Tuesdays with Wilcockson: Can’t wait for Tour No. 100!

Next year’s 100th edition of the Tour de France is still more than eight months away, but we already have a good idea of what sort of race it’s going to be—even before race organizer Christian Prudhomme reveals full details of the official route on Wednesday in Paris. Some wild rumors have been circulating through the cycling world, including a nighttime stage finish on the Champs-Élysées, which indicate that it’s going to be a Tour worthy of celebration. And following Monday’s decision by the UCI razing Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour victories from the history books, the hope is that there will be total focus on the race itself and not on yet more doping rumors.

Besides the course, which promises at least 10 significant stages, what looks like being a major feature of the 2013 Tour is one of the most competitive fields in the event’s history. At least eight of the 22 likely starting teams have a strong chance of producing the eventual champion, while the course appears to be both balanced and demanding. First then, let’s take a look at the likely route of the June 29 to July 21 Tour.

We’ve known since last year that the Tour will visit the French island of Corsica for the first time in the race’s 110-year history (the race wasn’t contested a total of 10 times through the two world wars). Corsica’s terrain is extremely mountainous, except for a coastal plain along the east coast—which will host the Tour’s first and only flat stage in Corsica, finishing in Bastia with a likely mass sprint. The second and third stages are both short (around the 150-kilometer mark) and feature significant climbs in their run-ins to Ajaccio and Calvi respectively, which will give us an initial look at the overall contenders.

All the race personnel (except the riders) will take overnight ferries across the Mediterranean to gather the next afternoon in Nice for what will be a strategically decisive stage: a 20-kilometer team time trial along the waterfront. The last time an early TTT was included at the Tour, in 2011, Garmin won the stage by four seconds, while the two teams that produced the final podium (BMC Racing and RadioShack) were separated by just six seconds. But those six seconds gave eventual winner Cadel Evans a psychologically advantage over Andy and Fränk Schleck through the following 10 stages before the Tour reached the mountains.

This year, when the TTT result is added to the two difficult stages in Corsica, a firm hierarchy will exist prior to the first mountaintop stage finish—which looks like being on stage 8 at Ax-3 Domaines in the Pyrénées. Whatever the GC looks like there, it will probably be quite similar a week later when the race reaches the next summit finish, said to be Mont Ventoux, on July 14.

In the week between the two mountain ranges, the Tour will see a second (probably easier) climbing stage through the Pyrénées, a 600-kilometer transfer to northwest France for the first rest day, four sprinters’ stages and an individual time trial. This stage against the clock looks like being a specialists’ TT on a flat, probably 45-kilometer course in Normandy, finishing at the iconic island of Mont St. Michel. Whichever of the GC candidates does well there will get a nice boost in morale before the crucial stage finish atop the Ventoux, which some believe is the hardest climb longer than 20 kilometers in France.

After a second rest day, the Tour heads to Gap, the gateway to the Alps—where four tough, but different types of stages will decide the eventual outcome. This stretch opens with a very hilly individual TT, again around the 40-kilometer mark, in the foothills north of the turquoise-blue Serre-Ponçon lake. Then comes the keynote stage, one that almost happened two years ago, which climbs L’Alpe d’Huez twice—thanks to a final 50-kilometer loop over the Col de Sarenne, a narrow, rough-surfaced mountain road that is being given a new coat of tarmac, before returning to the base of the Tour’s most popular climb.

The next day sees the peloton head north, probably over the Glandon, Madeleine and Croix-Fry passes with an uphill finish in Le Grand Bornand—where Fränk Schleck and Linus Gerdemann were the last two winners. The final alpine stage appears to be an unusual one for the Tour, taking in one big, mountainous loop from the beautiful lakeside city of Annecy. Another 600-kilometer transfer takes the race to its final stage, finishing as usual on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, but according to a report in this Monday’s edition of La Dépêche the final sprint could well take place at nightfall—followed by a massive firework display to commemorate the end of this 100th edition.

