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Letters to Cyclingnews — July 31, 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

Armstrong on l'Alpe
Americans in Paris
Ullrich/Armstrong
Coverage, Commentary, Commercials!
Tour in NY?
Bravo, Ullrich!
Unsporting deception?
Commentary
Didier Rous - Poorest Sport in the Peloton?
Tyler Hamilton
Armstrong and Ullrich
Stuey's lunchbox
Lance Armstrong
Tour Politics
Francophile Gold Medal
Armstrong vs Merckx
Lance's necklace
Drugs in sport
Canadian National elite women's TT
Career Change?
Mark Gorski's 1984 Olympic bike
Berzin?
Sew-ups vs clinchers

Armstrong on l'Alpe #1

I, for one, would like to hear a sports doctor comment on Armstrong's physical recovery after his illness. Here's why: while Lemond generally seemed a weaker competitor after his hunting accident, Armstrong is far and away stronger than he ever was before cancer. When you consider that Armstrong and Ullrich competed against each other in 1996, and that Ullrich at the time was in pretty much the same shape he is now, the difference becomes clear. In Ullrich's early 20s, he was winning the Tour; in Armstrong's early 20s, he was winning flat stages and abandoning the Tour.

Armstrong's always been talented, but chemotherapy seemed to give him a mental and physical discipline that was lacking before. Not only did it help him lose 20 pounds, but it also gave him a determination and resolve that were noticably lacking before. Not only was the young Armstrong undisciplined, but he was arrogant and (understandably) not liked by the rest of the peloton. Witness the '96 Olympic road race, when nobody would help Lance chase down Pascal Richard because they didn't want him to win.

So, in general, I'm never much moved by those who rave about Armstrong's "remarkable come-back story." He's not a great champion in spite of cancer -- he's a great champion because of cancer. Chemotherapy might very well recommend itself as an extreme training measure. With Ullrich, I think it could do wonders!

Sebastian Lecourt
Sun, 22 Jul

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Armstrong on l'Alpe #2

One need only to have seen Lance slow up, upon seeing his rival crash, to realize that Mr. Armstrong is a true champion. How many past tour leaders would have done the same? Probably none, and I rather doubt that Jan would have slowed to wait for Lance. David, you need to see things for what they are, not what you perceive them to be.

Lee S.
USA
Sun, 22 Jul

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Armstrong on l'Alpe #3

The other side of Lance's so called humiliation of Ullrich would be at the finish to Luz-Ardiden where Armstrong allowed Ullrich to finish a wheel ahead of him (picking up time on Kivilev). Ullrich seemed to be appriciative or at the very least, be without hard feelings when he offered Lance his hand.
"...but this time, Armstrong had the Maillot Jaune and when the two sprinted for 3rd, the generous Armstrong did not attempt to pass Ullrich. After battling across 505 km of the Pyrenees since Friday, Jan reached out to squeeze Armstrong's hand in a sporting gesture of congratulations. Armstrong returned the gesture..." from Cycling News' coverage.

Ben O'Brien
Lafayette, CO.
Thu, 26 Jul

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Armstrong on l'Alpe #4

I disagree that Armstrong's tactics on 'Alpe were unsportsman like. Not showing your opponent how you really feel is integral to bike racing and other sports. How many times have you seen riders on the verge of cracking get to the front, look confident and try to set the pace(usually slower) knowing they can't keep up and are almost toast. I've even seen riders fake drinking when they are out of water and dying to not let their opponents know they are dry as a salt lick in the desert. There are so many good riders that the mental side of the game becomes even more important. I don't believe any of the top riders were sucked in by the TV coverage of Lance at the back of the pack. In conclusion what do you think of the "sportsmanship" of sitting up and allowing Jan to catch back when he crashed in the following stage.

Jim Sichterman
USA
Fri, 27 Jul

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Armstrong on l'Alpe #5

In response to Mr. Burgess-Jackson's question about the nature of trickery in sport, I would argue that Armstrong's tactics are no less sportsmanlike than a curveball in baseball or the play-action pass in American football. In each case, one team is attempting to trick the opponent into believing one thing will take place, when in fact another completely different thing is going to take place. I can't imagine how boring those sports would be if all we had to look forward to were fastballs and handoffs. Armstrong simply threw the Telekom boys a slow, hanging curveball, and they wiffed!

