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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 1, 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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I have been following the discussions that have been in the media about the potential not to use radios in the tour and I think it would make a much greater and exciting race. By not having the radios, you actually force the riders to make their own decisions on when to attack, when to chase etc. You also make the riders depend a lot more on how the team dynamics work and that every rider is there to help whoever is best placed for that race/stage, without being told to do so. I have myself been rider for 10 years in my younger days, and sometimes you made the right move and did well and sometimes you did it wrong and didn't do to well, but it was like that for most of the people I was riding against! Very rarely the same winner!
It just feels that when you are watching the big races at the moment, they have the same few winners, which might not be the case if you didn't have a DS sitting in the car behind, with a race radio, TV and other assisting technological aids! I know there has been a lot of resistance from the team bosses, but you would expect that. If they can't control things and their teams don't win, their sponsors might not be there for long!
There is also the argument that why not keep up with technological developments etc, but the way I see it, I would rather have more open races and a lot more different race winners etc, which I believe would be the result of taking away the radio's. What do you think?
Race radio? #2
Hi I was just wondering what the average clued in bike rider thought of race radios? Would Armstrong have won tours without Bruyneel in his ear?
An interesting case study it does make when you compare the cases and history of Ivan Basso, with say, Jorg Jaksche, Patrick Sinkewitz or indeed Tyler Hamilton.
Create the facade that you are a remorseful and regretful rider (Basso) take your suspension quietly (Basso) and not say anything about what you know others have or have not done (both riders and Directors - Basso) and you are rewarded with a nice presumably high paying contract as if nothing happened or that your ability really is an X factor when you consider no one really knows except Basso the extent of his cheating over the years. Then you inspire a ProTour team to abandon a code of ethics regarding the hiring of riders coming off suspensions (Liquigas).
Now tell me that cycling is moving forward and the future is brighter than it was in 98, or '01, or '06. The code of silence has just changed masks, and talking about how things really are (Jaksche), or defending your honour and integrity (Hamilton - I know not many will agree here but I would just ask they go to his site and read in-depth the details surrounding his case) do not pay. The unwillingness of teams to hire riders who talk or organisers to allow them to start speaks volumes of the apparent hypocrisy in many areas of cycling. Basso may think he has done his time, served his sentence and paid his dues, well we can only hope this notion is dispelled, because his actions until he was busted with so many other riders in 2006 will stigmatize cycling for a long while to come, and he should also be mindful of the higher price riders like Allan Davis and others have paid for the sins of those they were associated with. How his Giro win is allowed to stand really is beyond me, when you consider the lengths CONI went to attempt to structure a case against Di Luca. At the end of the day all I really ask for as a fan is that the cheats not be allowed to fight for wins at races like the Tour or Giro, when there are clean and talented riders like Cadel Evans who for too long have been denied victories by riders like Basso.
Hopefully the Giro and Tour organisers take the steps they have with so many other teams (Unibet and Astana) and riders in the past and ensure Basso is not allowed to just return to the peloton like nothing has happened. I would perhaps remind them that a rider who lies publicly and is evasive until he has no other choice but to confess is not a rider you want in the leaders jersey when someone discovers a file or a piece of evidence from his past. Not until he puts himself forward in the way riders like Dave Millar have should he be allowed to believed.
I am also from Singapore and have followed the TDF for several years but with Sporting Tours out of UK.
With your short time stay I would suggest that a self drive car or camper van might be the answer.
Park in the village at the bottom early on the day, take an organised bus or walk the climb to a shady comfy spot and wait.
If you had more time then driving up to the top would be an idea but getting off the Alpe after a stage might be very difficult even through there is a back road off and down.
The other option is to surf the various organised tours and see if any body has an Alpe special day trip.
Advise needed for Alpe D'Huez #2
In 2004, I rode the TdF with Bike Styles. The group included my brother from LA and a friend from Anchorage. We stayed in the Mercure in Grenoble and rode our bikes out to Bourg d'Oisans, the town at the bottom of the Alpe d'Huez. It didn't look like there were any accommodations along the way. In town and up in the ski area, there are lots of rooms but I don't know the prices. There are plenty of web sites advertising rooms if you Google "Alpe d'Huez" or "Bourg d'Oisans".
