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Letters to Cyclingnews - April 10, 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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Suggestions for the little bullies
Patrice Clerc's defense of his ASO boils down to the common marketing tactic of identifying his commercial interest with the good of cycling - what's good for the ASO is good for cycling and vice versa, so everything he does is justified and any criticism of ASO is against the sport as a whole. That makes most of what's reported in his interview very boring.
His somewhat twisted view of the UCI as doing to him what they claim he's doing to them is not productive, but somewhat understandable given Pat McQuaid's penchant for ascribing - and describing - devious motives to anything he doesn't like from Clerc and others. This is low quality polemics on McQauid's part and clearly causes him no end of problems because the people who are the targets of such personal attacks focus on refuting them, and the real issues of governance are avoided.
Ignoring his cheap shots, there are a couple of highly relevant bits remaining. Clerc pinpoints a major issue quite well with the following points:
- Compulsory participation is a bad idea. Although the UCI seems only to require compulsory *invitations*, even that is untenable. (On the other hand, it should be unthinkable to not invite Astana to the Tour, that's just ASO being spiteful.)
- The ProTour concept puts the UCI in the role that crosses into that of race organizer, and that's a bad thing. Formula 1 is probably not a good model for cycling.
If Clerc would just focus on those two issues, and if McQuaid would stop spouting off about why he thinks people are doing what they are, that would be a good first step toward behaving like adults. Then we can move on to chilling out the spiteful behaviour and the empty threats. That might lead to an atmosphere in which progress could be made.
It is now time that ASO set up a separate federation to organise races as this is what they do. They are the ones who put up the finances for the races (remember Paris - Nice on the verge of collapse a few years ago and rescued by ASO?) The Tour de France was started years ago by a newspaper to promote the paper and this is the way it should stay. After all the sponsors are in it for publicity.
UCI should stick to making rules and not try to usurp the organisations and people who run the races. The riders also only want to race without all these arguments between ASO and UCI.
It seems to me that labelling any move that removes the TdF from the world racing calendar as clever is a big mistake. Cyclists love the past and all the glory, real or imagined that goes along with it. Can you imagine a world where all the races that dare not follow the UCI's rules and regulation are history?
I would agree that everyone should follow their rules, if only their rules where in the best interest of everyone, and not just themselves. What kind of egomaniac will tell someone else that they have no right to make decisions they see as beneficial and necessary to maintain a relevant race? Pat McQuaid, that's who.
Comparing cycling to surfing and triathlon does not do it justice. Races like Paris - Roubaix and the Tour are part of what made the sport into what it is today. Can you name a surfing event that every surfer, pro or amateur, dreams to win? What is so damaging to the sport to have ASO decide who can and cannot race in the Tour, especially when that decision is based on a history of doping? Is the UCI so good at fighting doping that we should all defer to them (ask WADA about that one)? In my opinion, this comes down to some dude who sees himself as the overlord of cycling trying to silence any and all dissent, even if it means losing the biggest race in the world. Clever like a dictator.
I have now figured out why Lance completely dominated the Tour for those 7 years, he had A ball. Apparently, all the remaining riders haven't got any. If they did this whole UCI vs. ASO thing would be done, all the ProTour teams and best riders would be at every event, and the riders would be able to hold their heads high. Instead, they whine about "we just want to ride" and "we have no power."
Imagine, April 13th a bright and clear morning, a huge crowd builds in Compiègne for the start of the Queen of the classics. The ASO dignitaries are walking around chests puffed out at the masterful event organization and the money they are going to make. The CEO of each of their race sponsors is their watching their investment; the TV cameras are ready to broadcast a great race to the world.
The head of ASO walks up to the stand by the start line to fire the starting gun, bang goes the gun, but no one moves. All the riders get off their bikes; suddenly Paolo Bettini walks forward with some papers in his hand and walks up to Patrice Clerc and asks for a signature. The documents demand that all the ProTour teams be guaranteed starting slots in all their races or none of the ProTour riders will participate.
Clerc refuses, the riders turn their bikes around and walk back to the busses and refuse to race. The riders go home and Clerc and ASO have a public relations nightmare with their sponsors telling them "we paid for a top flight race" and start threatening them with, ironically like the teams face, pulling their sponsorship.
How long would it take to break ASO? Not long. They are a business that needs the riders to produce their product, a bike race that sells to sponsors and TV stations. If the riders grow a pair they remove ASO's ability to provide a quality product, things will change. If not, they will continue to be pawns in a game of corporate power.
I for one would like to see some cajones grown.
And while they are at it, they should demand that all B samples get analysed in a separate lab than the A samples to force more openness into the doping detection game.
