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Letters to Cyclingnews – October 25, 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

Virenque
Pietrzak
Ullrich Worlds TT
Coaches and coaching
EPO testing
Millar's TT Helmet
Wheel Regulation
Support Vehicles
Botero's
Podium Girls


Virenque #1

Mark,

I agree fully with the letter - Virenque #1. You say all these things about Virenque, and yet look at your last president, although a fantastic leader, the US President lied under oath as well.

Virenque, although guilty, was a man looking out for his career and has done his time, relative to UCI sanctions.

What you should appreciate is his courage in Paris - Tours and as a cycling fan appreciate the enormity of what he did.

Alexis Thornely
UK
Thursday, October 18 2001

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Virenque #2

Maybe Virenque won because it was the end of the season and everyone else was to some degree burnt out, while Virenque was fresher, but still in shape coming off the Vuelta.

Bob VonMoss
Chicago, USA

Thursday, October 18 2001

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Virenque #3

I agree with CD of Albuquerque that Virenque "beat the entire field in spectacular fashion at Paris-Tours". In my opinion it was probably the best win of the season with only Rik Verbrugge's win in Fleche-Wallone coming close. But I can't agree with his assumption that "If Virenque is clean and can pull this off, doesn't it follow that the peloton is also largely clean". It was recently revealed that 44 riders tested positive for banned substances in the 2001 Tour de France. The UCI are playing this down saying that all but two of the riders have medical clearance to use the drugs and they're investigating those two cases.

Craig Porter
London
Thursday, October 18 2001


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Virenque #4

Enough!!!

Richard Virenque: liar, cheat, doper, idiot, liar, egotist, disgrace, poor sportsman, liar, whiner, etc, etc.

It does not matter what comes from his mouth but what comes from his legs.

Have we all forgotten the year when everyone's hero Eddy Merckx was accused of doping?
He too was close to devastation and nearly chose to end his career. Shall we rehash and denounce every single victory that Merckx achieved after that incident, as we are doing with Virenque?

I, for one, do not plan on continuing to live in the year 1998, 1999, or 2000.

Scott Thompsonl
Victoria, Canada
Friday, October 19 2001

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Virenque #5

I can't stand people who are so critical of riders like Richard Virenque. I am a young racer from Canada. I spent some time in Europe as a junior and I saw a lot of doping going on, and that was just at an amateur level. The bottom line is that the world of professional cycling is full of cyclist who dope. Virenque got caught, He served his time, and he came back and won a big race. And I bet you he did it a lot cleaner than half the peleton at the recent Paris tours.

Jon
Australia
Saturday, October 20 2001

 

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Virenque #6

I have held out hope that Virenque would resurrect his career ever since the Festina affair, and his Paris-Tours win pleased me. I think Richard was made a scapegoat and treated unfairly. Sure he admitted he took enhancers, but was it because he was a cheat? I doubt this, because it would imply that he does not have the desire to train hard or the talent to be successful. Rather, I think he was doing what was necessary to keep up with others who are equally as guilty. Unfortunately, he was the one who was made an example of. I hope he shines the establishment and all his critics by having more successes.

Russ Freeman
Hanford, USA

Thursday, October 25 2001

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Pietrzak

Hi Martin

Is there any way to contact the racer Christopher Pietrzak - Przemyslaw Pietrzak? Thanks for any help you may be able to give. Christopher Pietrzak is a racer in the States and we would like to connect the two..thanks again

Deborah Pietrzak
Saturday, October 20 2001

 

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Ullrich

Has anyone else noticed that Jan Ullrich has greater success in time trials when he rides without full aero equipment such as a helmet? I find this to be quite interesting. Does anyone know what his purpose is in this?

Erik Hemstad
Houghton, USA
Saturday, October 20 2001

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Ullrich Worlds TT

Has anyone else noticed that Jan Ullrich has greater success in time trials when he rides without full aero equipment such as a helmet? I find this to be quite interesting. Does anyone know what his purpose is in this?

Erik Hemstad
Houghton, USA
Saturday, October 20 2001

 

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Coaches and coaching

Regis Chapman here.

I wanted to open up a discussion about coaching, what does a coach do vs. a trainer, and get a perspective from the great cyclingnews readers in response to my thoughts.

I am at the point in my coaching "career" where I have started to get more and more athletes. This is due in part to who I've worked with in the past, but also some other trends have come my attention recently.

