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Letters to Cyclingnews January 10, 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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Once upon a time, Dennis Rodman was a professional basketball in the
USA. The "world" championship referred to in the original
email is the NBA (National Basketball Association) championship. I believe
Rodman won them with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls.
This is in response to Martin Mullin wondering who Dennis Rodman rode for and that other stuff about the best cyclist ever...
Martin, Dennis Rodman was a professional basketball player in the NBA who played with many teams when they were in their prime and won many championships. He never was a pro bike racer..As for the ring thing, the NBA gives a ring for each championship won, so that's where the rings come from.
Lance has a weakness and it's not his cycling, it's his ego. He won the first tour and everybody said that it wasn't real cause "nobody was there." Obviously he answered them and won his second tour and everyone said it wasn't real cause he didn't win enough stages, so in the third he definitely took the stage wins, but that wasn't real enough cause he doesn't race enough, and it looks as if he wants to answer those critics. If Lance did not care about the outside world I couldn't guess how many tours he might be able to take consecutively. It will happen eventually in a tour when he can't attack, and everyone will criticise him for riding safe. It will hurt his ego and he will attack when he shouldn't to answer the critics and get beat! (Read last week's letters)
As for Ullrich, how can you not like the guy? But his main objective is the tour. I will take an ego that delivers the goods over a nice guy that doesn't. It's about who is the most pissed off right now. And you know what, Lance with three straight tours is more pissed, right today, putting in a work day in the saddle, analysing the stages, measuring his food, blah blah blah. Let's hope Ullrich is getting mad.
Friday, January 04, 2002
Lance to enter Spring classics #2
Bashing, Bashing, Bashing...
While I do not not like Lance, in fact I admire him very much, I must
agree strongly with Raymond Martin's letter of 12/27/01. I also have
a very positive view of Jan, consider him to be underrated by the media
and fans, and have a pound or two more than I would like at the beginning
of the season (at the middle and end of season also.)
Tuesday, January 08, 2002
I am American, have been a competitive cyclist since 88, have raced both in the States and in Europe and was privileged to have watched Richard Virenque win this year's Paris-Tours from my living room in Rome where I currently reside. Bravo Richard!!! For those out there who wish to bash his accomplishment simply as a consequence of his past record related to doping, get a life!
The man has demonstrated throughout his career a passion for cycling and winning unrivaled by his colleagues. Virenque was on that day driven by rage, motivated by the internal flame of anger that propels men forward despite impossible odds. His rage stems from the base fallacy that professional cycling has never been "clean," that it has ever desired to be such. The pharmaceutical industry as it has developed and marketed drugs over the past century for purposes outside of sport, has, nevertheless, and quite naturally found an easy niche within that arena.
Doping is, consequently, a reality of the system that can not be eliminated, not by the athletes, not by the officials. Virenque became a scapegoat for a system under attach by the so-called moral public. The system found opportunity to style him "the great sinner" to appease the international cycling community's perverted sense of justice. Virenque is not a witch, he should not have been burned at the stake!
The sooner we remove ethical concerns, and therefore hypocrisy, form competition and let athletes be superior as they choose (as they do), the sooner we rise above a warped mentality based on fantasy more suited to the Middle Ages. Richard's stunning win was a reminder that passion is thrilling to view and that courage and grinta (tenacity), as the Italians say, is what makes cycling so compelling, so real. Thanks for keeping it real Richard.
See you next year. (Read original letter)
Richard Virenque's victory in the Paris-Tours underscores the problems
of believability and accountability that confront cycle sport today.
His win, as an athletic achievement, is not credible given his history
of using illegal performance enhancing preparations, and the fact (go
ahead Hein--deny it) that the peloton has progressed beyond EPO to synthetic
blood products and hormonal manipulation that enhance performance and
are undetectable as EPO once was.
Prior to the 1998 Tour de France, doping practices were the 'norm,' so people like Virenque really weren't cheats as such as all of his main competitors were also 'well prepared' .Since 1998 cycling has slowly been cleaning itself up, except for a well known certain team of refusnicks, who will remain nameless. Their refusal to abandon their practices means that cycling will never clean itself up completely as other riders will go back to their old habits in order to keep up with the riders who have become superstars overnight - They are the real cheats, they are the scourge of cycling. You cannot blame anyone for jumping on to the bandwagon before 1998, as Virenque said 'the train was leaving'- he could either jump on, or be left at the sidelines. People taking drugs after 1998 are taking advantage of the situation- knowing that most of the other star riders will have stopped using drugs after the Festina affair,thereby they could get results that they simply wouldn't get if they were on a level par with the other star names.
