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Letters to Cyclingnews – March 28, 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

CIPOLLINI!!!!!!!!
ATTABOY CIIIIIPPPPOOOOO!
Milano-San Remo Live
50km Madison Championship
Motorcycle/cameraman
Cyclists as second class citizens
Tour de France
Marcel Wust
96 Atlanta Road Team
Raybestos Brakes Advertisement
Lieswyn diary on Valley of the Sun
Baby Boomer

CIPOLLINI!!!!!!!!

At last, at last, at last! I am so happy for Mario Cipollini, for over a decade he has wanted this race more than any other and now he has it in a thrilling final. Perhaps now I can quit defending him to all those who seem to think he is somehow not serious or "tough" enough. At 35 years of age he remains one of the world's fastest finishers and a sprinter without equal when it comes to "reading" a finish. No rider has wanted it more, no rider has paid as many dues as Cipo, and no rider deserves it more. Bravo Cipollini, Bravo!!!! (Visit the race gallery)

Steve Farris
Silver City, USA
Sunday, March 24, 2002

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ATTABOY CIIIIIPPPPOOOOO!

How many years have we heard Cipo give compliments to the victors (mostly sprint God Zabel) at San Remo, call it a beautiful race and dream of next year. I can only hope that the S company in red (who get more press for being Mario's former team than they do from Mr. "I can better Lance in the mountains") feel some of the same pain that the "nice guys" as Cofidis feel for crapping on Lance while he was on what they thought was his death bed... (number 1 on the list of dumb moves by a team?)

Say what you want and debate it all day, but this just feels good. Regardless of how many more years he is or is not around, hand it to the man! There have certainly been better all around riders (guys that could sprint after hills, mountains, what ever, but you could count on one hand the men in Mario's class as pure speed producer. And you wouldn't need one hand to find someone who had brought there sponsor more publicity than Mario had brought those red guys. So brew your Java in anything but an S machine, and go buy yourself some Water! (See pictures from the race)

Charles
USA
Monday, March 25, 2002

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Milano-San Remo Live #1

I'm sitting here following Milano-San Remo on your live coverage, they are approaching the Poggio, and I am fired up! Thank you for providing the only live coverage available to me here in backwoods USA. (Read full report)

Steve Farris
USA
Sunday, March 24, 2002

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Milano-San Remo Live #2

I suspect that I am not alone in being disappointed at Mario Cipollini's success in this year's Milan - San Remo, but it must be seen as another nail in the coffin of the race, however much it may have the Italian fans in ecstasy. As a competitive event it is fast losing credibility and whilst I don't to wish to denigrate Erik Zabel, his victories in the preceding years have done much to take the shine of the once great race.

The question I should like to ask is whether Milan - San Remo is any longer deserving of its status as a monument of the sport. It seems to me that the race profile is simply too easy for modern day professional cyclists, allowing teams to control the race and not selective enough for riders to put together winning moves that can inspire the spectator. Prior to Zabel winning there had not been a bunch sprint since 1981. For a long time the Poggio was a sufficient obstacle for the strongest riders to break away and win, but not anymore. I recall an article in a magazine about ten years ago outlining where the winning moves on the Poggio were made and so forth, but now it seems that sprinters teams can keep the race together and all but guarantee a sprint finish.

I personally do not find large bunch sprint finishes to major races exciting or satisfying. I have no objection to people like Cipollini racking up umpteen flat stages of the tour or giro, but a classic should not end with a bunch gallop, it should be won by the strongest or bravest rider. Once upon a time the sheer length of Milan - San Remo was enough to create a true selection and give us a worthy winner, but for reasons we might speculate on elsewhere, it seems no longer to be the case; why is it that teams can hold it together now, when they couldn't before, is the difference between the riders now so small?

Had Zabel won again I suspect the organisers of the race would have looked at ways of making the route more selective, but a popular victory by an Italian hero will probably convince them to maintain the status quo.