The Attention Factor- I have come to understand that many of the "coaches" in this area charge a monthly fee, anywhere from $200-$400 per month, and typically have schedules where they are available to talk with athletes. Office hours, if you will. They talk to the athlete, during those times, and may ride with the athlete occassionally, depending on how close they live from each other. Mainly, though, coaches appear to be in the business of 'writing programs'. This is an interesting approach to me, since my approach is totally different.

The Physical Focus- so many coaches appear to be focused primarily on getting athletes in shape. Many "coaches" and coaching "groups" claim to provide individualised training programs and care about the entire athlete. Still, quite a few of the people who have chosen to work with me after looking at these types of programs choose me due to the holistic focus I actually have, rather than simply that being a stated goal which fails in fact. Certainly, there are quite a few athletes who can follow a written program given to them by a disembodied, formerly famous cyclist, of which there is a preponderence here in Northern California. There must be, since these folks are making SOME money from cyclists- if not a lot in any case- since so many cyclists don't understand the value of a coach.

The problem is for me, that I don't think that these people really should call themselves coaches, in fact. The majority of these people are trainers, not coaches. When I worked with Joe Friel for a short time, he was clear about how he wasn't a coach, he was a a trainer. He may be a coach to his son, or some locals or others who he spends a good deal of time and energy with, but in my case, he was a trainer. I felt that was an important distinction.

I bring all this up for a couple of reasons. Many coaches (and athletes, for that matter) have been quite surprised that I don't charge any money. I have heard criticism that this devalues all coaches in the area by my doing so. I find this to be rather the reverse. I put my own time, energy and money into cyclists for THEIR benefit, not mine. Certainly, I have grown a tremendous family around me with my athletes and their own families. I have become a part of their lives, and they a part of mine.

I learn from them, as well as sharing my knowledge and passion for cycling and achievement. It's a two way relationship, it requires energy that seems different than what I see many of the coaches providing for athletes. I get plenty back from the people I work with. I wish I could have someone to fund me, so I could work with more athletes and give more of my time. This concept seems foreign to many.

In my view, it takes two basic ingredients to be successful in endeavors in life, and thus in cycling.

1) Brutal Self-Honesty
2) Limitless Willingness

I see many problems with a focus on making money and providing a revenue stream for yourself as a coach. It changes the relationship to an extent that asking for these two things in the proper amount may be difficult, as it may jeopardize your income. My approach doesn't have this problem. My style is one where I challenge my athletes in many ways to be better people as well as better athletes. It is this challenge and high expectation, along with setting the correct example that allows me to be successful as a coach. This, along with an understanding of the many forces that act upon an athlete, not just the physical and discipline aspects of the athletes life.

So, "Coaches" what about poor athletes, who can't afford to pay? More than half of the athletes I coach I wouldn't coach if I needed to make money.

It is easy to say that the master athletes could provide a funding source, so coaching juniors for free or less is possible. This is in fact, NOT the way it works.

Working with juniors is VERY different than working with masters athletes. I would say that those who could pull that off are a rare breed indeed. Certainly, within a club, you could have a junior guy and a masters leader or something, but the considerations and personalities required for the job are quite different.

So many things fall through the cracks with this rather shallow approach, that I have felt the need to express this here. I don't feel that this fee for service serves the future of our sport. I know that in the U.S, taking money for services is the end-all-be-all of American ambition. Maybe my apparently altruistic approach is outdated in a Rotary Club kind of way. I don't know.

But for me, I feel that I must invest in the future time, money and energy. It's for the growth of our sport. Yes, I work with elite athletes who want to be pros. I don't work with disadvantaged youth in the inner cities and get them to ride bikes. I don't have any children yet to grow their enthusiasm in the sport. My role is right where I like it, and provides a tremendous value to the whole cycling community in the area.

It's interesting that the most famous coach of the moment, Chris Carmichael, suggested I work with his group, until his coaching director heard my approach, and said that it wouldn't work for them.

Also, I find it wrong somehow that this "coach" has access to names, Email addresses and phone numbers of the recently crowned National Team members. Where I am from we call this cherry-picking. It's easy to try to pick the best athletes and give them "scholarships". What is NOT easy is to consistently develop National and International caliber athletes from regular local riders. It's easy to read someone's VO2 and see that they have the potential to be great athletes.The athletes I develop are having options to have CTS scholarships!

All of this has made me quite cynical about our profession and what other coaches are doing to bring our sport up. Is making money all there is?

