|Tech Features Road MTB Cyclocross Track News Photos Feedback|
Letters to Cyclingnews July 2, 2001
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. 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 email@example.com.
Is Lance Armstrong arrogant? Not according to correspondents who have met him, and even if he is, surely that's not necessarily bad or even unusual in an athlete of his caliber. Nevertheless, his personality and ability remains a strong focus of today's writers.
Also in this edition of letters, more about tyres, some interesting points about 12 hour time trials, clarification on the bike Lance Armstrong used in the Tour de Suisse TT and lots more. Look out for the fembots.
Looking for riding partners during the TDF; Alps-Pyrenees
If someone has some great riding loops planned in the areas of the Alps and Pyrenees during the Tour I would like to join you or your group. I will be traveling solo and doing some camping and staying with friends but do not have much planned in the way of routes for cycling as I watch the Tour. If you know of a great loop or do not mind another cyclist ridding with you please let me know.
I am from Santa Cruz, CA. and have racing experience (10 years ago), although I limit my racing to cyclo-cross these days. I'm looking to do longer rides and catch the Tour at the top of the passes. I am non-competitive, and just like to find a solid rhythm on the climbs. I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org up to July 13.
Ah, men are such simple creatures. David Calabro thinks podium girls are unpeturbed by soggy, sweaty, rain-drenched cyclists throwing their arms around them! Well, sorry to disappoint you David, but they're not real women! No. They're Fembots! That's right, Fembots. They stand up there, do their programmed smile, wave, smile, peck on the cheek, smile routine and that's it . Simple.
Do you think that real women would want to be but through that routine?
And at the end of the day they get packed into their boxes and are shuttled off to the next podium at the end of the stage. Simple! End of story!
What I'd like to know is, why aren't there any podium boys?
Italian women's races do in fact have podium boys. As is only proper.
Ian, there are shops everywhere, even places you don't think about. if you can, get yourself a work stand, basic tools, a good bike maintenance book at any book shop, buy some old crappy road bike or mountain bike (whatever you ride), tear it apart and put it back together in better condition you found it in (may take three or four attempts, heck I'm still trying), enjoy messing it up, cleaning out the grease between your finger nails, figure out how it got screwed up, and how to maybe fix it the next time. and when you get good enough, work on your bike. Gee, I'm working in a "bike shop". Hey when I retire I want to work in a real bike shop too.
Working in bike shops #2
I worked in a shop with a rider that won the Texas Mountain Bike series several years in a row. 'You'll either end up a good bike shop worker or a good racer', I know people who manage both.
And BRAVO Mr. McCombs! you have pinpointed the problem with finding and keeping good employees - their expectaions. There is indeed much more to working (in a shop or anywhere) than just hanging out and talking about cool stuff (bike or otherwise). And to the prospective employee looking for a job, keep this in mind: you are not 'entitled' to have a job, cool or not, it is a privilege that will be assessed every day that you show up, if you do.
OK, here is my small pro encounter story. It was the summer of '99 and I was leaving town (Austin, TX) in mid-August for a vacation with friends and family. While we waited for our flight to begin boarding I took a stroll into the airport bookstore to find something to read. While browsing the aisles for a bike magazine I looked up to see a young, pretty blonde woman walk in. I immediately recognized her as Kristin Armstrong, the wife of my personal hero. As I tried to get up the nerve to go tell her how cool I thought her husband was I saw a familiar shape walk up behind her... it was the man himself! I almost fell over with shock! I calmed myself (didn't want to look like too big a kook) and walked up to Lance. I expected to get the type of reception usually reserved for members of an IRS audit team, but Lance immediately shook my hand and talked to me for about five minutes. It turns out that he was leaving town to do the talk show circuit following his victory lap in Paris, and had come into town for a few days of R&R. I told him how proud he made all of us feel (cyclists, Americans, the families of cancer patients) and wished him good luck. He went on his way and I went back to my gate for boarding (sans the magazine). I know that he will never remember the meeting, but I will never forget it. He could have blown me off like so many pro athletes do to the fans, but he didn't. He showed the class and humility that make him a hero to so many.
