Letters to Cyclingnews — July 4, 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 letters@cyclingnews.com.

Recent letters — Tour de France edition

As the Tour looms (two days to go!) excitement is mounting. Today, a question about negative points, the ongoing Armstrong vs Ullrich vs LeMond vs Tyson debate, analysis of Telekom and US Postal's Tour teams and lots more.

John Stevenson
Letters editor

Points classification
Radio Tour?
Pas d'Aussies dans le Tour!
Champs Elysees
Giro teams under suspicion
Tour Team Selections; Postal vs Telekom; Armstrong vs Ullrich
Armstrong vs Ullrich
LeMond vs Armstrong
Ullrich vs Armstrong vs Lemond

Points classification

I was recently looking over the 1999 TdF final points standings and noticed that 3 riders at the bottom of the list (Brochard, Giunti, Boardman) had negative points. How is this accomplished?

Martin Chung
Tuesday, July 3

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Radio Tour?

Is there any way to receive live coverage of the Tour in the United States either on short wave or long wave radio, in English? If so what frequencies and times? Any help would be appreciated!

John J. Schuller
Hoffman Estates, IL, USA
Tuesday, July 3

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Pas d'Aussies dans le Tour

It's got to be a conspiracy. Les Australiens are being dropped before the Tour starts.

It seems that O'Grady's in. Thank goodness for small mercies. Vogels was never in because the French (J-M le Blanc actually) don't like the Americans and Vogels made the mistake of riding for a highly ranked US team. Sunderland also was never in and McEwen is either in or out depending on which site you visit. If he's in, well that's good news; if he's out it's clearly because the famous Domonation don't want a rider who can ride for 3000 km and win the last stage in Paris. White is out because according to Bruyneel, he can't climb. McGee is in, I think. He's still in because apart from some respectable odds on the prologue, he's not going to upset anyone's ego during the Tour.

As conspiracy theories go, I concede that this is not much, but it's the best that this one-eyed Aussie can do. Clearly, White, McEwen, Vogels, et al have chosen the wrong teams. If they want to ride the Tour in future, then they need to get contracts as domestiques with struggling French teams , and stay away from the big name teams.

McEwen not in the Tour! You might as well leave Cipollini and Pantani out as well!

John Phelan
Wednesday, July 4

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While I am a bit annoyed at the fact that Mercury-Viatel didn't get a Tour invitation, I am happy that Euskaltel-Euskadi did. Having another team in the Tour that has nothing to lose by constantly going on the attack will make the Tour that much more exciting, especially when the road points up. Now I know that for GC they have David Extebarria who would do well to place in the top 10, but can anyone tell me why Iban Mayo was left off of the Tour team? After the guy goes and wins the Midi Libre and follows that up with the long solo ride in the Classique des Alpes, I was sure that I would be watching him light it up in the Tour.

Christian Johnson
Salt Lake City, UT USA
Wednesday, July 4

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Champs Elysees

I will be in Paris for the final stage of this year's TdF and am wondering if anyone who's been there in years past has any tips on how to get the best views of the finish. How early on Sunday do the festivities start? Is it just a complete madhouse? Can you get close to the riders at all after the finish?

Rich Lingner
Cambridge, MA USA
Tuesday, July 3

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Giro teams under suspicion

Cyclingnews, Saturday June 30:

Leblanc warns Giro teams

This week, Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc has sent a letter out to … the nine teams that participated in the Giro and are also down for the Tour.

"If, during the Tour, it is proven that a rider, team leader, soigneur or team doctor is being pursued in relation to Italian doping law, then the whole team will immediately be sent home," Leblanc wrote.

Then, Tuesday July 3:

More riders named in Giro affair

More names were released from the dossier delivered by the NAS today to Florence, including the entire iBanesto Giro … its two leaders and the doctor… The prosecutor also named Ullrich and Hondo (Telekom), [and] Jolanda Fuentes Rodriguez (Kelme team doctor) … four from Lampre-Daikin…

So, will Leblanc banish Telekom, Kelme, Lampre and iBanesto from the Tour? If he sticks to his word of 3 days ago it seems that these 4 teams are not going to be competing. If Ullrich was telling the truth, Telekom will be kicked out of the Tour for asthma medications that they have medical clearance from the UCI to use? It is a 3 ring Circus.