Andrew Bauchman
Los Angeles, CA USA
Fri, 27 Jul

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Armstrong on l'Alpe #6

In response to David P, and to all these social critics of cycling etiquette, I would request that they take stopwatch in hand and time the length of the now infamous "look" that Armstrong gave Ullrich on l'Alpe d'Huez and really try to compare it with the histrionics of the U.S. track foursome at Sydney. I truly believe that you people need to purchase a sense of perspective somewhere. Cyclists at all levels evaluate what their opponents are capable of responding to, and Lance is quite apologetic that his assessment has been interpreted in some negative fashion as arrogance. Were he to have offered, as was suggested, "Time to rock and roll, fatboy" then I would say David P and his cohorts have some room for comment. If a fan has such a weakly grounded sense of appreciation for competition and sport then I imagine they would find a far more restful time retiring to the library.

Patrick S., Seattle
Fri, 27 Jul

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Armstrong on l'Alpe #7

How many people win something on just strength alone, you train hard to get fit and develop your style but when you play the game other things come into the frame.

l play soccer and do not just kick and run but also faint to go left, but go right instead, just to put my opponent on there back foot and giving off signs that you might be tired and suffering but in actual fact you are fine is all part of the game.

Do some people think we should give our rivals our tactics before we start so it gives them a better chance ?

Lance Armstrong is the best cyclist in the Tour De France and is going to win in style, barring any accidents and l for one will be cheering him on all the way.

Paddy Doyle
Berkeley, England
Sun, 22 Jul

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Americans in Paris

I know this will sound parochial, and I'm sure it will generate resentment in some of your readers, but it is meant to be a serious question. Are Americans taking over the Tour de France?

I assume that Lance Armstrong will win this year's Tour. If so, then Americans will have won six of the previous sixteen Tours. Spaniards will have won six, Irishmen one, Danes one, Germans one, and Italians one. Considering that the two dominant Americans during this period (Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong) had devastating injuries or illnesses, the total might well have been eight or nine of sixteen. And ponder this: If Armstrong wins six consecutive Tours, as I believe he will, then Americans will have won nine of the past nineteen. This would be impressive enough for a country whose racers have participated in the Tour for decades, but Americans are new to the professional peloton. I expect many more Americans to compete for the Tour title in years to come, especially now that professional bicycling has come into the homes of impressionable youngsters. LeMond and Armstrong, as is well known, got almost no support or encouragement during their youths. In fact, they were thought to be weird. Non-Americans had best step up their level of preparation. If they don't, they may find themselves serving as domestiques to the best American racers.

Keith Burgess-Jackson, Patriot,
Fort Worth, Texas
Sun, 22 Jul

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Ullrich/Armstrong

I've prayed for a Tour where both Lance and Jan showed up at their best: my prayers were answered. I really thought we'd see Jan put Lance in difficulty but that has not happened. In my estimation, we're seeing Jan in form that would have troubled Lance LAST year, but Lance has gotten much better. If Lance gets this much better next year, then I'll stop complaining when people compare him to Miguel, etc... (let's leave Eddy out of this).

We're lucky to get a Tour this good.

Raymond F Martin
Mon, 23 Jul

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Coverage, Commentary, Commercials!

Having talked about my feelings about the commentary of the various people tasked with talking during the Tour coverage, I would like to say this (sticking arms out, like zombie):

I obey: I will buy a Mercury Mountaineer, as soon as I find a job... If those canyons, peaks, and valleys have an SUV of their own- why, I want one, too!

I obey: I will become concerned about my hair loss and begin using Rogaine, especially if my exceptionally cute and understanding girlfriend is concerned about my hair loss....

I obey: I will send packages over the U.S. Postal Service - but WAIT! I don't really have a lot of choices, given that every day, they deliver my mail!

I obey: I will buy Estate!, whatever it is... WAIT! I think I am having flashbacks to watching live daily Giro coverage in Italy in 1997!

I changed channels today to see the different coverage of CBS or ABC or whoever it was, and hopefully to get different commercials - but NOOOOO!

It's amazing how insipid these commercials become over religiously watching the Tour coverage. Thankfully, I have edited them out, so next time, I won't have to bother. I guess it's a good reason to buy cycling videos instead!

I have noticed that the companies who invest in the race, seem to just completely flood - and I mean flood - the airwaves with their product. It's pretty amazing.

Regis Chapman
USA
Sun, 22 Jul

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Tour in NY?

Was Phil Knight serious? What a dumb*ss. On second thought, France should just give the USA the Tour; because, well, we ARE the USA after all.

David Sandifer
USA
Mon, 23 Jul

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Bravo, Ullrich!

Ever since his crushing defeat at Alpe d'Huez, Jan Ullrich was put into the position of needing to attack Armstrong, just to retain his role as 2nd best. What a HUGE disappointment that must have been. He trained harder.

He sacrificed more.