The World Cup already has one race for the sprinters (usually) in Paris - Tours it does not need a venerable race like San Remo reduced to the same boring procession. I freely admit that I have a strong prejudices against sprinters such as Cipollini, men who rely on a team to give them an armchair ride and the then win the sprint. I would far rather see daring attacks and displays of genuine front riding rewarded than the conservative tactics that lead to bunch sprints.

The organisers of Milan - San Remo must act to give their race its greatness back. I would like to see it as it once was, graced by winners such as Kelly, Fignon, Jalabert, and Fondriest in more recent times and Saronni, Merckx, et al, all the way back to Coppi and Bartali. Sorry but Cipollini does not deserve comparison in terms of his manner of victory. Nor does he merit comparison with Zabel. Zabel is more than just a sprinter and his success in Amstel Gold and ability to be a major player in Paris Roubaix attest to this.

I recommend that the route for next year's Milan-San Remo be adjusted in the following ways. The finish should be brought closer to the foot of the Poggio to give riders who attack less flat riding against the bunch once they have finished the descent. Before the Poggio there need to be more severe climbs than the cappi currently used. These could be found by having the race turn inland creating a more sinuous and difficult approach to the poggio; the surrounding terrain is certainly conducive to this.

Roll on the real classics: Flanders, Roubaix, Liege, where we will see genuine winners, not bunch sprinting prima-donnas, taking victory. (Read full report)

David Watson
UK
Sunday, March 24, 2002

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50km Madison Championship

Nice to see Leith Brown (Read original letter) offer some constructive criticism on the promotion of the Australian Madison Championship! Firstly, before someone makes bold statements they should always check the facts. Cyclists International have in fact made a concerted effort to market our events, but without a massive advertising budget it is simply not possible. The Billboard Leith referred to was placed out the front of Vodafone Arena as it offered great exposure to passing traffic in and around the venue (Concerts, Australian Open tennis etc).

Leith also made reference to posters not being distributed to cycle shops. We had 1000 posters printed which were distributed to cycle shops across the state along with postcards advertising our event. Unfortunately we have no control over cycle shops that refuse to put the information up, but I know many of my local cycle shops have been most supportive of our events. We have also promoted via our web page, we had a heavy advertising campaign on cyclingnews.com (surely people have seen the banner ads on most pages located throughout the site - the team at cyclingnews have given us great support) and advertised in the Herald Sun in the week leading up to this event as well as other regional publications. We even handed out postcards on our events at the Around the Bay in a Day.

Did I also mention the great relationships we have with certain sections of the media (Michael Stevens, Melissa Ryan, Karen Forman, Roger Vaughan) who have continued to give us great publicity when required? As far as I can see, considering our budget the promotion has not been too bad at all.

Unfortunately what seems to happen is many people have visions of grandeur about how Cyclists International should advertise its events at Vodafone Arena. Has anyone making these disparaging comments actually researched how much it costs to advertise? We are a non profit body, and any money we raise from our promotion is poured straight back into our event promotion budget. No one on the committee is paid, as we want to pour every last dollar back into marketing our events. As a group, we promote races because we have a vision, that cycling could be a huge sport given the right support. Leith obviously thinks he could do better. On behalf of Cyclists International I would like to invite Leith to one of our meetings to discuss how he could help us with our marketing efforts. What we would like to see is people put their hand up to help us achieve our vision rather than cast stones.

Cyclists International have run track races in Melbourne for over 25 years, and we are probably one of the only reasons track racing still exists in Melbourne today. We have continued to nurture track cycling, giving up coming riders the chance to compete against some of the best riders in the world, as well as providing much needed funding to State Federations, Junior Development clinics and cycling clubs to help develop track cycling. In light of all of this, how can one complain about how little Cyclists International is doing?

I just hope that one day our vision of having track cycling as one of the premier sports in our country is achieved. Anyone wishing to help us achieve that dream will be welcomed with open arms.

Adam Murchie
Assistant Promoter
Cyclists International Inc
www.cyclistsinternational.com.au

Motorcycle/cameraman #1

I worked for a motor services company here in the states called Alem International. They were contracted by BMW at Atlanta '96, Coca-Cola for the last two Olympic Torch Relays and all the recent Hawaii Ironman World Championships.