C. Jones l
I find it quite interesting that a rider that is proven to be guilty as sin is praised as a hero and selected by his country's national team and that another rider is only accused and his career is all but destroyed! Different countries different reactions.
As for Virenque, It was good old bad luck that he and his Festina team
got caught. To say that you dislike him because he is a cheater is to
say you dislike every pro rider. They are just playing the game, and
it just so happens that supplemental help is part of that game at the
level these riders are playing at.
Definitely three cheers for Virenque. He is probably the cleanest
rider in cycling today. Think of it, if he was caught he would be rejected
by everybody in the cycling world. He is most likely scared of being
caught. He is able to win a classic hopefully clean and I think that
commands respect. To you guys with your heads in the clouds thinking
that cycling is a mostly clean sport, why aren't the guys doping winning
everything? Simple, 99% of that person's competitors are also on some
sort of "program." Hey, I say doping should be encouraged
by the UCI and make the races so amazingly fast and insanely hard cycling
would become a mainstream
I think that Robert Nagoda (Read Robert's letter) makes some very good points regarding this whole "I'm better than Lance in the mountains" debate. Armstrong beat Simoni by one minute in a race that started nine days after the Giro ended. Simoni had finished on the podium in the Giro in 1999 and 2000 and had stated his focus was to win the Giro. Obviously he wasn't as fresh as Armstrong who was in the midst of his pre-Tour training and was hitting his stride. How did Armstrong do post-Tour? In the Tour of Burgos, which started 22 days after the Tour ended, he finished 58th. He didn't finish the San Francisco Grand Prix. I think a head-to-head race in the Tour with equal preparation would be very interesting to watch - Armstrong is a better time trialist, but Simoni is more of a pure climber than Armstrong.
As I see it, the problem with so many Lance fans is that they view bicycle racing from an American perspective. The only race that Americans know is the Tour - even many cycle enthusiasts in America have never heard of the Giro or the Vuelta. Armstrong knows that to be recognised in his own country as a great athlete, he has to win the Tour. He could win 10 Giro's in a row and no one in the States would know who he was. (How many average Americans have heard of Andy Hampsten?) Armstrong is obviously a great rider and his story of coming back from cancer is an amazing one. He is the best Tour de France rider at the moment, but is he the best bicycle racer? No. He only really focuses on the Tour.
All the big riders these days ride two grand tours a year, the world championships, and numerous other races throughout the year. Ullrich is a much more complete rider than Armstrong. If Armstrong manages to win five Tours, I'm sure he will be lauded by many of my fellow Americans as the best cyclist ever, which would simply not be true. The best Tour de France rider? Perhaps. But in order to be in the same league as Indurain, Hinault and Merckx, he will have to ride, and win, more than just the Tour.
Better than Lance #2
In response to M Tirabassi (Read letter) and others regarding Lance's lack of "well-roundedness" as a rider I have to comment. Every racer I know at the amateur level, as well as everything I have ever read from a coach, agree that there is something called peaking. Some World Cup guys go for two peaks (spring and late summer) while Tour guys go for one peak (usually). Everyone out there who races understands this. If I win my local stage race at the end of June, it will most likely be because I did NOT win much in April or May. Racing today is much different from racing in the past, so to compare Lance to the "Legends" is futile. Dekker, Armstrong, Zabel, Ullrich, Jalabert, Museeuw, etc. These guys are all legends as far as I am concerned- cause they all kick ass.
Another judgment that hits home for many of us is when people say, "why doesn't Lance (or whoever) ride this race, or that race?" A similar situation happens with my team's club rides. Sometimes I am not at the rides - and may be criticised for not doing the team thing - and here is why. Even a Cat. 3 like myself may have a training plan. If I am scheduled to do an easy day on a group ride day, I won't do the group ride (as it is often harder that I should do). Similarly, pro-riders have a plan, and typically more strict and detrimental to success than a lowly amateur who doesn't rely on winnings for their living. So, if a racer doesn't do certain races, good chance is that there is a reason.
We shouldn't judge what someone should or shouldn't do, or compare even Jan to Lance. They all have different goals, aspirations and motivation which none of us knows. Put two riders on the same exact plan, do the same races, and then maybe we can compare.
Better than Lance #3
People may say that the true legends of cycling must be able to do it all. In the cycling world today this is impossible. A guy like Lance could never win Paris-Roubaix like Eddy, because cycling stars today are too specialized to be able to do it all. It may be a long while before we will be able to see a pro that can do it all like they used to be able to.
