Another July has come and gone, and along with it the Tour De France. And what would the Tour be without some bombs tossed by 3-time tour winner Greg LeMond? This year Greg is on about VO2 max testing and rates of ascent in the Tour’s mountain stages. This topic was previewed last year when LeMond showed up at Lance Armstrong’s press conference at the Interbike tradeshow.
In the grand scheme of things LeMond has a good point. Why thrash about with blood, urine, and hair testing when one can simply look at power output to determine what’s going on inside the body. In short LeMond is suggesting testing young pros to determine their VO2 max (the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and utilize oxygen during exercise). The higher the VO2, the faster, longer you can go. He also suggests fitting every rider’s bike w/ a power meter. With power data, a VO2 baseline and stats about the length and incline of climbs on a race course one could determine when an athlete is riding above their natural physical ability.
The problem is that Greg comes at the whole thing from an accusatory stance. Ever since Armstrong started winning Tours Greg LeMond was there to throw cold water on the idea that Lance was clean. This article does a good job of summing up LeMond’s history with Lance while shedding some light on his own demons. I’m no fool. I know cycling has a drug problem and that more/better testing is needed, but Greg LeMond could be leading the way through calm, reasoned ideas rather than innuendo-dripping articles in French newspapers and ambushes at press conferences. How about a concrete plan for his VO2 testing? I’m sure one of the cycling mags would love to give him some real estate to describe his ideas. But the stone throwing just doesn’t help. Especially with a guy like Armstrong who likes to get his back up when he’s accused and pushed.
Greg LeMond has given a lot to cycling. I wish he could find a way to continue to help push the sport forward.