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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

The Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under was the highlight of the Australian summer so far for the tens of thousands of people who turned out to see it, and David Baxter has written to evangelise everyone who didn't see it.

However, the TV coverage of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under continues to inspire unhappy emails, with Steve Taylor suggesting Channel 7 should be subjected to a deluge of complaints. Here's a more subtle strategy. Write to Channel 7 and tell them how great you think it is that they're covering cycling and ask for more of the same next year. You get more flies, as they say, with honey than vinegar.

On a related topic Kevin Dakin writes from the UK with a salutary tale of the British PruTour, cancelled, among reasons, because of complaints about the way its media profile was handled.

A spin-off from the doping debate is discussion of the behaviour of Lance Armstrong toward those who have accused him and USPS of using dodgy (if not actually banned at the time) substances during the 2000 Tour. Opinion is polarised between readers like Rob Ransom and Anders Jensen who believe Armstrong needs to take Dealing With The Media 101 and folks like Scott Goldstein, Mark Combs and Alan Levy who believe he has every right to be outraged by the way he's been hounded

The proposed legislation in Texas limiting the right of cyclists to ride in bunches generated a couple of letters. Steve Lea has some insight into its origin, while Mike Collins would feel ashamed to be Texan if the law passed.

Christer Johansson writes from Sweden to ask just why US Postal would have been carrying Actovegin. We've spoken to some medical types, and searched the Medline on-line database of medical research for material on Actovegin, and it has been experimentally shown to have some positive effects for both diabetes sufferers and in the promotion of wound healing. However, these studies were small, and there does not seem to be a vast body of evidence that Actovegin does very much at all except improve oxygen transport into some tissues. It hasn't even been demonstrated to improve athletic performance.

On a lighter note, Andreas Eisenberger believes he has figured out how Cannondale's new suspension bike works.

Finally, modesty dictates we keep this praise from Simon van der Aa of our live coverage of the TDU till the end, but ego, and the fact that I know how hard our chief editor Jeff Jones worked to bring you those reports, means we can't leave it out entirely. Thanks for the encouragement Simon!

Go see the JCTDU!
JCTDU TV Coverage
Armstrong and the French
Armstrong's conduct
Texan anti-bunch law
Actovegin
Cannondale's new suspension
Cyclingnews' JCTDU Coverage

Go see the JCTDU!

I've just returned to Melbourne at 1.30 in the morning after driving across to watch the TDU [for non-Australians, that's roughly 700miles/1200km- Ed]. While I echo the sentiments of those who have been disappointed with the TV coverage of the TDU (wouldn't that last stage have been MAGNIFICENT, telecast LIVE?) I have to say that the event and the experience are a MUST to any serious Australian cycling fan. This is the third time I've been, and it just gets better and better. For the atmosphere of a Euro professional stage race, and IN AUSTRALIA, this cannot be beaten. It's brilliant. You can go to the "village" after the stage, and watch, and talk to the mechanics cleaning the bikes. You can drool, too, but just take care not to sully a just-cleaned bike! The stages are spectacular, and most include circuits of some kind, so that you can generally see the race from two or three vantage points. Watching the riders come up Mengler's Hill is fabulous: cowbells, whistles, painted names on the road... if it hadn't been about 40 degrees, you'd have sworn you were in France!

f you've thought of going, but haven't: do it! Being at the finish as David McKenzie was borne around that last lap, dying, but going for it, on a WAVE of sound was hair-raising!

I'll be back!

David Baxter
Melbourne, Australia
Monday, 22 January

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JCTDU TV Coverage #1

I have just been reading the letters about the TDU coverage, and even though I live in SA and get the enormous 2 minutes a night coverage that the other States don't get — aren't we in SA lucky — I agree with the letters that Channel 7's coverage is pitiful, especially when they are getting paid to show it. In fact, it is less than our other TV stations are showing on their news segments. I suggest everyone shows their disgust at Channel 7's coverage by writing/e-mailing/phoning them as it's only by contacting them direct that they will get the message.

Steven Taylor
Stirling SA
Fri, 19 January

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JCTDU TV Coverage #2

Thanks Jenny for the explanation - it does little to mollify this cycling enthusiast! The coverage from channel 7 was so good that they didn't even think it important enough to include in the Brisbane news last night. Not even a mention. Thankfully, both SBS and ABC do and both gave a slot to it.

Steve Webster
Brisbane, Australia
Monday, 22 January

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JCTDU TV Coverage #3

The UK once had a bike race called the PruTour. In the first year, (1998), the race marketing organisation, sold the exclusive rights to a satellite TV company. Negative publicity ensued as a result of alienating a large part of the population who did not subscribe to satellite TV.

The next year (1999) the organisers offered a mainstream channel for everybody. Poor programme schedules (lunchtime daily 15min) or late night viewing (after midnight) again attracted negative comment.

The following year (2000) the race marketing director was sacked, and the sponsor 'spat the dummy' and pulled the plug. The UK now has no showcase cycle race.

