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Letters to Cyclingnews - April 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.

Please email your correspondence to

Just shut up and ride
ProTour in Russia! China? Ahem...America?
LeMond's 1989 TdF
New format for the Vuelta?
Scars of war
LeMond v. Armstrong
No tour for Astana #1
Rock Racing rip off #1
Advise needed for Alpe D'Huez
Stuart O'Grady Team CSC Cervélo R3 Paris

Just shut up and ride #1

Great stuff Jorge! Get on your bike because you love the sport, not because you get to watch people on television, or read about the guys at the top winning these huge races. Watching the professionals is just a bonus for us who love the sport.

Yes, we all probably dream at some point or another about riding with the professionals. But who really cares about what others are doing? Worry about yourself first.

Cycling is about the freedom of the road, the rush you get knowing that your body is its own motor. There is no greater feeling than when you hit 45-50 mph under your own power and the wind is blowing all around you.

Some of the greatest friendships are built on the bike. You know you love the sport, and have great friendships when you know other riders by their bike, their position on the bike and/or by the way they look in their helmet and sun glasses. Sometimes it gets to the point that you think people look weird when they're not in a helmet.

Cycling is a truly self-motivating sport. Bicycles and the sport are going no where as long as there are people who love to get on their bike and just pedal to where ever the road takes them. So like Jorge Perez said "stop the complaining and get out and ride".

Complaining about the sport does nothing except keep you from enjoying it.

Rubber side down,
Paul Beck
Raleigh, NC USA

Friday, April 18

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Just shut up and ride #2

Amen, brother, amen.

Mark Roush

Friday, April 18

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Just shut up and ride #3

Amen brother!

Tom Ahlrichs
Boise, Idaho, USA

Friday, April 18

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Just shut up and ride #4

"Who are these people who write all these comments?" - Jorge Perez. Uhhh, you are Jorge.

David Hufford
Tokyo, Japan

Friday, April 18

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Just shut up and ride #5

Dear Jorge,

Of course, if all we did was ride, we wouldn't have time to read the complaints and reply to all the complainers. This is known as the Crank Paradox.

Rick O'Brien
Sydney, Australia

Friday, April 18

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ProTour in Russia! China? Ahem... America?

Is the UCI insane? Why expand ProTour to China before the USA?

Saturday, April 19

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Responding to Matt's question, and a good one at that, small bottles, or "bidons", are popular for no reason other than they look stylish with a matching bike and Euro-kit. I think most people severely underestimate the 'style factor' in road cycling especially.

Carrying only one 500ml Euro bidon sends out the message "I'm stylish, and secondarily fast. And if I need more water, I only need summon a domestique to fetch it."

Question for Matt: Do you check the mirror before you hit the road for a day of training? The fancy bidons are just a protraction of our self-consciousness on the bike.

Zach Williams

Friday, April 18

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LeMond's 1989 TdF

For this cycling fan, "8 seconds" will always be the ne plus ultra. It still chokes me up whenever I think about it. Greg, you're the best. Keep tellin' it straight, this sport still needs you.

David Randleman
Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Saturday, April 19

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New format for the Vuelta? #1

I've been sucked in by April fools before, but this one takes the cake! Um, A little late though?

Chris Branch
Asquith, NSW, Australia

Friday, April 18

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New format for the Vuelta? #2

I could barely believe my eyes when I saw your item on the proposed new "Playoff-style" format for the Vuelta. I actually checked my calendar twice to make sure it was indeed April 18th and not April 1st. While the proposed format might be an interesting idea for some new race I doubt that any of the ProTour teams would accept this as it does away with the whole tradition of Grand Tour racing; long stage races that require riders to show that they are capable of riding long miles for three weeks straight, with whole teams sacrificing themselves to keep their leaders safe.

If the Vuelta organizers want to make the race more interesting maybe they should change the format by changing the usual trend of a week of flat stages to start off. Why not start in the mountains or with a TTT or a criterium or something unusual?

I’m not saying that these radical ideas should be forgotten, but they should definitely be left out of these classic big Grand Tours, at least until the format has proven itself! Maybe this would be more suited to the proposed Tour of America?

