Friday, April 30, 2010

Photo: Tour of Romandie - Stage 1 sprint finish

Alex Moos (second from left) in the mad dash to the line. (Tim de Waele photo)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jan Ullrich's 2006 Blog

Prior to news of Operation Puerto's breaking, there was an inspired Jan Ullrich-blog on MySpace purported to be written in English by Der Kaiser. Of course it wasn't but the author behind it provided months of entertaining reading, only to see it all fall apart with revelations that Jan was linked to Dr. Fuentes.

While living in Tuscany that year (2006) I met and trained with many PT riders. Jan Ullrich was the only one I ever stopped to ask for a photo with him (at the base of Monte Serra). He obliged, and came across as being a genuinely nice, approachable person. And this was at a time just before Puerto, after Jan won the ITT in the Giro and was preparing for the Tour...

Imagine someone trying to stop the Lance and asking for an autograph. His bodyguards would probably shoot you. But Jan was just cruising on his own, with a single Audi wagon following him, with just a driver in it (didn't see who it was). Did Jan ever need to resort to bodyguards?

When we stopped to take the picture, the car just whipped around and kept going up the climb while he stood there. Too freaking cool of a guy and an example of what makes cycling such a fan-friendly sport in Europe - accessibility.

Of course I forgot to hit "save" on the stupid camera phone so the picture was lost before I even reached the bottom of the climb!

Jan and LeMond were my two fav riders. It's reassuring to see that Jan survived his forced retirement and virtual banishment from cycling for doping, and that he is able to carry on with a semi-public life seemingly no worse for wear. While I cheered for Lance when he won his first Tour in 1999, thereafter, his rapid dehumanization and transformation into something more akin to a superstar athlete-robot left me feeling no admiration for him at all. When I bumped into him in NYC before the start of the BMC criterium there in 2002, and was almost trampled by his body guards, I realized he would never again be someone who I could identify with, as an athlete or person. But Jan, however, seemed to lose none of his humanness no matter what celebrity - or notoriety - he achieved. Of all the riders who've thrown their careers away to doping, he is the one who I wish could redeem himself and return, even though it's impossible.

I think unlike Lance, however, Jan will retain the appeal, the affection that the cycling public felt for him. The same mortality that led him down the path of darkness and into the arms of Fuentes is what keeps him human and allows the Everyman to identify with him. How could you not like a guy who was described thusly by Walter Goodefroot:

"Jan rides a bicycle to make a living, but I don't think he'll ever be able mentally to have a monastic life. If he didn't take some liberties during the winter, he wouldn't be able to withstand the stress of competition. That's too bad, because if you added the professionalism of Zabel to the talent of Ullrich, you'd have a Merckx."

With no further adieu, here is the Jan's MySpace blog:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Quit being harshing the Jan's buzz.

Listen, OK, the Jan was just going to be taking this time to be preparing for the Tour. It is only being in like, some days from now. The Jan must be focused!

It is kind of being like those dreams where you are at the last day of school and suddenly you are realizing that you have not been being studied for your final in the Maths, and you are all like, "Oh, the Jan is totally fuschieked now!" And then the principal is being calling you to his office, and it is not being the principal, but instead it is being the bearer of the One True Ball! And he is being very angry, and he is being pulling down your lederhosen and spanking you, and your Grandmama is there and she is being crying in shame, and then you are waking up and you are being covered in sweat and you are doing the heavy breathing thing from the movies, and then your girlfriend is being like, "Hey, the Jan, first of all, thanks for the totally great sexes you are always being giving me, you are being the best with the sex," and then you are all like, "Ja, the Jan is being good at the sexes. It is known." And then she is being like, "Hey, what's the matter?" And you are all like, "I was being crying, and the Lance was spanking the Jan's tushy in front of the Nana, and, and..." And then she is being like, "Hey, shhh... There, there now. You were just having a bad dream. Come on now, there, there..." And then she is hugging you, and you are feeling better. But then, the camera is slowly zooming in, and, geschissen! She is not being the girlfriend. She is the Lance! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaggghhhhhhhhhhhh!

Man, the Jan just blew his own fucking mind.

OK, listen, the point is, the Jan is trying to be focusing, and instead, he is getting the hammering by all the press. Did the Jan take drugs? When did the Jan take drugs? Hey Jan, we are hearing that you are being totally awesome at the sexes, care to comment? (That question is being acceptable.)

For once and the all, let the Jan put this straight. The Jan did not take the performance-enhancing drugs. Listen, if it was being the offseason, the Jan would be totally like, "Hey bro-ham, are you being holding? Suh-weeet. The Jan is being having the rolling papers if you are being having the weed." The Jan is being liking to party, and to do the disco dancing, it is well known.

But the Jan does not do the transfusions of blood, or the micro-injections of EPO, or the eating of the horse testicles for strength.

The Jan is being a simple man. The Jan takes in schnitzel and beer, and outputs death and pain. It is being that simple.

People are being trying to distract the Mighty Jan. They are gnats circling around the head of a giant. It is not even being worth the time it would take to pull off their legs and force feed them to their children. You may try to distract the mighty Jan, you may try to beat him down with your lies, with your rumors, with your inuendos, but your words are being raindrops on the back of a mountain.

People of France, gather your children. Run to the hills. For the Jan is coming. And death rides with him.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Jan has answers.

You know, people are always being saying to the Jan, "Oh god! Oh God, NO! Please! Please God, have mercy! I don't even know you! Why would you do that? Someone HELP.... aargggchhhhh...."

Also, one time, a guy was being saying to the Jan, "Hey, the Jan."

And the Jan was like, "Yes, mortal."

And the guy was like, "Hey, you should totally be doing a mailbag sometime."

And the Jan was like, "You bore me. The Jan will see your kidneys now."

But later, when the Jan had washed off, I thought, "This is maybe being a good idea. Yes, the Jan shall do a mailbag."

So the Jan had the sweet sex with a bag of mail. This was not, in fact, a good idea. What can the Jan say, things got weird.

But the Jan is here to answer your questions. Go ahead, the Jan is always listening. And watching.

Q: Dear the Jan, you are being so great and totally awesome. I am a worm beneath the unholy heel of your clipless pedal shoes. Should I be taking the drugs to match one tenth of your awesome, earth shattering power? - Steve from Vancouver

A: Yes.

