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Letters to Cyclingnews - January 25, 2008
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.
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As participants and followers in the greatest sport of all time, we are inherently more educated and as a general rule, a bit more astute to our own surroundings and the reality that they entail.
Thus a fly-by-night overpriced denim designer with a pension for endurance sports posing as a legitimate cycle racing backer probably, hopefully, doesn't phase most of us or fool us into thinking he really cares about the sport.
Unfortunately for the racers on his team, they do, so I say ride that wave of ridiculous hate-America generating publicity filth he seems to generate as long as you can guys because the only heart and soul of Rock Racing is in that of the riders. If there is one thing most people despise, it's a hypocrite. And I think we all know who fills that slot with Rock Racing.
Not to mention the fact that for what they charge for pants, they should at the very least contain more carbon and weigh less, should they not?
Rock racing #2
Mr. Ball seems keen to respond to any criticisms of how he runs his team by saying that the criticisms are evidence of what is wrong with cycling. However, given the inability to secure the proper license for his team suggests that either he is not properly managing his team, or that he does not know the basic structure of the UCI, or both. He also admitted that he was not sure what director sportifs did when discussing Frankie Andreu's departure. He even thinks that cool equates to aerodynamics in response to HED's decision not to have its name drawn into his circus. And now it appears that he cannot properly negotiate a contract with Mario Cipollini.
I'm sure that in his head, all these incidents are more evidence of why things are wrong in cycling. However, it appears more likely that he does not really understand the institution he is critiquing. It reminds me of a couple of graduate students I knew of who took an exam in a required statistics class and responded to the questions by writing that statistics tells us nothing about politics; yet these students could not calculate a mean, so it is unclear how they felt justified in making such a statement when they knew nothing about statistics. They did not have to accept the use of statistics for the study of politics, but they did need to show an understanding of quantitative methods to complete the program; which they did not.
Mr. Ball, study the institution and rules governing the sport that you care about. Only then will you have any credibility when you critique them. It would be a shame to lose the sponsorship you are providing the sport that I'm sure you love simply because you fail to understand the rules governing sport.
Rock racing #3
So Cipo has signed with Rock Racing! Well that has to be the worst kept secret since Britney...well come to think of it any so called secret about Britney. Should we be rejoicing about the signing of a man known for: not liking to pay his tax bill, outlandish and some would say gross outfits and possibly being a little over the hill signing for Rock Racing?
Cipo is indeed a big personality/character whatever you may want to call him. This is a bold move and other US teams are making similar, but possibly less talked about bold moves. I think it is great certain US teams have branched out and signed BMX and downhill riders. Make the sport a little more crossover and maybe bring in some characters and that will really draw in the crowds. Just look at the pedigree of one Australian green jersey winner. To the doubter's out there, do we take out all the MTB riders next and then the trackies? Yeah get rid of that German bloke who wins all those pesky six day races.
Rock Racing is bringing lots of publicity to the sport of road cycling in America. Being and old Thespian, an agent of mine informed me of the old adage, " there is no such thing as publicity". Oscar Wilde talked of loving him or hating him but not ignoring him. In this sense Rock is bringing the headlines our way but some of them may be too damaging. This will be a question for time immemorial and I think the signing of Cipo may do the sport some good, but, and it is a big but, only if he wins. Will he need a big lead out train? Who knows.
Further, how many people will put up with being burnt by certain managers is also another very important question and I actually hope that Cipo can temper the situation with some old school know how. As for the signing of other two wheelers, if they too can do the job and do it well and with dignity that this sport currently requires then bring 'em on I say.
Rock racing #4
True story: I saw guy sitting in front of a busy Green Goddess (aka Starbucks) wearing a Rock Racing T-shirt. For assorted reasons it was clear he himself was not a cyclist, so I had to check in with him about his shirt.
He said he new nothing about cycling, didn't know anybody on the team, couldn't come up with a single race name other than "that one in France" and that he might have stumbled upon what I deduced to be a local crit sometime last year. However, he concluded with "I heard those Rock guys were pretty tough and I want to check them out sometime."
How can Rock Racing possibly be a bad thing when some dude in front of bucks is sporting their shirt, knows freakin' zero about the sport, but clearly is now showing interest? Mike Ball is exactly what we need.
While I may agree with many of James McAllister's sentiments and share his love of cycling, I do not think it is appropriate to blame the UCI for cycling's woes. The sad fact is that a wonderful sport has been irreparably tarnished by cheats. Cycling cannot move on until the problem is addressed and fixed. Certainly no one outside the sport will be convinced.
How many more cheats will be allowed to deceive us into thinking they are great champions?
I agree we cannot hunt down cyclists from yesteryear who may or may not have used drugs. No one suggests we do that. The few retired cyclists who have confessed to cheating have done so because they have either been implicated by current investigations; unable to live with their conscience or have current business interests which demand an explanation of previous deceitful practises.
I have cycling books and magazines dating back to the early 80s and today I wonder just how good my 'heroes' were. I was an Ulrich fan and a Pantani fan. More recently I marvelled at Basso's ability. But I want my children to know they can realise their dreams honestly with dedication, skill and hard work.