So, will Leblanc be a man of his word, or will we add him to the list of so many who overlook the ways of these high profile teams?

Eric Smedberg-Goff
Tuesday, July 3

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Tour Team Selections; Postal vs Telekom; Armstrong vs Ullrich

Why is Hincapie on Postal's Tour team? Don't get me wrong, he is a good rider and a good man to have for the classics. Several times this spring he showed his strength and once it paid off. But, wouldn't Vasseur or White have suited the team better? Aussie Matthew White seemed to have been acquired by Postal because of his support work for Casagrande in the Giro in '00. Cedric Vasseur would give the French an excuse to cheer for the Posties... although there is plenty of other opportunity for French riders to partake via the Wild Card selections (I enjoyed the comments on the French wildcards rider selection sometimes going against the spirit of Leblanc's decision!).

I would thoroughly enjoy Hincapie winning a stage. But, Frankie Andreu was even pulled back from a break last year to pull the group. Is George going to fare better? I don't want him to leave Postal either (previous letter postings) but, it may be in his best interest. What will happen when Lance fails to win the Tour? Instead of having a single goal for the season, he will go back to the classics fir wins. Will this pre-empt George's interest?

I would not over look Kevin Livingstone's contributions in Lance's two wins. Kevin made the Tourmalet look tame in '99 keeping pace to pull in a potentially dangerous break away. Unfortunately in '00, he broke a bone early and had to stay off the bike for a bit before the Tour. He has had a hard job the last couple of years. All he has to do is peak at the same time as the team leader and guide him up a mountain. It is similar to the team leader, but no glory and if he has one bad ride employment and pay will suffer, whereas the team leader will get another chance.

Is the Postal team too strong for the Team Time Trial? If Lance gets the jersey then, the team will have to defend for 13 days (TTs don't count, that is squarely on one person's shoulders). That may be too much. Telekom does not seem to have a team to match up with Postal for the TTT. 2:00 + advantage for Armstrong before the mountains really start?

Armstrong or Ullrich: Is Ullrich out of shape or does he have a master plan? If I wanted to get Armstrong over-confident, following Cipollini on mountain climbs is one of the better things I can imagine. Show or no-go? We will find out soon. One thing in Ullrich's favor: he will be wearing the German Champion's jersey like '97 and that bodes well for him. (Although I can't say that this was a measure of his fitness, having to ride away from Zabel before a sprint).

No Pantani, no Cipo, no GM Fagnini (hence reduced Zabel). The tour has been reduced by nationalism. Such is life.

Prediction? Ullrich will win d'Huez. Armstrong will take the jersey in the MTT. The next mountain stage mountain stage will see Armstrong sprinting up the mountain to a spectacular stage win. But, it will be very hot in the Pyrenees and Lance will forget to eat and drink a little and will bonk on Luz-Ardiden. Ullrich will take the jersey there, but lose it back to Armstrong in the ITT.

Finally, am I going to be the only one cheering to see if Vaughters finally sees Paris? or at least see the end of the first mountain stage?

Martin Smith
Monday, July 2

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Armstrong vs Ullrich #1

First, let's compare who is on the teams.

U.S. Postal Service:
Lance Armstrong (USA) - obvious after TdS that he is in butt-whuppin' form
Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) - one of the best time trialists, not climbing so hot right now
Tyler Hamilton (USA) - time trial stud and super climber
Roberto Heras (Spa) - climbing well at Catalonia, top 5 climber when on song
George Hincapie (USA)- solid rouleur
José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) - good climber
Steffen Kjaergaard (Nor) - solid rouleur
Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) - excellent time trialist
Christian Vandevelde (USA) - solid rouleur

