The first of the Grand Tours starts today and it looks set to be a batle of riders, Teams and shady Dr's. What with the shadow over Contador still not resolved, plus recent doping investigations in Italy we are faced with many questions about the legitimate performances of some riders.
LeMond said that with clean riding we would see dramatic racing, collaspes and the Jerseys change hands on many occasions (parapharsed). When this happens in a race it creates tension, drama and the belief amongst the riders that their day may come. It's going to be difficult to call on who will win, but you'd be a fool to rule out Bert as he's so consistent, and even if he's not on special orange juice or Spanish beef I suspect he is still above the rest. Looking at recent research it seems that the efects of doping last much longer than the window originally thought. A rider training prepared, but racing clean would have a major advantage as he's been able to go deeper and the muscles have been trained to go further into the red. Muscle memory seems to last for a long time, take a look at people who haven't ridden for 10-20 years then start again. I don't confess to being an expert, but the body is a very complicated thing and we seem to find out more and more as time goes by.
Recent editions have been more exciting than the Tour, with the lead changing hands many times and the introduction of slightly crazy stages making the TV spectacle something to behold. The Tour organisers picked up on this last year by adding parts of the Liegé and Roubaix routes. It created drama, changed the race and some riders cast out names to the organisers like it was the 1920's all over again.
I think that of recent that Grand Tours have lost their focus as it seems to be about the best climber that wins. In years gone past the riders who won Grand Tours would be the Best All Rounders, I miss those days. I expect a 'Questionable' rider to win, I don't think that this Grand Tour is a great advocate for clean cycling, but like drivers rubber necking a car crash no doubt we will all tune in each day to watch the drama unfold.http://www.flickr.com/photos/slipstreamsports/5675628937/