Things are improving in the cycling world. It has a chance to lead the way for other tarnished sports (and there are many). The new biological passport is a start, but it is just a start. Will it work? I hope so for the sake of MY sport, but we cannot draw a line in the sand until it has been proven to work well. We must keep up the pressure. If fans and sponsors demand a clean sport they will get it. We cannot let the cancer that is drugs kill cycling.
Am I the only cycling fan that is fed up with the politics surrounding the divide between these two bodies? What a waste of time. Let's just watch some racing eh?
UCI's rules regarding the ProTour have changed so much that they lack the integrity and unity they once stood for, and the ASO appears to only want to protect its valuable market share in promoting races. These are big problems that seem to be based on selfish motives, the UCI's desire to rule the cycling world, and the ASO's desire to maintain its competitive advantage in the world of cycling, which I find completely ridiculous.
Only when the bodies of cycling are willing to cooperate will there be any order, and until then, who cares what is going on with them?
Seriously, let's see some racing!
I am writing to express my severe frustration with the UCI and its unrelenting efforts to establish itself as the supreme ruling power in professional cycling. Pat McQuaid's latest rift with the cycling federations of Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Luxembourg is utterly offensive and demonstrates an unmistakable lapse of judgment.
Rather than leaving the dispute between the GT organizers and the UCI where it should be, namely in the realm of professional cycling, Mr. McQuaid has threatened the citizens of those six countries with the exclusion of their best cyclists from an event associated with their senses of national pride; that is, of course, unless the cycling federations of their respective countries help Mr. McQuaid establish power over the GT organizers. In my honest opinion, the Olympics are of secondary importance to the races that the GT organizers promote, and I am sick and tired of hearing Mr. McQuaid argue that the spectacle of the Olympics - which is an event that occurs only once every four years and that in years past was an international exhibition of amateur athletes - somehow empowers the UCI to exert control over professional cycling, which has only an indirect role in determining who will compete in the Olympics.
It would be ideal for the GT organizers and the UCI to work out their differences, but in the absence an agreement between those parties I will put my support behind the people who put on the races that I read about on CyclingNews.com. I would encourage my fellow readers to do the same.
Philip W. Moore, Jr.
Christopher Cummings can dispute the poll till he is orange in the face, the Tour of California has features that make it better than most. The transfers are better than most tours, the accommodations are more amenable, and it is a spectator friendly race that doesn't tolerate soccer hooligans. The course doesn't contain alleyways disguised as roads and motor/photo drivers hitting the riders. It works, and is a better race from every aspect than some of the "classic" tours.
Yeah, they have the history, and the ambiance of Europe, but we have the porta-potties.
What a year for Australian men's road cycling! First in the 'Hell of the North', second in the Tour de France, fourth in the World Champs (men) and second in the U23 worlds. As much as I admire Cadel's consistency throughout the season it will be Stuey's 2007 'Hell of the North' victory that I will always remember, the first Australian to win the toughest classic.
I would have thought that victory and Stuey's form prior to injury would have seen him win the 'cyclist of the year' title. Nothing against Cadel's second placing and I wish him all the best for the 2008 Tour but winning the toughest one day classic with that heat, a puncture and a crash, UNBELIEVABLE! Most riders probably would have gone back to the bunch and called it a day.
Looking forward to more Aussie victories in 2008 starting with our own TDU ProTour Event.
Cyclist of the year #2
Does anyone remember Greg Norman, #1 golfer for how many years? What is harder, being the best over three weeks or being best over 52 weeks?
Cyclist of the year #3
A fantastic result for cyclist of the year!
Cadel Evans goes from strength to strength in the ProTour. Riding with honesty and integrity unlike many other superstars of cycling.
To David (Friday, Janurary 11th 2008), did he win a race of note? Well how about a podium in the Tour, a 4th in the Vuelta, a 5th in the Worlds... or first place in the ProTour rankings for 2007. Yeah, that's the award for the most consistent rider in Pro Tour events for the year...
How about a moral victory to the fans of cycling?
While his competition where off answering to CONI or ducking and weaving Puerto, he was riding races at the front of the bunch. Some forget this is what cycle racing is all about.
On winning races... there was a time trial stage win at the Tour de France that he was denied the opportunity to stand on the podium and soak in the glory by someone that I once considered a champion of cycling. Someone that proved to be nothing more than an opportunistic drug cheat.
Did you hear Cadel sulk about it? No, he had the rest of the tour ahead of him.
We need to encourage people like Cadel to do the right thing by us as fans and as bike riders. They build the profile of our sport for the better and should celebrate the most consistent rider of 2007. That is why I and the 2753 others voted him Rider of the year.
I wish Cadel all the best for the 2008 season....
Catherine Hammon writes "all black strip surely triggers all the wrong associations".
I don't understand the problem. An all black strip has worked fairly successfully over the past 100 or so years for New Zealand sporting representatives, and the All Blacks (national rugby team) in particular.
Julian Dean spent 2007, and now 2008 racing for his pro team in a mostly black kit as the New Zealand road champion.