Despite the early rumors that the 2012 Tour would be a climbers’ Tour, the likelihood of a team time trial and two individual tests puts the emphasis back on those riders who are strong in the time trials and the climbs. That would mean that Team Sky’s defending champion Brad Wiggins should shoot for a second Tour title rather than, as has been mentioned, go for victories at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España next year and let teammate Chris Froome lead Sky at the Tour. Obviously, that situation will need to be decided by team management in the next couple of months.

Froome, second at this year’s Tour, is obviously strong against the clock and in mountaintop finishes—like several other probable contenders, including Saxo-Tinkoff’s Alberto Contador, BMC’s Evans and Tejay Van Garderen, and Garmin-Sharp’s Ryder Hesjedal and Christian Vande Velde. All of these men, along with the two Sky riders, will get a boost from the early team time trial.

Besides these half-dozen yellow-jersey contenders, several others will also be planning on strong challenges. These include the more specialist climbers, Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha Team, Vincenzo Nibali of a much-strengthened Astana squad, the 2010 default winner Andy Schleck of RadioShack-Nissan, and Jurgen Van den Broeck of Lotto-Belisol.

Then there is the world TT champion Tony Martin, who’ll be the GC leader of the Omega-Quick Step team now that Levi Leipheimer has been sacked over his involvement in the Postal team doping scandal. Martin is somewhat of an enigma, but should he get his weight down a few kilos while keeping his unquestioned power, there’s no reason why he should lose too much time on the summit finishes—remember, he did finish second on the Ventoux stage in 2009. But the German’s challenge will be hampered by his Belgian team focusing first on racking up sprint stage wins for the newly arrived Mark Cavendish and team captain Tom Boonen.

This should be a good Tour for North Americans. Besides overall contenders Hesjedal, Vande Velde and Van Garderen, next year should see the Tour debuts of Garmin’s Andrew Talansky, a future GC player, and BMC’s Taylor Phinney, who should have a vital role for Evans and Van Garderen in the TTT and add his power to defending his team leaders’ positions in the flatter stages.

As always, there’s a fear of seeing a repeat of the devastating high-speed pileups that marked the opening weeks of the past two Tours and wrecked the chances, among others, of Wiggins, Van den Broeck and Contador in 2011, and Hesjedal and Vande Velde in 2012. But with a muscular opening to the 2013 Tour in Corsica, followed by the TTT, the hierarchy will be established before the race reaches the three flatter stages in opening week, and this will calm down the usual first-week tension when every team vies for stage wins.

Some critics have compared this first post-Armstrong-doping-decision Tour with the so-called Tour of Renewal in 1999, a year after the infamous Festina doping debacle. The big difference this time is that there’s no undetectable drug like EPO in existence, while the majority of riders in today’s peloton is already competing clean. Given those facts and the increased scrutiny of every rider’s blood parameters by the anti-doping authorities, the chances of seeing a worthy winner of a hard-fought and clean Tour are as strong as they’ve ever been.

Let’s hope that’s the case, and that everyone, especially the fans, can enjoy Tour No. 100’s hopefully spectacular firework display over the Arc de Triomphe next July 21.


Follow me on Twitter: @johnwilcockson 

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Ashley

    I can’t wait for next year’s tour, if only because I might be over there for my honeymoon! The course should definitely be an interesting one, while Froome will want to go for his own glory, you’re right in thinking it might be better for Brad. We shall see!

    In line with recent posts, I happened to have a bike crash myself, though definitely not as serious as yours, Padraig.

    I would like to hear about your most embarrassing one, though, to lighten the mood 🙂


  2. Pingback: Foreign affairs « Mad Blog Media

  3. Dave

    How about some more reasonable predictions in light of Shitstorm 2012:

    -Frank Schleck will be banned for his positive test before the end of November and will miss the 2013 season.

    -Radio Shack will implode with the absence of Big Johan and will be lucky to get a rider in the top five at next year’s Tour.