Their TV work for ABC and CBS has been primarily handled by one motor driver and his cameraman, but I can't remember their names. I have their phone number somewhere. Email me to see if I've got it at work paul@thespoke.com.

Paul Rinehart
Williamstown USA
Saturday, March 23, 2002

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Motorcycle/cameraman #2

I just saw your request on Cycling news. My name is Bill Bolton and I am the official videographer for the RTTC. I film their events from the back of a motorbike. I usually supply my own motorbike and pilot. I am an ex bike rider myself so I understand cycling and can "read" a race. I am self employed and have well over 10 years experience both in filming and production.

Please contact me if you require any further information or if I can be of help to you.

Bill Bolton
bill@bmvideo.screaming.net
01535 66226
Saturday, March 23, 2002

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Motorcycle/cameraman #3

Steve, I may be able to help. Best contact direct at: dockeca@eidosnet.co.uk

I did do a lot of work, Kellogg's, City Centre Cycling, major races, running events, exhibitions, etc. But if you are looking for work, I have to mention that there is not much at the moment, and it is a bit of a closed shop.
Contact to discuss?

Colin Docker
UK
Sunday, March 24, 2002

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Cyclists as second class citizens

In response to many of the recent letters about cyclists on the road, I would like to highlight a few important points. While I agree that cyclists are viewed warily, at best, by most drivers there is (at least in Britain,) some excuse for this. In Britain there are no (even basic) examinations to assess the competence of any person wishing to cycle on a road. Although many cyclists do complete cycling proficiency tests these are basic and non-compulsory. As a result, a driver approaching a cyclist is often dubious about the ability of that person to maintain even basic control of a bike. Professional cyclists are unfortunately therefore, often associated with the less controlled and less polite members of the cycling public. As a driver, cyclist and pedestrian I admire professional cyclists and abhor the treatment of some, described in previous letters, perhaps if cyclists were assessed before they were allowed to cycle on our roads then the opinion of motorists to cyclists in general, would improve?

Julia Johnstone
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Friday, March 22, 2002

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Tour De France

Hi,

I have the following question:

On the 21th of July, the riders will be faced with the Mont-Ventoux. Will they go all the way to the top? (Read full Tour preview)

Filip Smets
Saturday, March 23, 2002

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Marcel Wust

Dear CyclingNews,

Ever considered a "Where are they now?" story? It is very interesting to me to find out what the retired pros are up to. How have they adapted to civilian life? Some such riders as Abdujaparov, Indurain, Chiapucci, and Phil Anderson interest me...just to name a few. Perhaps categorising riders by their similar palmares or nationality would create further interest.

Also, what is the latest story on Marcel Wust. Last I remember hearing, he was recovering from eye surgery, following a terrible crash. How has his recovery been going? Will he return to the pro peloton?

Thanks,

Russ Clark
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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96 Atlanta Road Team

Have I just accidentally slipped through a wormhole in time, or have Scott Goldstein and Jay Gehrig really still got bees in their bonnets about the US selection policy for a race that took place nearly six years ago? Now I don't know too much about Frank McCormack, as I certainly don't think he did much on the European scene, but then that shouldn't preclude anyone's selection. After all, I seem to remember Ian Cammish being selected for the 1984 Olympic Road Race when the guy never entered a mass start event in my memory - but then, as in the USA, cycling is a sport on the margins due to the abhorrent lack of TV coverage, hence our low budget approach at the time.

My two point are: firstly, and it has been commented on before, this letters page does consistently publish page after page of petty and uninformed comments (and I'm not saying here that either Jay or Scott are uninformed, because they undoubtedly know their stuff) regarding US-centric events - which is the steepest hill, Lance Armstrong is the best cyclist in the world ever, Greg LeMond is the second best, Eddy Merckx was just some Belgian, and where is that anyway...... (Read original letter)

Secondly, the event took place six years ago and the history books will show that the race was won by a Swiss bloke, with a Brit grabbing a medal along the way, albeit along a circuitous route via disagreement with the Italian selectors. What is the point in dredging up such a pointless argument? I could, if I pleased, kick off my own by saying that if the French management of the Peugeot squad in the 1983 Tour de France had thrown their weight behind Phil Anderson rather than ordering the foolhardy support of (the unfortunate) Pascal Simon, we may now be talking about the first English speaking winner being an Australian. Similarly, had Peugeot not continued with this support of the Frenchman in future years then maybe even Robert Millar (had he wanted to) could have taken the prize.

