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Letters to Cyclingnews – January 18, 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

Best Cyclist
More fan interest polls?
Lance to enter Spring classics
What's with the TDU podium girls
My Inspiration gone but not forgotten
Virenque
Good Luck to Rochelle Gilmore
TV coverage of TDU
Cycles and cars
Fat Brits
Mystery Aussie riders lost in London
Better than Lance
Broken Hips
About the poll
Acqua&Sapone
Fausto
Starting grid at US 'Cross Nationals
Funding for US Cyclocross
Coastal Post
Lance a legend
Team Deutsche Telekom
VDB-Christmas Cyclo-cross
Canadian Athlete of the year?

Best cyclist #1

Can we have a new category of cycling-related awards? How about best lines in letters? I nominate Carlos Remedios for this from his letter regarding Dennis Rodman: "He is somewhat of a human highlight film for the tabloids, as well as a monument to body piercing and bad hairstyles." (See Readers Poll)

Scott Phoenix
Friday, January 11, 2002

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Best cyclist #2

Guys, guys, guys.

I am positive that Martin's quip about Dennis Rodman was totally tongue in cheek. I can understand you American guys not understanding irony, but c'mon Carlos! (Read Martin's letter)

On a totally different subject , during the reader's poll I voted for Jan's ride at the Tour as my ride of the year. To be beaten with basically two weeks to go, it would have been easy for a lesser rider to roll over and die (let's see how hard Mr. Simoni is in July 2002), but he fought it out to the end. For me, it was an inspiring ride and an inspirational lesson in life. This is what puts Jan in a separate class to just about everyone else in the peloton, (barring LA & Ja Ja).

Anthony Pike
Melbourne, Australia
Friday, January 11, 2002

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Best cyclist #3

In response to all those explanations of who Dennis Rodman is... I think... in fact I'm just about certain the letter was tongue in cheek. An Aussie way of saying what on Earth has he got to do with cycling and how dumb to call a national champion a world champ when no one else is invited... Hey hang on fellas, I'm sure the Brissy Lions would love the World footy title tag, what do you think????? and no you yanks ain't invited. (Read last week's rush to explain who Dennis Rodman is)

Dave Arnold
Tuesday, January 15, 2002

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Best cyclist #4

Well, Dennis Rodman was a cyclist. He often claimed he could not play properly unless he was fully warmed up. Much to the consternation of his teams, he insisted on sitting on a turbo trainer and pedalling rather than sit on the bench.

James Cushing-Murray
Tuesday, January 15, 2002

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More fan interest polls?

Thanks for the 2001 Cycling Survey. It was fun to reflect upon last year when filling it out.

How about some additional "fan interest" surveys. For example, fans can cast their votes for who will be the best, worst and most-improved Division 1 team this coming year? Of the former Division 2, now Division 1 teams, who will be the best and the worst? How soon will Mercatone Uno completely disappear from the radar screen? (just kidding). Best and worst looking uniforms? Who will be the first rider kicked out for drug use? (still kidding). There are lots of fun survey questions in desperate need of educated answers and wild guesses.

PS: I agree with the recent letter from the Spanish fan. I don't know about Casero, even with his Vuelta win, but Sevilla definitely got screwed. Plus, with Zabel and Ullrich on the same team, there is no way that USPS is stronger than Telekom (and I'm a huge Lance fan). Is there any way the survey results can be "counter-weighted" to eliminate the country-of-origin bias in the number of votes received?

Tom Atherholt
New Jersey USA

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Lance to enter Spring classics

Hey why not! Why can't we as people, fans, clowns just get along. It's not that big a deal it's just cycling. And it's just a bunch of young guys working their butts off trying to make it in the world. Just like most of us. Before you criticise any person for their choices of professions or how they manage their life - look at your own shut up and sit down. Or better yet go for a ride, chances are you'll feel better.

Eric J. Erickson
Boulder, USA

Friday, January 11, 2002

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What's with the TDU podium girls

Tour Down Under rolled down panty hose.

OK, in all deference to Australian taste, what are the podium girls at the Jacob's Creek TDU wearing? (Photo caption: Fabio Sacchi (Saeco) - smiles on the podium as he wears the yellow leader's jersey.) I think they are the pinochio-ization of a naughty stewardess® dream I had recently. Lord knows I've been trying to remember what I drank so I can recreate the dream but I never thought I'd see it in real life. I'd also like to put my vote in for best kit, 2002: Saeco's 'flesh-ripped-away' shorts and jersey. What's the graphic where the chamois should be?