Tuesday, January 08, 2002
Better than Lance #4
Here is some poetry I wrote about pro cyclists.
First of all, sorry for my English. I´m a Spanish cycling fan and I´m quite disappointed about the cycling poll results. I love cycling all around the world and I admire every champion, no matters where is he from. I understand that most of the people who vote are from USA or Australia, but it seems to me that the results are sometimes surrealistic. Is it serious to consider Tim Johnson the third crosser of the year ahead for example Mario De Clercq?. You only need to have a look in last week's World Cup race; Gullickson or Johnson are lost in the final standings. There are at least 12 or 13 riders that deserve a higher position in the poll. And what about Leipheimer's high position in best performance classification? If we are objective its obvious that Casero or Sevilla deserve to be ahead, and they are not mentioned. USP is not the best team of the year, obviously, they only won the tour, Tour of Switzerland and Gent - Wevelgem. That is not enough in front of Telekom, Fassa Bortolo or Lotto.
Congratulations for such a good proposal. The poll is a great idea, but I hope the next year the people vote with knowledge and without national considerations.
Thanks for your attention. (View the poll)
Listen, I've always been a fan of Cipo's and the Cannondale ad campaign that featured the Saeco team at Corneliani being fitted for custom suits was very cool. But that new team kit for Acqua&Sapone is god awful (see picture). What were they thinking to come up with that? I thought that we had seen the worst with the "court jester" Montgomery Subaru uniforms in the early '90's., but these are much worse. Perhaps for next year's poll CyclingNews can have the"ugliest team kit" as a category? (View the poll)
I have always wondered this . . .
In Europe the racing season starts in March/April (Spring) and continues through until September/October (Autumn), progressing through summer on the way. The road racing season here in Australia seems to do the same thing, starting in March/April and going through to September/October. The only difference is that we go through winter on the way. Ask any club racer in Australia about racing in the rain and cold and they have many stories. There is still plenty of racing in summer, but mostly short criterium type racing.
Has anyone else wondered why this is? I have some thoughts:
- Cycling being a European sport (originally, although we are doing
our best to fix that) and also a fairly traditional sport, that's "the
way it is".
The upside of this is that during winter we have motivation to ride (i.e. training and racing) and in summer we have motivation to ride (i.e. sun and cafes).
Any other thoughts? (Australian Open Championships)
Simon van der Aa
It seems like the only people complaining are the lower classes! You also said it's a side show for the ELITE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS! Guess what! It is! You got an opportunity to race on the same course as the big boys in a non-championship event, so don't complain, just have fun. In the Elite races, the riders are called up by ranking. They earned those spots and had to go through the field and earn good results before they got to that point. Also, if you look at the UCI rules the course was legit (I was there, it was a great course that followed UCI rules). Even with staging, I've seen guys (that were not staged) blow off the front, blow up, and get in the way of the real contenders. You might argue that the guy is trying to become part of the Elite crowd. That's OK if ends up 10th. The problem is that these guys are the ones that get lapped. I think this argument is like when Master riders say they don't get enough prize money, I laugh and think......WAKE UP!
Farid A. Abraham
To the Editor,
I read with interest the remarks of Mr. Albers concerning the starting grid at the SuperCups and U.S. 'Cross Nationals.(Read Kirk Albers letter)
As the lead announcer for the last four nationals and every SuperCup since 1998, I have a strong say in deciding who gets a call-up. First and foremost, Mr. Albers is to be complimented on his rapid development as a 'cross racer. I assure you he's soon to appear on the call-up list given his current trajectory of improvement.
There are some critical distinctions to be made in his facts. The"nationals" and not the SuperCup finals were based strictly on UCI points. After receiving no guidance whatsoever from USA Cycling on this matter, they delivered a final list to us in Baltimore. The SuperCup criteria is as follows: Top 10 on SuperCup points, the top five espoirs, and current and former national and world cyclocross champions. We also reserve the right to bring up a few Promoters Choices, usually for a few local stars, that we position on the third row.
Mind you, I typically find several letters under my door petitioning me for call-ups at all SuperCups. I also have coaches, agents, parents and girlfriends in my ear right up to the posting. This demonstrates what a big deal the call-ups have become.
As for your suggestion, I feel it's perfectly fine for a regional series such as the MAC series. That series, by the way, will likely double in participation in coming years due to the Baltimore show. But I must urge you all to remember the motto at the the top of the Rider Protocol listing of every SuperCup: "Remember folks, It's showbiz."
