Tour de France 2021 - Speculation and Gossip

Since apparently no one else has created this thread yet, and it is probably the right thing to have the official talk and the rumor talk separated.

So here we go:

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Thanks for this, probably for the best

To kick things off, the and kind of not start at zero again, the biggest speculative topic in the other TdF thread was the super human performances of Tadej Pogačar he has shown AGAIN this year.
Some believe he is just a once in a generation talent and others believe he is a great talent, with a great medical staff.
I was super stoked after the 20th stage of 2020’s Tour and really felt like having witnessed a miracle right there.
As time passed, admittedly I became more and more doubtful of his performances, especially those in stage 8 and stage 20.

In the other Thread, this article was quoted and discussed:

Here is my take on that article:
:point_right:t2: Tour de France 2021! (spoilers) - #674 by Aeroiseverything

The ITT this year, and stage 8 and stage 9 might have increased the doubt over this being all natural ability.

Disclaimer:
I love cycling, I love bike racing, I admire pro sports, I don’t believe cycling is the only sport in which people dope, I don’t hate Pogačar, I just don’t like unfair competition, and I just don’t like the sport I love being tarnished and losing all its credibility once again.
That is one of the things that a multiple time tour winner being left off the hook (again) would do.

Also, it denies other world class athletes lifetime achievements, like Roglic last year and for example Küng this Year.

I don’t have any proof Pogačar is on anything and I certainly don’t have any proof everyone else is clean (I don’t believe the latter to be true). However, there are a lot of things that just add up, at least for me.

Also, I don’t believe guys and gals on a forum chatting about will change anything.
Maybe it is more of a therapy for being so upset, feeling I have been robbed of the excitement of my A-event for the year :man_shrugging:t2:.

Feel free to disagree.

Also, I am very much open to being convinced that I am wrong in my suspicion.

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In all seriousness, I think the performances in the last few years are from a better understanding of how much carb can actually be consumed and processed compared to many years ago.

It’s the occams razor for Froome, Pog, and others.

Pog had tons of strategically placed volunteers on the pivotal climb.

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I would argue the razor cuts in a different direction.

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That is definitely a factor why EVERYONE should be better. Team Sky was known for a “super high carb”
Strategy, and them and Science in Sport touted it as the key to success in stage 19 of Giro 2018.

Even if this would explain the incredible late in the stage performances from Pogacar, can this really explain him destroying Stefan Küng on a rather flat TT course, posting times on Col de Rommés and Col de La Colombiere, that were only matched by drugged up all time greats or a prime Team Sky Train, and especially, this doesn’t explain the 1880 VAM miracle on Planche de la Belles Files.
The latter is a 16 minute effort of likely around 450 to 460W (>6.8 W/kg) after a 40 minute flat Time trial effort, that was on level with Tom Dumoulins flat bit of the TT… so probably 400+ W still.

I just don’t believe any human can do this naturally.

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Ok, so let’s explore that then. I’m willing to go the opposite direction here for a second.

What exactly are they doing? What would give them such a large performance benefit but not be detectable by the biological passport?

The big ones like T, EPO, and some of the other stuff would work, but its hard to avoid controls. Same with blood volume doping. So what else would it be?

(not being argumentative, just actually curious here)

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Ignorant question here, is the 6.8kg bike limit weighed with the trackers these days? I know that the gps devices are screwed in to be counted as “part of the bike” so it counts towards the weight limit

Oh damn…I have no idea. I’m not a medical expert. The history of competitive sports is filled with those looking to skirt the system in the search for a competitive advantage and finding substances and techniques.

I’ve laid out my logic in the other thread for why I believe it is reasonable to be skeptical about what we are witnessing….and I extend that to plenty of other riders, not just Pog.

I hope my suspicions are misplaced….but history tells me they probably aren’t.

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One possibility is an elevated number of mitochondria achieved through anabolic steroid use during ones highest testosteron level years (16-19 yrs old). These mitochondria remain for many years (10 -15) after the steroid usage ends and the steroids are out of ones system.

