Results tagged “doping” from spare cycles

Landis loses, questionable precedent

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The Floyd Landis guilty decision came in today, with the arbitration panel handed down a decision that says the lab screwed up, but not enough. I'm a bit surprised by the arbitration ruling for Landis. I expected either a complete upholding of the scientific findings or a complete acquittal, but this sort of half decision maintains a high level of internal conflict for me. I want guilty athletes to be punished and was happy to see a house cleaning this Tour. I also want to see the testing meet scientific standards and protect athletes' rights. It's troubling, in light of the decision, to see quotes such as:

  • Prudhomme: "We have waited a long time, too long. We said since the beginning that we were confident in the laboratory (AFLD) at Châtenay-Malabry."
  • McQuaid: "He got a highly qualified legal team who tried to baffle everybody with science and public relations."
  • Decision: "311. In response to these assertions the Panel finds that the practices of the Lab in training its employees appears to lack the vigor the Panel would expect in the circumstances given the enormous consequences to athletes of an AAF. Furthermore, the other matters introduced in evidence and referred to in this section do give some cause for concern. Nevertheless, like other parts of the evidence in this matter there are no ISL Rule violations that might result in the Panel accepting the Respondent’s allegations as affecting the AAF in this case."

I find these to be a troubling trio of comments as they indicate that sloppy science is acceptable and good in the current environment. I could care less at this point if Landis is guilty or not -- he can keep racing 100 mile MTB events. I want to see cycling grow and evolve and this ruling does not feel like a step in the right direction.

Oscar Pereiro officially is the 2006 Tour de France winner, but its hard to feel that justice is served there. Pereiro's time gain was a risky fluke; his ride doesn't stand well on its own. In a scandal-ridden Tour, perhaps that's all you can get.

O Captain my Captain: Kashechkin has furthered damaged Astana's credibility by testing positive for homologuous blood doping, just like Vino. Given that Astana is composed of former Liberty Seguros and T-Mobile riders, could we have expected more?

Contador is planning a Friday announcement with Bruyneel by his side -- prepared statement, no questions. The hush-hushness of it all would seem to imply that it has something to do with Operation Puerto allegations that are rearing their head once more.

Moreni positive for testosterone

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CyclingNews only has brief details:

The Tour de France was rocked by news that Astana's battered team leader, Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion after Saturday's time trial in Albi. L'Equipe reported on Tuesday afternoon that the Kazakh's blood had shown evidence of a transfusion from another person with a compatible blood type in an analysis done in the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory.

...Upon receiving the news, the Astana team has allegedly quit the Tour, according to the French newspaper.

Update: VeloNews News Flash

This on the same day that Petacchi was cleared of doping charges.

Big doping charge leveled at Rasmussen

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Michael RasmussenVeloNews has a new top headline: VeloNews Exclusive: Ex-cyclist levels doping charges at Rasmussen. The charges come from an MTB athlete who claims that Rasmussen tried to trick him into transporting a cow-based blood substitute into Europe. The accuser first told VeloNews back in 2002 under the condition that Rasmussen and he remain anonymous but became by Rasmussen's "You can trust me" line.

Landis @Google

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Floyd Landis stopped to give a talk at Google as part of his national book tour for Positively False. I couldn't get to this talk on account of no visitors allowed.

Sinkewitz is battered, bruised, and now positive for testosterone: Sinkewitz A Sample Positive for Testosterone. The A Sample was taken on June 8 and the positive result is a thorn in the side of T-Mobile's internal athlete testing program.

In response, Germany has ceased public coverage of the Tour, which is a dramatic change in the storyline for the German boost that T-Mobile's Linus Gerdemann provided during his brief stay in yellow and white.

Blogger's Pledge

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Frank Steele's blogger pledge is attracting quite a response from the blogging peloton. Fritz/cyclelicio.us won't sign, David/FredCast claims a podcasters excemption, and Nancy/Lantern Rouge worries that her supplements aren't covered by a TUE.

As for myself, I'm worried that all my blog entries will arrive an hour late.

Slow peloton, less attacks = no doping?

