Letters to Cyclingnews - December 20, 2002

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.

Welcome to the last letters page before Cyclingnews slows down somewhat for Christmas and New Year. On behalf of the Cyclingnews team, a big thanks to everyone who has written to us this year. It's been great fun sifting and editing your opinions, trying to get people to play the ball not the man, and generally keeping in touch with what you think of the issues, big and small, in the sport, pastime and lifestyle of cycling.

Thanks again, and see you all in 2003 (or just before if we get enough letters between now and January!)

John Stevenson
Letters Editor

Recent letters

Cipo and Pantani
Lance Armstrong & Tour number five
The need for supplements
Cuba
Graeme Miller
Gerard Bisceglia Interview
T-Mobile
Racing in Asia
'Cross in the USA
Back surgery
Cyclists and motorists
Garzelli
Gene doping
USA Cycling
Paul Tracy and winners
Tom Boonen

Cipo and Pantani #1

Let me get this straight. Pantani couldn't join a team with the current and reigning World Champion because he was concerned about the rights to his image?

You have to be kidding me! At this stage in his career (if that's what you call it) he should be glad to get what scraps from the table he can get.

There are too many riders out there looking for a job who are much more deserving of any charity that Cipo was going to offer Dumbo. That's fine, because we won't have to listen to him flap his jaws about how great he is and see him bail out of all the major races.

TE McDonald
Thursday, December 19, 2002

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Cipo and Pantani #2

I too was trying to figure out where Pantani would sit in The Train. He just goes too slowly and he's really too small to draft off of. Then I realize that this is the 21st century.

Tactics have changed. We're not looking at this correctly. You see with everybody marking Pantani, Cipo will sail on through to certain victory. That has to be the plan.

Ian Nelson
Boulder Colorado
Sunday, December 15, 2002

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Lance Armstrong & Tour number five #1

I have no doubts about LA and #5; I'll even applaud him when he wins six. What will &%$ me off however is the idea that he will be lauded by all and sundry as the greatest cyclist ever.

Sorry, but no, he doesn't come into that league of 'greatest.' If ever there was proof that money talks and it slowly destroying the romance of human endeavour then here it is.

How many times did LA suffer in the spring? In a race? Against the best? How many times will he suffer in the autumn? In a classic? Against the best?

Compare him to Coppi or Merckx, Hinault or Kelly and he is far from 'Greatest.' Perhaps he doesn't need to be? Perhaps he can't be?

Erik van Bommel
Monday, December 16, 2002

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Lance Armstrong & Tour number five #2

From what I remember, Indurain didn't show any signs of weakness in his preparation for a 6th Tour win in 1996. He won the Dauphine Libere over Rominger and Virenque and showed up on the start line as THE favorite.

Despite this, we all know what happened: he ended up "cracking" and finishing well behind Riis, Ulrich and Virenque (11th place, 14+ minutes behind). It's not like he got outgunned by a rising star in a close neck-and-neck duel. He had a massive failure, so massive that it should have shown itself before he got in the prologue start house. But it didn't and THAT's what makes predicting another Tour victory so difficult.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see Lance win the next two Tours, but there is always that voice in my ear saying "victory is fleeting". The day will come when Lance disappears from our TV screens and even if that day is 10 years from now, it will be too soon. I feel the same way about all the great champions. Enjoy every chance you get to see them. Relish the races and victories that they gain, because there is never enough of them.

John Spevacek
St. Paul Minnesota
Friday, December 13, 2002

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Lance Armstrong & Tour number five #3

"I wonder what Jan Ullrich, Gibi Simoni and Aitor Gonzalez are doing and how they are going fitness wise as of the 11th of December."

Hard to say. I would bet that Simoni and Gonzalez (and Sevilla and Savoldelli and Frigo and Hamilton and others) are doing quite well. They may not be racing against a field of regional amateurs like Armstrong's well-publicized adventure, but they are probably training quite hard.

Here's hoping that Jan Ullrich is also training hard, despite not having a team yet.

Steve Robertson
Vancouver, Canada
Friday, December 13, 2002

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The need for supplements

Mr. Kunich's logic is not faulty.

It is common in this sport for "voodoo" science to be perpetuated through various means. The marketing machines of various "health food" and supplement producers have no doubt done a fantastic job of promoting their products. I would love to see the studies performed 75 years ago on the nutrient levels of produce that are being compared to the ones today. These studies should be fantastic considering certain vitamins were not even known to science or had not been isolated at that time ,1927. I am also curious to know who is offering up this evidence, perhaps it is a supplement company.