Jan Ullrich (Ger) - Just won German Nats in a solo breakaway, just like '97
Udo Bölts (Ger) - amazing hard man, will be there on the climbs
Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) - third twice in the Giro, Alpe d'huez, the man can climb
Jens Heppner (Ger) - solid rouleur
Andreas Kloden (Ger) - Paris-Nice, Pays Basque, not so hot this year but he is due and on song can rage
Kevin Livingston (USA) - one of the best climbers
Steffen Wesemann (Ger) - solid rouleur
Alexander Vinokourov (Kaz) - the man is flying, excellent climber
Erik Zabel (Ger) - da sprint meister

O.K. the break down shows Lance with three solid climbing domestiques, and a butt-whuppin' TTT team (Pena, Ekimov, Lance, Tyler - ouch!). Plus, Lance is climbing out of his mind. Given that there are five mountain top finishes in a row, this is, in the end, probably all that matters. But, given his dramatic bonk on the last mountain stage last year, it is possible that Lance could face a similar fat after this year's much more gruelling procession of cols. All in all, it is an amazingly deep team, but one that seems more focused on slaying all in the TTT, rather than providing super depth in climbing. This may be a mistake given the number and ferocity of the climbs this year.

Telekom has an incredibly deep climbing team. KL and Guerini need no intro - they can put the smack down on the climbs. Kloden showed his amazing class last year and, though yet to show that kind of form, can certainly be counted on to provide top level climbing support. Bolts has been very strong lately, showing well all over the place. In the past, Bolts has been the last line of defence - remember '97? Vino is also flying, he won the Dauphine in '99, beating an on form Lance and Vaughters; Vino looks stronger than ever. The weakness has to be the TTT - Ullrich, definitely, Kloden, maybe, but the rest? Strong, yes, but can Wesseman and Heppner make up for the really bad time trialing abilities of KL and Guerini? And what about Zabel? This guy is pissed that Fagnini was left off the team - perhaps they should have brought along Sgambelluri for the hills or Rolf Aldag would have been good in the TTT.

Yes, Ullrich won the Nats, and that is a huge show of form. But so did Freddy, and no one is claiming that this marks him as a Tour challenger. Plus, how much of an accomplishment is it for the Tour supper champion to drop Zabel? I mean, come on, the man is the uber sprinter and Jan is, well, Jan! To be fair, however, Jan did win Nats in 97 and this could be an ominous sign of form. And Freddy, with very few exceptions, is not Jan! Lance, on the other hand, tore into the best of the best on a stage mimicking the crucial stage of the Tour, and left them all gasping in his wake. Plus, did you see the ADA wheels on Lance's uphill bike? He probably has that thing right around the legal limit (15 lbs or so!). Ouch, he is dead serious about going uphill fast.

We shall see. An earlier letter made the good point that Ullrich last year arrived at the Tour after a horrible spring, saved only by a couple weeks intense training in the Black Forest (as opposed to consumption of Schwartzvalderkirschtort!) and he still got second. This year, he finished the Giro. I am sorry, but Ullrich has consistently shown that he benefits from a high workload. The Giro was just training for him; lots of really good mileage in the structured environment of the stage race, that is, no slacking. He has chosen to then hold his own alpine training camp, to prepare the mountain stages. So who knows, other than the German Natz, there has been no sign of him. Perhaps that is his goal - spring it all on them, ruthlessly, all at once. Boh?

Based on what I have seen, I have to give the upper hand to Lance, at least at the outset. The only limiting factor could be the five mountain top finishes in a row. He may have overcooked his form and it may be that he will fade badly on the fourth or fifth day. Here, Ullrich may have the upper hand as he seems to thrive on that kind of sustained torture; he was only getting stronger as the Tour wore on last year. But with such a brutally strong TTT team, and freakish mountain fitness, Lance really does look awesome.

And don't forget the other teams. Moreau won the Dauphine; Beloki won Catalonia; Francesco 'Big House' Casagrande has an axe to grind (and a super team); Euskaltel-Euskadi has such a strong team that they left Midi-Libre and Dauphine stage winner Iban Mayo at home - this could be Zubeldia's chance to shine; Credit Agricole has JV on super form and Julich is due; and what about Kelme? Though tragically missing Oxtoa, Sevilla and Botero are grimpeurs of the first class. They all cannot be so easily discounted.

Regardless, it will be a good battle.