It's about a 35 km ride from Grenoble up the Romanche River valley and the road to Bourg d'Oisans through some small towns. We rode up the first day to watch Stage 16, the uphill ITT stage (Lance smoked Jan to win and came within 1 sec of Pantani's record), and then again the next day to watch the start of Stage 17, Bourg d'Oisans to Grand Bornard. Both days, we were within spitting distance of Lance, de Kaiser, Floyd, Moreau, Heras, Levi, Tyler, Scarponi, Johan, Bjarne, etc. You won't get quite so lucky this year.
After the pros left, we rode up from 700m in Bourg d'Oisans along the 13 km and 21 switchbacks to the finish line on the avenue du Rif Nel at the ski station at 1850m, lifted our bikes overhead and had our pictures taken against the backdrop of les mountains Grandes Rousses, crowned by the Sarenne Glacier. The tourist centre gives out certificates that say you have done the ride. They were out that day, but we have pictures.
From Bourg d'Oisans, you can watch the race from along the road, in town, on the mountain, or in the local bars. I liked watching the early riders leave from the start house and head for the first switchback, an in-your-face 10% ramp. Later, I went into one of the bars to watch the serious riders overtake their two-minute men on les virages. The TV shots from the helicopter let me see the bazillion drunks all over the mountain, read the graffiti on the roads, and keep an eye on the times.
That year, the estimates were that around a million (yes, a million) drunken partygoers lined the mountain road and had been doing some hard partying for several days before Stage 16. That's a lot of competition for hotel space, food, drink, and items in the stores. The town's shelves were pretty well wiped clean by the end of the race day. Even the bars were running out of food and drink. I don't know how they made out up top, but we didn't have any trouble the next day.
Good luck with your accommodations. I'm sure you'll have a blast.
Advise needed for Alpe D'Huez #3
My family has been to Alpe d'Huez three times since 2003, and we always stay at L'Hotel Castillan (route de la poste). We'll be there again this summer.
Good luck finding a place this late though; the hotels at the Alpe usually sell out within a few days of the October route announcement.
Check here anyway, maybe you'll find something still open:
In response to Tom Arsenault:
Tom, what dope test did Lance fail? I'm sorry, sir -- you are mistaken. Lance Armstrong has never failed a doping test, ever. In fact, no member of the US Postal or Discovery Channel teams ever failed a doping test. This is a fact that many people seem content to ignore.
LeMond vs. Armstrong #2
If LeMond has facts he should state them. Hunches and innuendo don't stand up. LeMond's sour grapes originate from back when he started losing. His explanation was that the winners must be doping. While that might indeed be true, LeMond has continued for many years to accuse others of doping without sufficient proof. Generalized accusations and stirring the pot are not sufficient when it comes to specific riders. To maintain credibility, LeMond must provide admissible evidence. Just the facts Greg.
Zach suggests that style is what drives pros to carry one small bidon. Pros carry just one small bottle because that's what weighs the least, and because they have a team car or a domestique to give them a fresh bottle whenever they need one. Why carry an extra half pound up that climb if you don't need to?
Regarding your letter on bottles:
Large bottles have a good tendency to pop out on rough roads when racing.
Large bottles do not fit a lot of compact frames so that cars and following motorcycles have to have 2 sizes of water bottles. And instead of just being able to hand up a bottle you'd have to check on which size fits. So if anyone is going to look in the mirror before they go riding it should be you looking at your big oversize head.
And what's wrong with looking good? Anyone who can come up with the sentence "The fancy bidons are just a protraction of our self-consciousness on the bike". Has his own issues.
Zach is right, the bottles are stylish. But does that imply that you can simply buy style? The pros that are using the little bottles aren't doing it because of style; they are doing it because they are paid to. I use the bottles that have my team logo on them. They are 20oz bottles. They are free. They do an excellent job of carrying water around for me. If I need more to drink I stop at a gas station and buy something, seeing as there is no team car behind me. Stop worrying about "looking pro" and you might just get there.
