Vino’s excellent comeback win, though presented more as a Rant than the traditional Fun Stuff. It’s a bit late, and frankly, a bit angry—especially now that most people’s Vino’ angst has left the news cycle. But I think this needed to be said. Plenty of good questions a have been raised in response to the Vino’ news stories; this is where I think the answer lies.
[right-click for iTunes-compatible download, tap for iPad/iPhone]
(Contains many photos, most of which are public domain or licensed for free use, and footage from Eurosport and NOS Sport.)
Oh, also, my mic’s owner needed it back this weekend, so I was left shouting into the built-in. Doesn’t sound great, I’m afraid.
thoughts on “How The Race Was Won – Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2010”
Cosmo- big fan of your opinions. enjoy your How The Race Was Won, however this is by far my favorite. keep it up. please.
Well done description of the race. I think it is important to differentiate between solid team tactics vs. showing a superhuman effort to win.
Though I am on the anti Vino bandwagon. I think the win simply came too soon for people to forgive Vino. He was a popular rider and a fav of some fans who simply feel betrayed.
Vinokourov’s handling of his past conviction makes David Millar seem like a saint.
But from a purely tactical perspective, the great teamwork is almost as good as the Bettini/Garzelli double-punch in 2002. Garzelli gifted Liege to Bettini in exchange for Bettini’s pledge of support for the Giro. And of course, we know what happened to Mapei and Garzelli in particular in the 2002 Giro d’Italia.
Chapeau Cosmo. I agree 100%, Thank you for giving Vino fans a voice — not every post-suspension rider has to act like the smug and monastic David Millar.
Wonderful job, especially in highlighting the great team tactics in play here. On a minor note, it was Fuglsang who launched Andy on the Cote de la Roche aux Faucons, not Frank.
I’m no fan of how Vino acted after he got caught, but I was glad to see some small bit of acceptance of guilt in his post-race comments. I was even more glad to see aggressive, savvy riding on his part really pay off.
Great job once again Cosmo! Let’s hope ASO allows Vino in the TdF – it would be interesting to see who Radioshack and Saxo select for marking two Astana riders with Tour winning potential…. I wasn’t a big Vino fan before he got caught, and neither am now, but this was gutsy racing (which he also showed at the end of last season) and as long as there’s nothing wrong with his urine/blood the win is more than deserved!
“I’m Cosmo Catalono, and that’s how you do your job”! HA!
I really am no Vino fan. But the hand wringing and whining by the media about someone who has served their time and come back, winning a classic is amateurish at best.
I wish Velonews would sack up and start digging into someone’s past transgressions and the wholesale coverup to keep that money making machine smelling like a rose. THAT is what journalists do. I’m sick of almost EVERY top 10 from TdF’s 1999-2005, either be implicated in doping, get busted for doping or having some sort of STRONG affiliation with doping and NOBODY is really asking the hard questions NOW?
I have a huge problem with us reviling incredibly classy riders who made mistakes and have sense done their penance for said transgressions; yet not asking how other riders could RIDE AWAY from those who were self-admittedly doped AND world class on top of it. I think you catch my drift.
I find it incredibly disingenuous of the cycling media to flay a former doper for winning a race like this and pretend their isn’t an elephant in the room with us in this sport still.
And, great long slow push on the Riis picture. Well done.
NICE ONE!! I’m a fan of bicycle racing for … well …the racing. I typically wake up at 6:30 in the morning, usually with a wicked hang over, trying to patch together three or for weird foreign video feeds…and as many out of sync audio feeds, plus a ticker or two .. and the twitter…. I definitely don’t go through all that for some silly side gossip. Thanks for the RACE reporting…. it’s so unprofessional …
Big ups on making fun of the clif “article.”
Excellent reporting; nothing like keeping it to the action on the road! The “professional” cycling media have become little more than tabloids, and fan-boy suck-ups.
Hilarious! And awesome!
Cosmo — Just remember, it’s easy to be a critic. You’re a blogger who’s made an impressive career out of Monday-morning quarterbacking, but you’re not a cycling journalist.
If the news articles on L-B-L conveyed a certain perspective on Vino’s win, it was based on what the reporters on the ground witnessed. Were you on the ground to witness the race?