Q: Oh great and mighty Jan, who doth fill this vale of tears with fire and death with every stroke of your massive thighs, why do you ride such big gears. - Eli from Valencia

A. Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain. The cycling is meant to make mothers weep, to make children scream, to crush the souls of the weak. The cycling is not spin class. Sure the Jan could ride a gear that is being the size of a tea cup, like Marinara Boy Basso, but the Jan is not here to dance. The Jan is here to reap.

Q. Oh my cruel dark lord, the Jan, master of all that dies and is never reborn. What is with Dave Zabriskie? - Sara from, um, the Antartica.

A. The Jan is having no idea. Dave Zabriskie is being the only mortal on this earth that is giving the Jan the willies. The Jan sees him in the interviews and it is like, dude, that guy is totally being a psycho robot. He is being having less personality than a roll of carpet. Personally, the Jan thinks he is being invented by Bjarne Riis and the CSC as an android who feels no pain, which is being the only way he is coming close to challenging the Jan in the time trials.

Q. Oh the Jan, you are dark and evil and blah, blah, etc., etc. So. What was with "The Look" everyone talks about that the Lance was being giving you in the 2001 Tour? Shoe - from, oh, let's say, Closet

A. Yes, well, it may be being hard for to you to be believing, but even with one ball, that guy is still a massive dick.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Basso's fear is smelling like cigarettes and back hair. No, wait. That's just the Basso.

I am the Jan. I am the Destroyer of Worlds.

So, fuck ja. The Jan is being rocking the road, bros. If you are not being hearing yet, the Jan is totally living up to his yearbook pledge of having a K/A summer. Of course, in the Jan's yearbook there were also many entreaties to "Stay Sweet," which the Jan was obviously ignoring.

Another Tour de Suisse in the can, and now it is being time for the Suisse-France double. Only the Mighty Uniballed One has done it, back in 2001, and before that, only Merckxxkexa-7. (Note to self: the Jan must learn to spell more things better-y.)

They are being loving the Jan in Switzerland, which is being kind of weird because the Swiss are being like the Vanilla Ice Cream of nations, while if the Jan were an ice cream, he would be the Chocolate Double Fudge with Chunks of Blood and Baby Tears. But whatever, the Jan is being cool with it.

There was being much rain and wind and lightning when Jan did begin to pedal yesterday, but that was totally being the Jan's fault. The Jan must be careful when pedaling, for when the Jan's massive thighs begin to spin so close together, they are creating a low pressure system centered on the Jan's "special place" that is often causing massive weather anomalies and atmospheric disturbances. It can be embarassing. There have been many cases where the Jan is being totally breaking it down on the dance floor, and then busts out with the Jan's favorite move, the Roger Rabbit, and then whole villages are blown away into ash and smoke, and for nights afterward there are being many sightings of strange lights in the sky.

So, the Jan saw that the CSC won the Team Time Trial in Eindhoven yesterday. Ooooooooooo.


The T-Mobile plan was actually being for Jan to compete in both events yesterday, and for the Team Time Trial the entire T-Mobile team would simply crawl onto the Jan's back, and then hold onto each other like some giant pink sphere of pain, and the Jan would just carry them the whole way. We even thought of maybe just driving the T-Mobile team bus onto my back and the Jan could just carry that, but when we tried it, little Matty Kessler started crying and said he was being scared and then he wouldn't get in the bus, and I'm like, Bro! Get in the fucking bus! I am, like, already having the bus on my back! You better get freaking in there, crap face! But he wouldn't.

Sheep. The Jan is surrounded by sheep.

On the good news, the Jan is thinking he going to be starting updating regularly in the run-up to the Tour. The Jan is thinking of doing a daily update for the Tour, even, and like putting fancy computer internets graphics and stuff on his page. The Jan is being a little surprised at the many thousands of daily hits he is getting, and he is even breaking the top 100 blogs of the MySpace sometimes, which is meaning that the fans of the Jan are probably mostly a bunch of 40 year-old pederasts and maybe only 17 people who actually are liking to ride the bikes.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sweet little Klodi, the Jan has been being missing you.
Current mood: happy

Ja, the Mob is reforming like the Voltron.

Klodi is finally being back from his injury. The Jan is wanting to take this time now to do some apologizing to his bro, Klodi. The Jan did not mean to be hurting you so badly, bro, but when the Jan is putting on his patented double-thigh scissor-lock, he is not being doing it half-ass. Sometimes the Jan can be kind of a dick, he knows, but the Klodi is like the little brother that the Jan never had. I mean, when you are doing the knee-capping of little Klodi with a rusty tire-iron, he is doing the funniest crying-screeching sound. He is sounding just like some crazy, sobbing monkey. It is being soooo hilarious. And the Jan is always remembering the time he kicked in the door on the T-Mobile bus bathroom when Klodi was in there doing number zwie, and the Jan beat him half to death with a sack of water bottles. Oh, we laughed and laughed. Well, ok, maybe just the Jan laughed, because Klodi was being half into a coma at that point, but the Jan knows that if Klodi had been conscious, he would have screech/cried at the obvious funniness of the situation.

As for the earring, though, the Jan is not sorry for ripping that thing out of Klodi's ear. That thing just looked retarded.

It is being kind of strange, everyone getting back together, cowering in fear, huddling in the back of the bus in terror of one of the Jan's legendary rages, but something's missing. The Vino isn't here.

The Jan had high hopes for little Vino. It is being true. He was being like a little mini-Jan. Everyone knows the unholy might that is the Jan, they know that the Jan strides this trembling earth like some dark colussus, dealing death and pain with every turn of his massive gear. But the Vino is being pretty evil too. He not only is looking like a punk kid who would toilet-paper your grandmother's house and then push her down and steal her purse when she came outside, but he is actually being kind of an asshole, too. When the Jan dropped a bar of soap inside a sock and then used it to beat the holy living hell out of Klodi, it was always Vino who would be holding him down. Vino is not on the level of the Jan, of course, but still, he is about 10 pounds of evil in a 5 pound bag, and the Jan will be missing him.

The Mighty Uniballed One, the Lance, is now telling people that he thinks Jan is going to be winning the Tour this year. To which the Jan is being saying, Ja, no shit, dumbass.