It is not true to say because a cyclist burns more calories or exercises more then the average person they need to consume more vitamins and minerals then they would get in their normal diet. Vitamins for instance can be fat soluble or water soluble. While certain water soluble vitamins or minerals may be needed in greater quantities for a cyclists others may not be. It is important to know that high concentrations of a certain vitamin or mineral can be toxic. Many vitamins are an important part of a cell's metabolic process. They are not however "used up" in the sense that a molecule of glycogen would be. Thus, there is not necessarily a direct correlation between the amount of calories burned and the amount of a particular vitamin needed to support such a process.

Supplement companies have been and are putting so many things into their products that simply do not need to be there. They are promoting false information regarding the science behind their products and thus convincing people of the necessity of taking their products. This is the modern day snake oil.

John Puffer
Schaumburg, IL, USA
Friday, December 13, 2002

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Cuba #1

Great article by Joe Papp!

It's tough to ride well in the off-season, but the motivation of great racing and simpatico people seems compelling.
Give my best to the Cuban people, though not to the Castro brothers.

Richard Heisler
Eureka, CA
Thursday, December 19, 2002

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Cuba #2

It's unfortunate that Mr. Papp allows his social commentary to undermine what could have been an engaging, informative piece of travel narrative. Considering Mr. Papp's work in political science I'm surprised that he settles for dismissing Cuba's political situation as indicative of a "worn-out" country. While the author is entitled to his views, it is troubling that this dominates his story on the I Olympiada del Deporte.

Recounting Castro's speech before the games began, Mr. Papp comments that, "the theme...includes the traditional 'anti-imperialist' (i.e., anti-USA) slogan; and there we are, four US cyclists, waving an American flag in front of tens of thousands of Cubans," before observing that, "Dali couldn't paint a more surreal picture." I don't think it is particularly bizarre that Castro and most Cubanos are able to separate the imperialist actions perpetrated by the U.S. government from the genuine feelings of the American people. Indeed, Mr. Papp acknowledges the friendliness of the Cuban people.

Operating in the mode of a (comparatively) wealthy gringo athlete out "on the prowl for a fun night out", Mr. Papp fails to address any of the implications of his racing in an allegedly "communist state." Instead, the author settles for references to the decay of Cuba's facilities, and the poverty of its people. Without ever examining why, exactly, Cuba is so lacking in resources (perhaps being restricted from trading with its most logical economic partner might be a factor,) Mr. Papp settles for generalizations about a nation "worn-out." Consulting UNICEF's country evaluation records (http://www.unicef.org/statis/Country_1Page33.html) it's apparent that far from being simply "worn-out," Cuba has persevered through decades of sanctions, while boasting some of the best medical service records and literacy rates in the hemisphere. Certainly, the standard of living for Cuba's citizens has risen since the U.S. supported dictatorship of Batista collapsed in the 1950's.

Clearly socialism in Cuba has not been without flaws, but when asking what the best path is for a country that is still grappling with a constant destabilizing threat from right-wing militants as well as an unfriendly administration in the U.S., before saying "communism isn't the answer" it might be productive to engage in a more serious investigation of the issues at hand.

Grey M. Anderson
USA
Saturday, December 14, 2002

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Graeme Miller #1

It is indeed sad news that Graeme Miller will be missing from the top echelon of the sport. Although I never possessed the talent to race in the same field as Graeme, I've always admired his iron will. It mattered little to Graeme if a race didn't conform to his strengths (and he had many), he raced and won every kind of race. His obvious passion for the greatest sport on Earth will be missed by many in the USA. All the best to you G-Man

Fred Baldassare, Team Freddie Fu
USA
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

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Graeme Miller #2

Graeme, Never raced (and retired) without knowing you would quit sometimes. I have to admit that it wasn't always a pleasure to have you around in the bunch. But I am sure "they" will miss you!

They will miss you a lot...

The best of luck in whatever you choose to do.

