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Letters to Cyclingnews January 03, 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.
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Colin Evans is right! iteamnova.com is a great concept. As a "Yank" I am happy to be a part of the growth of this new team. And from the iteamnova message board, you can see that the team is forming a global membership. (Read original letter)
Darrell Hobson (tdf fan)
I think the iTeamnova.com is a great idea! It finally gives the amateur cyclist a chance to interact directly with a real Pro team. I checked out the Web site and was really impressed with how professional everything was. And to think, I will be able to brag to my friends that I'm an investor in a pro racing team!
One idea they might consider, instead of allowing only members to buy gear, they might open up some of the gear to all comers and use some of the proceeds to benefit the team. I think some things, like the jersey, should stay members only but I think the team as a whole would benefit from more dollars if they made something available to the general public.
Now, all I have to do is convince my wife to crack open the cheque book!
I can't just let Scott House (read Scott's letter) get away with saying all Lance bashers are"non Americans". I'm American (should I get out my National Defense medal?), I race internationally, I love cycling and I don't like Lance. I don't hate him, I just don't like him. Never have. He's a compelling story to be sure, and to be admired for his struggle/ victory over cancer and subsequent return to dominate the sport. That doesn't mean I'm going to like him.
I like Ullrich. Here's why: the guy wins the Tour at 21 has come in 1st or 2nd every time he's entered it, and yet takes more crap from everyone about his weight than anybody I can remember. And he takes it with a closed mouth. He lives near Grandma in a small town and eats her strudel. And you want a compelling story? You grow up in the East German sports machine and see what happens when you get millions at 21.
Lance is an incredibly focused and scientific athlete. Jan has a bit more humanity showing.
Raymond F Martin
Lance to enter Spring classics #2
Sorry if this seems trivial, but I simply can't be silent when I witness
the expression of a classic logical fallacy. In his letter, Andrew Torrance
accuses Scott House (read
Scott's letter) of implying that "all vociferous Lance supporters
are American," in response to House's statement that Lance bashers
are all non-American.
You know, we have a saying in the infantry: One must pick and choose their battles well. It should go without saying that if you battle the enemy every chance you get that sooner or later the odds are going to get you killed. But it doesn't go without saying, OBVIOUSLY! Once again we have the "Racers aren't racers unless they're racing" crowd trashing those racers who choose a few key races per year. I'm sick of hearing how Lance and others like him aren't TRUE BLOOD racers just because they don't race every week (or nearly so). The same arguments were made after '89 and '90 when Lemond focused on Le Tour. And there have been others likewise. What if Ullrich happens to win the next tour? Will he suddenly become less of a racer? Phooey. He has identified his enemy, studied his tactics, and will try to attack a weakness!
Thursday, December 27 2001
I just read today's article by Darren Tulett entitled Three Cheers for Richard Virenque.
I have never liked Richard and I was sorry to see that it was he who made such an incredible win at Paris-Tours. The style of the win - one or two men beating the odds and holding out to win after a heroic battle - is something that I can appreciate. The fact that it came from Virenque made it a little sour, till now.
Darren Tulett is totally correct. The man admitted what he did (eventually) and has paid the price. The fact that he was a doper shouldn't be held against him now. He has a chance at a fresh start and we the fans should give him that.
But, we shouldn't make a hero of him because he came back from being caught cheating. All the riders who made it without doping, and those who didn't because of the dopers, should be touted as heroes.
I am willing to hold my feelings on Richard Virenque till he proves what he is, not what he was.
Matthew J Wheeler
In regards to Richard Virenque and the many letters regarding his 2001 success stories, I for one think he is lucky at all to be competing at any level, and he should have been banned for life for taking drugs that are presumed performance-enhancing.
Three cheers for Richard Virenque - I think not. (Read article)
Virenque's victory in the Paris-Tours this year simply demonstrates
that yes, he has the talent to ride a bike. Does he have the strength
of character and belief in his own demonstrated ability to stand up
for his sport and say "I will not cheat. I can win without help?"
Emphatically he does not, and all the victories in the world will not
Casagrande breaks, Frigo kicked out, Belli thrown out and then Simoni wins. If I recall, Lance didn't really win his first tour because Ullrich wasn't there and neither was Marco. Let's apply equal standards to all the riders and let's just watch to see who will come out on top. Simoni deserves the hesitation of the fans to call him a winner and if he can beat them all next year he will gain some of the respect he is assuming he has now.
Better than Lance #2
Lance is actually one of the first to admit that he is not the King of The Road. He continually gives that title to Jan Ullrich, and to look at the year in review, it is hard to argue with the man. Lance is good at winning the Tour De France. If he concentrated less on the Tour, he would be a rider much like Jan: great in the Tour, though not dominant, and strong throughout the season winning important races and a world title here and there.
I agree with Mr. Dries' example of this year's Amstel Gold competition (read original letter). Lance could not drop Dekker on the final climb (and if you watched the race, you know he tried his best), then lost the race in a two-up sprint for the line. Here is a race which Lance specifically targets and prepares for, and he was beaten (again). Also, in the Tour De Suisse, Lance beat Simoni, but the gap was not impressive, and Simoni had just won a Grand Tour of his own.