The Tour Down Under is an International cycle stage race which is growing in reputation year by year. Crowds on the race are huge judging by the various website pictures; Hein Verbruggen (UCI President) has publicly endorsed the quality of the race and the organisation.A long term strategy is clearly being employed here and while the general TV coverage may not be to every bike rider's taste, it can only improve with the enthusiasm displayed by the general public watching and visiting the race in South Australia. The day when, the TV channels have a price bidding war to obtain the rights of transmission, can't be to far away.

Kevin Dakin
MD, PDM Sports, UK
Saturday, 20 January

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Armstrong and the French

I would like to reply to Isaac Wheelers letter as after reading it I was in utter shock. I quote: "Lance's outrage, if that's all it is, is misplaced -- doping is a "trendy story"" SORRY! WOW Lance should apologize immediately, I mean its not like these bastards hound him every damned step of the way. I am certain he would receive all of the respect and privacy needed to train properly. RIGHT!

These are the same folks that actually proclaimed that the chemo gave Lance an advantage in 1999. Really? You mean to get ahead in cycling I have to get a radically advanced form of cancer, get chemo, come back lighter and quick as a rabbit, win the Tour. It's really that simple.

What kind of narcotics do these people use to come up with this?

What's next, a web cam in the crapper to make sure he isn't getting too light for the race?

I would suggest that if the French media used the same powers of introspection on themselves as they have on the USPS team, we can find out if they have stopped beating their wives yet. See, no insinuation there? Not a problem, this is France and you don't need facts to sell cage liners.

Mark Combs
Sunday, 21 January

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Armstrong's conduct #1

I too have noticed the paradox created by Armstrong's past comments about living in France with nothing to hide and his recent departure from that country. I am compelled to comment on the one thing that seems to have marked Armstrong's career almost as much as his riding: his consistent lack of tact when dealing with the press. I recall only too well he was being hailed in 1991 and 1992 as the "next Greg Lemond," except that every time Armstrong opened his mouth it made me cringe, whereas Lemond always seemed so gracious and at ease when speaking to the press.

Armstrong is a hot head. He speaks before he thinks. When he realizes what he has said, he says he doesn't care. He seems to have little understanding of how the press manipulates situations to create a story. If he had just a little more tact and savvy, he could no doubt use his celebrity to far greater advantage and we wouldn't find ourselves wondering why such a talented man with such a remarkable history can act so boorishly when the kitchen gets hot.

Rob Ransom
Charleston, South Carolina USA
Sunday, 21 January

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Armstrong's conduct #2

I find the politicisation of the issue of doping among cycling enthusiasts distressing. Doping is destroying professional sports. The possibility of Actovegin use by Postal as well as any other team should be investigated, regardless of whether it is legal or not. The point is that performance enhancing drug use is dangerous for cyclists, and corrupts the spirit of the sport.

That said, Armstrong has every right to take on the French media when they attack him. They certainly have gone after him. Let's face it, French pride has been understandably injured by the poor performance of their teams and riders in recent years, and it appears that this state of affairs has fuelled the vitriol of the French media. Armstrong can train and race where he wants. The backlash against Armstrong's comments about France only serves to obscure the issue of doping itself.

We must keep the focus on cleaning up the sport. Regardless of why attacks are made and where Armstrong trains, we need to know that all riders are racing clean--whether the substances are banned or not.

Alan Levy
Evanston, Illinois
Saturday, 20 January

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Armstrong's conduct #3

I'll try to make it short this time, I promise! First of all, thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read what I have written, and not least to those of you who have responded.

There is one thing in particular that I want to make clear: I don't believe that Lance Armstrong or anyone else should "let themselves be thrown in jail" under any circumstances. I believe that what happened to the Festina riders and to Rodolfo Massi back in 1998 was outrageous (especially the part where they apparently stripped Alex Zülle more or less naked and took his glasses from him). And Rodolfo Massi surely would not have let himself be jailed had he had a choice.

No, my point was - and is - that the way Massi handled himself afterwards was much more dignified than Armstrong and lots of others have done and are doing at the moment. Remember Laurent Jalabert claiming that "there is no doping in cycling"? I'm not saying that Lance Armstrong is doped, because I don't know that. But he is just not doing himself any favours being so awfully defensive. It brings back bad memories of other self-professed "innocents". And besides, I don't think his extremely anti-French attitude is very sympathetic. I know they've been hard on him, maybe too hard, but pouting and sulking in the corner (or, as the case may be, in Spain and Italy) is just so - un-championlike, for lack of a better term.

That's what I meant by saying that Lance should "lighten up and show some class". Wouldn't it be some much nicer to hear him say something like: "I know we've had a lot of problems in cycling, and we should all cooperate in order to clear our sport of this mischief! We have done nothing wrong, but we will assist the French police in any way possible…" and so on. Let them do their job and prove your innocence, Lance, if you are indeed as innocent as you claim to be. What ever harm could that possibly cause? They're not going to haul you off to jail anytime soon, I'm sure.

Oh, and by the way, the police can't "bring anyone the facts" unless we allow them a little time to investigate first.

