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Letters to Cyclingnews
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.
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Some nice juicy controversy in this batch of letters as Doug St George and Jonathan van der Sluis get stuck into the subject of women's cycling. Doug doesn't think women should get pay and prize money equal to men, while Jonathan takes us to task for our "men are men and women are women" crack. We have lots to say on this subject, but we'll save it till next time because we think many of you will have opinions on this one.
Brad Tideswell doesn't believe sport has ever been free from doping, while William D. James has a comment on Actovegin's possible use as a masking agent for EPO. Interesting notion, we'll see what we can find out.
Seth R. Hayse thinks it's better to move up than be a big fish in a small pond.
Discussion of the Espy Awards continues to rumble, Eric Flynn points ut that the Espy Awards are all about 'American' sports, while Rick Bose and Mark Ingle are in the 'golf's not a sport' camp. Now, I'm no fan of golf. I think it's dull to watch, and a waste of land that would be much better used as a place for me to ride my mountain bike and my Rhodesian Ridgeback to chase me. But at least a golf course isn't a greaseburger barn and golf's great exercise for folks who for one reason or another can't cope with the pressures of more taxing sports. Like bowling, say. Or skittles.
Kidding aside, golf requires skill, dedication, talent and focus. It's fiercely competitive, and the only way to get to the level of a Tiger Woods is to work damn hard at your game. From the perspective of 'Is it a sport?' the only significant difference between golf and cycling is that cycling involves moving quickly and sweating a lot, and golf doesn't. Neither do lots of other sports: archery, target-shooting, even fly-fishing. Cycling undoubtedly requires all of the things that make a sport, but let's not be blinded into dissing another sport by our love of our own. Golf is hugely popular. Cycling's authorities and the bike industry would do well to look at the reasonsa sport that was in the doldrums a decade ago in the US now attracts massive media attention and participation.
Which leads us nicely to Rod Hartridge, who has an idea to make the time trial an interesting spectator sport. Unfortunately I think Joe and Josephine Sixpack would still rather ogle Anna Kournikova and Pat Rafter. Come to think of itů
Somewhat staggered to see in the article today that the UCI is thinking of giving equal rights and prize money to the professional women. I am sorry to say that until such time as they are as good as men then why should they expect to get what the men receive?
I am all for equality if it is earned and to date I cannot see in almost all sports that women play that they achieve anywhere near what the men achieve. Watching women's golf on the weekend it is only but one or two women (literally) that achieve the same standards of power and accuracy as the men. And this in a sport where women have been participating for some period of time professionally.
What the women bring to sport is not the same as men and as far as I can see it will be the same in cycling. They do not by and large bring the same dedication and certainly don't bring the same levels of power and endurance. So why pay them the same?
Doug St George
In the News & Analysis of 12 March, Jeff Jones writes that in 'working class Europe, men are men and women are... women'. I found this extremely puzzling. Does the same not hold true for most of the world, regardless of 'social class'? Why is this so relevant to cycling? Are women not women when they play tennis? Or are women not women in Asia?
The idea that women's cycling being behind men's can be attributed to 'working class Europe' completely ignores the fact that women are also underrepresented in many sports, even those that did not originate either in Europe or the 'working class'. Otherwise, a sport like skating was traditionally not for the rich - in the Netherlands it was sometimes necessary to know how to skate, simply to survive the winter. But women have not at all been ignored in that sport.
Finally, Europe is not a particularly conservative part of the world. Many progressive movements have originated in Europe - in any field one can think of. Cycling can be called conservative, as it has many traditions, but this is not exclusively connected with either its social or geographical roots.
Jonathan van der Sluis,
In response to Chris Highley, if you want to see a true test of man against man, then I'm afraid those days never even existed. Doping in athletes started way back in the days of the ancient Greek, Roman, Aztec and Incan times. They all doped. Opium, ephedrine and various substances and practices were used and experimented with. "A true test" probably only exists on the school playing fields. Then again, maybe they have now been infiltrated.
I urge all of you who believe in the "Olympic Ideal", please go out and get yourself a book written by an Australian discus thrower, Werner Reiterer called 'Positive', published by Macmillan. It's an Aussie book so people in other countries may have to order it. It makes for some very good and interesting reading.
