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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 06 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

Eurosport
Live Coverage
RAI for free
Amstel Gold
Bike tech a waste of time?
Radios
Hincapie

Eurosport #1

You all moan about the various commentators, but nobody has yet to describe the awful waffling of Stephen Roche. The Irish accent may be nice, but not with a lump of Coeur de Lion cheese stuck in your mouth.

It's Duffers and Sherwen for me! (read original letter)

Dave O'Nyons
Solihull, UK
Sunday, April 28, 2002

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Eurosport #2

David Duffield has forgotten that a picture is a thousand words. I suggest that his age is a major factor in his inability to commentate on a race. I am at odds with Sean Lally, as I do suggest that he or I would do a better job. Unfortunately Lally blots his copybook by suggesting that Sean Kelly does a good job. Eurosport UK is obviously limited by money and who they can get to commentate as Russell Williams is certainly not the Entertainer his namesake Robbie is. However getting live coverage is far better than having to rely on the Internet like we do in New Zealand. I suggest that you turn the volume down and enjoy! To the Americans who complain the only answer is: remember Adrian Karsten!

Kirky
New Zealand
Sunday, April 28, 2002

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Eurosport #3

Well "duffieldballs" or not, it's a sight better than no cycling coverage at all. That's what many cycling fans in Ireland have been left with after NTL Ireland pulled Eurosport from their cable service. Visit www.BringBackEurosport.com to support our campaign - and I'll take David back any day!

Barry Redmond
Dublin, Ireland
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

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Eurosport #4

I for one, think that we have in David Duffield, the Murray Walker (For those who don't know he is/was the extrovert commentator for ITV Formula 1), of Cycling.

He is brilliant, there are a few of my friends, who until recently had no interest in Cycling, but have now become converted. He cannot be equaled for enthusiasm and knowledge. And his sense of humour is great... see his comments about Lance Armstrong at the Amstel Gold. Don't knock it.

Definitely preferable to the football pundit plonkers, who get paid too much for stating the obvious. "Yes Gary it's a game of two halves"...etc..etc

Alistair Bell
Perthshire, Scotland.
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

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Eurosport #5

As far as I am concerned, cycling deserves better than Duffield. His 'commentaries' actually reduce my enjoyment and I invariably turn down the volume on Eurosport cycling coverage. Why don't I like him?

- He trivialises a tough, unforgiving sport with his phraseology. Riders don't attack, they 'have a burst on the banjo,' they indulge in 'the old one-two,' the 'elastic snaps,' oh, and don't forget 'the mountain goats.'

- He appears to know little about tactics. He has never ridden at high level and, as far as I am aware, never been a road racer. His main claim to fame seems to be as a tri-cyclist! His 'reading' of a race is about at the level of the man in the pub. Hardly insightful or analytical. His 'These are the tactics,' seems to be the limit of his explanatory powers apply to race finale, breaks, blocking etc as applicable.

- If I want recipes I'll watch a cooking programme. I'm not interested in Mr Duffield's 'Great Meals I Have Enjoyed' diatribes during a cycle race. And I never want to hear about 'frites and mayonnaise' again. Same comments about the mini 'travelogues' we are treated to, and, strange to say, every place seems to be 'a beautiful part of the world.'

- He seems unable to complete a line of thought. I've lost count of the number of times when he's started a particular line of description and then, inexplicably, wandered off down another route never to return to the original topic.

- Just as athletes measure beats per minute in relation to heart rates, Duffield has his own metric, Words per Minute. Never mind the content just note the number. 'Verbal diarrhoea' and 'Motormouth' were invented with him in mind.

I could go on but I'll end up with RSI. Suffice to say, just because he's enthusiastic doesn't make him interesting, insightful or someone whose views are particularly special. I hate to think what casual viewers of cycling think when they hear him rabbiting on.

Paul Richards
Cheltenham, UK
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

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Eurosport #6

I thought that it was interesting that some people thought that David Duffield has a boringly monotone style of commentary, especially when compared to Phil Liggett.

I actually think that the latter has a really monotonous voice. I have a lot of (bought) video tapes of cycling races (in which Mr L. seems to have acquired a voice-over/commentary monopoly) and honestly, his voice is so tedious to listen to, with no inflection or change of tone at all. That's my opinion of course.

I think that Mr Duffield does a good job. Okay, he does make the occasional cock-up and he has his hobby horses, but that doesn't bother me. Similarly, his going off at a tangent onto subjects such as food and wine are okay too. Two or three hours is a lot of time to fill you know!