Ivan Basso, Valverde, Floyd Landis, it doesn't matter. No one can drop the hammers on the climbs AND the time trials like the Jan. It is being like the Highlander. Or like Lance's nuts.

There can be only one.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Yeesh. There is being steroids in his macaroni.

The Jan must be giving much respect to the hairy one. Pink Ivan was being very strong today. He is racing like there is being someone chasing him with a razor and a bar of soap.

Simoni, Salvoldelli, Cunego, Bettini... The Jan has not seen this much back hair since he was watching King Kong. When we are being hitting the mountains, and the Italians are beginning the huffing and puffing and the sweating, it is smelling like a donkey's ass. That is, if the donkey's ass has triple espresso on its breath and a couple of cigarettes are being matted in its ass-hair.

The Jan had to do the dropping back today just to do the breathing. I was being all like, "Bros, that is seriously being not cool!" And Kessler is being all like "Ya, totally. Right, Jan? That is not being cool!" And I was all being like, "Shut up, douche bag."

Seriously. 4 out of 5 doctors recommend Oral B. The fifth one is being an Italian, and the Jan thinks he is recommending road kill and horse shit.

So ja, Pink Pasta Panties was being looking pretty strong today. Still, the Jan was only down 5 minutes, and that is being a very good sign this early in the Jan's preparation. Can the Basso Profundo keep this form until the late days of July? The Jan is thinking... no.

Still, the Jan is being a totally cool bro right now, and giving the credit where the credit is being due. Ivan Basso can really climb. Is is being true, he is not having to carry the extra added weight of a male penis, but he is still a good climber. And the Jan is not wanting to be graphic, but the Jan is definitely at a disadvantage there, because he is being packing 7 pounds of anaconda meat in his bicycle shorts. If you are knowing what he is being saying. Wink, wink.

(The Jan is saying he is having a big schnitzel.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Are you being hearing the sound of thunder?

"And lo, when the Jan passes by, there will be a mighty rumble, as though a thousand elephants were falling down a hill. And the sun will be blotted from the sky by the wings of a thousand ravens, and the hearts of men shall quail, and the hearts of women shall flutter (and then quail), and even the hearts of quail shall quail, and the souls of the weak shall be snuffed out like candles in the wailing wind that follows his passing. Then shall be the time of the Jan, when he rises from the earth and takes his two thrones, one for each thigh. And then the world shall weep." - From the Book of Jan. Also known as the NecronomiJan.

So ja, the Jan is being back.

I was being thinking to myself this morning, "You know what? I am going to be kicking some ass today. Ja, what the hell. Let's go make some widows."

At first I was going to be doing the time trial on a unicycle, with one of those rainbow clown hair wigs, just to prove that the Jan could do it, but then I thought, no, it is being the time to get serious. There are being many doubters of the Jan, and they are telling him that he is being too fat, and too old, and that his is having way too many sexes with the hot Italian chicks and that he is simply being too handsome to go fast anymore.

And the Jan is almost believing them.

So the Jan is thinking, why don't we just open up the throttle a little bit, and see what I am being having in the tank. And it is turning out that when the Jan decides to start crushing souls, there are being no motherfuckers that can be hanging with him.

Ja, the Jan is a little fat. Ja, I am not on my form yet. Ja, I am not even close to peaking. But the Jan decided to give you all a taste today, to let the twin towers of doom out for a little air. And the Jan is being getting closer to form every day.

Marinara boy, the Jan hopes that you are being enjoying your time in the spotlight. You should be living it up to max, bro, and having the good times. Because the Jan is not going to be fucking around in July, and after today, you are being on notice.
Currently listening:
Twilight of the Gods: The Essential Wagner Collection
By Richard Wagner

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Does the Jan's ass look fat in this?

The Jan is...

Well, the Jan is not knowing how to say this.

I mean, I am still being the Jan. I am still being the bringer of nightmares, the destroyer of worlds. The earth is still being cracking into great fissures of shadow and death beneath my every footstep, and the Jan is still laying the bitch-slap on Satan himself whenever the Jan is feeling like it.

But the Jan is feeling something new in his dark and empty heart. He is feeling something that is being suspiciously close to... doubt.

Where did the Jan go wrong? What more could the Jan have done? I mean, maybe the Jan should not have entered the donut eating contest two days before the Giro. (Of course, you will be relieved to hear that the Jan was being the winner easily. The Jan's apetite for donuts is mighty. The Jan maybe even got a little too excited when he ate the second place challenger as well. The Jan's appetite for fat kid is also mighty.)

Maybe also the Jan should not be playing quarters with Robbie McEwen after every stage. Or maybe the Jan should not be sneaking the pizza back to the hotel when the team director is being fallen asleep, and then eating it under the covers and then going into the bathroom afterward and calling myself a fat pig and telling myself that I am hating myself and then crying myself to sleep on the cold tile floor.

The Basso, the Hairy One, the girly looking guido, he was being dropping a hammer today, and for the first time, the twisted souls of all the demons in hell did not answer the Jan's unearthly call. The Jan was like, hey, dudes, what is being the hell? And the demons are all like, yeah, uhm, that little hairy dude is real fast and like, oh mighty one, we don't know how to tell you this... And the Jan is like, what, what are you saying, just spit it out, and the demons are like, oh great dark one, oh great master of all that is unholy, um, have you, like, gained some weight, cause we're all back here pushing and, um, you're like really, really heavy. What we mean is, we're really trying back here and Bob even hurt his back and he seems real bad, and the Jan is like, fine, fuck, fine, just go pissing off, dudes. And then the demons are all, hey, man, maybe it's not you, ok, maybe it's like the gravity up here, or, uh... something. And the Jan is like, oh, please, stop, ok, just stop. And the demons are like, no, no, I think I saw that on Nova sometime or something like that, you know, that the gravity is, um, bad, um, here, and another demon is like, yeah, I think I saw that one. And then there was being a real awkward silence.

And the so the Jan suffered.

The Jan dropped 16 minutes today. The Jan is starting to wonder. The Jan is starting to doubt.

The Jan is starting to get hungry.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A good Kessler puts the lotion in the basket...

So, the yeah. The Jan is getting zeppelin-loads of the shit sandwiches from people because they are being saying that my time-trialing at the Giro is sucking.

