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Letters to Cyclingnews - June 15, 2007

Here's your chance to get more involved with Cyclingnews. Comments and criticism on current stories, races, coverage and anything cycling related are welcomed, even pictures if you wish. Letters should be brief (less than 300 words), with the sender clearly identified. They may be edited for space and clarity; please stick to one topic per letter. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.

Please email your correspondence to letters@cyclingnews.com.

Bicycle options
New Trek Madone
A week of confessions
Cycling - not yet a real professional sport
Di Luca's finest win...
Three Tour wins for Ullrich?
Ullrich getting screwed
Giro fever
Amnesty for doping offenses
Greg LeMond and record ITTs
Is drafting a known doper cheating?
Let's sort this mess out
Doping hypocrisy
Cycling, doping....?
Prudhomme and the1996 Tour farce
Simoni goes 1850 meters / hour

Bicycle options

Okay okay... with all the talk of doping there are some things that are getting overlooked in cycling. Doping in the sport of cycling doesn't concern me so much because it's all entertainment. What DOES affect me is the production of bicycles and the options I have when buying and I have to say, I'm getting a little annoyed.

It seems the lighter bikes get, the less options will be offered. First off, let me say that I am 6 feet 4 inches tall (1.9 meters) tall and I've been riding since 1989. I didn't complain when all these bike makers started switching over to compact geometry because I still had some of the larger companies producing frames I could comfortably ride.

I had choices from Trek and Bianchi and Merckx. One by one however, with the advent of carbon fiber frames, more and more high end bikes no longer come in standard geometry.

I just bought a Cannondale System Six and I thank god for Cannondale for not making the switch. I love it. I was an avid Trek rider for years but now you're telling me with the "New Madone" article that I've lost them too. They went a step further and now I won't have the options of choosing a bottom bracket or seat post either. What is going on here people?!

Not only do I Hate the look of compact frames, they just don't work for taller riders and they suck for high power riders. When will this madness end? The world is not filled with feather weight climber's people, some of us are big power pushing crankers too.

Try making some cool new production bikes for us. The compact frames just ain't cutting it guys, sorry.

Thanks to Cannondale for thinking about us with the System Six in a regular geometry, I love it. I can't wait for this light weight crappy frame fad to be done with.

I guess it'll take another Miguel Indurain winning the Tour to bring back bikes for big power riders.

Warren Beckford
Bloomfield, CT-USA
Tuesday, June 12, 2007

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New Trek Madone

I am glad to see that Trek has taken on the challenge to move to the next phase post-Lance. But what I see from the new bike is a lack of core ingredients in their bike which lead them to take a little bit of what every other bike manufacturer had in mind.

The first being Specialized, with the compact geometry and sloping top tube. The second coming from the Scott Addicts pressed fit bottom bracket, and by the way, the paint scheme of the red model of the Madone is identical to that of the Addict.

Last but most important is the headset. I personally ride the Scott Addict and wish I could get the external headset. I think that is what really has set a Trek apart from any other competitor. Now the new fork may make up for this matter but now Trek riders can no longer have the envy of their fellow riders with their Chris King flare.

I do however wish them the best with their new model and hope that their decisions pay off.

Jeff Annillo
Durango, USA
Friday, June 08, 2007

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A week of confessions

What a bunch of hypocrites the ASO are. Let's take Riis' yellow jersey because he admitted to doping. What about Delgado? He was actually caught, or Pantani? There were a number of polka dot jersey's given to a certain Frenchman that was implicated in the Festina affair, but of course that's different.

I would be fairly confident that every winner and place getter for the last 50 years has been taking something that is illegal or should be.

I'm under no illusions about how widespread the practice is in the pro ranks especially, but these guys are delusional if they think they will have a record book left were they to exclude all of the miscreants, and that is if they could catch them.

The past history is that most offenders have avoided detection and continue to do so. The ASO has a lot of work to do to get their own house in order and they are not enhancing their reputation with their treatment of Unibet. We all want to see a clean peloton, but let's not crucify one person when there is evidence to take action against many more.

I wait with anticipation for them to take Eric Zabel's green jerseys back. What is the difference between him and Bjarne Riis? Same team, same time frame.

Oh, but I forgot Eric didn't inhale....

John Giles
Adelaide, South Australia
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Cycling - not yet a real professional sport

Well said that man! It surely can't be that long before other sports experience their worlds implode, like cycling is doing at the moment.

If you don't test then you won't find, but worse than that if you don't accept then surely it will eventually come back and bite you.

In July my wife and I will be taking in three sporting events, 1.Henley (rowing), 2.Wimbledon (tennis), and 3.Le Tour (cycling).This will take place over the Thursday, Friday and the Saturday and should give us a good chance to observe the 'Athletes' of these three spectacles.

The question that I have for you all out there is will we see a doping scandal in any of them, all them all, or just cycling. And why will that be?

Let the other sports oust their athletes, before the remaining 145 names on the Puerto list are released and cycling's sponsors leave and go to other sports. I for one love the sport, no it's not perfect but then neither is the rest of my world....

Neil,
Perth, Scotland.
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Di Luca's finest win...

Hey Mark...I totally agree with you, but we all said the same things when Basso and Landis took their wins. We can only hope now that in the next months (or years) we hear nothing of Di Luca's tainted blood.

Simone Kannenwischer
Germany
Saturday, June 09, 2007

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Di Luca's finest win...

The other point of note about Di Luca that I like is that he chooses not to "plug in" when he rides like all of the rest of the peloton do to get an edge on how the race is going. Instead he relies on his internal skills to read the race and his opponents. All he needs to do is put on some clips and straps and transport us back in time a bit.

