Contador and Froome Near Miss

Contador and Froome Near MissYesterday’s Stage 16 (168km – Vaison-la-Romaine to Gap) near miss between Alberto Contador and Chris Froome on the final descent of Col de Manse seems to be attracting some tenuous comparisons to the drama between Lance Armstrong and Joseba Beloki ten years previously. Whilst the Texan/Spaniard encounter of 2003 left Beloki with multiple fractures and saw Armstrong going very much ‘off road’, yesterday’s action was more mundane (though certainly with potential for worse consequences) when Contador’s aggressive attack saw him slip wide on a bend, forcing Froome to take evasive action and momentarily unclip. Contador was certainly risking all in his hell-for-leather approach but as Sunday’s effort on Mont Ventoux proved it seems futile attaching Froome and his wingman Richie Porte on ascents.


Froome was certainly flustered by the interaction post-race but remained in trademark analytic mood, saying, ‘It was quite a dangerous descent and a bit careless of Alberto Contador to attack like that. He was really pushing the limits around the corners and pushed himself too far when he crashed in front of me. I went off the road a little bit and had to correct myself, unclip, and get back going again…’ Taking to social media later he tweeted: ‘Almost went over your head @albertocontador.. Little more care next time?’


As a reminder of just how much more dramatic the Armstrong/Beloki incident was, take a look at the video below…



Books Featured Reviews

Racing Hard

Racing Hard by William FotheringhamFew cycling journalists have enjoyed a career as long and esteemed as that of William Fotheringham; since joining the Guardian in 1989 he has established himself as a writer respected not only by the lay-reader but by the Grand Tour participants – he is undoubtedly as ‘riders’ journalist’.  Racing Hard, published by Faber and Faber, brings together what might be considered the definitive collection of tales from the front line of pro-racing, which, taken together, becomes something of a meditation on the changing face of the sport over the last two decades.


Whilst Fotheringham’s newspaper features can, at times, feel a little cold or detached (he is after all a great analyst), as an anthology of work they are transformed somehow into something greater – something in which a true passion shines through. The original articles are annotated and noted for context and this lifts the entire book to one that chronicles the lives – and races – of the great and the good in a way that positively glows with admiration. There is, of course, much scandal and controversy covered here (none of it salaciously presented) and Lance Armstrong looms large – how could he not? But there is balance and wisdom too throughout Fotheringham’s writing.


The forward to Racing Hard, by David Millar, not only sets out the regard with which Fotheringham is held, but encapsulates the span of his work; Millar writes: ‘William has put my career into words, from an ambitious teenager to a fallen world champion to a fervent anti-doping campaigner, team owner and father.’


Those that know and love Fotheringham’s work as a journalist or author (read the review of his book Merckx: Half Man, Half Bike here) will naturally gravitate towards Racing Hard; but hopefully it will also bring his words to those unfamiliar with his prolific output and earn him yet more dedicated followers. He’s worked long and hard for them…


Racing Hard (ISBN-10: 0571303625) is published by Faber and Faber, RRP £12.99 paperback and currently on Kindle offer at just £1.59 from


For more book reviews from Cyclo click here.




Lance Armstrong: Crusader?

Lance Armstrong refuses USADA hearingSo after further weeks of prevaricating, feet shuffling and (perhaps) navel gazing Lance Armstrong has decided he is not prepared to meet with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to be interviewed under oath; in effect ending any possibility of having his lifetime ban reduced. The seven-times-not-Tour-de-France winner had been given an additional two weeks from the original February 6 deadline to decide if he was willing to appear before the agency, but a statement from the Texan’s attorney, Tim Herman, declares he, ‘…will not participate in prosecutions… that only demonize selected individuals.’ The statement did go on to reaffirm Armstrong’s interest in working in a wider (European) context to help ‘clean up’ the sport, saying: ‘Lance is willing to cooperate fully and has been very clear: He will be the first man through the door, and once inside will answer every question, at an international tribunal formed to comprehensively address pro cycling, an almost exclusively European sport.’ So, happy to be seen as a force for good, but not to face the consequences of his own actions?


Travis Tygart, Chief Executive of the USADA, responded to Armstrong’s missive in a statement which read: ‘Over the last few weeks he has led us to believe that he wanted to come in and assist USADA, but was worried of potential criminal and civil liability if he did so… Today we learned from the media that Mr Armstrong is choosing not to come in and be truthful and that he will not take the opportunity to work toward righting his wrongs in sport.’


In other Armstrong-related news UK charity, Cyclists Fighting Cancer ( has set up a ‘Livestrong Wristband Amnesty’ for those disillusioned with the whole sorry affair. The scheme encourages Livestrong wristband owners to send them in – details on the website – and have them exchanged for a Cyclists Fighting Cancer wristband instead. A neat bit of marketing from a worthy UK charity, but probably worth remembering that despite the somewhat poisonous association to the disgraced cyclist the Livestrong Foundation (which formally changed its name from the Lance Armstrong Foundation last October) does incredible work in its own right. Maybe just send Cyclists Fighting Cancer a little donation?



