Letters to Cyclingnews November 16, 2001
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I'm no expert, but I think you should run a special section called
Transfer News. You could update the latest gossip on which rider is
going where. Where is Davide Rebellin going? I'm addicted to this site
and it's not pretty.
Why did everyone repeat the Italian news about NESP (aka Aranesp(tm), Darbepoetin Alfa) without checking some medical information available?
The stuff is not produced by the human body and has three times the half life of EPO. The latter makes it roughly three times more effective than EPO, while the former makes it easier to detect - without the ambiguities the EPO-tests had to cope with.
The information above is easily available on the WWW. Along come the sports' governing bodies: if they had tried to keep up to date, the development of a NESP-test could have been initiated already.
NESP better than EPO? #2
I could be mistaken, but I think NESP is detectable under the current Basic/Acid EPO testing Method used by the UCI, and due to the longer half life, would be detectable even longer than EPO currently is. NESP is just another form of EPO,and therefor probably flushed from the body similarly.Anyhow, I think the journalistic community should look into this matter and ask the UCI,before claiming the peloton is already using it.
Having just returned from the country of Togo in West Africa, I was happy to see the coverage of the Tour du Faso this year. I have to say I was a little surprised to see that the Societe du Tour de France has taken over the organisation of the event, and it does concern me somewhat.
Some of my good friends were among Togo's elite cyclists, and one is the current national champion. They tough it out on incredibly outdated bicycles, bad roads and in some of the hardest training conditions, and I was sad to see that for some reason they did not take part in this year's race as they had before. I do hope that M. Leblanc is serious in his efforts to keep the balance between European and African teams. While on the one hand, the Tour du Faso gives riders like my friends in Togo a chance to compete on a higher level, and then perhaps improve, they face opponents from Europe with the latest equipment, training methods, and year round support that their African rivals often do not have. In fact, many African cyclists are riding equipment and wearing clothing that European riders likely threw away years ago, and wound up in one of the second hand markets that abound in Africa.
I also hope that M. Leblanc tries to keep what is special about Africa, and Burkina Faso, at the heart of the Tour du Faso, but implying that what works in France logically works in Burkina needs to be spoken cautiously and sensitively. Of the many problems I dealt with in Africa, one was the very low self-image among many people there that feel they are naturally inferior to white people. . .that white people are more capable than they are. This is something that can be traced back to colonial times, and it is a hard mentality to break. Being an also-ran to a field of more highly trained Europeans doesn't help, either. I noticed that only one rider from Niger finished. I would hate to think that his five team mates went home early thinking that it was inevitable that the white riders would beat them.
As important as it is that we westerners visit and learn about our fellow man in Africa, it would be sad to see the Tour du Faso end up as some kind of off-season training race for Europeans looking for an"exotic" destination or some last minute UCI points. That all can come at the cost of the local riders. In addition to international competition, the riders there could use some international cycling knowledge and training. My Togolese friends are fast; they made me throw up during a ride they were so tough. They could be even more competitive if they were given the opportunities and some real coaching and the self esteem that comes with it. One "exotic" race, a sort of "Survivor" challenge for Europeans, is not enough to raise them to the next level. Simply stacking the race with Africans (Africans from both North and Sub-Saharan Africa) will help African cycling no more than stacking French riders in the Tour de France will help French cycling. More help at the development and training level is needed. In fact, I would argue that if M. Leblanc is going to bring more highly trained Westerners into the Tour du Faso, then he has an obligation to see to it that African cyclists can compete and achieve their potential against whomever may show up to their largest stage race. If this happens, then maybe in the future, Africans can win more than three out of eleven stages, and have more than two out of the top ten overall.
G. Garner Woodall.
Well, it's that time of year again: the off season...the time for
big dreams and plans for the upcoming season. And, just like every year,
up springs a whole new crop of riders who "can better Lance Armstrong
in the mountains". The most recent is Gilberto Simoni. Based upon
his experience in the Tour of Switzerland against Lance (where Lance
put a big ol' two minutes into Gilberto in the space of 15 up hill kilometers),
Simoni has declared that he can beat Lance in the mountains. Last spring,
we heard the same silliness from Jan Ullrich (presumably because he
dropped Lance on the Joux Plane in the 2000 Tour).
