TIME Cycling

Tour de France Victory Marred By Doping Suggestions

Tour De France
Jean Catuffe—Getty Images Chris Froome of Great Britain and Team Sky (yellow jersey) leads Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Tinkoff-Saxo during stage twenty one of the 2015 Tour de France in Paris on July 26, 2015.

Spectators spat and threw urine at winner Chris Froome during the race

British cyclist Chris Froome’s win at this year’s Tour de France has been marred by suggestions of doping by a French scientist.

Pierre Sallet, a physiologist who heads the anti-doping agency Athletes for Transparency, first raised suspicions when he alleged that Froome’s performance in stage 10 of the race was abnormal. Froome won the stage and gained a time advantage over his rivals that they could not overcome in the remainder of the race.

Froome won his second Tour de France in three years on Sunday after three week’s of racing that culminated with a late fight-back by the Colombian Nairo Quintana. Just as when Froome first won in 2013, Quintana was runner-up, although the margin was much smaller this time.

Sallet told the BBC on Monday that despite having no physical evidence, what he estimated from Froome’s power-to-weight ratio showed an “abnormal profile.” But, he said he would would need more details, like Froome’s neurological profile and power outputs, to be sure.

“So to understand if it’s a unique profile or if it’s something else like doping, we need more details to understand,” said Sallet. “When people are suspicious around you, it’s my opinion, but the best answer is to give the details.”

Cyclists have been regarded with suspicion since the 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong admitted doping and was stripped of his titles. Froome, the winner of the Tour in 2013, has been abused by spectators during the race who have spat, made hand gestures and on one occasion threw urine at him. There is no evidence that he has engaged in doping and he denies it.

In an effort to satisfy critics, Froome’s team released their scientific data about the cyclist during the tenth stage.

Brian Cookson, the president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), rejected Sallet’s scepticism. “I don’t accept that argument… clearly what sport is about is about exceptional performances from individuals who put up something incredible on the day for whatever reason, motivation, accident of nature, genetics and so on, ” Cookson told the BBC. “To suddenly say that everybody who puts up an exceptional performance must therefore be doping because other people did in the past, that’s a rather strange leap of faith to make.”

Cookson also told the BBC that he thought that Froome’s treatment by some spectators was “digusting and disgraceful” and individuals like Sallet shared responsibility for that. “I think they are making rather disingenuous justifications for their claims and frankly all they have been doing is damaging our sport and perhaps individuals within that sport,” he said.

To the amusement of many, Lance Armstrong shared his thoughts on Froome’s performance.

Read next: How Aging Affects Athletic Performance

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TIME Cycling

See the Crazy Fans of the Tour de France

Wearing costumes and wielding props, these devoted fans cheer for their Tour de France favorites

TIME Cycling

Tour de France Leader Tony Martin Has Dropped Out Because of a Shattered Collarbone

France Cycling Tour de France
Stephane Mantey—AP Germany's Tony Martin, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, lies on the road with a broken collar bone after crashing in the last kilometers of the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 191.5 kilometers (119 miles) with start in Abbeville and finish in Le Havre, France, July 9, 2015

Britain's Chris Froome, who was 12 seconds behind Martin, will now move into the overall lead

Tour de France leader Tony Martin has been forced to drop out of the race after a serious crash on July 9 left him with a shattered collarbone.

The crash, which took place during the last kilometer of stage six between Abbeville and Le Havre, involved several other riders, but none were as seriously injured. Martin, however, was left with a collarbone in “lots of pieces,” team doctor Helge Riepenhof told the BBC.

“One of the pieces came through the skin, which means it’s an open fracture. Therefore, even if it was Tony’s wish to start tomorrow, I have to say he is not allowed to,” he said. Despite his injuries, Martin was still able to pick himself up and crossed the stage six finish line with help from his teammates.

Martin will be flown to BG Hospital in Hamburg for surgery, moving Britain’s Chris Froome, who was 12 seconds behind Martin, into the overall lead. This is not the first time this year that a leader has had to exit the race: Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara pulled out on July 6 after he fractured two vertebrae in an crash just as dramatic as Martin’s.

[BBC]

TIME Cycling

Watch This Norwegian Reporter Try to Eat as Much as a Tour de France Cyclist

It doesn't end well

Ever wondered what would happen if you, an ordinary mortal, ate like the beautifully honed physical specimen that is a Tour de France Cyclist? Now you don’t have to. Norwegian journalist Nicolay Ramm has recorded a video of his heroic effort to match the 8,000 calories Tour cyclists eat on every day of their punishing 2,100-mile, 23-day ordeal. It goes about as well as you might think.

