The Texas Sharpshooter in the Three Grand Tours (1933-2013): No Evidence for Superior Time Trial Performances in de "Epo Era"

Hein F.M. Lodewijkx, P. Verboon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


Studies examining effects of doping in professional road racing building on archival records of the three major European stage races—the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España—concluded that riders’ final performances in the “epo era” (>1990) strongly improved, yet declined since 2004. These observations can be criticized. First, we argue that time trial performances are more valid than final performances to indirectly evaluate doping effects. Second, we will pay attention to an informal logical flaw—the Texas sharpshooter fallacy—which may have biased findings and conclusions presented in the studies. To empirically substantiate our critique, we analyzed mean kilometers per hour (km/h) performances realized by winning riders in all time trials on flat and rolling terrain in the three tours (1933-2013, N = 325). Regression analyses revealed no evidence for nonlinear in- or decreases in riders’ speed beyond the 1990s, but a straightforward linear progress over time of b = 0.16 km/h per year (R2 = 0.50, p ≤ 0.001). Findings corroborate our comments on previous archival studies and qualify opinions about effects of the “epo epidemic” on cyclists’ achievements, since the time trial performances delivered in these years are no exemption to the observed linear progress in speed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1045
Number of pages12
JournalOpen Access Library Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014



  • Epo doping
  • Multi-Stage Cycling Races
  • Professional Road Racing
  • Time Trials

Cite this