There's more than a hint of déjà vu with how the race has panned out in the opening mountains stages. The Sky way of doing things has been to hit them hard straight away and then control that situation, and that's what we've got.
The surprise isn't that this has happened again, it's more that everyone seems to be astonished they can do it all over again. The other GC teams obviously believed they had caught up in recent times but I think we've seen from the first skirmishes that in some points many have but in terms of overall strength they aren't matching what the British squad is capable of.
With signs of Team Sky domination it hasn't taken much for the pack of media wolves that turn up at the Tour each year looking for a doping story to begin asking the same old questions. You can't blame them either, given the sport’s past and the sorry tales of blood transfusions, EPO and every other medication under the sun being offered up by dodgy doctors, advisers and so called careers.
In much as there is a glorious history of struggling over Cols and suffering under an unforgiving sun there's also been, for far too long, another less desirable side to it too.
But now, to stop the cheating and answer the critics we have the bio-passport, estimated power outputs and experts pouring over associated data to prove things one way or another. I'm not in any way dissing what is being done here but as soon as numbers start being quoted why am I reminded of the famous saying ‘Lies, damned lies and statistics’? Though, in this case, we really ought to use Huxley's 1885 quote from his book when he substitutes statistics for experts. Accuracy is everything.
Is the Sky data leak/theft to be taken seriously? And is it deception or digital justification?
Well for some people the Froome data saga proves nothing at all. It’s just another conspiracy theory on YouTube, concocted by someone with too much time on their hands and a hidden agenda.
I can't believe it but I wasted an hour of my life watching the 2013 Mont Ventoux finish with the infamous numbers stuck on top of it. It took forever to download on my slow internet connection and I was none the wiser because if a grainy video is now considered evidence then the justice system can be closed down overnight and we can have trial by the number of ‘likes’ earned.
I have no idea if the numbers were real or false, if they were real what do they prove? Was the power meter calibrated properly and was that heart rate accurate? It's not exactly stable laboratory conditions, so am I being duped by numbers altered to say something that never happened?
Then there are the others who say it's not possible to ride up Mt Ventoux at only 150 bpm in a race situation, something must be wrong. It doesn't matter what explanation Froome or Sky reply with because the doubters’ mind-set is based on what's happened in the past and they can't seem to admit to themselves that things might have changed. I know it's a difficult thing to consider when you've seen what US Postal did for too many years but look at the stats for the first week. Etixx bossed the race and there aren't any accusations being thrown their way.
I've ridden Tours were the whole thing has been dominated from start to finish by one team. It's what happens. Guys get motivated by being in the lead, by winning, and by being part of a successful campaign. Everyone steps up their game and luck, fate, or whatever, all combine for that team to fill the screen every day. Maybe the key problem is the way in which the message has been presented by Sky. The Giro motorhome, the best of everything, bigger trucks, vans, posher cars and more back-up than everyone else.
Squabbles over parking spaces just show how much pressure the teams are under. A stage win might help but, with Team Sky getting the race tactics right, this data story will probably rumble on for a while yet.
Is climbing a mountain with an average of 400w that remarkable? One expert says it is, another says it isn't and now there's even an argument over what type of tests would give an answer.
I think it's important to remember that there are usually five or six riders at the start of the Tour that might be able to win and there are seven billion people on the planet. That makes for odds that aren't in any way ordinary so therefore none of them are normal.
I can understand why people want to see more info and real time data on their screens or in race reports just like F1 and Moto GP. It gives the average Joe or Jane an idea of what is happening when a sprint is launched, what efforts are required to get over a first category mountain in the front group, or what skill levels are involved to follow the gruppetto down a descent.
You can pretend you're a pro even if it's only for a minute. That's all very well but one of the problems with only relying on numbers is they might tell you how good you are but as Team Sky are showing so far they really won't tell you how good you need to be.