Andrew Rockwell
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Friday, April 18

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New format for the Vuelta? #3


Victor Cordero is right to think to shake up the first week of the Vuelta, or all of the Grand Tour, as often little happens during those first few days. But having a "playoff" and eliminating teams and adding new riders after that first week isn't the answer. It's too radical, and what if one team is so strong they don't use their leader the first week but make the playoff and then bring their fresh leader in to win the race?

What often makes Grand Tours boring is the first week - and this especially applies to the Tour de France; it's basically five-seven completely flat stages that end in big bunch sprints. The sprints are exciting, but after 200 km of rolling. And they don't shake up or challenge general classification or bring out the leaders. That's the problem.

If you want to make the first week of a Grand Tour more interesting, throw in a stage with a mountain top finish, a longer prologue, or an uphill time trial, and always have a team time trial. Or a combination of or all of the above. That would shake things up and sort things out, while generating a lot of interest. You could always put a flat stage or two in there, or a few after that to appease the sprinters.

P Anderson
Oregon, USA

Tuesday, April 22

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Scars of war

Zack Vestal has the following to say in his post-Cape Epic wrap: "[Our Soigneur Laura] commented on some of the things we don’t see reported when stories of the race are published. She noted how poverty and scars of war are easy to see just outside the race venue. While the race traverses wealthy areas and is safe, there are places just beyond the course and camping that are riddled with crime and crushing poverty. Laura said the contrast between rich and poor is stark, and hard to stomach at times."

In general, I think it is important to recognize that the gorgeous playground that the Epic traverses is also a place with deep, and in some respects intractable social and economic difficulties. But I feel compelled to point out that the Western Cape has not been at war since 1902, so while the gorgeous countryside is blighted by poverty in places, and while crime is a problem in some of the same places, there are no "scars of war", unless Mr Vestal has a larger, metaphorical "war" in mind.

To be sure, apartheid was a war conducted by the then government against the people of the country, that left the social landscape permanently scarred, but it was not a full scale armed conflict. So, if you come and ride the Cape Epic do expect to experience some of the contradictions that middle-income emerging democracies tend to throw up - not least a sharp contrast between wealth and poverty - but don't expect bomb-craters or bullet-pocked buildings.

If you are looking sights of that kind, I'd recommend Los Angeles, or possibly Berlin. And if you are looking to ameliorate your conscience after riding $5000 of carbon fiber past a hungry kid, remember that your tourist dollars are crucial to the economic development of the area, and that the organizers of the race can put you in touch with a number of worthy charities.

Perhaps Trek, its eyes opened by Laura and Mr Vestal would like to honor its South African roots (Trek is a South African word, after all) by donating to one of the local organizations that promotes cycling as a mobility solution for poor communities?

Nic Dawes

Monday, April 21

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LeMond v. Armstrong

Greg LeMond a drama queen? Yeah, OK.

This is what Devan Mullins asserts in his letter from April 18, 2008, and he also asserts that LeMond "inserts" himself into these situations to "stir the pot". Are you kidding sir?

You have to be, because LeMond did not insert himself into these situations to stir the pot. When Lance won his Tours, and when it was found out that he failed one doping test, and was working with Ferrari, journalists came to LeMond. Due to his standing in the sport as being a great champion cyclist, and a fellow American, they searched out his opinion on the subject.

LeMond being a no-nonsense kind of guy gave his un-edited opinion about what he thought might be going on. He's never said that Armstrong doped, but indeed, that he has his suspicions about Armstrong and Ferrari. Looking at all of the known dopers Armstrong beat in his years on top, it's not too hard to be suspicious of what was going on.

Anyone who has ever known, or read anything about LeMond, you know he won't hold back on his opinion, and won't sugar coat anything. Is he a "drama queen"? No. I don't think so. Someone who has been there, and has been burned by doping in the sport, I think he has more than a right to complain, he has a mandate to do it.

Tom Arsenault
Durham, NC

Friday, April 18

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No tour for Astana #1

So let me get this straight, Dan. You think that potential sponsors would not know that Astana was under new management? Who are they going to talk to about sponsorship, the old management? And you think fans do not know this either? However, you think both of these parties definitely do know that Astana made last years race a joke?

Get real, anyone who actually watches the Tour knows all about Astana.

John Haley
Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Tuesday, April 22

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No tour for Astana #2

On Don Sprague’s comments approving of ASO’s ban of Astana: I appreciate the “keeping up of appearances” in the marketing world and the Astana name has been linked to doping. However, they cleaned house and abide by the rules.

