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Letters to Cyclingnews November 1, 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.
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I just hope all the people condemning Virenque have never told a lie,
broken the speed limit in their cars, gotten drunk, or taken any social
drugs,because then by your own high moral standards, you should all
be shunned by society. He lied, finally told the truth, was punished,
served his time.
There are hundreds of substances found in almost every type of prescription and over the counter medication which are "banned substances". It does no one any good to insinuate that someone taking medication for a condition which they have been permitted to take, are taking performance enhancing drugs. It is this type of misinformed hysteria which fuels the witch hunts of the headline seeking trash press who have picked cycling to hound. Probably due to the fact that cycling is the only sport which tests for, or bans most of these substances.
My problem with Virenque was never his courage as a rider, he has amply demonstrated it over many years. I felt it was cowardly the way he dealt with the situation after the affair in the 98 Tour (note here I do not use the phrase "Festina affair" which is common, Festina was a good friend to cycling and stuck it out after 1998, if they have pulled out now I am sure it is in no small way connected to the fact that in cycling coverage Festina and Dope are intermingled constantly.
When Virenque learns to display the same courage off the bike he does on it, then he will be a "true" champion, rather than just a gifted athlete. It is time for us as cycling fans to recognise that the riders have a tremendously difficult job to be 100% certain they do not ingest "banned substances," and that they are human beings who just like all of us have physical or medical conditions that must be treated, sometimes with "banned substances". I for one believe the peloton is cleaning up. There will always be cheats in any sport, but I firmly believe in the character of the large majority of the riders.
Alexis makes a good point. We all make mistakes when our livelihood is on the line. Just remember Peter who loved Jesus yet still denied him when the crowd got too close. So lets focus on the good and brave in each of us. Three cheers Alexis, Richard Virenque is a marvelous cyclist, not doubt about it.
What a year 2002 is shaping up to be for American riders in Europe! Who can remember the days when John Howard was the only American professional in Europe? Now we will have American riders riding for not only the USPS team, but for four other Division I teams as well! Super Domestiques Bobby Julich and Kevin "Special-ed" Livingston supporting Super Star Jan Ullrich over at Telekom, my All Time Favorite Super Underdog, Jonathan Vaughters riding with Christoph Moreau and Florent Brard over at Credit Agricole, Up and Coming Levi Leipheimer leading the hard men of the Rabobank squad at the Giro, and "Super Fly-weight" Tyler Hamilton looks like the virtual big tour leader for Bjarne "Arms as skinny as Pipe Cleaners" Riis' CSC All-Stars! Ladies and Gentleman, Welcome to the Golden Age of American Cycling! I'm already giddy with anticipation...
There are so many unanswered questions about next year though... Who will Johan Bruyneel sign to compliment George Hincapie at Paris-Roubaix? How much longer can Trent "I rule Domestic racing" Klasna stay out of Europe? Can Marty "Redwood Legs" Nothstein make the transition to the road scene successfully? Has anyone noticed how the road scene in the US has increased in competitiveness exponentially in the last couple of years? (Over in the world of Mountain Biking, riders regularly skip world cup races to do the NORBA Championship Series...) Yes, it is a good time to be an American Cycling Fan!
There still seems to be quite a bit of controversy left over from the Elite Men's RR this year in regards to the Italian team tactics. Indeed, Lanfranchi chasing down Simoni and all. I haven't had the opportunity to see the video of this, but it does sound like it would be fine viewing. The situation reminds me of back in 1982 when the same thing seems to have happened to Jonathan Boyer at the hands of one Greg Lemond. Now, THAT video I have seen many times, and Lemond's explanation not withstanding, I never really understood what was going on there - although I believe they were no longer on the same trade team at this point (Lemond was with Renault and Boyer had moved over to SEM after 1981 as I recall.).
Which brings me to this question. Why, during the World's, do we have national teams? For example, why don't they just take the top 200 riders or so on UCI points, and let 'em have at it in their team colors like they do during the national championships. Let's face it, it's the employer who really carries the weight. Remember the Olympics last year? I saw three Telekom team mates not two Germans and a rider from Kazakhstan.
Just an ignorant observation. Any others?
So we finally have the great and the good of cycling confirming what
we've all known all along; road cycle racing is too hard.