    -Riis and Saxo will be the next casualty of Shitstorm 2012 and will implode by the end of the year (doping program exposed, sponsors jump ship, etc. etc.). People will dig deeper on Contador and he’ll be re-banned for the 2013 season. You think I’m kidding? As part of the USADA testimony, David Zabriskie admitted he doped until 2006, which means in 2005 and 2006 he was doping with CSC–this while Riis was supposedly running the cleanest, most transparent team in the sport. This is really the one to watch.

    -Cadel Evans and Christian Vande Velde will be a non-factors and lucky to finish in the top ten. This is just reality.

    “And following Monday’s decision by the UCI razing Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour victories from the history books, the hope is that there will be total focus on the race itself and not on yet more doping rumors.”

    Actually John, what happened over the past two weeks were not ‘more doping rumors,’ rather the FACTS of this sport finally coming to light. We’ve been told since 1998 the majority of riders are competing clean, but until there are independent, WADA (not UCI) drug tests and the UCI fully opens its books on the Armstrong affair I’m not one to believe it.

    I predict more heads will roll in the coming months. I’m calling it now so y’all can get on the bandwagon.

    1. Padraig

      Dave: As John’s editor, my read regarding John’s use of the phrase “more doping rumors” was in reference not to USADA’s reasoned decision or the supporting documentation, but instead some of the new rumors that are emerging that, though credible, are not yet substantiated.

      I can speak on behalf of everyone here at RKP when I tell you that we also hope that more heads will roll.

  4. bwebel

    So was this post by John, or by Padraig? I was kind of curious about John’s take on the latest Walsh article in SI…he didn’t come off so well.

    “Midway through the press conference, I raised my arm to ask a question. It was ignored. That afternoon I was supposed to travel by car with an English journalist, but he told me he couldn’t carry me. He feared being denied access to Armstrong if I was seen in the same car as him, though I had traveled with this journalist since 1984.

    He would later write a book, LANCE: The Making of the World’s Greatest Champion. “That leaves me on the side of the road,” I said. He shrugged his shoulders.”

    Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/the_bonus/10/22/david-walsh-lance-armstrong/index.html#ixzz2A96fOEq9

    1. Padraig

      Bwebel: “Tuesdays with Wilcockson” is written by John and John alone. Anything else would be fundamentally dishonest. There are no ghostwriters here. He sends the work to me, I read through it, and then I post it. This morning the post appeared at first as having been posted by Padraig. Normally, I flip the “posted by” to reflect John’s byline, but on this occasion I simply forgot. I’ve corrected that now.

  5. Evan

    LANCE: The Making of the World’s Greatest Champion was published around 2009. A great deal was known at that juncture of much more than rumors. As many of us have seen early on, if one really wanted to know there was much known. I do respectfully feel a great deal of concern that JW wrote this book. As a respectful person, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and await his explanation of how and why he wrote this book and how he feels about this now.

  6. Evan

    I for one feel dramatically different about the next Tour. No real winners or podium even for over a decade. Maybe longer. Like a great war, no race except cheats an a crime wave by thugs.
    Surely the TDF folks knew a great deal and went along as well.

    Ashenden, THE doping scientist expert says there is NO doubt that Blood Doping and advanced ways of taking EPO and other products are currently employed.

    There are still many managers, staff, and riders who doped and some who are currently doping. Can a clean rider win in today’s peloton. Can we have confidence that Sky training on incremental advances, whatever the hec that is (I don’t think there are any training secrets left frankly), could spend a few weeks at altitude and the whole darn team rides at the front up mountains. Is everyone else a training idiot and slag off wimp workout weeny? Did they buy all the talent and no one else left?

    How can we trust anything given the total lies and spin? I watch the arc of a riders career from teen years. Lemond was blown away great from 14 on. I raced once with him when I was a Senior II neo pro adult. He killed up at 80 mile mark uphill finish, murdered us! I realized like every top guitarist at the time that watching Jimmy Hendrix play, you just hang up your guitar. I knew then I had no more TDF dreams.

    Armstrong was never like that. Indurain, was not such a great young rider. But, zoom! Riis zoom.
    Wiggins, yes darn good on track, but how in the world this good climbing after struggling in years past?