For cycling to have credibility as a professional sport, there must be a solid structure in which those who follow the rules and meet the criteria for competition are allowed to compete. The specter of a sponsor fielding a top team following all of the mandates required to compete and then having that team excluded from the world’s premier venues due to a grudge will kill sponsor interest completely.

Look at what happened to Unibet. The sponsors must know on the front end whether its investment will get them on the world stage. If you put up the money and follow the rules, the sanctioning authorities (whoever the hell they are today!) should have an obligation to place those teams in competition.

John Barton
North Little Rock, Arizona, USA

Friday, April 18

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Rock Racing rip off #1

Michael Ball’s downfall will be his assertive behavior against the traditional cycling culture. Raising hell and controversy is great for publicity but in the end only wins will make the team viable. (And this, coming from someone that likes the hype he’s creating in a normally drab sport.)

Unfortunately, Ball’s lack of racing knowledge and eventual inability to set up a team to be competitive instead of for headlines will stop him in his tracks. This is evident by the departure of Frankie Andreu over Ball basically hiring guys without first consulting Andreu, the director sportif! If you don’t let your team director do his job when you don’t have a clue then you are in for a rude awakening.

The hiring of Cipollini was pure marketing genius. But that’s all Ball has for him is his marketing skills. Professional cycling is a results driven sport. Once the headlines fade so will the team unless they get results.

It’s great Ball has an active role marketing the team but he has to know where to draw the line between doing good for the team and ruining the chances of success for the team. Michael, I’m fine with the big show you guys put on. It has brought back excitement to the sport and helped bring cycling back into the eyes of America…and the R&R girls are awesome! But I beg you, stop interfering and let the team do the racing.

Gary Lee
Daly City, California, USA

Friday, April 18

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Rock Racing rip off #2

Thank you Travis for saying what needed to be said! Rock on!

JET Tanner

Friday, April 18

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Advise needed for Alpe D'Huez

I and my wife are from Singapore. We plan to be in France from 21 July to 26, then we head to Lucerne. We were thinking of catching the Alpe d'Huez Tour de France stage on July 23, 2008. But honestly, we haven’t a clue as to which hotels to book, how to get there, etc.

We're also on a budget. Truth be told, we are going to Lucerne for an educational conference, and I am going on to Montpellier to pick up a puppy dog I have. We figured it would be fantastic if we could catch the Tour during our stay in France. And I have been a great fan of the sport for over 20 years, even raced for my country.

So, it would be a dream for us to view the stage. We will appreciate any advice, tips or suggestions.

Rajvinder Singh

Wednesday, April 23

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Stuart O'Grady Team CSC Cervélo R3 Paris


I was taught just the opposite - the trailing spokes go on the outside of the flange because they are the spokes that do the pulling when the wheel is accelerating. I can't say I've ever encountered an issue with properly set up derailleurs and wheels meeting due to spoke lacing and tension under braking.

I've also noticed that many machine-built wheels are built the way you describe, and also, most modern high end pre-built wheel sets do away completely with hub flanges and J-bend spokes in favor of some form of straight pull spokes. Odds are the orientation of the pulling/trailing spokes to the hub flange doesn't matter all that much in reality.