Mr. G
Austin, USA
Saturday, June 9, 2007

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Three Tour wins for Ullrich?

The problem with picking apart the tapestry of the past is that it will completely unravel. One can erase Riis' victory, but many TDF riders that year had hemocratic readings above 50, a statistical anomaly beyond anything seen in nature. Doping in cycling is certainly not new; its history of known violators, plus those tacitly suspected of doping, goes back decades.

In all likelihood, pro riders are convinced that their fellow pros are doping, which only feeds the competitive banned substances ‘arms race'. There is a dynamic tension between sponsors who want involvement in a sport free of scandal at the same time want big results from their stars, in a sport that, by virtue of its demands on training and conditioning calls for aggressive ‘scientific nutrition', populated with riders whose 2 yr. contracts, largely based on UCI points, force them to take risks (drugs/crashes).

Ultimately, forcing the teams to police their riders, and making them financially liable for cheaters, will be the most effective.

Rob Gray
New York, USA
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Julich not Ullrich?

What about Julich, not Ullrich?

With a former Telekom doctor stating that he "injected Ulrich with EPO" during his 1997 TDF win, you might also suspect that Jan was doping. Furthermore, I don't believe that Jan's claims of innocence carry much weight anymore after his DNA was linked to blood stored in the Fuentes clinic.

Here's what I really don't get: In the 1998 TDF Pantani was first, Ulrich was second and Bobby Julich was third. Pantani had his career tainted with doping allegations and inexplicable hemocratic levels that lead to convictions. Jan's career also seems to be in doubt for many reasons, but Bobby Julich has never (to my knowledge) ever been accused or suspected of anything. If anyone is getting the short end of the stick here, I'd say its Julich not Ulrich, if better doping controls were in effect in 1998 maybe Julich would have been the second American to win the TDF?

That seems like a real injustice.

Graham Garber
Providence, USA
Monday, June 11, 2007

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Ullrich getting screwed

I'm glad someone out there sees the incredible hypocrisy in the prosecution of doping in pro cycling....It seems quite obvious at this point that most winners, if not most competitors in pro cycling in the recent past have been dopers....apologies to those who have not (I really can't tell who they might be)

The one thing that is for sure is that the German officials have been very efficient and thorough in trying to route out this problem and other countries less so. The result is the whole Telekom scandal and the dogged pursuit of Ullrich. I wonder what might be turned up if the Americans took this as seriously?

Peter Roddy
Friday, June 08, 2007

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Giro fever

It's been reported lately that the Giro had great attendance records. Is that because the Tour has been pretty lackluster lately. There seems to be less dramatic climbing stages these past few years. The Giro seems to be a perennial second fiddle to an overly hyped Tour de France. Even the TV coverage is better with more Dramatic helicopter stage finishes and motorcycle close-ups of riders "on the rivet'. I think the Tour organization and media can learn a few lessons from a superior race that deserves more credit and hype.

Stephen O'Sullivan
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Amnesty for doping offenses

I agree that with so much on the line...from a two year ban from riding, loss of income, loss of name, to possible loss of former winnings, home, family, etc etc... the list goes on I am sure.

Total amnesty would be the way to really get to the bottom of the issue of doping in cycling. But to play devil's advocate. Do we as a culture have the right to expect a "clean" sport?
We are a culture of drug addicts. When was the last time you had aches and pains, wanted to ride, so popped a few Advil and hit the trails? Can't get it up? We've got the pill for you. Girls - you don't want a full three or four days of feminine discomfort, take this pill and it'll be over in two days tops.

The average American over fifty is already beholden to the pharmacy for their very existence. Why change my diet, when I can take a pill that lowers my cholesterol and keeps me ticking? No sir...

C'mon, we're a culture of cheaters and most people are looking for an edge. I've heard so many people talk like these riders are the blight of the earth. They are in a system. Clean up the system. From what I understand, "knock your socks off cycling cocktails" have been around from the beginning.

Karen Peterson
NY, USA
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Amnesty for doping offenses

Personally I don't agree with a doping amnesty. Ok so you may get a few riders who think to themselves it would be worth coming out to the media. However the price they are paying with their reputations would well and truly be enough to deter many athletes from confessing. I would also expect to see many cyclists come out and say they had doped, but they didn't do it during this time period (coincidentally when they won races) and that time period, and so suspicion would rein.

However, your points on suspending riders for life, and suspending teams from races are good ones. The onus is on the UCI to introduce these types of rules. Suspending riders for life would deter a few riders from doping, and to be honest I don't want to see riders convicted of doping racing again.

Suspending a team for a riders doping offence, may seem harsh on riders who haven't been convicted of any wrong doing, but it would put some serious pressure on team management to ensure their riders are clean like CSC, T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner have done. Also the pressure from sponsors would turn the approach from win at all costs, to win if you can, but don't dope at all costs.

My biggest problem with the whole doping fiasco is the timing of the release of information. No doubt in the days leading up to the Tour de France, there will be a scandal, which is a sad state of affairs and smacks of people involved in cycling not wanting the best for cycling.

Cameron Christiansen
Melbourne, Australia
Saturday, June 09, 2007

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Amnesty for doping offenses

Naive cycling fans!

I don't get it - there are still so many cycling fans out there who believe professional cycling can be free of doping despite many statements, reports, positive tests and confessions over the last decades.

It's a fact, that doping is part of professional cycling for most riders. And can you blame them? Amateur riders and cycling fans have that romantic idea that these professional riders love their sport as much as they do. Sure, some riders do, but for many it is a job, after all.