His team was hand-selected to support only him. And he gets crushed by Armstrong. First step: Denial. But as Armstrong puts more time into Ullrich's account, Ullrich realizes he can't beat Armstrong. Can't. But he also cannot give up like other riders because he has a responsibility to professional cycling. So he attacks until he can't attack anymore. I've never seen Ullrich suffer as much in his career. He takes more risks descending and has a dangerous crash. His team is outclassed by Armstrong's Spanish Guard, Rubiero and Heras. Big Memory: Heras suffering on the climb to Pla d'Adet, getting dropped, then chasing back to Armstrong, and going to the front and lifting the tempo. USPS's faith in him in the TTT is rewarded as Hera's "rides through walls" for Armstrong.

Anyone else would have given up in frustration. But Ullrich fights as hard as any of the great duellists in Grand Tour memory. Bravo, Ullrich, for honouring the sport and providing us with as exciting a Tour as possible, and giving us all an example of how to live our lives.

Leonard Ke, The Flyin' Hawaiian
San Francisco, CA
Mon, 23 Jul

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Unsporting deception?

Two tongue-in-cheek questions to be referred to those agonising over the ethics of bluffing. If the issue here is whether deception is "sporting", how is it that riders are

a) viewed as "unsporting" if they attempt to give the appearance of being in distress (when they aren't)

AND

b) universally instructed to attempt to conceal any outward appearance of being in distress (when they actually are)?

And, for extra credit:

In what sense is it "sporting" and "ethical" to try to push your advantage at the precise moment when you sense (from your opponent's expression) that he is least able to respond? Yet "unethical" and "unsporting" to give him the false impression that you might be ripe for an opportunistic strike?

Richard Burkholder
Mon, 23 Jul

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Commentary #1

The discussion on the various Tour commentators has been great fun to follow. I can only wince at the thought of what Bob Varsha may be passing off as "informative insight" for those Americans lucky enough to receive OLN.

On this side of the pond, British viewers with satellite dishes are enjoying daily live coverage from Eurosport and the infamous ramblings of David Duffield. Duffers is now a legend amongst cycling fans, more for his mistakes and divergent commentary than his astute observation and reading of races. His status is such that a web page has been devoted to him at http://www.addiscombecc.freeserve.co.uk/features/Duffield.htm.

It can become very frustrating listening to Duffers either ignore the race winning move, while reminiscing with Sean Kelly about his racing days in Spain, or mis-name riders, for example ALWAYS identifying the lead Kelme rider as Botero because that's the only rider he knows in the team (this is happening less now that Sevilla is wearing the white jersey). I miss Russell Williams who, when paired with Duffers, is not afraid to correct his wayward colleague and commentate on the cycling rather than the scenary.

Like Patrick Douglas and Chris Baldwin, I also seek respite by switching to alternative coverage. ARD has the benefit of precise, informative commentary and - best of all - few adverts! Has anyone else been found to be mumbling "every epoch has its champion" in their sleep? Although my German isn't brilliant, the vocabulary of cycling commentary is not great so I'm able to follow it at about 60%. But the style of commentary is soooooo laid back... they make snooker look like an high-energy sport!

So, whichever channel we watch, it looks like there are pros and cons. Still, if the commentary was perfect, we'd have one less topic to chat about and the Cycling News letters page would be poorer for it.

Keep on ranting!!

Brian Hooper
Surrey, UK
Mon, 23 Jul

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Commentary #2

I heard Sean Kelly commentate on OLN earlier this spring. Does he speak English?

I met Adrian a few years ago when he was in Boulder for a football game. Super nice guy. Admitted to being clueless about cycling - but we had a great chat about the sport none the less. And Sam Posey was witness to a truly great '89 tour where those guys did a fine job, so how could you fault him?

I think we all have to remember how far things have come in ONE year and be nothing but thankful and excited.

Eric
Boulder
Sun, 22 Jul

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Commentary #3

My kids are running around the house screaming "runawayshoes.com" I'm about to go Postal. (wouldn't that be the day!)

Mike Marine
Setauket, USA
Mon, 23 Jul

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Commentary #4

I don't understand why OLN lets Bob Varsha talk.

He may be a nice guy, a good motorsport commentator and he may be trying hard but he repeatedly proves that he doesn't know anything about cycling. They also seem to let him talk for quite a while on the intro/outro alot even though he's not qualified to do much more than say "Welcome back. Here's Phil and Paul" and "We'll return to the Tour de France after these messages".

Bob Roll and Jessica Grieco are both very good - it'd be nice if one of them could do the intro/outro. If they can't do it maybe they could get another ex-pro ex-cat 1/2/3/4/5/junior etc. - anyone who knows something about the sport, who actually rides and has raced on some level at one time or another.

