Even though I am a huge fan of professional cycling, I don’t often get on my soapbox about drugs/performance enhancers in pro cycling. However, I read a very interesting article in Scientific American that paints an interesting picture. The chart above shows the average speeds for the Tour de France winners over the last 60 years. You’ll notice a huge jump in 1991, the same time that EPO become prominent in professional cycling. You would hope the declines in 2006 and 2007 are due to more racers “riding clean”. However, Carlos Sastre won the Tour this year at an average speed of 25.12 MPH. Hopefully this is indicative of the fact that this was an easier course than in years past.
I’m going to remain optimisitic that this tour, in general, was a clearner tour than years past. You will always have a few bad apples (Ricco), but overall the race just had a “cleaner” or more “human” feel to it. Guys actually looked like they were struggling up the mountains – they looked like suffering human beings instead of piston-pumping-machines. Part of my optimism is due to the great performances by teams that have very thorough anti-doping programs: Garmin-Chipotle, Team Columbia (the sportswear company, not the country) and CSC-Saxo Bank.