Pelle T. Kil
Editor-assistant Fiets
Netherlands
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

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Gerard Bisceglia Interview

I enjoyed your interview with Gerard Bisceglia, although I should confess that as the chair of the search committee that recruited Gerard, I am hardly impartial. Perhaps you can help me with one matter, though. I am one of the USA Cycling Development Foundation representatives on the USA Cycling Board and I have lost my political bearings. Can Jon Anderson please point me towards the "commercial and elite cycling interests" I represent so I can go toady up to them properly? Thanks!

Mick Hellman
USA
Wednesday, December 18, 2002

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T-Mobile

On one hand I really like this idea because it will build American women's cycling but on the other hand it is building short term with no real vision of the future. Lets face it, the USCF has really never been much of a developmental organization. Just because they have some money for woman now doesn't mean they will try to develop tomorrow's talent. I would love to see Allison, Ashley, Rebecca and Megan get some money behind them because they all have tremendous potential. Maybe T- Mobile/USAC will have a developmental team to complement their existing team for next year (as they should this year). We must be thankful though for companies like T-Mobile, Cannondale and many more who are willing to spend their marketing dollars on American cycling. I will close by saying good luck to the T-Mobile women's team in 2003.

Justin
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

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Racing in Asia

Every time someone talks crap about SE Asia they chip away at an already fragile reputation. Not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every Westerner a target.

Terrorism has decimated the economy of Bali, 300,000 people are unemployed who weren't three months ago.

Think about that before you start citing blanket State dept recommendations and misremembered facts you read in Time magazine a year ago.

I am well aware of the dangers of terrorists. I lost 15 close friends in WTC, have had personal property destroyed by Al Quaeda, and was living in Bali last year. I also lived in the UK in the early 90's and know that to stay away and to run scared is to let terrorists win.

Racing in Asia is awesome. It isn't that dangerous (excepting water buffaloes). Flippant comments about the region are dangerous. After the Bali blast 3 Australian teams still came to Malaysia for 16 days of racing. They have perspective. Div 3 teams still aren't great targets, I was on one once, I should know.

Brad Nagela
Saturday, December 14, 2002

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'Cross in the USA

[Previous letters on this topic]

I attended two Verge series races this year because they are the best racing this side of the Atlantic. I went to one race JUST to watch the Elite men. The second race I participated in the men's B category only because my ride was heading up to Merrimack early and I wanted some training.

The key to this series is not only the super-hot competition caused by the UCI points and the prize money, but also the quality announcing that was present for the length of the series. By the end of each race I knew the history, training schedules, training goals, and chances at winning nationals for all the top riders. I know the stats of the riders from each Verge race, and weather they were peaking today or saving energy for next week when their family would be watching. I am taking this knowledge, and my favoritism for Todd Wells because of his work in Gloucester, with me when I watch the National Race next week. You can bet too that I'm also rooting for Gullickson, Page, and Anthony in Italy. If all I raced for was prizes, these national-level races wouldn't mean anything to me.

The quality of venue, racing, and excitement at the VERGE cyclo-cross races were equaled (and not necessarily bettered) by the two other pro races I attended this year: Milan-San Remo and the last stage of the Tour de France. In all cases, watching professionals race led to an increase in my excitement for the sport, and this excitement is what overcomes high race fees and poor prize lists in the lower classes. I do not race to win merchandise, I race so I can "be like Gullickson", or "be like McCormack" just like anyone else who participates in a sport because they idolize the best their sport as to offer.

David Harrison
Cambridge, MA
Friday, December 13, 2002

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Back surgery

I am reading all these letters regarding Back surgery and also have taken interest in Graham Miller's plight as G-man and I raced together in the US a bit.

I have a herniated L5-S1 and a bulging L4 and being unsure of surgery and the only option being full fusion of these discs I embarked on a rehab program of my own.

Trying many things from pain doctors through to yoga stand stretching I can across a traction machine called NUBACKS this machine took me a lot further along the road of recovery than most expected.

This machine was good but I needed more so sort the assistance of a physio Leon Vogels (brother of Henk) and with his bike experience and physio training Leon was able to take me a lot further than I thought and there is still more to be done.

During all this time (8 months at least) I began riding my bike again , not the 800k weeks that I once did but daily 40k or so on or off road I might add.

I will never race pro again but I think those days were gone anyway.

The moral to my plight is look before you leap, surgery I do not think is the only answer.

Perhaps with a lot of effort your body will come back. I too live with pain but most do after surgery anyway.

Keep the weight down, pelvic floor(ask your wife) and stay on your bike.

