Small things can make a big difference

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The 2007 Tour de France wrapped up with Spaniard Alberto Contador taking the yellow jersey - an amazing feet considering he’s only 24 and this was his first Tour. There was yet another round of doping scandals this year which led to the mid-race sacking of then-leader Michael Rasmussen, and yet again more hand-wringing about whether the sport of cycling can recover. When a Rasmussen or a Vinokourov gets pulled because of doping accusations it calls into question all their previous results. (The photo above, by the way, is a shot I took of last year’s <asterisk>winner</asterisk> Floyd Landis as he circles the Champs-Elysées.)

I can’t say I sympathize with doping at all, but it’s clear that riders are willing to take any chance they can to get an edge. What difference does it make? Consider this: Over the 3550 miles of this year’s tour, the difference in average speed between the winner (Alberto Contador) and the rider in last place was less than one mile per hour. That rider, Wim Vansevenant rode the same course but did so in just under four hours more time - 91 hours, 0 minutes and 20 seconds vs. 94 hours, 53 minutes and 20 seconds. (Courtesy of the Tour de France Lanterne Rouge)