The diet itself isn’t so unusual — it’s the sheer quantity that does it. Take breakfast, for example. Coffee, oatmeal and eggs all sound like pretty standard fare. But in the first “stage” of his culinary Tour, Ramm also downs orange juice, and a smoothie, three ham and cheese sandwiches, four ounces of pasta, and a yogurt.

For a snack, Ramm eats an apple and banana, a handful of nuts, and two energy bars, plus more coffee. (Tour cyclists, the video says, drink “enormous” amounts of coffee.) Then he adds what cyclists would grab during the ride: two croissants, two cans of Coke, seven energy bars, two energy gels, and a generous sprinkling of sports drink. That’s where the intrepid journalist can take no more. Trying valiantly to finish off the gels, he instead admits defeat, running to the bathroom with lunch and dinner still uneaten.

He consumes 4,300 calories in just over five hours. Not even close.

TIME Cycling

Watch This Terrifying Crash During Stage 3 of the Tour de France

Riders and metal hurtling at speeds of 50 m.p.h. This doesn't end well

Some 20 riders were involved in a massive crash at Stage 3 of the Tour de France in Belgium on Monday, causing organizers to temporarily halt the race.

Video shows the cyclists on a flat, straight and slightly downhill part of the road, traveling at high speeds with just under 37 miles of the stage remaining, reports Yahoo News.

Just as cyclists were beginning to make a move to the front of the pack, one rider clips the wheel of the cyclist in front, who goes down suddenly. At speeds of around 50 m.p.h., there was no time for those behind to react, and so the riders crashed into one another, resulting in a massive pileup of wheels, frames and spokes.

In all, six riders were forced to pull out of the race.

Competitors began the Tour de France 2015 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on July 4 and will ride around 2,000 miles (3,360 km) over 21 stages until they finish in Paris on July 26.

[Yahoo News]

TIME Sports

Meet the British Soccer Player Bringing Lance Armstrong Back to the Tour de France Route

during stage twelve of the 2010 Tour de France from  Rodez to Revel on July 17, 2010 in Revel, France.
Bryn Lennon—2010 Getty Images Lance Armstrong during stage twelve of the 2010 Tour de France from Rodez to Revel on July 17, 2010 in Revel, France.

The disgraced cyclist took drugs to help him win the famous race

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is this month heading back to the scene of some of his most celebrated, and infamous, victories—the route of the Tour de France—and he has a retired English soccer player to thank. Armstrong will cycle stages 13 and 14 a day ahead of the professional peloton at the Tour de France in mid-July. He will be joining former soccer player Geoff Thomas’s 21-day charity ride, One Day Ahead.

Despite the controversy Armstrong’s involvement has caused—the president of the world’s cycling body International Cycling Union’s (UCI), Brian Cookson, has called it disrespectful—Thomas thinks it has made the world take notice of his fundraising race, which will benefit a leukemia charity.

“It is all about publicity and about raising funds,” says Thomas, who formerly captained the English soccer team, Crystal Palace. “I knew I opened a can of worms by doing this.”

Armstrong has acknowledged he foresaw trouble. Thomas “and everybody involved caught a ton of grief. We knew there would be criticism,” Armstrong told the Telegraph last month. The cyclist famously won the Tour seven times before being stripped of his titles for using performance-enhancing drugs.

On July 3, Thomas and his team of 12 cyclists, who have raised close to $1 million, will start the first stage in Utrecht, in The Netherlands, one day ahead of the professionals. Armstrong will join them two weeks later in France on July 17.

While there might be some who would like to see Armstrong attack a mountain again, as he used to do with such eyebrow-raising success, Thomas was careful to not put Armstrong on any iconic climbs, where fans tend to line up days before the event. “We don’t want to show disrespect to the Tour itself and he [Armstrong] doesn’t want to do that either.”

Thomas says that what convinced Armstrong to join One Day Ahead was the opportunity to work with the cancer community again, something he missed since leaving the foundation he started, Livestrong. “All he wants to do now is get back on that track where he can just be an influence in the cancer community,” says Thomas.

Armstrong’s book It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life, detailing the cyclist’s struggle with testicular cancer, pushed Thomas onto the road to recovery after the soccer player was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in 2003. When he went into remission in 2005, Thomas cycled the full 2,200 mile-long route two days ahead of Armstrong, who was competing in the Tour de France that year.