Justin Lucke
San Leandro, California
Monday, July 2

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Armstrong vs Ullrich #2

Can someone explain why it is so often 'Lance' when we are talking about Armstrong, and Ullrich when we are talking about Ullrich.

They both have forenames and surnames, and it does seem a little discourteous not to use them equally.

W. Hole
Monday, July 2

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Armstrong vs Ullrich #3

The enthusiasm and insightfulness of (most) of the letters concerning Lance's and Jan's upcoming battle for the Yellow Jersey are to me a measure of the excitement with which fans around the world anticipate le Tour.

Looking at the facts is always helpful when discussing a potentially controversial topic such as: Who will win, Lance or Jan?!

1. Lance is the two-time defending champion and was not seriously challenged in 1999 and 2000.

2. His overcoming cancer has given him a mental determination to successfully focus on the truly important things in life (among which is, I gather, a three-peat at Le Tour)

3. He has probably prepared as diligently as ever for the 2001 Tour, his recent results even exceeding the previous years (I think, at least)

4. Jan has clearly been less affected by illness and covered more kilometres in 2001 than last year, his pre-Tour race results have not been stellar in both years (a fifth place in the Tour de Suisse in 2000 compared to a national German title and two Giro podiums in 2001)

5. Both have strong teams behind them, Heras may be a stronger addition to US Postal than Livingston to Telekom, but Ullrich's support between high mountain specialists (Guerini, Livingston, Bolts), time trial specialist (Kloden), all-rounder (Wesemann, Vinokurov) and best buddy (Heppner) seems pretty balanced.

Last year, the two were separated by some 6 minutes. With his better-than-last-year preparation (though in my view not at 1997 levels), Jan should be able to reduce that margin, also because he has the whole team - with the exception of Zabel - working only for him. Can he beat Lance? Nobody really has in the last few years when it mattered, so Lance appears favored to win his third tour. However, a three week event holds many variables:

* Illness; even a slight cold or off-form performance on the wrong day will ruin title aspirations (including Lance's)

* Bonking; Lance did not eat well during the Morzine stage last year ( same happened to Jan, when he lost the Tour to Pantani in 1998)

* Another star emerging: Armstrong was, I think, not a clear favorite in 1999, and nobody (I mean - nobody) knew Jan when he first arrived at the Tour in 1996, when he was assistant to Riis and came in second in the overall standings.

* Weather; while Lance is not affected by this, Jan suffers in the cold, loves the heat.

I very much look forward to a Tour, that may be more closely contested than in the past. Lance is the favorite, but...much can happen in the summer in France. Let us all hope that the upcoming headlines will be full of Lance, Jan and all the others - and not of drug controversies.

Jan Heitmuller
Dusseldorf Germany
Tuesday, July 3

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Armstrong vs Ullrich #4

I have every tour edition since 1981 on tape and I can assure you and everyone else that Indurain never lost 5 minutes in a team time trial. The most catastrophic deficit I can recall is Tony Romingers in 1993 when he lost in the vicinity of 2.30. I don't believe the TTT will be a major factor in the Tour this year and all the signs seem to point to a tremendous battle. A year in cycling can be a long time and form in the mountains is a mysterious thing so I think I'll just wait and see, Bring it on!.

Wednesday, July 4

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Armstrong #1

Kevin Dakin wrote:
"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" …instead Lance joined the sheep and followed. When he was in a position to influence many things, he buckled."

Kevin, not everyone in the world wants to, or should, become a crusader for things that you believe in.

In the middle of one of the greatest physical sports trials in the world you expect Lance to lose his focus and talk about something that has nothing whatsoever to do with his own performance. Right.

Lance told Bassons to suck it up and ride or go home. Bassons who was having his own serious physical problems chose to take that as an insult instead of as a bit of sage advice. What has Bassons done since then? While I feel the loss of Bassons who had a lot of talent, Lance was right - whining about cheats isn't going to help anything. Making the stupid accusations that no one can win the Tour without drugs is even less helpful.

Andy Hampsten was angered about the use of drugs in the peloton but that didn't keep him from winning the l'Alpe d'Huez stage of the Tour.

