25 July 2007

Rest Day: Pau

Today is a very triste jour. Some of you may know that yesterday's stage winner, Alexandre Vinokourov, has tested positive for blood doping. While the B sample has yet to be tested, and details are still forthcoming, it has already sent the media into a frenzy, and caused the withdrawl of Vino's team, Astana.

Cycling does not need another drug scandal. The sport is teetering on the brink as it is -- political problems with the agencies that run different races, various agencies that have come up with their own drug policies that contradict each other as well as the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) standards, recent disclosures of drug use by former members of the T-Mobile team, including former 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis, the Operation Puerto investigation that caught favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso...the list goes on and on. We are still waiting on the arbitrators' decision for the Floyd Landis case, last year's Tour winner who is accused of having an elevated testosterone/epitestosterone ratio. [Note that in this case, faulty lab testing practices, as revealed in the arbitration hearings, may be responsible for the test results, a la the Landaluze case. Debby lives in hope!]. With all the tightened controls and increased testing, the intention was that this year's Tour would escape scandal, and we could all watch cycling again just for the sheer joy of it. Unfortunately it seems we are destined to go through another stage.

I hope this does not ruin your enjoyment of the Tour, cycling in general, or our knit along. There are plenty of riders who race clean, and though the sport is going through a "culling of the herd" as one official termed it, there is still much to be excited about. Women's cycling in particular is growing by leaps and bounds, and there are some incredible female athletes out there -- Nicole Cooke from the UK, and Sarah Hammer, an American track cyclist -- as well as those of us in the KAL who slog it out daily or weekly on our own bikes. Let's hang in there and continue to support the riders like Cadel Evans and Levi Leipheimer, who have undergone grueling training to get to this year's race. After all, there is knitting to be finished too!!

In the meantime, to lighten the mood, we will announce the winner of today's prix -- Elaine of http://elaine-knitting.blogspot.com! Elaine's randomly assigned number of 26 came up on the random number generator -- Felicitations!! Please email one of your hostesses with your address and we will be honored to poste le prix avec vous!

Before today's news was announced, I (Debby) had planned to write about French knitting companies. Meg had posted about a wool mill during one of the earlier stages, and I've been curious as to what yarns and patterns are available for those of us inspired to tricote francais.

Phildar seems to be the most well-known French pattern and yarn company. Knitting Fever
is one online shop that carries their products. Here is the link for the pattern books. Bergere de France patterns are sold by Angel Yarns in the UK. Sarah of Blue Garter blog is knitting one of their sweaters (or unknitting, according to her latest post -- the comparison to Vinokourov is a bit eerie!). Go check it out! Bergere de France yarn can be ogled and purchased at this site.

What other French yarns and pattern companies are out there? If you've knit something from these companies, what did you think of the pattern/yarn? Are there other suppliers out there for the U.S., Australia, and Europe?


28 comments:

Meg said...

Thanks for your post Debby. You hit the nail on the head. I have heard some announcers say that the average speed of the Tour this year had been slower than in previous years, 'demonstrating' that the anti-doping measures had taken effect and that riders in general were clean. But then something like this happens and you have to wonder who'll be caught next? And maybe there is a perfectly justifiable reason for Vino's blood anomalies. At any rate, I feel so sad. Vino has been one of my favourites during this Tour. Will this scandal heat up the pressure on Rasmussen about his four missed drug tests???

Meg said...

PS Does this mean that my Cadel will be awarded the stage win for the time trial in Albi?! (he came in 2nd!)

Chris said...

*sigh* I'm very, very discouraged. I really loved Vino's larger-than-life presence on the Tour... That said, I'm glad Levi and some of the other Discovery riders are doing well...

Ina said...

I'm going to finish the KAL, but I'm fed up with the Tour. There are too many integrity problems in too many places for my taste.

Moving along, I've switched projects (again). My new favorite is Soleil, a Knitty pattern, worked in vintage Pingouin Corrida 4. Pingouin was a Roubaix company - I don't know if they're still around, but I've enjoyed using their yarns and patterns.

Elaine said...

Wow am I excited about winning!!

And I've just posted 4 photos on my blog. Two are from the initial time trials in London, and 2 are from the first day ride through London.

Maybe tomorrow I'll post photos of my projects.

sprite said...

