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Letters to Cyclingnews July 13, 2001
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Once again a distinct split in the attention of our correspondents between the Tour and, well, everything else. We learn that it was once possible to win your weight in chocolate (and as every dieter knows eating it would cause your body weight to quadruple), Indurain wasn't always #1, the Messiah is full of appropriate music, and lots more. Away from TWBASE, we have opinions on Didier Rous' outburst against sacked team-mate Noan Lelarge, gearing advice for Mt Washington, speculation on drugs in the women's peloton (after Wednesday night we might soon know) and more.
During the 1980s when the King of the Mountains jersey was sponsored by the French confectioner "Poulain" the winner used to receive his own weight in chocolate.
There is absolutely no way that Pedro Delgado weighed 75 kilos while on peak form. More like 65 probably, maybe even less...
Alfonso Javier D. Reyes
I think that the comparison between Merckx and Armstrong made by John from Auckland is hardly a fair one.
Here in America when Mark McGuire was chasing the single-season home run record, much ado was made over how comparable it was to Roger Maris's record (61). Specifically, they made note that the modern baseball is more "springy" than those of old. However, Maris didn't have to face modern-day pitching, either.
I'm not saying the level of competition changed, but I think the playing field has been levelled due to modern training regimens, better nutrition, and so on.
As for Armstrong only being a Tour de France winner, this guy has a world championship title in the road race, won multiple Tours du Pont, a classic, the Tour of Switzerland, and a plethora of one-day events. He's certainly as well-rounded a rider as Merckx ever was, he just has to face a more-level playing field.
Dan "The Divebomber" Bailey
This happens also in the music industry. I wonder what the story is there?
British journalists are famous for it, as are to a lesser degree, American journalists. I know nothing of Aussie journalists, other than the folks at Cyclingnews, who are the best!
How about doing a story on why British journalists are so cynical? Of course, you could say the same about the French, but they cheer for their boys in spite of heavy evidence to the contrary.
Watching the unprecedented Tour coverage like I have the last couple of days, I am struck by what a difficult job commentating is, even for seasoned pros like Phil and Paul.
In the Stage 2 coverage they were commenting on Jens Voigt during his attack- and what sort of pro he was and many other arcane facts about his career before becoming a pro. How he was considered with equal stature to Jan Ullrich, and how he turned pro in 1977, and... wait! 1977?
I imagine that they themselves must shake their heads over some of the things-said-in-passing-we're-live-here during live coverage. Of course, much of this seems edited out the second time around that day, but sometimes it isn't.
Of course, this sort of thing happens all the time, but we sort of forgive them and gloss over it, but sometimes it does make for funny Tour watching if you listen! It would be neat to get a tape with nothing but live coverage flubs, eh?
Now, I like everyone else must love Phil and Paul for their experience, commentary and encyclopaedic knowledge of the sport, so don't mistake my comments here. Everything I know about pro cycling came from the mouth of Phil and Paul.
I do live commentary at mountain bike races and I sometimes wince at the things that come out of my mouth in the heat of the moment. It's enormous fun, though, and Liggett and Sherwen really are extraordinarily good. JS
The whole city begins to go mad a few hours before the riders actually make their way into Paris, and once the peloton rolls onto the final circuit it's next to impossible to move around anywhere in the vacinity of the Place de la Concorde/Champs-Elysees. To catch a view of the finish, try to stake out a spot close to the finish banner on the Champs-Elysees as early as possible. You'll have to sit there for a long time, so be prepared. You can also try to get a hotel on the Champs with a balcony view, but chances of that happening if you haven't already made reservations are slim to none. As for getting close to riders after the finish, all of the team vehicles are situated near the Luxor Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde. It's a secure area and generally guarded by gendarmes, but if you're staying at one of the hotels right there (the Hotel de Crillon, for instance) you'll probably get a security badge for access to the hotel which you may be able to use to get into the team area. Also, stick around for the final team parade on the Champs-Elysees. Oddly enough, lots of people leave beforehand and miss a great opportunity for photos and chance close encounters with the riders. Best of luck to you!
Why does Patrick Douglas think that "...a self confessed doper getting a contract with a high profile team..." is such a terrible thing?
Did he feel the same way about:
What about other riders (who weren't caught) who used EPO? Does Patrick think that everyone who used EPO in the 90's has been caught (or confessed) and has been sanctioned? Shouldn't they "never race as a professional again" also? What about Marco Pantani? He hasn't admitted using performance enhancing drugs, but he did fail a test AND was convicted by a court of law of using performance enhancing drugs. Should't he be the subject of Patrick's wrath and scorn as well?
If rules are broken, the rules call for sanctions for the guilty parties. Once the time is served, the individual is free to go on with his career. For some reason, Patrick (and others) seem to see some riders (Richard Virenque in particular) as more guilty than others and thus deserving of some harsher penalty.
Indurain wore #35 when he won his first tour in 1991.