As a clean rider the only response can be to win anyway. Maybe you didn't notice it but that was what Armstrong accomplished.

Tom Kunich
Tuesday, July 3

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Armstrong #2

Who has a gold medal, who has a silver and who has a bronze ? Ullrich displayed emotion when he got gold didn't he? If Armstrong had taken the Olympics seriously he still would have not won gold in either race. I think Armstrong will be the top contender for this years tour but he still needs to dish out the respect, to Jan Ullrich.

Rene Daniel Martinez
Tuesday, July 3

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Armstrong #3

Having read countless interviews with Armstrong and his book, 'It's not about the bike', I can only say that accusing Armstrong of arrogance is downright silly. It only reflects envy of his talents. For a single example, take his comments after he stormed the Hautacam last year, putting several minutes between himself and the other main contenders. Many athletes would have popped the cork right then, but Lance simply said that, yes, he was pleased with his ride, but this was the Tour de France and it was far from over.

The words of a true champion.

Reykjavik, Iceland
Tuesday, July 3

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Armstrong #4

It has been said that Lance was very arrogant when first he came to international cycling. He had early success and perhaps it did go to his head; perhaps. But currently we see a different person than the one who won Worlds at an early age. His battle for life itself has changed him as a person and as an athlete. That is what currently separates him from Ullrich, who I think has even greater talent than Lance, albeit less determination. But finally, let's try to put all this in perspective. I just read a poll on another cycling website where Lance was ranked as the second greatest cyclist in history, behind only Eddy himself. Ahead of Indurain, Bernard, Fausto, etc... Please let's be reasonable with our assessment. I would be more than willing to rank Lance as one of the truly great heroes we've seen in sport for some time. His perseverance and courage have been inspirations to everyone, and I keep a picture of him near my training stand for those long winter evenings when it seems difficult to keep pedalling indoors. One look and I stop feeling so tired. That's more than being a great cyclist.

Raymond F Martin
Tuesday, July 3

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Armstrong #5

A champion never called arrogant: Miguel Indurain. A far superior tactician that had the cool head and superior physique to wipe away five consecutive Tours. The man who made the cycling-related English-speaking world wish they could speak Spanish.

Julian Ochoa
Dominican Republic
Tuesday, July 3

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Ullrich #1

Jan is a great rider and a gentleman! This guy can ride like few others in the peloton and has tremendous results to show. There is a lot of bullshit being said about him and he surely deserves some respect. It's a kind of funny since Lance actually is one of the people that really pay him respect and know what Jan is capable of doing. Personally I think Jan will be at the TdF start on time and better prepared than in several years. Will it hold against Lance? Who know`s? Thumbs up for Jan Ullrich!

Thomas Heggertveit
Tønsberg, Norway
Tuesday, July 3

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Ullrich #2

Thanks Mr McCombs, for the much needed perspective here. When it seems that everyone wants to hail Armstrong as the all-conquering hero who can do no wrong, it's nice to see some one stand up and chime in with different take on things. Yes, Lance is a great rider, but people seem to lose a bit of perspective in light of this, and consequently think that if a rider can't beat Armstrong then he's just another piece of pack fodder not worthy of clipping into the pedals to do battle. If you really want to praise Armstrong, why not give credit where it's due and acknowledge how great others like Ullrich, Simoni and the rest really are? Put into that perspective, it makes Armstrong's victories that much more impressive.

Jay Schrotzberger
Tuesday, July 3

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Ullrich #3

In his praise of Jan Ullrich, Sean McCombs writes that "Ullrich . . . has avoided serious drug inquires -- even Lance can't say that."

This is not exactly true. In 1999, the German paper Der Spiegel claimed that Ullrich & co. had been using EPO and other banned substances -- you can read about it in the CN archives. I've asked about this before, but no one seems to know what became of Der Spiegel's claims, nor what happened to Telekom/Ullrich bringing suit against the paper. I should note here, of course, that Ullrich has been a bit busy engaging in these kinds of troubles over the last little while -- Der Spiegel's claims, Bruno Roussel's claims, Willy Voet's claims, etc. I don't know about official inquiries, a la the French going after USPS, but there's certainly been some sniffing around. (Telekom's Walter Godefroot is no stranger to doping inquiries either, apparently. He was DQ'd in the 1974 Tour of Flanders for doping. Anyone know the full story on that one?) Ullrich's tactic seems to be to wait for the claims to die down -- a common and apparently useful PR move: more people are interested in watching the racing than they are in watching the sport "cleaned up".