Enough with the “I am / am not a fan of Vino” prefabricated response!! What really is difficult to understand is what needs to be done for someone to be given his full cred after winning a race. Wether Vino doped or not 3 years ago is irrelevant, wether he paid his dues with a 2 year ban is irrelevant, the facts are that he was allowed to race LBL by UCI and WADA standards along with everybody else, all the best pro’s in the world and beat them with a lot of teamwork, savvy and effort. Do they need to crucify or dismember a doper for his comeback to be “clean and unquestionable” in the face of the fans, media and bloggers? Please quit minimizing ex-dopers’ feats once they make their comebacks, as if no journalist or human for that matter had ever screwed up in his/her entire life.
I find far more thought provoking race analysis at Cyclcosm than I do at any other cycling website. There are small pockets of independent journalists that do good work, but the major cycling news outlets suck major donkey balls.
Any reason you’re particularly sensitive to Cosmo’s criticism?
love “How the Race was Won” and the blog more generally, but your rant is way off base. How can you possibly know that this race was won by tactics rather than superior pharmaceuticals? (Or that chemistry at least played some role?) Your rant suggests a kind of determined innocence, in which you ignore the events of the last decade and, like a child who’s found out that Santa isn’t real, blame the messengers.
It’s sad to realize that “How the Race was Won” should probably start with micro-dosing and testing strategies, but that’s where we are at, and no amount of ranting can obscure this.
Take, for example, a look at the recent article in Cyclingnews on the suspension of Thomas Frei:
Frei was honest enough to admit that he’s been microdosing for two years and has never been caught. He also notes that the only reason he was caught this time was that he forgot to drink enough water the night before the test. If he had simply followed the protocol, he would have been fine.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is a useful formula for the American system of criminal justice. (It is not the formula used in the criminal justice systems of most democratic country, a point Americans don’t seem to understand.) But this rule should not be extended beyond that narrow context to all circumstances, especially the circumstance of a convicted cheater operating in an environment where test-evasion is a relatively simple matter.
I understand that you want to return to the simple joy of a pure sport, but that is not the world we live in, and you won’t recover it by ranting against people who pay attention to reality.
Maybe you should have started your commentary with a list of the sparkling names who have made this race a farce over the last few years:
2010 Vinokourov 2008 Valverde 2007 Di Luca 2006 Valverde 2005 Vinokourov 2004 Rebellin 2003 Hamilton 2001 Camenzind
That’s right, in the last ten years only two winners are not (definitely) drug cheats. I won’t bother watching it next year. They should get sponsorship from Amgen.
Well done Cosmo,
With all the hand wringing over Vino’s win, it feels like there was hardly any coverage of the race itself. While I really wanted to see Kolobnev take the win, it was obvious watching the final kilometers that Vino’s experience was going to get him the W. so nicely parsed ‘how the race was won’ and thank you for calling out the cycling media that most of the time seems it would rather play fanboy/cheerleader that journalist (cough cough John Wilcockson).
@andrew just out of curiosity, why can’t a blogger be a journalist. Plenty of news outlets have analysts who provide editorial content and don’t actively gather news so why is this any different?
@tom and @rob if riders are passing drug tests what more can we do as fans? Should we question Cancellera? Should we question Cavendish? If we need to question every single rider who wins a tough race or wins a lot then what is the point of even watching cycling?
Sigh, It’s not the fact that he was an ex-doper that is the problem. What’s made him so disliked is his attitude and actions during his suspension; vehmently denying any wrong doing, showing a true lack of remorse and sincerity, even retiring temporarily so his suspension would not be as severe. Would you be happy if a work colleague of yours was convicted of theft, sentenced, and then showed no sign of moral anguish or disdain for what they had done, returning later to their job with exactly the same frame of mind. Certainly, I’d wonder if anything had truly changed during his time away and say the chances of him doing the same again were very high.
@Andrew “If the news articles on L-B-L conveyed a certain perspective on Vino’s win, it was based on what the reporters on the ground witnessed. Were you on the ground to witness the race?”
that’s just anoither indictment of the ‘reporters on the ground’. I could see the excellent team tactics from a blurry eurosport feed with unintelligible belgian commentary, yet the reporters on the ground somehow missed it? All they saw and focused on wast the booing at the end, completely missing the big picture.
Either the reporters on the ground didn’t witness the Astana brilliance, in which case they suck. Or they witnessed it and decided it wasn’t as important as the fact that Vino served a suspension, in which case, they suck.
Either way, the ‘reporters on the ground’ suck. As does your ‘analysis’.
Thanks, Cosmo. Great racing. great commentary.