    I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be wrong, Really. I am open. Please Mr. Bill say it aint so? Shoeless Joe wants to play

  7. scaredskinnydog

    Thanks for the info on next years course. Champs-Elysees at night with fireworks! I like the idea of keeping the tradition but adding a new unique twist(plus the riders can sleep in even later). I broke out the crystal ball a little earlier then usual so I can make my TDF predictions…
    GC- crystal ball is always a little foggy with the GC guys but it looks like 1- Thomas DeGendt. 2-a young Garmin rider, I think its Talansky. 3- a lanky Europcar rider, its got to be Pierre Rolland.
    Surprises- The Colombians go on the offensive early and almost break the race wide open. Radioshack FINALLY gets it and rides for Jens and he rewards them with a top 5.

  8. Wsquared

    Thanks John, I’m really looking forward to this Tour. It looks like they have learned a bit from the Giro and the Vuelta and are adopting some of their innovations to make the race more exciting and less predictable. corsica will be rugged. Double trouble on Alp d’Huez. Carnage on Ventoux!

    The battle between Cavandish and Sagan for the green jersey should be epic, but can Degenkolb build on his success in the Vuelta? Will things be hearts an flowers between Cav and Tomke, or are we in for a simmering bout of sibling rivalry? Who will end up leading BMC, Van Garderen or Evans, especially if Tejay looks stronger in the Spring? And how about if this ends up as an epic battle between Black Hat Pistolero Clenburto and White Hat Mr. Clean, Wiggo? (Hatfields vs McCoys in the cycling fan forums!) Will Ryder spoil their fun? And if Wiggo falters, will Foome go down with the ship or make a grab for yellow?

    Throw in wild cards like Purito, Nibali, Talansky, Phinney, Voekler and the Columbians and we could be in for some real fireworks with a lot of melodrama thrown in.

    I can’t wait!

  9. BirilloTheDog

    So John, in the light of these “rumors” of you ditching people at the side of the road etc, how about a bit of “Truth and Reconciliation” from you. Tell us the forces at work that made you behave like that. Tell us if you really were convinced what you wrote in the LA book: LANCE: The Making of the World’s Greatest Champion. Did you ever read LA Confidential, or Lance to Landis, written by your abandoned colleague?

  10. Zonker

    I really expected more from RKP. The last week has left me feeling very hollow and I have no anticipation for a new year in pro cycling. Not only the detailed confirmation of the rumors about LA but the weight of evidence that the entire sport from top to bottom and back and forth through time has been saturated in PEDs. Lance got what he deserved but I frankly see Europe reveling in stripping an American of a historical place in cycling history instead of admitting the depth of the problem and moving toward a clean era in cycling sport. Spartacus commenting that there may have been some dabbling in PEDs by certain individuals in the past but that LA “took it to a whole new level” is a clear indication that nothing has changed. McQuaid’s comment that Lance has no place in cycling is particularly troubling. It seems to me that Lance was exactly where he should have been if he was interested in systematic, team and organizing body sanctioned doping. I am not at all excited about the TDF’s centennial. I hope I feel differently next year but I don’t see any reason for optimism that we will be witnessing anything that resembles the pure sport we all seemed to connect with when we developed a passion for cycling. I’m going to spend my winter racing cross and hanging around after the finish and watching the local elites and savoring the few times JPow and company make it to Colorado. Maybe I will feel better after that.

  11. Evan Shaw

    John I get peloton and read two pieces by you. We are respectful here so hard questions but benefit of doubt given. You shared you had read all the accounts but all your conversations outweighed the evidence. What happened? A compassionate view as a research scientist is that being so close to your subjects gave what is called confirmatory bias. Once you liked them you discounted negatives unconsciously. A second process is cognitive dissonance. Once you believed them and invested time and work and made money it would have been difficult to even know you had doubts so strong is that pull.
    Still having hugely missed the proverbial boat what can you do now to make journalistic repair? While other journalists have paid a big price for confronting this you did not. Yes that is a hard question. The forgiving side is my sense of not judging but learning from our experiences and errors.

