(Courchevel) Outrageous domination of Jonas Vingegaard, speed records and abyssal gaps rekindle the fires of suspicion on the Tour de France, but without tangible evidence to certify the use of doping.
“I understand it’s hard to trust cycling with what’s happened in the past. But I can tell you with my hand on my heart: I don’t take anything and I wouldn’t take anything that I wouldn’t give to my two-year-old daughter, “Vingegaard assured after seeing the Tour definitively knocked out on Wednesday.
The day before, the Dane had already outclassed everyone in a time trial swallowed at such speed – 41.227 km / h on average on a very rough course – that he thought his power meter was broken.
“I don’t remember any lap in which the winner puts 4.5 seconds per kilometer in second place,” said his compatriot Michael Rasmussen, excluded from the Tour in 2007, who admitted to having doped during the dark years. under EPO rule.
“It’s an impressive time and Pogacar’s was already impressive,” notes Arkéa-Samsic runner Simon Guglielmi, who adds: “everyone can ask questions, everyone has always wondered, I stay focused on my race.”
On the evening of the 17th stage, the differences in the general classification are colossal: second, Pogacar, in distress on Wednesday, points to 7: 35 from the yellow jersey and the third, Adam Yates, sails at almost… eleven minutes.
“Obviously the questions are not illegitimate on the various suspicions. We have been living with it for a long time, ”reacts Tour director Christian Prudhomme. But “the yellow jersey is tested every day and his bike too” and “the checks are done by an independent agency”, the International Testing Agency (ITA), “which was not the case before”, adds- he.
On Wednesday, the Jumbo-Visma and UAE teams also received a new visit from anti-doping controllers before departure, according to the specialized site Wielerflits. “I applaud this initiative, assured the boss of Jumbo-Visma, Richard Plugge, at the foot of the bus. This is a further step in the fight against doping. Jonas Vingegaard has undergone no less than four blood tests in the last 48 hours. We are happy to be able to cooperate. »
Beyond Vingegaard’s exceptional time, this 110th edition was marked by ascent records in several passes climbed faster by Vingegaard and Pogacar than by cheaters like Lance Armstrong.
For Thibaut Pinot, who has regularly expressed doubts about the probity of certain adversaries, it is nevertheless “difficult to compare” the performances because of external factors which can differ greatly, such as the placement of the pass in the stage, the coating of road, weather conditions or wind direction.
“In the Grand Colombier, for example, we had a big tailwind,” he says, before adding: “but yes, it goes very fast”.
And his team is renowned for pushing the sliders very far in these areas. “In the chrono, they even remove the paint on the bikes to save 150 grams”, underlines Tom Dumoulin, former teammate of Vingegaard, on the Flemish channel Sporza.
But is that enough to explain the dominance of the yellow jersey and Jumbo-Visma stages in steamroller mode?
Actors in the community are cautious, but refuse to speak publicly, for lack of evidence on which to rely.
“I am not yet a consultant or commentator or viewer. It’s not for me to judge. I have no information to say anything, ”said Guillaume Martin, 11th overall at almost… 23 minutes.
The controversial recourse by certain teams such as Jumbo-Visma or Soudal-Quick Step to ketones, an additional fuel for the muscles which is ingested in the form of a gel or a drink, the taking of which is not prohibited by the regulations, is also regularly pinned.
Without reaching the magnitude of the years of lead, several doping cases have shaken cycling in recent years. The Bahrain team has been targeted by several raids and its general manager suspected in connection with the Aderlass blood doping case in 2020.
The Colombians Nairo Quintana and Miguel Angel Lopez were recently fired by their teams, the first for using tramadol, the second because of his alleged links with a doctor at the center of trafficking in doping products.
As for mechanical or even genetic doping, no case has been detected in the Tour de France peloton to date.