navarro                      23.36




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