REEG!
California, USA
Friday, October 19 2001

 

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EPO Testing

Hi Steve
II have seen many letters addressing EPO recently, but I haven't seen anyone addressing any other form of doping. We have heard of products such as Actovegin, and surely there are more enhancements that professional riders have access to. What are they? Do we even know? As I stated in my June 7 letter (http://www.cyclingnews.com/letters/2001/june07letters.shtml#clean), the riders who have the best doping technique is the one who wins. Whether it be a new form of doping, or the perfect timing and amount, there is always the possibility that someone is on something. The fact remains that, just like the terrorism we are fighting and will be fighting for the rest of our lives, you can't kill what you can't see or don't know exists. We can test for EPO, but we can't test for a drug we haven't been exposed to..

Sean Yeager
Richmond, USA
Thursday, October 25 2001

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Millar's TT Helmet #1

Talking about helmets in the worlds, I thought the most notable thing was that the winner, Jan Ullrich, wasn't wearing one! I was under the impression that wearing a helmet that is more of a 'head fairing' is one of the best things you can do to get more aerodynamic.

Sam Alison
Czech Republic
Thursday, October 18 2001

 

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Millar's TT Helmet #2

When air flows over the old style aero helmet, a vortex is created right at the point where the back and helmet come together. The new style helmet eliminates this vortex, thus allowing the air to flow more smoothly over the rider's back.

Mark Merrill
South Carolina, USA
Thursday, October 25 2001

 

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Millar's TT Helmet #3

I'll be bold and make my feelings known - I can see Millar not only changing helmets, but also teams - look out for Millar at USPS in the next 18 months

Jesse
Thursday, October 25 2001

 

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Wheel regulations #1

The thought that because something is available to everyone it's affordability is really not at the heart of the UCI anti evolution stance. Simply put, a full Campy Record equipped Litespeed Palmares is currently widely available to everyone, but that doesn't make it affordable. And if it were affordable nobody would want it. The UCI regulations are about trying to keep as much of the sport on the human side as possible while keeping safety up. We see rider weight limits on some frames and wheels now, but people buy them anyway and it is not safe. Until the next real material comes along, we are at a bit of a plateau in what we can do with Carbon, Tie and Aluminum, but the manufacturers don't give a rats about the public, they just want to sell something. I am happy that the UCI are at least making the bike makers play level. Who knows, Quality and durability may even make a comeback!

A better solution would be to make something legal for racing, only if the design were available to be replicated by other companies and available to the public for a minimum amount of time before use in the peloton. That would mean no unfair advantage. Unfortunately the "newness", exclusivity and use of a product for a period of time by professionals is what creates the interest for manufacturers. And since most people would rather spend a thousand pounds to take a few grams off their bike than look in the mirror and see that they could have saved a thousand pounds and received the same results by loosing one or two of their own. Like Lance says, ITS NOT ABOUT THE BIKE!

Charles M
Phoenix, USA
Thursday, October 18 2001

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Wheel regulations #2

The issue of regulations covering wheel design and safety was raised and publicised at a UCI meeting at the World Road Championships last year (2000) at Plouay.

There was some comments made that it was yet a further attempt at "banning" wheels, which the UCI considered dangerous, rather than attempting to ban a speecific manufacturer's product after they were made available.

I had made contact with the UCI technical committee representative to gain further clarification on these regulations (included "in toto" at the conclusion of this letter), particularly as to the status of current wheel sets, and were the regulations to be applied retrospectively or not? No satisfactory responses were received to my many questions.

At my time of enquiry in November 2000, the "rupture tests" that are referred to could only be performed at two laboratories, one in Belgium and the other in France or Switzerland. Unfortunately I no longer have the correspondence to hand.

The relevant section(s) of the UCI technical regulations are:

1.3.018
Wheels of the bicycle may vary in diameter between 70 cm maximum and 55 cm minimum, includ-ing the tyre. For the cyclo-cross bicycle the width of the tyre shall not exceed 35 mm and it may not incorporate any form of spike or stud. For massed start road races only wheel designs granted prior approval by the UCI may be used. In order to be granted approval wheels must have passed a rupture test as prescribed by the UCI in a laboratory approved by the UCI. The test results must show that the rupture characteristics obtained are compatible with those resulting from an impact sustained during normal use of the wheel.
The following criteria must be fulfilled:
On impact, no element of the wheel may become detached and be expelled outwards.
The rupture must not present any shattered or broken off elements, or any sharp or serrated surfaces that could harm the user, other riders and/or spectators.
The rupture characteristics must not cause the hub to become separated from the rim in such a way that the wheel becomes detached from the forks.
Without prejudice to the application of articles 1.3.004 and 1.3.005, the second paragraph will come into force on 1 January 2002.