  12. Pat O'Brien

    Stage 15 – July 14 15th stage: Givors—Mont Ventoux, 242 km. Great. 150 miles with a summit finish at Ventoux. And they wonder why riders dope. You want spectacle? You got it. Just try it on paniaqua.

  13. SWells

    That particular LeMond shot is my all-time favorite cycling picture. It exemplifies everything about that time: TT “funny” bike; “Aero” helmet & bars; sponsors all over the skinsuit; Huuuge Campy crank and a totally focused LeMond with muscles rippling. I’ve only kept a handful of magazines over the years, and the SI that featured that picture is one of them.

  14. Mark


    It’s a fabulous picture, and in light of recent revelations, makes me pine for the early days of LeMond in the Tour and Andy in the Giro. But that’s a huuuge Mavic crank, not Campy. Check out google images for “Mavic 631”, sometimes referred to as the ‘starfish’ crank.

  15. bwebel

    Pat O’Brien:

    Sorry, I don’t buy this argument at all. The Ventoux stage is mostly flat until the Ventoux. The Etape du Tour did a similar Ventoux stage a few years ago and tons of people finished that stage. Simply doing it isn’t the issue, it’s winning the race. As long as doping makes you faster, and people want to win, somebody will try to cheat to win. After all, people dope for races on the track that are 1km or less.

  16. Pat O'Brien

    Bwebel, I am just a recreational cyclist and occasional overnight tourer. Maybe I am just ignorant about what serious cyclist can do. What I am trying to say, and just using one stage as an example was not a good idea on my part, is that when you look at the grand tours, and see the ever increasing difficulty of the stages, they are NOT doing their part to making these races more competitive or exciting. They are also NOT, in my opinion, helping the sport to be dope free. What do you think? Am I all wet here?

  17. Paul I.

    “Autologous blood transfusions are still an undetectable form of doping.”

    They are not *directly* testable, but that is the purpose of the blood passport.

  18. bwebel

    Pat O’Brien:

    I don’t think it is the case that the overall difficulty of the race courses has increased over the years. If you go back in history, the TdF was much longer in the past, and run on roads that would pretty much destroy a modern racing bike. The speeds have increased, partly due to doping, so this has made it harder for clean racer to keep up, and the money has increased in the sport, which may have increased the overall caliber of rider. This means that if you want to win, yes, it is harder, and this may push people to dope, but that isn’t because of the particular course chosen by the race organizers.

  19. eLwood

    There is no clean Tour, there never was and perhaps never will be. It is naive to believe that anything has changed. Not a Lance fan, but he still won 7 Tours….they all dope if they are good enough to have a chance at a win. I don’t know that I can ever be the fan I used to be, I don’t even really care about the doping….it isn’t cheating if everyone does it, so there was no theft of victory…..but the blatant corruption and abuse of power by those at the top (kind if like our government) creates an underlying smarminess that will not go away. That is what has really ruined the sport…..power and greed…..it is entertainment after all, and just a job for the riders themselves….why all the moaning and crying by the fans, what have we been cheated of….entertainment? Naive and childish beliefs in “heroes of sport”…….wake up…..it is all just a big reality show and who cares what they do to themselves to win, there is too much pressure from sponsors not to bring oneself up to the level of the competition and to excel……stop whining and believing in that crap they are telling you. It’s not clean!

  20. Evan Shaw


    How about redressing your promotion of lance by a public stance of standing with Paul Kimmage and assisting the legal defense. Is this not a reasonable amends for your difficulty in seeing armstrongs red flags?

  21. Reid N.

    I posted this elsewhere–but I am still waiting for John Wilcockson’s mea culpa. I went to his book promotion talk at the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver when “The making of the world’s greatest champion” came out. John confidently predicted that Lance would win his come-back Tour. Come question time, I asked the question about doping, and my recollection was that John paused for the slightest second, had a bit of a smirk, and then professed his supposed belief that Lance had riddden clean. I knew what was coming out of Wilcockson’s mouth was false. Wilcoackson knew what was going on. He must have known Lance was on the juice (or the blood, or the ‘roids). Wilcockson is too smart a guy and has covered cycling for too long. But he knew (a la the column on “endemic” publications) that Lance was his ticket and he could not turn on the rainmaker. But we are all now waiting Jon. When is “The making of the world’s greatest fraud and his enablers” going to come out. I will come to your book signing for that one.