Eric Schillinger

Tuesday, April 22

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2008

  • April 10: Suggestions for the little bullies, Pat McQuaid, Clever tactics by McQuaid expose ASO, Just think, Trek vs. LeMond, Rock Racing rip off, Homepage overhaul, Some praise, USA track cycling, Team car order just the first gamble, Come on Greg & Lance, LeMond vs. Armstrong
  • April 3: Pat McQuaid, April fools, Carbon Wrap-It System, Sylvain Chavanel, Astana vs. Rabobank vs. Slipstream Chipotle, Cadel Evans, Clever tactics by McQuaid expose ASO, Colavita, Let VDB ride?, Race radios, Rock Racing rip off
  • March 27: Riccardo's manner of professionalism, Rock Racing rip off, Chavanel's Paris - Nice shoes, Cadel Evans, Cadel Evans at Paris - Nice, Let VDB ride?, ASO vs. Astana, ASO vs. UCI help me with my memory, Astana vs. Rabobank vs. Slipstream Chipotle, Police kill cyclists,"PRO"cycling teams
  • March 20:"Pro"Cycling Teams, AIGCP does have a choice, ASO vs UCI help me with my memory, ASO vs. Astana, Chavanel's Paris - Nice shoes, Kevin van Impe's doping control, Cadel Evans at Paris - Nice, Hamilton, Operacion Puerto, and the ToCA, Paris - Nice: What it could have been, Police kill cyclists, The Astana affair, UCI hypocrisy
  • March 13:"Pro"Cycling Teams, ASO vs. Astana, ASO vs. UCI, ASOh well, UCI'll see you later, Cycling fans must let their voices be heard, Denounce ASO's actions for what they are, Hamilton, Operacion Puerto, and the ToCA, Knife between the ribs?, Paris Nice, Police kill cyclists, British track sprinters' helmets?, Rock Racing and Michael Ball, The Astana affair, The real ASO problem, Tour and ASO, UCI - very bad poker players, UCI hypocrisy.
  • March 6: Zirbel and the"ride of his life", British track sprinters' helmets, Hamilton, Operacion Puerto and the ToCA, Three grand tours or five monuments?, Rock Racing and Michael Ball, Pro cycling is dead, Paris - Nice, Knife between the ribs?, Doping and the Tour, Astana, the ASO and the UCI, ASO vs. Astana, The Astana affair, ASO vs. UCI vs. AIGCP vs. the non existent riders, The real ASO problem, Denounce ASO's actions for what they are, Sponsorship code of ethics, Where are the other ProTour teams?, ProTour vs. ASO
  • February 28: ASO vs. Astana, Passion and sponsorship, Crash or crash through, Pro cycling is dead, Why we must have the ProTour, Rock Racing and Michael Ball, ToC and Rock, The hidden message behind banning Astana, ASO is killing cycling, ASO could be right, The real ASO problem, UCI - draw a line in the sand, ASO has lost the plot, The Astana affair, Astana and ASO/RCS, the Astana decision, Operacion Puerto, Old rider classification
  • February 15: Doping controls, Tour of California moving up!, Why I love the Tour of California, Operation Puerto, Astana rejected by ASO, Boycott ASO, ASO - stop the madness, Tour de France, ASO is wrong to exclude Astana, Astana, ASO, and the NFL, Tour de Farce, The hidden message behind banning Astana, Astana exclusion, ASO is killing cycling, Astana out of Tour, ASO has lost the plot
  • February 8: Lampre doping controls, Grand Tour Monopoly?, Giro selections, Slipstream Qatar, Allan Davis, Sheldon Brown, Dick Pound to head CAS?, Find out who's leaking lab results, Rock racing
  • February 1: UCI vs. Grand Tour war, Best wishes to Anna, The incident, Rock racing & Starbucks, Rock racing Rocks, Rock racing, Landis in NUE, Lance is the best of all time, Sinkewitz logic, Astana for 08 Tour?
  • January 25: Rock racing, Time to draw a line in the sand, ASO vs. UCI ProTour, UCI vs. Grand Tour war spills over to European federations, Readers' poll stage races 2007, Cyclist of the year, Team High Road's black kit, Lance is the best of all time, Landis in NUE, Toyota-United abusing USAC team rules?
  • January 18: Cadel Evans - returns to training, Cyclist of the Year, DOPING - time to draw a line in the sand, Hincapie in T-Mobile kit, Lance is the best of all time, Readers poll: best stage races 2007, Rock racing, Speaking about Lance, Toyota-United abusing USAC team rules?
  • January 11: Armstrong on Landis, Cadel Evans - returns to training, Hincapie in T-Mobile kit, Ivan Basso - why no tough questions?, Reader Poll, Rock & burn racing, Speaking about Lance, Sydor's consistency, The 'Bruyneel philosophy', Toyota-United abusing USAC team rules?
  • January 5: Great day for cycling, Sydor's consistency, Hincapie in T-Mobile kit, CA awards misses national series, Thank you, Ivan Basso - why no tough questions?, Cadel Evans - returns to training, Helmets belong on heads, Armstrong on Landis, Will there be a Tour of Missouri?, Roberto Heras, Speaking about Lance, Mayo's B Sample