Pro encounters #2
Six years ago I had a chance encounter of meeting Greg LeMond coming out of a coffee shop here in Boulder. I exited the store my head down sipping hot coffee, wearing an old team cycling jacket, when I heard a group of kids behind me . I turned over my shoulder to find myself face to face with the LeMond family. I took a few steps realized he could read my jacket and turned to introduce myself. With goose bumps jumping out of my skin and being at a loss for words Greg talked to me for five or so minutes. When I finally relaxed we had a nice chat.
A few months later Andy Hampsten took a great photo of me and "Big Mig." But that's another story.
With all due respect to Mr. Kraemer, I think any arrogance in Lance
was clearly wiped out by his battle with cancer. What's left is a rider
who knows how to focus on training, who knows that his family and friends
are far more important than any bike race, who sponsors a huge charity
ride in Austin every spring for cancer research, and who savors victory
because he knows it can all go away in an instant. I don't think Ullrich
has been challenged mentally off the bike the way Lance has, and I think
that's the difference between the two. When it's time to dig deep, Lance
has the shovel. If you want to find arrogance in the peloton, look for
Vandenbrouke or Virenque.
Arrogance? You obviously have never met and know nothing about Lance Armstrong if you think he is arrogant. He is one of the most down to earth, self effacing, approachable star athletes I have ever seen. He has time for everyone, and never looks down on anyone. Here in the US he has long been a sponsor of Junior racing and he spends enormous amounts of time and energy helping others. A natural confidence in himself (justified I would say) and a realistic evaluation of his own abilities may seem arrogant to some who are predisposed to dislike him for one reason or another, but by any realistic standard he is farther from arrogance than any athlete of his stature I have ever seen. I believe Lance will win his 3rd tour this year but I also know that Ullrich, among others, is a great athlete and will fight to the end. I would never make attacks on his character just because I prefer another rider let's all remember this is a sporting event and try to be sportsmen.
Who needs to watch the Tour de France this year if we have already decided upon the winner ? Maybe it is the English reserve, or a deep seated streak of pessimism, but I can see a much more fun game after the end.
Hundreds of American cycling fans offering reasons why Lance Armstrong didn't win the Tour de France for the third consecutive time. I have to say that he is by far the runaway favourite, but then being the favourite is not always a precursor to being the winner. To win the Tour de France, whether for the first or the fifth time, requires more than being the best cyclist over a three week period. Too many people have decided that the Tour is about Armstrong vs Ullrich and Armstrong has won. Wrong.
It is about Armstrong vs the clock vs the cobbles of the North vs the winding mountain passes of the Vosges vs the heady heights of the Alps vs the heat of the Massif Central vs the peaks of the Pyrenees vs one hundred and seventy odd other cyclists vs lady luck vs injury… Much as I would like Armstrong to win, he will have a fight on his hands and it won't just be a portly German trying to stop him.
I remember in 1983 when the pundits expected the Tour to be a straight fight between Joop Zoetemelk and Phil Anderson in the absence of Bernard Hinault. Maybe the same thing will happen this time, with the emergence of a new Laurent Fignon.
Show me a champion who has not been called arrogant. This is a silly criticism.
I don't believe I would actually call that arrogance; it is actually called confidence!
I believe in Lance's case, arrogance is a strength. And Armstrong has some personality. Davis Phinney's interviews with Lance during the Tour du Pont in the '90s were priceless. Lance keeps his ego checked much better now than when he was younger. His behavior is common in men raised without fathers.
Lance thinks highly of himself, but he doesn't prevent others from expressing themselves. And he certainly has perspective; he seems to know what is ultimately important in life. Cipollini is the same way. Class. Talent. Smarts. These guys don't let others affect their rides.
Ullrich doesn't seem to have much personality. He doesn't seem to happy to win, and doesn't seem to care if he loses.
What's amazing to me is that people still complain about Lance's arrogance. It's almost like they've been personally insulted by him. There are not many athletes out there who aren't arrogant. Who wouldn't be? I know that if I was one of the best cyclists in the world, I would certainly want that point known. Also, most of the past champions of the TdF know their ability and need it for the races. Eddy Merckx was one of the most notorious. Do I even need to mention Hinault?
These guys have to know that they are the best out there. It's a win or lose situation out there and if they doubt their ability, then they lose. Simple as that.
What's the best move Telecom did to its team this year? They got one of Lance's main men and made some people think Livingston's "the best domestique".
What did US Postal did in response? They made sure one serious Tour contender won't challenge Lance this year and got Heras to work for him in Kevin's place.