  22. Evan

    Reid, you might wish to go to Peloton and read his article labeled apology. I am a non judgmental compassionate person. That said, I felt it was short of the mark. It had a bad feeling to it with him even mentioning Lemond and suspicion indirectly subtext through the iron shot he got before TDF 89. Basically he says he got too close to the riders and wanted to believe them. Well, that is not Journalism. As a professional I know that distance and balance is a requirement. If I give him all the best benefit of doubt, I am still despairing if his having written that book where he escalates him to godhood. That book and that connection was a giant gravy train. Where was his journalistic balance? I would like him to go further and make amends of the kind that acknowledges his caving to the money side of the position, and standing with and now being outspoken with Kimmage and Lemond. Maybe some of the money from the book could go to helping Kimmage. Not as punishment just as regrets and amends. Restpect and dignity for everyone, john included. We all head down wrong pathways of some kind. Just man up and truly accept it, don’t justify or rationalize as I feel he is doing. Freedom in owning it, Forgiveness follows, from me and most folks.

  23. Reid N.


    I read Wilcockson’s “Apology” in Peloton. Thank you for directing me there. There is a concept in the law called “willful blindness” or “contrived ignorance,” where someone puts himself in a position where he can claim “I did not know,” when all rational people in the same position would have and should have known. The problem I have with Wilcockson’s “Apology,” as well as his writing of his book, is that he claims to have relied on stated denials of riders with whom he had become friends when any critical, rational thinking person would have had significant doubts. As long as Lance told him, “I’m clean,” then he could with a straight face tell his readers that “Lance is clean.” In his apology, he even reports that he accepted Eddy Merckx’s comments uncritically. Wilcockson was privileged to do all the wonderful things he has done: reporting on dozens of Tours, riding in team cars, following riders up the hardest climbs. Thousands of cycling fans the world over (myself included) relied on Wilcockson and other professional reporters as our eyes and eyes to know what was going on with the Tour and this remarkable sport. What we did not need was for our eyes and ears to be wilfully blind. Maybe, in addition to penning the “Apology,” Wilcosckson should donate some of his royalities from “The Making of the World’s Greatest Champion” to the Kimmage defense fund. Such a gesture would go a long way toward making he “Apology” meaningful.

  24. Simon

    That apology is noted and very cencessional, but it doesn’t revoke his assertion in the same publication a few weeks earlier following LA’s statement that he would not fight USADA that:

    “There are two things, though, of which I feel certain….(1) On an even field, where no one was enhancing his performance in any way, Armstrong would have likely won all seven of his Tour titles. This is sadly ironic.”

    What is his justification for coming to that conclusion? Even if he contends that Armstrong was exceptional as an espoir (already at a point he was working with those implicated in the USADA report and therefore there is no knowing that he wasn’t artifically enhanced at that stage (although there is no proof of that “yet”)) then there is a well trodden path of “the next big thing” in all sports not becoming the best. Fundamentally it is because he became too close, financially linked (through book sales) and believed the lie. Other prime examples being Liggett and Sherwen.

    Hopefully this will be a turning point in the fight, but we need some more truth and hard questions and a whole new generation to emerge(with the clean riders of now running the teams) to start hoping to believe that the grievous errors of the past won’t be repeated again.

  25. Evan

    Reid I am basically in agreement with you here. Thank you for your post. There is every reason to believe that he was not the best athlete, only the most rich best doctors and like Hamilton had a low natural hematocrit level of 40 or so, thus unlike others which were higher he got a huge boost from EPO and transfusions. Phil Anderson is on the record about this as well.

    Emma O’Reilly said recently why didn’t the journalists investigate, that is there training and their nose for a story. She said, those who are most blind are those who do not want to see.

    Well to be plain and non intellectual about this, one the side of not seeing was a truckload of money and access. On the other side was marginalization and outing with a slap suit and worse.