My interpretation of the murmurings surrounding Actovegin is that one of it's ingredients is calf's blood. It has been suggested that the product, whilst not listed by either the UCI nor the IOC, comes under the title of "blood-doping" products, similarly outlawed following the Atlanta Games. It is this aspect that is being investigated. It has also been suggested that Actovegin can act as a "masking" agent for EPO type products, since the haemocrit level apparently remains "normal".
William D. James
More responses to Peter Lindeman's and Jed Kornbluh's letters on "Moving Up:"
If you want to be faster and be more competitive, race against others that are faster than you. If you want to be a better racer, race against others that are better than you. If you are doing well and winning already, then you already have enough experience and should move up.
Get off the short bus. It's that simple.
If not, what's the point of being a big fish in a small pond? The other fish don't like to struggle race after race and see the same big fish off the front and on the podium time after time. How much experience are you going to gain by doing well against the same pack of racers? Not much. Do the rest of the smaller fish a favor and move up to the next size pond. If you get your ass handed to you, then at least you showed courage by venturing into the unknown. It doesn't take any courage to continue racing against others that you know you can beat all season long.
I would rather race my guts out against better riders and lose, rather than win against a field of less serious and talented competitors.
Just a small fish but moving up to an even bigger pond,
Seth R. Hayse
First of all when it comes to the ESPY awards no one in the US is going to recognize a sport that isn't "American". The only thing that gets Armstrong noticed by the US media is the fact that he had and overcame cancer. The heads of state in the US that deal with so called great sporting acomplishments are strictly looking at "American" sports. I feel cycling is the greatest sport in the world and that cyclists are by far THE most underpayed athletes in the world. I am not saying that golf doesn't take skill. It's just a matter of what the US is going to recognize as a great sport or not. Do you think that anybody at ESPN knows who Eddy Merckx is? Probably not. But he dominated his sport more than any other athlete in history. If you look at the sheer numbers of his accomplishments he makes the so-called great "American Athletes" look like a bunch of weekend warriors.
Now I'm not trying to make anybody mad it's just that when you look at something like the ESPY's it's only about American sports. So of course Tiger is going to get the nod. It doesn't matter anyway. Lance can't play golf the way Woods does and Woods sure as hell can't ride a bike at an average speed of 35 mph for 52 kilometers. It's all just one big opinion that doesn't really mean anything anyway.
I agree with Pelox. Golf is a recreational activity, it is a game, it is even a competition. But it is not an athletic competition. It is not a sport. It is the summer/outdoor equivalent of curling. Were there any bowlers in contention? The thing is that the ESPY awards are an American media award. Night after night on ESPN Sportscenter they go on and on in their adulation of Tiger. The newsreaders on Sportscenter do not even have sufficient depth of understanding of cycling to make any intelligent comments on the daily stages during the brief mention of the day's stage report during the tour.
Anyway, I doubt Lance is upset, however. One of the "movies" on the Nike site last year showed Lance changing his son Luke's diaper and commenting on teaching Luke to "do the Tiger" (fist pump) and I believe he commented that Luke would not be a bike racer, but a golfer. I guess golf can be a fun game to play, and if you're into it, fun to watch. It just doesn't seem to qualify as an athletic competition.
It would be easy to solve the problem regarding the Espy awards athlete of the year... have two awards, one for real athletes and one for golfers, bowlers and billiard players!
Regarding UCI president Hein Verbruggen's concept of making the World Time Trial Championships better suited to television, I have the following suggestion. Each of the top 30 or so riders to have their CURRENT time displayed on top of their following vehicle. This could be in the form of a digital display, 0.5m. square, with the riders name above, their country below (or sponsor if used in Tour time trials, for example) and the brand name of the timing device down each side. Being able to compare riders times en route would add to the interest and excitement for both viewers and roadside spectators - time and time again!
I LOVE YA MAN!!!!!
I am looking for TDF 2000 Stage 12-15 Videos, Does any one know where you can buy whole stage videos.
The last month's letters