Why does American TV seems to need at least one guy who knows nothing about the cycling (Karsten, Posey) to cover the Tour de France? I can't think of another sport where this happens.

Having said all this I must say that this is easily the best coverage the sport has ever had in Canada (unfortunately OLN Canada doesn't show any road racing). I'm glad to finally have the opportunity to get up early every day to watch the live coverage. And, of course, Phil and Paul are great as always.

Jan Olsen
Vancouver, BC
Mon, 23 Jul

PS - still get that damn mid-80's Tesh TdF music stuck in my head sometimes while I ride which I find mildly frightening.

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Commentary #5

It's a sad comparison between the overall quality of commentary in America and Europe. While the nature of the Tour is such that true television viewing requires prolonged and silent hours in front of a TV screen, the nature of American television is to play to the lowest common denominator and sell advertising. After all, the product being sold by the broadcasters is us, the viewers, to them, the advertisers, and not the other way round. OLN is to be commended in its foresight to hire Phil and Paul, as they are capable and learned in the way of cycling, but the network's attempt to 'Americanize' the Tour with lead-in man Varsha and the laughable 'Ride-Of-The-Day' awards is something I find insulting. Varsha has one of those overly dramatic voices that, were you to meet and chat with him at a party, you would either feign a headache to escape his presence or pretend to be a deafmute who can't lipread. The sounds from his mouth, sonorous and enthralling, are redundant and inane. The television moments taken from sports production offices raised on the Holy Trinity of football, baseball, and basketball are unworkable in the linear nature of cycling and do more to detract from the quality of the coverage than enhance it. Trivia, ride-of-the-day, and advertising-subsidized recaps may help defray the costs of the broadcast, but like chemotherapy they nauseate and cause hair loss. Perhaps the OLN producers think that they need to recap constantly because random viewers may have just tuned in and need to be reminded that they are watching cycling, and not another advertisement for fishing lures or waist-slimming battery packs. But this is unimaginative on their part and an indicator of poor procedure. I watch cycling and I don't change the channel and I can remember what has happened up to and through the commercial break. I am their audience. This either means that I am out of sync or that they are. And given that they are admittedly selling me to the advertisers, the mistake is most certainly not mine.

Chris Baldwin
Wed, 25 Jul

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Didier Rous - Poorest Sport in the Peloton?

Clearly the French national championship and strong performances in the 88th running of the Tour De France is not enough for Didier Rous. I was surprised at his comments throughout the TDF which seem blatantly negative towards his teammate Francois Simon.

His jab after the ITT was ridiculous:

"I am disappointed not to finish in the top 10 on the general classification, but my 11th place was acquired with the pedals: I did not profit from favourable circumstances."

Did Simon and his fellow breakaway riders not profit from their pedals? The reason he got in "favourable circumstances," Didier, was because he busted his ass on a cold, wet stage and took advantage of a peloton unwilling to work.

180 degrees from Didier, was David Millar whose TDF was a disaster but still supported surprise GC threat Kivilev throughout this year's running.

Didier Rous, a good talent - pity he's such a poor sport.

Graham Rigby

Saturday, July 28

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Tyler Hamilton

Bad crashes in the first week, throwing up on his bike just before the first rest day, nearly becoming the lantern rouge then leading the charge up the first climbs of the Pyrenees on Sunday. They should have a toughest guy in the tour award, and they should give it to Tyler Hamilton.

Chris Tolley
Acton, MA
Mon, 23 Jul

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Armstrong and Ullrich #1

Have I missed something? Does anyone other than the two principals know what actually transpired between Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich when Lance looked over his shoulder on l'Alpe d'Huez? I'm amazed that there are those who would judge a man on what they presume took place, when the only evidence for words spoken or a laugh in mockery is a video camera's view of the back of that man's head. I've seen the clip countless times, usually in slow motion, and there's no hint when Lance turns forward again that there had been a laugh on his face.

At the age of 24, when a young and cocky Armstrong won the tour stage to Limoges in an impressive solo breakaway, he credited the victory to Fabio Casartelli, his Motorola team mate who had died on a mountain descent three days earlier. Armstrong told the press that he'd ridden that day with the strength of two men. His victory salute was a message sent heavenward as he raised his eyes to the skies. This was not the act of an arrogant man. He was dealing with a sudden lesson in mortality--and in what's truly important.

Now, six years later, Armstrong has stared death in the face, and he's come away a changed man. A changed athlete, certainly, but more importantly a changed human being. More than ever before, he has an understanding of what matters in life. His focus has turned outward from himself. The Lance Armstrong Foundation is not just Lance's money- -it is the man himself. Perhaps those who would call him arrogant should make the trip to Austin for next year's Ride for the Roses.