Grand Tours Duration #2
The fact that Hein wants to shorten the Grand Tours to two weeks shows just how much we need to get him out of the UCI. The man once claimed almost no one took EPO, not too mention blaming the high racing speeds and numerous crashes on Spinaci-type bars rather than the more likely EPO and narrow winding roads. If he really wants to eliminate doping he should put the UCI's money into developing a computer based cycling game, then no one will have to take drugs.
Grand Tours Duration #3
Surely then they cease to be Grand Tours - Verbruggen will go down in cycling history as the man who killed technology and the biggest events of the calendar. Wouldn't proper testing and monitoring of the riders and teams be the best way to stop drugs - 15 days out of 21 days will just be a series of shorter races with no true winner.
I read the results of a wind tunnel test Ullrich did. They discovered that he moves his head a lot. If he's wearing a traditional TT helmet, the tail of the helmet creates additional drag as it moves around behind his head. He is more aerodynamic without the helmet.
I have heard that Ullrich did testing in a wind tunnel which showed he was actually more aerodynamic with a little cycling cap on backwards than he was with an aero helmet. Ullrich is also a rider who tends to drop his head a lot when time trialling. This totally negates any advantage which an aero helmet may bring. If you are a head dropped you're better off without an aero helmet!
Kudos to you Regis for understanding what coaching is really about.
Although I ride and race on a regular basis, I don't formally coach
cyclists. Rather, my coaching experience is in the area of Nordic Skiing.
My observations, after coaching in this area for a number of years,
however, are similar to yours in cycling. Individuals who hire themselves
out as private coaches to junior, senior, and masters level Nordic skiers
have become the norm in my neck of the woods. A summer training program
can costs as much as US$500-$700. This is currently so much the norm,
that many high schools and clubs have a difficult time finding experienced
individuals to to fill the coaching positions that they have available.
Why? Because many "coaches" have found that through running
summer and fall "training programs" for groups of skiers,
they can make much more than they could ever hope to make serving as
a coach for a high school or club. All too often the programs developed
by these coaches are the same for nearly all their athletes. It appears
that, when you are "in it for the $$$," your philosophy tends
to be centered around getting the most dollars for the least amount
I once was the only racer for many, many, miles around this area. In the last 20 years we here have introduced dozens of new people to the sport, (I can actually go on a "group" ride every week, unheard of here even 10 years ago). We have mobilised a small and completely cycling ignorant community to put on and support one of America's finest races for over 15 years. (The Tour of the Gila), I lose money at it every year. I don't know what the difference between a coach and a trainer is, but I do know that around this country there are plenty of people just like you who are devoting massive amounts of time and energy to our sport with no thought of personal gain. So if it seems different in your area, don't worry, coaching for the sake of the athlete and the sport is alive and well.
The fact that money changes hands does not make a coach or a trainer something different or lesser, as your use of punctuation would indicate. I am a Coach, not a "Coach". It sounds like you have a tremendous gift of being financially able (which is directly linked to the time you can afford to spend) to help out athletes at all ability levels without cost to the athlete. THAT IS BOTH EXTREMELY HELPFUL AND ADMIRABLE! But it also sounds like maybe a highly recognisable and also extremely qualified Coach or group has perhaps given some of your key riders a scholarship that they chose to take. Welcome to competition!
This stuff (cherry picking top athletes) has been going on in countries where Cycling is much more popular than it is here in the USA. It goes on every day in Basketball,as well as other sports. I think it is an example of evolution and advance in our sport and I think it is great!
What is important, is the help that the rider is getting be the best he can get and unfortunately, you or I may not be it anymore! It is easy to be the top guy in our field when our field is the size of a postage stamp. But as the sport grows, so grows money, and that promotes the growth of talent and ability of both the riders and the support staff. The real test for you and I as volunteer coaches is to provide the athletes with the best we can give them and put them in a place where they can move on to better things. If you or I happen to be the best, more power to us!
Bottom line is that the one on one you give is highly valuable (also note that you and I are not Chris Carmichael, and you and I are probably both Coach and trainer because we have to be). What goes around comes around, if you are good and I have heard that you are, people will find you. Riders will realise that and will be back if they feel that someone was just in it for the money, or they do not progress beyond what you can give them. The question is, will you still be there for them when they come back?