    Guess which way most took. Harry Smith Betsy Andreu interview is terribly sad, she breaks down in sharing she had to tell the truth for her kids. She said, (approx) I would rather my kids knew their mother stood for the truth and to help people even being vilified, than was glorified in keeping a fraud.

    Harry Smith then admits to her he and almost all jounalists failed to look further than a few hard questions. They should have done much much more.

    JW, there is freedom in owning ones terribly wrong choices. I hope you go there. You were not the only one, but that is not relevant really.

  26. Eric

    Evan – I get the impression that JW will never be able to satisfy your desires/demands. Maybe he can, who knows.

    Perhaps you could pen the apology as you’d like to see it, and then calculate the dollar figure you’d like to JW to forward to Kimmage. It appears that until you are satisfied on your terms, I don’t see you letting him off your hook. Or am I wrong?


  27. E. Shaw

    Eric why don’t you speak to the issue at hand, your ideas. I would respect them regardless. But the sarcasm and personal aspect is not welcome.

    It is NOT about me being satisfied. The issue is well defined with my and Reid’s posts. Today six mainstream respected newspapers and Harry Smith noted NBC journalist all have accepted the very responsibility I and Reid are commenting on. They all said with true humility and genuine remorse that they looked the other way, that they failed those clean riders and the public, and they allowed the intimation and destruction of the careers and reputations of Lemond, Andreus, and many others to occur by failure to look.

    Basically it is as Besty Anrdeu said with tears in her eyes, very few wanted to know.

    1. Padraig

      Okay guys, it’s time to chill. Evan, I need to suggest that you try to devote more of your energy commenting on the post and less energy responding to the comments of others. I didn’t read Eric’s comment as sarcastic, though it’s possible he did mean it that way. Here’s where I remind everyone that sarcasm isn’t one of the tools we use here.

  28. Evan

    Patraig, if you read my posts they are sometimes challenging, yes, but of ideas. I was asking this fellow to do the same. And said I would be respectful. But I agree totally.


  29. Reid N.


    I will take your advice and comment on the post. But I will do so with a preface. I am an attorney. I litigate cases in front of judges, and occasionally juries. The first thing a young trial lawyer is told about a career in the law is that the most precious thing you have is your reputation, your credibility. Don’t misstate the facts to the jury. Do not misrepresent what a case says to a judge. Do not say to opposing counsel that you will do one thing and then do the opposite. Because if you do, then no one will ever trust you again.
    And it matters. Over the nearly two decades I have been practicing law I hear this refrain over and over again. One Magistrate Judge once told me, “the first thing I do when a brief is filed in my court, is I look at the back page to see who wrote it. Then I know whether I can trust what is written there, or whether I have to do all the checking myself.” It is like the old saying, “The thirteenth strike of a clock at midnight calls into question not only itself, but everthing that has come before.” I would add “and after.” And that is John Wilcockson’s problem now.

    When I read a cheerleading paragraph like the following one printed in Mr. Wilcockson’s column, I have to consider the source:

    “The big difference this time is that there’s no undetectable drug like EPO in existence, while the majority of riders in today’s peloton is already competing clean. Given those facts and the increased scrutiny of every rider’s blood parameters by the anti-doping authorities, the chances of seeing a worthy winner of a hard-fought and clean Tour are as strong as they’ve ever been.”

    “As strong as they’ve ever been?” Tell us, please, how strong have they ever been? According to Mr. Wilcockson’s detailed and researched tome, “The Making of the World’s Greatest Champion” the chances of having a worthy winner were super-strong in 2009 (and 2005, 04, 03, 02, 01, 00 and 99). Also, if the “majority of the riders are competing clean,” who are the ones who are not competing clean? I, and the rest of the readers would love to know the answer to that question. Does Wilcockson know? What are the facts that would lead one to suspect that some minority are not competing clean? Please tell us–because you have the sources and the background in the sport that we readers do not have.

    With respect and appreciation for a website that allows for the kind of dialog.

