Armstrong: an era of asterisks*

RIDE #30 (September 2005).

 

Since the announcement by Lance Armstrong on 23 August 2012 that he would not contest the charges by USADA, there has been plenty of speculation about who will now be considered the winners of the races he had won, with a particular focus on the overall victories at the Tour de France. The assumption is that the Texan’s results from 1998 onward are void as that’s what the US anti-doping agency has stated should be one of the stipulations of their action against Armstrong.

The natural reaction was to consider who the “new” winners of the Tours de France from 1999 to 2005 are and this serves as a catalyst to remind us, in many instances, of how complicated retrospective results allocation can be. One of the best summaries on the ruling by USADA can be found at inrng.com.

Even media commentators who have never written about cycling before recognised that this is not as easy as it sounds as, since the original results were achieved, there have been numerous other riders implicated in doping scandals, including many who had been challengers for the overall win during the reign of Armstrong.

What’s also interesting to consider, however, are other aspects of what the USADA action could have on cycling’s archives including his Tour de France stage victories which (during the years listed by USADA) totalled 23, including three team time trials. The more it’s considered, the more complicated it becomes.

 

RIDE #34 (September 2006).

Before this latest action against Armstrong there have been a number of high-profile doping cases that have affected the outcome of numerous races. World titles and Grand Tours alike have been lost because of confessions and/or positive doping controls. Still, the retrospective result is a difficult one to understand. Michael Rogers is the 2003 time trial world champion but he was second on the day of the race; it was only after David Millar confessed to having used EPO when he actually won the gold medal in Hamilton, Canada, that the Australian was elevated up the rankings. It’s widely accepted that Denis Menchov is the winner of the 2005 Vuelta a España, but only after he had originally finished second to Roberto Heras who was later found to have used EPO to “win” the title for a fourth time. Oscar Pereiro is recognised as the winner of the 2006 Tour de France but it took over a year for him to eventually be presented with a yellow jersey as champion, following a protracted trial against Floyd Landis who stood on the podium at the end of the race as “winner”. Andy Schleck is considered the champion of the 2010 Tour de France but only because it was (eventually) decided that the Clenbuterol found in Alberto Contador’s sample from the second rest day of that year’s race should not have been there.

There are many other examples and they’ve been discussed in the media, by bloggers and in forums for a long time already.

But what we raise here is yet another question: what happens to the stage wins originally attained by Lance Armstrong when they are listed in cycling’s history books?

Let’s consider a few case examples of retrospective stage wins…

At the end of the 2007 season, a letter was issued to Cadel Evans by the UCI, stating that he was officially considered the winner of the 13th stage of that year’s Tour de France after the original winner Alexandre Vinokourov had tested positive for a blood transfusion on the day of a time trial in Albi. The Kazakh rider would also win a stage of that year’s Tour in Loudenvielle a few days later and Kim Kirchen received a similar letter from the UCI, congratulating him on a “retrospective” win.

These are two instances in which the winner of a stage of the Tour de France has been declared void and the runner-up on the day of the race elevated up the rankings and an asterisk added to (some) results sheets. *Doping influenced this result.

Other riders since then have “lost” (or “won”) stages of the Tour de France but it’s difficult to ascertain how many have been issued letters from cycling’s governing body to formalise the retrospective alterations of the official results. Even those statements issued to Evans and Kirchen received scant publicity and I’m only aware of it because of a personal exchange with the Australian, not because of any official release.

In October 2007, I asked Evans about his reaction to the news of Vinokourov’s positive control and he said: “I can’t remember, to be honest. I couldn’t believe it, whatever it was. Chris Horner [who was his room-mate during the Tour of 2007 when they were part of the Davitamon-Lotto team] hadn’t got out of bed all day and he jumped up and said, ‘Yeah, I moved up a place on GC!’ To gain a place on GC without getting out bed is pretty good, I think.”

RIDE #38 (September 2007).

But what happens now when we consider the stages in which Armstrong crossed the line first? Do they all receive asterisks? Does everyone else in the peloton that year jump up a place? What happens when the rider in second has also been implicated in doping scandal? There are several instances of this but, as their deeds did not coincide with the year of the result in question – or they had already served the sentence for their “crimes” – do they become the legitimate heir to the victory?

There are obvious questions like these that don’t seem to have any answers but it becomes far more complicated when other elements of what a stage win means that should also be considered.