It's gonna be a good year -- I'm going to start it by painting 'Vandenbroucke' across my neighbour's blacktop driveway tonight. Woo hoo!

Tom Patten
Madison, USA
Thursday, January 17, 2002

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My Inspiration gone but not forgotten

My faithful VCR recently ate my copy of the '84 Olympic road race. I've since debated whether I should take it out back and put a bullet in one or all of its four heads. Does anyone have a copy if this spectacular event? This event inspired me to take up cycle racing. I do not compete anymore, but I would love have another copy.

Conrad
NYC, USA
Thursday, January 17, 2002

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Virenque

Richard Virenque's win at this year's Paris-Tour was nothing less than a step backwards for the sport. However magnificent his win may have been, it shows a shallowness in our great sport that there is an admitted cheater still being allowed to race as a professional. My position on this does not move regardless of the fact that he may not be doping anymore. The quickest way to rid the sport of illegal and dangerous drugs and cheating is to offer a first time offence penalty of a life ban from any and all races that are regulated by a federation that is recognised by the UCI. The four year ban recently awarded to Nicolas Axcelson is the first penalty given to a proven doper thus far that gets close enough. It would have given me great pleasure to see Dudu with his arms in the air instead of Virenque.

Aaron Menenberg
Bellingham, USA
Friday, January 11, 2002

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Good Luck to Rochelle Gilmore

In the USA, we've got the Saturn Team leading the domestic scene, and of course on the women's side they are ranked world #1, will RG ever get over to the States?

Anyway, a fan, she's a fantastic talent,
Good Luck to her,

Dave Jordan
USA
Tuesday, January 15, 2002

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TV coverage of TDU

Gee, last year we complained about the poor coverage of the Tour Down Under with the anguish of cycling fans who really wanted to see more of the action in Australia. We'd already said farewell to the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic.

So what happened to the TDU? This year there's no TV coverage at all! At least, not in West Australia that I can find from a thorough reading of my TV guide. I suppose we'll get a package of highlights from someone in a few weeks' time.

Come back Phil Liggett and the SBS half-hour. (Read latest TDU results)

What's the story? No-one interested in the TV rights? At a time when cycling interest is growing, this seems peculiar. Thank you Cycling News for your coverage.

Cathy Anderson
Perth, Australia
Wednesday, January 16, 2002

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Cycles and cars

I read with a sinking feeling the article on Jan 13 news of Luke Harrop's hit and run incident. Followed in the next day's news of his death. It is something we all don't like to talk about much, but is a presence there every day you go out the door. I began "serious" cycling in 1968 and in that time I have been hit by cars three times(this doesn't include dozens of "bumps", and "scrapes". Two of these times adroit bike handling allowed me avoid serious injury, the third I was found unconscious in the road after being hit and run out in the country 20 miles from town. Concussion, broken ankle, collarbone, ribs, punctured lung. I still have absolutely no recollection of the incident and no one has ever come forward. Every time we go out we put our lives in the hands of the dozen's, hundred's, or thousand's of motorists who pass by us every day. Many of these people are irresponsible and sometimes I wonder what it is about the bike that is so satisfying that I would put my life in someone else's hands every day. I don't have any answers, but I still go out every day. I feel so sad for Luke and his family, and all of us.

Steve Farris
USA
Tuesday, January 15, 2002

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Fat Brits

With the news last week that Britain and Scotland are in the top five of most obese countries in Europe, why can't the UK media not see that it would be a good step to give cycling much more coverage, as encouraging this sport and pastime would, in part, help to benefit the health of the nation, instead of what we get at the moment, hardly a mention.

Mark Palmer
UK
Tuesday, January 15, 2002

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Mystery Aussie riders lost in London

I know that in the great world of British Time Trialing, there are guys who are even older than me, so maybe one could help resolve a memory problem. In or around 1954, there was a six-day event held, I think, at Earls Court (maybe Harringay) and one of the favorite teams comprised of two Australians - can anybody remember their names. My good friend and cycling journalist, Owen Mulholland, has suggested Arnold and Patterson. While Patterson rings a slight bell, I'm not sure about Arnold. I seem to remember that the two names seemed to roll easily off the tongue together, like an old Music Hall act duo.

