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The Roar

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Porte's record on the Madone squeezes questions out of the punters

Richie Porte can climb a bit, they tell us (Marianne Casamance, Wiki Commons)
Expert
23rd March, 2015
10
1786 Reads

A couple of week’s ago Chris Froome had a Q&A session on his already very busy Twitter page. One of the tweets asked him if his published training time up the Col de la Madone of 30:09 was ‘a wind-up.

Froome’s reply got the Tweeters tweeting (tweet embedded below).

It wasn’t long before Ritchie Porte put his hand up as being the man to have beaten the former Tour de France winner’s time by a rather hefty margin of 29 seconds, at 29.40.

“Yes,” he said, “That would have been me. I don’t think anyone is going to beat that.”


All very good and well, one may think, and great to see the top guys having fun and also posting times for the amateurs to have a crack at. However the admission by Porte got the comments section below the article (on Cycling Weekly, where it appeared) was all abuzz within no time at all.

Why? Well, Porte’s time was not only almost half a minute better than Froome’s but over a minute ahead of Lance Armstrong’s, set back in 1999. In between the Texan and Froome was another rider who dabbled in the dark arts, Tom Danielson.

Behind Lance lies Tony Rominger, another juicer, and finally everyone’s favorite boy wonder, Tyler Hamilton. Thick as thieves, then, you might say, behind Porte and Froome.

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Top 6 times up the Col de la Madone
Richie Porte 29:40

Chris Froome 30:09

Tom Danielson 30:24

Lance Armstrong 30:45

Tony Rominger 31:30

Tyler Hamilton 32:32

The Madone was Armstrong’s benchmark hill, one he would use to help gauge whether he had Tour-winning form or not.

Porte explained to Cycling Weekly that he nailed his top mark to the summit post in 2014.

“I think the previous time I set was a 30-14, or 30-24, in 2013. Then Froomey got 30-09, and I did 29-40 last year,” said Porte. “That was just before the Tour, so I actually was in good form going into the Tour.”

And so, yes, the comments flowed, half or more condemning Porte’s and Froome’s times as unnatural, the rest in support.

Maarten Bressinck kicked things off with:

One has to be a little suspicious when the time of a heavily doped Armstrong gets beaten by nearly a minute.

Billy then hollered a retort:

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How doped was Armstrong when he set his time? Do you know? Was he doped at all? The level of assumption in your comment is staggering.

MDF plowed in with a bit of science on his stick:

From page 57 of the CIRC report, we read:

“It has been reported that increases in performance by micro
dosing EPO (as one form of continued doping) are now perhaps between 3-5%.”

It must clearly be just an amazing coincidence that the new record is almost exactly three per cent more than Armstrong’s assumed “clean” performance.

For me, seeing Porte and Geraint Thomas hammer home together on Stage Four at Paris-Nice brought back memories of US Postal.

This was not some mean, petty little reminiscence but one bolstered by the sight of Wiggo and Froome in the 2012 Tour and also by Sky’s dominance for long periods then and in 2013, and at the start of this year too.

Am I saying they are doping?

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No.

What I am saying is that we have seen dominant team performances before and that is one of them. Remove Sky from the equation for the moment and look back over the past 20 years then one sees a pattern of dominance brought about by doping.

I want Sky to be clean. I want to believe Geraint Thomas when he says he’d pout every penny he has on Froome and Wiggo being clean. I like that Froome is asking for 24 hour testing.

However, I have loved this sport since I was 15 and over those nearly 30 years I’ve had my teeth kicked in, lost an eye, one lung, have three ribs left and am waiting for a new kidney – in other words, I’ve taken a proper kicking.

It’s not up to me to believe you anymore. It’s up to you to show me the change.

In the comments of Porte and indeed in the style of reporting that defines the Cycling Weekly piece, we can see much that is wrong with pro cycling and the sycophantic journalism that still laps up its crumbs.

First of all, the readers’ ire would be better directed not through allegations of Porte being a doper, of which they have no proof that I am aware of, but rather at the fact that he seems totally unaware – or uncaring – of the reaction many will have to him revealing that he’s smashed the time of the greatest doper of all time.

How about some recognition of that? It so rarely comes, and though it might seem harsh to expect every rider to explain every time they out in a remarkable ride, it is equally as ridiculous to expect the informed cycling fan to not have questions.

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Finally, the fact that the journalist who write this piece brings up Armstrong’s time carrying it to anything even close to a conclusion of any sort and steers well clear of having an opinion – well, it’s cowardly.

I don’t care if it’s ‘just’ your job. Leaving commentators to do your work is a dereliction of duty.

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