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I wrote my "no doping?" question as a tweet during the slow Stage 3. It seems that a common theme to the rider interviews I had been watching for the first several stages was that the Tour was being ridden differently this year, without the same barrage of early stage attacks. Graham Watson seems to have the same theory, adding that the riders may not have figured out what their thresholds are without their... supplements. If it's true, it hasn't made the Tour any less exciting -- minus some slow Stage 3 riding -- but the TV stations may have to revise their schedules for the new pace of the peloton.

Landis verdict soon?

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Saw this on Neil@Road:

According to a Belgium website, the three arbitrators are going to announce their verdict either later today or tomorrow. I’m a bit skeptical. In either case it’s crappy timing. Just when the world should be focusing on the Tour, the verdict will completely over shadow the day.

Indeed.

CSC testing results

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csc.testing.gif

CSC has just posted their mid-year doping test results online. This really does seem like the type of program that can regain confidence in cycling: open, frequent, and longitudinal. Of course, the desire to present a clean image is in conflict with the results being posted on riis-cycling.com, but it does make me think that Riis has turned a corner in his career and there will be no more Hamiltons or Bassos.

It makes me want to guess which line is who -- like the blue line that climbs up.

Belgian dope

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At the Tour of California I talked with the family of one of the racers. Their son had raced over in Belgium but decided to return to the US because he felt like he was racing with a bunch of drug addicts (performance- and non-performance-enhancing). Thus, it wasn't with much surprise when I read about the police raid in western Belgium that uncovered doping products and arrested one of the trainers for QuickStep. QuickStep denies any implication, but with time more sordid details are certain to emerge.

Friday dope

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Bjarne Riis"My yellow jersey is in box at home, you can come and collect it." Bjarne Riis is the latest former T-Mobile rider to own up to doping, which is the most significant confession so far because he admits to using EPO to win the Tour de France. Riis' use was long rumored by deduction: the Festina riders he beat to win his Tour were using EPO and the Festina riders gave him the nickname "Mr. 60%", as an allusion to his rumored hematocrit level. This now makes Jan Ullrich the only T-Mobile rider in history to have not doped (kidding).

As owner of CSC, I am wondering if this will start freeing up even more cyclists to start confessing (looks at Jonathan Vaughters, head of Slipstream). Of course, like all of the other confessions, they point to the past and cut the ties to the present: "I'm doing this to keep the focus on the work we are doing today that keeps cycling in the right perspective. The massive steps we have taken to fight doping and the ways in which we have secured that the team rests on the right and proper foundations."

In saying that he "bought it and took it [himself]," Riis may be attempting to further protect CSC from guilt-by-doctor association. Looking at the Wikipedia entry on Riis, it appears that Riis' coach in 1996 was Luigi Cecchini, who was later involved with Basso and CSC. In addition to being Rii's coach during his now infamous '96 Tour win, Cecchini was also involved with Francesco Conconi, who is believed to have given athletes EPO. The last little connection in there is Michel Ferrari, who worked with Conconi and also coached Lance Armstrong.

Riis and Basso

Thursday dope

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  • Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag admit to past doping. Several other past T-Mobile riders also owned up. Say it ain't so, Zabel. Isn't it strange how such admissions never seem to involve recent use? Zabel only admits to doping in 1996 and Aldag admits to 1995-2002 (or 1999, according to cyclingnews). Interestingly enough, Rolf Aldag is being kept at the team manager despite T-Mobile's new-found public stance against doping. I guess it's like hiring computer hackers to be your security consultants.
  • The Landis arbitration case has finally finished the closing arguments. The gold standard of coverage has been Trust But Verify, which has every possible detail and roundup that you might need to catch up. The sensational, but largely irrelevant, Lemond testimony overshadowed the scientific aspects of the case, which seem quite interesting. Landis found some credible experts to testify on his behalf. WADA/USADA put their own scientists on the stand, which was a bit dubious. Interestingly enough, the WADA "code of ethics" states that WADA scientists cannot speak ill of other WADA scientists labs. There is also the issue of biting the hand that feeds you. Reading through the coverage I can't help but feel that Landis is right in that the LNDD lab is a sub-par lab. Instead of arguing that all WADA labs are crap, they compared LNDD against the better UCLA lab, which is more convincing in my eyes. Nevertheless, showing LNDD to be sub-par does not acquit Landis in my eyes and much as it convinces me that better standards are necessary.