Lance Armstrong Sings Creep!

Lance Armstrong sings CreepYou have to love the internet (right?). Amidst all the horrendous and continuing fallout from Lance Armstrong’s Oprah confessional, there’s still enough time on some peoples’ hands to mash his video interview into a tortuous rendition of Radiohead’s Creep. Doing the social media rounds this video made Cyclo smile and wonder – as he has just told Cyclingnews ‘My generation was no different from any other…’ – if he might consider a cover of The Who classic too. With what must be diminishing career prospects ahead, could this be the future for the Texan doper? Queen’s Bicycle Race, The Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work, Abba’s The Winner Takes it All (and Money, Money, Money) and, perhaps optimistically, Bob Marley’s Redemption Song can’t be far behind…



Armstrong’s Books ‘Duped’ Readers

Lance Armstrong sued for fraudulent books As if the self-inflicted woes need adding to Lance Armstrong is being sued by two men claiming they were ‘duped’ and ‘betrayed’ by the disgraced cyclist’s books Every Second Counts and It’s Not About the Bike – although, really the clue was already there in the latter title. Rob Stutzman and Jonathan Wheeler have both launched legal actions against the Texan and his publishers, Penguin and Random House, claiming false advertising and fraud by selling books as works of non-fiction. Stutzman, a former deputy chief of staff to California’s ex-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, claims he met and personally thanked Armstrong for his ‘inspiring’ work. Penguin’s legal representatives, Dorsey & Whitney, have called for the case to be dismissed. Of course if it isn’t, and proves successful, this could lead to an avalanche of similar actions.


Featured Features

Lance Armstrong: In Other Words

Lance Armstrong Oprah Winfrey confessionThe potential fallout from Lance Armstrong’s confessional interview with Oprah Winfrey is almost too much to comprehend; the retaliations, the potential legal actions, the possible out-of-court settlements, further revelations of complicity to come… What’s clear though is that pretty much everyone has something to say on the matter.


With this in mind Cyclo brings you some of the choicest quotes from around the world, but first thought it worth pointing out that this is the biographical information on the disgraced Texan still available at  ‘If scripted by Hollywood, the story would be dismissed as trite melodrama: A deadly disease strikes a promising athlete. Despite desperately thin odds, he manages not only to beat the affliction but also to return to the sport and win its top prize, not once but a record seven times. Unbelievable, except it’s true.’ – Yeh, except as we now know, it’s not…


‘(The interview was) nothing but a public relations exercise… If he’d wanted to come clean and seek redemption I would hope that he would seek some appropriate tribunal and give evidence under oath, subject himself to cross-examination and tell the facts. Not just the snippets that he sees is convenient for his own purposes.’ – John Fahey, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President


‘To me (the interview) just seemed like a pantomime because Lance Armstrong should be in court, in front of a jury answering the hard questions… ‘ – Nicole Cooke, speaking to BBC Sports


‘When he says he’s sorry now, how do we know he’s not still lying? How do we know it’s not just another great performance by the all-time leader in them?’ – Rick Reilly, sportswriter, long-term (ex?) friend and previous defender of Armstrong,


‘There are lawyers across the country representing various interests who are recording that interview. From a legal perspective, his issues are becoming more difficult, not less. I don’t see that he solved any problems. I think he opened the door on others.’ – Matt Orwig, former Federal Prosecutor


‘Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit. His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities.’ – Travis Tygart, CEO of the Untied States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)


‘It was disturbing to watch him describe a litany of offences including among others doping throughout his career, leading a team that doped, bullying, consistently lying to everyone and producing a backdated medical prescription to justify a test result. However, Lance Armstrong also rightly said that cycling is a completely different sport today than it was 10 years ago. In particular the UCI’s introduction of the biological passport in 2008 – the first sports federation to do so – has made a real difference in the fight against doping… Finally, we note that Lance Armstrong expressed a wish to participate in a truth and reconciliation process, which we would welcome.’ – Pat McQuaid, UCI President


‘Armstrong has destroyed anyone who has been successful in cycling… I get pissed off when I hear that you can’t win the Tour without doping. Look at Andy Hampsten (winner of the 1988 Giro d’Italia, third in the 1989 Giro and fourth in the TdF in 1986 and 1992) – there was no way he was on any doping program.’ – Greg LeMond, three-time TdF champion, now officially the only American to have won the race), speaking to Cyclingnews


‘If he doped while I raced with him, then I would have a lot to say, but how can I comment on 10 years ago?’ – Mark Cavendish, via Twitter


‘It (the interview) didn’t go nearly far enough… he has to name names, we need him to spell out the fact that his doctor, Michele Ferrari, doped him, that his team manager, Johan Bruyneel, supported him. That’s the kind of detail that will help us move forward in a way that helps cycling.’ – David Walsh, the journalist that first raised questions over Armstrong’s integrity, Speaking on BBC Breakfast


