2014 Tour de France – Clean or Dirty?

It was with great pleasure that I watched “The Gentle Giant” Marcel Kittel win the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France this past Sunday. Vincenzo Nibali was crowned the overall race champion on the Champs-Elysées.

By Andrei Loas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andrei Loas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The average speed for all 2,277 miles of this 101st tour was just over 25 mph. In 1984, the average speed was 22.25 mph. A 10% increase in average speed in 30 years is pretty impressive. This is even more so when you realize that the relationship between speed and power required is a logarithmic scale. That 10% increase requires approximately 25% more watts of power output.

Nibali’s Astana Pro Team has a checkered past in the doping scene, once providing a home for Alexander Vinokourov (2007) and Lance Armstrong (2009 comeback season). They now claim to be clean. Given the increase in performance times, is this plausible? Given the history of widespread doping throughout professional cycling, both revealed and still hidden, does it matter?

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