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Letters for October 13-18, 2000
Who the hell cares about Roman Vainsteins? He's a good sprinter and, apparently, knows how to ride a smart race, but world championship material?! Why isn't the World's held at some reasonable point in the season? It's really become quite irrelevant! I'm glad Bartoli and Tchmil were there, but the rest of the best had either called it a season, were off form, or were injured. It's a far cry from the days when LeMond, Hinault, Maertens, et al, ruled the roost.
The de facto men's elite world road championships was the men's Olympic road race. I wonder why the UCI even bothered? Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong went home weeks ago. I expect that an on-form Erik Zabel, Tom Steels, or even Marcel Wust, could have dusted Mr. Vainsteins.
Bring the World's back to August, so that the best cyclists are on form to contend! Who wants to build another peak into the end of the season?
I too think that Fusi has messed up the selection of the Italian team. If I were a selector - I would always have a clause that allowed me to replace a weaker rider with any rider that I felt showed the form nearer the time.
Why was Pantani selected for the Olympics? He has only ever showed us that he is good during one type of Cycling event - the Mountains - just two weeks prior Davide Rebellin was beating Francesco Casagrande with a clean pair of (w)heels in local races. He was also figuring well in the World Cup races and making the racing. Why is he not selected?
I do not envy the job, but it would seem to me that some common sense is missing!
Tour 2001 solution
The announcement has been made that there will be 20 teams next year of 9 riders. 6 Teams are to be French. Of course there will be the wild cards, and the bickering from teams left off the start list, and why not? The Tour attracts more publicity and money for cycling than any other event.
My suggestion would be to increase the teams to 26, and decrease the riders per team to seven. 182 riders vs 180. This would accomplish a couple of very nice reactions.
1. More teams in the Tour would mean that more sponsors would be willing to put money in the "not as gifted" squads. This would trickle down giving more riders the opportunity to show themselves to the sport, and sponsors to the world.
2. Imagine the underdog "mountain goat" riding elbow to elbow with the yellow jersey, and sees the opportunity on the last climb. He would not have to worry as much for defensive maneuvers from the Yellow Jersey's team because there may not be as many available. Having less riders per team will mean that each rider has to carry a bigger load, and not be able to save himself solely for the carrying of the Leader. This means the leader has a greater demand for covering, and also means that he is apt to a "Jour sans". The predictability of Tour may diminish. How exciting for the little team to know that they could have a chance.
I am sure there are good reasons for having nine riders, but wouldn't it be sweet to know that more squads could be at the start line. What if every team had only five riders. Every stage would be filled with opportunity for the little guy, and he would not have to worry about being chased down by a single team.
I think it would be great. As for the Olympics. A good race. End of story!
I am grateful for the website.
Michel van Musschenbroek
Why on earth is US Postal dumping Frankie Andreu? If it ain't broke don't fix it! Is a team composed solely of climbers really the best in the Tour de France? Support on the flat stages is just as important as in the mountains. How much help did Zulle get from Banesto after the Passage de Gois? While Andreu was grinding away for Lance in the front group...
Andreu has demonstrated time and time again that he is an invaluable resource for the team in the tour and other races. Hincapie should start looking for another team as well, because he's going to have even less support for the races he wants to win. Postal is losing the best kind of loyalty and support, the kind that money can't buy.
A line in the sand
In response to Bill Mitchell's comments about Anna Wilson's diary from racing in Toowoomba (see letters October 9-12)
I think that what Anna did, can hardly be called cheating. Firstly, Anna had a mechanical failure (puncture) whilst in the lead of the race. She then had the wheel replaced at the back of the race and had her team car "look at her brakes" as she made her way back to the peloton. Anna did not improve her position (she went from the lead, to joining the race again from the back).
If Mr Mitchell has seen any professional racing at all, he would know this it is quite common to see riders who have had a puncture having their bike "seen to" or to make their way back through the team cars after a puncture or a fall. This has nothing to do with riders lack of ability, but bad luck which occurs in bike racing, and as such, is not frowned upon.
As to Mr Mitchell's other comments on the others riders and their weekly serious race. I am sure that any rider not at an elite level would appreciate the opportunity to ride against Olympians. As a Parramatta club member, I know that I am thrilled when our club's elite riders such as Brad McGee, ride and train with us "mere mortals".
Regarding Bill Mitchell's letter on Anna Wilson, this is all a bit sanctimonious, isn't it? Perhaps we should have a new UCI rule that no-one is allowed to enter a race unless he or she signs a notarised declaration to take it very seriously indeed.
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