At least you haven't started testing the KAL knitters yet...

That is NOT a vial of blood in my knitting bag. It's dye. That's it. Red dye... Really!

mishaele said...

Ugh. That just gives me roid rage! I loved cheering for him, and Floyd last year. This won't stop my knitting along, or my steroid use for that matter! (As far as I know, the managers of the KAL are in Australia, right? So they aren't likely to suddenly pop by Colorado for a blood test...)

Hazel said...

I think we need a probe into performance enhancing drugs used by knitters. Not everyone can keep up with the hectic pace of this KAL and stay clean, surely.

heather t said...

I finished! My Grapevine socks are done as of 12:35 a.m., Wednesday, July 25. I hope to get some photos on the blog by Wednesday night.

I, Heather T, solemnly swear that I knitted clean and used no performance-enhancing substances during this KAL.

(Well, maybe some caffeine and chocolate - tres Francais, no?)

Aknita said...

I think it's all very sad. I have been enjoying the tour this year so much.

I am upset though that people want it to be cancelled ( as reported in the Daily Telegraph in the UK this morning )

When though, will people ever learn :-(

Phoebe said...

Congrats Elaine! It is sad that again the Tour has a scandal. It does kind of explain with Vino how he was able to come back from the crash with all of those stitches and then winning the Time Trial, disaster day in the mountains followed by the win the next day.
Go Discovery boys!
French patterns...what about French Girl Knits at http://www.frenchgirlknits.com/?

Lene said...

It's so stupid trying to win illegally - it compromises the whole sport. Who want to win in something were the public doesn't believe in the effort you put in to it? Not to mention the health factor, but then compeeting on this level isn't exactly health inducing...
I still believe in Rasmussen - nobody has told us how normal it is to send in letters a bit too late and forget to tell where you are at any given time. Maybe 4 warnings are "normal". AND about the exclusion of Rasmussen on the danish national team I think is a bit irrational warnings are just warnings - they mean a second chance to get things right, and the danish cycling union and Rasmussen have a history of not getting along because of egos.
Just my two cents.. sorry they turned in to twelwe! ;)

My drugs of choice like so many others are caffeine and chocolate and maybe naturally present adrenalin - deffinately NOT testosterone I don't want to shave more than necessary ;)

Elaine said...

Talking about French yarn companies, what ever happened to Pingouin yarn? Are they out of business -it seems so. They used to have some very nice, high-quality yarns.

5elementknitr said...

My socks have a mystery hole! Like a hole in a bike tire, it's slowing me down!

knittin'_kitten said...

The news is very disappointing. I'd enjoyed following the ups and downs of Team Astana. Hopefully there won't be more positive test results...
Well, I'm still knitting and biking along with some caffeine intake.

Elaine said...

I think one of the problems with so much of competitive sports is people losing all perspective and wanting to win at any cost. Now, everyone likes to be a winner, (and I've been running around yelling ya-hoo all day, but I didn't try to fix the random number generator :-)) but there should be self-imposed limits on what you will do to win. And, obviously, all should be legal.

I was always a very avid swimmer, but hated swimming competitively for just those reasons. Some years ago, when I was in my 30's but looked very young, the coach of the kids swim team at my swim club asked whether I'd like to swim on the team. I asked whether they were starting a Master team (over 35) and he said no - he figured he could pass me off as an under 18 and I was faster than any kid they had. I thought he meant it as a joke but he didn't. I don't swim there any more.

Riggwelter said...

It is really disappointing when you hear of doing going on, you would think the riders would have learned from the 80's that doping doesn't do anyone any favours in the end. Don't the riders get tested all year round now? So why do they think they'll get away with it?

It was also sad to see Rasmussen being boo-ed, although there is all this scandal, he's come up with negative tests so far.

If you start testing the KAL-ers, all you'll find in my blood is caffeine (or should that be the other way around?)

Meg, I hope Cadel does get his win, he's one that deserves it.
As for my Wiggins...he's out :(
Ah well, at least Geraint is still in there.

Elaine said...

The NY Times just reported that Cristian Moreni, an Italian rider for the French Cofidis team, tested positive for drugs, was led away by police and the team has withdrawn. More and more bad news!

Debby said...