For some reason I’ve always found it very very hard to dislike Vinokourov. Dope aside, he’s sort of like the Phil Anderson of the 2000s: some dude from the wrong side of the planet who’s not particularly great at any of the sport’s specializations — he’s not a climber, not a time-trialist, not a sprinter — yet has the balls to try to win any given race on any given day. Anderson wasn’t afraid to attack Hinault in ’81 and ’82, and Vinokourov wasn’t afraid to attack Armstrong in 2003, even though both times it turned out to be a fool’s errand. But hey, I’ll drink a giant beer can to that!
well, Vino had a little luck and timing there too…
But I don’t like him because of his stupid saddle
I think you’re missing his point. It’s not whether Vino has been doping. He doesn’t know, nor do I, nor do you. It’s that record of the race shows that ANY strong rider who played similar tactics could have won that race. It wasn’t a human strength powered win, it was a tactical win.
Lots of IMS going around on this blog today gentlemen (https://podcast.radionz.co.nz/aft/aft-20100426-1510-Author_slot_-_Jed_Diamond-048.mp3) as an aging male I’m willing to admit my own deficiencies but sniping between professionals and commentators isn’t seemly for the high standard exhibited in HHTRWW in the past . As an ignorant punter I DIDN’T enjoy Vino winning, because of the subjective emotional impact, I still can’t get past the fact that I’m supposed to love this sport no matter the result, loved Vino once, can’t accept it now. Being objectively analytical still can be clouded by subjective passions either way.
Did he or didn’t he? Do they or don’t they? Ya ever met Greg LeMond & wondered how the texture of his skin & the color of the “whites” of his eyes could possibly be that way?
Vino is a gutsy, go for broke rider. Remember who Lance was chasing when he ATB’ed thru the field? Drugs or not, we don’t get to see that type of riding often enough. I call him el Toro cuz his are hangin’ large. THAT’s why he has that stupid saddle.
Cosmo = Genius
The race report is insightful as usual. The manufactured outrage of cycling “journalists” is upsetting. The double standard is incredible: a US pro who gets caught is treated with kid’s gloves by the US press — the presumption of innocence sometimes trumps a guilty verdict! But a foreign rider, let alone a Kazakh, forget about it…. The deal is about pleasing advertisers and stroking the knee-jerk patriotism of readers/viewers: you can hint that most foreign riders are doping while maintaining as a truism that Lance is as clean as snow…. It it weren’t so depressing it would be funny!
I think Marcello, above, said it best.
Vino’s victory was so soon after his suspension finished that the public is not yet ready to forgive. We haven’t seen him struggle for a while post-suspension like, say Ivan Basso has.
I think a Basso victory would be better received than Vino’s LBL victory for this reason.
Loved the race analysis. Learned a great deal. I hope that Versus picks you up for some commentary on the tour this year (if you are willing to sell out)…
“… commentary on the tour this year (if you are willing to sell out)”
(and mention LA every second breath)
First visit to this site but am putting it in as a link on my blog!
Met Vinki at paris-nice where he won and also in Sydney2000 Olympic where he silver medaled and thought at the time he was a “clean racer”!
Along the way something seems to change with all these racers as mentioned by “Rob 12.19 28/4/10” since he has hit the nail on the head with each of the “racers mentioned under a cloud of some sort”!
frei the moron has because he didn’t drink that litre of water shown how to defeat the “Doping controls”! What a joke this is, business as normal these past few years as only by carelessness do we the “MUG PUBLIC” find that nothing has changed since 1998 TDF!
Katushka tried to institute a 5 X salary penalty with racers refusing and leaving the team, about time we the public stopped accepting the “status quo” and “UCI” immediately imposing STRONGER PENALTIES so that those planning to cheat know that they are risking total financial ruin rather than a holiday from competition of a limited period!
ALSO when suspended for a longer period there should also be a BAR on employment as team workers & even as “Guest Speakers or Cycle Tour Guides”!
Exclusion from the total industry will remove the “Safety net” a lot of these “no hopers” rely on at this time!
Way to go! That’s the best post race analysis I’ve seen outside of private e-mails in quite sometime. The cycling journals, real and virtual should take note. This is where the fan base is going.
A friend read my comment above & asked if I condoned doping. Nope. I am glad when I see the checks & balances of the system working, hopefully putting a modicum of fear & respect in the hearts of the up & comers that are the future of the sport.
BUT, I am a lover of all things bike racing. Not unlike the average American car race or baseball fan. And when I see a rider willing to hang it all out there – be it Thomas Voekler or Cam MacCaul or Vino – I’m not thinking about what they do behind closed doors. I’m just enjoying their spirit. The quote at the bottom of this page pretty much says it all for me.