Despite both being professional athletes who battled cancer and started their own charities, the parallels end there. “I am a sportsman. And what he did as a sportsman I don’t agree with,” says Thomas. “I think he was a great sportsman…but the sad truth is the culture of cycling then and for a long time during his career was tainted by the doping scandals. And he played a part in that.”

For Thomas, Armstrong’s reconciliation with Emma O’Reilly, the Dublin-born massage therapist whom Armstrong sued for slander when she attempted to talk about his doping, signals a change in a person who was known back in 2000 for being, according to Thomas, a “nasty guy.”

“I thought if she can forgive him, then other people have as well and there is probably a few that never will,” Thomas tells TIME. “I separate the sportsperson and the person himself… what I see is a guy who survived cancer himself, inspired millions and raised over $500 million for his foundation.”

Thomas, who has been fundraising assiduously over the last 10 years, hopes One Day Ahead will have a positive impact for his charity, Cure Leukemia. But it may come at a cost: giving Armstrong a chance to revisit the route where he cheated his way to victory might leave some spectators with a sour taste.

MONEY Sports

4 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Bicycling

bicycle riders
Gallery Stock

Becoming an avid biker can be good for your health. But between the gear and the outfits, you could find yourself spending an unhealthy amount of money.

If you want to ask Jonathan Cane what he loves most about cycling, you might have some trouble catching up with him.

Chances are, the 51-year-old triathlon coach will be pedaling at 20 miles per hour on his Trek Domane, deep in the forests of New York’s Harriman State Park or alongside the cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades.

“There’s something nice and pure about being on two wheels,” says Cane, a Harlem resident who typically rides around 100 miles a week. “It’s like being a kid and getting on your bike for the first time.”

In fact, for many, cycling is not just a pastime—it’s something of an addiction. And it can be expensive.

Americans spent $2.3 billion on bicycles in 2013, up 4% from the year before, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. Meanwhile, also in 2013, we spent $188 million on helmets, $669 million on apparel, and even $75 million on special bike shoes.

When you separate out enthusiasts who ride an average of 140 miles a month, they spent an average of $1,622 on a new bike in 2014, according to the American Bicyclist Study from consulting firm Gluskin Townley Group.

Even if you subtract the bike itself, top biking buffs still forked out an average of $1,659 on other bicycling-related products.

All those lofty numbers don’t surprise Jonathan Cane at all. “If you see a pack of 50 guys racing around the park, that’s probably a quarter of a million dollars worth of bikes right there,” he says.

Throw in maintenance, other accessories like gloves and gear, along with a few race entries here and there, and you’re very easily looking at over $1,000 a year, he says.

Ben Davidson, an artist from British Columbia, Canada, spent almost $10,000 on his cycling habit in the past year, purchasing two bikes and doing a 1,000-mile charity ride for a children’s hospital.

“I’m not the best person to ask about saving money on bikes,” Davidson says. “It’s the one thing I love to spend money on.”

Thanks to a spike in city living, plus growing amenities for cyclists like bike lanes and European-style rideshare programs, there are more bike aficionados like Cane and Davidson than ever: The number of bike commuters grew by 40% between 2000 and 2010, according to the Sierra Club.

But you don’t have to go broke in the process. Here are a few strategies to cut your cycling costs.

1. Buy used

If you don’t know the first thing about bicycle mechanics, it probably makes sense to buy new, along with the manufacturer warrantees and routine maintenance checks.

If you’re handy, and want to save potentially hundreds or even thousands of dollars, there is no shame in buying a used bike.

In fact, during the recent recession, used-bikes sales exploded, says Gluskin Townley Group co-founder Jay Townley, and now comprise around a quarter of the total market.

Local bike shops often act as exchanges for used bikes, and you can feel more secure about your purchase there, says Townley. For deeper discounts, check out eBay or Craigslist, but buyer beware.

2. Use timing to your advantage

As this epic winter finally recedes and racing season starts up, you can forget about getting amazing deals. Especially since top manufacturers are increasingly insistent on fixed pricing, says Townley.

But the end of the racing season, like October, is when riders typically sell bikes and gear as they plan ahead for next year. That’s when to pounce.

3. Forget top-of-the-line

Yes, you could certainly spend $5,000 on an ultralight racing bike that will have your buddies drooling.

Unless you’re Olympics-bound, take it down a notch and get a perfectly excellent high-performance bike for $2,000 or less. If one pricey bike weighs two pounds less than a cheaper alternative, why not just lose two pounds yourself and save thousands of dollars, asks Cane.

4. Be immune to peer pressure

Some bike stores are rather snobbish, Cane says, and won’t give you the time of day unless you’re a muscled Adonis who’s ready to pay for the most elite gear.