On Saturday, having seen Ullrich overshoot a corner and take what could have been a tragic off-road excursion, Lance slowed his pace as he waited for Jan to rejoin him. Would you challenge the sportsmanship of a man who would not take advantage of an opponent's error? At the end of the stage, when Armstrong crossed the line in victory, we saw a reprise of his Casartelli victory salute, delivered because on that day the tour had passed the monument dedicated to the fallen cyclist. Would you call arrogant a man who's so clearly thinking of someone else when he might simply be celebrating his third stage victory?

Today, on the finish line at Luz Ardiden, we saw Ullrich offer a noble gesture of sportsmanship, reaching back a hand that he was confident would be grasped in friendship by the man who, barring misfortune, will celebrate his third Tour de France victory next Sunday in Paris. Ullrich's action was not that of a man who had faced mockery and humiliation, but rather that of a superb athlete who'd given all he had to this year's tour and wanted to recognize that he was in the company of a man with similar greatness of heart.

Arrogant? You'd best look elsewhere.

Stan Green
New Orleans
Sun, 22 Jul

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Armstrong and Ullrich #2

I am a big fan of Lance Armstrong. His performance this year speaks for itself in terms of how he has grown as a bike rider and a sportsman. Enough has been said and written about Lance.

I have never been much of a fan of Jan Ullrich but his performance this year has changed all that. He came to the Tour in the best condition of his life with a mountain of pressure and expectation to win. Despite being comprehensively outclassed, he has never given up and suffered like a dog to limit his losses in the mountains. He has also maintained a remarkable level of graciousness and dignity in a losing cause. A fine example to sportsmen and sportswomen everywhere.

There is a certain Italian climber (not present at this years Tour) who could learn a lot from Jan Ullrich. The Tour is certainly not diminished by his absence.

Carlos Remedios
Sydney, Australia
Tue, 24 Jul

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Stuey's lunchbox #1

One friend of mine commented that the Credit Agricole team seemed to be the leaders in this category. Perhaps a new jersey for le grand musette is in order?

John Z
Tue, 24 Jul

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Stuey's lunchbox #2

In response to a recent letter regarding the size of certain concealed parts of Stuart O'grady's anatomy, it is probably a function of the type of shorts he wears. I know my wife says that my red "F Moser" shorts are obscene, even though I am not especially well endowed in that respect. On the other hand Pearl Izumi does nothing for me or my image. It is probably worth finding out what kind of knicks Credit Agricole use, and if it's publicly listed, purchasing the stock before the news breaks out in a public forum such as this one.

Tony Weller
Lake George, NY, USA
Tue, 24 Jul

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Lance Armstrong #1

Truly we have been witnessing the evolution of a great Champion. His personal history, motivation, work ethic, and behavior is superb. In these days of "high fives" and end zone dancing, it is truly refreshing to see an American athlete able to both dominate his sport and decimate his rivals yet at the same time show such respect for his chosen profession and competitors. He is a great Ambassador.

Here stands a man who truly realizes this life is transitory, is in a position to make history and makes that history one grateful day at a time. He meets that challenge bravely and leaves a legacy of which we can all be proud.

Whether you repair brains, sell chickens or ride bikes - there are things to be learned from Mr. Armstrong. Chapeau Lance

Brad Burroughs
Ashtabula, Ohio
Tue, 24 Jul

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Lance Armstrong #2

I just wanted to comment on the UCI president's recent statement that Lance Armstrong should race more. I personally doubt that you will ever see him do a "proper" season. That is, the spring classics, Criterium International, and well, you know the rest. His primary responsibility is three weeks in July, and of that a few days to gain the leader's jersey. That is what the people who pay him the huge dollars (Nike/USPS) care about. Armstrong is a good professional in that he does exactly what he's paid to do, win the Tour, end of story.

The obligation is just train, train, train then do the tune up races before the Tour. Come in in flying form, sit on wheels the first week, make the move in the hills, get the jersey, cruise the rest of the way in, stand on the final podium, hold up the kid and kiss the pretty French girls, great photo ops. I'm sure he doesn't dope, as his serious season is so short, but hey, you can't knock it, he's done it right. I'm also not a big fan of his for his lack of concern about other races on the calendar, but then again, I don't he much cares either. And I don't think he'll ever compare himself to say, Indurain, Hinault or any of the other "patrons", he's not that dumb, but until the palmares he has start comparing to any of the above mentioned, please don't put him on the same level.