Anders P. Jensen
Haslev, Denmark
Sunday, 21 January

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Armstrong's conduct #4

I read the 3 follow up letters to Anders Jensen's initial letter regarding Rudolfo Massi before I read Anders' letter. I incorrectly assumed that the point of his initial letter was that Armstrong was justified in avoiding France during the current "investigation" because of what horrible damage that can be done to an athlete's career by a miscarriage of French justice. Today, I read Anders' letter and was completely flabbergasted to read that Anders suggests that Lance should learn from Rudolfo Massi's case and quietly go about his life.

I have one question for Anders: Are you out of your mind? The Massi case is a shining example of how dangerous and potentially explosive this whole mess is. If I understand Anders correctly, he is suggesting that Lance go about his training as normal, until one night the French riot police (the same ones used during the 1998 Tour) break into his home (which they have a full right to do under French law, true?) and throw him in jail. From his jail cell, he can work with his attorneys and prove his innocence, and continue to prepare for his Tour de France defence. If he's innocent, then all will work out and everyone will live happily ever after.

Wake up Anders. How long before this "investigation" starts to stink? How long does a legitimate investigation go before the investigators confront or even request information from the accused party? How long does it take to test urine samples? It only takes a few minutes, unless you keep testing until you find something, in which case it takes forever.

Scott Goldstein
USA
Monday, 22 January

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Texan anti-bunch law

The proposed legislation before Committee in the Texas Senate is indeed disturbing to cyclists here. I live in the Texas Hill Country in the Senate District of the author of this legislation. When I had lunch with him in Austin in November and his discussion covered anticipated legislation in this session, this bill was not on his list. It is questionable if any cyclists were consulted in its drafting, as it clearly appears to benefit the rural driver who may infrequently be slowed by a group ride on one of these roads. We are vigorously opposed to this legislation that appears to be a response to other proposed legislation that benefits cyclists. I encourage all cyclists to visit the web page www.biketexas.org and express their opposition.

Steve Lea
Boerne, Texas
Sunday, 21 January

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Texan anti-bunch law

I don't think I could wear a lone star on my helmet with pride if that law was passed.

Mike Collins
USA
Fri, 19 January

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Actovegin

I'm confused! A while ago, Lance Armstrong said that he had never heard of a blood-booster (or whatever it is) called "Actovegin". But now, Mark Gorski says that the team does carry Actovegin with them, but only to treat skin abrasions and to "aid one of the staff who has diabetes".

Two of my close relatives suffer from diabetes, and I have asked them and a couple of others about this, but none seem to know why a serum made from calf's blood should help a diabetic in any way. Nor have I been able to find any indication that it would do you much good to dab Actovegin on the wound if you happened to fall off your bike and skin your knee. Can anyone tell me more about the supposed effects of this product? I'm not much of a cyclist myself, but maybe someone knows anything more about Actovegin and its effects? I'm especially baffled by the "diabetes" statement.

Christer Johansson
Stockholm, Sweden
Monday, 22 January

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Cannondale's new suspension

Every time you hit a bump while sitting, a small but annoying electrical shock is transmitted to your butt reminding you to stand up and absorb the bump with your legs. This technology, called EPO ("Electronic Position Optimization"), has allowed Cannondale to produce a light weight, truly pivotless full suspension mountain bike, with more than 4 inches of rear travel depending on the size of the rider.

Andreas Eisenberger
Friday, 19 January

Tom Armstrong of Cannondale replies: "They've figured it out! There goes any element of surprise..."

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Cyclingnews' JCTDU Coverage

Just a brief note to thank you for your excellent live coverage of the TDU. Unable to get any time off, I had to sit at my desk in Adelaide knowing that the best cyclists in the world were out there and I could be watching them but for this obstacle they call "employment". At least you gave me a window to the race, I could picture all the places they were riding through and I could see the conditions they were dealing with. I felt like I was there with Steve Cunningham (a local Adelaide rider) as he broke away with Alessio Galletti. I never thought 15 minute updates could have me sitting on the edge of my seat. I was so hoping he would hang on for second. Unfortunately it was not to be.

I can't wait until net video is a viable option - then I won't get ANY work done at all. Thanks again cyclingnews, you've done well.

Simon van der Aa
Adelaide, South Australia
Friday, 19 January

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The last month's letters

  • January 14-18 – Drugs, TDU coverage, US Postal, Texan law
  • January 11-13 –Drugs, Virenque, TDU coverage, French media, wooden bike
  • January 6-10 – Drugs, Coverage of Tour Down Under, books & videos
  • January 1-6 – Drugs, USA coverage, favourite books & videos
  • December 23-31 – Injuries, Drugs, USA coverage, TTT
  • December 19-22 – Quo vadis?, drugs/money, US cycling, TDU, gears, TT's
  • December 7-18 – US Postal, Trofeo Barrachi, cycling's profile, Baal, wanted
  • December 4-6 – Videos wanted, Trofeo Barrachi, doping, UCD NORD87
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com