My guess is that a minority of all carpenters, doctors, bank mangers or journalist, just to pick a few professions, really love their job. Many are ok with it and a few hate it but they still do it. Why would it be any different for a professional cyclist?

If you agree with me so far than it is easy to see why most professional riders use doping when needed:

They risk their health and live in every race anyway - a bit of doping is not such a big deal for them

for 95% (average riders): If they are out of form they will get fired and loose their income - if doping helps to secure their income and existence it is understandable

for 5% (top riders): The risk of being caught and the punishment is not that big because the rewards are great. If a rider wins the Giro or the Tour he will be a multi-millionaire. Even if he gets caught a while later (like Basso) and banned for two years he still made a million or two for each year he is not riding - that's not too bad, isn't it. Basso could die or get seriously injured in any race - you don't want to wait too long before you make your fortune if you are talented. And if doping helps - go for it. Their children will be grateful one day. Many cyclists don't have a good education to fall back to for income after cycling.

Of course, if would be great if all of them stop and have a clean start. Stripping Riis of his jersey doesn't achieve that. I agree with many other writers that what is needed is:

A total amnesty for all riders and other professionals in cycling (e.g. doctors, directors) if they confess within a certain time frame (e.g. 3 months). This includes pending cases like Ullrich, Basso and so on.

After that period - a life ban for all people that ever did dope or will again dope.

But that is not enough. It will start again as long rider's financial existence and fortunes depend on it. I suggest that:

60% of all money a rider earn goes on an individual trust account and gets paid out over the next 30 years. If the riders gets caught doping later or after his career - all this money goes to the anti-doping-agency for funding better test and controls. That will keep them clean.

Better funding for anti-doping tests to create better test. Riis fell through the control system. We have to assume the others like Ullrich and Armstrong did as well. (Yes, I know, there are still some die hard Armstrong fans out there who think he is a saint.)

Get better leaders and decision makers in cycling. Most of them were involved in cycling all of their lives and therefore are involved or familiar with the doping culture. Cycling needs intelligent, independent, new leaders who are realistic and don't make compromises if doping has to be erased. (I am available if anyone wants to put my name forward - lol)

But until then, please enjoy professional cycling. I do very much because I simply assume that everyone is doped so the races are fair, after all.

Markus Mutscheller
Napier, New Zealand
Sunday, June 10, 2007

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Greg LeMond and record ITTs

I wholeheartedly echo Sean's letter regarding Greg LeMond's motivation towards current American cyclists.

After years of silence towards pro cycling, Greg started coming out as his records in the TdF were being eclipsed by Lance. Curiously he would wait until a day or so before the end of a TdF and public ally for Lance to ‘come clean about his doping' as if Greg were in on a secret that was fact. Now he is doing it to Floyd.

The one question I would have loved someone to ask him is, "why are you involved?" If he wants to fight doping, do it at an institutional level. He has admitted that he doesn't know Lance, he doesn't know Floyd, yet he continues to make these allegations. His credibility is reduced by seemingly pointing to successful Americans, rather than talk about what he knows: folks in his own era, or generalize for the state of pro cycling today, or even a call-out to all current American cyclists.

As Mr. Gillette points out, Greg has had some "incredible" wins in his career, and that fastest-ever ITT was won after a near fatal shotgun injury, with pellets still in his body. How does he explain that? The truth is that Greg (or virtually anyone from that era) has not had to prove their innocence – and these current guys are guilty till proven innocent – or stand to account for unusual results.

So to Mr. Gillette's letter, I would like Greg to come out and explain:

a. Why he only singles out successful American cyclists, and

b. Submit proof of his own "cleanliness" during his pro career.

If he cannot do that, and has not himself witnessed any wrongdoing by any current or past athlete, he should remain quiet, and give them the same respect the world gave him during his "incredible" career

Bill Adkins
Boulder, CO, USA
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Greg LeMond and record ITTs

I read the above letter with a bit of dismay. Not because of the various accusations (what else is new) but because the writer didn't seem to do much research into his suggestive letter. It is true that LeMond has had the fastest non-prologue TT in the Tour. It is true that this record is coming up on 20 years old. And it is true that There have been some spectacular advances in time trial technology.

So why is Lemond's TT record still around?

Here are some interesting statistics. To summarize - it was a short TT, almost the shortest flat TT since then. It was a tailwind, downhill TT. It was a slower Tour - by 4 or 5kph compared to the Tour Where his TT record was broken. When comparable distances are raced by current racers, they go faster. Also circumstances put his particular TT in the spotlight (as opposed to something like Boardman's prologues or Zabrinske's record holding TT).

There have been no TT's that short in a long time - 25km. I believe it was meant to be a parade TT for the Yellow Jersey - hence its short length. Normally it would be simply too short to do any major damage to GC.

Back in the 1980's most TTs were a spectacular 1.5 hour affairs - like the 73km TT earlier in that 1989 Tour and the monster 87+ km TT in 1987. It was also the third ITT for the 1989 Tour (and there was a TTT that year). I don't see any other Tours since then where there is a third ITT.

Note that almost all the TT's I could find are virtually twice as long or longer as that famous 1989 TT. Sustaining that record ITT speed for 50km is out of reach of even the best vintage Lemond.

Here is a list (I couldn't readily find 1988, 1992) of the ITTs and their distances in past Tours. I don't include TTT's. Note any TT around 30km is an uphill one (distances in km).