But it doesn't matter, it's all water under the bridge now. Anybody got any opinions on Maurice Garin being selected in front of Methusaleh in the first Tour de France?

Andy Carter
Washington DC, USA
Saturday, March 23, 2002

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Raybestos Brakes Advertisement #1

I assumed the driver was a club member who was late for a ride, and frustrated that he would not be able to catch on with the group. Haven't we all had that feeling.

At least these cyclists are not stunned, like the group of cyclists - apparently out for their first day on clipless pedals - in classic '80s style kit who fall over in awe as the car goes by in the Lexus ad.

Martin McEwen
Montreal, Canada
Saturday, March 23, 2002

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Raybestos Brakes Advertisement #2

That commercial also got my attention. You can view it here: http://www.raybestos.com/commercials.htm

The message the commercial sent me was that Raybestos brakes save you from yourself and the circumstances of your harried suburban existence.

The driver is clearly not paying attention to the task at hand--driving safely. The commercial's imagery paints an image of the distracted, at-fault driver. He puts a CD in his stereo, he drinks coffee, his cell phone holds down a note. The moment the driver enters the intersection, he is not looking for others. Instead, his focus is entirely on the note he is now holding up in front of his steering wheel and reading. While one can certainly pass judgement that this guy is the picture of the incognisant, it's-all-about-me American Babbitt barging through the land in his armored vehicle, the message Raybestos is sending is that your are super busy and distracted, and that Raybestos helps you survive your besieged existence. Yes, the driver gives a peeved look as the cyclists go by, but it's still seems to me that he's the hazard, not the cyclists (or the vegetable delivery man who drops his produce all over the street.)

As for the cyclists, they are the Thoeauvian idols in this commercial. While jeep man lets his stress tow him directly into a near slaughter, the cyclists portray an idyllic, healthy, and close-to-nature existence that jeep man can probably only live through vicarious automobile commercials.

Check out the skateboarders commercial, too. The equally nettled and distracted football-mom speeds directly into a crossing and nearly pancakes kids that may well be her own. Again, the message I got is that Raybestos brakes are a reliable savior protecting you from the fact that, due to the agitation of suburban living, people simply do not drive as safely as they should.

Mark Johnson
San Diego, USA
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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Raybestos Brakes Advertisement #3

In response to Martin Smith's letter about the Raybestos Brakes TV ad -

I have not only seen the ad, but was one of the six cyclists involved in the commercial. The other five cyclists were my friends and team mates from Team Earth Fare. We were hired to appear in the spot, which is one of three that Raybestos produced for that campaign. One of the other spots involves a couple of skateboarders in the same situation. (Read original letter)

Knowing the original concept behind the ads, I can say that the driver is actually in the wrong. However, the way the ad appears does make it seem like the group of cyclists turns in front of the car. The intent of the director was to have the driver express relief that his trusty Raybestos brakes stopped him in time, but I guess that could be seen as frustration with the cyclists by some. I don't think it was Raybestos', or their ad agencies,' intent to make it look like the group of cyclists cuts in front of the car, but hey, their job is sell brakes, not portray cyclists in a positive light. This isn't in defense of Raybestos, simply my explanation.

Ward Bates
Team Earth Fare
South Carolina, USA
Saturday, March 23, 2002

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Raybestos Brakes Advertisement #4

In response to Martin Smith's comments on the Raybestos Brake Ad (Read last week's letter)

The cyclists in that ad were all from Team Earth Fare and it was a very tedious hurry-up-and-wait experience!