If Lance wanted (and I don't think he does) to be the best cyclist on the road, he would prepare himself differently, and compete in more races (maybe the World Championships for a start). And he would still be a dominant rider, although I think some people would be surprised at the races he would not win . . .
Better than Lance #3
The bottom line is that Lance is the best climber and he is the best time trialist and no one can dispute this over the last three years......love him or hate him, you gotta respect him.....
Better than Lance #4
Yes, there you have it Lance Armstrong is one of the greatest riders
of all time, but not a legend! Cycling Legends not only win the tour
and stay in yellow for more than two weeks, they win the other big tours
as well (such as the Giro), spring classics, make hour records &
win gold medals ( that's just the short list). They can attack on the
flats and not rely on their prowess to sit on and then attack on the
mountains. Training for one event for three weeks of the year and winning
it makes for a great rider, But Not a legend. Yes he does own a rainbow
jersey, and has some other great victories to his name, But Not a legend.
I now issue this challenge for Lance to show the world that he is a
cycling legend & not just a tour de France specialist.
I live in Canada, and here the only reason we get the tour on TV is because of Lance. Its Lance mania over here. Training rides here are all about Lance, hey lets ride like Lance, talk like him look back at each other like him. Honestly, Lance is an amazing athlete, and I have amazing respect for him and his accomplishments, but I have a French (France) background. So I always root for the underdog, thus making me an Ullrich fan, when Ullrich is on form he is unbeatable, lets look at the RR in the Olympics, how about the world TT champs? Mind you Armstrong is fast while in form, but...I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess all I wanna say is lets not slag riders, but compliment them.
Better than Lance #6
I agree with Michael Dolenga. I, and a few thousand others, beat Eddy Merckx in the Argus Tour (a one day race and fun ride in Cape Town) in the mid nineties. Does this mean we can now go around saying we are better cyclists than him and all those he beat in his prime........let's get real.
Better than Lance #7
I had to send this letter in response to Richard Wolter's comments about Jan Ullrich. Although he was two minutes back of Armstrong, he was the only one back there. I am not an Armstrong fan at all, but I do respect his results. However when you look at the big picture of cycling as a whole, you can clearly see that Jan has been the better cyclist. Look at his average finishes in the Tour. Add in the Vuelta win, the Olympics, the World Championships, Championship of Zurich etc. Jan's on top hands down.
Don't jump on the Lance had cancer bandwagon either. If there is something in my pants that is bigger than it is supposed to be, I am not going to wait for a year to get it checked. It is not his fault that he got cancer, but his procrastination did not help.
Thursday, January 03, 2002
I agree with Naz that sometime Tour riders get too much of the spotlight
- which I am sure was the spirit of his "Respect" post. Sure,
the Tour is the biggest race of the year. But, in a way, the Tour is
the Las Vegas of bike racing. Not that it's fake or anything, but to
Americans, nothing counts unless it's the biggest, thus - we have Las
Cyclo-Cross is not road racing, it's cyclocross The start at Nationals in Baltimore was fine, no way was it narrow. No matter how wide you make the start, guys are going to jockey for position and somebody might take a fall. In the end it's all going to come down to the first corner so if you aren't good enough to start at the front, don't whine about it. What if the start was 200 feet wide? The first corner is going to be like a funnel effect with all those guys trying to get to it first anyway. Result? People crash, it's part of the sport !! Get some balls and make your charge for the corner with everything you have. And yes, I raced in my division with 147 racers, I know what it's like and it's fun. It's Cross !!!
I agree with Kirk Albers (Read original letter) about the unfairness of calling up the top five UCI guys in American Cyclocross - it's unfair to the rest of the field. I raced the intermediate race at US cyclocross nationals and was similarly frustrated by the start. There were 147 starter on a 10 yard wide starting line. I started around the middle to the back of the race. By the time I even began to pedal of the starting line the first ten or twenty guys were already a couple hundred yards ahead. I raced hard and passed twenty or thirty guys, but in a such a big field with little room for passing that doesn't translate into much. Unless you were at the front when the race started you couldn't launch a serious attack until the end of the first lap - there were to many people crashing or just plain not going fast enough. By the end of the first lap things began to open up, but by then the leaders already had two minutes easily. USA Cycling should have separated the field into age categories just like at road and MTB nationals, that way if you have some horsepower you at least stand a chance of doing well. The intermediate class was the biggest class at nationals this year, but our race was treated as just a small side show to the pros. Just think 147 racers times the $30.00 entry fee. If that money disappeared from USA cycling's coffers things would be different. Every racer should have a fair chance to place well.