1987 87.5km, 36.5km (uphill)
1989 73 km, 39km (uphill), 25km (3 ITT's plus TTT that year)
1990 33.5km (uphill), 45km
1991 32km (uphill), 61km
1992 ?
1993 65km, 55km
1994 64km, 46km
1995 64km, 54km
1996 30 km (uphill), 60 km
1997 55 km, 62 km
1998 58 km, 53 km
1999 56 km, 54 km
2000 58 km (prologue was 16.5 km)
2001 32 km (uphill), 61 km
2002 52 km, 50 km
2003 47 km, 49 km
2004 15 km (uphill), 55 km
2005 19 km (prologue - the first sub 25 km TT since 1989 - a few beat Lemond's speed), 55 km
2006 52 km, 56 km

2. When else do you get a downhill, tailwind TT? Sean Yates was blessed with some kind wind in one Tour TT and ended up climbing on the podium that day. He modestly attributed it to luck (i.e. weather which changed unfavorably for the later starters). The 1989 TT enjoyed a tailwind with a somewhat substantial drop in altitude at the start of the TT. This is a big advantage when making an intense effort over a short distance.

3. Keep in mind that the 1989 Tour was a pretty negatively raced one - it averaged about 37.5 kph. Compare this to the blazing 41.6 kph for 2005 and 40.8 kph for 2006. Tours back then were ridden differently. The peloton seemed to take it easier on the "easy" days (although I'm sure any racer in that Tour would protest). The easier pace on the flats meant that the favorites could hoard their energy for the crunch moments like time trials and climbs.

4. Delgado lost 2:40 because of a late start and then another 5 minutes in the TTT (not sure why he got dropped but he did). He finished the Tour 3:34 down. If Delgado had been more organized, he could have won the Tour by many minutes and Lemond's spectacular time trial would have been just a great TT win to earn, say, second place.

Lemond showed promise early on - as young as 16. Lemond won three medals at the Junior Worlds - RR gold (broke away on a flat course, got knocked off the course twice in the sprint by his break companion who was promptly disqualified), TTT silver (one US rider crashed and another didn't pull - apparently Lemond was doing 2+ minute pulls, and they lost to a specialist Russian TTT team), Pursuit bronze (basically his first time on the track, lost to specialists). When he turned pro, his coach/director Guimard promptly raise his saddle about 5 cm and told him that if he'd had the proper position, he'd have done better at the Jr Worlds, especially in the pursuit. In other words, Lemond was a special rider. His 1989 TT demonstrated that.

As far as why he comments on American riders? I can't answer for him as I don't know him at all. I do know that there are guys around here who say similar things as Lemond - but they're not public figures. Their emails or conversations don't get aired by Reuters. Lemond's do get aired. To me it seems that Lemond is simply a normal guy who acts normally. That includes saying things that probably shouldn't be said on record. The problem is that he isn't a normal guy - he's a retired cycling superstar who is quoted as soon as something interesting happens. So when he says something unusual, it ends up in print.

Aki Sato
Norwalk, USA
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Greg LeMond and record ITTs

You wrote in your letter that you find it suspicious that he still has the fastest ITT with 54.545 km/h. Everybody who has been cycling know that's pretty fast. I normally do 44-46 km/h on a 50 km TT. But that's when I start and finish at the same place.

If you don't have to turn around, and the finish it at a lower altitude than where you started, the speed would be significant higher. The big difference comes when you are lucky with the wind. Headwind vs. tailwind changes the speed with 5 - 15 km/t. I would easily hold 50 - 55 km/h with a tailwind, so I find nothing strange with LeMond's time. And more importantly it's impossible to say which ITT is the fastest in the history of the Tour.

Joakim Prestmo
Norway
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Is drafting a known doper cheating?

Drafting saves energy. Doping is cheating. If a clean racer drafted a rider he knew was doping, is he guilty of cheating? Drafting a motorcycle is cheating. If we are going to review all past races and adjust the record books to eliminate dopers, we best look at who else may have benefited. Follow this line of logic long enough and we might as well propel the Red Lantern to the yellow jersey and be done with it for good.

So there were two farmers who had lived next to each other for years and they let there fences go into poor repair. A dispute arose about who's cow was who's, so they decided to call a lawyer. Week's later one farmer was tugging on the head of the cow and the other was tugging on the tail of the cow, while the lawyer sat in the middle milking the cow.

How do we move past spending all of these funds arguing the past when we desperately need expensive research into better testing methods? The more we fight the past, the more we expend funds on not developing new tests to aid the future.

Paul Ely
Eggleston, USA
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Let's sort this mess out

I have read some very interesting letters recently and have been keeping up with the latest news in world cycling, mainly who's clean and who isn't. Firstly, I have only been riding bikes for a few years now and thoroughly enjoy it. From extending my kilometers each week and each year, I have truly come to admire the ability, strength and durability of the elite riders. However, I also know how 'banged up' and sore you can become from a decent hit out.

This leads me to some of the recent topics in cycling. I have a copy of Stage 17 of the TdF last year and the pain and suffering of Landis is very clear - nothing wrong with that, hills hurt. What makes the mind wonder is that within 24 hours, he is riding the bike as if he stole it. Now, the legality of what occurred last year is going through the court process, as most hings do these days, however whatever the outcome, the 2006 TdF is tainted and will always be. There will be no winner for the 2006 edition of the great race.

Now, I see half of the past T-Mobile team admit to doping, and I truly admire their courage for doing so. Eric Zabel was home free. He was at the end of his career and had the opportunity to retire as true hero of the sport for his amazing record. Now his past victories come under suspicion, however I think he may become a hero for other reasons.