Eric B Caddy
Texas, USA
Tuesday, January 15, 2002

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Better than Lance #1

As the guy who started this whole, "Better than Lance" business, I thought it was time to pipe back in. The discussion has deviated from the original point of, "It's easy to beat Lance in newspapers, magazines and letters pages, but pretty hard to beat Lance in the Tour," to "Who's the greatest cyclist," "Can Simoni beat Lance," "Is Lance a swell guy," etc. (Read Scott's original letter)

That being said, Garth from Santa Fe's letter prompted me to respond. Garth, like many, gives us his Armstrong vs. Simoni analysis using familiar terms created by cycling journalists, such as "pure climber" and "time triallist." The fact is, a rider who is great at producing power on the bicycle, will be able to go uphill incredibly well as well. Now, if the rider happens to be a big guy, he might not be in his best element on a climb vs a small guy, but that is usually of secondary importance. "Pure climber," if it has a practical definition, is "a little dude who time trials badly." What makes the greats great is the ability to do it all. Who's the best climber in the world today? Day after day in the mountains, its Lance Armstrong. Before anyone goes berserk, I mean that being the best climber isn't about who holds the Alpe d'Huez record, or whatever. It is about being consistently strong on each and every climb. Even Pantani, on his best tours, was up one day, down the next. Who is the second best climber today? Jan Ullrich. Absolutely no doubt. For the same reasons as Lance above. Remember Miguel Indurain? He was a "time triallist" right? Well he was the best climber of his day as well. Day in and Day out, Miguel squashed his rivals in the mountains. Remember the climb to La Plagne in 1995? No teammates left, sitting at the front of a group of "pure climbers," he destroyed them all. Remember the 1994 mountain TT to Avoriaz? Miguel lost three minutes to Piotr Ugramov. True he did. Too bad Ugramov was over 10 minutes down from the first week in the mountains. The fact is, when the Tour winner (the best cyclist in the world) puts the hammer down on a climb, the rest usually falter.

Now on to Garth's other point about "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." This is just plain silly. If your goal for the year is to WIN the Tour and you do that, your season is for the most part complete. Jan Ullrich plodded his way through the Giro, that doesn't count. Lance WON the Tour of Switzerland. Do you know how many WINS Jan had last year? Six, vs eight for Armstrong (not much of a difference). Sure Jan won the Worlds TT (that and the German championships were his only wins of any consequence). Do you think he would have been there if he had won the Tour? Hell no. He was at the Worlds because he FAILED to win the Tour. Disagree? Recall Ullrich's season when he won the Tour in 1997. Pre Tour, he was competitive at the Tour of Switzerland. After winning the Tour, he won the HEW Cyclassics Cup (which wasn't a World Cup event, then, rather a lowly 1.5 race) he also nearly won the GP Swiss (World Cup) in late August. By September, however his year of being the best was primarily over. By coincidence, do you know what else happened in September of 1997? A certain Lance Armstrong announced his intention to find a new team and return to pro cycling...

Scott Goldstein
Saturday, January 12, 2002

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Better than Lance #2

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, etc. In response to the above as sent by Garth of New Mexico (05 Jan. '02) and echoed by many others of varying nationalities (including U.S. Europhiles), a few thoughts come to mind: (Read past letters on this subject)

1: Many U.S. observers would have no awareness of cycle racing at all if it were not for Lance Armstrong and his outstanding performances in recent years. Whether or not you are a 'Lance Fan,' you cannot deny that he has done a huge amount as an ambassador for the sport, especially in the U.S., increasing awareness for racing and cycling in general in a populace whose sporting field of vision is limited almost solely to baseball, football, hockey and basketball. In doing this, Armstrong and team mates have opened U.S. awareness to races beyond the Tour de France - Hincapie actually has made some headlines with the Spring Classics. Women's racing received network coverage with the HP Classic, and even here in the cycling backwaters of the American Midwest, the local racing events are packed in recent years, not just with more and better riders, but also with spectators, many of whom are not what would be termed hardcore cycling fans.