The Lemond bomb

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The Landis hearing switched gears from scientific pedantry to daytime soap opera. "Bomb" seems to be the word of choice for both Trust but Verify: "Hearing - Thursday, post bomb", CyclingNews: "LeMond drops 'bomb' on Landis hearing", VeloNews: "LeMond drops bombshell at Landis hearing". Back channel confessions, childhood sexual abuse, witness intimidation: who's going to get the movie rights to this one?

Getting ready for the Giro d'Italia

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The riders

Starter List: Cleanest Grand Tour? Much like Discovery, Tinkoff is paying for dipping into the doping bin to fill its rosters as Hamilton and Jaksche are off the start list. Caisse d'Epargne is also paying with the absence of Constantino Zaballa and Ruben Plaza, though their bigger threat is losing Valverde for the Tour de France if those rumors gain traction.

PezCycling does its picks: will the podium be 1-2-3 former Giro winners? (Simoni vs. Savoldelli vs. Cunego) Or will Di Luca or Popovych finally sit atop?

Daily Peloton previews Team Milram: Will Petacchi finally re-emerge (he'll have to do so without Marco Velo and Erik Zabel)

Daily Peloton previews T-Mobile: without Honchar, T-Mobile will have to shift focus to stage wins. Marco Pinotti's journal

The route

The start of the race looks beautiful, but of course everyone is waiting for the dramatic Zoncolan, which will be climbed this time on the steeper side and is referred to as "Europe's most difficult climb" by Daily Peloton.

Daily Peloton route preview w/ elevations

VeloNews route preview

More

Steephill is maintaining a Giro d'Italia dashboard

Cycling.tv's Versus Channel has video, but this time around it appears that you have to pay extra for the Giro (in the "Versus Channel", aka the "Italy Channel"). Is it just me, or are they actively trying to make their site harder to use and understand? (not that it was ever easy to use)

'Attempted' dopers suck

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Dopers SuckIf there's ever anything I've heard that makes me want to stock up on extra pairs of Dopers Suck socks its Basso's new defense, which is about the craziest f#$ing thing I've ever heard. Basso is now claiming that he is only guilty of 'attempted' doping as he never used the banked blood (the Clinton inhale defense). His "crisis of conscience" was more of an indigestion of conscience, barely letting out a suppressed burp. The defense is made all the more ridiculous by the fact that the Operacion Puerto evidence that Basso was presented with should quickly unravel it (quoting from cyclingnews):

2) Two telephone recordings from May 13 and 14 made by DS Ignacio Labarta to Fuentes. "Birillo had arrived with Simoni at sixteen seconds," was said on May 13 according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. This referred to Giro d'Italia stage seven, won by Rik Verbrugghe, where Basso finished 16 seconds back with Gilberto Simoni, Davide Rebellin and Serguei Gonchar. The next day another recording, "A certain Ivan Basso won." Basso was now first overall with José Enrique Gutierrez (Phonak) second. "Friend, you have... a first and a second."

3) A fax, outlined in page 15 of the dossier, that was sent from Fuentes to Nelson Giraldo Flores (in Colombia) in the days leading up to the "festival Mayo" (or Giro d'Italia). Fuentes wrote, "As per our agreement, I am sending a list of collaborators and participants in the festival that takes place in May;" going on to ask Colombian Flores for "help and collaboration." It listed riders Basso, Marco Serrano, Michele Scarponi, Gutierrez and Jan Ullrich (spelled with one "l" in the fax) without the use of code names.

4) An agenda with a schedule of blood extractions and transfusions since 2004. In the agenda the pseudonyms 'Birillo' and '2' are use

Guilty

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San Franscisco Grand Prix-84 Update: Discovery Channel's Press Release

It seems perverse for it to feel so refreshing, but at last Basso has come clean and admitted guilt. If only other riders could do the same so cycling can move forward as a sport.

According to cyclingnews, it appears that there is some debate as to whether or not Basso is going to be offered a retroactive two-year suspension, though the UCI is saying no way.