Thanks for the balanced analysis of L-B-L and Vino’s racing. That video and http://www.sportscientists.com seem to offer the most level-headed discussion of how to treat doping without talking about how the sport is coming to its end every time doping gets brought up.
As a former journalist turned lawyer I am pleased to see people speaking up for what reporting is supposed to be. Analysis is fine, but reporting comes first.
Bravo, Sir, well played.
@AH, @Buck, @mindtron,
I would say that Astana has run many tactically beautiful races, including L-B-L, and I am not going to pass judgment on Vino as a winner. BUT, an L-B-L champion being booed at the finish line IS news, and certainly does not constitute “manufactured” anything. In fact, it’s farily remarkable, I’d say — and I think any journalist would be remiss not to write about such an odd and unusual occurrence.
I’m sorry that you all are unhappy with the cycling coverage available to you, and glad that you are able to find satisfactory coverage and commentary elsewhere — the internet truly is amazing. AB
Cosmo, cycling fans are unhappy as vino is an unrepentant doper.
He is also a hipocrit.
“Of course I’m clean now. To win without doping you have to work, I’ve always done it this way. I want to show the young riders that it is possible this way,” he said.
“I’m winning now because I’ve got the class to do it. I served my time. I’ve been suspended for two years but I’ve turned that dark page. I don’t want to talk about that subject once again, it’s behind me now. Now there’s a Vino without doping.”
he says, “of course i’m clean now”. then he says “i have always done it this way” and “now theres’ a vino without doping”.
so at first he says he’s NOW clean and then he says he has alawys done it and then he says now there’s a vino without doping so doesn’t he admit to doping and also say he’s always been clean?
I have very little respect for the guy. People respect basso more because he has admitted to doping or intent to dope.
Sorry cosmo, can’t agree with you here but I am loving your analysis!
even if many cycling fans are unhappy with Vino’s win, does that mean that journalists should forego covering the race and only cover reactions?
do cycling journalists think that cycling fans don’t want good race analysis? aren’t smart enough to understand it? are cycling journalists themselves not smart enough to provide it?
kudos, cosmo. when it started with “a very angry edition…” i was scared for a moment. good analysis and criticism of journalists pumping out ‘industry lubricant.’
I’m with Jon on this one – good analysis of the race, but there’s more to a rider than whether he’s clean and did he win. Sure, for a journalist to jump to the conclusion Vino is not clean is not a fair assumption, but then Tom Burke’s point about Frei means we can’t assume the other way either.
So I fall back to what i do know – he’s unrepentant, he’s full of s&*t (“I have always done it this way” (lol)), and he talks like the arrogant sob he apparently is (“I’m winning because I’ve got class” pffft.).
Cmon, tell us exactly what training you’ve done Vino, talk about how hard it’s been to get back into shape, what training methods etc you had to suffer in order to get up to this level and maybe, maybe we can like it when you win.
Regardless of doping history or not, no matter who the rider is, I’m never going to say “yay that arrogant sob won, cool!” Cav is in the same boat and Contador with his stupid pistol gesture as well to a lesser extent. Thank-god Fab doesn’t carry on like this.
I’m not sure where I come down on Cosmo’s thesis, but am a little miffed about the “reporters on the ground” business. Reporters typically watch the race in the press center. On a TV. At least if they hope to actually see it. What’s the difference? Real reporting happens in post-race interviews and other work they do outside the race, but “were you on the ground to witness the race?” That’s one of the weakest challenges to Cosmo’s complaint I can think of.
Go Vino GO Cosmo well put mate. He made his mistake and paid for it he should not be judged on his past mistakes.
I think the ‘reporters on the ground’, thing as you say Chris is precisely as you paint the picture.
The problem is, the press center. As correspondents work side by side, no matter how diverse the reporters are, there is always going to be a general ‘vibe’ in the room about race goings on. Positive or negative sometime that “vibe” can evolve into something kind of nasty, a mob mentality.
Whether it is to heavily intone in the reporting that the winner didn’t REALLY deserve it, or that a team or group of finishers “must” be doped to ride as they did: either perspective is wrong. But it is hard not to get caught up in the mood of the press room at times.
The danger with this race, and the reporting of the results, is that the last thing our sport needs is MORE slanted and judgmental reporting. When press members are digging through trash to find ‘evidence’ of doping during our Grand Tours, I wonder how the rest of the sporting press views our correspondents.
Either way, a reporters job is to report. Editorializing can come from other corners, or under other bylines. But it doesn’t belong in an immediate post-race analysis.