Live To Ride

Tony Davis
Perth, West Australia
Sunday, December 15, 2002

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Cyclists and motorists

Much has been written lately about cyclist/motorist interaction. And the thing that remains the same almost all of the time is that we as cyclists, always lose. Physics dictates to us that this will be true forever (unless you can create and ride a 3000 pound bicycle). It's also pure and simple that motorists don't see cyclists. Inattention, answering their mobile phones, eating, and doing any other number of tasks leads them to swerve and weave around the roadways. Just this past weekend while on a training ride with some of my teammates a redneck in a large pick-up truck who had to wait almost one entire minute to get past us, came past us at an alarming rate of speed, slammed on his brakes, swerved towards the five of us, and then slowed to a crawl of around 5-10 miles per hour. In the process of his little maneuver, he almost took all of my teammates out, and almost caused another motorist trying to pull out to crash. He rolled down his window, and looked like he wanted to say something to us. I riding in the front shrugged my shoulders, and yelled a loud "WHAT DO YOU WANT??" to him. His monosyllabic answer was, "I'm just holding you up like you jackasses did to me!" So in other words, he was mad because he was held up, but slowed down even more to make himself more late, just to yell at us? Moron is a good word for this fellow.

I just ask that we be given a little bit of respect out on the road. We don't mind if you pass us, as long as it is safe for all involved. We don't mind if you come by us at a high rate of speed, as long as it's safe. What we do mind is the blind ignorance of people who swerve at us, blow their horns at us, throw items from their vehicles at us, and sometimes even run into us. People who don't ride bicycles, or even motorcycles for that matter, don't realize that they are in possession of a deadly weapon when it comes to cyclists on the road. A small "bump" might not even damage their vehicle, but it could send us to the hospital, or even the grave in some severe cases. In the US we have the same rights as vehicles, and many of the same laws apply to us as they do to motorists. We don't need any further deaths from cyclist/motorist interaction, but it will continue to happen.

Tom Arsenault
Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

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Garzelli

I remember in the 80s when Probenecid was thought to help an athlete's recovery by lowering uric acid in the blood.

Does it matter at all why he took it? Apparently to many people, it does matter. Sorry folks, there is no foolproof test for motive.

Chris McReynolds
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

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Gene doping

I am quite surprised that the subject of genes has drawn so little response from readers.

Last month the French/German TV channel ARTE gave over a whole evening to just this theme and it's role in sport. Indeed the potential for modifying athletes physical capabilities was clearly evident whilst different surgeons and researchers boasted the merits of genetically modified athletes.

It seems we have passed out of the phase of modifying blood/oxygen transport in the organism, whilst the possibilities for GM athletes (cyclists being such) already participating in open competitions is more than a reality. Science and medicine wait for no-man whilst the advances being made for the regeneration of damaged fibres, make it more than a probability that a "constructed" athlete will win an Olympic or World championship within the next decade.

William D. JAMES (BE1 - FFC)
France
Sunday, December 15, 2002

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USA Cycling

Finally, USA Cycling decides to cut their waste by suspending publication of their quarterly rag, USA Cycling!

If there is ever a piece of junk to arrive in my mailbox, this has never been welcome and this final edition is the worst!

Keep up the good work, chop off some more expenses and show me an organization I can be proud of!

Marc Hollander
Des Moines, Iowa
Tuesday, December 17, 2002

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Paul Tracy and winners

"Next year, behind the wheel, Tracy will race with the Players Forsythe team." [News, December 14]

...and next year, I will watch CART racing, with my full fan support behind this generous person. Thank you, Paul, for making me feel good about race car drivers.

Kim
Saturday, December 14, 2002

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Tom Boonen

[Previous letters on this topic]

I have to say, hearing Bruyneel complain about Tom Boonen is a little hard to swallow. This from a team that demands complete loyalty from its riders, but doesn't give it in return. Just ask Marty Jemison or Chann McCrae, or, of all people, Frankie Andreu, although I doubt Frankie would agree with the sentiment publicly. But Jemison and McCrae were skewered, from my perspective, for showing up those on the team who are 'supposed' to do well.

And when you add in the events surrounding Roberto Heras, it stretches credulity for Postal management to pull on the cloak of self-righteous indignation. Me, I think we may well see a Lefevere 1,2,3 at Roubaix again this year.

Chad Black
Quito, Ecuador
Saturday, December 14, 2002

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