Basso leaves Discovery

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Basso inspects the damageFrom VeloNews:

Beleaguered Italian rider Ivan Basso has removed himself from his two-year contract with the Discovery Channel team at his own request just days ahead of a hearing before the Italian Olympic committee for alleged links to the Operación Puerto doping investigation.

..."Ivan's request was unexpected and he was very emotional, but adamant, about his decision to be released," Bruyneel said in a team statement. "We spoke with him at length before granting his request. Although he was only on our team for a short time, he was a great leader and a very well respected and selfless teammate. I, along with the entire team, wish him the best."

Previously: Basso suspended, Levi's patience pays off?

Basso suspended, Levi's patience pays off?

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IMG_1084Things aren't looking good for Basso's season as Discovery Channel has suspended him due to the Italian investigation into Fuentes blood bags. Basso may have to finally submit a DNA sample, which could finally resolve this once and for all.

Levi may be inwardly celebrating based on statements he made during his Lombardi Sports talk. Going back to my notes:

...There were of course plenty of questions and rephrased questions as to Basso vs. his role on the team. Levi admitted he was surprised that Discovery signed Basso, but he hasn't given up his hopes for the Tour de France. Noting that many teams run with two leaders, Levi seems to be taking a two-phased wait-and-see approach: wait and see if Basso/Discovery survive the current uproar, and wait and see who is the strongest come Tour time.

There is that other doping news involving Floyd Landis. My only response to that is to wonder repeatedly, "Why do they keep giving Landis more ammunition? Can't they gather evidence without creating reasonable doubt in the process?" I don't want to believe in a conspiracy, but its almost as if the authorities want to help fuel the flames.

Ullrich link to Puerto confirmed

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My farewell to Ullrich was touched with the uncertainty of whether or not Ullrich was guilty of doping. Today's confirmation of Ullrich's DNA matching blood in Fuentes' office clears up a whole lot -- especially since the bags were marked "Jan," "N.1", and "Hijo Rudicio" (Son of Rudy). Ullrich's defense has now seized on the last remaining shred of uncertainty to suggest that there is a "manipulation" conspiracy, which fills my head with images of black-clad spy operatives sneaking into Ullrich's apartment late at night and secretly drawing bags of blood while he sleeps.

Floyd in SF Sunday

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Landis Approaching the Finish Line-1Floyd Landis will be at Jillians in SF on Sunday, coinciding with the start of the Tour of California. He's there to raise money/awareness for the Floyd Fairness Fund, and tickets prices are $35. I would like to go, hear his defense in his own words, and have the chance to take some photos of the event, but I have qualms about ponying up $35.

My opinion of the Landis case thus far has been that Floyd is right in that athletes deserve a better testing process and that Dick Pound has made a mockery of fairness in testing. However, believing that the testing process is substandard does not mean that I believe Floyd is clean, it just means that I have doubts.

The New York Times has just published this bombshell: 2 Ex-Teammates of Cycling Star Admit Drug Use along with an article focusing on Andreu in particular, Fears for Sport Made Cyclist Come Clean. Neither Andreu nor the unnamed rider implicate Armstrong directly, though Andreu traces his usage back to their Motorola days and he also says he saw Armstrong sorting little round pills, which Armstrong claims were caffeine.

I'm of mixed minds about Andreu's admission. * update: Andreu clearly takes responsibility for his own actions in his statement today, so it doesn't feel as dishonest anymore.* The article clearly tries to frame him not as a cheater for himself but as a cheater for Lance, as if Andreu had nothing to gain for himself by doping. But Andreu had plenty to gain: a coveted spot on a Tour team and a chance to ride into Paris on the winning team. Now, of course, Andreu has little to lose after being let go from the Toyota-United team, which was surprising given how good that squad was doing its first year out. Regardless, it's a damning admission for the old US Postal squad and I'm sure everyone will wonder now who the unnamed rider is. The 1999 roster was:

  • Lance Armstrong (USA) of course not
  • Frankie Andreu (USA) admitted
  • Pascal Deram� (Fra)
  • Tyler Hamilton (USA) unlikely
  • George Hincapie (USA) unlikely
  • Kevin Livingston (USA)
  • Peter Meinert-Nielsen (Den)
  • Christian Vandevelde (USA) racing for CSC
  • Jonathan Vaughters (USA) heading up TIAA-CREF

So it ends for Phonak

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I'm hardly a Phonak fan, but I'm sad to see them go:

Andy Rihs Disbands Phonak Cycling Team

Two American hopes -- Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis -- have risen then crashed through the Phonak team, so perhaps it's best that Phonak go the way of many cycling teams and disband, but for the riders who only recently were celebrating a Tour de France win and two-year extensions on their contracts, it is another terrible blow.

