By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Cyclingnews has obtained a document sent by Discovery Channel Sports Manager Johan Bruyneel to members of the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) organization where he defends Discovery Channel rider Alberto Contador's recent Tour de France win from criticism from two French team directors, Vincent Lavenu (Ag2r Prévoyance) and Marc Madiot (Française de Jeux).
Bruyneel opened his communiqué by saying "it's a good time to get together, to reflect and discuss the current situation and future of our sport. We should stop bickering about things as this isn't a solution to anything. As long as we continue to throw accusations around in our own sport, we're not going to solve anything."
Bruyneel referred to two L'Equipe TV video clips from the Tour de France (Video 1 and Video 2) where Lavenu and Madiot criticize Contador's Tour de France win. While Lavenu called Contador's victory "suspicious," Bruyneel replies to the IPCT members by saying "if we're going to make a 'scientific' analysis, where we can calculate the supposed wattage output (without knowing the weight of the athlete or his material), and so I made my own calculation to look at the differences in climbing speed [VAM, Velocity Ascended, Metres per hour Vm/h - ed.]. It's an easy calculation to make to compare various riders' performances."
Bruyneel continued by saying "Mr. Lavenu allows himself to be judge and jury when he says the performances of Contador suspicious, and all but accuses him of doping. I compared the performances of one of his riders at Ag2r, Christophe Moreau in the Dauphiné Libéré, and then compared this to Contador on the Col de Peyresourde in the 2007 Tour de France with Moreau on the Col du Télégraphe in the Dauphiné, the stage where he took the maillot jaune. For an example, a VAM of 1750 metres per hour is very fast, while 1500 metres per hour is a strong rhythm but not that fast."
Bruyneel continued his discourse with the IPCT with two key points:
1. Contador's average speed climbing the Col de Peyresourde was 1642 metres per hour, a really good performance but nothing extraordinary, since we've seen people climb at a VAM of 1750 in the past.
2. Moreau average speed climbing the Col de Télégraphe was 1647 metres per hour, faster than Contador...
Bruyneel then poses two rhetorical questions in defence of Contador:
1. Was the performance of Contador (on the Col de Peyresourde) suspicious? Or normal, given that he is one of the best climbers in the peloton?
2. How should we interpret the performance of Moreau, leader of Mr. Lavenu's team, knowing he is not a climbing specialist and is 36 years old?
Bruyneel concluded his defence of Contador by explaining "I didn't criticize or question [Moreau] and I won't do so. On the other hand, I analysed this and accept the facts. If we [IPCT] can all take this approach, we'll be halfway along the right road".
When Cyclingnews reached Johan Bruyneel by telephone in Kansas City, Missouri, where he and Tour de France winner Contador were at the Tour of Missouri, Bruyneel confirmed he had sent the e-mail to the IPCT, and explained "the criticism in the two video clips, and in general from the French teams of Contador's Tour win has been unwarranted and inappropriate.
"I had to set the record straight. It is frustrating to see the infighting and bickering among the IPCT teams, and I don't think this is good for the sport of cycling." Bruyneel did not confirm whether he had made a further decision on taking over the Astana team. "We're just here to focus on the Tour of Missouri and hope to win the race," concluded Bruyneel.