Garth Rees
Oulu, Finland
Thursday, October 18 2001

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Wheel regulations #3

The thought that because something is available to everyone it's affordability is really not at the heart of the UCI anti evolution stance. Simply put, a full Campy Record equipped Litespeed Palmares is currently widely available to everyone, but that doesn't make it affordable. And if it were affordable nobody would want it. The UCI regulations are about trying to keep as much of the sport on the human side as possible while keeping safety up. We see rider weight limits on some frames and wheels now, but people buy them anyway and it is not safe. Until the next real material comes along, we are at a bit of a plateau in what we can do with Carbon, Tie and Aluminum, but the manufacturers don't give a rats about the public, they just want to sell something. I am happy that the UCI are at least making the bike makers play level. Who knows, Quality and durability may even make a comeback!

A better solution would be to make something legal for racing, only if the design were available to be replicated by other companies and available to the public for a minimum amount of time before use in the peloton. That would mean no unfair advantage. Unfortunately the "newness", exclusivity and use of a product for a period of time by professionals is what creates the interest for manufacturers. And since most people would rather spend a thousand pounds to take a few grams off their bike than look in the mirror and see that they could have saved a thousand pounds and received the same results by loosing one or two of their own. Like Lance says, ITS NOT ABOUT THE BIKE!

Charles M
Phoenix, USA
Thursday, October 18 2001

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Support Vehicles

Just one point about the neutral spare bikes at this years tour, from what Chris Cleeland says about these bikes, it sounds as though they are the same as the bikes that were at the Olympics in Sydney last year. The reason behind the toe clips and straps is that with all the different pedal systems, that is the best way to accommodate all of them. Sure it is not the best possible arrangement, but better than trying to ride the wrong pedal system!!

Sean Hennessy
Adelaide, Australia
Thursday, October 18 2001

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Botero

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

Jonas Ahlgren
Sweden
Friday, October 19 2001

 

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Podium Girls

Hey Michael, don't get me wrong -- I have no objection to podium girls. I definitely appreciate beauty in its many forms -- mountains, valleys and, as I stated in my letter, podium girls. I enjoy them in cycling videos, in photographs, and in person. I clicked through the link Bicycle Bill had in his letter and ogled the heck out of it.

All I said was that I don't think Cyclingnews.com needs to put any big emphasis on pictures of women who are not racing bikes. Keep the focus on the racing, and let the great backdrops be just that -- backdrops.


Gerry Hunter
Oregon, USA
Thursday, October 18 2001

 

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The last month's letters

  • October 17 - Virenque, EPO Testing, Ullrich Worlds TT, Millar's TT helmet, Wheel Regulations, Support Vehicles
  • October 11 - Tribute song to Lance Armstrong, Podium Girls, High blood pressure, Saddle Hieghts, Santiago Botero
  • October 2 - High Blood pressure, Saddle hieght, Podium Girls, Vuelta, cycle bashing, Oscar Egg
  • September 20 - Vuelta, cycle bashing, Oscar Egg, Bupropion, climbing times
  • September 11 - Altitude tents, high BP, attacks, Oscar Egg, Bupropion
  • September 5 - Mckenzie & Vaughters respond, climbing times, anti-doping, 1989, Pantani
  • August 29 - Pantani, Vaughters, Where's Cipo?, McKenzie, Velodromes, 1989, Armstrong
  • August 23 - Vuelta, Mercury, Ullrich, Soviets, 1989 again
  • August 17 - Doping, Armstrong, LeMond and The Devil
  • August 14 - Tour, Armstrong, Chemo, Vuelta, Doping, Rooting, & more
  • August 8, part 2 - More about the Tour, and more
  • August 8, part 1 - Tour reflections, chemotherapy, commentary, commercials
  • July 31 - Armstrong, Ullrich, Rous, Hamilton, Drugs, Canada
  • July 18 - Armstrong on l'Alpe, Cycling Manager, food, 35 minutes, commentary, Men's World Cup, Schmoo, van Vliet
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com