Handel's Messiah is actually a goldmine of TDF material. When the peloton hits the Alps it could do so the strains of "Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low". Or riders who get DQd for drugs or other misdemeanors could do the walk of shame while "All we like sheep have gone astray". And so on. Actually I have always kind of liked SBS's selection of Tour music. Who is responsible? What about a soundtrack CD??
With respect to the comparison of riders, Mr. Burgess-Jackson writes: "Unless the criteria are specified and agreed upon, there is no chance of persuasion and every chance of misunderstanding and acrimony." I would suggest that when comparing riders who rode during different eras, i.e., never together, never against the same riders, and with significantly different equipment, the criteria cannot be meaningfully articulated and certainly can never be agreed upon. Therefore, such comparisons surely ARE "futile" and "fruitless".
Hay, Aim, "...wile drinking [yore] coughy?" Ewe shore ewe dew knot mien yore "Dram Buoy?"
Wonderful. But I think you need to start drinking decaf...
I will be running a 39 tooth chainring and a 12-32 9spd cassette. I've found that with some tweaking I can make this work smoothly with my Dura Ace drivetrain, and the 39x32 bailout gear is a real confidence-builder - even if I never use it, knowing it's there in case I blow up gives me confidence to go harder.
Mt Washington #2
Re: gearing Anything close to a 1 to 1 ratio should be fine. Anything bigger will have you standing too much - can you stand for over an hour? Any smaller and you may not push yourself hard enough.
Mt Washington #3
I too rode that climb the same year & I agree, that stretch can be nasty, and the winds can be a terror. As for the ride itself & the level of difficulty I think it depends on one's own condition at the time. It really isn't that hard, it only becomes hard if you try to top the current record by Tyler Hamilton. I did it in standard 26-39 sprockets but did not even come close to the record. I believe every record is beatable just as every man is too. Lance certainly proved that in the mountains against Pantani. My main concern these days is how well the anti-doping controls are being enforced.
I agree that the best way to combat doping is for the pros to publicly denounce it. What amazes me is the hypocritical fashion that Didier Rous went about it. I find it hard to believe that during his years with Festina he was completely 'clean'. Denounce it yes, but insulting him on TV and calling him a moron is another thing.
Rous on Lelarge #2
Yes, the new champion of France has publicly berated his former team-mate, most certainly in an effort to distance himself from any doping accusations. But we should take his (over) reactions with a grain of salt. Remember, Rous was part of the Festina team expelled from the 1998 Tour, and he was also one of those provocateurs in the peloton that harassed Bassons until he quit riding.
Strangely, he's riding much better than he ever did with Festina…
Philip "Dope Monitor" Higgs
Rous on Lelarge #3
The only legitimate comments regarding "Rous on Lelarge" are something like "What a jerk" and "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". This is the same rider who road the tour in 1997 & 1998 for Festina while he was pumped full of EPO, human growth hormone, steroids, and probably other illegal doping products according to the team's convictions in French courts. He may be champion of France but he's obviously a pompous ass as well.
Rous on Lelarge #4
I don't normally laugh when I read cyclingnews.com, but I had to check my calendar the other day to make sure it wasn't April 1.
Did anyone else catch the irony of Didier Rous calling Roan Lelarge a "moron" for failing a drug test.
Is this not the same Didier Rous that rode with Festina, the most juiced squad in the history of cycling, back in 97 and 98? Is this not Didier Rous, team-mate of Richard "I never took EPO" Virenque, Laurent "I took EPO, but not for the World title" Brochard, and Pascal "I still take EPO" Herve. Wasn't this the team that sent what, 6 riders over the top of the Glandon in the front group of the tour in 1997, then cried "foul" and "witch hunt" when authorities tossed their medicine chest, aka willy voet, in jail in 98 and kicked them out of the race in disgrace? Is it THAT Didier Rous that called Lelarge a "moron" and threatened to beat him up, or was it ANOTHER Didier Rous, perhaps one who has never done a single thing wrong in his cycling career.
While it's not fair to condemn a rider because of the company he keeps, and though we should commend any rider with the courage to speak out against doping, I'd have hoped that Mr Rous would have a little more compassion, given his past, and would perhaps recall a phrase about people living in glass houses.
Didier Rous could very well have been clean in 97 and 98, though his performances then would indicate otherwise, but to call someone names now and take the stance on doping that he currently espouses is inconsistent with his failure to speak out those years ago, and to me is no more than jumping on a bandwagon, kicking a guy when he's down, or worse, laughing when your parents punish your little brother for breaking a vase that you yourself knocked over.
The proposed new lane rules for Centennial Park remind me of what happened several years ago in Central Park after "advocacy" action by NY's Transportation Alternatives group. For years all traffic lanes were open to automobiles. In the lower section of CP the inner lane was, de facto, a bicycle/pedestrian lane with cyclists using 3/4 of the lane and runners using the inner 1/4. This lane was then changed to a dual cycling/running lane with markings to keep automobiles out of the lane completely. The practical effect was to give virtually the entire lane to runners as there was no enforcement of the cycling/running division of the roadway lane. As a result, cyclists have been forced into closer proximity to auto traffic than previously. The fact of the matter is that however one feels about automobiles, there is a symbiotic relationship that often exists between bicycles and autos as vehicles that both have a right to the roadway. It sounds like Centennial Park is simply creating another multi-use path that is statistically far more dangerous and impractical for cyclists to use.