Yes, American viewers have a bit of a learning curve ahead for the sport of cycling, but I would congratulate Armstrong and company for setting a new fan base on the path of knowledge. Rather than continually slam the guy for not riding successfully in all the races on the schedule, give him some well-earned credit for combining talent and hard work to achieve spectacular results in an event most of us couldn't hope even to enter. Along the way, he and his teammates have opened the 'American perspective' to the wider possibilities of the sport. I think that most of the Lance-bashing has little, in fact, to do with Lance Armstrong the individual, and much more to do with Lance Armstrong, Yet Another American Interloper On Our Hallowed Turf. The problem seems to be that the European Sport Community resents having to make some room for the success of the Americans, and also for a bit of the American attitude, which is no more chauvinistic, in its own way, than that of some other national attitudes. Cycling, especially in recent years, has become a truly international sport, and not just European International Sport. Americans
are making headway in the peloton, Australians, and others from outside the 'inner circle' of 'accepted nations', and the environment of the sport of cycling will naturally shift to include the attitudes of the newcomers. No one could possibly argue that the French should not take national pride in their favorite sons' cycling accomplishments, and the Italians' swagger actually serves add to their contribution to the sport (who doesn't enjoy hearing what Mario Cipollini comes up with for a press quip, and even Pantani's exploits are enjoyable in a tabloid-juicy sort of fashion). Same for the Belgian racers, the Germans, etc., all of whom have a little national interest in seeing their compatriots do well. If they are allowed their swagger, well then, the 'young punks of the peloton' will be allowed their occasional flag waving and even brashness - after all, they've earned the right, with sweat and increasing success (both on the podium and as team players - viz Kevin Livingston's sterling service as a Telekom domestique, Bobby Julich and Jonathan Vaughters riding so well along with Aussie Stuart O'Grady for Credit Agricole in the Tour).

I wouldn't disallow or disparage anyone's comments in favor of a given team, nationality, etc. - It's all part of the competitiveness that makes this sport such great fun, both for riders and fans.

Jim Hubbman
St. Louis, USA
Saturday, January 12, 2002

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Better than Lance #3

Did you watch the San Fran Grand Prix? Just past halfway through the race Armstrong and mates went to the front and decimated the field in the process of putting Hincapie and (Ekimov?) in the break, apparently as per plan. When the time came to close the gap, Postal put the hammer down with Lance leading the effort. When they got George across there was nothing left of the starting field and the race was down to the five then four then three in the break. Only 40 or fewer (maybe 28, I don't recall now) finished from a starting pack of over 100. Lance's effort was evident and excellent, as was that of the rest of his team.

To suggest that his not finishing is support for your point about him being a one race pony is incorrect; he rode in support of Hincapie and did his job, part of his role as leader of Postal. Like many US cyclists who do not fully understand racing, perhaps you too are overlooking the truth in an effort to make a point you feel strongly about. (Read past letters on this subject)

Ted Ritter
Monday, January 14, 2002

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Better than Lance #4

Re: Garth's letter -- I suspect that if Jan had won the Tour, his schedule during the second half of year would have been dramatically different. He had something to prove, to himself and the world. (I write as a supporter of both Lance and Jan.)

Steven Marks
Rockville, USA

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Broken hips

I wonder if anyone can help me. I fell of my road bike and broke my hip and now have a dynamic hip screw fitted. Has anyone experience of one of these? How will it affect my racing and fitness? How long till I can walk without crutches and get back to normal? Any advice appreciated.

Mark
Sunday, January 13, 2002

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About the poll #1

I liked your wrap up of the readers poll.

You hit the nail on the head - Stage 13 had it all.

You forgot that JaJa also crashed on the descent. Maybe that didn't get shown on SBS. We were there that day, and watched it all, after riding the last 80km of the route. We managed the descent without falling off, unlike the other two stars !!

Show me another sport where you can participate on the race course on the race day, and experience the excitement and the people first hand. (View the poll)

Paul Rigby
Australia
Friday, January 11, 2002

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About the poll #2

Like the rest of your site, your reader poll was great fun and I appreciate the hard work that you all put into it. But I must comment! I am amazed at the results!

It appears that many U.S. readers preferentially voted for U.S. riders and teams. For example, in the 'Best Male Rider Category,' why else did Leipheimer finish ahead of the two riders that beat him in the Vuelta??!! And Tim Johnson and Gullickson ahead of Mario De Clercq, Richard Groenendaal and Daniel Pontoni in the cyclocross category??!! USPS the best team and Fassa Bortolo, the team with the mostest UCI points in 7th!!?? EEGAADS!

I am baffled and disappointed that readers voted this way. And I don't mean to take anything away from Levi or anyone else - he certainly is deserving of the 'Most Improved' title. I see three possible explanations for the voting:

1. Many U.S. readers treated the poll as a popularity contest (but I could have sworn that the question asked 'Who is the best rider?' not 'Who is your favorite rider?').

2. Many U.S. readers thought, 'Screw the Euros, I am voting for UhMERicuns!'

3. Many U.S. readers naively believe that Tim Johnson is a better cyclocross racer than Mario DeClerq.

It seems to me that the wonderful successes of US based riders (and riders from other Engling-speaking rider countries) should be enough to satisfy our Nationalism without imagining that two of the top four male cyclo-crossers in the world are from the US! I suppose that maybe your fans down under got in their two bits also when Credit Agricole sneaked into third on the 'Best Male Team,' result?? Well to that one I say good on ya (did I get that right?); its just us damn UhMERicuns I am worried about!