Let’s hark back to the Albi TT of the 2007 Tour again. While discussing the disqualification of Vinokourov, I ventured to remind Evans that he had indeed just won his first stage of the Tour on the day he was actually 1:14 behind the fastest rider that day. “So they say,” responded Evans, “but I don’t think I’ve got the ProTour points for it yet.”

No. Nor did he get the prize money retrospectively.

More than that though, the nature of cycling is that a race would be entirely different without the riders who have since been caught doping.

In 2007, there was just 23 seconds between first and second overall at the Tour de France… but the winner was a rider who had been in second place as the race exited the mountains. Michael Rasmussen had won the stage the col d’Aubisque and held an advantage of 3:10 on Alberto Contador after stage 16… but the Dane did not start stage 17. Evans, who finished second overall in 2007, maintains that in his appraisals, there were enough instances during the race – including the stage to Loudenveille and the one to the Aubisque – when Rasmussen’s work had significantly benefitted others… (ie. Discovery Channel’s Contador and Leipheimer). And the advantages gained, according to Evans, added up to over 23 seconds. How different would his career have been had he won the Tour de France in 2007? Or had Contador lost? Or had Rasmussen been allowed by his team to finish the race and, as seemed plausible, won the title?

Rasmussen never failed a doping control. He just hadn’t been honest. And he lost the Tour because his team didn’t want him to be part of the race anymore.

We saw Contador win his first Tour de France title in 2007. And he would win twice more. But his victory from 2010 is now denoted with another asterisk. *Andy Schleck is the official winner of the 97th Tour de France. He was second but now he’s first.

Etc.

RIDE #22 (September 2003).

But, back to Armstrong…

Exactly what the official outcome of this farce is, remains to be seen. But in the meantime, let’s take into consideration some other aspects of the USADA ruling, including who might be the retrospective “winners” of the stages in which Armstrong actually crossed the line first.

Here is a summary of his stage conquests at the Tour de France alone…

 

Armstrong Tour de France stage wins – 1999

00 – Prologue in Le Puy de Fou

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Alex Zülle (SUI) Banesto at 0:07

3. Abraham Olano (ESP) ONCE-Deutsche Bank at 0:11

4. Christophe Moreau (FRA) Festina at 0:15

5. Chris Boardman (GBR) Crédit Agriole 0:16

 

Stage 08 – TT in Metz

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Alex Zülle (SUI) Banesto at 0:57

3. Christophe Moreau (FRA) Festina at 2:04

4. Abraham Olano (ESP) ONCE-Deutsche Bank at 2:21

5. Tyler Hamilton (USA) US Postal at 3:30

 

Stage 09 – Le Grand Bornand to Sestrières

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Alex Zülle (SUI) Banesto at 0:31

3. Fernando Escartin (ESP) Kelme-Costa Blanca at 1:26

4. Ivan Gotti (ITA) Team Polti at 1:26

5. Manuel Beltran (ESP) Banesto at 2:27

 

Stage 19 – TT at Futuroscope

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Alex Zülle (SUI) Banesto at 0:09

3. Tyler Hamilton (USA) US Postal at 1:34

4. Angel Casero (ESP) Vitalicio Seguros at 1:36

5. Rik Verbrugghe (BEL) Lotto-Mobistar at 2:02

 

Armstrong Tour de France stage wins – 2000

Stage 19 – TT from Fribourg-en-Brisgau to Mulhouse

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Jan Ullrich (GER) Team Deutsche Telekom at 0:25

3. Christophe Moreau (FRA) Festina 2:12

4. Tyler Hamilton (USA) US Postal Service 3:01

5. Joseba Beloki (ESP) Festina 3:26

 

Armstrong Tour de France stage wins – 2001

Stage 10 – Aix-les-Bains to Alpe d’Huez

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Jan Ullrich (GER) Telekom at 1:59

3. Joseba Beloki (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at 2:09

4. Christophe Moreau (FRA) Festina at 2:30

5. Oscar Sevilla (ESP) Kelme-Costa Blanca at 2:54

 

Stage 11 – TT from Grenoble to Chamrousse

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Jan Ullrich (GER) Telekom at 1:00

3. Joseba Beloki (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at 1:35

4. Roberto Laiseka (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2:03

5. Oscar Sevilla (ESP) Kelme-Costa Blanca at 2:24

 

Stage 13 – Foix to Saint-Lary-Soulon

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Jan Ullrich (GER) Telekom at 1:00

3. Joseba Beloki (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at 1:46

4. Roberto Heras (ESP) US Postal Service at st

5. Stefano Garzelli (ITA) Mapei-Quick Step at 2:29

 

Stage 18 – Montluçon to Saint-Armand-Montrond

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at 1:24

3. Jan Ullrich (GER) Telekom at 1:39

4. Didier Rous (FRA) Bonjour at 2:25

5. Marcos Serrano (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at st

 

Armstrong Tour de France stage wins – 2002

00 – Prologue in Luxembourg

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Laurent Jalabert (FRA) CSC-Tiscali at 1.73

3. Raimondas Rumsas (LTH) Lampre Daikin at 3.19

4. Santiago Botero (COL) Kelme-Costa Blanca at 3.81

5. David Millar (GBR) Cofidis at 4.69

 

Stage 11 – Pau to La Mongie

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Joseba Beloki (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at 0:07

3. Roberto Heras (ESP) US Postal Service at 0:13

4. Francisco Mancebo (ESP) iBanesto.com at 1:16

5. Raimondas Rumsas (LTH) Lampre Daikin at st

 

Stage 12 – Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Roberto Heras (ESP) US Postal Service at 1:04

3. Joseba Beloki (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at st

4. Santiago Botero (COL) Kelme-Costa Blanca at 1:11

5. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at st

 

Stage 19 – Regnie-Durette to Macon

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service

2. Raimondas Rumsas (LTH) Lampre-Daikin at 0:52

3. Laszlo Bodrogi (HUN) Mapei-Quick Step at 1:06

4. David Millar (GBR) Cofidis at 1:14

5. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (ESP) ONCE-Eroski at 1:42

 

Armstrong Tour de France stage wins – 2003

Stage 15 – Bagnère-de-Bigorre to Luz Ardiden

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal-Berry Floor

2. Iban Mayo (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 0:40

3. Jan Ullrich (GER) Team Bianchi at st

4. Haimar Zubeldia (ESP) Euskaltel-Euskadi at st

5. Christophe Moreau (FRA) Crédit Agricole at 0:43

 

Also: 1st in team time trial alongside: José Luis Rubiera, Victor Hugo Peña, Pavel Padrnos, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Viatceslav Ekimov, Manuel Beltran, Roberto Heras

 

Armstrong Tour de France stage wins – 2004

Stage 13 – Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Ivan Basso (ITA) Team CSC at st

3. Georg Totschnig (AUT) Gerolsteiner at 1:05

4. Andreas Klöden (GER) T-Mobile Team at 1:27

5. Francisco Mancebo (ESP) Illes Balears-Banesto at st

 

Stage 15 – Valreas to Villard-de-Lans

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Ivan Basso (ITA) Team CSC at st

3. Jan Ullrich (GER) T-Mobile Team 0:03

4. Andreas Klöden (GER) T-Mobile Team 0:06

5. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Rabobank 0:13

 

Stage 16 – TT Bourg-d’Oisans to Alpe d’Huez

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Jan Ullrich (GER) T-Mobile Team at 1:01

3. Andreas Klöden (GER) T-Mobile Team at 1:41

4. José Azevedo (POR) US Postal at 1:45

5. Santos Gonzalez (ESP) Phonak Hearing Systems at 2:11

 

Stage 17 – Bourg-d’Oisans to Le Grand Bornand

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Andreas Klöden (GER) T-Mobile Team at st

3. Jan Ullrich (GER) T-Mobile Team at 0:01

4. Ivan Basso (ITA) Team CSC at st

5. Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal at 0:13

 

Stage 19 – TT in Besançon

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal

2. Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team at 1:01

3. Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile Team at 1:27

4. Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal at 2:25

5. Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC at 2:48

 

Also: 1st in team time trial alongside: José Azevedo, Manuel Beltran, Viatcheslav Ekimov, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Benjamin Noval, Pavel Padrnos, José Luis Rubiera

 

Armstrong Tour de France stage wins – 2005

Stage 20 – TT in St-Etienne

1. Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel

2. Jan Ullrich (GER) T-Mobile Team at 0:23

3. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ) T-Mobile Team at 1:16

4. Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC at 1:33

5. Ivan Basso (ITA) Team CSC at 1:54

 

Also: 1st in team time trial alongside: Paolo Savoldelli, José Luis Rubiera, Yaroslav Popovych, Pavel Padrnos, Benjamin Noval, George Hincapie, Manuel Beltran, José Azevedo

 

- by Rob Arnold

 ride_zinio-button

RIDE Media publishes RIDE Cycling Review, a quarterly magazine all about cycling.
RIDE Cycling Review is now available in a digital format via Zinio.

ride-logo

Author: rob@ride

Share This Post On