The Jan thinks it is being time to come clean. The Jan was totally wasted during the prologue. I mean, like, the Jan was throwing up his tacos and schnitzel like two minutes before go time. And the Jan did not even eat tacos that day.

The Mikester, (as the Jan is being referring to his bro-ham and fellow Mobster Michael Rodgers,) said that the Jan was trying to have the sweet sex with Simoni's bike pump when they called his name for the start. The Jan does not remember this, but it is seeming to be possible. I have seen this bike pump when the Jan is sober, and still the Jan would totally do her. Or it, maybe. The Jan is not being clear on the gender of bike pumps.

So, ja. The Jan is blowing the TT. So what. I am not in the Giro for the gay pink shirt. Maglia Rosa. The Jan is thinking that this sounds like the name of a transvestite prostitute.

Do you doubt the Jan? Just to be reminding you of the unholy might that clings to my thighs like wet lingerie to a sweet, sweet bike pump, the Jan was being dropping a hammer on Wednesday in the team time trial. It is not being getting much coverage, but the Jan was wanting the stage win that day, so the Jan was pulling for 10 minutes at a time at like, 200 kilometers per hour. It was being totally awesome. It was the Mob's stage win. It was ours, we were being whooping CSC's ass over the last four splits. The road was crying in pain beneath my wheels, and all the spirits of the German dead were rising like a mighty host at my back, their glorious chorus of Wagner shaking the hairy hearts of the Italians in their sunken, cigarette-smoking chests.

And then there was Kessler. Or pussy-pussy-crap-face, as the Jan is now calling him. When he fell off the back, our eyes met, and he knew. The Jan does not accept weakness. Weakness brings dishonor. And dishonor must be purified by pain.

Matthias will never speak of that night, and what happened in the T-Mobile bus after everyone but the Jan and little Kessy had gone, but look into his eyes, if ever you meet him, and you will see the emptiness there. You will see the darkness, and the pain. That night, Matthias was the Jan's bike pump. And the touch of the Jan is not gentle.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Tour of Romandie. And Bjarne Riis humps donkeys.
Current mood: bored
It is I.

It is the Jan.

I have done the returning. I am being like the Terminator. Oooo, wait, no, I am being like the Terminator 2, with the motorcycle and the shotgun and the having sex with a trash compactor. That is happening in Terminator 2, right? It has been a long time since the Jan has been seeing this movie.

My knee is better. It is only feeling like the fires of a thousand hells are burning in my joints, which the Jan is handling easy. The Jan snacks on pain, and dines on death. Seriously, the Jan actually dines on death, with a side of wilted spinach and a nice Grenache. The Jan may dine on death, but he is not being a savage.

The Jan has just done the finishing of the stage two of the tour of Romandie. Romandie is being the worst country the Jan has ever been to. It is smelling like cabbage, and the all the women are looking like wooly sacks of potatoes. Preferably the Jan must dine on the liver of fourteen virgins every morning to be strong, but there are not being 14 virgins in all of Romandie, the Jan is thinking. So I am not crushing as many souls as I am normally doing.

Oh, do not being getting the Jan wrong, there has been much weeping and gnashing of teeth as I flow down over the peloton like the hot pink spectre of doom and pestilence that all men know me to be. But the true crushing has not yet done the beginning in earnest. Only once will I open the portal to pain and death and rain down a storm from the darkest of hells upon the peloton. That will be in the July, of course.

The Jan has heard Mr. Riis comments. The Jan is thinking it is super classy of the team director of CSC to comment on other riders he is being having nothing to do with. Especially when he is obviously having an axe to grind. Normally, the Jan would go up to Bjarne Riis and rip his stomach out through his mouth. But the Jan is a bit tired. The team doctor says that I am worn out, that I have been porking Bjarne Riis' wife too much. I am saying, yes, this task is not being easy, for it is requiring the mountain climbing gear, and the hazmat suit, and the stomach of iron, but I am still doing it. If I am not porking Bjarne Riis' wife, then who will? Certainly not Mr. Fussy Pants Throw a Bicycle Baby Face Bjarne. He is not liking the company of women, I am hearing thourgh the grapevine. It is apparently the truth that the Bjarne Riis likes to hump donkeys. Big ones. Sometimes he is even having nasty big donkey orgies, the details of which are so horrific that even the Jan's black soul cringes in disgust. And the Jan has done nearly everything. Ask Bjarne's wife.

The Jan is keeping one burning, fear-inspiring eye on the little spanish one, Valverde. He is riding less pathetically than most other mortals lately. One eye also is being kept on Mr. Hair Monkey Marinara Boy, Ivan Basso. And it is looking kind of weird, because my eyes are being all over the place and people are being all like, Jan, what is the deal with your eyes, and I am like, "Shut up, man, I am being watching people." And then they are all like, "Oh, my bad, Jan." And the Jan is all like, "Ja, no shit." And then I am killing them. The Jan is hating to be interrupted when I am watching people.


Yet who can forget that horrible time...

July 1, 2006
Top Cyclists Are Out of Tour in Doping Case

STRASBOURG, France, June 30 — A doping scandal that could end up being the most widespread in cycling's history brought havoc to the Tour de France on Friday, with several of the top contenders implicated and removed from the field on the eve of the prestigious race.

The field for the Tour, scheduled to begin here Saturday, was already without the sport's biggest star, Lance Armstrong, who retired last year after his record seventh consecutive victory. Now the race will go off without the riders who finished second, third, fourth and fifth behind Armstrong last year — including this year's favorites, Jan Ullrich of Germany and Ivan Basso of Italy.

Ullrich, Basso and at least seven other riders were suspended after a meeting of race organizers and team directors late Thursday in Strasbourg, the starting point for this year's race. The Spanish authorities had sent race organizers a summary of their investigation into a drug ring that they suspect supplied cyclists with drugs and doping equipment used to increase the amount of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in one's body.

On Thursday, Tour organizers and team directors saw the names of the cyclists identified in the investigation and moved to withdraw those riders from the race. Cycling teams and the International Cycling Union agreed to a code of ethics last year that stipulated that riders would not be allowed to participate in the Tour if they were under investigation for doping.

"The directors will be contacting their riders to tell them that anybody on the list is suspended and cannot appear in the Tour de France," Christian Prudhomme, the director of the race, said during a news conference.

"The enemy is not cycling, the enemy is doping."