  30. Jesus from Cancun

    I want to write a positive note about John Wilcockson, since I feel this tread is becoming more about him than about this article.

    I have enjoyed his writing and all his knowledge since the first Winning Magazine eons ago. Wilcockson and Pelkey were the reasons I used to visit VeloNews everyday.
    After VN got rid of both, I followed Pelkey here, and then I was thrilled to find out that Wilcockson was coming on board, too. I have enjoyed almost all of his RKP columns, and even though I am not thrilled about his exhuberant praise for Wiggins (even though I am a Wiggo fan myself) as much as I wasn’t thrilled about his former Armstrongnism, I still have huge regards for his work.

    I know that internet has made us tough critics, and it is easy to judge from our keyboard. I am not going to get into whether Wilcockson did right or wrong in the past, or why he wrote this or said that. I don’t care.

    What I care about is that his experience, his knowledge and his writing style are huge assets for RKP and whoever else publishes his work. And as with Charles Pelkey, wherever he publishes, I will follow.

  31. Bikelink

    I’ve sort of given up on having faith in any individuals racing at the top pro level. There is more cycling can do (publish all bio passport data publicly would be a start), but I don’t know what would really be convincing. I enjoy watching the tour to see how team tactics play out, but try not to get too invested in which individual wins, since who knows if that’s not just the best doper of the best riders. I love cycling and racing (which I’m terrible at but keep doing since it’s so much fun), but the sport at the highest level has unfortunately completely lost credibility (even before the recent LA reports). How CAN we regain faith…what could be done to show that most riders at the highest levels aren’t doping in some way?

  32. Evan Shaw

    FYI I am by profession a forensic evaluator and researcher. I also have spent a great deal of time with the court system like Reid. I also appreciate being able to challenge some journalistic conclusions made here. In my perspective, I agree with Greg Lemond, that this is THE pivotal moment in our sport. If we do not challenge, come to grips with the pervasive corruption, of which doping is but one aspect, irreparable harm will be done to our sport.

    Ashenden states it is a certainty that doping is occurring at present. The USADA states they have evidence of several dozen more riders, coaches, staff, and managers that are guilty of various serious infractions and or worse. The UCI is fighting dealing with the USADA, WADA, and otherwise hoping to make this all look good but not be investigated themselves.

    Thus I do not look forward to next years TDF. I will stay interested in and support this site if and only if your journalistic stance is to fully adopt an investigative and sustained approach to these issues. All journalists save a very few have allowed themselves to not want to know what was happening, to not look very deeply, and to ride the train of success that LA and the system brought. I hope that everyone, including the fine people here learn from these events and commit to getting to the truth and telling it from this juncture forward. We need you desperately. Thank your for listening!

  33. mike hogan

    With Wilcockson’s history as a journalist who bought and than promoted the Armstrong line of BS, he was and still is irrelevant. Why is Wilcockson still writing on this or any other post? Who would still waste their time reading his drivel?

  34. Pat

    Back to the subject of this year’s TdF, and the trends in the other grand tours as well. I still think, after considering the other posts, that the increasing difficulty of these tours is likely to give riders a rationale for doping, or at least considering it. Other posts point to the history of these tours. The TdF began as a race to make riders quit before the finish. Is that what we want as fans? Many riders in the past have said the Tour can’t be won on bread and water or a variation of that theme. The Vuelta and Giro seem bent each year to outdo the prior year and other tours in stage lengths and climbing difficulties. I admit that my experience as a cyclist is limited. But, I know that I would like to ride a century before my riding days are over, and what it will take to do it. It’s tough, but what these racers do is almost more than human. It wouldn’t take much to go over the edge. I do not want to watch a race of attrition and tactics decided by a director in a team car. I want to watch a race of tactics decided on the road by racers and individual acts of courage. My point is to make the stages shorter and more competitive, eliminate race radios, and limit team cars on the road while increasing neutral mechanical and nutritional support. Who an I to ask this? The guys that buys the stuff that supports the very sport about to disappear before our eyes with the cannibalism now occurring in the peloton and management offices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *