Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Revised Tour de France: Top 10 Clean Riders Since 1994

I love cycling. Well, watching it. Doing it is another story -- last time I cycled on the road I was hit by a car. That was a few years ago and I've stuck to Mountain Biking since. The problem with professional cycling is doping. All sports have a lot of doping going on, but cycling seems to get more press for some very high profile athletes who have doped. This means that cycling fans are cynical. Seeing Wiggins and Froome doing so well this year as opposed to Cadel and van Garderen, fans are accusing Wiggins of doping and not Cadel of being ill-prepared for this year's Tour, this year's course not favoring Cadel's riding strengths, or any other non-cheating reason -- there's a big mat that says "CHEATING" and fans jump to it. This is sad, but natural with the doping scandals that have come far too often over the past two decades of cycling. Simultaneously, Lance Armstrong appears to be losing his battle of convincing everybody that he didn't dope. So this leads me to one question: if Lance is forced to give back all of his wins, who gets them? The assumption being that most of his major competitors were doped too: Hamilton, Ulrich, Vinokurov, et cetera. I want so badly to believe that Armstrong didn't dope, but it is very difficult to keep that faith these days. I, personally, believe Armstrong doped. I have no proof, but based on that belief, here are the top ten likely non-cheaters since 1994, and their original standings (Sources after the list):

Last Revised 30 January 2012 thanks to Eri E-B. If there are any mistakes, please leave a comment or email me.

1994: Indurain's 4th consecutive victory.
1. Roberto Conti, 6th Place: he won the Alpe d'Huez -- video.
2. Vladimir Poulnikov, 10th Place, +12:59
3. Oscar Pelliccioli, 15th Place, +22:26
4. Nelson Rodriguez, 16th Place, +22:49
5. Jean-François Bernard, 17th Place, +24:15
6. Federico Muñoz, 23rd Place, +36:04
7. Jim Van De Laer, 24th Place, +48:35
8. Beat Zberg, 27th Place, +44:37
9. Gerd Audehm, 28th Place, +45:15
10. Erik Breukink, 29th Place, +47:26

1995: Indurain's 5th win consecutively. All but three of the top 20 doped -- 85% of the top 20 riders doped in their careers.
1. Melchor Mauri, 6th Place
2. Álvaro Mejía, 16th Place, +18:20
3. Erik Breukink, 20th Place, +32:07
4. Vicente Aparicio, 21st Place, +37:34
5. Jean-Cyril Robin, 22nd Place, +40:41
6. Arsenio Gonzalez, 23rd Place, +40:58
7. Federico Muñoz, 24th Place, +45:43
8. Vladimir Poulnikov, 25th Place, +46:11
9. Massimo Podenzana, 26th Place, +46:34
10. Laudelino Cubino, 27th Place, +47:07
11. Beat Zberg, 29th Place, +51:48
1996: Bjarne Riis won, confessed to doping and was stripped of his title in 2007, then written back into the books in 2008. What a battle for 8th this could've been!
1. Patrick Jonker, 12th Place, +11:51
2. Manuel Fernandez, 16th Place, +19:21
3. Stefano Cattai, 22nd Place, +40:56
4. Arsenio Gonzalez, 24th Place, +51:20
5. Giuseppe Guerini, 27th, +61:04: he who won the Alpe d'Huez in 1999 after getting sent off his bike by a collision with a fan.
6. Erik Breukink, 34th, +75:55
7. Aitor Garmendia, 35th, +76:34
8. Claudio Chiappucci, 37th, +83:15
9. Melchor Mauri, 38th, +83:18
10. Chris Boardman, 39th, +83:34

1997: What a great battle this would've been for first!
1. José María Jiménez, 8th Place: brother-in-law of Carlos Sastre
2. Roberto Conti, 10th Place, +1:09
3. Beat Zberg, 11th Place, +4:24
4. Jean-Cyril Robin, 15th Place, +27:18
5. Daniele Nardello, 18th Place, +30:13
6. Stéphane Heulot, 20th Place, +34:56
7. Hernán Buenahora, 22nd Place, +42:31
8. Massimo Podenzana, 24th Place, +49:39
9. Pascal Chanteur, 26th Place, +55:31
10. Santiago Blanco, 27th Place, +59:01

1. Christophe Rinero, 4th Place, +5:08
2. Jean-Cyril Robin, 6th Place, +10:49
3. Daniele Nardello, 8th Place, +11:59
4. Stéphane Heulot, 13th Place, +16:49
5. Kurt van de Wouwer, 16th Place, +23:62
6. Andrei Teteriouk, 20th Place, +32:55
7. Geert Verheyen, 23rd Place, +37:15
8. Thierry Bourguignon, 26th Place, +39:45

1999: This was Armstrong's first winning year. If Armstrong cheated and all the dopers were dropped from the books, then rider 41 would've been in tenth: Steve de Wolf. Awesome name, Steve.
1. Daniele Nardello, 7th Place
2. Kurt van de Wouwer, 11th Place, +6:30
3. Stephane Heulot, 14th Place, +10:56
4. Benoit Salmon, 16th Place, +11:57
5. Carlos Alberto Contreras, 19th Place, +17:51
6. Giuseppe Guerini, 22nd Place, +22:27: beat Armstrong on the Alpe d'Huez after getting sent off his bike by a collision with a fan.
7. Francisco Tomas García, 26th Place, +28:29
8. Luis Pérez Rodríguez, 29th Place, +35:51
9. François Simon, 30th Place, +36:19
10. Steve de Wolf, 41st Place, +44:52

2000: Armstrong's second win.
1. Daniele Nardello, 10th Place
2. Felix Manuel Garcia, 14th Place, +13:39
3. Roberto Conti, 16th Place, +15:53
4. Kurt van de Wouwer, 17th Place, +16:04
5. Guido Trentin, 18th Place, +17:32
6. Jean-Cyril Robin, 19th Place, +24:47
7. Geert Verheyen, 20th Place, +27:59
8. José María Jiménez, 23rd Place, +33:20
9. Grischa Niermann, 24th Place, +33:41

2001: Armstrong's third win. Three clean riders finished within the top ten.
1. Andre Kivilev, 4th Place: Kivilev died in March 2003 after a wreck while leading the Paris-Nice. His death led to helmets being required by the rules.
2. François Simon, 6th Place, +7:29
3. Iñigo Chaurreau, 12th Place, +18:16
4. Alexandre Botcharov, 17th Place, +31:22
5. Carlos Sastre, 20th Place, +40:27
6. Tomasz Brożyna, 21st Place, +43:42
7. Roberto Laiseka, 28th Place, +52:22

2002: Armstrong's fourth. The Tour featured shorter stages, allegedly in an attempt to discourage doping by making the race less challenging.
1. José Azevedo, 6th Place: Armstrong's favorite domestique.
2. Carlos Sastre, 10th Place, +3:21
3. David Moncoutié, 13th Place, +5:24
4. Stéphane Goubert, 17th Place, +14:07
5. Nicolas Vogondy, 19th Place, +17:00
6. Nicki Sørensen, 20th Place, +17:12
7. Andre Kivilev, 21st Place, +17:57
8. José-Luis Rubiera, 22nd Place, +20:59
9. Beat Zberg, 27th Place, +28:45

2003: Armstrong says that out of his seven wins, this one, his fifth, was his weakest.
1. Haimar Zubeldia, 5th Place
2. Carlos Sastre, 9th Place, +11:58
3. Roberto Laiseka, 18th Place, +22:24
4. José-Luis Rubiera, 19th Place, +22:46
5. David Plaza, 22nd Place, +39:04
6. Felix Manuel Garcia, 23rd Place, +40:16
7. Alexandre Botcharov, 24th Place, +42:56
8. Danielle Nardello, 25th Place, +46:23
9. José Azevedo, 26th Place, +47:40

2004: Armstrong's sixth win would've featured a great battle for 8th place -- less than a minute at the end. As it was, they battled instead for 25th.
1. José Azevedo, 5th Place
2. Carlos Sastre, 8th Place, +5:21
3. Sandy Casar, 16th Place, +14:23
4. Thomas Voeckler, 18th Place, +16:42
5. José-Luis Rubiera, 19th Place, +18:20
6. Stéphane Goubert, 20th Place, +22:41
7. Michael Rogers, 22nd Place, +27:09
8. Giuseppe Guerini, 25th Place, +32:37
9. Iker Camaño, 26th Place, +32:44
10. Jérôme Pineau, 27th Place, +33:13

2005: Armstrong's final win.
1. Cadel Evans, 8th Place: in his rookie year of the Tour.
2. Haimar Zubeldia, 14th Place, +11:48
3. Giuseppe Guerini, 19th Place, +21:07
4. Carlos Sastre, 20th Place, +22:31
5. Xabier Zandio, 21st Place, +24:25
6. Sandy Casar, 28th Place, +44:52
7. José Azevedo, 29th Place, +47:53
8. Chris Horner, 32nd Place, +56:02
9. Stéphane Goubert, 33rd Place, +58:58
10. José-Luis Rubiera, 34th Place, +59:53

2006: Armstrong was gone, and Floyd Landis stepped in, won, and got stripped of his title for doping. The title was handed to Óscar Pereiro, who is another doper. The original places column in my list takes into account Landis' crooked victory: Sastre is listed as 3rd if Landis is off the books, but I'll leave Landis in because the ASO left all the other dopers with their places in the books. Evans would've been beat by less than two minutes. Wiggins' first Tour and he finished 124th originally.
1. Carlos Sastre, 4th Place
2. Cadel Evans, 5th Place, +1:55
3. Cyril Dessel, 7th Place, +5:28
4. Haimar Zubeldia, 9th Place, +8:52
5. Michael Rogers, 10th Place, +11:54
6. Markus Fothen, 15th Place, +16:44
7. José Azevedo, 19th Place, +34:55
8. David Arroyo, 21st Place, +40:47
9. Francisco Javier Vila, 22nd Place, +41:15
10. Christian Vande Velde, 24th Place, +47:06: who got second on Stage 15 of the 2012 Tour after a brilliant breakaway.

2007: Including the cheaters, this was a close race. Cadel Evans almost beat the cheater Contador -- finishing 23 second back with cheater-Leipheimer 8 seconds back on Evans. Wiggins was on the Cofidis team that was disqualified from the Tour due to doping and he spoke out in disgust against doping immediately and he is still speaking against it today.
1. Cadel Evans, 2nd Place
2. Carlos Sastre, 4th Place, +6:45
3. Haimar Zubeldia, 5th Place, +7:54
4. Kim Kirchen, 7th Place, +11:55
5. Mauricio Soler, 11th Place, +16:28
6. David Arroyo, 13th Place, +21:26
7. Chris Horner, 15th Place, +24:56
8. Juan José Cobo, 20th Place, +36:51
9. Juan Manuel Garate, 21st Place, +37:53

2008: A non-doper won the Tour! And another got second! And third place went to Bernhard Kohl, who was caught doping and stripped of the Polka Dot jersey and his third place. Second in line for the Polka Dot was Sastre, but for third place was another doper. Sigh. Again, the original standings column assumes Kohl's third didn't get stripped. Wiggins didn't race in this Tour.
1. Carlos Sastre, 1st Place
2. Cadel Evans, 2nd Place, +0:58
3. Christian Vande Velde, 5th Place, +3:05
4. Samuel Sánchez, 6th Place, +6:25
5. Kim Kirchen, 8th Place, +6:55
6. Vladimir Efimkin, 11th Place, +9:55
7. Andy Schleck, 12th Place, +11:32
8. Sandy Casar, 14th Place, +19:23
9. Amaël Moinard, 15th Place, +23:31
10. Kanstantsin Sivtsov, 17th Place, +24:55

2009: Armstrong was back, and he ended up third originally. Contador won. Evans had massive mechanical issues and a poor team performance, finishing 30th originally.
1. Andy Schleck, 2nd Place: he broke his pelvis before the 2012 Tour
2. Bradley Wiggins, 4th Place, +1:50
3. Vincenzo Nibali, 7th Place, +3:24
4. Christian Vande Velde, 8th Place, +7:53
5. Roman Kreuziger, 9th Place, +10:05
6. Christophe Le Mével, 10th Place, +10:14
7. Sandy Casar, 12th Place, +13:08
8. Jurgen Van Den Broeck, 15th Place, +16:39
9. Stéphane Goubert, 16th Place, +18:18
10. Carlos Sastre, 17th Place, +22:10

2010: Contador won again, but this time he was disqualified and Schleck was officially given the win. Evans broke his elbow in stage 8 and finished 25th. Sastre finished 19th. Wiggins finished 23rd after a bad start -- which is what Evans got in 2012: a bad start. This was the first year Wiggins' Sky team was a team. This list will use the original results with Contador still in there.
1. Andy Schleck, 2nd Place
2. Samuel Sánchez, 4th Place, +3:40
3. Jurgen Van Den Broeck, 5th Place, +6:54
4. Robert Gesink, 6th Place, +9:31
5. Ryder Hesjedal, 7th Place, +10:15
6. Joaquim Rodríguez, 8th Place, +11:37
7. Roman Kreuziger, 9th Place, +11:54
8. Chris Horner, 10th Place, +12:02
9. Luis Leon Sánchez, 11th Place, +14:21
10. Nicolas Roche, 15th Place, +16:59

2011: The Voeckler, Schleck, Evans battle to the end was wonderful -- what this sport should be about: that close of a battle after three weeks of racing. Wiggins broke his collar bone on Stage 7 and did not finish.
1. Cadel Evans, 1st Place
2. Andy Schleck, 2nd Place, +1:34
3. Thomas Voeckler, 4th Place, +3:20
4. Samuel Sánchez, 5th Place, +4:55
5. Tom Danielson, 8th Place, +8:15
6. Jean-Christophe Péraud, 9th Place, +10:11
7. Pierre Rolland, 10th Place, +10:43
8. Rein Taaramae, 11th Place, +11:29
9. Kevin De Weert, 12th Place, +16:29
10. Jérôme Coppel, 13th Place, +18:36

2012:What a great race. Perhaps after so many years being hard on dopers, the race is cleaning up? All ten top ten riders make it into my list here. We'll see what the future holds, but for now, rejoicing!
1. Bradley Wiggins, 1st Place
2. Chris Froome, 2nd Place, +3:21
3. Vincenzo Nibali, 3rd Place, +6:19
4. Jurgen Van Den Broeck, 4th Place, +10:15
5. Tejay van Garderen, 5th Place, +11:04
6. Haimar Zubeldia, 6th Place, +15:41
7. Cadel Evans, 7th Place, +15:49
8. Pierre Rolland, 8th Place, +16:26
9. Janez Brajkovič, 9th Place, +16:33
10. Thibaut Pinot, 10th Place, +17:17


Of course, this type of list is obviously fundamentally flawed for at least six reasons, and probably more than six:
1. it's the past and these races can never be recreated and run clean;
2. so many specific circumstances happen over a three-week race that there's no way this list is perfectly accurate: flat tyres, sicknesses, mistakes, et cetera;
3. detecting doping isn't a perfect science;
4. the cyclists left off this list may not have always been doping;
5. the teams would've had different captains and domestiques if the dopers weren't around;
6. and cycling is such a psychological pursuit. For instance, if Nardello had been leading in 1999 and 2000, he would probably have utilized different tactics that could've affected his results for the worse. Cycling is psychological above all, and different positions and developments would've affected the contenders differently.

But if you simply drop all the riders who have probably doped from the list of Tour finishers you get the above list. The average non-dope winner from 1996-2011 placed 5th, and from 1996 through 2006, the average winner placed 6th.

It's an interesting problem to look at, though putting this list together was rather depressing for a cycling fan like myself. For 1999 I had to search 41 riders names on Dopeology (See sources below) to find ten unequivocally clean. This creates a very different picture of cycling's best in the last sixteen years. I now want to read interviews of Nardello and Julich, Guerini and Boogerd -- to name a few.

We'll never know the full truth about this era, which is really a dark era in all sports. Marion Jones and 61% of Track and Field stars at the 1984 Olympics, Manny Ramirez and Mark McGwire, 1 in 10 ex-NFL players as of 1990 which includes 67% of Offensive Linemen, Diego Maradona -- no sport is free from dope. Kayakers, Water Polo players, Greco-Roman wrestlers, Fencers, Judo, Rugby, Basketball, Field Hockey -- every sport has a doping problem. Cycling, Track, and Baseball get a lot more press about it. Maybe that is because those regulatory bodies go after doping much more rabidly than association football does. After all, Operación Puerto implicated only 50 cyclists out of 200 athletes. Some of the names not given suspensions were supposedly big association football names. Real Madrid was certainly mentioned, as was the 2010 World Cup winning Spanish National team.

Anyways, this whole post got off topic of Tour doping because doping is so widespread, but this Armstrong case does leave me with one major question: If Armstrong was doped and he beat a bunch of other doped riders, why take his trophies away? If his trophies are taken, then shouldn't the rest of the doping field also be disqualified and written from the books? Not disqualified, erased, and then written back into the registry a year later like Bjarne Riis. If doping is to stop, I think there needs to be real repercussions to dopers' actions, not slap-on-the-wrist temporary suspensions and monetary fines. The monetary reward for doping and getting away with it is just too big for the fines to work. But real repercussions could lead to less confessions, which is also a negative in my view. Cycling should be commended for pursuing dopers more than any other sport, no matter their status within the sport and irregardless of the publicity repercussions for the sport as a whole. "All clean at all costs", seems to be their mantra, most of the time (Except with Riis and some other cases like his). But in order for the fans to not have the nagging question in their heads, a balance needs to be struck between deterring new cyclists from doping, encouraging past and current cyclists to confess, and providing repercussions significant enough to satisfy fans' desire for clean racing. After all, no fans, no races.


This list is merely my best guess. If I made a mistake, which is likely, feel free to correct me. For instance, Levi Leipheimer took some Claratin in 1996 and got busted for the ephedrine in it. I still think he's a clean racer, but a doping conviction is a doping conviction, so I didn't include him on the lists above because of it. Sorry, Levi. I'm still cheering for you. Was Escartin clean or not? I certainly don't know. Nobody does. But he seems to be implicated in the Giardini Margherita raid in Bologna. Many of the riders still on this list may have doped, sure. But at some point, to stay a fan, I need to trust the UCI's testing methods, or assume they're all doping.

There is one thing I do know though: if any team makes any of these guys who are probably clean their team captain and GC contender for the Tour, I will root for them. Go BMC! Go Sky! I also wish I knew these riders' stories better. For instance, why did Giuseppe Guerini have those dry spells between his good finishes? Mechanical failures? Illnesses? Fitness? Sick of losing to cheaters, but pulled back to the Tour for the romance of it?


This list is also fun for making up statistics. For instance, take the original finishing position of the 10th placed clean rider and subtract ten from it to get x. Then divide x by the original finishing position of the 10th placed clean rider to get a rough, unscientific approximation of how many riders cheated that year:

1995: 66%
1996: 73%
1997: 55%
1998: 62%
1999: 76%
2000: 58%
2001: 64%
2002: 63%
2003: 62%
2004: 63%
2005: 69%
2006: 55%
2007: 52%
2008: 41%
2009: 41%
2010: 33%
2011: 23%

Is this cycling getting cleaner or will another Operation Puerto-esque raid expose a bunch of these riders as dopers too?


1. Fans want a clean, fair, challenging race.
2. Cyclists want to win.
3. Cycling teams need to win in order to get monetary support in order to race.

Questions Concerning Discouraging Doping:
1. Should the Tour be easier? Would that discourage doping?
2. Should the punishments be stricter? Would that discourage doping?
3. Should the regulatory body purchase as much of the rare banned substances as possible to drive demand and prices up while simultaneously denying access?
4. Should sponsors monetarily reward cyclists for staying clean? Should sponsors insist on blood and urine testing more often? It's their money that is at stake here, after all.
5. Does "any news is good news" apply to cycling? Are fans leaving it or coming to it more because of doping?


I used the following sources:
My main source: http://www.dopeology.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_doping_cases_in_sport (Wikipedia Source)


What did I miss?


Anonymous said...

On January 18, 2007, French newspaper Le Monde reported that Pereiro also tested positive during the 2006 Tour de France. It is alleged that salbutamol was found in two urine samples, produced after stages 14 (Montélimar - Gap, in which Pereiro finished 26th) and 16 (Bourg-d'Oisans - La Toussuire, 3rd place).[4] In the latter stage, Pereiro retook the yellow jersey from Landis.
Salbutamol is commonly used to treat asthma symptoms, and is allowed to be used in cycle racing if the cyclist can provide a medical prescription for the substance. It is alleged that the International Cycling Union gave Pereiro retroactive permission to use the substance on medical grounds after the positive tests. The French anti-doping agency questions the veracity of the medical grounds. It demanded that Pereiro verify the grounds for the use of salbutamol within a week.
On January 25, 2007, France's anti-doping agency dropped its investigation, saying Pereiro provided sufficient justification for use of the asthma medication

dj chimpy said...

Good article, but I disagree with the "If everyone else is doing it" comment, the cheats have cost genuine and fair competitors a decent crack at the whip.

Ari E-B said...

I know I'm about 6 months late, but I finally got around to reading Tyler Hamilton's book, and was trying to make a similar list when I came across yours.

A few other names to (sadly) cross off:
Michael Boogerd and Peter Luttenberger

Bobby Julich (admitted after your post:

Andru Xion said...

Christophe Rinero: turned in by Gaumont
Daniele Nardello: T-Mobile
2001: Armstrong's third win. TWO clean riders finished within the top ten.
José Azevedo: Puerto
Michael Rogers: Ferrari
and not sure:
Roberto Conti: someone said he was suspended in 2002?
Christian Vande Velde: well, he admitted the before, so maybe he was clean here

Unknown said...

The longer time goes on, the more dopers we find out about; it is more likely that the reason recent years have appeared "clean" is the same reason why Lance Armstrong got away with it for so long.

Personally, I agree that stripping Lance is beyond silly, because as far as we can tell, everyone was doping in those years; sure, there were "clean" riders... but were they really clean, or were they just the only ones who didn't get caught, likely because it isn't worth following up on someone who got 25th place in the Tour De France 15 years ago?

Tom Yearby said...

Jalabert doped in the 1998 tour, you should remove him from the 2001 tour if you're removing people completely who doped at some point.

Anonymous the Younger said...

Thanks for all the corrective comments! You are all the best!

Parkerclay said...

Any updates to this list?

Anonymous the Younger said...

I hope to update it before this year's tour. So busy right now. Not as busy in 6 weeks.

Squatch Biker said...

Any new revelations? Did you take the Operation Puerto riders out?

Zdeněk Štybar said...

Why did you discredit Baranowski? It never proved to him and nobody even mentioned it to the riders