Jan Ullrich might have really trained his ass out for this year's tour, but Bjarne Riis and 1997 Tour contenders must not be ones guide to measure Lance Armstrong's condition this past two years, and especially this July.
And let's not forget Joseba Beloki and team O.N.C.E. After the Team TT, Beloki could be well placed. He can climb with the best with climbers as team-mates, and could possibly even put some time between himself and Ullrich in the mountain time trial.
This could be Ullrich vs Beloki for 2nd.
As for yellow in Paris: probably three-peat.
Artemio Jr. Balinas
Amstrong vs Ullrich #2
There are way too many things that can affect outcome of any stage race (such as illness , crash , lack of team support.....) but the team time trial has to be the one of the most important factors. Remember Indurain used to lose up to 5 minute in TTT and had to overcome that deficit , even though he was strong enough to do it. Jan and Lance don't have that luxury because they are so evenly matched. We are talking about two riders with tremendous talent who can time trial and climb like a goat when they are on form. Maybe Lance will have an edge due to maturity and experience; overcoming cancer is much harder than dealing with a weight problem during the off season due to lack of discipline. Having said this, one bad day is all it takes to lose the race. So I'll say whoever does better on TTT will prevail.
The question posed by Scott Goldstein: "I think that Jim (or anyone else) will have a tough time naming a TdF winner (in the modern era) that showed up to the TdF with no significant race results in May or June and won it. In other words, got in shape to win the Tour by training on their own. "
Greg LeMond rode and won the Tour de France in 1989 with no prior results of note. He had a top 10 placing in the Criterium International but that's it. In fact, Paul Kimmage wrote in his book that in effect LeMond looked like a lumbering fat ass on a mountain stage in the Giro that year. So don't count anyone out. Except maybe for all the French riders.
Pedro Delgado didn't have any results in spring of 1988 either. And for that matter nor did the Badger in 1985. Are these considered the modern era? I know it all happened in the last century.
Joe 'anyone else' Coldebella
Why is Jan Ullrich hated so much? Year after year the man shows up with great fitness in July. And year after year he gets slammed by fans and journalists alike. Except Lance, you'd be hard pressed to find a Tour rider with the consistency of Ullrich since the Indurain era. He has had a podium finish every year that he has competed.
People slam him about his winter weight and him not being the rider of Lance's caliber. But let's look at who Ullrich really is compared to some of his revered peers. Casagrande and Pantani-- both heavily loved by the media and fans-- have both been thrown out of races because of performance enhancing substances, and Pantani is a loudmouth. Virenque-- please don't get me started. Jalabert, a bigger Tour disappointment then Ullrich ever was. Cippolini-- the man is all about controversy, fashion and drama then quits the grand Tours when the race goes to the mountains.
Ullrich seems to be a quiet guy who keeps his mouth shut, comes to work and does his job well. He has avoided serious drug inquires -- even Lance can't say that. He was the perfect teammate to Riis -- even in 1997 when Ullrich won. Barring Lance in the last 3 years, can you name a more consistent Tour rider than Ullrich since Indurain? Except for Lance's miracle comeback from cancer and rise to the top of the Tour, Ullrich is the most positive story in cycling. Give the guy some credit.
Lance will probably win the Tour this year, but this yank will be rooting for Fatboy.
You will certainly save more than an ounce or two on a set of tubulars over a comparable set of clinchers of the same durability. Sew-up rims of the same weight as clinchers will simply be stronger because so much of the clincher rim is in fact non-structural, the part that holds the bead of the tire doesn't really add to the strength of the wheel. Bottom line here is that you may save a half pound of rotational mass on a set of tubulars over a set of clinchers. Rotating mass behaves much differently than the rest of the mass of the bicycle, with sew-ups you can accelerate that rotating mass much quicker than a clincher wheel set of comparable strength. The comparison of rotating mass to the rest of the bike is not a valid one, it is simply false to think otherwise.
A thought that I have regarding flats involves the tire pressure people are using for either clinchers or tubulars. I often see people pumping tires to 140 psi and beyond regardless of road conditions. A tire that is pumped up to that pressure will be more prone to punctures and will not give a good return in rolling resistance. If you have a smooth surface, 140 psi isn't a bad thing. But as is often the case, we don't ride on perfect surfaces and using a lower pressure will not hurt rolling resistance while giving a much better ride and preventing a lot of flats. I rarely find the need to pump any tire up beyond 120 psi for a race and 100 psi for training.
