Letters to Cyclingnews – February 08, 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.

Recent letters

Where's Greg?
Road rage rampage
Team listings
Who's the best climber?
Canadian 'cross selection
TV Coverage of Worlds 'cross championships
Worst Team Kit


Where's Greg?

As a long time admirer of Greg LeMond one of the first things I did after getting a computer was to join the on-line Greg LeMond Fan Club, which I found through the pro links section of the Cycling News site. Imagine my delight when I saw I had been chosen as the winner of a free set of PowerCranks in the club's quarterly drawing for March of 2001. However, after not receiving anything (or even getting any official notification other than my name on the Web site) I tried to contact them by e-mail. Still no response. Now I find the club Web site has apparently folded since attempts to log onto www.greglemond.com no longer work.

Does anybody know what happened to this site? Is there another Greg Lemond club site for English speakers out there somewhere?

Ray McCoy
Newton, USA
Thursday, February 07, 2002

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Road rage rampage #1

If only road rage was limited to the few incidents that we all hear of as urban legends and remained there. These legends would give motorists a sense of justification for their acts, and serve to keep cyclists on their toes. Unfortunately this past weekend, on Saturday 1st February, we in Cape Town [South Africa] had urban legend wrenched into deadly reality. A group of 40 riders out on a regular 80km training ride were driven into by an enraged driver. Not content with his first attack he moved out of the group and veered into them a second time. Sixteen of the riders were injured including broken bones and abrasions. Five bikes had to be written off with the others badly damaged. The driver then drove away, fortunately leaving his licence plate behind. He later landed himself in to the police, where he was released on US$85 bail and charged with reckless driving.

The biggest timed race in the world is taking place in Cape Town in the next three weeks. The ride will have 35 000 people participating. This means that the roads in Cape Town have an abnormally high number of cyclists on them at the moment, and not all cyclists have good road manners. That said, cyclists [even rude ones] are still legitimate users of the roads and motorists need to be educated about this.

I have been under the misconception that the type of attitude that we have seen in Cape Town from both the motorist involved, and the law enforcement officials is localised to 'Deepest Darkest Africa.' Now I realise that it plagues cyclists the world over. Are there any people who look at their communities and are able to say that bikes and cars share the roads in a friendly respectful manner? If there are: 'HOW DID YOU DO IT?'

Raymond de Villiers
Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday, February 05, 2002

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Road rage rampage #2

Infinite Stories.

As a weekend social cyclist, trying to escape my urban environment for a few hours of blissful riding away from traffic; and also a commuting cyclist in inner Sydney, I am in a position to speak broadly of Sydney motorists and their attitudes to cyclists.

Most drivers these days have been raised in families that own one or more motor cars, and themselves have owned a car since the law of their land permitted such. Likewise, these people have rarely felt the need to travel by any other means (except perhaps jet aircraft). The result is a society that has no concept of speed. Only a few generations ago, only those able to manage a horse at the gallop could travel faster then 20kmh. Now, a simple written test and the ability to reverse park once or twice is all that is required to drive a 1000 - 2500kg machine at speeds that can easily exceed any speed limit that might be set. Sydney is full of 2500kg 4wd vehicles that have never been on a dirt road.

Most drivers think nothing of 60+kmh through narrow streets or within one metre of pedestrians or cyclists. If the same motorists were asked to perform a stunt where relatives would stand still while they passed close by at 60kmh - there would be an outrage.

They know not what they do.

Modern motorists are always bombarded with images of 'driving' - however for the vast majority 'driving' is but a dream. Reality is jostling along in traffic to the next red light. Traveling by car in a modern city is only frustration interrupted by inertia. In their helter-skelter run to the next intersection, motorists see only obstacles to getting to their destination quicker (even though speeding has almost no bearing on journey times in urban environments).

For many people, there is no outlet for normal aggressions & other physical needs. Most do not undertake exercise or other tests of ability, resolve, bravery, skills etc. The result is people that have only one outlet available - other road users when they drive. They gain a false strength from the vehicles and a perverted perspective of their own importance, power and prestige when they drive. Often this manifests itself in that they view a quick trip from work the same as others might feel about conquering a tough ride, long swim, etc etc. Rarely do these 'achievers' mention that risk taking, speeding and law breaking were included in their little adventure.

Finally, motorists so often view cyclists as some kind of cartoon character (I own the jerseys too, there is a certain truth to this), therefore it follows that to 'teach a cyclist a lesson' that might cause great injury is kind of OK - it hurts now - however, all will be well in the next scene.

The result of so many emotions running against drivers being able / prepared to show the slightest compassion for other road user - let alone those at the greatest risk of severe injury.

It is the lot of the cyclist to be treated somewhere between dog and lizard on the road. Maybe worth a swerve - not at the risk of their CD jumping a track though.