Without wanting to lump any critics posting here into the following category(!) I do sometimes think that some professional cycling fans are a bit retentive at times. Some of the rants that I've read generally about Mr Duffield do make me wonder whether some people ought to get out more. Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that a small minority appear to be carrying on what almost amounts to a vendetta against him. Give the guy a break that's what I say!

I'd sum up by saying that I think we should be glad that there's cycling coverage on Eurosport period, as there isn't much chance of finding any coverage anywhere else in the UK. (Speaking of which, Tour of Romandie starts today on Eurosport!).

Dave McDougall
UK
Wednesday, May 01, 2002

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Live coverage

Awesome just fantastic - what a good start to Sunday mornings. Keep up the excellent work and fantastic Web site.

Michael
Monday, April 29, 2002

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Live coverage

To all the crew at Cycling News.

Once again, great coverage of the Amstel. I follow the "live" reports on at least four separate sites to get different view points to try and form a mental picture of the action and as always your reports are not only among the fastest, but far and away the most descriptive. Thanks for giving us here in the US the closest thing we can get to actually watching the race.

It was an exciting finale, with me torn between Armstrong who is one of my favorites, and Bartoli who I have been hoping would come back to his old self after his terrible crash in the Tour of Germany. A worthy winner. (Read live reports)

Steve Farris
USA
Monday, April 29, 2002

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RAI for free

Dear cycling fans around the globe, anyone not satisfied with Eurosport coverage and commentators should think about installing a satellite dish to receive RAI Sportsat. This programme is digitally available via Eutelsat and others and it broadcasts every Italian race from 1.5 plus all major classics and the Giro. Most races are shown in the evening, some classics like Flèche Wallonne or Amstel Gold even live, some encrypted on RAI 3 and then free in the evening on RAI Sportsat. Among the commentators are former professionals like Davide Cassani or Gigi Sgarbozza.

Kind regards from Germany

Martin
Okriftel, Germany
Monday, April 29, 2002

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Amstel Gold - Ivanov holding back?

I find the following photo of the Amstel Gold finish very interesting:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/2002/apr02/amstel/?id=FSbartoliwin

It looks to me as thought Sergei Ivanov has his fingers on the brake levers. He is also clearly looking at Michael Boogerd (who pounds the bars in frustration). Is it possible Ivanov had agreed (or was told) to let Bartoli win the sprint, and had to tap the brakes to keep from passing him? Obviously, he wants to make sure he is still in front of Boogerd for second. Or am I reading too much into the photo? It's also notable that Lance is already downshifting, knowing he has lost the sprint for third.

Duncan Granger
Lancaster, UK
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

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Bike tech a waste of time?

Consider this: Leige-Baston-Liege winner's average speed in 2001 was 38.5 kmh, in 1974 it was 38.5 kmh! But get this, in 1943 it was 37.7. Makes you wonder if titanium frames, 10 speed clusters etc are making any difference at all. Another comparison: Amstel Gold winner's time in 2001 was 38 kmh. In 1967 it was 43.7.

I know courses vary over the years, as do wind and weather conditions But looking at average speeds over, say, the last 40 years, you'd be hard pressed to see an upward trend of any sort. Factoring in the road surface, which would presumably be better now than in the 50's and 60's, and things look bad indeed for the expensive new bike technologies and training methods. (Read Cycling News Tech Pages)

Stuart Davis
Australia
Saturday, April 27, 2002

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Radios #1

The article on race radios raised the question of what effect, if any, does the race radio have on the quality of racing. One interesting area for consideration of this question would be in the context of NASCAR where the teams use spotters and sophisticated radios to communicate information to the drivers. I would be curious whether anyone has examined that question within the context of the NASCAR circuit. I certainly recognise the difference between cycling and motor car racing, but the question of a driver's experience and ability to react to situations parallels the question posed regarding cyclists. (Read Radio feature)

Tim Smith
USA
Wednesday, May 01, 2002

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Editorial reply:

Radios play a major part in Formula One and European motor racing as it allows teams to change tactics. This especially important, as non-American motor sports race in all weather conditions. There are many stories of races won by supreme tactics as a result of communications. The current domination by Michael Schumacher is partly due to the tactics he and Rory Bryne concoct, aided by radio communications.
Mark Chillingworth

Radios #2

Dear CN

On the subject of radios, I like to use them when I run training camps to help the car and staff keep track of the riders. But during racing I think they are a curse. I agree with Mr. Landry that riders need to be able to use their heads during a race. As a coach I tell my riders to always have a plan going in and I try to teach them to think their way to the finish and be confident with the decisions they make out on the road. I had a woman rider a few seasons back that could tell me with exacting detail how she would plan the finish of a race starting 40kk out with only one objective in mind. If a rider cannot think for them self they cannot race to their potential.