Sew-ups vs clinchers #2
Keith: "I once took the Gold Medal at the Maryland State Age-graded ('93) TT on a tubular that flatted 2 miles before the finish. I was able to continue riding, fishtailing all the way to the line. The rim was completely undamaged. Try that on a clincher!"
I can top that. On the very first day of the GTE Big Ride Across America (Summer 1998), I was riding clinchers in the most grueling weather imaginable. It was misting rain and sleet and very cold. On the descent of Snoqualmie Pass outside Seattle, the front tire flatted. At the bottom of the descent I attempted a tire change. My hands were frozen as I had grossly underprepared for this type of riding condition. While changing the flat I noticed the tire had shrunken in size around the rim due to the cold temperature and was incredibly difficult to get off. Once off, I tubed another tire and tried, unsuccessfully getting it back on the rim. Another rider, thankfully, stopped to help. I couldn't recognize him, due to all his winter facial coverings and nice cold weather gear. It took the both of us, but finally the clincher and tube slipped over the rim. I tried filling the tube with air from his borrowed pump. No luck. We'd pinched the tube in the process of getting it back on the rim. There was no more tubes and a second attempt seemed pointless. My savior rode off as I contemplated getting sagged. Sitting in the cold getting closer and closer to hypothermia, I decided, "Damn sagging, full steam ahead". I rode the remainder of the days' ride, all 27 miles of it, on that flat clincher. It felt like riding a fish, but I did it. Come to find out, the saintly rider who'd offered his help was none other than Joe "The Brain" Carlino of Connecticut.
Sew-ups vs clinchers #3
The point Glen was trying to make which seems to have eluded you is not that you save a few ounces in the overall total of 160+ pounds but rotating weight at the outer perimeter of the wheel has to be constantly accelerated up to speed, especially in courses with lots of cornering and accelerations, and thus it is extra energy spent over and over again which does make a difference.
I'm with Tom Kunich in his scepticism about the performance advantages of a few ounces off the tyre and rim. Despite what many of us would like to believe the accelerations involved in cycling are not huge, and even in a situation where you're accelerating and decelerating frequently, it's hard to believe the wheel makes much difference compared to160lb of bike and rider. However, for those who believe it does, it should be fairly straightforward to do the necessary double-blind tests. Send riders round a very short, twisty course with a variety of different wheels and analyse their times. Have such tests ever been done?
Sew-ups vs clinchers #4
Glen Winkel hits the nail on the head. Anyone who has road raced at a serious level can immediately feel the superiority of sew ups over clinchers, for precisely the reasons Glen outlined. Also, again due to the physical differences in the tire and rim, I think it's unlikely clinchers will ever equal sew ups. I think any pro in the world, being totally honest, would tell you the same thing. Obviously clinchers are used occasionally in Europe due to sponsorship obligations. As others have mentioned, my experience has been that flats (punctures) are significantly less common with sew ups as well. On the other hand, because of the hassle factor, it's much (very, very much) easier to train on clinchers. In fact I find it hard to understand why anyone would go through the hassle of using sew-ups for training. A final thought. It probably doesn't make a significant difference which is used for a relatively straight and flattish time trial -- with few accelerations and sharp turns, the higher rotating weight and clumsier feel of the clincher isn't going to hurt you more than a couple seconds in that particular situation.
Sew-ups vs clinchers #5
Last year, I was riding in a crit and I stupidly road off the course puncturing both of my tubular tires. I thought to my self at the time about how that was $100 down the drain, and how I really need to get some clinchers for race wheels.
After going to the pit and changing wheels I reentered the race with on my training wheels. They were a decent wheel set (Dura Ace w/ Open Pro rims) and decent tires (Hutchinson Crono Gold). I was amazed at the difference. I was racing the same course against the same racers buy my handling and ride quality was much worse. After the race, I no longer considered racing on clinchers. I only whish that I could afford to train on tubulars.
Sew-ups vs clinchers #6
I concur with James' assessment of Tufos. I have their entry level tubbie mounted on two of my bikes. So far, 75 times ridden outside for 2001 (2600 miles) and one flat. Tufo makes a sealant that I have yet to try but now that I have a flat... These tubulars ride better than the clinchers I've tried in the past: Conti 3000, Vittoria Pro Team All-Weather, and Hutchinson Krono Gold. Top of the line clinchers are not bad tires, but not tubulars. Long live lighter rims, glue and tubulars!