The English speaking press, in this case, sure does sound a great deal like the French press during the later Armstrong years at the tour. Correct in their veiled accusations or not, its not their job to speculate. That is for us to do on the interwebs.
Brilliant Cosmo – that was so well put. Thank you.
Finally a journalist that is not on drugs or is not a cop in lycra. Rather than spewing prejudice we see someone who knows the sport and isn’t just preaching for anti drugs. In vinos case it was an allegation of an illegal transfusion for which he did his time and will be tested every other breath for the rest of his career.
Due process testing will put the issue to rest and announcers can come back to cycling from constant preaching. Journalists tend to shut up about things that happened ages ago when they die, but seldom before. Vino is back and we have at least one cycling journalist who loves cycling and is not guilty of trying to kill the sport they say they love. At last a commentary about the race not the history of rumours about chemistry. Go cosmo…
The racing at Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year took away from the racing at Liege-Bastogne-Liege this year…… The fact that an ex doper won after his retribution made an obvious stir. Fans actually boded Vinokourov’s technically soild as well as grit solid win this year. And fans at the finish line of Liege-Bastogne-Liege are by any definition serious fans! First of all…… damn good ride. Textbook to winning a one day classic… dude pedaled his ass off. Dude made solid ” I’ve been to this rodeo before” decisive moves…thought things out ..made the proper attacks ….had the conviction,the legs, and the patience to find himself alone at the finish line. Well earned win. But along comes the bullshit. Dude got popped years back for using the magic juice ..the inside iggy… the booster.. the fire… the dope, the drugs. It’s an unfair advantage. Vino tested guilty got the sentence and served the punishment and now is back to kill finish lines across Europe. Vino never hung his head at the conviction..never said “sorry.. my bad” never apologized. Dude just asked “How much time?” said “O K cool..I’ll be back in a few”. Vino serves the numbers ,shows back and rips open Liege-Bastogne-Liege epic style…Fans Boo. And it is at this point that things go tricky. Sides of topics get taken. Arguments are waged over wine and pasta… people fucking booooo the winner of god damn Liege-Bastogne-Liege!!!!! Drug doping in cycling has always been an odd topic for me. The downside argument seems to always drift towards the “It’s an unfair advantage” and “These poor bastards are victims of greedy coaches” back to the other end of “It’s just not safe to take these drugs” “These poor bastards should suffer naturally” side of things. I can see see these sides. I understand there logic somewhat. Hypocritical as they are to me. The pageantry, the glory, that is bicycle racing is to give all no holds bared. To see these poor fuckers give all they have…. to sacrifice everything…. to pursue…. the drive to be at the front …to be the first,,,,the best today … the win .. To give up everything. They give up rainy days. They give up home for eight hours a day of pain. They give up complaining about anything. They give up comfort …in general. They give up a good paycheck. In this sacrifice some riders are given advantages. A better pair of cycling shoes. Mabey a better set of wheels. The structure of a dedicated couching staff. A sick ass time trial frameset that can shave 20 seconds from a 40 kilometer time trial. Mabey they are granted a nutritionalist that sorts out the exact best diet for this exact rider. Something like that could be the difference between being still able to still bang out a sprint after 200 kilometers of balls out racing. Mabey the benifit of a gifted masseuse can give this team the ability to train super tits hard the three weeks before the classics….compaired to another team that can’t afford a full time mechanic. Of course it is a definite advantage to not have to stop to fix your flats! In short…. why should one advantage be more morally acceptable than another. Why is a performance enhancing drug not acceptable but a three million dollar budget O K? A mega budget is defiantly an advantage over a small flow yet mega talented squad… any day of the Tour. But then…” Really..It’s a health concern..It’s the riders health …it’s not safe”. Racing balls out 200 days a year is’nt good for you either…. sacrificing EVERYTHING is’nt healthy… bombing over cobblestones in the ass end of France is’nt a healthy move. Giving up family and friends .. suffering all day in, all day out… blasting down mountains at 60mph is a risk. A risk we all love to see unfold. This is cycling at it’s finest. Seeing these hard ass fucks give it all…..every bit of it… like we wish we could. All except ….. “but ya can’t take that”. Take every advantage all you can,,,except THIS ONE. Take every risk … make every sacrafice…surrender not one advantage…….. except the moral ones……. just sayin
Due process testing will put the issue to rest and announcers can come back to cycling from constant preaching. Journalists tend to shut up about things that happened ages ago when they die, but seldom before.
I agree 100%, Thank you for giving Vino fans a voice