Speculate no more, B-sample confirms

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As anticipated, the B sample results arrived today and confirmed the original A sample rumored results: exogenous testosterone and an 11:1 T/E ratio. Landis has now been fired from the Phonak team, and if previous cases are our guide, this will take quite awhile to reseolve itself.

Landis' Web site has been taken out again by traffic, but yesterday he had posted a personal message titled, "Keep the Faith," that pointed out that the A sample results showed "the T value returned has been determined to be in the normal range. The E value returned was LOW." Landis does not yet have a defense for the exogenous testosterone results, but he is going out on the attack against the UCI for their leaks.

Landis B sample result announced

Some more thoughts

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Several thoughts before bed:

  • At this point in time I'm more inclined to believe Landis than not, for the mere fact that it seems that the testosterone/epitestosterone test seems too easy for cyclists to circumvent (see this Malcolm Gladwell post (via)). This isn't to say I don't think Landis doesn't dope -- I withhold my judgement -- but if he did, I don't see this being the way he gets caught.

  • I was fairly impressed with the Landis press conference, in that he didn't make a whole lot of excuses or outlandish explanations. Also, the not-lying-to-your-Mennonite-mother defense is much better than swearing-on-your-dead-dog's-grave defense.

  • ESPN thought Tiger Woods' preparations for the British Open were more newsworthy than Landis' epic stage 17 win and relegated his overall win to the sidebar for a photo of Woods winning the British Open, but now the Landis scandal is worthy of full front-page-big-photo glory -- it must be a slow news day. I'm also annoyed by all the sports pundits who now seem to think this confirms cycling as the dirtiest sport, ignoring the fact that Barry Bonds continues to swing away for a record.

  • Greg Lemond is also really annoying. We get it. You could have won a lot more Tour de Frances. Back in your day you didn't have to dope. You don't like Lance. Hinault cheated you (though, really, you think someone is going to give up his chance at a fifth Tour victory to help you out?). Now stop trying to bring down the entire sport.

It hits the fan

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Landis' A-sample after his remarkable Stage 17 ride tested positive for high levels of testosterone -- we now anxiously await the results of the B-sample. We're all hoping that the beer after Stage 16 wasn't Colorado's Rocky Mountain Oyster label (I'm full of bad jokes this morning).

It's the worst possible news for cycling following Operation Puerto and continues a long streak of scandals revolving around the Phonak team: Hamilton, Urweider, Perez, and Camenzind, as well as Guitierrez and Botero, who were named in Puerto. Personally, I'm shocked that one team can continue to allow so many high-profile doping cases to permeate it.

Update: Landis' interview with CNNSI denying the accusation

Best. Ride. Ever.

AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati

AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati

Floyd Landis at a dinner full of carbs and panache last night and hit the peloton hard out of the gates -- the Tour is his to win once more. What do you do when your team is weak and you lost ten minutes yesterday? You burn them up at the start of the race to jump free from the pack then ride solo across the entire stage, watching as the top ten contenders can't figure out what to do about it. With water bottle in hand, constantly pouring water over his head and back, Landis delivered the ride of the century, winning the stage, 5:42 ahead of Sastre, 7:08 ahead of Pereiro, jumping back on the podium, and positioning himself one time trial away from victory in Paris. Landis' quote at the end of the race talking to his wife, "I wanted six."