Warwick McAlpine
Sydney, Australia
Monday, February 04, 2002

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Road rage rampage #3

In Australia and I suspect in many places around the world, road rage directed towards cyclists is increasing at an alarming rate. I feel one of the reasons is related to busy lifestyle that most people lead. As society wants everything now and everything revolves around the dollar. People are under stress to be somewhere as quickly as possible. This is not an excuse, just a reality.

To counter the problem of road rage, drivers identified as offenders I believe should be made to attend an assessment as to whether they are suitable to hold a license. Their attitude towards cyclists and other road uses should be assessed. This coupled with severe penalties ranging from heavy fines and suspensions to total cancellations of licenses could help to reduce the incidents of road rage.

Here in Australia, and I suspect the USA, cars are king. The vast distance to travel (particularly in the bush) and lack of suitable public transport has meant that the motor vehicle is used for a large percentage of the community for transport. The car has also been associated to a sense of freedom, a means of discovering our great brown land. Unlike Europe where the bicycle has been an ever present method of transport and recreation here in Australia the car has taken over. There has been little thought put into the construction of safe cycle friendly roads by the legislators. I suspect this has something to do with the revenue derived from taxes on petroleum products and endorsements from multi-nationals. This has resulted in the driving population having the attitude that cyclist should be off the road altogether.

If cyclist wish to change this they need to put pressure on their local, state and federal governments to implement changes to make cycling safer. (Read last week's letters)

Banora Point, Australia
Sunday, February 3, 2002

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Road rage rampage #4

Until the the time governments have a radical rethink and ignore the power of the motoring lobby (and subsequently votes) there will always be a disparity. Now we find that muggers can get between 18 months to 4/5 years imprisonment for stealing a mobile phone and grieving relatives of victimised cyclists see perpetrators get oooohhh anything from £150.00 fine for careless driving. 'nuff said.

Barry Charlton
Yalding, UK
Saturday, February 02, 2002

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Team listings #1

Regarding the listing of [amateur] teams on your site -- I have no problem with listing any team's roster in your news section. Especially since most rosters show the riders' categories, there is little danger of misplaced esteem being granted a lower-category racer simply because he or she is listed near a pro or elite racer.

On the other hand, there are positive aspects of these listings. Since many listings include sponsors, those sponsors get a little more exposure. If this increases the value of their sponsorship at all, thereby making such sponsorship more attractive to businesses, that is ultimately to the benefit of racing and cycling as a whole.

Similarly, I have noticed that some of the teams operate at least in part for the benefit of various charities. Exposure for these charities is a good thing too, and I the rider and others working for the team deserve some public credit for their contributions to these charities.

Carrying an elitist attitude to such an extreme that we won't have a lesser name appear on the same page as a pro serves no real purpose. No one is ever going to read a team listing and confuse the riders listed there with the UCI top 1000.

But it is fun to see the listings, and someday some of those riders will be riding for a living, and when they crack into the upper ranks, we can say "Hey, I saw that guy's name listed back when he was riding for Small Team from Little City."

One of the advantages of the Internet is that it allows the physically far-flung to be in some ways a community. We should be happy to support and cheer one-another on (unless, of course, you are currently trying to beat me in the Nowherestown cat 5 crit.) Bring on the rosters! (Read last week's letter)

David R. Neff
Culver City, USA
Wednesday, February 06, 2002

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Team listings #2

In the Jan. 31 letters, there were two requests from readers asking you to provide us with less information, not more.

Anders P. Jensen gently and respectfully requests that you "harshly" cut back on letters on the same topic (i.e. Cipo's hair or Lance vs. challenger-of-the-week debates). TS wants you to stop listing club rosters of every local team with aspirations of winning a training crit...

The great thing about the 'Net is that the reader is in control of content. If Anders doesn't want to read about Lance's hair or Cipo's climbing acumen (or do I have that confused?) he can skip those letters. Cyclingnews.com gives us nice, descriptive headlines with each set of letters, so if we want to pass some by, we can. If TS doesn't want to familiarise himself/herself with the roster of Sloppy Joe's Cat IV team, he/she can just skip it.

I hope you folks continue to post all the cycling information you can, and let us decide what to read and what to pass on. I think Cyclingnews.com is a great resource and I would willingly double my subscription cost, so here you are. Thank you. THANK YOU.