Try hitting a few UK Web sites looking for the Imagic system from Tac
(www.tacx.nl). The computrainer is another (computrainer.com). Both
require a computer and are pretty expensive, and the Tacx adds actual
steering to the mix. Both provide super info and are great training
aids, as well as variable resistance. The Tacx is about US$350 less
than the computrainer, but you may get hit with customs charges if you
can't make a "deal" with the over seas shipper of the Tacx
having them list
Tuesday, November 13 2001
Indoor trainer #2
I was solving the similar problem lately and end up buying ELITE FLUID indoor trainer. It is not the most sophisticated one, but goes smoothly, which I think is important. For monitoring I use my heart rate monitor only. I believe that the most sophisticated one that can be hooked on PC is the latest TACX. It was introduced a few weeks ago. Check on their Web page www.tacx.nl.
Indoor trainer #3
The Indoor trainer you mentioned is called the Compu-Trainer. They are very effective for a good indoor workout. The official Web site is http://www.computrainer.com/ and gives full details regarding the product. Hope this helps you out.
I am sure that everyone agrees that running red lights in your car is dangerous, not only to cyclists, but everyone on the road. However, cyclists should also lead by example: Count how many red lights you have run on your bike this year. Now add the number of stops signs you have gone through and the number of pedestrian crossings you have zipped through without a glance (at least in New York cars must stop for pedestrians in pedestrian crossings). Lost track yet?
I will admit that I am not without guilt. When on a group ride, I have gone through too many red lights and stop signs to count after the "clear" call had been given. However, commuting is another matter, and I always come to a complete stop when I should, where I should. I set a good example for cyclists, and by doing so I demonstrate my commitment to sharing the road with cars and pedestrians.
It also sets an example for kids to see you stop. Especially, if you are the policeman on the bike who ran the red light and cut me off while I was making use of a pedestrian crossing the other day. So set a good example, and help make the streets safer for everyone. Even if it means giving yourself a ticket.
Running red lights #2
I agree with Peter about cars running red lights. As a driver and
bicycle rider ( I ride more miles on my bike than I drive in my car),
I always wait at least a couple of seconds before I start after a light
change just for this reason.
Running red lights #3
Not that I am advocating running red lights, or trying to belittle the danger, but for every car I see run a red light or stop sign I must see 100 bicyclists doing the same, and placing themselves at risk.
You find a sponsor willing to give the money to pay all those Great American Cyclists the money they deserve and maybe they would all be on the same team, Lance, George, are both at the top of their specialties and deserve a lot of money, Levi Podiumed at a Grand Tour and deserves cash, Freddie is 2x National Champ, and the rest are all solid players, so that would be a heck of a lot of money and a huge budget, its not that they aren't interested in World's its that it is in October and why bother going without a shot to win?
Yes I believe the worlds should be moved back to late August. But I also believe that the riders should not be allowed to wear their trade team colors and the cycling fans should be the ones who pick the riders. When it comes to the race, it becomes a free for all. The riders of their country can work together, but it becomes a survival of the fittest.If any rider goes in a break and another rider misses, but chases it down, then all power to them. Get away from team leaders and let them race like we used to in cat. five and four. I feel Zable lost the worlds because of Ullrich. If he was allowed to race his race, he would have won. Let the strongest rider win, not a trade team member. Let us choose the team, and keep the pros out of the Olympics. But that is another issue.
Patrick J. Buchanan
Making the grand tours shorter may mean that EPO and other drugs taken in the weeks before the start will aid the riders performance for the entire event.
Grand Tours Duration #2
Maybe they just don't have the money to BUY talent in the way that
Mercury did. And as for the exclusions... get over it. They have the
right to invite who they want and the fact is that Saeco is nothing
without Chipo... and he never finishes....Mercantone haven't been able
to recover from Pantanis screw ups.
You might try Bromley Books (56 Oaktree Gardens, Bromley, Kent, UK)
with the same question. They are very helpful with an extensive range
of videos, books and knowledge. No Web site but an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am sure that athletes head back to you for all the things you provide as compared to the so called "top" coaches. The fact that you continue on with them is great, not everyone is big enough to keep working with someone who has tried for what they thought were greener pastures only to step in a pile of what tends to lie in pastures! Not all riders make it at the "Meat Market" of modern training centers and camps. I can understand why the vast majority come home with complaints of poor treatment. It happens to all but the best, and very very few athletes in any sport are really that good. Conversely, the cream of the crop, or at least a camp or two, come home with a can't wait to go back attitude.
The Coaches at the very highest level can't give the complete handling to everyone who walks through the door. They unfortunately have to cut the wheat from the chafe, and the chafe (along with a little wheat) usually wind up hacked off. It happens hear some and in Europe constantly. At least here, the athletes tend to have a better economic situation that in Europe and have more options and less risk pursuing their dreams.