Now is the time to clean up the sport. Doping is obviously entrenched with the ranks of pro cycling and let's face it, if there is one sport in the world for which such drugs can be of benefit, a grand tour of cycling is it. But now is the time, I agree with an amnesty for confessed users of performance enhancing drugs. How this is dealt with retrospectively is ultimately up to the organizers of each competition, but it is the only way. What would make the amnesty effective is that, following the amnesty any confirmed positive test is met with a 5 year ban. This would effectively end the career of the cyclist. Being a democratic world in which we live, the cyclist would be entitled to challenge the result, however the rider suffers a greater penalty (for example an increase to 7 years) should the challenge fail.

I have read some mention of beyond reasonable doubt, but that only relates in the criminal system. The civil standard is the balance of probabilities, i.e. more likely than not.

So let's hope the UCI allows for a 12 month amnesty of riders to come forward. Those riders may need to be subject to increased targeted testing, but it will allow those behind the scenes who are corrupting the sport to be identified and removed.

Come on everyone, this isn't about individuals or nationalities. It's about cycling. Let's sort this mess out once and for all.

A. Woods
Australia
Thursday, June 7, 2007

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Doping hypocrisy

Since they are striking Riis' name as the 1996 tour winner, are we to assume they will also be striking Virenque's name as winner of at least 3 KOM jersey winners? Eddy Merckx? Jacques Anquetil? Pedro Delgado? Marc Pantani? Zabel's green jerseys? Museeuw as winner for all those one day races? Even Fausto Coppi's TdF wins he fully admitted he won using drugs? Where does it end?

Rob Found
Canada
Saturday, June 9, 2007

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Cycling, doping....?

I've always enjoy reading the letters from all of you guys here and this is the first time I post something here. It might sound hardcore and alternative, but that's my view.

I'm a hardcore cycling fans but the hottest topic in professional cycling today doesn't seem to interest or excite me at all but makes me sad and disappointed with the authorities involved, particularly the UCI and WADA. Doping is not a new subject, it has been a long history in cycling, but wannabe politicians in the authorities are trying to make a big issue out of it by putting our heroes/athletes who worked hard as scapegoats.

So, there were banned substances used like EPO which couldn't be traced until the year 2000. If it cannot be traced, even if an athlete used it in the past, I don't see anything wrong with it. Come on; let's be fair to the cyclists who worked 6-8 hours daily on their saddles. Imagine you were speeding on the freeway over the speed limit, and you were not caught, and years later, someone takes you to the court because they suspected you were speeding, you admitted even though there was no proof, so the court issue you a ticket and even suspend your license for that?? And blacklist you?? Doesn't this sound ridiculous and stupid? But sadly, it is happening in professional cycling and our cycling authorities are trying to make a soap opera out of it.

This whole doping drama is just the authorities trying to create a scene for whatever political reasons and interests for their own benefit and to show their power/authority by using the hardworking cyclists as the scapegoat. For me, I love the cycling sport because the athletes have to really work hard to be able to give the fans an interesting race, and doping is just trivial part of it.

In fact, I have more respects for the doping cyclists, why?? You trained hard, you reach the limit, and to push beyond the limit, you have to do something extra, as simple as that. The majority of the top names are either directly linked or suspected of doping, so they are not really cheating against one another, they are only cheating those at the back of the peloton, teammates who were signed by the team to assist these people to win in the first place anyway.

Just like in 96 & 97 did Riis cheat on Ullrich or Ullrich cheated on Riis?? Or maybe even Pantani? Virenque?? Who are they cheating? They only cheated those who finish the tour hours behind them, people who were signed by the team to assist them in winning. And heck, some who doped are nowhere near the top 10 or even complete the tour.

Doping doesn't make you the superhuman. It just helps the elites to take it to the next level. So Ullrich was assumed by many to have been doped for many years, but why can't he beat Armstrong?? Probably Armstrong took more EPO than Ullrich did huh? But, he has a clean sheet from millions of blood tests. What can you say about that?

Why do these cyclists risk their health? To win, to gain fans, to make the sport interesting!! It could be illegal, but I will support them no matter what because I see their motive was of good intention. I am not encouraging doping, but I hope you guys understand what I mean. Open your eyes and see the bigger picture, those big names won not because they doped, they would have won even if they ALL didn't they doped. But because they want to take the sports to the next level to satisfy the fans, something extra needs to be done.

Because the next cyclist who didn't dope, probably finished the tour outside the top 10. Don't misunderstand me for painting a picture that all elite cyclists were doping. Because there is no way to prove it, they are all innocent until the day the authorities decide to make them the next scapegoat in the drama. Some got lucky but most are not so lucky.

People in the authorities who only sit in their office and talk rubbish are trying to reveal this known secret in cycling to make the hardworking athletes look ugly to the media and the world for whatever reason it could be. People who were elected to govern a sport that they probably don't even love, they only treat it as a political battleground for their own interests, people who get no respect from me.

Doping is not the cyclists' fault, don't treat them like criminal. We should actually question the motive behind the people who sit in comfortable office chair (while cyclists are training hard on their saddles) for manipulating this whole drama.

Jonathan Chiam
Los Angeles, USA
Saturday, June 9, 2007

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Prudhomme and the 1996 Tour farce

So Riis is no longer on the list as winner of the1996 Tour and Christian Prudhomme has acted as expected and Riis's yellow jersey is to be confiscated. 1996 was pre Festina affair so where are all the French riders of 96 I don't see any of them coming forward and confessing. Perhaps they were all riding clean?

Richard Virenque who finished third in 96 and won the best climber jersey is very conspicuous by his silence. In 98 he was caught and suspended, is Prudhomme going to do the job properly or will French riders on the 96 Tour not be asked to make any statement. Doping in our sport has been going on well before Fausto Coppi cocked his leg over a cross bar and when all the facts are heard Prudhomme may need to buy a new wardrobe for all of the jerseys of the late 1990's Tours.