Forget them, and stick to your budget. In fact, if you have a friend who’s an experienced rider, bring him or her along for any shopping excursions. They will know the lingo, what you really need and what you don’t, and won’t let you get bamboozled by salespeople who are just salivating over fat commissions.

TIME portfolio

See the Real Side of China’s Great Wall

This photographer cycled 4,000 miles along the country's Great Wall

The Great Wall of China is one of the world’s most popular destinations in Asia.

Referred, in the country, as “The Thousand-Mile-Long Wall,” the site was once thought to be visible to the naked eye from outer space, although that claim has since been proven to be false.

Yet, certain sections of the wall – perhaps the most majestic and photogenic, which are open for tourism — were rebuilt by the Chinese government in the 1970s and 80s. The widespread imagery of a refurbished Great Wall meandering through long sweeps of green mountains in rural Beijing, has not only shaped outsiders’ imaginations of an ancient country replete with rich history, but has also helped China build for itself a national identity and pride.

In 2013, Chinese photographer Fan Shi San cycled 4,000 miles along the Great Wall from west to east in three months, with the goal of building a visual archive of the country’s most symbolic construction. What he discovered was far from what he’d imagined.

“When I was photographing along the actual walls, the scenes I encountered constantly overthrew and reconstructed my own idea of the Great Wall and China,” Fan tells TIME.

The idea of the bike trip first came to him after reading American journalist Peter Hessler’s Country Driving: A Journey Through China Farm to Factory, a book that closely examines the wild great walls north of Beijing and life in their nearby villages. “I did get a driver’s license just for this project,” Fan says, “but traveling with a car is too costly, so I started looking into cycling.”

the great wall, china
Fan Shi Shan A map of Fan’s route based on GPS recordings

Initially, Fan feared the harsh climate and wild animals in the less urbanized areas of western China. “I didn’t have a lot of experience in camping and long-distance cycling,” he says. But after cycling for hundreds of miles, he began to treat the journey not as an unconquerable task but as daily life with a different routine. “I would leave when the sun rises and stop when it’s down,” he says. On an average day, Fan cycled for about 40 to 60 miles, and either camped on the roadside at night or found accommodations in towns and villages, where he could stock up and take a shower.

“I would ride my bike slowly, photograph things that caught my eyes, and talk to people who interested me,” he tells TIME.

The fortifications, stretching across several provinces in northern China, were rebuilt and expanded throughout dynasties, and changed in the hands of numerous emperors. It carries not only the depth of China’s history, but also the geography and culture diversity of communities near them.

In the far-reaching regions such as Gansu and Shanxi provinces, where the walls were built by rammed earth with bare hands, and where the government has little oversight or interest in historic preservation, the heritage is left open to erosion by an extreme desert climate and careless human degradation.

Some villages and towns in the remote areas are slowly dying “in the progress of the reborn country’s industrialization and urbanization,” he says.

In some communities, Fan saw children playing in large groups on the streets without a guardian. Their young parents had handed them to grandparents before migrating to find work in overcrowded factories on China’s populous coastline. There, they hope to find a promising future, one that isn’t vanishing like the country’s old great walls.

Fan Shi San is a freelance photographer based in Shanghai. His work has been exhibited in China and the U.K.

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

TIME Gadgets

9 Bicycle Gadgets That Will Keep You Safe in Style

Bicycle Technology
Guido Mieth—Getty Images Bicycle Technology

Turn some heads in the name of fun and safety with this techy cycling gear

Sure, the bicycle was invented in the early 1800s, but lately, a renewed interest in the two-wheeler’s eco-friendly footprint has yielded many great innovations for riders. Concerned first and foremost about sharing the road with gas-guzzling automobiles, cyclists want better visibility and more ways to pedal safely. But beyond that, they’re into making their commutes and cruises fun again.

These nine gadgets may have not exactly reinvented the wheel, but they’d be welcome additions to any modern-day ride.

Blink Steady

High design meets high visibility in this low-profile, rear flashing light. Hewn from solid aluminum, the $125 tail light securely affixes to your seat post using a 2 millimeter allen wrench, not the kind of tool your everyday thief typically carries. Lit by two 120-degree, low-powered LEDs, the waterproof flasher sips power from two AAA batteries.

But don’t worry about leaving the light on — an accelerometer ensures the light only flashes when you’re riding, and a photosensor only turns Blink Steady on when it’s dark enough.

Cycliq Fly Cameras

A pair of action cameras disguised in working bike lights, the Fly 12 and Fly 6 are ingenious devices for recording the road rage that goes on around you. Named after 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, the front- and rear-facing cameras (respectively) are two different products.