Jack Beaudoin
Maine, USA
Monday, February 04, 2002

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Team listings #3

As a member of one of the nonUCI Cat. 3 teams mentioned in TS's letter, I feel I should respond to some of his concerns. My team (Cycles De Oro-NorthState Chevrolet) has produced numerous national champions and professional level riders. We've even had an Olympian. Currently we have an excellent Cat 1/2 team that competes mostly regionally, but does travel to various national level races such as Shelby, Athens,Super Week,Nationals, etc. Our riders do quite well against many UCI Cat. 3 teams. In my opinion having our riders (even the lower categories) named on CyclingNews gives us a little recognition that we deserve, but don't generally receive elsewhere.

Scott (cat3 soon to be a 2) Hill
Saturday, February 02, 2002

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Who's the best climber? #1

Dear Scott,

As a big supporter of Lance Armstrong, I would like to ask you some questions about preparing for Tour 2002:
1. Johan Bruyneel said that Lance is not the best rider in US Postal at the moment. He said it couple of days ago. What do you know about LA form and his climbing abilities at the moment?
2. Ullrich said that he is going to try to win a Giro this year. Does it mean that he is giving up of the Tour? I think that the rider who is preparing for a both Giro and Tour can not be in the same good form before the Tour as a rider who is only preparing for the Tour.
3. What are you think about five mountain top finishes in a Tour, all in same week, all in the second part of Tour? I think that is a much harder than in last year, and I think that Lance would have to be in a much better form than last year if he doesn't want to drop off the pace in the last mountain stages.
About the best climber:
I think that the only way to look who is the best climber is to watch the Tour; Giro has only three mountain top finishes this year and will not give many chances for a riders to show their climbing consistency. In this year's Tour, I think this is the most important element in a battle for a yellow jersey.
And what about the riders who are looking for a single win in mountains? Boys like Laiseka, Botero, Garzeli, Galdeano, Heras (perhaps in the last mountain stages, if LA secures his win earlier, like he always does) or Virenue (he is surely not a hot contender for a yellow)? (Read Scott's letter)

Stojan Stamenic
Niksic, Montenegro, Yugoslavia
Tuesday, February 5th, 2002

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Who's the best climber? #2

In response to 'who the best climber is' and without wishing to lean towards one rider or to start off another 'Pro Peloton v's Lance' war of words, I wish to simply point out MY OWN observation and opinion. If any cyclingnews.com reader has seen the television special, 'The road to Paris,' you would all understand the amount of thought and preparation that Lance and USPS put into each TdF assault. Lance scouts most of the climbs and time trial courses months before the event for the express purpose of knowing what to expect come race day and I guess, to have that upper hand.

The European mentality towards preparation is quite different in that they race to gain fitness. Each have their good and bad points I'm sure. I applaud USPS for getting it right - god knows I can't!

Now, in a perfect world a great cyclist should be able to ride strongly and win on any terrain, in any condition. But I bet that the cyclist who has prepared by riding on a particular course over and over would always have the upper hand (both mentally and physically) over a rider who has raced elsewhere (for preparation) and who is possibly racing up a mountain pass for the first time.

Even at my local race circuit which I have raced week in week out for 11 years I know the terrain and the conditions better than most. Scott Goldstein has already acknowledged that the best climber doesn't always win the Tour. Preparation does maybe? Bring on the 2002 TdF!

Dave Mackey
Sydney, Australia
Monday, February 04, 2002

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Canadian 'cross selection #1

Re: Pierre Beaudoin's letter of Jan 24, 2002

Pierre, I think your right on the money when you say, "In Canada, a star can't shine too much," but I disagree that this is entirely due to "the sporting and governmental authorities". Let's face it brother: when it comes to cycling, Canada is a Third World country. (OK, we may often be treated in the political arena like a Third World Country by the National Government of Our Neighbour To The South, but that's another can of worms.)

Don't believe me? Read Cyclingnews.com's interview with Victor Hugo Pena for some perspective. Sounds like they got way more happening down there than we do up here. Cycling, especially in Western Canada, is nowhere. Why hasn't Mlle. Jeanson and Mr. Green become household names? 1) Our winters are long and we play hockey. 2) We have a (comparatively) small population base. 3) We are a lazy, car crazy society, like our neighbor to the South, but without the population base. 4) The mentality of our society is structured against cycling, promoted by a dominant 'red-neck' attitude, and fuelled by corporate interests. 5)Our National temperament does not lend itself to hero-worship.

Nuf said (Read original letter)

Colin "Unfortunately from Canada Also' Williams
Enderby, Canada
Thursday, February 07, 2002

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Canadian 'cross selection #2

Do not be unhappy that this occurs only in Canada. Fundamentally the link has been broken. The management of the Federation is put in place by the membership to represent the interests of the membership. One of those duties the membership requires of that management team is the competent selection and support of its elite athletes at World Champs.

The athlete would not have chosen to commit to cross events and preparation for the Worlds in the deliberate knowledge that she would not gain selection. Somebody in a management post must have said something to her to convince her that was so.