It is no small wonder Trek has severed their ties with LeMond. He lied about unprovable allegations regarding Lance Armstrong and was legally forced to retract his lies. Then he appeared at Landis' trial in the official capacity as a slanderer for the prosecution. Apparently he cannot abide the thought of another American other than himself being a Tour champion.
At the trial he had no indisputable proof that Landis was guilty yet was there to allege that. Who can respect him after that? Whether or not he breached his contract with Trek in a legal manner it should've been rendered null and void by his stupidity and maliciousness alone.
LeMond has grossly damaged cycling while allegedly serving the interests of anti-doping. I think it's more like he still seeks the limelight in any way he can find now that his cycling career is over. Apparently many thousands of other cyclists feel the same way given the precipitous decline in sales of LeMond bikes... I for one have lost all my once considerable respect for him and will never ride anything with that name on it even were it a gift. I feel sorry for Greg, after all these years he still hasn't figured out that only a fool bites the hand that feeds him.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Trek vs. LeMond #2
So let me get this straight. Trek has dropped LeMond from its stables because Greg LeMond is outspoken about the very serious risk our sport faces from the negative publicity generated by the numerous doping scandals and allegations which are rampant throughout the pro peloton. Granted he is opinionated, arguably biased, and not afraid to speak his mind when it comes to the Teflon clad legacy of Lance Armstrong. But is this such a bad thing?
I can't recall ever hearing of a public boycott of LeMond cycles. Not once have I heard another cyclist vow to choose another product because of Greg's statements. And I certainly have never heard of such a thing happening across the pond amid the myriad of statements we have from the likes of Eddy, Fausto, and Dario.
What I have noticed is that the number of LeMond frames I've seen gracing bike shop floors has declined significantly. Whether this is a result of lagging sales or the cause of it I do not know. What is obvious is that Trek has circled its wagons around Lance Armstrong without a care for the health of the sport. This decision reeks of "Big Business" strategy, where sales are more important than integrity. That may indeed be enough to influence MY buying decisions. But it is not LeMond that will suffer.
Trek vs. LeMond #3
Everyone knows why Trek is screwing Greg LeMond - because of his gall in speaking the truth about doping and cyclists who happened to ride Trek bikes while doping. It seems that whenever someone is willing to talk frankly about doping, there is always someone else (or in this case, a company) who will step up and shoot that person down for "disparaging" the sport. I'm sick of it. The next person who shoots another down for talking about doping should get a two-year ban! Ban the bullies! You can bet you'll never see me riding a Trek; that's for damn sure.
Stephen K. Robinson
Trek vs. LeMond #4
It's about time Greg LeMond reaped the fruit of the poison seeds he has sowed over the years. He appears to devote an inordinate amount of time into trying to ruin the careers of riders whom he doesn't even know (he said he didn't know FL).
It's refreshing to see that a company like Trek, who have tried to be loyal to a fellow American have finally had enough of his foot in mouth comments and realise he is only a detriment to any business or product he is associated with.
I have nothing against Michael Ball. He should be free to do whatever he feels he needs to do to promote his brand and his bike team, including stirring up controversy. If he wants to hire ex-dopers, riders in current doping limbo, or past superstars of the sport, more power to him. By the same token, if the Tour de Georgia wants to hire only teams that are uncontroversial, they should be free to do so.
After all, it is their race. They put in the thousands of hours necessary to secure sponsorship, and it hasn't always been easy. From what I have seen, they have had a hard time doing so in the post-Lance era. If they do not want to invite Mr. Ball for fear of destroying all the hard work they have put into their race, it is their decision, not yours, and not Mr. Ball's. He can just go out and make is own race, which will be faster, more aerodynamic and cooler.
I for one wouldn't have minded seeing the Rock guys ride around my state, but would rather be able to watch riders ride around my state for years to come, even if they don't have 15 articles and letters written about them every day in cyclingnews.
Rock Racing rip off #2
It shouldn't matter whether Tyler is guilty or not. He served his suspension and has a valid UCI license. The UCI shouldn't have issued him a license (and various other riders, VDB, etc.) if they intended to not let him race.
Race organizers using Puerto to exclude riders? As far as I am concerned organizers are making decisions on Puerto information published from cheesy tabloids that are only looking to turn a profit at the expense of others!
Rock Racing rip off #3
It's maddening to me that the Rock Racing supporters just don't seem to "get it." Yes, Tyler Hamilton did serve his time for the 2004 Olympics doping offense... he is now currently (that is the key word) involved in another doping investigation - Operation Puerto. The Tours of California and Georgia have every right to ban Hamilton and the others. In fact, I applaud them.
I'm sure you hear it all the time, but as someone who's followed the site for a number of years ~ thanks for the great site.
Again, the new logo looks very good.