Keep up the great work - I read your stuff almost every day. (View the poll)

Mike Bunds
Utah, USA
Thursday, January 10, 2002

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Acqua&Sapone #1

So what's next, the entire Acqua Sapone team will be wearing pink feathered boas in the peloton this year. Lets hope they don't get caught in the spokes.

Maybe there is just too much testosterone in my blood or I just don't dig Italian fashion unless its displayed on runway models.
To quote Rupaul "Mario, I have one thing to say, 'You betta WORK'" (See pictures from the launch)

Conrad
NYC, USA

Friday, January 11, 2002

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Acqua&Sapone #2

That new team strip is a joke right?

Frank Manfre
Raleigh, America

Friday, January 11, 2002

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Acqua&Sapone #3

The cycling kit that Mr. Murphy is referring to was actually the 1995 Montgomery Bell team, the successor to the Subaru team and the precursor of the US Postal Team (Tyler Hamilton actually wore it). If you never saw the jersey, think of yellow and black strips on the sleeves with the front and back being a green and purple diamond checkboard. It was up there with Tonton Tapis and Amaya as the all-time ugliest team uniforms, although there might be a new winner with Cipo's snow-leopard-on-crack design. And, on a different Acqua & Sapone subject, what team presentation is complete without naked women with letters painted on them and refugees from "Eyes Wide Shut"?

Naked women and ugly uniforms. Should be an interesting year for that team.

M Whitler
Saturday, January 12, 2002

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Acqua&Sapone #4

Cheers to Noel's letter. What on God's green earth were they thinking! My repressed American mind needs help understanding that team presentation, as well. Topless women in some pagan ceremony? see pic) Is there any translation about what is going on? I feel dirty...

Eric
San Diego,USA

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

As we revealed in yesterday's tech news, it was a film parody. On the Bizarre Scale it definitely went up to 11, nevertheless…

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Fausto

Dear Cycling News,

Am I alone in preferring to envision Fausto Coppi sweating in a malarial miasma to retching on his knees from being envenomed? And who is this Italian priest, anyway, who heard a confession about this and still kept mum all these years? Obviously, the guy never straddled a Colnago and wouldn't know how to tell his Chiappuccis from his Cipollinis. On the other hand, he could indeed know all about and love cycling, with that being the reason behind the revelation. Priests, after all, feel obligated to the notion of the sanctity of confessions; they feel compelled to keep them close to their bosoms, no matter how heinous the act. Makes you think that the guys who really killed Kennedy have probably long since all confessed to some priest, so that they feel cleansed with impunity. That's one priest I'd really like see to spill the beans.

Anyway, lets exhume Fausto and see what's what. If nothing else, it's good drama.

Scott Phoenix
Friday, January 11, 2002

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Starting grid at US 'Cross Nationals #1

I've read the original letter by Kirk Albers on this, and now the responses.

I raced the Nat's when they were held on the Presidio in San Francisco a couple of years ago. The Masters 35+ championship race had 200 guys off the line. One lane wide, into a 110degree corner, onto another one lane straight and then into what was effectively single-track. I originally lined up near the front, and raised my voice while the officials simply let people in ahead of the start line then pushed everybody else back to accomodate them. The booing was completely ignored by the officials. By the time I was one minute past the start line the leaders were three-quarters of the way around the course. Hell, I couldn't even break a sweat til halfway through the first lap. Guys were getting lapped and pulled on the second lap. I managed to stay in the race, but got caught by Buckwheat on his final lap. I was expecting better, and given the cluster-@#$% of a start.

Given the size of the fields that have been turning out, something needs to change. Yeah, it's great that anybody can race for a national title, but should anybody be allowed to race for a national title? I know guys that went to the race that were consistently finishing dead last in local events in the Masters B categories. These were guys riding a race that was way, way over their heads. Their sole goal was to hang on for two laps before getting pulled. I'm afraid it might be time for some limitations. Perhaps base participation on rankings, either regional or national. Of course, that brings up another can of worms. Who's going to do it? USA Cycling sucks and can't be trusted. They show a bias against any region that has a sanctioning group other than themselves. (Any guesses as to why the California state championships were held in San Diego?) And the official National series is held primarily on the East Coast. Would they accept rankings from other racing organisations? Probably not.