Philip Higgs
New York, USA
Tuesday, July 3

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Ullrich #4

Ullrich showed some form this past week while taking the German national title. I believe that Lance Armstrong has the perspective not to count the powerful German out of the race before it's started, and, while it's hard not to get excited about Lance's chances, US cycling fans who know the sport won't either. Ullrich can be a very powerful rider and has been training very hard for this year's Tour. And he is a gracious, classy competitor.

Finally, just one thing in response to "the Badger's" win in 1985. His form looked equally questionable (to his form at the Giro) during the Tour; everybody who watched that Tour knows who the winner should have been.

Tom Anderson
Golden, Colorado
Tuesday, July 3

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LeMond vs Armstrong #1

I have to disagree with Kevin Dakin. Greg Lemond was first. Greg Lemond will forever be remembered as one of the greatest American cyclists ever (Hey ESPN, where was Lemond on your Sports Century?), but the best against Armstrong? I don't think so.

Armstrong has now dominated two sports. Back in his tender teens, he was schooling the likes of Scott Tinley and Mark Allen in the ways of triathlon. He was one of the best junior athletes in the country. When he decided to concentrate on cycling, he was a force. He was an excellent rider before he got cancer. He beat the disease and now he is one of the best in the world when no one gave him the chance to even ride a bike again.

Lemond did add many technical revolutions to the peloton, but one can argue Armstrong has done so as well. The Ultralight, the TT frame, positioning, climbing cadence. Some are slight changes, but have paid huge results.

Finally, whereas Greg Lemond blended into the European peloton, Armstrong has blown it apart. Lemond had a French name riding for a Euro team when he won the Tour. Armstrong has brought American cycling into the European peloton and won the Tour twice, convincingly, with American teammates and the American and Texas flags. Armstrong races on his terms, not those of Euro counterparts.

We'll have to do the tally when he retires, but I believe Armstrong has done more for American cycling and his palmares will more than vouch for that statement.

Andrew (Landy) Gilbert
Tuesday, July 3

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LeMond vs Armstrong #2

Why, oh why, tell me please, must the debate be so persistent as to who would be the greatest ever American cyclist, LeMond or Armstrong? (This would be as measured by performance in the Tour de France, of course, or otherwise we'd have to at least mention names such as Hampsten and Nothstein and others.) I really, really just don't care. Why must we constantly try and argue for who was greater in context or changed the sport more for the better? Does it really matter? Where would it get us to know?

We're just a bunch of giddy American cycling fans thrilled to finally have another of these oh-so-rare sportsmen emerge from our ranks to make a huge mark on the very European-dominated sport. We get them to come along so rarely that when one does, we can't help but thank the heavens that one of us cycling peons is actually making a winning showing in Europe and wonder "Hey, who do you think would kick whose butt in a head-to-head, LeMond or Armstrong?!"

Well, until we can attempt some time-warp thing, we'll never know if an at-his-peak Armstrong would beat an at-his-peak LeMond in the Tour. (Put 'em on the track, and I'd put my money on Marty.) I don't think that technology is on its way.

They both overcame adversity (and yes, while a load of buckshot in the backside isn't cancer, I'd still call it "adversity"), both have overcome the challenges associated with racing far from home in Europe, and both have kicked some, er... butt.

Let me retain my glorious memories of my hero Greg LeMond racing and winning throughout his great career, paving the way for Americans to come in Europe, and making the mark on the sport that he did back when he did. It's now several years later, I still love and follow cycling, and now, let me enjoy the successes and impact of my hero Lance Armstrong as he races and wins in Europe!

Greatest ever? LeMond or Armstrong? I really just don't care, and it really doesn't matter. I love 'em both, admire them both, and regard them both as extremely inspirational. They both make me happy when I think about American cycling. When it comes right down to it, I think the greatest thing is we have more of a successful American presence in Europe than ever before!! (Hincapie, Julich, Vaughters, Rodriguez, Hamilton, to name just a few!) Our presence is growing.

