Vingegaard, what suspects are there? Training and technology explain uphill performance and «scary» time trial -

Vingegaard, what suspects are there?  Training and technology explain uphill performance and «scary» time trial -

Of Marco Bonarrigo

The Dane has already won the Tour by demolishing records (of doped riders) dating back to 25 years ago. He underwent about thirty blood and urine checks, his bike was checked with magnetic tablets and X-rayed: nothing irregular

One page to explain how doping controls work (and how efficient they are), half to tell the secrets of the Dane in the Combloux monstre time trial, one to describe the mechanism with which the International Cycling Union tests its bikes in X-rays, complete with photos of the x-rays. Browsing theTeam on Thursday morning it is perfectly understood how the reporters of the French sports daily that organizes the Tour took Jonas Vingegaard's invitation seriously: Doubt my performances and check them, only skepticism can save cycling from cheating.

The question - simplifying as much as possible - only one: after three decades of cheating, we can trust the Danish Martian who is dominating the Grande Boucle by demolishing one by one climbing records that date back twenty years or more? Or will we find ourselves sooner or later - see the Armstrong case, but not only - discovering yet another cheater? The only way to understand it is to try to get to the bottom of the profile of Jonas Rasmussen Vingegaard, 1.75m and 60 kilos (looking at him in jeans and a T-shirt, he looks like a kid who needs to eat a lot to grow up) who is about to win his second Tour with a gap over the second that hasn't been seen in decades.

The (raw) talent was there

Recruited by Jumbo in his native Denmark (he alternated between cycling and working in a fish market), Vingo was noticed because in physiological tests he showed a very high maximum oxygen consumption value (the qualitative figure of the talent of a cross-country athlete): improbable figures are circulating these days, the confirmed value being around 90 mL/lt/min, a number of excellence which does not always translate into super performance. When he made his professional debut in 2019, at the age of 23, Jonas immediately proved to be a winner by conquering a stage in the Tour of Poland and being chosen as captain Roglic's wingman. He has great qualities, raw from a tactical and stylistic point of view. In short, Vingegaard is an excellent talent (1) and compared to the average European rider he has the advantage (2) of not having squeezed himself too much as a kid and of arriving at real cycling relatively fresh.

Uphill performance: the generational change

In a sport like cycling, apart from the track, talking about records makes little sense. But the climbing times (if you take into account the different weather conditions, the evolution of the bike and you take the chronometric references well) are an important fact. In the last two years some records that have been held since the end of the last century have been slowly falling, those of the Armstrongs, the Riis, the Virenque and many others. At the Tour de France the Pogacar/Vingegaard duo set new absolute limits, approaching 2,000 meters per hour of ascent speed (the meters of altitude difference devoured in 60 minutes) and 7 watts per kilo of body weight on average climbs, ie about twenty minutes long. Even on the long ones (like the Col de La Loze where Vingegaard actually won the Tour) the times are the best ever. In the 13 minutes with which he devoured the hardest part of the hill on Wednesday - before being blocked by a car placed sideways - Vingo released 7.6 watts/kilo, a value that astounded physiologists.

Only a hypocrite would think that he has been behind records for twenty-five years (with a crazy evolution of technology) there was no systematic doping, demonstrated by hundreds of disqualifications: Athletes pumped by Epo and transfusions, with hematocrits ten points higher than natural values, expressed inhuman performance. The fact that after a quarter of a century, with an enormous evolution of training and dietology and means lighter than two kilos, some phenomena can lower these normal times. as if cycling (let's also think of the climbing time of the Poggio della Sanremo, finally achieved after 30 years) is rewriting its own physiological history.

That scary and hard to explain stopwatch

More suspicions (not to mention amazement) aroused the monstrous performance of Vingegaard in the Combloux time trial, where the Dane trimmed almost two minutes (in 22 kilometres) to Pogacar and almost three to Van Aert, one of the best specialists in the world. The average speed on that very difficult track (over 41 km/h) and the powers reached uphill were amazing. Can we explain that time rationally? Jonas got a bit wrapped up during the press conference, saying he had read absurd data on the on-board computer. The story-justification of the physiologists of the Jumbo centered on a maniacal preparation of the bike (a time trial model adapted to the slopes), of the trajectories (downhill Vingo came close to 90 km/h, the track had been viewed three times and simulated on video) and of the race strategy. A sum of factors that would have led the Dane (who weighs 60 kilos against the 74 of a Van Aert and therefore needs to push a much higher power per kilo on the pedals) to a monstrous performance, which shocked his opponents. A sort of leap into the future like Bob Beamon's 8.90 meters in Mexico City in 1968, which one can believe or not: many don't believe it.

What suspicions are there about Jonas Vingegaard?

Skeptics explain that an anti-doping drug that no longer catches anyone (in cycling the number of positives is the lowest ever, unlike in athletics) is an indication of very sophisticated doping methods (chemical or technological) and only within the reach of a millionaire team. Compared to conventional distrust indices, Jonas Vingegaard appears to be off the radar. The team does not have any suspicious elements or elements with a dark past (many instead point out the past as a runner and manager of the dopatissima Sauval of Mauro Gianetti, the boss of the Uae of Pogacar, who however has never been sanctioned), Vingegaard has no type of contestation or acquaintance that could give rise to doubts. And if it is true that, unlike Pogacar, Vingo does not publish his physiological data on specialized social networks, there are no shadow coaches and preparation in the hands of Mathieu Heijboer, the head of team performance, a former cyclist with a dozen scientific publications to his credit.

During the Tour Vingegaad underwent around thirty blood and urine tests, only in the 48 hours preceding the last Alpine stage did the doctors come to him four times, the last one 45 minutes before the start of the Col de La Loze stage, with collection from the Dutch team bus. His bike has been disassembled, checked with magnetic tablets and X-rayed regularly. Result: all right. The only suspicious element at the moment is extraordinary performance: if Jonas Rasmussen Vingegaard cheats, he does it using methods or substances whose nature we totally ignore.

July 20, 2023 (change July 20, 2023 | 12:05)

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