Sunday, May 11, 2008

nice guys finishing first

Last year, a retired American pro cyclist formed a new team based on a clean-living/no cheating philosophy and now that newbie US team has taken the first stage of Italy's premier stage race, the Giro d'Italia. The event is of a type which is one of the most prestigious within the national tour frame: a team time trial, where each team competes against the clock and the winner is determined on the fifth rider to cross the line. It's an extremely difficult event and the team's success is a major achievement.

The American ex-pro is Jonathan Vaughters and the team is Slipstream.

Here are links to accounts on the team blog:
- Having fun chasing excellence
- Argyle Armada wins TTT! Christian in pink!

The blog is written by members of the team and its support people, not promotional flacks. Notice that one of the commenters points to a contrast with the US Postal team where all the riders were slaves to Armstrong rather than working together as a team for the team's success. Another makes an obvious point: nice guys do sometimes finish first. Another comment comes from Andy Hampsten, a pioneer American race winner in Europe and former winner of the Giro when leading 7-Eleven, the first successful US team. To his cost, he refused to take performance-enhancing drugs during his career in the sport. He says: "Respect -- Let me join in thanking you boys for showing respect in all you do, and how you race. Its been 20 lousy years since we got any respect in Pink and now the other families can all see how it should be done. With honor. And in the Old Country too. Don’t forget to eat well while you’re there too."

The Wikipedia article explains the team's drug-free orientation in brief: Slipstream Chipotle. explains just how extra-thorough is the team's testing program: Independent testing to continue alongside UCI's 'biological passports'.

And here's a more detailed account of The Slipstream Experiment.

The team has a photostream on flickr: Slipstream Sports/Chipotle's photostream

This one shows the team's discplined paceline:

The first guy across the line gets to wear the pink jersey of race leader. It's Christian Vande Velde

This shows good time trial form. It's Tom Peterson (photo credit: Velonews):

Here's Andy in 7-Eleven gear in a photo by Graham Watson:

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