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Letters to Cyclingnews October 17, 2001
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In response to Mark Zeh's remarks about Richard Virenque. Everyday
there are riders racing and using banned substances. Are they admitting
to it? No of course not. Virenque doped, held out as long as he could,
got threatened with sever punishment and admitted his use. He got a
10 month suspension, quietly trained came back and won a prestigious
He who is without sin cast the first stone. Someone famous said that.
I once watched Virenque as a young rider with RMO take the yellow jersey in his first tour and was impressed with his career as it developed. I felt sorry for him when one of the greatest days he ever had on a bike was overshadowed by the Casartelli tragedy in the 1995 tour. The doping revealations and his subsequent refusal to accept any responsibility for his actions soured me on "Little Dick." I still feel he does not fully recognise the gravity of what he did. Perhaps because so many others did the same and didn't pay the price he did he feels singled out unfairly.
How people can say he has ridden so well I don't understand. Unfortunately I don't think the performances of one Richard Virenque can be taken seriously. The man has no integrity or concern for those he harmed. I don't believe he should have been allowed back into the peloton.
I have to agree with Mr. Mark Zeh's comments about Richard Virenque. I won't go as far as to say that I will stop following professional road racing if Virenque wins the world championships this Sunday, but I too was left with a bad taste in my mouth after having seen Virenque win Paris-Tours. It was a very impressive victory, no doubt about it.
Anders P. Jensen
I can't seem to figure out which of the myriad possibilities makes
most sense. If Virenque is now clean (and we've got to assume, given
the scrutiny surrounding his case, that even he is not that stupid)
and he beat the entire field in spectacular fashion at Paris-Tours,
does that mean that a clean rider is now beating a doped peloton? Or
does it mean that the peloton is also clean, and he was simply the best
man? Was this some sort of "fluke" of circumstance, as successful
suicide breakaways are often said to be? Is Virenque just that much
fresher because of his suspension than the rest of the battle-weary
bigshots? Could his escape have been allowed because others were somehow
saving themselves for Lisbon? After all, he too has made no secret of
his World Championship aspirations...
Saturday, October 13 2001
Since 1998, my opinion of Virenque has also been rock-bottom (and I used to be an admirer of his), not just because he took EPO, but because he took so long to admit it, unlike the rest of his team. I think he is a disgrace to cycling, and I was very disappointed that Domo gave him a contract. I was not best pleased therefore to see him in the break with Jacky Durand (about whom I will say nothing), but thought it would come to nothing. Nevertheless, in the last K I found myself cheering him on - that was such a fantastic, exciting, gutsy ride that I cannot begrudge him the win. I hope he did it cleanly, I think he probably did. It does make a very unfortunate statement however - that you can take drugs, get a bit of a punishment if you have the misfortune to be discovered and then come back again to the sport. I was enormously pleased that he was well out of the medals in the World Championship - that really would have been a travesty.
Once one of my mountain heroes (after Big Mig), Richard really disappointed
me during "The Festina Affair," but what a come back! I am
sure most people can forgive Richard when he "gives" himself
like that. One of the finest races this season must be Paris-Tours.
Call it guts or courage or whatever, it was a great achievement, and
it takes a Lion heart to do things like that; and so much the better
that this French lion is with the same team as my preferrred lion (the
Ullrich Worlds TT
Jan Ullrich's Worlds TT effort was stunning. He went from 10 seconds behind Millar (2 seconds ahead of Leipheimer) at 32.5k to 6 seconds ahead of Millar (over 24 seconds ahead of Leipheimer) at 38.7k, 16 seconds gained on Millar (22 seconds gained on Leipheimer) over the last 6k. That is a world class effort if there is one, and performed against time trial specialists as evidenced by their performances in the Vuelta. Hats off to Ullrich!
I noticed in the Vuelta that David Millar was wearing the same aero-helmet as that of Lance Armstrong. I was under the impression that the helmet was made specifically for Lance because he has a scoliosis arch in his back. Looking at previous photos of David time trialling, there doesn't seem to be a "hump" in his back. Does anyone know the reason behind David changing helmets?