That same management team have now decided that it was the wrong person and he was not empowered so to inform her. Therefore they have put their daft hats on and stated she will not go. They do so because they have mixed it up. They are in post to provide a service. It is their duty to communicate effectively with the athletes.

If the athlete is left confused about what the selection criteria are, then it is because they have not done their job properly. Making the mistake is a fault, compounding this by arrogance, that robs the membership of their representative and denies the athlete the opportunity, indicates that the management team have cut the link with their membership. They think they are the masters.

Unfortunately, as elsewhere in the world, over years they may have weakened the feedback loop so the membership cannot censure such behavior by their management team. They become answerable to no one and thus one gets this sort of unacceptable behavior.

Tony Cooke
South Wales, UK
Sunday, February 03, 2002

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Canadian 'cross selection #3

Originally, my reaction was that the CCA should have let Lynne go to the World's, but after all the arguments about how poor the competition is at Canadian events, we see why the CCA rules exist. How can we inspire high quality events in Canada if our own top athletes don't show up?

Murray Yazer
Toronto, Ontario
Saturday, February 02, 2002

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TV Coverage of Worlds 'cross championships

I too viewed the Eurosport schedule with dismay to see no mention whatsoever of Cross Worlds coverage. I'm glad to say however, that it was on free to air TV here in the good old Ceská Republika. We had highlights of the Juniors and the Women, and the under 23s and Elite live and in full, with the commentary of Radomír Simunek no less!

It really was fantastic, both the Under 23's and Senior Men were enthralling races, why there wasn't equivalent coverage on Eurosport I'm at a loss to say. I just wonder why there were no barriers on the course? Can anyone enlighten me on this, I thought it was a UCI regulation.

Can we also shut up about Lance Armstrong, give it a break and not say anything else about the matter until at least a month before Le Tour. We've all had more than enough of your now well established view on Mr Armstrong and his challengers. Please can we get back to other cycling related matters, there is more to this sport than road cycling, the tour, and Lance Armstrong.

And please, don't feel obliged to reply to this!

Sam Alison
Czech Republic
Wednesday, February 06, 2002

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Worst team kit #1

I don't know about the worst team kit (Team GB's lurid green springs to mind, though), but I for one was pleased that the great ONCE machine revived their Tour pink last year, after a couple of years in that non-descript black. I actually own an ONCE pink T-shirt, but I haven't the bottle to wear it out often!!! Why don't more pro teams make leisure clothing available? After all, we all have our favourites - perhaps the profits could go to a fund of some sort?

Somerset, UK
Friday, February 08, 2002

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Worst team kit #2

With regards to the worst-looking kit, I think we are all overlooking the biggest affront to the visual environment - the 1995 kit of Le Groupement. By far the worst looking kit of the last 20 years. Thank god they didn't last the whole season. (Read last week's letters)

Texas, USA
Wednesday, February 06, 2002

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Worst team kit #3

I'm sorry to say it, but Rolf Sørensens new Colnago/Landbouwkredit outfit seems like a 2002 winner in this contest.

Niels Henningsen
Sunday, February 03, 2002

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Worst team kit #4

How could anyone have forgotten the Jean Delatour 2001 kit? Of the recent stuff, that really takes some beating in the worst kit ever polls. And Mapei are really losing their way with their kits! I loved the Mapei-Clas gear (a la Rominger), but the recent stuff, oooo, no.

David Wilson
Saturday, February 02, 2002

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The last month's letters

  • January 31 – Vasectomy and cycling, Road rage rampage, To edit or not to edit, Worlds selections, Simoni vs Armstrong, ugly kit, reader poll
  • January 24 – Worlds selections, Simoni vs Armstrong, ugly kit, reader poll
  • January 18 – About the poll, Acqua&Sapone, Canadian athlete of the year, Lance & the Spring Classics, Mystery Aussies, Broken Hips
  • January 10- Best Cyclist, Virenque, Lance to enter Spring Classics, I'm better than Lance Armstrong, A poem for Pro Cyclists, Starting Grid, Coastal Post
  • January 03- iTeamnova, Virenque, Lance to enter Spring Classics, Boring Tour, I'm better than Lance Armstrong, VDB, Respect, Starting Grid, Coastal Post
  • December 20 – iteamNova, Lance to enter Spring Classics, Boring Tour, I'm better than Lance Armstrong, VDB, Respect, Starting Grid, Coastal Post
  • December 13 – VDB, Lance to enter Spring Classics, Eurosport Cyclo-cross coverage, Boring Tour, I'm better than Lance Armstrong, Coastal Post
  • December 10 – VDB, Lance in the classics, Coastal Post, Racing in China, Better than Lance Armstrong, Derny Races, Running Red Lights
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com