Would his lot be the same if he didn't have his illness? Well, I just picked up a old Winning magazine from 1990 the other day and inside was a interview with coach Eddy B. and he was gushing about this 18 year old kid he'd seen named Lance Armstrong... But would he have been the same or better if he didn't get ill, who knows, but I think he was destined for greatness somehow. The pity is that if he continues to repeat his formula for success, who can honestly challenge him... no one really, unless other big budget teams can spend a year preparing their stars totally for the one race, for most it's financially unviable, no European team has that kind of deep pockets, so I believe we'll be seeing that face in Paris for a few more years yet. Unless, of course, the Tour finishes in New York like the prez of Nike would like it to. If it does then cycle racing as we knew it will be finally would have the kiss of death, but that's another story.

Steve Sturges
Penticton.British Columbia,Canada
Wed, 25 Jul

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Tour Politics

I am an unashamed novice in the cycling game but I am nonetheless passionate. Having just bought a bike I have been a little baffled with such nuances as chain ring sizes and sew-ups but I am pleased it is adding to my ever expanding tech knowledge that one day I hope to employ.

As a parochial Australian, I was disappointed to see Australians miss the cut in their respective teams, but I am equally disenchanted not to see the Lion King and his respective red train leading him out: albeit before the mountains.

I read a confident McEwen in an Australian publication saying his training was geared for the Tour after his impressive early season results. I do not know if he was indeed in training mode or his form had genuinely dropped and this was just pro-speak. My query is, was Robbie McEwen dealt with as a foreigner, or more specifically as a non-Belgian (I do not think that is a tautology) by the Domo directeur sportif? I have not seen any Domo riders as consistent contenders in the first-week sprints, though I know they have some sprinters of note. I know O'Grady voiced a similar concern regarding Jay Sweet and Big-Mat, even though he brought up the red lantern in his first tour in 1999.

Armstrong, Ullrich and O'Grady have provided insurmountable highlights this tour, yet one wonders whether partisan decisions left us without Cipollini and Pantani (or they had themselves to blame), and to a lesser extent but nonetheless important for the Australian fan contingent, McEwen and Sweet.

Chris Tunnock
Melbourne, Australia
Wed, 25 Jul

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Francophile Gold Medal

And the Francophile Gold Medal goes to… Jean-Marie Leblanc! Leblanc began his training for this award during the "01" Tour Stage presentation when he answered Paul Sherwin's English language questions in French. Right. I'm sure a lot of English, American, and Australian viewers understood his answers.

Next of course, there was the infamous selection of Division II French teams over the likes of Mercury (better to kill an American team than a French one), Saeco (Heaven forbid having a popular Italian like Mario around to spice up the racing), or Mercatone Uno (let's show disrespect to any former winner who is not French). Leblanc came to form as scheduled during the "01 Tour. First there was his total glee, as his smile beamed from the Race Director's car behind the Bastille Day victory of his number one rider, Frenchman "Jaja". Leblanc's glee is in stark contrast to the sour expression he glared from his car behind the Alpe d"Huez victory of the Tour's number one rider, Lance "I'm and American" Armstrong. Leblanc looked so disgusted, you would have thought he was watching the Germans march down the Champs Elysees. Oh, I forgot that was 1997 when Jan "triumphed".

On top of that we have Leblanc's recent comments on Lance: "he is respected but not liked, lacks warmth, and does not speak French". Funny, I always thought it was Frenchman Bernard "the Badger" Hinault, who was always respected but not liked and lacked warmth. What kind of personality does it take to earn that nickname? Is it OK to have a tough demeanour if you are French, but not if you're American? Of course I must agree with Leblanc about Lance not speaking French. I watched him give interviews in French all week after each stage, and due to his "brutal, ugly, and sparse" replies (Lance's analysis) you could say Lance wasn't "speaking" French even though all the words were in French. Only the gold medal winning Francophile like Leblanc would know the proper way to "speak" French.

Maybe as an encore to his gold medal winning performance, Leblanc can invent a new jersey: top placing Frenchman. The jersey color would have to be yellow of course, since this is the only way a Frenchman will be wearing yellow in Paris any time soon. The leading GC rider will probably be wearing a blue, white and red jersey in honor of the French flag. Not a bad thought, as it would look great on the Tour's true red, white, and blue rider: American Lance Armstrong. Till then, viva la France.

Scott Baldwin
Santa Barbara, CA
Thu, 26 Jul

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Armstrong vs Merckx #1

I'd vote for Merckx too, for his much greater stack of classic single-day victories. Armstrong's palmares outside Le Tour are much slimmer.