The riders of yesteryear were my heroes and still are including the great Tom Simpson who paid the ultimate price. It's a bloody hard sport and the time has come to lay the ghosts of the past to rest and look to a brighter cleaner sport, where if you're caught with something inside you, you shouldn't have you are banned for life. Raking the past up is driving new sponsors away and the sport could implode, so Mr. Prudhomme doesn't dig yourself into a hole you won't get out of.

Roy Guttridge
South Wales
Thursday, June 7, 2007

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Riis, the '96 Tour and Prudhomme

If Christian Prudhomme is going to erase the name of not just Bjarne Riis, but of all the Tour Winners who used artificial stimulants, then the Tour Record Book is going to become a pretty slim volume.

The act of rubbing out Riis' achievement, and even asking for the Yellow Jersey back is the act of a petty official pathetically trying for publicity. Why not instead detail the world the steps that will be taken this year to ensure a truly "clean" Tour and worthy Winner?

John McMillan
London England
Thursday, June 7, 2007

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Simoni goes 1850 meters / hour

From a pure physics standpoint, as long as you can maintain the cadence and bike position necessary to generate the same power, you will have a greater VAM the steeper the climb. Simply put, the slower you are going, the less power 'wasted' on aerodynamic losses and the more converted directly to altitude.

Nick Martinez
Friday, June 08, 2007

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Simoni goes 1850 meters / hour

Mr. Rutten,

I commend you for bringing up this point which may baffle some readers; nevertheless, perhaps a simple correction factor is in order, as you point out. First, wattage output doesn't translate into uphill performance unless you factor in rider and machine combined weight. Wattage is a big factor in a flat TT but not on the steeps. Second, the big difference amongst the climbs you mention is the speed and wind resistance factor. Going 20kph up a 4% is a lot less efficient vertical use of energy than going 10K up an 8% because the former will encounter eight times as much wind resistance despite the vertical achievement being equal.

Granted that while, as a percentage of total output, the amount of energy used on wind resistance isn't large, it is a few percent - which is the margin we are considering here. If we took the overall time over distance and calculated speed and wind resistance into a corrective cubic formula I suppose we could even the playing field, but who cares. Besides, then you'd have to factor in whether the rider was drafting and so on.

What matters is that Simoni got his win against an impressive field, yet still had legs to do rather well in the last TT. To climb that well and still finish in the top ten in a flat TT is enough for me, regardless of the numbers.

John Park
Summerland, Canada
Friday, June 08, 2007

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Simoni goes 1850 meters / hour

What the heck was that all about? What a load of rubbish!

I have never heard so much drivel over some guy climbing a hill! Was he first to the top or not? Case closed.

