LEADING MEN

Can an American team that aims to compete clean help put cycling on the right road?

BOULDER, Colo. — Conditions are cramped in the modest bedroom with burgundy carpeting and busy floral wallpaper at the Boulderado Hotel.

A small antique-style desk has been cleared off and covered with a clean towel, syringes, vials, latex gloves, a tourniquet and a waste disposal box. A second station is set up on a small round table. Coolers and carrying cases are stacked against the walls.

Blood and urine roll call starts at 6:30 a.m. sharp. The riders report a few at a time, with sleepy eyes and hair rumpled from pulling T-shirts over their heads in a hurry. It’s been a scant few hours since the same group gathered at a bar a few blocks away, where everyone had a few drinks and a lot of laughs.

They sit down, verify their paperwork and quietly proffer their left arms to have blood drawn. On the floor next to the bed, a centrifuge machine hums steadily, spinning red blood cells away from serum for analysis.

Cycling’s most secretive business has taken place for years in rooms not unlike the one in the Boulderado. Riders, with or without the help of team doctors and all-purpose staff members called soigneurs, have long used the privacy of a hotel room to undergo transfusions or take EPO, steroids, stimulants and other performance enhancers during races and training camps .

But this team does everything differently. This team has pledged to be open about its operations, right down to the open door of this hotel room on a mid-November morning.

This is Team Slipstream/Chipotle, a team with the uncommon vision of restoring faith in a sport savaged by scandal and disillusionment. Its collective commitment to riding clean is a mantra and a business plan rolled into one — an attempt to persuade fans and corporate sponsors that the team practices what it preaches.

Read the rest of the article at ESPN.com