The police in Madrid last month raided what they described as a doping laboratory and seized steroids, hormones, the endurance-boosting drug EPO, nearly 100 bags of frozen blood and equipment for treating blood. The evidence was said to have implicated dozens of cyclists and coaches.

The drug scandal is the most serious and sprawling at the Tour since 1998, when the nine-man Festina team was kicked out of the competition after performance-enhancing drugs were found in the car of a team trainer. The French police then raided team hotels in search of more drugs, which caused riders to strike in protest.

"This is a bookend to the Festina scandal that put doping on the map as an issue," said Dr. Gary I. Wadler, a New York University medical professor and steroids expert. "Is something still going on in cycling? It's a given. It's the most grueling sport. What those athletes do is unbelievable, a physiological wonderment. It almost defies credibility. Now people are saying, 'Maybe they aren't so credible.' "

Homologous blood doping, the practice of transfusing another person's blood to increase the amount of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, has been against the rules in cycling since the late 1980's. But cyclists have resorted to those transfusions, said Dr. Don Catlin, head of the U.C.L.A. drug testing lab, because tests for EPO have been improving. A test for EPO became available in 2000.

In recent years, several high-profile cyclists have been punished for doping, including David Millar of Britain, who was stripped of his 2003 world championship and suspended for admitting he used EPO, which increases the red blood cells that carry oxygen to muscles. The American Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton also was suspended for two years for testing positive for blood doping at the 2004 Spanish Vuelta.

Even riders who never tested positive are the targets of doping accusations. For years, Armstrong has disputed allegations that he used drugs to win his record seven Tours. Those allegations began after he won the 1999 Tour de France in his fairy-tale comeback from testicular cancer.

Most recently, Betsy Andreu, wife of Frankie Andreu, one of Armstrong's former teammates, said that Armstrong had admitted to a doctor that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. She testified that she was in the room after Armstrong's cancer surgery in 1996 and heard him say he had used EPO, testosterone, growth hormones and cortisone.

Armstrong, who was at home in Austin, Tex., with his children, could not be reached for comment Friday, but he has denied Andreu's allegations.

Though the report from the Spanish authorities has not been released, the news media in Spain have reported that more than 50 cyclists and coaches are implicated. Among those are riders who had hoped to finally win the Tour after Armstrong's longtime stranglehold over the yellow jersey.

Basso, who rides for the CSC team, finished second last year, and Ullrich was third, riding for T-Mobile. The fourth-place finisher was Francisco Mancebo of Spain, and he was also removed from the field Friday.

Last year's fifth-place finisher, Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, was not on the list that Spanish authorities gave race organizers, but his team, Astana-Würth, was forced to drop out because five of its riders were removed from the Tour, leaving the team with fewer than the minimum six it needs to start the race.

The departing Tour director, Jean-Marie Leblanc, told The Associated Press that the Spanish investigators found evidence of doping prescriptions, apparently for Ullrich, Basso, Mancebo and Oscar Sevilla, Ullrich's teammate on T-Mobile.

"I am not going into details what those documents were about, but you might assume that those documents have to have really serious content, otherwise we would not have gone to such a dramatic decision to suspend our favorite," said Philipp Schindera, the spokesman for the T-Mobile team.

Schindera said that the documents did not prove that Ullrich and Sevilla were guilty of doping, and that the team had asked them to provide DNA samples to prove their innocence.

Ullrich, who at 32 is nearing the end of his career, won the Tour in 1997 and has finished second five times. He insisted he was innocent, saying he was "absolutely shocked" by the allegations.

"I need a few days for myself and then I'll try to prove my innocence with the help of my lawyer," he told The Associated Press. "And I'll go on fighting."

Samuel Abt reported from Strasbourg for this article, and Juliet Macur from Orlando, Fla. Ian Austen contributed reporting from Windsor, Ontario, and Nathaniel Vinton from Hamburg, Germany.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UPDATED: Levi Leipheimer Tested Positive for Doping in 1996

Though seemingly a topic that is intentionally avoided by the US cycling media, America's own Levi Leipheimer tested positive for doping once, during the 1996 US Amateur National Criterium Championship. Leipheimer, now a key member with Lance Armstrong of Radio Shack, was caught for doping with ephedrine. But until now, a cursory Google search would turn-up nothing on Leipheimer's doping past - even as his pseudo-U23 teammate Taylor Phinney tries to harangue recent Liège-Bastogne-Liège-winner Alexandre Vinokourov:

Either Young Phinney (aka "His Twitterness..."), whose father was said by Eddie Borysewicz to possess strong legs but also weak eyes, has bought into the Lance Armstrong-school of strategic communications, or he's simply ignorant of his pseudo-teammate's doping past, and will soon explain to us why he is not tweeting "Doper!" about Vino' AND Levi. After all, Taylor himself says, "Did I say anything bad about Astana? I don't care who anyone rides for...I just don't like cheaters."

While Pappillon is but a modest effort to blog, report about, and opine on all-things-cycling, we will go ahead and post the full text of the USA Cycling Levi Leipheimer is a Doper Press Release from 1996, so that others may find it and draw their own conclusions:

"A USA Cycling disciplinary panel recommended that Levi Leipheimer receive a three-month suspension as a result of a violation of Bylaw N., Section 2, Part 4, Prohibited Practices, stemming from competition at the USCF Amateur Men's Criterium Championship, Aug. 18 in Grandview Heights, Ohio. That recommendation has been upheld by Lisa Voight, USA Cycling executive director. The 23-year- old Leipheimer will be required to return his national championship jersey, medal and prize money. He will also be suspended from the U.S. National Team for the same period. The decision is subject to appeal."

UPDATE(1): Link to original article appearing in the Salt Lake Tribute after LL's win, here.  

Mention of Honor
Date: September 24, 1996

"Salt Lake resident Levi Leipheimer, who rides for Team Einstein, won the Frigidaire National Criterium Championship, Aug. 18 near Columbus, Ohio. ``I got away very early and my [Einstein] teammates were back in the group. With eight laps to go, six riders joined our group of five. One rider lapped the field, then I attacked. My teammates got me through the race pack and then I beat Matt Johnson [of Seattle] in the sprint,''said Leipheimer, 22, the son of Butte, Mont.,..."

