Letters for October 9-12, 2000
More Olympics comments
Were Telekom really working to a set plan in the Olympic road race, or was that simply the way it turned out? As always, there are arguments for both cases. In October 3-8 letters, there were several comments that the race was planned, and therefore detracted from the Olympic ideal.
What's wrong with a trade team race anyway?
Why should the Olympic Road Race be any different than any other road race involving teams either trade or national in the world?
Maybe Telekom did purchase a Gold for Germany, so which Country hasn't? All of the Countries have purchased medals by using corporate sponsors and the athletes as a tool, how about that for a theory. Millions and millions of dollars spent on national elite athlete development.
Riding away from the likes of Betini, Bartoli, Armstrong, Hincapie and about 60 odd other top professionals, must be an easy task hey? Was Telekom buying this when Ullrich blew them all away on the climb to force a three man break? I am sure too that the Telekom directors sat down and said "yeah, then when you will blow Bartoli, Betini, Armstrong off your wheel the second last time up the climb and ride off into the sunset... Jan, when this happens and you three stay away because we know you three are the strongest here today, you can have the gold, Vinokourov sliver and you Andreas...you can have bronze"
I saw Betini and Bartoli driving it to get those three back...that was when they only had twenty seconds. I wonder how much Vinokourov contributed to the success of the break anyway. I saw him try and ditch the two Germans and he had nothing in his legs. Thats when he got told how it was. Try and attack once more and we will attack you and you can go back to the bunch and get no medal at all. That is how it works in racing. I wonder if you understand this Mr Leslie?
Vinokourov can't sprint to save his life, hence his attack. But attacking was pointless anyway and I believe that was the reason why he was shaking his head. He already knew the outcome and it wasn't because of the senior rider theory either.
Mr Leslie, did you see any of the race at all? If you did than you would realise the strongest man won on the day. The fastest, strongest and the hardest...that's what the Olympics are about.
Maybe Telekom did have something to do with it, it was the employer of three of the world's best professional road men in the Olympics. Funny that.
Mr Leslie, you might want to actually send a letter to George and Lance asking why they let that break go in the first place. Ask them why they didn't help Betini and Bartoli bring it back?
I must say, your last paragraph certainly gave you away as an activist so you pretty much lost all credibility for your supposed pure cycling fan's view.
For David Baxter, Mapei's '96 victory was a beautiful thing. If you get the video and watch it then you may see the awesome point when the three of them destroyed the whole field. That was professional team racing at its best. I just felt sorry for Ballerini who punctured at that moment. For a team, that finish was perfect. The only problem was Tafi and Bortolami squabbling about who was going to come second, that was a bit disappointing.
The right result
I have to object to Mr. Leslie's assertion that Team Telekom bought the Olympic Men's Road Race. Is Mr. Leslie insinuating that Jan Ullrich was not the deserving winner of the race, or that he sat on the wheels of the the other two riders before they gave him the gold medal? If so, he must have watched a different race than I did even though I'm quite sure we received the same shoddy coverage from NBC.
I'm rather sure, however, that I saw Ullrich start the break, and take the hardest pulls once the break was clear. That the three best riders that day medalled is evidenced by the fact that the two Italians (and Mapei teammates) were unable to make a dent into the Telekom advantage. Obviously, the break worked because of the Telekom connection, but had all three of them come to the line, the result would have been the same, whether the sprint was staged or not. Had Vinokourov refused to agree to the end result, he would almost definitely been attacked by one or both Germans and risked not medalling at all.
While it is ironic that all three medals were won by Team Telekom, this Olympic race had the strongest field ever, including three Tour winners and multiple world champions, and if they were unable to catch a break containing three Telekom riders, then they must accept the end result, staged or not.
Not necessarily planned
I'm not sure that I can see any evidence of the trade team collusion in the Olympic road race that John Leslie alleges in his letter on the 3-8 October letters page. What appeared to happen on my TV set was:
(1) Ullrich attacks and then, having got the gap, pauses (textbook tactics) to try and get a couple of people across to form a workable group.
(2) Ullrich's (national) team-mate Klöden does what he would be expected to do in the circumstances - sit on anybody trying to get across, discouraging the weak and getting a free ride up to the break to keep the German advantage otherwise.
From that point it didn't matter who the third rider was. Any three riders in that situation would have worked together (an almost no-lose gamble with three medals on offer), with the possible exception of domestiques for major riders still in contention behind. Ullrich was clearly the strongest rider when the trio were together (Vinokurov was stuffed from doing the majority of the work involved in towing Klöden across the gap, and Klöden did what he should have done after Ullrich attacked - sat on Vinokurov until Ullrich was safely clear, and then cooperated to stay clear of the chasers for a guaranteed medal.
Given Ullrich's evident strength, I can't see the way the race went having been any different had the third rider been Bartoli, Jalabert or Armstrong. Since Klöden is in the couldn't-sprint-his-way-out-of-a-paper-bag category, the silver and bronze result was pretty predictable as well.
So where are the grounds for complaint? What should have happened but didn't after Ullrich attacked? Should Vinokurov have decided chivalrously not to try to get across to a promising break on the grounds that it was his trade team leader? Should he have sat on the break in the hope that it would get caught - so that he could try and outsprint a bunch of thirty - including Zabel - at the finish? I really don't think so ...
How nice that Armstrong and Ullrich were so gracious to each other after the Olympic time trial - Armstrong said, no excuses, they were just faster than me - Ullrich was pleased for Lance getting bronze after the strain of the Tour. Such a change from cyclists and other sportspeople moaning about all the reasons why they didn't perform. Pantani, for example, apparently did badly in the road race because the press hadn't left him alone before the race. Why not just admit he was going badly? Perhaps Armstrong was right when he said Pantani had no class!
Great site, by the way - it's impossible to get decent cycling news elsewhere when you live in the Scottish Highlands! Thank you!
Justi Carey, UK
Fusi must go
If Keagan can resign for England losing 1-0 then Fusi should definitely go for leaving Tafi out of the Olympics and the Worlds. More so for leaving Rebellin out of Sydney and having Pantani in - what a wasted ride.
Why do the Italians always mess up their national teams just like England does for soccer ? Both have the best trade teams who just can't get it together for International events.
Post Olympics 2000, an interesting time for Australian Cycling now that Charlie Walsh is to ride off into the sunset and Shayne Bannan is to suceed him. I guess time will tell if our sport is to be stimulated into the new growth it needs.
On another subject It would seem a Silver or Bronze Olympic Medal in Athletics earns more publicity in the main stream media than the likes of McGrory and Aitken (what a fantastic night to remember) great effort guys.
Anna Wilson's Diary: The level makes no difference
Cyclingnews.com always attempted to maintain integrity in our sport. I refused to publish contributions from riders or anyone which demeaned the sporting nature of cycling. I read the read the recent contribution from Anna Wilson about her racing in Toowoomba with dismay.
Evidently, she believes that her "training" requirements outweigh the rights of other riders who have entered the event as a race under normal racing conditions. She admits to cheating and even makes a joke of it. What about the other riders who were working hard and for whom this was probably their weekly "serious" club event. I am surprised that cyclingnews.com would have published this story about cheating. Whoever Anna Wilson is it is clear to me that she is not above any other rider in any race, no matter how inferior she believes it to be. If she thinks her training is more important than another rider's racing, then she should train elsewhere.
A race is a race is a race.
It also reveals an attitude that has affected club and national series cycling for some years now - that the rest of us should be fodder for a few elite riders, who incidently have not done much to justify the dollars the government has invested in them over the years. The recent Olympic results are not a glowing testimony.
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