I read the letter about RAAM and 12s and can give you my experiences with American 12s. First of all, there aren't many of them - maybe a half dozen in the whole U.S. every year. Each year I ride one called Calvin's Challenge in Ohio. The terrain is flat with slightly rolling hills and drafting other riders is permitted. The riders start on a 50 mile circuit and do that until after a certain time into the ride (8 hours I believe) then after that everyone goes onto a 7 mile circuit until the finish. The start/finish point is exactly the same for both circuits. The best riders usually do 240-260 miles - this year a new course record of 264 miles was posted. The attendance was something like 150+ riders this year - very impressive for this type of event.
There are also other 12s in the U.S. that are run time trial format with no drafting as they do in the UK.
12 hour TTs #2
In his letter on UK 12 hour TTs Andrew Torrance says, "Most mere mortals manage over 220 miles, decent club riders do around 230-260 miles, and the best do above 290 miles. The current record is 300 miles in 12 hours" Am I missing something? Chris Harkey of NC, USA holds the world 12 hour TT record at 276.37 miles. Are local British club riders really breaking the world record and just not telling anyone?
Various sources around the Web list Andy Wilkinson's 300.27 miles (483.13km) as the RTTC record. Chris Harkey's record was set on a traffic-free circuit, whereas an RTTC record such as Wilkinson's will have been conducted on open roads and there's an effect from the slipstream of passing vehicles in such conditions. I've not been able to find more details of the requirements for the two records though. Perhaps a reader can clue us in?
The silent majority is responsible. Riders will lose control of all aspects of competitive cycling within a short time. Active and retired competitors soon will have no input to matters concerning the nature of the sport. Packaging for better TV viewing and marketing are emerging as primary considerations for the sport. Riders of integrity, lovers of competition will remain at local and regional events rather than politic at national and international festivals of commerce. There is nobility in the efforts of competitors within the sport. But it is receding. Greed permeates the decisions of sponsors, officiating organizations, hired professionals, agents, ...
The problem is that the quantity of drugs being produced by the manufacturers far outstrips the legitimate demand for the product. The manufacturers know that a large portion of this production must be going to illegal or unethical use yet they refuse to take any steps to limit production or put "markers" in their product which would make it simple to detect when used for purposes other than what it meant for. By avoiding these steps they make themselves no better than the dealer on the street corner selling his $20 rock.
In regard to Mr. Chapman's wide ranging letter, "Cancer Saints," I am not exactly sure what Mr. Chapman is trying to say. Is he criticizing cancer survivors in general? Others' attitudes toward cancer survivors? Mr. Armstrong's bout with cancer? Others' attitudes toward Lance? The difference between surviving cancer and some other potentially terminal condition? Or is this just another diatribe railing against the success of another person?
In response to one of the letter's comments, I believe the term "Saint Lance" is not being used by people in the literal or religious sense, but only as a way to acknowledge that Mr. Armstrong has successfully fought and won a battle with cancer and then gone on to use his recognition to set up a foundation that supports cancer research and survivorship. That is certainly one difference between Mr. Armstrong and Mr. LeMond.
As for surviving cancer changing you into a "better" person, I do not believe this is as automatic as Mr. Chapman believes. Part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation's work is to prepare cancer survivors for what their life will be like after cancer. The transition is not as easy as one would think.
If my impressions of Mr. Chapman's letter are different than what he intended to say, I apologize.
Cancer saints #2
Regis Chapman: Well said. I am a cancer survivor and former elite triathlete and national team coach. Genetics is a very large part of success and Lance has an abundance of it. I coached dozens of athletes with plenty of will and might but they lacked the genetics. As for coach Carmichael, indeed it is easy to coach gifted athletes, as I also did. Coaching those with less talent to elite levels requires good scientific coaching skills. However there is no doubt that Lance is a rare and gifted athlete, while Carmichael is a superb coach.
Bring on the Tour, it may well be one of the best ever, given that the great riders survive the crashes and illness.