Mercian wrote on July 8, concerning the RAAM: "In practice, the nature and prowess displayed by the participants after two or three days of cycling, can not be deemed 'bicycle racing'. "
Let's see, a bicycle race is any event in which a group of cyclists start at one place, finish at another and the first one to cross the finish is called the winner. How, then, is RAAM not a race? It certainly is by any definition of racing. You can't claim it is not a race just because some europro doesn't show up for it. Those who show up race. Those who don't, don't. RAAM-type events are the purest form of racing - no team (other riders) hired to help you, no artificially created stages, no specialization (and quitting in the middle of a stage race just because you can't handle most of the terrain!). It really harks back to the old days of the Tour when riders were pretty much alone and could not even accept outside help. Were those "racers" or not?
In response to the letter posted by Angela Arndt:
I think much of the reason why there is widespread doping in men's pro cycling is historic. Doping began early on in cycling, particularly in the Tour de France, because of the incredible hardship the riders had to endure. Early accounts from a press conference by the Pelissier brothers highlight this. We look at the current situation where the riders have fantastic lightweight bikes, many gears, excellent road surfaces and fantastic backup and wonder why they need to dope but there was a time when cyclists had to contend with a lot more than just the speed of their opponents. The excuse for doping has shifted from overcoming hardship to pressure to win. In either instance it is cheating but its origins seem almost innocent compared to the current cynical state of affairs.
Women's cycling has possibly benefited from developing at a slower pace and thus only became more widespread in a time when conditions had improved greatly, thus doping has not become an issue and hopefully never will.
Women's peloton clean? #2
Women's peloton clean? NAHHHHH. Yes, women do it, too. The big thing is that women's cycling isn't on the front page the way men's cycling is and therefore they go un-noticed and why bother? Let 'em dope themselves up, who cares? I don't care, because I'll be here when I'm 90 still riding my bicycle and they'll be dead. It's their choice and as long as we all know it and recognize that when they win they are not really winning and it's just a farce, who cares?
I raced a lot in the 80's and was told quite frankly if I wanted to "move-up" in the ranks then I'd have to do some stuff. I said no way. And while everybody was getting stronger, faster, more hairy, more deep throated, I just fell off the back. Well, now I take things as they are, and I don't care about them doping. Quite frankly now that everybody dopes, the results are still the same: the #1 rider is still the #1 rider with dope! If everyone just "came out of the closet" with it and decided to stop, the #1 rider would still be the #1 rider without dope!
One writer calculated the advantage of a one per cent improvement in acceleration due to lighter wheels by stating that one per cent of a ninety hour stage race is nearly one hour, etc. The thinking behind this doesn't really hold up, for a couple of reasons:
1. In anything but a time trial, as soon as you began to open a gap by going one percent faster than other riders, you'd have the whole field in tow. Drafting pretty much eliminates any advantage that small.
2. The advantage is only in acceleration, making any calculated time gains even smaller.
I do, however, agree with the writer in one way. If you're running a pro team with an annual budget of several million dollars, you're expected to produce results -- no excuses. If tubulars give a one percent advantage in acceleration, you'll be likely to use them -- one percent is better than nothing, especially given that tubulars don't cost a small fortune like some cutting-edge technologies.
My original point, however, was that riders who claim to feel an immediate advantage in tubulars may not be feeling the one percent difference in acceleration due to their lighter weight. I'm not an expert in human perception, but I'd be very surprised if any of us are so sensitive to differences in pedal pressure that we can feel a one percent difference. Especially not the way it's described by some, as in "I had to borrow some guy's clinchers for a race, and man were they heavy! I felt like I was dragging a trailer!" etc. etc. If there's been research done in this area of human perception, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
I just had my Team Issue delivered two days ago. What a bike! Earlier in the year I checked out Pinarellos, Sevens, and Merckxs, but couldn't justify the expense. Now I have a complete Dura Ace bike for the price of any of these frames. It won't win any beauty contests, but it is fast, light, and comfortable beyond anything I have ridden before. Thankyou Fuji, and Colorado Cyclist.
The letters "i.e." abbreviate the Latin expression "id est", which means "that is". Many people confuse "i.e." with "e.g." (exempli gratia), which means something quite different, viz., "for example". "Viz.", which I just used, is short for "videlicet", which means "namely". Thanks for the opportunity to add some pedantry to the prevailing pedalry.
Keith Burgess-Jackson, Philosopher (and Writer) in Residence
The last month's letters
The World's Biggest Annual Sporting Event. OK, we need another acronym round here like we need a poke in the eye with a rusty spoke, but I couldn't resist. Back to top