In fairness, though, I'd remember the dominance of the team that Merckx built around him. The disparity between publicity for the tour and that of other races (particularly outside continental Europe) has to influence team priorities, so it's would also be unfair to criticise Armstrong for ensuring that he gives his best chance to the event that gives the best exposure for himself and his sponsors.

Paul Webb
Wed, 25 Jul

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Armstrong vs Merckx #2

Sometimes just to amuse myself I try to imagine what cycling would have been like if LeMond had not gotten shot by his brother-in-law. He very well could be a five time Tour winner by now, especially without all the lead bits floating about near his heart. Without the mitochondrial myopathy, who knows what might be, but it is fuel for conjecture. On reflection, I don't know if Armstrong would have discovered the plasticity and endurance of his body without his cancer therapy. The old joke in '99 that all the contenders were signing up for chemotherapy might not be so out of line considering what Lance has learned. My hat is off to him though for what he has achieved after going through it. This is medical history being made here.

Pat S.
Fri, 27 Jul

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Lance's necklace #1

In Lance's book "It's Not About The Bike," he mentions a friend named Stacy Pounds (who was Lance's agent's assistant) who was stricken with cancer shortly after Lance began his recovery. Lance's mom bought a pair of silver crucifixes and Lance gave one to Stacy telling her they it would be their bond and he would wear his forever. I would assume that is what he was wearing.

Rob Verbeck
Sayville, NY
Sun, 22 Jul

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Lance's necklace #2

The July 2001 cover of the Texas Monthly features Lance Armstrong. The article on the inside includes photos wherein he is wearing a chain that dangles a cross and a small pendant in the shape of, you guessed it, Texas. The article is worth the read, written by Michael Hall, a non-cyclist from what I can tell though it doesn't show in the writing. This is one of the more objective and journalistically adept pieces I've read on the doping debate in cycling. And the details about our national hero are well thought out and unique.

Greg Green
Palo Alto, CA
Wed, 25 Jul

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Lance's necklace #3

The Necklace Lance wears is a cross with the State of Texas on it. It has a pretty touching story to it:

The cross is from Stacy Pounds - she was Lance's agent's admin assistant and who died of lung cancer in 1997 - she asked Lance to wear it. Stacy wore a matching cross necklace while she was sick... (Lance said in 1997 "Stacy was like a mother to me.")

Scott Cunningham
Boise, Idaho
Fri, 27 Jul

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Drugs in sport

O.K., to ensure that the cycling community shows that we are attempting to eradicate drugs in the sport, we introduce the EPO tests as soon as they are technically available (ie the lawyers conceivably can't find any more loops in the testing to get a rider off). Great for the sport in terms of showing that we are trying to clean up but terrible for the sport because we end up showing that drugs are being used in the sport.

So, what should we have done? Take FINA's example (see http://www.theage.com.au/sport/2001/07/25/FFX6IAAKIPC.html), "we're not going to test our athletes for EPO, ergo we wont have any positive results". Stick your head in the sand and the problem goes away... doesn't it??? :-)

Marcus Moore
Melbourne, Australia (envious of all those in US with OLN)
Wed, 25 Jul

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Canadian National elite women's TT

Two riders ran into vehicles, one seriously injured. Two others, including the early leader, slowed down by vehicles on a "closed course". This is the worst story of a time trial I have ever heard. How can the result be official under these circumstances? How can the UCI allow a National champion's jersey to emerge from such a fiasco?

Tom Klemola
Sat, 28 Jul

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Career Change?

Having recently lost my get-rich-with-stock-option computer job here in Silicon Valley, I figured I would put a question out there:

I would accept work as a junior and U-23 cycling coach for money - specifically, around $60,000-$70,000 US Dollars or thereabouts. If anyone here would like a very successful coach to help their team achieve, please feel free to respond.

The thing is, I love cycling and coaching more than anything else in life. However, I find it's difficult to earn any money at it. Given my current lack-of-job status, I feel I should put it out there, and see if something good could happen that would put me in the place I have always wanted to be in.

I have put myself through an apprenticeship in coaching since 1989, and have consistently produced National Champions, some who would become pros. I have worked with them through their years of development, when no one else would, or was available. I also haven't charged any money for this, as it for me would change the relationship to an extent I do not enjoy. I someone wants to hire me in order to make an investment in their junior and U-23 program, please respond. My passion and knowledge of the sport runs deep.

I am willing to allow you to speak with any of the riders and parents I have worked with in the past, and can supply a coaching resume', if you like. Preparing riders for leadership and to produce good people as well as good athletes is a key to my success. Also, I spend as much time as possible with the athletes to ensure their success.

