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.
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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)
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).
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)
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.
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?
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
Friday, January 11, 2002
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!
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
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.
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)
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.)
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.
I liked your wrap up of the readers poll.
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)
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)
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.
Friday, January 11, 2002
That new team strip is a joke right?
Friday, January 11, 2002
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"?
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...
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
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.
I've read the original letter by Kirk Albers on this, and now the
Friday, January 11, 2002
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.
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)
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!).
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,
Saturday, January 12, 2002
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)
Saturday, January 12, 2002
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)
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 ...
Friday, January 11, 2002
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.
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)
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.
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
Well that is enough rambling... it will just make me frustrated. Keep riding, support you local shop, and be safe.
Michel van Musschenbroek
The last month's letters