‘Forget about trying to judge his contrition level. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. Oprah’s interview, with all due respect to her and her efforts to do a credible job, is window dressing. Armstrong can make a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge about doping whether he’s sincerely sorry or not. But very little of what he said Thursday night leads me to believe he’s ready to do that.’ – Bonnie Ford, journalist


‘If you never met this jerk, well, count your blessings.’ – Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports


‘I’m really disappointed. He owed it to me. You owed it to me Lance, and you dropped the ball. After what you’ve done to me, what you’ve done to my family, and you couldn’t own up to it. And now we’re supposed to believe you?’ – Betsy Andreu, wife of Armstrong’s former USPS teammate Frankie Andreu, speaking on CNN


And finally (for now):


‘The only thing more abhorrent than Armstrong being a recidivist drugs offender, is the years of repeat denials and bullying of anyone who challenged his integrity. And the only thing more abhorrent than all of that is the charade, stage-managed, televised confessional’ – Editor,



Armstrong Guilty and ‘Sorry’

Lance Armstrong admits to dopingSeven-time-Tour-de-France-not-winner, Lance Armstrong lied and cheated his was through his career, he told talk show host Oprah Winfrey during the first of their two-part interview. Although he denied being part of ‘sport’s biggest doping programme’ and repeatedly demurred when asked about other people’s involvement (notably on the subject of his former doctor Michele Ferrari), Armstrong confessed to riding dirty on all seven of his TdF ‘wins’.  The Texan’s ‘defence’ (although far from in the legal sense as we are sure to see in the coming weeks) appears to be that he didn’t view doping as cheating, but rather as ‘levelling the playing field’ as the culture was, then, so widespread.


Travis Tygart, CEO of the Untied States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), who doggedly pursued Armstrong, responded to the interview ‘revelations’ in a statement: ‘Tonight, Lance Armstrong finally acknowledged that his cycling career was built on a powerful combination of doping and deceit. His admission that he doped throughout his career is a small step in the right direction. But if he is sincere in his desire to correct his past mistakes, he will testify under oath about the full extent of his doping activities.’


Cyclo will bring you further reaction and analysis over the coming days, but thought a few choice quote comparisons might be in order:


Lance Armstrong: ‘I have never doped. I can say that again, but I’ve said it for seven years.’ (August 2005)


Oprah Winfrey: ‘Did you ever take banned substances to enhance cycling performance?’

Lance Armstrong: ‘Yes.’ (January 2013)


Lance Armstrong: ‘I have no regrets at all. I’ve got no reason to lie.’ (June 2009)


Lance Armstrong: ‘I view this situation as one big lie I repeated a lot of times.’ (January 2013)


Lance Armstrong: ‘I’ve lived by the rules. You think someone with my health history would take something like that? There’s no way.’ (July 2001)


Lance Armstrong: ‘It was win at all costs. When I was diagnosed (with cancer) I would do anything to survive. I took that attitude – win at all costs – to cycling’ (January 2013)



Nicole Cooke Retires (and Damns Drugs Cheats)

Nicole Cooke Retires and condemns Lance Armstrong and doping Nicole Cooke, the Beijing Road Race Olympic champion who’s public spats with rival Lizzie Armitstead often threatened to overshadow her great achievements, has used he retirement (at the age of 29) to blast the dark side of the sport. Describing her life in the sport as ‘more “fantastic” than any soap opera’ she said that her time had given witness to: ‘…the greatest ever sporting fraud, about which we get new and wider revelations each day.’


Despite saying ‘I have many, many happy memories over what has been my life’s work since I was 12’, she continued to condemn the widespread culture of doping, saying that she had been pressurised to cheat (though never yielded), recalling, ‘I have had days where temptation to start onto the slippery slope was brought in front of me. (In one race) I was asked what “medicines” I would like to take to help me, and was reminded that the team had certain expectations of me during the race and I was not living up to them with my performance over the last couple of stages.’ She also stated that she felt that, at times, he had been ‘robbed’ of wins by drug cheats.


On the subject of Lance Armstrong Cooke was particularly forthright: ‘When Lance “cries” on Oprah later this week and she passes him a tissue, spare a thought for all of those genuine people who walked away with no reward – just shattered dreams. Each one of them is worth a thousand Lances.’


Despite the obvious frustration, bordering on anger, in her retirement statement it is vital to remember the huge success that Cooke has enjoyed. In addition to her gold in Beijing (the 200th won by GB in the modern Olympics), the Swansea-born star took first at the British National Road Race Championships no fewer than nine times and has enjoyed podium places at many of the sport’s most significant events and races. She has always actively championed women’s participation in the sport (and often harshly criticized it when it failed to live up to her expectations). The latter fact reflected in British Cycling president Brian Cookson’s comment on news of her retirement, saying simply ‘…There is no doubt that Nicole has been a pioneering force in women’s cycling for the past decade.’