Mark Cavendish woo hoo!

The boy from Britain can go go go!

Mark Cavendish wins Tour de France 2008 Stage 13

I called Cavendish as the winner on a Tweet I sent at 8:02 this morning while sitting on the train, about a half hour before he actually won.

For Stage 13 summaries, visit:

Speaking of Frank Steele of TdFBlog, hinted at some anti-Americanism by the TdF web team when he tweeted the lack of the American flag on the Tour de France website. In years past, the button for the English version of the site was a split UK/USA flag, while this year it’s a UK flag only. Still, if you look at the English language link URL, the page is listed under “US”, not “UK.”

Is Cavendish clean?

Some of my friends look at the news of Ricco, Beltran and Duenas as proof that pro cycling and the Tour de France is awash in doping. Many people are asking the question of Cavendish: Are you really clean? Can we trust that your wins are real?

Agency for Cycling Ethics PURE Sport

Cavendish’s Team Columbia uses the same “bio passport” system from the Agency for Cycling Ethics (ACE) that Team Garmin-Chipotle uses. While the T-Mobile cycling team had its share of doping scandals when Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Patrick Sinkewitz were expelled from the team, Bob Stapleton worked to clean house when he took over management of the team in 2007. Team High Road began the ACE biological passport testing last October.

“Passports” are created for each cyclist participating in the program. Changes in blood and urine chemistry are measured and noted over time. Instead of measuring for specific banned substances or looking at absolute blood chemistry values that can vary greatly between individual like current doping protocols do, the biological passport instead detects the body’s reaction to performance enhancing drugs over time.

Under standard doping tests, some athletes can dope and still remain under the official threshold for that measurement. According to ACE, the biological parameters they measure can vary greatly between individuals, but within an individual these measurements don’t change much over time.

ACE bio passports cannot detect specifically which drug was used to, for example, enhance the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, but they trade this lack of specificity with sensitivity. EPO, for example, can only be detected in the urine for up to four days at the most, but with the passport the effect of EPO can be detected for weeks afterwards.

To detect blood doping, ACE’s PURE Sport program measures Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, Recticulocyte count and MCV as its main biological markers. ACE also measures for various steroid markers in the blood and urine to test for steroid use. When an athelete takes an anabolic androgenic steroid that person immediately alters his body’s steroid profile. LH and FSH are immediately suppressed. This in turn suppresses the body’s own steroid production, altering the biological markers listed above for a substantial time and in a predictable manner. Because of the frequency of testing, ACE claims they can even detect human growth hormone use, which is currently considered undetectable.

I look at Cavendish’s amazing fourth stage win today as evidence that you can ride clean and win.

More on this topic:

Photo: PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images.

8 Comments

  • bikesgonewild
    July 18, 2008 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    …i'll echo that "mark cavendish woo hoo!" wow !!!…just awesome to see this kid come through the way he is…

    …every interview, he's looking a little more tired from the daily schlog around france, but his team keeps bringing him up in good position & w/ his great tactical savvy, he delivers the goods…amazing display…

    …& fritz…great article & info to dispel the naysayers…despite the ugly headlines at times, i believe cycling is leading the way to cleaner sports…

  • bikesgonewild
    July 18, 2008 - 6:40 pm | Permalink

    …i'll echo that "mark cavendish woo hoo!" wow !!!…just awesome to see this kid come through the way he is……every interview, he's looking a little more tired from the daily schlog around france, but his team keeps bringing him up in good position & w/ his great tactical savvy, he delivers the goods…amazing display……& fritz…great article & info to dispel the naysayers…despite the ugly headlines at times, i believe cycling is leading the way to cleaner sports…

  • MarvinK
    July 18, 2008 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Call me a cynic, but sometimes I wonder if those team-induced drug tests aren't there to ensure their doping levels 'just aren't high enough to get caught'. I mean, what's better than putting together a system to check for doping–hype it up as ensuring your riders are clean, and still utilize it to make sure your riders dont get kicked out (and you have lots of data to fight if they threaten)… yet still use it to make sure anything they are doing is outside detection. I'd like to think that isn't what those teams are doing.. but you never know.

    It certainly wouldn't be hard to twist it around and misuse an internal system like that.

  • MarvinK
    July 18, 2008 - 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Call me a cynic, but sometimes I wonder if those team-induced drug tests aren't there to ensure their doping levels 'just aren't high enough to get caught'. I mean, what's better than putting together a system to check for doping–hype it up as ensuring your riders are clean, and still utilize it to make sure your riders dont get kicked out (and you have lots of data to fight if they threaten)… yet still use it to make sure anything they are doing is outside detection. I'd like to think that isn't what those teams are doing.. but you never know. It certainly wouldn't be hard to twist it around and misuse an internal system like that.

  • Jared
    July 18, 2008 - 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I tried to watch the tour this year…but I just couldn't do it. I used to enjoy watching it before all the doping, now it seems like anytime you hear about a guy winning a stage he's immediately suspected of doping. The TdF still has a pretty big black eye as far as I'm concerned. It's true that a few bad apples ruin the whole bunch.

    Its sad that as a cyclists I don't even enjoy watching the big events…what does that say for everyone else that is less involved in the sport than I am?

  • Jared
    July 18, 2008 - 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I tried to watch the tour this year…but I just couldn't do it. I used to enjoy watching it before all the doping, now it seems like anytime you hear about a guy winning a stage he's immediately suspected of doping. The TdF still has a pretty big black eye as far as I'm concerned. It's true that a few bad apples ruin the whole bunch.Its sad that as a cyclists I don't even enjoy watching the big events…what does that say for everyone else that is less involved in the sport than I am?

  • uncadan8
    July 18, 2008 - 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I am hoping, HOPING, that we can see Mark Cavendish as the new cycling hero…it seems all we CAN do is hope.

  • uncadan8
    July 19, 2008 - 12:52 am | Permalink

    I am hoping, HOPING, that we can see Mark Cavendish as the new cycling hero…it seems all we CAN do is hope.

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