It stinks that athletes have to find their place in the pecking order, and it could be done with more tact and heart, especially in a sport that is all tact and heart (and some lung). It is an absolute shame that athletes come home more often than not having lost some of the love for the sport because people paid well to handle these kids do a bad job of encouraging anyone they don't see a meal ticket in.
As the holder of a French BEESAC coaching qualification I can only
reiterate REEG's comments. Here in France coaches are named "educateurs"
which means just that!
Madison races are track races where teams of two men (or women) pair up and sling one another 'round the track collecting points on designated laps. They are like points races where riders with a lap up take precedence over the points accumulated, but now you've got two people, one racing, and one staying, trying to get points or laps.
Six day races are, you guessed it, six days of racing. The racing usually happens in the evening, and the Madison race is the race most closely associated with this type of racing. It got it's name from the six day held at Madison Square Garden when the promoter had to figure out a way to circumvent the new rules regarding the duration of the racing overall. If memory serves, they used to last somewhere along the lines of 144 hours and people became somewhat upset over the riders going around like crazed zombies all in the name of entertainment. I only know of one six day program being run in the United States. It happens in Portland, or at the Alpenrose Velodrome. If there are others, then I stand corrected. For more information consult the book "No Brakes!"
Although I am sure many readers here are much more familiar with track racing, you should know that the Six Day Race, which originated at Madison Square Gardens at the turn of the (last) century is alive and well in Europe. It is the social event in Berlin each January and I have had to order my tickets a full year in advance. The team of two riders who cover the greatest distance in the six days are basically the winners, but there are a lot of different competitions during the race. Unlike the old days, when they really did race six 24-hour days, the current European races are generally about 5-6 hours per evening. The Olympic Sprint and the Madison are both particular kinds of track races, the first being with three man teams, the second with two.
In response to David de Gama's letter about the ultimate crit wheels.
I think you should have a separate headline for matters concerning doping and riders suspected and convicted for doping.
A bit sorry to see that British cycling sweeps doping under the carpet. If Johnny Foreigner had been caught with an illegal dose of Ephidrine, would the British authorities be happy with a two year suspended sentence? I think not !
John L Strachan
In response to Tom Arsenault's griping, I feel I could have written that letter myself. You have expressed my exact feelings about mountain bike racing here. One thing I would like to add is this: With race entry fees of $35 (local races) to $55 (nationals) and prizes such as a tube or a medal, where is all of this money going? Are the mountain bike promoters getting fat and happy at our expense? How come road race promoters can afford cash prizes for amateurs when they charge significantly lower entry fees? Same goes for cyclocross.
I have decided to forgo mountain bike racing next season and spare myself the expenses of petrol, lodging, food and high entry fees in order to sleep in my own bed, drive up to two hours for a road race, win money and be at my table in time for a home cooked dinner.
I don't know guys. Racing is about going fast and advances in technology tend to make things faster. Why stop at a Colnago with 32 hole wheels? If Hein were in charge of the UCI in the 30's we would still be riding steel cranks, derailleurs and other components, because that new fangled aluminum stuff is just too light and dangerous to be trusted. How about solid tyres on high wheelers, you know those tyres with air in them are really dangerous 'because they go flat at the most inopportune times?
Bikes have become lighter as new materials have become available, and while some designs might be questionable for the most part, bikes are stronger and safer today than they were when I started riding and racing. I remember vividly crank and pedal spindles shearing off during races, frames breaking at the head tube because they were over heated during the brazing process (including Colnagos), steel forks breaking at the crown and steerer tube etc. etc. etc.
Relative to current technology, it is, and always has been incumbent on the user to make sure they are purchasing the proper product for the job. If some idiot who weighs 100kg+ goes out and purchases a 1kg frame and a set of 1kg wheels, I think they get what they deserve when it breaks on them in the first week, this isn't the fault of the manufacturer! It was the same thing in the 70's when you could buy a frame made from Columbus KL that was super light but wouldn't last a season if you weighed more than 60kilo's.
The technology development in cycling is going to move forward irrespective of what the UCI does. It is a natural progression that is driven by market forces and manufacturers constant desire to have new things to sell. Some of it will be good (clipless pedals, carbon fiber components and bikes, high tech wheel sets etc) other things will suck (Bio-Pace, Campy Mountain Bike groups), but the market will make the determination. All the UCI accomplishes by arbitrary limitations on certain technologies is to make sure that the racers under their restrictions are not competing on the best technology the market has to offer.
In the long run, where do you draw the line, what do you allow what don't you allow? Giant just showed a 13lb bike at the recent Interbike show that had light components, but nothing insane and nothing that anyone under 85 kilos couldn't ride and race on safely. Why shouldn't this be allowed to be raced on when there are bikes that less strong that meet the weight rules?