I have not heard about wheel legislation out of the UCI, but it wouldn't
be a surprise would it! There is a simple solution to this supposed
problem of technology proliferation and its costs. It is called homologation
aand even lawnmower. Simply put, for a product to be accepted for competitive
use in certain events, the product needs to be produced in a minimum
quantity and available for "general consumption" by the public.
This would mean that, for the most part, any bicycle used for racing
would need to be commercially viable and on sale. Provisions could be
made for"custom" versions of production product to meet the
sizing needs of professionals, but the basic product would still have
to be saleable. This would pretty much eliminate things like the corporately
funded US GT/EDS $ multi million dollar bikes (which kind of started
this whole thing), while allowing technology to advance within the cycling
world. This system would also work for wheels as well.
According to Peter Vordenberg, who used a Mavic neutral support bike in the Saturn Classic in August of this year, the bike was made by Independent Fabrications and painted bright Mavic yellow. His hilarious story can be found by clicking on "General Features" under the heading Cycling Resources on the left hand side of the Cyclingnews Home Page. It's worth the read. As for how they have all the right sizes... well this time, they didn't!
Duncan M. Granger
Support Vehicles #2
I can only speak for 1999, but for the US races (Redland, Sea-Otter...etc), the spare bikes were a mix of Specialized M frames and Independant Fabrications steel, all Mektronic equipped. It was more than a little amusing to see the look on one racer's face, desperate for a spare bike after a mishap, hop on and realise he had no idea how to shift the thing as I shoved him back into the the race as the peleton came flying.
T. J. Hoeffel
Support Vehicles #3
SR Jones was wondering who made the bicycles on the neutral support
In reply to S.R. Jones enquiry about who actually makes the bikes
used by Mavic and Shimano tech support.
The letter about Botero brings up an interesting point. I am reminded of what a coach told me years ago. The coach basically said that if you are a good sprinter/climber/time-trialist, focus on that and the rest will follow. He cautioned that if one is a good sprinter and you spend too much time trying to improve your climbing, you often lose an edge with sprinting and only improve slightly at climbing. Since the fellow is a very successful coach with his own palmares, he probably knows what he is talking about. Perhaps this is the case with Botero. To improve his OTT, he likely added a lot of power. Maybe the sacrifice is a bit more weight and less snap for the major climbs. Bear in mind, that at this level of sport, a one per cent decline in climbing speed versus a one per cent faster TT is a lot.
I can explain with some detail what is going on. Santiago Botero was
part of the 2000 TDF TDF Kelme Team (although he's been with Kelme for
about four years), with the only purpose being to support Heras and
Escartin during the team time trial and maybe during some mountain stages.
From the beginning of the race, Botero was not in contention for any
title, so he started the prologue as most domestiques do: not forcing
to much to save up for the hard next three weeks they had ahead.
Andres Felipe Angulo
I Goldsberry's comments October 4
Although saddle height is a matter of personal preference, I generally
agree with Goldsberry.
A lot of riders also emphasise this. This is subject to a lot of discussion
amongst riders, and it is easy to think: it must be so also for me.
But, riders who test it out, might find out somewhat quite else.
RNow, let's get this clear. Not everyone has the ability to do away
with hypertension. Some of us are not that lucky. This is called essential
hypertension, since most physicians do not know the cause(s). It affects
at least 80% of the population. Genetically, if your parents both have
hypertension, and if more than one of your grandparents have it too,
there is very little chance that you and your siblings might escape
this. Granted, it would be best if you follow most of the reccomendations
mentioned here since diet and lifestyle changes will help. The objective
here is not only to lower blood pressure, but to do away with drugs
as much as you can. I can
Here is some additional evidence to add to the podium girl discussion:
A friend of mine once asked Marcel Wust (stage winner in all three Grand Tours) which race had the best podium girls. His response? "La Vuelta definately!"
Podium Girls #2
Hey Gerry, lighten-up. Great racing is always accompanied by great backdrops. Mountains, valleys, and podium girls.Bring it all on.
Podium Girls #3
As a female cycling fan, I don't object to anyone ogling podium girls
(or should that be podium women?). After all, I can always feast my
eyes on the podium boys ... Erik Zabel, Erik Dekker, Oscar Friere, Paulo
Bettini, etc, etc.
The last month's letters