Author: Salt Lake Tribune
Page: B2
Word Count: 277
Publication: Salt Lake Tribune, The (UT)

And who was Matt Johnson? The 1992 US Junior National Champion, that's who! Check out his profile at the, here!

UPDATE(2): May 21, 2010 - Though it hardly seems like the number one issue we're facing in cycling today, I'd be remiss if I didn't share with you all the fact that USA Cycling did not wish to officially confirm the original sanction against Leipheimer, let alone provide any details. They were both polite and practical in their deflection of my request, suggesting I get the records from Levi himself (or at least obtain a release from him), but disingenuous nonetheless. At the same time, with hindsight it's apparent that they were taking no chances of exposing themselves to any potential liability, or adding one more branch to the firestorm of scandal that was about to explode onto page one of sports sections across the world with Floyd's emails. As far as I'm concerned, the myth suggested by some that Levi didn't really test positive because there were no Internet archives from 1996 that reported the fact is fully busted. Even the emails from USA Cycling acknowledge the existence of records that would need to be searched for in their archive...

From: Smith, Andrea
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2010 5:47 PM
To: Joe Papp
Subject: RE: Levi Leipheimer 1996 doping suspension confirmation

Hi Joe-
   We have changed legal counsel and moved offices in the many years since 1996, so we do not have any records on site. In any event, if we are able to locate any archives we would need Leipheimer’s express permission to share information. Before we undertake the effort necessary to search for these records it would make your (and our) task easier if you could get the records directly from him or at least get a release from Mr. Leipheimer.


From: Joe Papp
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 1:35 PM
To: Smith, Andrea
Subject: RE: Levi Leipheimer 1996 doping suspension confirmation

Thanks, Andrea. I appreciate your looking into this. I’d also like to know if the suspension was appealed, and if so, whether or not it was upheld, modified, rejected, etc. and who was named national criterium champion in L.L.’s place.



From: Smith, Andrea 
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 3:09 PM
To: Joe Papp
Cc: Kahn, Keri
Subject: RE: Levi Leipheimer 1996 doping suspension confirmation

Hi Joe-
  That was quite a while ago. I’ll see if I can look into it and let you know.


UPDATE(3): May 23, 2010 - Link to Winning Magazine's publication of the original sanction announcement can be found here. Below is a screen-shot of that page, if you don't want to wait for it to load.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blocked on Twitter by Lance

Shortly after writing this comparative piece, whilst logged-in to Twitter, I happened to click on an update from a fellow cycling fan with the intention of browsing @lancearmstrong's feed. And this was what I saw:

Nearly 2.5 million followers and the guy who won the Tour de France seven times needs to go to the trouble of blocking me? I'll take that as a compliment, I guess. Oh, and to check if it might just have been a technical glitch, I logged-out, reloaded the feed, and...Voilà!

LOL... Anyway, if you're new to Twitter, follow me there, here. ;)

From the Archives: 1988 Worlds

According to a poster to the forum: "For me, the finish of the 1988 Worlds springs to mind. It looked like cheating but it probably wasn't. A lot of people thought - at least at first - that Bauer had run Criquielion into the barrier deliberately. But then you only had to watch the way Bauer's whole thang collapsed to let Fondriest almost freewheel past to realise it was probably unintentional. It could have been a Hand of God moment but instead it was actually more like a 'I did not have sexual relations with that woman' moment."

Monday, April 26, 2010

UPDATED: Nature Valley Bans Time Trial Bikes - WTF?

Further evidence that the cycling Apocalypse is nigh: the Nature Valley GP bans time trial bikes in...the individual time trial.

According to the Vino-haters at VeloNews, the Nature Valley Grand Prix's executive director David LaPorte announced the decision to disallow TT bikes Sunday after conferring with team managers planning to be at the start on June 16.

“The decision was made partly to simplify logistics for the teams and partly out of fairness,” LaPorte said. “We have a time cut in the time trial to ensure that no one loafs to stay fresh for the criterium that night. But in the past, we have had some strong riders cut primarily because they did not have time trial bikes. We have also had some riders in the past who haven’t competed because of the expense of bringing two bikes, particularly with the outrageous charges the airlines are imposing.”

Furthering Pappillon's belief that it's not what you know, but rather, who you know that decides backroom success in pro cycling in this country, Danny van Haute - who was only too happy to show-off his team's new Focus TT bikes to VeloNews in February - offered this gem in support of LaPorte's decision to go-back-in-time:

Not everyone can buy time trial equipment and if the pro teams have this equipment, it’s not fair to the riders who don’t."

Ummm, right. It's also not fair when pros use EPO that amateurs (or other pros, for that matter) can't get their hands on. But that hasn't stopped some US riders from saucing-up in preparation for the domestic season. And shouldn't Jelly Belly be encouraging its competitors to buy Focus TT bikes so that they're competitive in...time trials? And so that Focus makes money, of course, enabling them to sponsor teams like - Jelly Belly.


1) Will Van Haute be boxing-up those Focus TT bikes and sending them back to Germany to ensure his riders don't have any unfair advantages over the competition?

2) Is Focus Bicycles USA CEO Scott Rittschof regretting sponsoring a team run by a director who is not willing to fight for a) his riders and b) his suppliers? (optional additional question: and c) Common Sense?)

Rittschof was quoted by VeloNews, gushing, "For us being a new brand in the U.S. it was really important that we made a relationship with a team that could help us build the credibility that we have in the European market. Jelly Belly, being the longest standing sponsor in the U.S. made it the obvious choice.”

So much for building credibility. But Focus didn't really want to sell any TT frames in the USA anyway, did they? Pappillon posed this question to Derby Cycle Werke GmbH (the Focus-brand's parent company) and is awaiting a response.

UPDATED: Thanks to Focus Bicycles USA CEO Scott Rittschof for the kindness of his response, which is in keeping with the theme of the article and can be found as a comment to this post.

+ 1 to UnitedHealthcare's team director Mike Tamayo for being a voice of reason. Regarding LaPorte's decision, Tamayo was quoted by CyclingNews saying:

"I think it's absurd. It's a time trial and therefore you should be allowed to use time trial bikes. It's another opposing of rules that is not needed. Teams have always had time trial bikes there."