Maybe we should make it up to the organisers. Force them to follow the UCI rules. Minimum six meters wide and 500 meters long, as straight as possible, and first bend less than 90 degrees. (uci.ch/english/about/rules/ch05_cyclox.pdf) I'd go for that.

At this point, frankly, the best thing that could happen to the US 'Cross Nationals, (and 'cross in general) would be to completely remove USA Cycling from the equation. All they've done is leech money from the racers without offering anything in return. Hmmmmmm, how are the members of the national team getting to Belgium this year? Oh yeah, that's right. They're paying for it themselves. USA Cycling takes the money, gets the right to name the team, and offers NOTHING for support. Pathetic and sad. (Read previous letters)

Scott Lynch
Oakland, USA

Friday, January 11, 2002

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Starting grid at US 'Cross Nationals #2

I once had a similar position as Mr. Albers regarding the start of a cyclocross race. However, I have had two experiences which I would like to share that I believe will help put things in perspective.

Experience #1
Up here in Bellingham, Washington, local promoter/high ranking Kona employee Mark Pederson puts on an annual race which he has dubbed "Belly Cross." Belly Cross is set in a park on a beautiful course that sits in a firm third behind this year's nationals and the 99' nationals course in San Francisco. However, every year I dread this race for one reason: the Le Mans start. For those of you not familiar to the Le Mans start, it starts out with everyone placing their bicycle on the ground a given distance from the actual start line (in Belly Cross' case, about a 150 meters or so). Then, the riders are taken back to the actual start line, which is one long single file line stretching 50 riders long (a la cross country), where the gun is fired and the riders must RUN to their bicycles, mount them, and enter the course. During the mad dash to the bicycles, a typical "cone" forms at the front with, believe it or not, tangle-ups which put racers on the ground. In this instance, having no organization of a set order on the start coupled with a wide start line and a proportionally smaller actual "start" (the bikes) makes for a dangerous start that puts great runners, some typically not great cyclocross racers, at the front. This causes much frustration in the top riders who are moving to the front and are forced to pass the inevitable two or three great foot sprinters. When the first top racers get the front, hasty passes are made by other top riders to get clear of the runners. Havoc usually emerges and a rider or two ends up on the ground.

Experience #2
Last winter, I spend seven weeks racing in Europe post-KC Nationals. Needless to say, a very humbling experience. Most humbling off all was that I lost the second the gun went off because I was not used to the long, flat paved starts that are so very common on European courses. (Note: at national races such as Super Cups and Nationals, the goal should be to prepare the riders by having "Euro" style courses) The two races that I did well in were the two races that I had good starts. Each had starts more similar to Seattle cross: shorter. I won those two events. I could manage no better than 19th in any of the other seven events, all of which had long starts with call-ups and a restricted number of riders per row (usually 8-10). Having done those events, I came back to the US and the following season became the King of the Start in Seattle. I was able to put 10 seconds into Jonny Sundt and Dale Knapp within the first 200 meters. Needless to say they'd soon catch and leave me.

The hard part is of course deciding who gets the call up spots. No matter what is taken in to account, there are people who aren't going to get called that think they deserve to. I think the Kiron Group did the best they could this year. At that level of race, there is only one thing to consider: results. Results from UCI races and the national championships. In categories that don't have UCI races, like mine (junior), you still look at results. Results from state championships, UCI races which had USAC junior categories and the national championships. If it's a series, you bring up the the top X amount of riders in the GC.

These two experiences have led me to be thankful for the organised starts of the Super Cup and the National Championships. And to echo Richard's statement, the Super Cup people can't be touched in this department. Or in the announcing department either. Nothing gets me more excited and motivated than the start of the National Championships: "From __________, riding for the ____________ team out of _______, I'm proud to bring to the line the ________ (metaphor) of bike racing, I wanna hear a bell check for__________." Add in the thumping music and I've got myself wishing I was on the start line of a cross race right now.

Aaron Menenberg
Friday, January 11, 2002

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Starting grid at US 'Cross Nationals #3

What's special about cycling? Check out the top marathons - the elite runners are always at the front, and sometimes even have a separate starting line so they don't get blocked by the 'look ma I'm on television!' idiots. The London has two separate starts and different starting times for elite men and elite women to ensure they get the chance to race properly. After all, it's their livelihood, not just a hobby. (Read previous letters)

Chris Whiley
UK
Friday, January 11, 2002

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Funding for US Cyclocross

Your January 10, 2002 news on USA Cycling's decision to not financially support US Cyclocross riders bound for the World Championships strikes close to home. A junior member of our local club, Maumee Valley Wheelmen at won the 17-18 Juniors National Championship in Cyclocross in mid December. Mike House was named to the US National Juniors Team to represent the US at the World Championships. But there is no funding. The MVW has come behind Mike, with volunteers from the club contributing to a fund, which was organised by our club treasurer to support some of his costs (travel, housing and food for four weeks in Europe, etc). To fund him fully, perhaps every club member would have to contribute $100 to the fund (and annual club dues are only $25!).