Homepage overhaul #2
I've been coming to the Cyclingnews site on a daily basis for years and always appreciated its clean delivery of information while leaving all advertising to the left and right hand columns. I do find it annoying that there is now a huge banner ad in-between the Tech News and the Major Races areas. It does a great job of diverting my attention but for all the wrong reasons. Again, love the site for all its up-to-date information and fabulous coverage but could do with a properly placed flash ad elsewhere.
Homepage overhaul #3
I'm writing to tell you I'm unhappy with the changes to the site recently. Most importantly, I hate having the advertisement between the tech and the races. I usually go straight to the news and races, and it's very distracting and unpleasant to see the ad there.
Hope my criticism is heard.
Homepage overhaul #4
Love your website, visit it everyday.
I am not normally bothered by advertising (and I fully understand it is probably your main source of income) but the new advertising banner you have added above the race results is downright annoying. It pushes the race results down. My web connection is not the fastest and at first when the main page loads and you click on the race results, next thing this big ad pops up and pushes everything down.
Is there anyway it can be placed somewhere less intrusive?
Yeah, I've been dropping in almost daily on www.cyclingnews.com since about 1998, and after browsing the retroactive Ronde tech coverage I finally realized just how absolutely kick-ass you guys are. The well exposed photo of the Ambrosio counterweight on Devolder's bike and Huang's commentary forced me realize the vast superiority of your project over the local competition. Looking forward to the Ardennes Classics coverage...
I think the Americans can learn a lot from the British and Australian cyclists. Here in the USA there is very little mention or support for track cycling. Some companies refuse to even consider sponsorship for USA cycling. Many riders too, have little interest until the Olympic year.
The combined efforts of sponsors, coaching, and velodrome venues in England and Australia proves what is missing here. No one seems to care.
I applaud Taylor Phinney for his efforts, improving his time in just a few short months. I am excited for Sarah Hammer, Jennie Reed, and Rebecca Quinn. But it is the lack of riders that worries me most. Why is the USA still not able to qualify a men's team pursuit, or women's team? I don't expect individual riders to jeopardize gold medal prospects for team efforts. But why isn't there 10 or 20 other riders lining up for a chance to ride each year? I am against picking four road riders, giving them a track bike, and putting them on the world scene in a last minute effort to have an Olympic 'team'. Where is the dedication?
My challenge to readers: Let's get our outdoor velodromes covered. Let's get more kids involved. (Trexlertown velodrome has always had a good program for talent. Marty Nothstein was a direct result of local youth track cycling.) When Lance Armstrong was considering the hour record, I was the one who first suggested a temporary tent over the track to reduce wind and weather conflicts. Now I am suggesting permanent covers as a way to save our troubled velodromes. We cannot expect all results from just one track in LA. We need long-term support. If we don't, I expect to see American riders moving to countries that support track cycling. Let's get something done before it is too late.
Gosh, so now Wilfried Peeters is all upset that his ProTour standings don't get him a primo spot in the team car line-up for the next race that he was so eager to blow off the UCI to appease ASO. Maybe he and the other ProTour team directors can convince ASO to follow all the UCI rules and rankings when it suits them, do you think? I guess you and Eric Boyer didn't think of things like that while undermining the UCI and keeping it simple - just race, right, never mind all those complicated rules?
You think this is the worst ASO decision you'll see? Welcome to the slippery slope, fellas. At some point I bet you'll all get together and wish for an international organization to govern your sport that isn't a for-profit race producer, an organization whose rules all the races would have to abide by.
Come on guys please! You are both international heroes and most of us were great fans of you both when you ruled the world. You have enough money, just get out of this bickering state of yours and enjoy life as it should be enjoyed. There is no need to tarnish your images, keep life simple and carry on being heroes for all of us for the rest of our lives. We need good heroes nowadays.
It's irrefutable that LeMond brought cycling to the forefront of American culture against great odds. And we are all grateful for that. But frankly, unless you were either around at that time or are a cycling historian his era is over. Most modern cyclists and/or sports fans equate American Cycling with Armstrong because he is the most recent successful American rider. When another comes around they'll forget Armstrong and go on to the next "big thing". It just makes LeMond look like a cry baby and it shouldn't since true fans know his contributions.
But the fact still remains, Armstrong is the modern LeMond. And with backing by big companies like Nike he gets more press and face time then LeMond does or ever did. That's just life and the modern American media. We aren't in the 70's - 80's anymore where cycling was more of a European thing.
And if you want to be an advocate against doping, join the fight. Don't bash past and present cyclists that have "allegedly" used drugs. Bash those that have been tried and convicted and found guilty. Hearsay is only speculation. If LeMond really wants to crusade against doping he should join WADA or some other group where he can really make a difference.
Otherwise, age gracefully instead of sounding like a whiner all the time. But know that true cycling fans do know and appreciate his accomplishments.
Gary W. Lee
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