Tamayo continued to stew, fuming, "If your concern is that having time trial bikes puts a big gap in the race and doesn't make it exciting, last year's race was won in the last three laps of the final stage between Tom Zirbel and Rory Sutherland, both of whom had time trial bikes. So, if you are looking for nail-biting situations, how much more nail-biting can you get than that?"

Vinokourov Serves Scottish Crow for Dinner

In an interview published on April 7 on the UK website of Cycling Weekly, David Millar had the following choice words for Alexandre Vinokourov, winner of yesterday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège:

"...Vinokourov is at the other end of the scale. He'll never be the same rider again, and he doesn't treat the peloton with respect, so he doesn't get treated with respect back. There's zero respect for Vinokourov in the peloton."

Now, Pappillon is not sure which "peloton" it is that Millar - who was stripped of his 2003 World Time Trial Championship for being a drugs cheat (just like Vinokourov) - is referring to, nor in what way Vino' wouldn't be the same. Because a quick perusal of the results sheet confirms that Vino's win yesterday in L-B-L is his second in the event, with the first coming in 2005. The Kazakh served a standard two-year ban for homologous blood doping from 2007 to 2009...

As for the part about "zero respect," we can only guess that Millar must have meant to say that some subset of the ProTour peloton in which he competes (alongside Vino') isn't particularly fond of him - perhaps an English-speaking group? Because there is at least one rider who found no fault with Vinokourov's win: Alberto Contador, his teammate and the reigning Tour de France champion. He had this to say at the finish of Liège:

"I saw that Vino was very strong and was very touched listening to how they cheered him on the radio. When I heard that he had won, I was very happy." 

Hardly the words of a man with zero respect for his colleague.

It does, however, seem that David Millar should just "shut up and ride." Slagging off Vinokourov - when you yourself were guilty of the same transgressions - conveys the image of a whiny, preachy, jealous tool. A description that we are loathe to apply to the man who's personal website once featured the URL

David, we know you're reading this, so please - focus less on bitching about Vino' and more on your own training and racing and developing your younger teammates into drug-free, champion cyclists - and soon one of them might get to enjoy his own Classic podium moment...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

UPDATED: Vino's Golden Eagle


Original: here.

UPDATED: More Stunning, Still!

Vino Wins Liege and will be welcomed to the Tour by ASO!

Elisa Basso

Isn't really even that hot - for a drug trafficker or for the sister of a super-star athlete...


Bike Porn: Deda Elementi carbon Forza stem

Connie Carpenter-Phinney

Will anyone confirm that this photo is of Connie Carpenter-Phinney?

Friday, April 23, 2010

UPDATED: LeMond was clean; maybe Ullrich could have been, too?

"...I do find LeMond's recollection of the doping going on at the time, and his purported naivete, to be selective and a bit embellished via the passing of time. Guys all around him were on speed, horse steroids, etc., and he (of perfect French) maintains a sort of "I had no idea what they were talking about, I was just a simple kid from Nevada" type of answer when pressed.

Nonetheless, his performance truly degraded once EPO got a foothold, and he seemingly missed that train and subsequently retired, as the sport boosted past. That era slammed shut like a collapsed vein..."

Writing here, my intent isn't to put words into the mouth of Greg LeMond, so to speak, but rather, to share my understanding of LeMond's knowledge of what was going on around him at various points in my career, based on quotes attributed to him in print and from our own discussions...these are personal opinions and beliefs - not absolute truth.

That said, I believe that LeMond's awareness of doping is far more nuanced than that of a "simple kid from Nevada." Perhaps at the beginning of his career he had limited knowledge of the full menu of PED's in-use at the time, but in the final years he was certainly aware of what was being done. In fact, it formed the basis for his decision to retire - the realization that, regardless of the degree to which he thought his own condition was hampered by effects of the hunting accident (something he'd give less emphasis to a decade after leaving the sport), there was undoubtedly sophisticated, dangerous doping going on all-around him, and it allowed previously anonymous riders - like Chiappucci - to become pseudo-thoroughbreds.

I don't think I'm breaking any confidence in saying that in the present day, LeMond exhibits a clear retrospective understanding of what was happening around him during the 91-94 years.

For the record, I think Armstrong was an equally gifted and driven rider - though one of different (one-day) qualities. Just as he was a teenage triathlete phenom, beating the best pros of the era when he was just a punk from Texas, LeMond was a miracle of nature crafted by some higher power to be the best natural stage racer of the times. I don't have a copy of LeMond's "Complete Book of Bicycling" or I'd be able to quote the incident exactly, but as a teenager sick with the flu or something, I believe he was the equal of the US's best elite rider of the time, John Howard.

Actually, according to Men's Journal, "In a tough race up Mount Tamalpais, outside San Francisco, 15-year-old Greg placed second only to the great George Mount, who’d finished sixth a few months earlier in the 1976 Olympics."


The rider you are when you're 19 or 20, is the rider you'll be when you're 28, 29, 30...thus, someone destined to win the Tour at the peak of their career will be competitive in - or at least show his aptitude for - that event and ones like it, from earliest days. So, again, we see LeMond win the Dauphine in '83, then third in the Tour in '84, second in '85, and finally first in '86 (aged 25). Likewise, Fignon, born in 1960, wins the Tour in 1983 and '84, and took 7th in '87, the next year he'd finished the race.

Contrast that with Armstrong, who - while capable of winning a stage in 1993 during his first crack at the Tour - was anonymous as a GC hopeful. Armstrong's own teammate, Phil Anderson (himself no slouch as a pro - 5th in the '82 Tour at age 24 and 5th again in '85), is on record saying, "He was a one-day rider. I thought he could never, ever, win the Tour de France. Even he wouldn't have thought he could have won the Tour. He couldn't climb and he couldn't time trial, two things you have to do to win the Tour."

It's not like it takes rocket science to figure out who is going to be good at the world's toughest multi-day bike race...contenders can spot future competitors and threats based on their own experiences and observations.

Why do you think that so many people were incredulous at the thought of Bjarne Riis being the dominant Tour rider in '96 after having been completely ordinary in '89 and '91, when he was 95th and 107th overall, respectively? Oh snap! On May 25, 2007, Riis issued a press release stating that he had made "mistakes" in the past, upon which he elaborated in a press conference, where he confessed to taking EPO, growth hormone and cortisone for five years, from 1993 to 1998, including during his victory in the 1996 Tour de France. Without EPO, Bjarne = capable professional but anonymous GT rider, barely cracking the top-100 in the Tour in '89 while LeMond was plying his trade as the greatest GT rider of the modern era, and a meager 107th in '91 - as Greg still delivered a top-10 overall (7th). Ahhh, but with EPO, the Great Dane finished 5th in 1993, 14th in 1994, and 3rd in 1995, before being 'Champion' in 1996.