When USA Cycling makes decisions like this, my ears go deaf to their woes about the future of US cycling and the need for developing future cyclists. On the other hand, what the MVW are doing is precisely what USA Cycling might want. In politics they might call this "decentralisation," a code word for "we'll cut the funding and see if local agencies will pick up the costs."

Eric Snider
Toledo, USA
Friday, January 11, 2002

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Coastal Post

Terri -

Thank you for sharing your passion with all the readers of Cyclingnews. The trails at Tamarancho are not, however, illegal. They were constructed on private property, and are administered by the Boy Scouts, and by the Bicycle Trails Council of Marin. If I lived in Marin, and was able to actively participate in Marin County trail advocacy I would be happy to donate money to the BTC Marin. (Read Terri's letter)

As the name of the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay indicates, it is focused on East Bay advocacy. I do not know whether the BTCEB was involved in Tamarancho. Perhaps it was. If so, I applaud them for it. In large part, however, the BTCEB is focused on East Bay trail access.

For example, the BTCEB conducts thousands of hours of trail maintenance work in Joaquin Miller park. Maintenance work that, but for the efforts of BTCEB members, would not be performed. Despite the BTCEB's active interest in ensuring that trails stay in good condition, other groups insist on condemning the BTCEB and attempting to isolate and exclude bicycles from not only Joaquin Miller, but also from public lands around the Bay Area. The most often cited problem is resource damage.

This dispute reached a head recently when a number of groups urged the parks department of the City of Oakland to conduct a study on damage to the trails, streams, plants and trees in Joaquin Miller. The study is available for reading here.

In sum, the report finds that all recreational use of park trails cause about equal amounts of damage, whether it be by foot or by tyre. The fact that people use these trails, will inevitably cause damage. But, it was not recreational use that caused the most damage to trails. Not even close. Water is the number one culprit. Based on that, we should exclude water from our public lands, because it causes too much damage to the trails. But, of course, we cannot. So instead of focusing on the fact that the real cause of the problems - the existence of trails (caused first by the passage of feet and hooves, only very recently maintained by the passage of tires) combined with nature's super solvent, water - the groups that continue to push for the exclusion of mountain bikes from public lands focus on creating a perfect"paradise," free from the perceived scourge of mountain bikers. The BTC Marin, the BTCEB and IMBA all exist, in part, to counteract this delusion.

Instead of criticising me for my association with the BTCEB and its laudable efforts to maintain our pubic lands, take a look in your own backyard, and reassess why it is that you feel so strongly about excluding bikes, wrongly vilifying those who ride bikes, and incorrectly castigating private efforts to counteract your attempts to exclude those who ride bikes from the public lands that we all share. Please take the time to read my prior letter. Please read the study on the BTCEB's web page, (www.btceb.org), the reams of information on IMBA's Web page (www.imba.com), or the accounts of trail access in Marin county at BTC Marin's homepage (www.btcmarin.org) and, more importantly, please take the time to verify the accuracy of your assertions.

Thank you noting my contribution to the BTCEB. They do extraordinary work, and it is time that they received publicity for their efforts.

Very truly yours,

Justin Lucker
USA

Saturday, January 12, 2002

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Lance not a Legend?

Yes winning a Tour is a far more rare accomplishment than beating cancer, but Lance's cancer put up a bigger fight than Jan Ullrich or any other pro rider could ever hope to do.

A three week course of chemo took off more weight and sapped his energy more than the Tour. A single radiotherapy treatment left him sterile. In the Tour de France, even if you don't win you still get to live. There is no room for second place in a fight against cancer. (Read previous letters)

Steph
Canberra, Australia

Saturday, January 12, 2002

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Team Deutsche Telekom

Telekom signed only Bobby Julich of Credit Agricole, and Sergei Jakowlew of Cantino Tollo, but added three new riders from their Under 23 squad: Dirk Reichl, Stefan Schumacher, and David Koop. (View Cycling News Team Database)

Vert Hallahan
USA
Tuesday, January 15, 2002

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VDB-Christmas Cyclo-Cross #1

I agree with what has already been stated. VDB is going to come back to the world of cycling this spring swinging! The man is truly amazing when he is on form. Watching him in the '99 classics was jaw dropping. I for one am really looking forward to seeing him race again! Is Domo the right team? I don't think so, but we will see ...