Kirk - we can turn the clock back to feature wide open start lanes
- I'll show you my pictures from the '70's when Gary Fisher, Clark Natwick,
Jim Gentes, Joe Ryan and Laurence Malone raced 'cross. Those photos
from Golden Gate Park, the Tilden Park Nationals of 1975 - all featured
big grassy meadows from which to start with oodles of room for all concerned
to grab a front row place. We certainly didn't;t have the size of fields
seen today - and all featured little-to-no crowds of spectators. Very
likely those pre-90's nationals had similar situations - Pacifica, Sun
River, Santa Cruz. The question of venues that can attract fans and
spectators - combined with a generous start lane - it's often a question
of one or the other. So, how to adapt for those circumstances? How about
a one lap time trial to set the grid? (Read
Agreed with Mr Albers (Read original letter) . The entire MAC series has starts like these and it works very well. Actually, except for nationals and the SuperCup every race I did started in the manner he suggests. It would also eliminate the silliness that went on in the B races, wherein we were rearranged several times before the starts.
Your article of 31st January ("Hang on, we've forgotten someone - Marco Pantani!") probably underestimates the gravity of this matter for Pantani, who risks at least as heavily as Frigo, Ullrich and the other names already associated with the blitz in San Remo.
The Italian daily newspaper "La Repubblica" stated that Pantani had received a formal warning that he was under criminal investigation and that he was likely to be charged with the crime of sporting fraud, as a result of the analysis by Professor Dario d'Ottavo of some syringe(s) found in Pantani's hotel room in Montecatini, during a blitz that preceded San Remo. The contents of the alleged syringe(s) are not publicly known, but the journalist suggested insulin.
Privacy laws and the long time scales of Italian justice will give Marco some rope, but this is serious trouble all the same - he risks three months to three years of prison. The whole affair will be notified to the Italian Cycling Federation, which will follow its own anti-doping procedures in parallel to (and in theory independently of) Italian criminal justice.
Anders Jensen's mention of Pantani in relation to Lance was not appropriate.
If I have not understood the facts properly I would be happy to be put right.
Is there anyone who can tell me where I can find/buy a 1998 Festina
jersey and/or bibshorts. From my point of view team Festina´s
outfit in 1998 was one of best looking trade team outfits I have seen.
For well known reasons we didn´t see much of the Festina jersey
in 1998 TdF. I would be very happy if someone could give me a hint where
to find one.
Paul raises an interesting point, perhaps it would be a useful exercise to have an article or reader's poll on the best domestiques of the modern era, I'm sure it would prove very interesting and informative. And thanks for your current reader's poll it made me think about the past season in detail and recall a lot of great racing that I had already let fade from memory.
Who's Dennis Rodman, what are the two teams he's ridden for and since
letter written by Tom from Madison cracked me up. I can recall the
"good old days" of mountain bike racing when riders (some
who were well known) would warm up by smoking a bowl or two. Of course,
you could make the argument that it was necessary due to the fact that
there was no suspension!
Friday, December 21 2001
Boring Tour #2
Here is an idea that may put some new life into the Grand Tours (I
imagine it will certainly stir up a lot of response). It came to me
during a Holiday party while listening to a conversation between a friend
who is a pro directeur sportif and a cycling neophyte. The neophyte
was asking about how the teams operate and wanted to know if only the
riders who started a Tour rode the daily stages or if other riders on
the team could.
Wednesday, January 02 2002
* It was all my wife's fault she bought me a Waterford with Record 10 speed for our anniversary. So I guess I have to ride it.
I agree with you sir. Vdb is the man, and will always be a player in the peloton. After all he's human and a talented one at that. Fame and fortune came to him at a young age. To turn pro at 19 and win some 60 races (I'm not quite sure about that,but I know I'm close with the figure) is amazing. What I'm saying is with that much pressure on you, being that young,and doing things that young people do as well as trying to maintain fitness and discipline of a pro athlete is hard. So for all you VDB bashers go easy on him and besides all of you Vdb bashers haven't accomplished nothing he has in sport. (Read original letter)
In answer to Christopher Moyer's (Read
original letter) question regarding the gearing used by Ryan Bayley
for the Keirin Final of the World Championships. We spoke to Ryan, and
as with any Interviews or Newspaper Articles there are always inaccuracies.
About five years ago, this same MTBiker was participating in the Bay Criterium Series in Victoria. In one race, in Geelong, on a tough short crit, Cadel chased down a nine man breakaway that had almost a lap on the field (the break had Patrick Jonkers in it) and caught them. He didn't place, but his unbelievable solo effort is firmly entrenched in my memory. I agree - a podium finish at one of the Big three is on the cards for this boy.
Dear Cycling News,
It's great that Lance has decided to ride the classics in support of his teammate, Hincapie. Lance already has several classic wins to his credit and needs to offer himself up for the rest of his team's efforts. However, the only remaining accomplishment for Armstrong, and the one that would put him up with the greats like Hinault, Indurain, Merckx, etc., would be to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year, i.e. the Giro Tour double. Given the nature of pro cycling today, it may be more difficult than ever, but Armstrong won the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour de France last year, so I think he could do it. It would also be nice to see an American team at the Giro and even perhaps at all three big Tours.
Cyclisme gets no respect.
The last month's letters