In an EPO/blood-transfusion-free-world, you're born capable of winning the Tour, or you're not. L.A. was not. But he was born to be a great pro. Just not a GT contender. Maybe his ego couldn't suffer knowing that he would never match LeMond in the "World's Most Important Bike Race." Who knows. Who cares? While Roche and Delgado both doped, neither needed the kind of program followed by riders like Riis, and probably also by Pantani, Armstrong, and even Indurain - riders who were not naturally capable of winning GT's, but who, with the right medical program, could realize an extra 5-10% of sustainable power output that was enough to give a margin of victory over a three-week race (augmented by the decreased recovery periods supposedly seen in EPO-boosted athletes).

What's that? Am I saying that I believe it highly likely that Indurain doped? Yes, I believe he most likely did, though that is merely my opinion and I have no direct knowledge of any illicit activities on the part of the man from Pamplona. But, his Tour pedigree is as suspicious as Riis's, and its elevation dovetails with the introduction of EPO into the European peloton:

1985: Withdrew, 4th stage
1986: Withdrew, 8th stage
1987: 97th
1988: 47th
1989: 17th
1990: 10th
1990: 1st

Banesto's own Thomas Davy testified under oath that during his tenure with the squad (1995-6), there was an organized doping program that included EPO. "In Banesto," he said, "There was a system of doping with medical  supervision." Clearly that is not a charge or accusation against Indurain, but it's hard-to-ignore circumstantial evidence.

Paradoxically, Jan Ullrich, confirmed as a client of Operation Puerto's Dr. Fuentes through the DNA matching of nine bags of stored blood, may have been a LeMond-like natural talent, but he had the misfortune (from the perspective of one who might value the opportunity to compete, and win, in professional cycling without having to manipulate one's own blood) to enter the pro ranks at the height of the EPO epidemic, and to debut in the Tour in 1996 at the side of an incredibly-successful doper, while later having to compete against the most successful doping cyclist of all-time: L.A.

[Funny aside: I didn't know that The Onion weighed-in on Ullrich's trust issues with blood.]

At 1993, at age 19, Ullrich won the World Championship as an amateur (you should watch the finish here - I'd never seen the footage before, either...probably the best quote by a commentator that I've ever heard: "He's got a teammate up in front so why the hell should he work at all?!" - regarding a Latvian in the break with Ullrich and several others).

Jan was 3rd in the time trial at World's in '94 behind Chris Boardman and the thoroughly anonymous Andrea Chiurato of Italy.

In 1995, while still only a 21 year-old, Ullrich became the elite German national time trial champion. That's elite, not U23...

From 1996 onward, well, it's all history (and innuendo, accusation, claim, counter-claim, denial, blah blah blah...)

LeMond = clean, dope-free, natural talent and class

L.A. = naturally talented professional cyclist and apparent sociopath, so motivated to win the Tour de France and enshrine himself in the pantheon of cycling greats at the expense of his competitors - and compatriots - that he purportedly threatened to generate false accusations of EPO-use against Greg LeMond in order to stanch his criticism of the Texan's association with Dr. Michele Ferrari - accused by Filippo Simeoni of managing his doping program.

I'll give L.A. credit for protecting himself by linking the fortunes of so many individuals and organizations to his own fate, thereby creating a determined network of defenders. I think it highly likely possible, however, that someone in his inner circle will break the omertà eventually, however, and he'll may be a big enough name not to be marginalized. Who this courageous individual might be, I dare not do not know and will not speculate, but he is may be out there, waiting.

UPDATED (4/26): 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gift his team 1-run for Telling it Like it Is?

"Today was an embarrassment," reliever Brendan Donnelly said, snapping off every word. "We should all be embarrassed to have Major League Baseball uniforms on our back today. It was an atrocity. We set a record. We should all be embarrassed about it. That's how I feel."

The Pirates broke the record for the worst loss in franchise history by getting blown out yet again by the Milwaukee Brewers, 20-0, this afternoon at PNC Park. Read more, here.

Liège-Bastogne-Liège Odds

Courtesy of Sky(Bet), below please find the currents odds of a given rider's winning the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic (also known as La Doyenne).

My picks? Easy: 1. Valverde, 2. Gilbert, 3. Evans. And yes, you're right - I'm not willing to take a chance on a long-shot. I bet on one earlier this week (figuratively, of course), and he didn't come through...(long-shot, you know who you are! come on redeem yourself and out with it!)

Gilbert, P 7/2Valverde, A 5/1
Evans, C 9/1Rodriguez, J 9/1
Schleck, A 10/1Contador, A 10/1
Cunego, D 12/1Schleck, F 16/1
Garzelli, S 18/1Vinokourov, A 20/1
Kolobnev, A 25/1Ivanov, S 25/1
Freire, O 28/1Kreuziger, R 28/1
Anton, I 33/1Horner, C 40/1
Hesjedal, R 40/1Sanchez, LL 40/1
Gesink, R 50/1Paolini, L 50/1
Chavanel, Syl 50/1Nibali, V 50/1
Van Den Broeck, J 66/1Taaramae, R 66/1
Pellizotti, F 66/1Kloden, A 66/1
Albasini, M 100/1Voeckler, T 100/1
Gerdemann, L 100/1Vorganov, E 100/1
Gerrans, S 100/1Le Mevel, C 100/1
Menchov, D 100/1Lovkvist, T 100/1
Wegmann, F 125/1Barredo, C 125/1
Roche, N 125/1De Waele, B 125/1
Vaugrenard, B 125/1Martens, P 150/1
Iglinskiy, M 150/1Velits, P 150/1
Voigt, J 150/1Wiggins, B 150/1
Martin, T 150/1Florencio, X 150/1
Moncoutie, D 200/1Peraud, JC 200/1
Martin, D 200/1Fuglsang, J 200/1
Sastre, C 200/1Grivko, A 200/1
Pineau, J 200/1Devolder, S 250/1