Most promoters have just one concern: the riders. Hence they get little press, small crowds, and few sponsors. That's fine for most races.
For SuperCup, we rest our events atop a table with four legs, each of which each receive equal attention. Those are participants, sponsors, media and spectators. The pageantry and pressure which goes into the start of a SuperCup is of enormous importance to all of those four legs. Starting the riders - a la cross country - way off somewhere takes the crowd, the media and the sponsors away from one of the most impressive moments in all of cycling, if not all of sport.
It's a mad scramble indeed, but the reason our crowds are so crazy loud is due in part to that exciting start. We pop the cork better than any promoters in the business.
I realise it's tough; the rank-and-file riders have to scramble to hit the top 20. But many do it, and that's how they claw up to the call-up tent for consideration.
Let it be known, however, that SuperCup starts have best prepared the Americans for similar starts on the World Cup circuit. The SuperCup starts are as fast and as furious as any in Europe. I just read with pride that our SuperCup Champion Marc Gullickson just placed 14th in a World Cup, the highest placing ever by an American. He came off the third row without a call-up. I doubt he ever would have been as mentally and physically prepared for such a performance had we instituted the anemic dribbling off some far-off line, 30-wide, and far from the crowds and cowbells and chaos.
I look forward to seeing Mr. Albers emerge from the smoke-filled tent,
set to do battle, at next year's SuperCups.
My home trainer is so used that the bearings are starting to chatter and the roller has a deep groove. And I've only had it for a month. Not that I like the poor thing, but living in Colorado, USA can be quite un-motivating in the winter. I've never made six hours, but I do 2-3 hour rides often. How? It's all about movies and headphones. It seems weird at first, watching a movie while riding with a heart rate of 150bm but after a couple of flicks I got used to it. Trainers are boring. No Doubt! Nothing comes close to flying through the forest getting all muddy and screaming Yeeee Haw.
Let's see, is this the same Justin Lucke who contributes money to the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay, builders of the illegal mountain bike trails in Marin County at Camp Tamarancho? (Read original letter)
Monday, January 07, 2002
I thought M. Tirabassi's letter was serious then I realised it was a joke and a good one! Thanks M!
I don't give a damn about the Cancer thing, winning a tour is a far more rare accomplishment. Is it meaningless to be World and US National Champ, a 1st and Second at Fleche Wallone and Liege to take the weekend trophy, a Tour de Suisse , along with towing the winner to the line at the last couple of Amstel's? The Tour victories in themselves are enough to make a legend, but the man has been there for more than that.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH WANTING TO DOMINATE THE BIGGEST RACE IN THE WORLD?
I'm amused (as I am sure Lance is) when people toss out half baked challenges to win second rate tours or classics in an era of specialization that Lance didn't start, but has to date dominated. Do you actually think that because of a few people toss this foolishness around that Lance will finally say " Right then, This Tour De France thing is a snap. I better go for something big like Milan San Remo"?
Yeah, and Erik Zabel will at the same time say, "I must not be a legend either, Screw the Green Jersey's and Milan San Remo, I'm going to go for the win at Mt Ventoux! It's the only way I can prove myself."
Friday, January 04, 2002
Can someone tell me about new signings that Deutsche Telekom have
done? I haven't seen any news about new signings?If someone can tell
me that would be great!
Whatever happened to VDB's return to competition on Christmas day? It was mentioned a few times a few weeks ago, but I didn't see any mention of his presence in the race recently. Was he there? Is he alive?
Thanks for a great site.
Interesting idea. But what fun would it be if the only riders winning stages were the ones who had just taken two days off? The GC riders would never make the podium for stage wins, and that would be downright anticlimactic. (Read other letters on this subject)
Saturday, January 05, 2002
UCI points are not a measure of a rider's teamwork, they are a measure of who has won or placed in races. Director Sportifs know who are hard team riders and respect this when they are signed up riders to support their team leaders, who have big UCI points. Selection to races depends upon UCI points, riders who win get these points. Domestiques are there to support their team leaders that is their job. We all know Matt White is a super domestique who cares if he hasn't got lots of UCI points. Look at UCI points for what they are, not for what you would like them to be. (Read original letter)
I totally agree with this letter. I was shocked to hear that Mike Weir won Canadian athlete of the year. Are golfers athletes? This award belongs to Roland Green who totally dominated the men's XC circuit last season. Canadian champion, NORBA champion, World champion. What more does he have to do? (Read original letter)
Murray Yazer P.Eng.
The last month's letters