Tour de France 2013: The Feed Zone

L’Equipe’s got the power… data from Sky

Team Sky has come under mounting pressure to release their riders’ power data throughout this year’s Tour de France. It was raised last year, but the topic has gained more precedence due to Antoine Vayer’s analysis of power data and his labelling of performances on mountain climbs with ‘mutant’ and ‘miraculous’.

On Thursday morning, L’Equipe announced Sky had provided them with Froome’s climbing ‘numbers’ from the past year and that they had had it analysed by expert Fred Grappe. In a front page story called ‘The Froome Dossier’, Grappe announced that all the data looked perfectly normal.

“It wasn’t my decision. The team owns that data and they took the decision to release it.” Froome said. “I’m really happy to hear those findings and their take on it that back’s us up and says these performances are strong, clean sporting performances.”

Vayer’s analysis had raised eyebrows throughout the Tour (it even got him grabbed by the lapel by Bernard Hinault when he arrived on the race), but his calculations are based on unverified timings for mountain ascents and a fair bit more guesswork.

Others have also pointed out that as yet there is no scientific research that could be used to prove whether or not a rider is doping based solely on their power data. Sky team principal Dave Brailsford has said his idea would be to add power data to the biological passport scheme (along with other factors such as weight) and for WADA to appoint independent experts to analyse it.

Murdoch stuck on the Alpe

James Murdoch – deputy chief operating officer of Team Sky sponsor News Corporation – visited the Tour de France in the Alps but missed out on seeing a Froome win on the top of Alpe d’Huez.

Murdoch then found himself stranded on top of the mountain as all flights in and out of the heliport were grounded due to thunderstorms. The road itself remained closed to traffic to allow the spectators to get away.

Contador’s special last stage bike

Saxo-Tinkoff equipment sponsors Specialized and SRAM have put together a one-off bike for Alberto Contador, which will be used by the Spaniard during the final stage to Paris.

CW got an exclusive look at the bike, which is equipped with hydraulic rim brakes and SRAM’s new 11-speed Red groupset – the first time the latter has been used on a pro’s bike.

One thing we can’t help noticing is that it’s not painted yellow. So… they’re possibly not expecting Contador to be in the race lead on Sunday. Or it will need a hasty visit to the paintshop on Saturday night.

Read more about Contador’s Specialized S-Works SL4 in our exclusive article >>

Sir Chris infuriated with Froome doping allegations

Sir Chris Hoy has said how infuriating he finds the doping allegations levelled at Chris Froome during this year’s Tour.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Hoy said; “If he wasn’t performing they’d be asking why he wasn’t performing and criticising him for not succeeding… if he does succeed, well, there’s a reason for it and it’s something suspicious.”

Hoy, Britain’s greatest ever Olympian, was a Great Britain team mate of Froome’s at London 2012 last year, although the pair would not have spent much, if any, time together at the Games.

“It’s all because of the people before him who have cheated, the Lance Armstrongs, the Contadors, people who have tested positive or been involved in a drugs scandal.”

McEwen blasts Alpe d’Huez fans

Former pro sprinter, 12-time Tour stage winner and three-time green jersey victor Robbie McEwen blasted roadside fans via Twitter during Thursday’s stage to Alpe d’Huez. He singled out some of the spectators in the established ‘Dutch Corner’ on the climb, which was tackled twice by the riders during the stage.

“To the small minority of ‘fans’ in Dutch corner – you have disgraced yourselves & your country. Booing & obstructing riders. Sad,” he said.

McEwen later added: “I said, MINORITY of ‘fans’ in Dutch CORNER & not exclusively Dutch fans. #letopdetailsaub #tochmeestalNLs. Now back to the race”

The normally spectator-packed, hairpin-packed climb was more heaving with fans that usual, eager at the prospect of seeing the riders twice. However, several riders had to dodge spectators stood in the road, and at one point Richie Porte’s handlebars got tangled with a flag, although he managed to stay upright. 

Loud boos and jeers could also be heard when Chris Froome and Porte (Sky) rode past. It was also reported that Froome was sprayed in the face with a high-powered water pistol.

It wasn’t all bad. The fans gave riders toiling in the autobus a friendly shove to help them hit the time cut on the stage. Although one rider who didn’t welcome a shove was Welshman Geraint Thomas (Sky), still suffering from a fractured pelvis:

“Well that was insane!!” said Thomas after the stage via Twitter. “Thanks for the support. However, please DON’T push me on my lower back!!! #painful” 

Related links

Tour de France 2013 coverage index