Letters 2007

  • December 27: CA awards misses national series, Armstrong on Landis, Vinokourov's sentence, Vinokourov, Cadel Evans - returns to training, Mayo's B sample to get B test
  • December 14: Sydor's consistency, George Hincapie, Helmet straps must be cinched a bit too tight, Will there soon be a sample"C"test?, ProTour, Vino's joke of a suspension, Mafioso McQuaid, Obee and Health Net, Mayo's B sample to get B test, Campagnolo offers its own 'red' shifter, T-Mobile's withdrawal a blow to Jaksche
  • December 6: Tschüss T-Mobile, Anquetil, Mayo's B sample to get B test, T-Mobile drop out, Obee and Health Net, Stefano Zanini
  • November 30: Anquetil,Mayo's B sample to get B test, Stefano Zanini, Rider's passport, Betting, Jonathan Page, Wake up!!, T-Mobile drop out, Bike design originality
  • November 23: Remembering Jacques Anquetil, Done looking back, Mayo's B sample to get B test, Cross crank, Rider's passport, Blood passports and humanity, Fothen's comments on Bettini, Nathan O'Neill , Sinkewitz, Rasmussen blood values, Sponsorship strangeness, Dick Pound better understood, Bike design originality,
  • November 16: Nathan O'Neill, Rasmussen blood values, The Crocodile Trophy, Sinkewitz, Drug testing procedures, Rider's passport, The drug issue, Bike design originality , Sponsorship strangeness, Selfishness will ruin cycling
  • November 9: The Crocodile Trophy, A little bit of bias here?, Rider's passport, Kasheckin, Positive tests, Drug testing procedures, Marco Pinotti: Engineering a new path, Bike design originality
  • November 2: What does this mean?, Le Tour 08, Mayo's B sample, Bike design originality, Trimble, UCI says Mayo case not closed, Drug testing procedures ... and false positives, Kashechkin: controls violate human rights, Drug testing procedures, Mayo, UCI, Kashechkin, et al... Great, now it's coming from both ends, Positive tests, Why even bother with B samples then?, Mayo's positive EPO test, Falling barriers
  • October 26: Rider passports & Cadel Evans, Drug testing procedures ... and false positives, Iban Mayo's false positive, Iban Mayo and Landis, Armstrong on Landis, Mayo's B sample, UCI turns Mayo's case into a debaucle, they hand pick the results, No justice for Mayo, UCI says Mayo case not closed, Bike design originality, 2006 Tour de France, A bad week for cycling, A fitting end to the season
  • October 19: 2006 Grand Tour trifecta!, 2006 Tour de France, A fitting end to the season, Armstrong on Landis, Bike design originality, doping in cycling, Doping numbers, Paris-Tours testing mishap, UCI and the lack of testing!, Vino's other Tour stage win, The absolute best?
  • October 12: Armstrong on Landis, Bike design originality, Cycling drama, Doping is unfair; but so is discrimination, It’s not doping that's..., Landis case - everyone's a loser, Length and cost of the Landis case, R & R, The Landis decision, Tour of America
  • October 5: Cycle drama, It's not doping that's"killing"the sport, Why is VAM a benchmark, Tour of America, The Landis decision, DYNEPO, Worlds, Rock & Republic's CEO Michael Ball, Please explain, Giuseppe Guerini, FICP
  • September 28: Tour of America, World champion zany-ness, The Landis decision, ASO v UCI, McQuaid vs ASO vs the riders, Please explain, Why is VAM a benchmark, Giuseppe Guerini, Menchov felt betrayed by Rasmussen, ProTour and Le Tour, Where is the due process
  • September 21: Astana's future and Bruyneel, Bruyneel's afterlife, Floyd Landis decision, Why is VAM a benchmark, Lifetime bans, Menchov felt betrayed by Rasmussen, Ungrateful Levi, Spanish cycling, Where is the due process
  • September 14: Astana & Bruyneel, Cycling vs. soccer, Cycling will survive, Floyd Landis decision, LeMond's comments, Menchov felt betrayed by Rasmussen, Ungrateful Levi, Why is VAM a benchmark?
  • September 7: Cycling vs. soccer, Floyd Landis decision, UCI, ASO, LeMond, et al who cares? Riders, Lawyers in the Landis case, LeMond's comments, Riders taking the fall?, US Postal/Discovery R.I.P.

The complete Cyclingnews letters archive