Best at everything versus specialists, doper edition
I posted a lot of this comment in another thread but had originally thought about starting a thread about it, so here we go.
Contador suddenly went from the best stage racer in the world to someone who is still good but can no longer time trial with the best and can't quite pop on the climbs (at least so far, but we'll see in the final week). He may or may not still be doping, but to me it is pretty clear he must be cleaner than before he was suspended. Now he seems like a guy that could win a tour, but is no longer the favorite. He isn't old enough to be past his prime though he is close to the tail end, but certainly there are plenty of reasons besides dope that a rider can suddenly get worse. I just think in this case that he got busted and has to be more careful or even stop doping if he wants to keep his pro career.
Froome definitely seems too good to be true, particularly with the similar performance of Wiggins and both being teammates. Both among the top in the world at time trials and climbing. Froome is a better climber, Wiggins better time trial, but both good enough to compare to a doping Contador and a doping Armstrong.
I think it's so hard to figure out because most of the best riders doped, but the ones that could win with both ITT and climbing might just be some of the best dopers. Contador, Armstrong, Anquetil, Merckx, all great at both disciplines and all dopers (of course the last two were using less effective dope, no doubt). On the other hand, specialists like the climbers Pantani, Rasmussen, and more recently Frank Schleck were dopers too, so maybe it doesn't really indicate anything when a rider is among the best at both disciplines.
Do we have to accept that the guys who are among the best at both time trials and climbing are the predominant dopers? Are specialists like Martin and Cancellara in the time trial or climbers Quintana, Sastre, and Joaquim Rodríguez less likely to be dopers? Or are specialists just specialists no matter how much they dope?
I can think of other dopers that were good at both disciplines, at least in grand tours, like Fignon and Roche. I'm actually having trouble thinking of time trial specialists that were notorious dopers.
Finally, I'm not sure if classics riders should be considered as a separate specialty because they often are pretty damn good either in time trials or climbing.
here's the way I see it:
If you're good at both climbing and TTing then you're a GC contender almost by default - winning the GC is the hardest job since you need to be right up there performing every day.
If you're a specialist, you might target individual stages, or groups of stages. Eg. Tony Martin obviously targets the TTs, Quintana will have a go in the mountains etc. But on the other days you can take the day off... providing you're not a domestique for a GC guy of course.
So we've got one set of riders who can't afford to take any easy days to recover, and one set of riders who can... who would benefit more from doping?
I think your question is a bit irrelevant in the current peloton though... shouldn't we be looking forward?
I currently think that GC contenders are the least likely to dope because of the huge amount of scrutiny they get -> eg. Froome's ride up Ax-3 Domaines resulted in a load of psuedo-scientists concluding that he must be a 'mutant' because their calculations based on unofficial (i.e. estimated) timings and however many other difficult to measure variables, came out with a number greater than X.
I think its the small guy you need to look out for, the guy on the smaller team who would otherwise struggle to keep up.
here's the way i see it...
froome missed out on beating world tt champion martin by 12 seconds on a course suited to power tt specialists like martin and cancellara. then he blows everyone away on the ventoux and the guy weighs like 50kg (exageration but you get it).
now i can understand being a very good time trialist and the best climber, or a very good climber and better at the tt... but to be the best at both and built like a schleck is a little fishy.
i've raced pro and been involved in the sport since the early 80s and my experience has shown my doubts have merit. thinking recently about armstrong crushing the tt and then outclimbing pantani, or contador beating cancellara in the tt and crushing everyone in the mountains.
i want to believe in froome... he's much more likeable than wiggins (though i'm no fan of sky), but i have to admit there are some red flags.
personally nibali's progression and results seem much more in line with what might be expected.
i don't want to seem cynical and i it is not my intention to pass judgement... i'm only speaking from experience. lord knows our sport doesn't need another hit and we all have to move on from our past. i hope froome is the real deal.
Even if you don't want to be cynical, sometimes reality requires it. Better than sticking your head in the sand.
Originally Posted by miwi7
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