Are you serious? How ultimately naive does one have to be? The second and third place riders, who admitted to being on dope couldn't beat Lance, and yet somehow, people still think that he raced "dope free," "clean" or whatever other perfectly sculpted form of semantics one wishes to place that implies he just "didn't get caught."
Innocent until proven guilty, yes, but not immortalized without question. Cycling immortality is directly linked to time spent supporting the sport without scandal. Give him ten plus years (Sorry Bjarne, you just missed it) and then we can begin to think canonization. Until then, hold off on your Trek endorsed letters to the Vatican.
Lance is the best of all time #2
I think your letter raises an interesting point, but why stop at Basso and Ullrich? The top ten from that Tour is an astonishing read; 4th - Francisco Mancebo (retired instantly when named in Operation Puerto but came back under the radar to ride for a Continental Team), 5th - Alexandre Vinokourov (need I say more), 6th - Levi Leipheimer @ 11:21 (no problems here), 7th - Michael Rasmussen (see Vinokourov), 8th - Cadel Evans @ 11:55 (again no problems here), 9th - Floyd Landis (not even going to touch this one), 10th - Oscar Pereiro Sio @ 16:04 (no problems here - though on a side note I can't imagine how he and ASO will feel if CAS re-instates Landis).
So, following the methods of the IOC (hypothetically at least) and stripping those later condemned of their previous achievements, the 2005 Tour podium should have had one LA in first spot with an astonishing 11:21 to the second placed Levi Leipheimer, with Cadel Evans a further 34 seconds behind. Whilst such a result has occurred one other time in the last 30 years, I'm not sure that it can be suggested that the sport of cycling was as close an affair in 1981 when Bernard Hinault won the tour as in 2005 (this is a fairly moot point for this discussion anyway) - on another side note - the day following Landis' 'epic' ride, Hinault wrote an article labelling it 'Hinault-esque' - bet he regrets that.
But back to the point, the question that really needs to be asked then is, was Lance really 11 minutes and 21 seconds better than his closest (clean) rival - keeping in mind that this was his final tour at the age of 34 (I think), once everyone had cottoned on to his 'revolutionary' training methods - or is his hand over his heart instead giving it a slight thump to get the blood flowing again?
I am the editor of Norway's top MTB-magazine and an avid endurance racer. I have earlier raced the Crocodile Trophy, La Ruta, TransAlp and several marathons in Norway and Europe. I have been very intrigued by the 100 mile races in the states and was planning a trip over to race some events in 2009. I must say all that positive curiosity effectively went away when I read about the invitation of convicted doper Floyd Landis.
I was a big Landis-fan all the way up to his miraculous come back stage in the tour, but in a sport that desperately needs cleaning up it sends out all the wrong signals to invite a convicted doper. If the organisers think this will attract sponsors and participants I sincerely hope and think they are wrong.
Landis is banned from racing for two years. This should include all races. I was proud to say that Landis came from mountain biking when he did well on the road before his 17th stage. Now I will be embarrassed if the sport of mountain biking takes him back with open arms. I think, and hope that mountain biking is a lot cleaner than road racing. The sport has nothing to win if we start letting disgraced road racers fight for glory off the road.
If I were a potential sponsor, which I am not, I would for sure shy away from the NUE-series. If I were part of the press, which I am, I would discourage people to support those who hampers the fight against drugs. If I was planning to race in the NUE-series, which I also was, I would change my plans at once.
I hope the NUE-organisers changes their decision in this matter and supports the fight against doping and the dopers that tries to win us over and tries to portrait themselves as victims of conspiracies.
Wow, to the respondents of my previous my letter:
These riders ARE NOT going to race. They are solely on the roster to pad the age and nationality requirements. If the media were to do their due diligence to contact the riders or team management they would know this. I do not discount the talents of BMX or Downhill racers, I am one and regularly find myself on podiums at NMBS slalom races, NBL regionals etc, my heart and mind is large enough to enjoy all facets of bike racing.
These riders are not Sven Nys, John Tomac, Shanaze Read or the like, they are simply riders who received a few paltry dollars to be on a roster. They are not bright hopes, crossover athletes or at all interested in road racing. These riders do not have contracts even in their own disciplines for 2008 at this time...
There is a wealth of under-28 US Cat 1's, XC mountainbike racers, 'cross specialists, high caliber BMXers and trackies who would actually be of some use to a professional road team, and are riders whom would benefit immensely from the experience. Instead only the lazy and desperate are being exploited by Toyota-United. Other riders who were contacted by them showed enough class to turn down such an exploitive offer.
As someone who is actively involved in all aspects of bicycle racing in this country, from racing myself, to designing and building frames, promoting events, coaching and sponsoring a professional level team in multiple disciplines, I've been able to shorten the list of riders I am interested in working with by three.
If "real" racers don't fit into Toyta-United's budget, they need to re-assess their goals for their program.
I would love to be proven wrong, and to see Betcher, Shanbag and Riffle emerge as useful road racers. It's not going to happen, and none of the parties involved have any intentions of it happening as far as I can see.
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