Let's leave aside for the moment the matter of Armstrong's guilt or innocence. I really don't know one way or the other, and neither it would seem, does anyone else - including the USADA. Let's also leave aside the matter that the USADA has as much jurisdiction over the Tour de France general classification as I do.
Instead, let's consider this question: If Lance Armstrong didn't win those Tours de France, and rumours of doping rather than actual failed tests are now apparently enough to disqualify a rider's entire Tour de France career, who exactly did?
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(As an aside, Olympic trivia especially for fans of LibDem sprinting: when Alan Wells won Scotland’s last 100m gold in 1980, his time was actually slower than Menzies Campbell’s former British record.)
Top Ten Cars You've Probably Never Heard Of (Courtesy of wellinghall)
Some of my favourite things from 2011. Also, some of my not-so-favourite things.
Warning: may contain sport. I know most people on my friends list don't really do sport, but…well tough. This is my review of the year. Also contains books, games, television and a whole host of other stuff.
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The last two days' stages in the Alps have been fantastic. Thomas Voeckler survived the first, but not the second. Andy Schleck answered those critics (like me) who complained he was too defensive and reactive a rider by attacking on Thursday's giant stage, gaining several minutes on most riders, breaking reigning champion Alberto Contador and taking a brilliant stage victory on top of the Col du Galibier. Then yesterday, Contador attacked just a few kilometres into the stage, Schleck went with him, as did Cadel Evans and Voeckler. But Evans had to drop back to the peloton after a mechanical problem, and Voeckler couldn't stay with Contador and Schleck. But the two leaders were gradually caught as the race crossed the Galibier again (this time going up the difficult side and coming down the easier side) and most of the leaders were together at the foot of the race's most famous climb, L'Alpe d'Huez.
Voeckler cracked on that climb as Contador attacked again. Schleck couldn't stay with Contador or Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez, but made sure that Cadel Evans didn't attack as well. With Voeckler having blown, his chief sidekick Pierre Rolland was freed to look after himself and not his team leader. He rode with Sanchez up to Contador and was then able to leave both of them in the final few kilometres to delirious cheers from the French fans. The French won't win this Tour with Voeckler, but the performance of the young Rolland gives them another great French hope. He is the first Frenchman to win on L'Alpe d'Huez since Bernard Hinault, the dark-haired gentleman in my userpic. This was also the only French stage win in this year's Tour. The Isle of Man has four, as does Norway!
We'll know who the overall winner of the Tour is in a couple of hours after the final time trial. (Tomorrow's stage to Paris is a lap of honour for the Yellow Jersey wearer, albeit a hotly contested stage for the sprinters, like Mark Cavendish.) Andy Schleck leads his big brother Frank by 53 seconds, with Cadel Evans a further 4 seconds back. Evans is the best time triallist of the three. He's definitely four seconds better than Frank, but is he 53 seconds better than Andy? We'll see...
I'm going to make an exception because we might, just might be on the brink of one of the biggest stories in cycling in years. And maybe some of you might take more of an interest if you knew this.
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