Douglas Mitchell
Friday, June 8, 2007

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2007

  • June 8: Di Luca's finest win, Simoni goes 1850 metres / hour, What ever happened to Iban Mayo?, Andy the Dandy, Three Tour wins for Ullrich?, Ullrich getting screwed, Percentage of pros with asthma, Amnesty for doping offenses, ling - not yet a real professional sport, Doping and cycling, Greg LeMond and record ITTs, Meaningless defense, We are out of denial - Let's look forward
  • June 1, part 1: A thought for cycling's true heroes..., A cunning plan, A great opportunity for the UCI, Admissions of guilt, Let's have some real confessions, Amnesty is the way forward, Suggestions for an amnesty, Amnesty, Amnesty or punishment?, ASO's double standard, Tour Clowns, Bjarne Riis, Bjarne Riis confession, Riis must go, Riis, Basso, Zabel, et al..., Repairing the Magenta Express, Tip of the iceberg, Riis and winning the tour on EPO
  • June 1, part 2: Confessions?, Honour - Seemingly rare in cycling, How deep do you go?, Who do we give it to?, A week of confessions, Peer pressure, Mind boggling hypocrisy, Pro cycling - Sometimes you make it hard to love you, Meaningless defence, Riding with Lance, Lucky Lance, Cheating by proxy, LeMond trying to tear down US riders , So, if Floyd is right..., Thank you Floyd, Floyd Landis hearing, Mr. Young's closing arguments, Something more important..., What ever happened to Iban Mayo?, Percentage of pros with asthma:
  • May 23: Landis case live coverage, LeMond a true champion, Questioning LeMond's motives, LeMond trying to tear down US riders, Saint LeMond, Landis and his character, Landis has made cycling a joke, Landis had his drink spiked?, Landis in a corner, Landis polygraph?, Landis' disclosure of information, The quality of Landis' character, Landis' behaviour, Joe Papp
  • May 18: Armstrong can defend himself, Di Brat, Chris Hoy's world kilo record attempt , Hoy in sixty seconds, What ever happened to Iban Mayo?, Hypocrisy of the cycling world, Italian Reactions to Basso, Who's telling the truth?, Basso + Ullrich = Armstrong?, Basso still a legend, Simoni vs Basso, Basso, Landis etc The new mafia?, Landis to ask UCI to boot Pound, Vinokourov to claim second in '05 TdF?, Percentage of pros with asthma, Unibet at Dunkerque
  • May 11: An attempt at doping?, Almost as bad as Ullrich, Basso admission, Hats off Basso, Basso still a legend, Basso's attempted plea bargain, Basso and Discovery, Discovery's PR, Basso vs Simoni , Truth and Reconciliation Commission, A means to an end, Hypocrisy of the cycling world, Vinokourov to claim second in '05 TdF? , New Puerto plan, Where is the Puerto money?, Time to start re-stating race results, The morals and math of cycling, Chris Hoy's world kilo record attempt , Unibet at Dunkerque, Davide Rebellin
  • May 4: Call that a race?, Reflecting on Schumacher's win, Pose with Landis, at a price, Danielson should leave Discovery, Davide Rebellin, The year of the clean Classics?, Basso and Discovery, Basso this, Landis that, Ullrich the other..., Basso, DNA and whatever else, Basso's DNA, Say it ain't so, Johan, Let's cut them some slack!, Armstrong, head and shoulders above?, Landis, Armstrong vs the Lab, It's not all about the Tour!, Puerto Affair
  • April 27: The year of the clean Classics?, David Rebellin, Call that a race?, Reflecting on Schumacher's win, Danielson should leave Discovery, Inspirational O'Grady and those cobbles, L'Equipe does it again!, Tour de France speaks out, The morals and math of cycling, Basso and Puerto, Puerto, part deux, Gilberto, you were right!, Landis, Armstrong vs the Lab, Pose with Landis, at a price?, Taking blood, Gent-Wevelgem and the Kemmelberg, Gent-Wevelgem and water bottles
  • April 20: Stuey wins Roubaix, O'Grady Rocks!, An Aussie in Arenberg, Deep-dish carbon versus the cobbles, Gent-Wevelgem and water bottles, Unibet/FdJ/Lotto - Help!, U.S. Open Cycling Championships, Racing in America, Retesting Floyd's B-samples, Taking blood
  • April 13: Thoughts on Flanders, Crashes at Gent-Wevelgem, Gent-Wevelgem and water bottles, What about that loose water bottle?, T-Mobile one-two, Popo for the Classics, Racing in America, U.S. Open Cycling Championships, Unibet/FdJ/Lotto - Help!, French hypocrites?, Bjarne Riis, Floyd Landis 'B' sample fiasco, Taking blood, Ullrich DNA match
  • April 6: April Fools, Ullrich DNA match, Taking blood, T-Mobile and Puerto, The song remains the same, Ullrich and Hamilton, Tyler Hamilton and flu, Unibet and access into France, Bjarne Riis, Popovych, The death of irony, Armstrong boring?, Ullrich/Armstrong comparisons
  • March 30: Basso wind tunnel testing, Bjarne Riis, Riis' response, Drugs in other sports, Dominquez at Redlands, Armstrong boring?, Ullrich/Armstrong comparisons, Popovych - the new Armstrong?, ASO wildcard selections, ASO-UCI split, Boys atop the sport, Cycling at two speeds, Puerto shelved, Tyler Hamilton.
  • March 23: Popovych - the new Armstrong?, A few years ago, Tyler Hamilton, Operación Puerto not complete, Puerto shelved, ASO-UCI split, Drugs in other sports, Basso wind tunnel testing, Water bottle and cage sponsorship, Bates' article on Jan Ullrich, Ullrich's retirement, The current state of cycling
  • March 16: Don Lefévère, Lefévère tries to reinforce omerta, Spring fever, Ullrich's retirement, UCI has no power, Puerto shelved, Who's been taking what?, ProTour a flawed competition?, UCI-Grand Tour organizer dual!, ASO-UCI split, ASO needs to see benefits in ProTour, Sponsorship, drug use and dinosaurs, The current state of cycling, New Pro Cyclist Union, Congratulations to Unibet, Unibet situation, Unibet.com marketing, Tour of California mistake
  • March 9: ASO - UCI split, UCI has no power, UCI vs. ASO, UCI vs. the world, ProTour and contracts, The Unibet fiasco: is it that bad?, Unibet and French law, Unibet situation, Pete Bassinger's Iditarod Trail record ride, Bates' article on Jan Ullrich, Ullrich's retirement, Tour of California expenses, Discovery's profile in Europe, Discovery's reasons for pulling sponsorship, Floyd's big ride
  • March 2: Ullrich's retirement, Altitude tents and EPO, Home-made altitude tents, Tyler Hamilton and drug testing, The agony of Unibet?, Discovery's reasons for pulling sponsorship, Discovery's world upside down?, Upside down Disco solved, Tour of California mistake, Graeme Brown, Hats off to Dick Pound?, Grand Tours, who really cares?, ProTour and contracts, ProTour vs wildcards, RCS' decision, UCI vs. the world, Floyd's big ride, Asthma everywhere
  • February 23: Altitude tents and EPO, Tour of California mistake, Chavanel's training regime, Discovery's reasons for pulling sponsorship, Discovery's world upside down?, Tyler Hamilton and drug testing, Grand Tours, who really cares?, The Unibet fiasco: is it that bad?, A solution to the Unibet situation, UCI and the ASO, UCI vs. the world, Will the fight never end?, Paris Nice and others, Pro Tour and contracts, RCS decision, Hats off to Dick Pound, Armstrong owes Dick Pound nothing, Graeme Brown, Asthma everywhere, The sorry state of pro-cycling
  • February 16: T-Mobile, Adam Hanson and doping, Unibet's new jersey, Double standards for Unibet?, RCS decision, A letter to ASO, Hamilton and Tinkov, Discovery Channel, Asthma everywhere, Bart Wellens' comments at the cross worlds, Best moment?, Crowd control at the cross worlds, Doping reconciliation, Get into 'cross racing, Pound still wants answers from Armstrong, The sorry state of pro-cycling
  • February 9: Unibet show they won't be put down, Double standards for Unibet?, Unibet's new jersey, Asthma everywhere, Bart Wellens' comments at the Cross Worlds, Crowd control at the Cross Worlds, Jonathan Page's mechanic beaten, Cheers to Bradley Wiggins, Bradley Wiggins' comments, Jaksche lashes out, Get into 'cross racing, Le Tour was created to sell newspapers, The stakes are too high, Doping reconciliation, Best moment of 2006?, Ivan Basso interview, Ullrich's DNA sample, Ullrich to Relax-GAM?, Ullrich partners with sports-clothing company, Still love to ride, My perfect state of mountain biking, A terrible model for cycling
  • February 2: The sanctimonious need to be taken out back, Confidentiality of test results, Oscar Pereiro cleared, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Fairness in Operation Puerto?, Riders' nicknames, Doping reconciliation, Help for Floyd Landis, Museeuw's insults, Sven Nys, The Floyd Fairness Fund, The sorry state of pro-cycling
  • January 26: Drug testing methodologies, Museeuw the PR man, Museeuw's insults, Johan Museeuw and Tyler Hamilton, Sven Nys, Conduct in the pro peloton, McQuaid unhappy with Pereiro, Put doping in the correct context, Moreau wins 2006 TDF, Who wins the 2006 Tour now?, Drapac Porsche's exclusion from the TDU, Bike sponsorship, Compact geometry, The Floyd Fairness Fund
  • January 19: Drapac-Porsche and the TDU, Bettini to win the Ronde?, Frame geometry, Phil Liggett's recently stated views, Prudhomme's zealotry, 3 cheers for Christian Prudhomme, Deutschland Tour, 3 cheers for Saunier Duval, Dick Pound, Fairness in Operation Puerto?, Do the maths, The Floyd Fairness Fund
  • January 12: Dick Pound, Just 'Pound' him, Pound casts doubt on Landis, Pound comments, The Dick and Pat Show, McQuaid starts cultural polemic, Why the Pro Tour model will never work, The Floyd Fairness Fund, Riders' union, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Danny Clark - an inspiration, Allan Peiper, Do the maths, Peter Van Petegem's secret, Justice and America, Lance in Leadville, Tubeless road tires
  • January 5: Danny Clark - an inspiration, Legal standards and cycling, Peter Van Petegem's secret, Lance a no show for Leadville, Cyclo-cross reader poll results, Do the math, A fair trial, Tubeless road tires, Manzano's polygraph test, Blind trust in implicated riders, A terrible state of affairs, Armstrong's credibility - the conspiracy theories, Best ride ever

