Letters to cyclingnews

Here's your chance to get more involved with cyclingnews.com. 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. 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.

Recent letters

Heading the list in the last letters batch before Christmas is Imran from Mozambique's musings on where cycling is heading, given the recent court cases and drug trials. Further to this, does anyone really believe that drugs are not present in sports where there is more $$$ up for grabs? Why are cycling and weightlifting singled out more often than say, tennis?

Mark Combs responds to Barry Johnson's query about cycling's profile outside Europe. Mark is an expat American living in Australia, and offers his thoughts on why cycling is so poorly covered in the US.

Matthew Tognini is worried that Australian TV viewers will not see much of the Tour Down Under on free-to-air television.

Buzz Zantz is curious as to the UCI/USA Cycling's stance on the 52x14 gear ratio for juniors. Why is it so, and why has it changed?

Simon van der Aa believes that time trials are not called "the race of truth for nothing." after our statement "we're not convinced the TT is quite that important". However, the qualification read that by itself, it has not produced many great all-round riders. Good time trialling abilities are of course crucial in any stage race.

There are a few more queries in the wanted section. Anyone got a spare Andy Hampsten/Gavia Pass poster? Or a training partner in Buderin, Australia.

Finally, we are no longer accepting letters nominating your favourite performances of 2000. We have archived them into separate 'rides' (83 in total) which can be accessed via our index page. You can now vote for your favourite performance (of the best 15 that we have selected) and win a prize!

Jeff Jones
Stand in letters editor

Where is cycling heading?
Drugs and money
Cycling in America
Tour Down Under TV coverage
Junior Gearing
TT's rule!


Gavia Pass Poster
Training Partner in Qld

Mercatone, Festina, US Postal where exactly is cycling heading?

I agree and I am sure most of you would too, that, doping has no place in sport. But let's not only look at the accused but also at the accusers and their reasons for doing so lately.

Pantani's case stems from 1995. Festina's case is also from way back. But let's look at the most recent US Postal accusation. Of course innocent until proven guilty.

Point one: urine samples were taken from the riders. They were not tested, they were stored. That's right stored. For what? Well let me try to think out loud here for a sec. The TDF over three weeks had good coverage. The French media were in the spotlight by creating a war between Pantani and Armstrong with bad articles.

Now the TDF is over. How do we keep the French media in the spotlight. Attack Pantani? No. Pantani? The Italians have him. Who is in the spotlight right now. Aha. Armstrong. A whole new saga begins ...

If Armstrong was taking banned substances I am quite sure he would have bagged two golds at the Olympics along with a few mountain stages by far in the mountains in the TDF.

If the UCI or who ever the sports body is going to take samples for testing from athletes then they should test them ASAP and not wait until the event is over, or until kingdom come, or until someone decides to accuse the athletes. It certainly is not fair, not only for the guilty but for the other competitors who at that moment in the competition are led to think that they were beaten in a fair manner.

The testing bodies should do their jobs correctly, so that the sport may move on forward rather then backwards.

Just look at the hour record. It is year 2000 yet we had to go back to using a jalopy from years ago. I ask you, where is the progress? Where is cycling going. Imagine if this was to happen in all other sports e.g. use same footware Carl Lewis used, Boxing gloves as Mohammad Ali used, same engine as Nelson Piquet used, same weight machines as Arnold Schwarzenegger used. Where would we be today?

We have to move forward. We must use the technology we created. Should we stagnate and lose fans because we can't decide why and when to test our athletes and how we should progress? I don't think so.

Give these pro's a break. Do your job so that they can do theirs. Tests should not be frozen, they should be analysed quickly and those who are guilty removed from competition before the tour ends. Not give them a trophy only to strip it off months or years later.

Saturday, December 16

Drugs and money #1

The only news I've heard lately in regards to cycling is about drug involvement. Why is it that professional football players get away with drug involvement time and time again? They get their "slap on the wrist" and then they're right back on the field making their millions? The majority of cyclists make considerably less than that and yet, they continue to get the bad press.

I saw my brother (Tim) after his one accident that involved him, his friend and a pick-up truck. It is not a sight I would ever want to see again. There are people out there every day training like my brother. Lets give these heroes the good press they deserve!

Susan Woolford
Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Drugs and money #2

How many rugby players take EPO and steroids?
How many American football players take steroids?
How many golfers take Beta Blockers?
How many football players take EPO?
How many swimmers take HGH?
How many basketball players take HGH?
Cricket and Baseball?

We hear about weightlifters, we hear about cycling and track and field . Only a fool would pretend doping does not go on elsewhere. But have you noticed, it is the minority sports where people are caught? Odd that!

So let's get this right, the sports were there are billions spent do not have big drug problems, but those where there are peanuts floating around by comparison do? Don't you think that is awfully convenient? It's not an excuse, it's just a comment. Does this benefit anyone?

Andrew Torrance
Great Britain
Thursday, December 21

Cycling in America

I would like to pen a reply to Barry Johnson and his perception of cycling outside of Europe. While I agree in part with Barry's statement as to the sports culture of the US, I do not agree that the average American lacks the capacity to follow the sport due to this culture.