Cliff McArthur
San Francisco, USA
Tuesday, July 3

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LeMond vs Armstrong #3

I tend to agree about LeMond vs Armstrong, though neither compare to Merckx who rode, and won, everything, not just one or two a year, and not just the stage races. Merckx is untouchable.

BUT, Lemond came back from the gunshot, and might have won even more had he not missed a year and then contracted the ailment that stopped him from riding. My question is, does anybody remember what disease laid him low?

Larry Parker
Wednesday, July 4

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Ullrich vs Armstrong vs Lemond

Quite the debate we have going. I think that Ullrich's results prior to the tour are not as important as the fact that he appears to finally have understood that he has to take Armstrong seriously. I really hope for a "Thrilla in Manilla" type battle. I want these two guys to battle it out and destroy the rest of the field leaving the race to be between them only. I want the mountains to be hard fought and that lady luck shines on nobody. Who is going to win? I don't really know, not enough to bet anything substantial. I think if Jan has a really strong time trial(not the prologue) his confidence will remain, however if Lance demonstrates superiority, Jan will have lost the Tour mentally. I am sure we will know for certain on the 29th. Snickers bar on Lance.

As for the Lemond-Armstrong debate. Two different birds. Lemond was nurtured by the strongest team in the sport, at the time, under the undisputed peloton leader, Hinault. Yes he had success but, he was very much protected, and taught the rules. And as for who has done more for the sport in North America-Lance. No doubt about it. Not just because of results but because of the whole package. Lance has drawn interest from those outside of the sport, which is only natural, because of his circumstances. This outside, and new interest far outweighs the impact Greg had, and why Lance will be remembered in years to come, and not only as a reference.

I also want to point out something. When Lance won the Tour, it was with a non-European, or Traditional team. Greg did it with La Vie Clair, yes I know he did it with ADR after, but he had the tutoring already. But what Lance and the US Postal squad did would be the same as a Japanese Pro Baseball team coming in and whooping the Yankees, or a South American team winning a rugby match against the "All Blacks", etc... Lance has given the sport an American flavour, which is the only way the rest of the USA will listen. Too bad for the rest of us that want for more of the sport.

I would also like to say that Greg has done a disservice by pulling out of the Mercury-Viatel arrangement. It was always about the money for Greg, and the minute they did not get Tour selection, he was out of there. Nice show of support for the sport that gave you everything. Oh sure it was a difference of team "visions", but I would bet more than a Snickers bar he would still be there if the team was riding this month in France.

Michel van Musschenbroek
Georgia, USA
Tuesday, July 3

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The last month's letters

  • July 2 – Armstrong vs Ullrich, "12s", pros, tyres, drugs, bike shop work, podium girls
  • June 30 – Armstrong vs Ullrich, pros, tyres, Voet, Bassons, RAAM, podium girls
  • June 28 – Armstrong, Ullrich & Casagrande, pros, RAAM, sew-ups vs clinchers
  • June 26 – Nandrolone, pro encounters, RAAM, sew-ups vs clinchers, saddle sores
  • June 23 – Antonio Cruz, Italian races, RAAM, saddle sores, tyres, Jeanson
  • June 21 – Watching the Tour, Cipo, drugs, saddle sores, clinchers vs sew-ups, Ullrich, Jeanson
  • June 20 – Drugs, saddle sores, VDB, clinchers vs sew-ups, Frigo, Ullrich, Jeanson
  • June 13 – Part three: Drugs & Giro (lots more), Montreal WC, Giro vs Tour
  • June 13 – Part two: Drugs & Giro (lots), Giro vs Tour, Ullrich, TdF '01, Radios, ONCE on Klein?
  • June 13 – Part one: Drugs & the Giro, Belli, Ullrich, radio TT, Giro vs Tour
  • June 7 – Special Giro raid edition
  • June 6 – Simoni, Belli, Ullrich, 'Massacre à la chain', radio TT, Giro vs Tour, back surgery