As Landis built up a lead of over nine minutes, the top ten continued to let Caisse do all the work, even as their team whittled down to only one rider in front of Oscar Pereiro. CSC and T-Mobile finally sent their riders to the front on the penultimate climb to do some serious chasing, but they still gave Landis 6:32 at the start of the final Joux Plane climb. Voigt and Vandevelde pulled off the CSC train and Schleck pulled through to launch Sastre. From there, it was absolute chaos as Sastre raced ahead, pulling back time on Landis, while Menchov, Kloden, Pereiro, and Evans yo-yo'd back and forth further back. Moreau and Cunego managed to jump ahead, but everyone else eventually fell behind Pereiro's wheel as the yellow jersey fought hard to stay in yellow.

This is the GC after today's stage. The Stage 19 time trial will be one for the ages: 1. Oscar Pereiro Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 80:08:49 2. Carlos Sastre Team CSC 0:11 3. Floyd Landis Phonak 0:31 4. Andreas Kl�den T-Mobile 2:29 5. Cadel Evans Davitamon-Lotto 3:08 6. Denis Menchov Rabobank 4:14


* VeloNews Stage 17 summary * Cycling News Stage 17 summary * Graham Watson Stage 17 photo gallery * Bob Martin's Stage 17 by the numbers * Floyd Landis Stage 17 interview * Dave Zabriskie Stage 17 diary

Prediction check: * My prediction: It's going to be hard for a non-GC contender to win given the GC battle that will occur today. This is Discovery's last chance to go for a stage win so they'll be in a break up front. Landis needs to recover and claw back some of those ten minutes he lost. Sastre will jump but Kl�den's charge will be hard to hold off. I'm going to say Landis if he can descend that final peak like he stole something. * Actual: all of that happened, except Kloden's charge wasn't hard to hold off, and I never thought that Landis would get over seven minutes on the yellow jersey. Striking distance of the podium? Perhaps. On the podium, wow.

Movie: Wired to Win

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posterWired to Win features the best cycling footage I have ever seen. Shot with four cameras mounted on motorcycles, lifts, and helicopters, the IMAX footage is unparalled. From shots that put you right in the peloton to shots that soar over the French Alps and Pyrenees, you are overwhelmed with the awesomeness of the Tour de France. Despite all this footage, however, this is not a movie about the Tour de France or even cycling. The focus of the film is a series of 3-D educational clips about the function of the human brain and how it copes with sensory input and adversity.

The producers of the film were lucky because they choose the 2003 Tour de France, which was one of the most exciting in recent memory: the Stage 1 crash that hobbled riders like Tyler Hamilton and film-focus Jimmy Casper, Beloki's horrific crash on descent in Stage 9, Armstrong's musette crash in Stage 15, Hamilton's solo Stage 16 victory with broken collarbone, Ullrich's crash in the final Stage 19 time trial that clinched Armstrong's fifth consecutive victory, and Baden Cooke's nudging of Robbie McEwen for the sprint jersey on the final stage in Paris. There were plenty of stories with which the producers would choose to weave a narrative about how the brain deals with adversity in order to win.

The producers chose to focus on Francaise des Jeux riders Jimmy Casper and Baden Cooke. Immediately following the footage fo the Stage 1 crash, we get to see Jimmy Casper being stuck into an MRI machine to scan for brain injury -- a perfect segue into an 3-D model of the brain explaining how fMRIs can show us where different functions of our brain are located. Casper's story is later mined for a clip showing how the brain deals with pain as we see Casper struggle to stay in the Tour de France after his crash.

I had a little trouble with these 3D brain clips, especially ones that flew you through fields of neurons firing. Seen at an IMAX scale, the appearance of flying through the brain translated into an actual sensation of flying in my body. I had to close my eyes after several of these clips in order to keep my dinner down.

There is a tension in the film with respect to Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton was originally the focus of the film, but after his blood doping conviction the film was recut to focus on the Francaise des Jeux riders. There are still some shots that showcase Hamilton, but there is no narrator pointing out the bandages for the broken collarbone, there is no mention of Hamilton's name whatsoever. Given the focus on Jimmy Casper's injury in the exact same accident as Hamilton's and Casper's eventual abandon several stages later, it would have been a great narrative complement to Caspar's story in the film. Unfortunately, Hamilton's later conviction took what would have been a great story of battling adversity and muddied it with the red flag of doping.