I am trying to understand how doping gives riders so much of an edge that risking their personal reputations, careers & future income, their teams, seems like a good idea. These guys *knew* that controls would be tighter than ever, that the lab is notorious for more positive doping results than any lab in the rest of the world (notably the ones in Rome, Los Angeles, and Sydney), and that the lab leaks the supposedly confidential test results directly to the French paper L'Equipe before due process (ie the B sample is tested and confirmed). You're pronounced guilty by them before anyone knows for sure...why on earth would you take that kind of risk??? (um, now embarassed and tiptoeing back down from favorite soapbox...sorry).

I agree with Lene...if the public can't believe in your honest victory, what good is it?

Mishaele, I'm in the eastern U.S. I don't follow baseball a whole lot, but I know people are fed up with the Barry Bonds situation, yet he's allowed to play.

Are the teams/riders/sponsors going to have to wait until all the fans leave before things change? That would be so sad for all those guys who are trying to race honestly. And I'm getting pulled toward my soapbox again so I'm going to stop now! Go Cadel and Levi!!!

mari said...

Well, now we can add Rasmussen to our list of riders who can't seem to make the right choices and follow the rules set for them. Rabobank removed him from their team and has been removed from the Tour. Rabobank and Cofidis have left.

Read Phil's take on it on the Versus TDF page. His hopes are on the three new leaders of the race who have never been suspected of doping. We know there is drug use in all sports, cycling is not alone. We need to remember that there are clean cyclists and they will still need the support of fans to get them to the line in Paris.

Don't lose faith in those who play fair.

Chelsea said...

Now Rasmmussen's gone, too. I don't know - it seems like everyone is guilty. I just hope that Levi hangs in there (and is clean) and gets a third place or better by the end of the Tour.

Nikki said...

oh sigh...

I've been a little out of the loop the past few days due to a family member's health. This is all so sad. I'm going to have to try to catch tomorrow night's recap.

Westozcaat said...

NEWS FLASH ALERT: Copied from the West Australian Site: "Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen of Denmark has been sacked by his team Rabobank, the team said on Wednesday night.

Rasmussen, who won Wednesday's 16th stage, has been under a cloud since failing to provide notice to Danish anti-doping authorities of his whereabouts during training before the Tour."

Apparently he said he was in mexico in june so didnt get the test notices when he was actually spotted in italy!! naughty boy- the good news is that Cadel is now 2nd.

My caffinated body (drug of choice) is onto the neck band of the green jumper- hopefully I can get that finished tonight and the sleeves done by sunday, so it can be sewn up and finished on the race into paris!!

Lene said...

This is all so weird! I totally agree with Rabobank for suspending him! To beat doping the teams have to get firmer with their riders so this is actually a very possitive change.

I'm just soooooo disappointed I really had high hopes for Michael and I did really trust him. But why lie about something so stupid if your'e clean?

I think I'm having a rest day from the tour today to regain my faith and maybe get out and enjoy the sun (the rain actually) and get some fresh air...

Riggwelter said...

Well Rasmussen should never have started the Tour in the first place.
I think once they've weazled out all those guilty of doping, we know who to follow next year.
It's such a shame that all this is still going on!

As we're talking French things, I don't have any recipes, nor do I know much of the language (just the school stuff really) but I do have a beautiful French song by Wasis Diop on my blog if anyone wants to listen.

Aknita said...

It is such a shame though that the actions of some cast apersions on all - Bradley Wiggins is out through no fault of his own.

Sarah / Blue Garter said...

Looking for a silver lining as these scandals continue to rock my favorite spectator sport - all the journalists are writing about the death of the Tour and pro cycling as we know it, but the fact remains that the cycling world is trying to take action against a problem that we know afflicts the majority of high-stakes, high-profile, high-dollar sports. I have to admire that, while sadly shaking my head at those individuals who don't have the integrity and courage to ride clean or to admit to their shortcomings.

Now I'm off for an injection of caffeine and chocolate in the form of a mocha, my stimulant of choice! Did anyone catch Vino snorting at the allegations that he'd taken blood from his father, saying that if that were so he'd have tested positive for vodka?

Christina said...

yes, I'm a bit miffed too, as Vino was one of my favourite riders, as were ullrich and basso. well, I'm cheering on cadel now!!!