That is the real problem, the UCI rules are too arbitrary and the organisation does not enforce them consistently. The UCI is about business and much of the decision making is politically motivated and has to do with power and strength of national federations and trade teams and keeping the control base of the sport in Europe. It is far easier for the Italian federation to get something moved through the Technological Committee than the US or other countries who are not part of the "inner circle". Besides, if "safety" were the real concern, why does the UCI leave the use of helmets to the personal choice of professionals, rather than mandating them? How about tighter regulations on the design of the final 5k of races? This would have a more significant impact on the overall safety of the sport that all of the rules on bikes and components.
Although I feel sympathy for Julian Winn, in that I doubt that he
used the Ephedrine-containing preparations with a view to gaining an
unfair advantage, I feel strongly that it is incumbent upon riders (especially
at the level at which Julian competes) who feel the need to use 'natural'
supplements to do or have done stringent research to ascertain that
such products contain no (even in the guise of another name) banned
substances. In the same breath I have no compunction in chiding the
powers that be for the idiocy of an otherwise laudable Anti-Doping Policy
which dictates, (vide Jonathan Vaughters TDF 2001) that medicines, even
those containing traces of prohibited substances, may not be dispensed
in a 'one-off' situation by a qualified medical practitioner on the
grounds of informed decision. The fight against cheats must vigorously
be pursued, but when this goes against common sense and decency then
we might as well hand over the running of our sport to the lawyers.
Lord knows, these noble gentlemen, with their insistence upon adherence
to every dot and comma of the law, have already made a mockery of what
most of us would describe as justice. Any Italian climbers care to comment?
Julian Winn #2
There are plenty of precedents for this outcome. Generally truly inadvertent use of a minimally performance enhancing agent will attract a light or suspended penalty. Ephedrine falls into this category, as would the inadvertent use of recreational stimulants away from competition. Levels recorded at testing (which are rarely publicised) will generally give a strong indication as to whether usage was truly inadvertent and consistent with claims, or was in fact intended as doping. As you have correctly stated, there have been too many recent examples of allegedly inadvertent use, and a firm stand is necessary to prevent this problem. Athletes must bear responsibility for whatever products they may use.
The knowing use of potent performance modifiers such as EPO, anabolic agents etc is a totally different matter, and should always be dealt with to the full extent of regulations.
The Jonathan Vaughters case has aroused much ill-informed comment.
Various medications were permissible, but relatively ineffective in
his situation. Corticosteroid by tablet or injection would most likely
have been effective, and permitted continued racing, but is specifically
banned, for good reason as a performance modifier. In principle, drugs
in sport regulations state that "normal" medical treatment
should be permitted, but in reality this principle has never been defined
or upheld. Hence the
The loophole is that if the medical staff had administered the injection, falsely declared it to have been placed within a painful joint, and said nothing about the swollen eye, it may well have passed without comment. By doing the right thing the rider and team were seen to have been penalised, but their alternative was to commit an illegal act.
Corticosteroids are widely reputed within cycling to be used as performance modifiers, and it is possible that false declarations of use have also been fairly widespread, which is why these drugs cause much concern. In this example, a small minority suffered in order to uphold a principle for the benefit of a much larger majority. There remain many legitimate and beneficial uses of corticosteroids in different forms for both elite athletes and the general community, but systemic (tablets, injections) forms will remain banned for athletes both within and outside competition.
Your efforts in publicising doping cases, and attempting to offer well informed comment, can ultimately only be of benefit to all of the cycling community. Keep up the good work.
On a totally different matter, I enjoyed the feature on the 4.8 kg bicycle. In the best tradition of virtually all expensive lightweight products and machines, the numbers simply don't add up. Try assembling the front wheel for a start to achieve 305g - not easy with a rim alone listed as 245g. The anti-gravity scales have a lot to answer for. Generally you approach these matters with a nice edge of Australian cynicism and scepticism, may be lost on some, but enjoyed by others.
Just very curious why someone of the caliber of Julian Winn would
be taking a slimming aid tablet during a stage race??? Normally something
like herbal ephedrine should be out of your system with in two or three
days if you stop taking it before an event. .
It stinks - a rider like Winn knows the rules - it is one rule for riders who are liked and another for those who are not.
Ask the BCF about what has happened to Neil Campbell's appeal - he
made the Olympic team last year and was was banned just before the Olympics
last year due to HCG being found in his sample - he was given a one
year ban - produced medical evidence that was rejected without being
looked into fairly - the ban has come and gone but the BCF has not given
this man an appeal yet!
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