Keith
USA

Friday, January 11, 2002

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VDB-Christmas Cyclo-Cross #2

Tony, my guess is that VDB was getting his head together. So, the real question is, how long can you hold your breath?

Thanks for a great site.

Scott Phoenix
Sunday, January 13, 2002

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Canadian Athlete of the year? #1

I'm another Canadian cycling fan who agrees with this letter. I was appalled at the choice for "Canadian Athlete of the Year," but let's keep in mind who made the choice. Canadian sportswriters, mostly middle aged men who themselves play golf - not to mention the fact that they barely even know who Roland Green is. In fact, the Canadian media, including the sports media, should be ashamed of themselves. Aside from Roland Green, there are other great Canadian mountain bikers and roadies who are totally unknown and ignored in their own country. Even Outdoor Life Network Canada, whose American counterpart actually airs NORBA and World cup races, has chosen to forego these events in favor of Lumberjack contests, strong man competitions and fishing shows - many of which are five years old. Fortunately, this year Canadian TV viewers will be able to catch Roland Green (we hope) and other Canadian cyclists in the Commonwealth games in late July! (Read previous letters)

Marlene Blanshay.
Montreal, Canada
Saturday, January 12, 2002

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Canadian Athlete of the year? #2

Of course Mike Weir was the wrong choice for Canada's athlete of the year. The statistics show how ridiculous this was. Mike Weir is ranked 12th in the world in golf. A good result for him, but it's a little embarrassing for a country to say the guy ranked 12th is the best athlete we have! Roland Green won the world championship and the world cup and NORBA. He's number one in the world. What would he actually have to accomplish to win the athlete of the year award?

Truthfully, there is no sense arguing whether he or Weir should be Canada's athlete of the year, the evidence is overwhelming. The discussion should centre on why this is so. It's simple. Those who vote for the athlete of the year are sports journalists. I work with some who do not even know who Roland Green is (and yes I work in Canada). They can tell you the stats on a third string football player in Shreveport, Louisiana, but a cyclist, triathlete or track athlete in their own backyard, forget it. Of course there are exceptions, but in general Canada's sports reporters and anchors don't know or care about anything beyond the big, corporate, commercial North American sports: baseball, football, basketball, hockey. The ridiculous athlete of the year selection is not a reflection or fault of Mike Weir or Roland Green, it's a startling display of the ignorance of those who vote.

Sedras.
Canada
Wednesday, January 16, 2002

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Canadian Athlete of the year? #3

We all have to face it! We are in a sport for which the sponsors in North America have yet to really embrace. Not that we don't appreciate all those that do currently, but lets look at it. A Sunday afternoon on ABC Wide World of Sports (don't get me started on the name!, it should be Wide USA World...). Two hours were devoted to a figure skating competition that had has-beens and former champions, in the "USA vs the World" event. TWO HOURS. They could get sponsors for this! But over the years, ABC has been unable to get sponsors enough to warrant showing the Tour de France. In 1980 Eric Heiden won an unprecedented five gold medals, a feat never done, nor repeated. Amazing! But who won athlete of the year? The US Hockey team. Gee makes you wonder doesn't it. Why is it that a team
that has millions of dollars of backing wins over an athlete which had very little? Oh yeah...lets sell the magazine. Sports Illustrated was able to sell pages of adds for hockey sticks, skates, and other such equipment. So it stands to reason. Did any other individual dominate in a sport for Canada this past year? Maybe there are others that feel just as slighted. So the reality is that money likely swayed the ruling. How many registered golfers? Cyclists? When was the last time a cyclist paid $40.00 to ride on trails (average golf course fee). When did fans pay $30.00 to watch. Then we may see more recognition. Until then, we can enjoy the reality that we are one of the last true sports that have the ability to see world class athletes for free! And the cost is, little or no recognition by organisations!!

Well that is enough rambling... it will just make me frustrated. Keep riding, support you local shop, and be safe.

Michel van Musschenbroek
Canada
Thursday, January 17, 2002

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The last month's letters

  • 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
  • November 29 - VDB, Lance in the classics, Bart, Bad Aussie news, Better than Lance Armstrong, Derny Races, Running Red Lights, National Championships
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com