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From my experience in sport, active and passive,
I always wonder three things when it comes to drug testing

  • is there an incentive in not finding drug abusers?
  • is this incentive bigger than that of guaranteeing a clean sport?
  • are the tests even testing for all relevant substances?

In many cases, the first two questions are usually a simple „yes“.
What would happen to a sport like football, 100m dash, basketball, boxing etc. if they revealed the biggest star(s) is/ are on juice?
Likely the same that happened to cycling after Lance. The sport completely vanished in my country for years (Germany with its own drug scandals).
That would be a catastrophe for the sport and therefore, covering it up would make sense to some degree.

To the third point:
When I competed in power lifting, they were testing for two substances, dbol and sarms. That’s all. Everyone knew that. So in order not to get busted, don’t take the two and you are golden.

I believe something similar happens in A LOT of pro (and sadly even amateur) sports.
I have witnessed this sh!t in youth league football and low level powerlifting.
It would be surprising if it wasn’t very prevent once millions of dollars and fame are on the line.

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Don’t know how this works at the world tour. In German nationals they just did a fit check and weighed the bike once.:man_shrugging:t2:

This is a very interesting theory! Plausible, and incredible sad if it were true.

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Might also explain why more and more athletes seem to reach their potential just over the age of 20.

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When EPO first came out, the idea of using it as a performance enhancer was simply not considered. It was a life saving drug. But it was quickly abused by athletes across multiple sports.

Back in the late 00’s, Aicar was being used widely in the peloton…but it was not widely known to the public (either the substance or it’s use). But it helped riders cut weight dramatically and boost their performances, similar to EPO.

Could there be another drug similar out there? Quite possibly.

As a side note, -7 swears he was clean when mounted his comeback. I actually believe this….but only in the sense that Aicar was not yet a prohibited substance and I fully believe he was using it.

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Am I the only one amazed with the solvienian dominance? Perhaps that’s an answer legit or illegitimate?

I’d find it indicates more towards legit given primoz background and brief time in the sport.

I think maybe a shift in how talent is identified and recruited. Interesting comment from Mitch Docker on the Cycling Podcast on this the other day. Effectively he was saying that the route to a World Tour contract used to be purely through race results. Now it’s largely through data. He was using it as a potential explanation for why there have been so many crashes - guys like Roglic and Woods who have amazing engines but came to the sport late and don’t have years of racing experience and skills under their belts (and in Roglic’s case hadn’t raced for 2 months prior to the Tour). But it would also give more opportunity for riders from countries like Slovenia that don’t have a big pro racing scene to get noticed through their power files and other data.

I just read a very interesting article about drug abuse in „semi-pro-level“ (most still have to work on the side) rowing.
The sentiment was always „there is not enough money in rowing so no one would have an incentive to ruin their health and juice up“ and this has been found to not hold true anymore.
People juice up to be good, not to be rich.
What I found interesting from that article is that they stated „this might explain why many pro rowers fare so well in other aerobic sports“….

From a YouTube Channel I like to watch, concerned with doping in bodybuilding, I really love the statement:
“ Most people on steroids don’t do it to become Mr. Olympia, but just to become a big barista!”

(Barista just being an interchangeable example for an ordinary job).

Again, add money and fame into the equation and I believe the incentive to play foul becomes much greater.

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It’s not even limited to semi-pro. I know plenty of guys who juice in the gym just to look better, and I know of guys who juice just to stay in the A group of the Saturday shop ride.

I mean, let’s be honest, people tweak their Peloton to be higher on the leaderboard. People who own Neos buy wheel on trainers just for Zwift races. Is it really a stretch to think people would put something in their body when everyone around them is doing it and it’s how they earn their living?

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My honest opinion is there is a new kind of doping unfolding before us, just like in the dawn of the EPO era.

What is it? I honestly don’t know. DNA manipulation possibly.

The reason I believe this isn’t because of the difference from the “old days”. It’s been like a nitro fueled explosion the last eightenn months when you look at the data. Something has happened.

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