Garmin-Slipstream & Lance Armstrong Teach us Patience – Tour de France Epilogue

Garmin-Slipstream 2009

by Stephen Walker, PhD, CC-AASP

Podium Sports Journal Tour de France – Awards

Best Team:  Garmin-Slipstream runs a clean race!

It seems that every third day or so another rider is implicated in a doping scandal.  This brings to what seems like triple digits….the number of cyclists who have been busted for doping.  You would think that with such a high profile and the public disdain for cheats in this event….that the teams, riders and sponsors would once and for all – do what it may take to clean up the sport of cycling.

Not so.  Science continues to evolve and those engaged in finding ways to beat the tests continue to find more diabolical ways to plague the sport.  Just how difficult is it to ride clean? 

Apparently, it must be very difficult.  And any realistic review of what physical cost this event exacts on its riders understands the why.  But health sciences have evolved too – and the knowledge base of training and recovery is employed judiciously by some teams.  My favorite is Garmin-Slipstream, lead by Jonathan Vaughters, a tour vet himself.   Garmin-Slipstream has set a new standard….doing its best to use training science and peak performance principles to give its riders every advantage it can.  CLEAN ADVANTAGE!  With a crack team of scientists, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, trainers and sports scientists of every type – Garmin-Sliptstream is on a mission to clean up cycling – by example.

To say that it was encouraging that the Garmen-Slipstream team made a great showing in the tour is an understatement.  Great performances by Bradley Wiggens (4th) and Christian Vande Velde (8th) and strong performances from Tyler Farrar, David Millar, and others helped this team get traction.  Well known to the inner circles of cycling – this team commands both respect and sneers because many of the cheats just don’t get it.

Competition is steep…and not just on the tour.  Even at home the Garmin Slipstream team is intent on competing.  Two USA tour veterans were left behind this year, missing the final cut of nine to make the tour squad.  These included Will Frischkorn and Tom Danielson (click on their names to hear their podcasts on PSJ.)  Great riders are thoughtfully considering their futures and it is this author’s hope that Garmin-Slipstream continues to attract stronger and more capable riders in their quest to develop cleanly and without performance enhancing drugs and newly evolved blood doping procedures.  Genetic scientists pose the greatest threat to the future of the tour and the need for better science amongst our governing bodies continues.

There are huge amounts of money following the sport.  And agents clamour over themselves to grow the money even further.  Garmin-Slipstream seem to have a different intent, that honor and integrity rule their world.  It is my hope that these values will prevail.  Perhaps as fans of the sport, if we insisted on suspending the agents, team managers, and recognized evil-doers – along with the cheats – we might get some traction.  Or then maybe – WE SHOULD JUST APPRECIATE OUR HEROS and keep it positive.  Thanks Garmin-Slipstream.  You rock!

Most Courageous Rider:  Lance Armstrong

Here’s a guy who had little to gain, and a whole lot to lose.  Here’s a guy who loves the sport and loves to compete.  Here’s a guy whose got mixed emotions about the microscope he’s under – but puts up with it to support his causes and do a whole lot of good for the planet.  As Crashdan put it in his column on Podium Cafe – ” the simple truth is that once you strip away everything else: the team bs, the twittering, the hype, and just focus on the race itself, you realize that someone that has been away from the sport for three years, just came back and only two months after fracturing his clavicle, rode faster than all but two of the best damn cyclists in the world in the sports premier event.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what he does with a new team, new sponsor and a new lease on life – the Tour de France will continue to captivate….for a few of the wrong reasons but a whole lot more of the right ones.

Lance and Slipstream Sports teach us “patience” – and as we wait for fullness he continues to compete.  Don’t forget to follow the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race coming up.  Bike Radar.com has the story – stay tuned for August 15th.  Its going to be epic.

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