In my opinion there are 3 causes:

1) Horrible American media coverage

The epitome of crappy American cycling coverage was the 2000 Olympic road race and TT. I would hear trite phrases such as "not good enough" or "cooperation in the peloton" (I have never seen that for the full duration of a GT, anybody else?). Meanwhile the announcer tried to muster even worse evergreens of wisdom when covering Armstrong: Chief was:"This ain't no rodeo".

2) Crappy American cycling magazines

Without being specific as to one publication, prostitution to sponsors and the insipid need to sell expensive items has driven information content through the floor. If I can read the magazine in 15 minutes in the bathroom then perhaps the information content needs to be revisited. Either that or I need more fiber in my diet. I will decide which.

3) Misinformation

I do not think this is strictly an American issue, but given the first 2 items, a horrible synergy takes place. Mythos created: To perform like the best, you have to look the part. This is the single greatest disservice to the sport. Why, because it discourages people from the GREATEST sport on earth. Performance is a training issue. You don't train, you don't perform. However, if you lie to enough people, some start believing that looking the part is better than doing the training.


Brutal honesty, Competent mechanics and nasty letters to the networks.

Mark Combs
Exiled American in Australia
Tuesday, December 19

Tour Down Under TV coverage

Once again Channel seven has got their hands onto a minority sport by buying the rights and look set not to do the event justice.

If you read the intended coverage for Australian viewers you will see that we can look forward to a massive 3 - 5 minutes a day of delayed coverage (8.30pm) each night of the tour, plus a hours highlight package on the 3rd of Feb. Hardly doing an event of this scale justice.

Whatever their failings, SBS at least provided a 1/2 hour show each day showing most of the daily highlights, plus the first and last stages live.

While 7 may provide better international coverage it will leave the Australian public not in Adelaide short changed. Remember their coverage of the Men's Olympic Road Race. If it is not football or to a lesser extent Tennis they are not really interested. Australian soccer has found this ever since 7 bought its broadcast rights 2 or 3 years ago.

I can't help but feel that this is a backward step on the organizers part. I hope I am proved wrong.

Matthew Tognini
Thursday, December 14

Junior Gearing

This question is for anyone who has any idea why USA Cycling and the UCI continue to flip flop on the junior gearing issue which forces all juniors on the planet, regardless of age-grouping (racing junior races) to a 52x14? I propose they're trying to sale more equipment and we should continue buying stock in Shimano.

My other question is, who thinks they can enforce the 52x14 rule? I've never seen anyone slam on brakes at the finish of a cycling race to have their gears checked/verified - anyone can replace a blocking-screw in a matter of seconds. Forcing the use of 23-14 cassettes would be the only answer. This expensive, flip-flop solution to a problem that I have heard much about, along the large increase in USA Cycling fees for juniors, is a giant step in a questionable direction.

Frankly, Flip-flopped,

Buzz Zantz
Tuesday, December 19

TT's rule!

I don't know how anyone can make the statement that "we're not convinced the TT is that important". There is no truer test of pure cycling ability than the time trial. There's nowhere to hide, no bunch to shelter in, no-one to ease the pain, it's just you and the clock. If you are the strongest rider then you will win, it's as simple as that. You can't sit on then get up in the sprint and claim the win, you can't lose because someone dropped a wheel, you can't miss the winning break and say "c'est la vie".

All of these things are part and parcel of road racing, and it would not be the same without them, tactics is oh so important to racing and this part of what makes it so exciting to watch and compete in. But the TT is still the ultimate test.

It's not called "the race of truth" for nothing.

Simon van der AA
Adelaide, Australia
Monday, December 18

Wanted: Gavia poster

$ for a good copy of the Hampsten Giro snowy Gavia Pass poster.....

Ian Baker
December 21

Wanted: Training partners

Let me introduce myself. I am currently staying in Buderin on the Sunshine Coast (Australia) for a couple of months writing up my PhD thesis in Sports Science before heading back to England. I am looking for training groups to ride with so that I can get a feel of the area and to find out where the good riding and training is. I would appreciate it if any keen cyclists out there in the area, who wouldn't mind showing me a few routes, would get in contact with me.

The easiest way to reach me is by email to m.w.bridge@bham.ac.uk. I'd be happy to pass on all the latest knowledge on cycling physiology, performance and training during rides or at a coffee shop after to anyone interested. I'm interested in any rides from 40km up to 160+km though I'm not in too great a shape for 160+ rides yet give me a couple of weeks.

Look forward to hearing from Sunshine Coast cyclists

Matt Bridge
Buderin, Australia
Friday, December 15

The last month's letters

  • December 7-18 – US Postal, Trofeo Barrachi, cycling's profile, Baal, wanted
  • December 4-6 – Videos wanted, Trofeo Barrachi, doping, UCD NORD87
  • December 1-3 – The profile of cycling, pressure on racers, doping and the Trofeo Baracchi
  • November 28-30 – Trofeo Baracchi, Claude Criquelion, pressure, doping, and Virenque
  • November 22-27 – Even more on doping, Virenque, and bone wasting
  • November 20-22 – Doping, Virenque, bone wasting and the gobsmackingly brilliant
  • November 14-19 – Doping; Virenque, pro training and the French media
  • November 11-13 – More on doping, technology and Giles Baudet
  • November 8-11 – Doping, technology, US Postal and Giles Baudet
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com