Dear Mr. Dawes, et al,
A beautiful letter sir. Bravo!
It's funny to ask why the ProTour would head to Russia over the U.S., but there are some simple and viable reasons why it will happen. The first reason is Vladimir Putin. President Putin personally contacted the UCI to enquire about having a ProTour race. He wants a ProTour bike race and he is willing to do what it takes to have one in Russia. The chosen region for the race will be the same region as the 2014 Olympics, Sochi. What better a way to showcase a beautiful area than with an internationally televised bike race? Putin understands that he can show Sochi to the world, while improving its infrastructure with badly needed roads suitable for a bike race. I haven't heard about President Bush talking with the UCI about having ProTour races in America, have you?
I would also presume that the Sochi area is much more desirable from a logistics standpoint. It's a 3hr flight from Vienna to Sochi and only a 2hr time difference. Whereas flying to the west coast of America (the most probable area for a ProTour race) from Paris to Los Angeles is an 11hr 30min ordeal plus a 9hr time difference!
If I were a rider, a manager, or anyone associated with the ProTour I would pick Russia over the United States based on its desire for a bike race and it location.
ProTour in Russia! China? Ahem... America? #2
The UCI is going to extend the ProTour to Russia and China because they want it, and the good old USA race organisers don't.
P.S. the USA isn't the centre of the world
Unfortunately, David, whenever LeMond is tellin' it straight, he does his own name a serious disservice.
2001-"If Armstrong's clean, it's the greatest comeback. And if he's not, then it's the greatest fraud."
Greg came back in 1989 to win the tour after recovering from a gun shot wound. I bet he wouldn't like it if this comment was made about him.
What about the insinuations LeMond makes when a rider beats a doper, that the winner must be a cheat too. Fignon who was second in '89 tested positive during his career.
All of the rubbish LeMond talks about how his love for the sport was why he trained so hard is self-indulgent. Why isn't it possible that another rider could love cycling as much as him, and put it the many miles that he did in his career?
What amazes me the most is how LeMond has the audacity to imply that the performances of some riders are suspect just because a similar feat was done by a doped rider. In the '07 tour for instance, he said that the performance of Rasmussen and Contador on Plateu de Beille was dodgy because they rode up the mountain in a time just shy of Pantani's record in 1998. In making this comment, he neglected to mention some important facts. Pantani did most of the climb alone, whereas Contador had the help of Popovych on the first section of the climb as well as that of Leipheimer towards the end.
It wouldn't surprise me at all if this fact had totally escaped Greg, or if he even considered it at all before commenting. You'd reckon he'd think twice about making this kind of statement, especially since he had the record for the fastest tour time-trial for 16 years. Not even proven dopers like Riis and Ullrich could top it. Yes, I know that there were many down-hill parts and sections with the wind on his back, but seeing as Greg forgets about other factors, I think I'll just forget about that.
If LeMond wants to tell it straight then that's fine with me, but when he does he should keep in mind that a lot of spectators will perceive his comments as either uninformed or as an unintended reference to his own performances.
Any idea what happened to Iban Mayo or his case? Danillo Di Luca has been through the entire process from accusation to acquittal within the timeframe of Mayo's accusation. Is what's happening just a backdoor suspension?
Eric E Greek
I learned wheel building the originally stated way -- pulling spokes go inside. The reasoning was different to what was mentioned in the article on Stuart O'Grady's Paris - Roubaix bike, though: with the inside spokes pulling, the outside spokes leave the hub pretty much parallel to the chain. Should you happen to shift off the inside cog, the chain is less likely to jam between the spokes and the freewheel/freehub. It sort of lays on top of the spoke instead of crossing it like it would the pulling spoke.
Please excuse my stupid question. I have seen a number of non-French riders having to relinquish their jerseys won in the TdF due to doping lately (even though they may have doped years ago). I'm just wondering if any French riders have had to do the same.
I know that Richard Virenque was suspended (for example), but did he have to return his jerseys, and did he have his name stripped from the record books like Vinokourov recently has? I appreciate any accurate information. Thank you.
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