The Mount Washington Hill Climb is the world's most difficult hill climb event? Obviously this guy is from the East where MT Washington is considered one of the great mountains of the world. Have you ever been to the Alps or any of the mountains in the Western US? Have you heard of the MT Evans hill climb? The vertical is far greater than that of the MT Washington Hill climb and the altitude makes it even more difficult. Yeah, MT Washington HC is steep - there's no altitude effect (thin air) and its steep out west in the canyons that are too narrow to switch back. For example, the auto road going up Great Basin National Park (MT Wheeler) on the NV/UT border puts MT Washington to shame. (I've been up the MT Washington road). There are hill climbs in CA, UT, WA, CO and throughout Europe that make MT Washington look a lot less than it does next to MT Wachuesett or Nashoba Valley (Eastern Molehills for those not familiar with them). Yes, Tyler Hamilton is a great rider. I'm not taking anything away from him. Just don't call Mount Washington anything it ain't. Its not even an average bigger mountain in the Rockies in terms of vertical.
I think in the "labeling greatest ever US pro cyclist, etc" you're missing the point. As a nation the US has two of the most remarkable cyclists in both LeMond & Armstrong.
Yes ,Armstrong has attained incredible results, and is a phenomenon on wheels, but there's more than that in being a pro cyclist, and, in that respect, I think LeMond retains the edge.
Greg LeMond, is remembered for many things in pro cycling, not least his cycling victories.
His financial demands on teams influenced pro riders and pro teams, thus enabling cyclist's salaries from European teams to finally enter the 21st century. No bad thing.
LeMond was innovative and adventurous with equipment choice: Oakleys, tri bars, helmet radios, hardshells became fashionable with LeMond. He forced European teams who employed him to relax their attitudes to pro cyclists, to accommodate this American kid: playing golf mid week, in the season, diets, he truly did it his way, and left an indelible mark on European pro cycling.
In amongst this don't forget a brother in-law who mistakes him for a turkey, (or rabbit) and shoots him. I'm sorry but I always find that bit funny. He then comes back to win another Tour de France, in the most exciting manner possible, ripping the heart out of a French hero, in his home town, on the last day of the biggest cycle race in the world. It truly gets no better.
I genuinely don't think Armstrong will ever gain the influence over cycling that LeMond attained. He may achieve a greater number of victories, and deservedly so, no doubt, but amongst other moments his conduct with Bassons in the Tour a couple of years ago, when he had the ideal opportunity to stand up, and decry "cheats" as Bassons indeed stating within Le Equipe, instead Lance joined the sheep and followed. When he was in a position to influence many things, he buckled.
And in that moment, he, in my opinion, lost the moment to become a cycling great.
Tour jersey holders #2
I don't think Hinault accomplished the trifecta of TdF jerseys. I think the last (and only?) person to do it was Eddy Merckx. I believe it was '69.
Lance was one of the very few who used a special TT bike, other than Simoni or Belli. The weather was not extremely hot and he rode in the evening.
Armstrong's TT bike #2
For the TdS uphill TT, Lance used his standard road bike, with clip-on aero bars. He was quoted as saying he didn't change bikes like a lot of the others, because he felt that the most important thing in a time trial is to maintain a constant rhythm.
Armstrong's TT bike #3
In response to the request to identify Lance's bike from the mountain ITT in the TdS. The pictures indicate that it was a standard road frame with clamp-on aero bars installed. However, it was not his standard Trek 5500 road bike that he uses in most races. I am pretty certain that the bike is a Trek 5900, an ultra light bike made specifically for mountainous stages. It is made using a lighter weight carbon fiber than the 5500. Also, if you look closely at some of the pictures you can see that the front derailleur shifter is on the down tube and not integrated into the left brake. And according to comments by Lance afterwards he did not switch bikes during the ITT.
Armstrong's TT bike #4
According to Graham Watson on Lance's website, Lance did switch bikes mid-race. Both he and Tyler began the TT wearing aero helmets and, although they dropped them mid-race, I believe they were wearing short sleeved skinsuits and shoe covers for the entire TT. The bike Lance rode for the second part appeared not to be the black bike he used in earlier stages and at Amstel Gold. It was a pearl gray and had round tubing and short aero bars, which he did use on parts of the climb. My guess is that he has a dedicated climbing bike for the Tour again this year.
A word about the comments on Lance suffering in the heat. The average high in Midland TX, where Lance grew up, in July is 95F and the record set in 1989 is 112F. In Texas, 90F degree heat is the norm in the summer. Riding in the heat for Lance is probably like bringing a little bit of home across the Atlantic.
The last month's letters