I also will relocate anywhere in the world to do this, so I don't rule out Australia- a place I have always wanted to live anyway- or England- or any other English speaking club or program.

You can reach me at dartagnean1@home.com

Regis Chapman
USA
Sun, 22 Jul

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Mark Gorski's 1984 Olympic bike

I recently got my hands on Mark's bike that he rode to a gold metal in 1984 Olympics. I have been trying to find pictures of mark on bike, no luck. Does anyone know where I might find some pictures? Please help if you can.

lsm81270.@netzero.net
Wed, 25 Jul

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Berzin?

It occurred to me that I have not heard the name Evgeni Berzin in about 6 years. In his youth, he was an outstanding rider. He introduced himself to the rest of the world by toppling Miguel Indurain as the champion of the Giro d'Italia. But he never again repeated his success of 1994, and slowly faded from sight. Can someone let me know where he went?

Jason Dieffenbacher
Gloucester, MA
Fri, 27 Jul

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Sew-ups vs clinchers #1

How can you say tubulars aren't more expensive than clinchers? I'd train on tubulars if that were the case. My only guess for this statement is that you actually replace the tubes in blown tubulars. I didn't know anyone did that anymore. Here's the way I see a non-blowout flat situation:

Clincher
Tire: $45
Tube: $3
Flat? Replace the tube: $3 + 3 minutes.

Tubular
Tire/Tube: $60
Flat? Replace the whole thing: $60 + 20 minutes.

And even if you are the last person on earth to actually repair a tubular, how long does that take you? What's your time worth?

Finally, there's a sense of reward when switching to your beloved tubies for a race. You can also enjoy a feeling of smug thriftiness while training on clinchers.

The conclusion is clear: race on tubies, train on clinchers.

Peter Krogh
Thu, 26 Jul

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Sew-ups vs clinchers #2

I am puzzled by the near universal assumption that singles (tubulars) are vastly more difficult to repair than high pressures (clinchers). My final conversion came when I spent half an hour on the side of the road wrestling a Michelin training clincher back on after a repair - not helped by the tendinitis in my right hand. But fifteen years ago I had a much worse experience doing the same thing with a Specialised tire in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain in Australia - a thousand miles of bugger all in each direction - I really thought I might never make it. Because of race rules here in Australia for under age groups I now have to run both types of tires - clinchers for my teenage son and tubulars for myself and my daughter, both for racing and training. My conclusions are: Tubulars are still better for comfort, handling and probably speed at all levels. The best race tubulars are better and faster than the best race clinchers. For training it's worth using kevlar belted versions of either type of tyre. For racing, use the best (in my view, veloflex but there are lots of other good ones) tubular. It's quicker to change a tubular than a clincher on the road. Repairing a tubular is usually slightly slower than repairing a clincher because of the stitching required - but with a bit of practice this is a very minor job and only takes a minute or two. Hints: (1) Keep sewing gear (tweezers, finger nail scissors, thimble, glue etc. ready in a box. Most of the hassles in repairing tubulars is in finding the equipment and materials. (2) Use waxed dental floss as thread. Cheap, strong as and works a treat. (3) Use superglue to repair damage to casing/threads. Dries in seconds and results in a much more secure end result. (4) Glues Probably shouldn't say this, but - 3M fastack is fine, or equivalent in supermarket/hardware. Sorry, but I don't bother with the proprietary brands. BUT check the adhesion every now and then to be sure.

My feeling is that a well repaired tubular is a more secure and better end result than a repaired clincher because of its higher structural integrity. In summary - the wheel is lighter (see previous postings), they're (often) cheaper, they ride better and at the top end faster, they are not a hassle to repair and as an engineering solution they are a better answer than clinchers.

Sue Armstrong and John Bell
Australia
Sat, 28 Jul

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The last month's letters

  • July 18 - Armstrong on l'Alpe, Cycling Manager, food, 35 minutes, commentary, Men's World Cup, Schmoo, van Vliet
  • July 13 - Tour music, commentary, Virenque, Rous on Lelarge, Women's peloton clean? Mt Washington
  • July 10 - Watching the Tour, comparisons, Millar & the media, Rous on
  • July 7 – Tour letters:Watching the finale, Armstrong vs Ullrich, USPS vs Telekom, Aussies, Giro suspects, Euskaltel
  • July 7 – Other letters: Women's peloton clean? "12s", Mt Washington, podium girls & boys, Pro encounters, tyres
  • July 4 – Tour letters: Armstrong vs Ullrich, USPS vs Telekom, Aussies, Giro suspects, Euskaltel
  • July 4 – Other letters: "12s", Mt Washington, podium girls & boys, Pro encounters, tyres
  • 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