It took twenty-one years of hard work. Of overcoming a code of silence and butting up against walls of hypocrisy. So that an outsized yet decent idea might finally see the light of day, and for mindsets to change. We’ve gotten there. Here is the proof, 21 counts, 21 racers, a bit like the 21 « legendary » turns of the col de Alpe d’Huez. The same one Tour de France organizers have chosen to have professional cyclists climb not once, but twice this year. It’s a beautiful opportunity. But does this great sporting event have anything to do with sports anymore? You, the audience, will decide.
What is doping? Here is the exact definition :
The use of substances or forbidden methods to improve physical or mental performance. Performance.
While everyone is obsessed with the first half of the definition, and while they blindly trust antidoping measures that are easily circumvented, this magazine focuses on the second half: performance.
Forget « I never tested positive ». It needs to be replaced by « I was never clocked by a radar doing 430 watts standards in the final col of a long mountain stage. » It’s utterly more convincing. You’ll understand why by reading this magazine.
It’s just as convincing as the last thousand-page US Antidoping Agency report revealing the Armstrong scandal and just as convincing as the police and customs investigations which brought to light and brought to justice the « Festina » and « Puerto » scandals. The proof of the hoax lies in performance analysis and interpretation. Imagine a Christophe Lemaitre, first « white » man to break the ten second barrier in the 100 meters in track and field, running a 9.6 second sprint! You’d be ripping your hair out. In cycling, we can measure « Ben Johnson’s » thanks to a unit of power: watts instead of seconds. I’ve been ripping my hair out for 21 years. So I made this magazine. You can see and measure the performances for yourself.
The mountain tells the truth and tells you who is doped. On cols, with little wind, no drafting, and established grades: those are the ideal conditions to calculate the muscle power of each rider according to his build and to install « radars ». This power, generated in watts, is the most reliable indicator of presumed doping. For the last twenty years, with my collaborators, we have compiled data. I have interpreted them using a proven method. To compare the performances of a « lightweight » (Marco Pantani, 56 kg) and a « heavyweight » (Miguel Indurain, 80 kg), we base them on a « standard racer » of 70 kg. By calculating power generated in the cols we have been able to identify three levels of performance: the « Suspicious » threshold starting at 410 watts, the « Miraculous » threshold » above 430 watts and finally the « Mutant » threshold » above 450 watts. I ascribed a color to each threshold so that the magazine would read « visually ». It is intended for the every day fan, for cycling authorities, and for scientists, with the aim of bringing clarity. We show how the Hinault-LeMond duo, despite their eight Tour victories between them, hand-in-hand winners in 1986, still took ten more minutes to climb the Alpe d’Huez, on a 13.8 kilometer grade, than riders like Pantani and Armstrong. They generated 15 % to 20 % fewer watts, even when taking into account the technical and training enhancements that have occurred over time. It makes no sense.
We explain our method in the first few pages. We look at all the top finishers since 1982 and are thus able to identify « Doping Eras ». They correspond to different performances and different types of products and methods of different intensities. For the last twenty years, we set up radars, varying them according to race conditions. We explain the concept.
In many ways, this magazine is first-of-its-kind « data journalism ».
We then profile 21 of the greatest riders of the last three decades. They are ranked according to « power » (see pg. 119), not unlike the 21 turns of the Alpe d’Huez, which all have a « historic » name. We give them another name and ascribe a color: yellow, orange, or red, symbolizing performances that are suspicious, miraculous or mutant.
Each of the 21 profiles is constructed the same way, with data from the rider’s greatest performances in color, clocked by standard watt radars, his « Great Story », his « Straight Story », an extemporaneous article and a Luz cartoon, a « What He Said » column and an (often glowing) news round-up, symbolic of the obsequious media’s attempt to collude with the « champions ». We also profile several « average » riders from the peloton who might have deserved a better finish.
And, as a ray of hope, we present our 2013 radars for the 100th edition of the Tour. There are six. Doping requires gullibility. You’ll be able to judge interactively, as a simple spectator on your couch, with a stopwatch, as though you were clocking a Ben Johnson or a Christophe Lemaitre. Like a scientist would. You’ll easily be able to calculate presumed levels of cheating, of lying and theft, depending on whether riders are green, yellow, orange or red. You can even test it out in person on the cols with your bike, to get a true sense of the reality.
The science section should convince even the most skeptical and will address certain questions.
The magazine also features interviews of antidoping experts. Their stories are riveting.
Please visit our website www.alternativeditions.com after reading the magazine. It serves as an ideal and interactive complement. We want to hear from you.
I hope you enjoy your read. Have an excellent 2013 Tour, and follow it closely thanks to 21 Counts !
A passion for cycling, and any interest in this televised sport/entertainment always begins with an image, a shock, a moment of truth. Like for example, that of Bernard Hinault, who broke out alone then fell on the col de Porte during the 1977 Dauphiné Libéré. The young breton had undeniable flair on the eve of his five Tour de France victories. Then he fell. But someone got him back up pushed him during that final terrible climb up the Bastille, in Grenoble. Bloody, exhausted, walking at first, and then getting back on his bike, he finished first. The photo is symbolic. It is burned in my mind, like for so many others. But now it has become the symbol of a sport waiting for someone to lend a hand and pull it from the ravine into which it was plunged by doping. Our hope is that this magazine will help cycling and riders regain their credibility, owning up to the truth about the past, the « less worse » present, and ultimately lead to a reconciliation for the future. Cycling can then become a truly heroic sport in every sense of the word, the stuff that dreams are made of.
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