Thanks to all of your correspondents for the always timely coverage of professional cycling. As we in the Midwest start dragging out our indoor trainers and preparing for the indoor training season, I just wanted to look back and acknowledge the job done by Cyclingnews. In the events that transpired this past season -- first the foot and mouth disease that seemed was going to damage the start of the season for you in Europe; to the ugly and horrific events in New York City Sept. 11 -- it has been a blessing to turn to cyclingnews and the world of cycling as a glimmer of hope for the world. That things will go on. And here's to the season past, and with a blessing from the Gods of Cycling, we will move into next season with renewed hopes and aspiration -- remembering that sometimes winning is overcoming all the obstacles and challenges and riding on!!! May we all step over a bike and settle into the saddle next year with a little more joy for just being a cyclist and getting in another ride!!!
I have to agree with Charles M. Pro cyclists excluded, the majority of cyclists (amateur racers included) are carrying extra baggage, read flab. As for the Speedplay 4.8kg bike.... It looks ugly and I would rather ride a beautiful "heavy" bike, than a lightweight freakshow any day. I will concede that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". Full marks to the UCI for its noble intentions, misguided as they are. No one I know watches the tour, or any of the World Cup or classics races to drool over the bikes, the appeal lies in the human drama played out between the competitors, the course, and the conditions. The technology is a sideshow. If Armstrong had been riding last years TREK or even the original OCLV it wouldn't have changed the outcome of this year's tour.
Wheel regulations #2
What would be useful would be to know the weight limits on the top end bikes. I am 75kg and am getting disillusioned from finding out that fewer and fewer of the "pro team" models have the strength to carry my weight for even riding - let alone racing. Is this why so many bikes break these days after crashes or on pave in the pro peloton ?
Wheel regulations #3
I agree with Charles and Lance, it's not about the bike and shouldn't be. I applaud the UCI's efforts to put limits and standardization on equipment. I have always found when watching motor racing (I admit to liking sports other than cycling), one of my favorite events is the "Race of Champions" series, where all drivers compete in identical vehicles, because then it is "all about the driver". I don't think we need to go that far in cycling, but we definitely need some sort of control. I also agree that manufacturers generally put marketing "new" products far ahead of safety.
Now that was good reason to read the letter section of cyclingnews. A amazing analysis of a interesting case in the pro peloton, beats 10 letters discussing if Virenque was a worthy winner or not. Keep up the good work
This must be an American thing...complaining about beauty on earth known as the Female. In this case, podium girls? Someone's wife must be behind this.
Podium girls are a major part of cycling and as long as I can remember they've been a part of the tradition. A good one I may add. Do you see 2nd and 3rd sharing the podium with the winner?? No. I myself love podium girls and think they need to shown.
America may be ahead of the world in many regards, but such comments are old. Thanks for showing podium girls!!!
You have to feel sorry for poor George Hincapie, don't you! First he has to bust a gut all season in all weathers (though to good effect, it has to be said), then as if coping with all that Northern Europe can throw at him wasn't enough, just when he crawls back home for a spot of well earned rest, he gets accosted by all manner of toothless crones whom most of us 'proper' bikies would run a mile from (News, Oct 25).
Still, Pro that he is, he makes the effort to look pleased. Bravo,
George, it must have been hell. Mind you, this would never have happened
in Sean Kelly's day. Any floosie who wanted the Iron Man's attention
would have had to train with him for 200k in driving rain over the cobbles
before being allowed to distract him.
Can someone tell me how the whole UCI points thing works for road
UCI Points #2
First off thanks for the great Web site, it is compulsory reading every day.
One suggestion for your site, would be the addition of an FAQ page, as I know I for one often get asked a few standard questions and sometimes I am not sure how to answer them. A few questions you could start with are:
* How do the UCI points work, particularly for teams, and how does
this relate to Team Divisions and entry to different races?
This was brought up to me by a small woman rider I am now coaching.
I know the reason behind David (Millar) changing helmets......
He wanted to look mean in the Vuelta TT - having already sorted out his full finger gloves and new skin suit David felt all that was missing was a sweet helmet - and Lance was kind enough to help him out.
David enjoyed riding with the helmet so much that he has stuck to using it
......and people say women are picky about their clothes!
Congratulations! John Lieswyn is clearly the best diarist in the business,
the poet laureate of wild men with bidons. Better than Frankie Andreu
in his day. Imagine how much damage he could do with an inside view
of a Grand Tour ... Telekom ought to give him a ride in next year's
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