Fly 12, which just nearly tripled its Kickstarter goal, is a smartphone-compatible 400 lumen headlight that records 1080p video. Fly 6, which appears to be sold out thought Cycliq but is still in-stock through Amazon for $210, packs a 720p video camera into a 30 lumen flashing light. Whether it’s keeping an eye out for you or helping you to be seen, this smart technology certainly has your back.

Helios Handlebars

As righteous as many riders can get, there are quite a few that actually know their hand signals from their hind quarters. Due out this summer, Helios makes a range of connected handlebars (they come in bullhorn, drop, or straight styles) that not only pack a 500-lumen headlight, but also a blinker system into the ends.

Pair the $280 smart handlebar with your phone through Bluetooth, and you can make the lights turn on when you’re near (a great battery-saving feature), enable GPS tracking, and use the rear-facing LEDs (which serve as blinkers) to guide you around using your phone’s Google Maps turn-by-turn navigation.

Monkey Lights

Sure, a Tron light cycle would help improve night-time visibility, but you don’t need to replace your entire rig to turn heads. Monkey Lights snap onto your bike’s spokes and flash colored LEDs in certain patterns to give your wheels a brightly-colored visual. From rainbow stripes to barreling fireballs, the 8-bit-like graphics can be programmed in hundreds of color and pattern combinations. And ranging in price from $25 to $75 dollars (per wheel, and depending on how many LEDs you want) the waterproof and theft-resistant lights don’t draw much attention in the daylight, making them a cool surprise once the sun goes down.

Orp

Designed and tested on the mean streets of Portland, Ore., one of the bike-friendliest cities in the world, Orp is a bike bell for the 21st century. Give its rubber button a light tap and the $65 handlebar-mounted peripheral will emit a 76-decibel chirp, the kind of sound that seems to say, “oh hi!”

But if you lay down on that same “wail tail,” an urgent 96 decibel roar emits from the cute little device instead, also causing it to flash its LEDs angrily. USB-chargeable and easy (for you) to remove from a bike (so thieves don’t do it instead), Orp’s battery lasts up to eleven hours in slow strobe mode, or for three hours with a constantly-running 87-lumen headlight.

Scosche BoomBottle H2O

Back in the day, it was no big thing to see someone cruising down the street carrying a boombox. Okay, maybe it was a minor curiosity. But now, you can wirelessly stream your music into a battery-powered speaker that’s so small, it can fit into the water bottle cage on your bike.

Designed to take all the bumps and splashes your ride can dole out, the Schosche BoomBottle H2O can handle both dirt and water (and, therefore, mud) with an 11-hour rechargeable battery to help rock your ride. And, since your bike won’t be carrying any water, if you opt to take a plunge, fear not — the $99 speaker also floats.

Skylock

The only item on this list that is solely available through pre-order, this solar-powered, keyless bike-lock is the u-bolt for the smartphone set. Pairing via Bluetooth, the accelerometer-equipped lock will alert you if anyone is tampering with it, and send notifications to your friends if you’re in a serious accident (it’s got the brains to know when it’s gotten bashed).

In addition, you can set the Skylock to let your friends unlock your ride, so you can take part in bike-sharing without all the sign-ups. Chargeable through the sun or USB, the steel, shock-proof, device is weather resistant and both Android and iPhone compatible — and $159.

Siva Cycle Atom

It seems like a long-overdue technology, but Siva Cycle solved it anyway: Of all the energy we’re expelling pushing down on a bike’s crank, why can’t we capture it to do something useful, like charge a phone? The Atom, a wheel-mounted portable battery charger, turns kinetic energy into potential energy, storing it in a 1650Ah battery that’s perfect for topping up your phone on the fly. And, with an extension cord routing up to the seat-post, the $130 charger will even power your phone directly while you pedal. Talk about a stroke of genius.

Torch T1 Bike Helmet

Usually, a bright idea is symbolized by a lightbulb going off over someone’s head, but this brilliant concept integrates lights right into the helmet. Shining bright with 10 LED lights, this shatterproof helmet has a white headlight and red rear light that give you great visibility on the road. A marked improvement in safety because it puts the lights higher into drivers’ line of sight, the Torch helmet can last up to 12 hours before needing to be recharged, and only takes 1.5 hours to juice up.

Currently the T1 is on sale for $109. But get it while you can, because it looks like they’re cleaning out inventory while they gear up to sell the Torch T2, a new version currently fundraising on Indiegogo.

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