There are plenty of instances of very experienced a skilled riders using communication with their DS to increase their chances and even win a race but the rider still had to be able to pull it off. As a manager I like not having to carry all the load. The riders need to be able to have a say in how to ride and finish a race. I think it robs a rider of the challenge and resulting learning experience when they do not have to use their head and think their way to the finish. The finale can be a very difficult time, but the good riders will find a way to adapt and give their best effort. My racing experience started back in 1976 so I tend to be pretty old. Radios do make for some tactically interesting situations, but I still like to see a rider use their legs and their brains to win races. The genie is out of the bottle. I will use the radios, but I will still depend on my riders to make the decisions that count.

* Concerning the US team at Atlanta. I ask several of my athletes what they would have done if they were in such a big race and lost their radios. In every case they said they would have two riders to the front immediately to keep an eye on things. One to cover any strong moves and the other to go back and get the troops. With that said, the rest of the field did let that one roll up the road and out of sight. Ullrich is good, but not that good.

* Concerning LA on the Alpe last year. I watched the whole thing live and was never fooled by the poker play. I still can't believe that Phil and Paul fell for it. They are both too smart. To me it made no sense. There was know reason that I could see for LA to be in any difficulty. It was a fine display of individual rider talent and one of the best acting jobs I have ever seen. I have used that stage as a teaching example on several occasions. It was brilliant.

And finally, how but the 2001 Vuelta stage 17, Murcia-Albacete, when USPS and Kelme, knowing that Telekom was having trouble dropped the hammer in the cross winds and shattered the field taking minutes out of many of the upper GC riders? It was one of the most dramatic moments in recent memory. Seeing the band stretch tighter and tighter then snapping so hard riders with ducking for cover in any group they could find. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Radios made that move possible.

Love'um or hate'um, unless the UCI finds something wrong with them radios are hear to stay. I for one will find a way to make the most of it.

Steve Madden, Coach
Grass Valley, USA
Wednesday, May 01, 2002

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Radios #3

I think race radios are a bad idea. The plans for the day's racing should come from team meetings the night before and then modified by the riders on the road based on circumstances. If they need their director's help he should drive up if allowed or someone should drop back and get the info. Old school? Probably, but I think race radios put too much of the thought in the director's car and take it away from the riders where it should be.

Paul Snider
Wednesday, May 01, 2002

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Radios #4

The old school folks need to quit whining and let cycling do what every other sport does--allow the coach to coach. Bottom line: the rider still pedals. Aerts could have gotten all the right words from his DS, but he still had the gas to get up the Mur and win. That will never change. The radio does not pedal, or make a place for you in the front of the peloton to watch for moves. Teams, team mates and fearless, fit team leaders still need to do that.

Mike Batley
Towson,USA
Thursday, May 02, 200

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Radios #5

I think that is a misinterpretation that team captain's roles have diminished greatly. A team captain like Lance or Jan give the team a leadership role that no director sportif can fill. Sure the DS is the ultimate decision maker on team decisions, but all the riders look up to a rider like Lance or Jan for inspiration.

Another fact to remember is that the team captain is probably near the front of the race or in the field. Despite TV they still have the best position to make a decision.

Randy Shimizu
Thursday, May 02, 2002

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Radios #6

Bring 'em on, I reckon. If anything, it will make the sport much more team dependent than it currently is - ie more like say football, since riders know better what is going on. As to making the sport boring and too chess-like, all a radio does is mean that riders don't have to pay as much attention to who is up the road. Once competitors are up the road then they still have to be chased down - the radio can't do that. I would agree with Brad McGee - it makes things more deliberate and measured, meaning in effect that races become harder and the best prepared win. Radios should therefore remove some of the pot luck factor. Some might say that would remove the flamboyance from racing, but in my view the radio effect wouldn't deter Jacky Durand types from attacking after three metres, so there'll most likely always be enough crazies around to keep things interesting for spectators!

Alex Sceales
Perth, Australia
Thursday, May 02, 2002

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Hincapie

Relax, Hincapie is still young and full of potential. Every year he performs better and better. If the US Postal Team keeps providing Hincapie with the support, he will achieve his goals.

Seth
Greenville, USA
Friday, April 26, 2002

Hincapie

George Hincapie is argueably the best one day USA born and raced professional on the current pro cycling classics races in Europe. A different team other than USPS might prove different results personally for George. Although, I think he loves riding for one of the best teams ever.

Lou Frankel
USA
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

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