Letters 2006

  • December 29: Lance in Leadville, Leadville Trail 100, Manzano's polygraph test, British Cycling and the Tour de France, Tell me, what's the problem?, "Disco" team?, Presumption of innocence, Landis and the Landaluze case, Landis' defense fund, American culture, Armstrong's credibility, Back room politics and the IPCT
  • December 22: Scott Peoples, Hypocrite?, Landis and the Landaluze case, Landis' defense fund, Rumours and innuendo, Bjarne Riis interview, Enough already, Back room politics and the IPCT, Armstrong's credibility, American culture, Bjarne's ignorance factor, Deutschland Tour and Denmark Tour, Operation Puerto and the UCI
  • December 15: A totally predictable situation?, Armstrong's credibility, Deutschland Tour and Denmark Tour, Back room politics and the IPCT, Holczer and others, Holczer and the Discovery exclusion, Bjarne's ignorance factor, Can't we all just get along?, DNA safety, Floyd Landis on Real Sports, Genevieve Jeanson, Mark McGwire, Operación Puerto bungled...deliberately?, Operation Puerto and the UCI
  • December 8: Genevieve Jeanson, Floyd Landis on Real Sports, Deutschland Tour, Bjarne's ignorance factor, USADA does it again, Labs and testing, Astana denied ProTour license, Isaac Gálvez, McQuaid, Question about DNA testing, Le Tour de Langkawi 2007
  • December 1: Hamilton, Isaac Gálvez, USADA does it again, Bjarne's ignorance factor, Shorten the Vuelta?, Vuelta short, shorter, shortest, Labs and testing, Ullrich to CSC, Clean up cycling's own house first, Fed up with doping, Strange sponsorships, What about Leipheimer?, French anti-doping laboratory, Basso agrees to DNA testing, Basso to Discovery, What's going on behind the scenes?, Graeme Obree
  • November 24: Graeme Obree, What about Leipheimer?, French anti-doping laboratory, Basso agrees to DNA testing, Basso to Discovery, Richard Virenque, UCI are the problem, What's going on behind the scenes?
  • November 17: Saiz and Tinkoff, Countdown to the 2007 Tour, Improving the reliability of testing, Basso to Discovery, Cycling and DNA testing, Forgetting Tom Simpson, Operación Puerto and national federations, Refusing DNA testing - an admission of guilt?. Reverse blood doping, Richard Virenque, What's going on behind the scenes?
  • November 10: Forgetting Tom Simpson, Tour Route, Basso to Discovery, Cycling and DNA testing, What is DNA testing?, Refusing DNA testing - an admission of guilt?, Jan Ullrich, Operación Puerto and national federations, Reverse blood doping, What's going on behind the scenes?, Comments on McQuaid
  • November 3: Tour Route, Return of a real good guy, Cameron Jennings, Future Australian ProTour team, Neil Stephens, 2007 Tour Intro Video Snub, Richard Virenque, Reverse blood doping, Comments on McQuaid, Marc Madiot, Who's more damaging?, What's going on behind the scenes?, Wada & Cycling's Governing Body, UCI and Doping, The Pope of Cycling and the Spanish Inquisition, Refusing DNA testing - an admission of guilt?, Put up or shut up!, DNA, its so ‘easy', DNA Testing In Cycling

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