It may not be apparent in the finished and highly edited TV version of the ad, but in shooting, it was clear that the driver was being distracted by looking at a map and talking on his cell phone. A landscaping truck was unloading at the junction and the driver had swerved around the truck as it approached the junction, thus taking up a portion of the oncoming lane. As we lawfully rounded the corner, the truck was in the wrong lane and had to skid to a stop. Add in the lighting, camera truck and admiring fans, and we were left with about 12 inches of pavement to make that turn in a group at speed. Glitz may have won over legal clarity in the edited product, but the intention was good, the driver was indeed in the wrong.

Henry Corley
USA
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

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Lieswyn diary on valley of the Sun #1

Steve Farris says:

"To have to risk his life, health, and his career because of the flawed way an event is permitted and organised is bad enough, then he has to listen to you tell him to be quiet and not express an opinion because he should be grateful to be riding a bike! How can we expect the governing bodies of cycling to prevent such dangerous situations, and events if the riders don't speak out?" (Read full letter)

I didn't see anyone holding a gun on John as he raced, threatening to shoot if he tried to pull out, so that he had to risk his life, as you seem to imply.

The point I want to make is simply this: John has a unique opportunity, through his Web diary, to offer insight into bicycle racing. I find it regrettable that he would use that opportunity to make negative comments about an event. If John has a problem with race organisers, and if he wants to "prevent dangerous situations," then he should speak with the organisers face to face, rather than blasting them on an international Web site. I guess it's easier to vent on the organisers over the Internet than it is to sit down with them and propose concrete solutions.

Rob Ransom
USA
Sunday, March 24, 2002

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Lieswyn diary on valley of the Sun #2

I hate to be one to beat a dead horse, but here goes anyway...

I believe John, and most of the other pros at the race that weekend (Valley of the Sun) had, and or have a right to complain. The officiating was terrible, the roads dangerous, and the prize money, well, non existent. I believe for the Pro/1 men, the GC winner took home $250 for the weekend. That is insane!! Try to make a living on that, and when you take into account you are splitting money with your 4-6 teammates, that leaves you with $40 each?? Come on! The fields were completely full and overfull for some categories and at a minimum of $60 entry fee for each person, that was a whole lot of money kicking around, that nobody saw ever again. I believe that a lot of the domestic pro teams were at this race because they were in the Southwest for early season camps and training and it was convenient for them.

The road race was crazy. Too many people (once again overloaded fields), and not enough motorcycle enforcement. I was at a race this weekend where each category racing had two motorcycle escort volunteers, and one pace car at the front of either the break or the group if everyone was together. The motorcycles would leapfrog back and forth shutting out any crossroads and traffic as we rolled along. It wasn't a rolling closure, but it was as close as you are going to get. The motorcycle support would also offer split times from the break back to the main group, and would also tell the people in the break how far back the peloton was. It was orchestrated great (Georgia Spring Omnium/Brooks Road Race). They should look at doing something similar to that in Arizona, if they have the Valley Of the Sun again.

In defense of the promoters. I believe that the races were well run, and that they did a great organisational job on the event. To have that many people show up for an event, and to run it as efficiently as they did, is a great effort, and as helping some folks in the past promoting and organising events, I know it takes a lot of time and effort that it is thankless.

I know a lot has been written about this race, so I'm going to stop now. Remember these people are giving their honest opinions about what went on at the Valley Of the Sun this year, and maybe instead of "taking their ball and going home", the promoters should take the criticisms (the harsh and the good), use it to their benefit to possibly organise a better and more successful race next season. Increase the prize money, clue in the officials to the rules, increase motorcycle support on the road race, and come back with a better edition next season. (Read John's diary)

T.Arsenault
USA
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

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Baby Boomer

The simple answer is that common sense does not cut it anymore, nor does morality, nor a sense of fairness. Our beloved sport has been degraded by the number of cyclists who have elected to artificially boost their performances. All the excuses, blame, finger pointing and apologies count for nothing in the end.

The guilty riders have acted with criminal intent, that of defrauding us,the cycling fans. Of course they all say that they are 'sorry,''sorry' that they ever got caught.

I grieve for what should be the greatest, fairest physical endeavor of all CYCLING. Long live the riders, the ones that are that is clean. (Read news story)

John M. Jones
Australia
Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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