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Letters to Cyclingnews - August 2, 2002
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I feel the need to vigorously respond to Mr. Gehrig's letter on Mr. Rumsas. Mr. Gehrig makes a fatal error in logic when he states that Rumsas is personally involved with doping because his wife is carrying drugs. There is, simply, not enough information, at this point, to make this connection.
It seems that the "cause celebre" of doping in cycling has attracted more than its share of witch-hunters. These people are incredibly willing to pronounce sentence on suspects before the trial. Short of a "smoking gun" scenario, a positive test seems to be the only way to ascertain if a doping offence has taken place. We must avoid the temptation of condemning individuals in the absence of either of these occurrences.
Mr. Gehrig wants to sanction a rider who rode to a glorious 3rd place in the Tour de France because his wife was caught with a car full of banned substances. This is as ludicrous as the logic used by Montreal Gazette sports "columnist" Jack Todd, who has repeatedly stated he feels Lance Armstrong is a doper, with the only evidence presented being Lance's dominance of cycling.
As Americans, it is our duty to believe in one's innocence until that person's guilt is proven.
It is true, if Rumsas is guilty of doping, perhaps the measures you suggest should be considered. However, he has successfully passed every doping test he was given. As with the judicial system in the United States, the burden to prove his guilt lies with the doping control agencies - it is not Rumsas' responsibility to prove his innocence beyond passing the approved and required tests.
The danger in assuming his guilt regardless of his test results lies in the fact that if we declare him to be doping and passing the tests, it raises suspicion on every other rider in the peloton who has passed the same tests - including our own Lance Armstrong.
If these tests are as ineffective as you indicate, which I certainly take your word on, I suggest that the cycling community look to finding more appropriate means by which to test riders rather than punishing people who have passed the existing tests.
Frank D. Strack
One thing I learned today is that Edita Rumsas is also a bike racer. So, while EPO and testosterone may not have been for Edita's mother, they may've been for Edita's use. Barring evidence of Raimondas' use of performance-enhancing drugs during the TdF, then perhaps Edita should be the one suspended...
It's unfair that we should implicate Raimondas in the whole 'Rumsas Affair'. He's obviously as clean as a whistle. The same, of course, can't be said for his mother-in-law. But I'd love to see a race between her and Vandenbroucke's dog. Grandma Xena meets high-octane puppy.
Tap a keg to Mr. Smull's letter--my kidneys almost burst from laughter! It's good to hear from those who are in the know about the REAL purpose of all those soigneurs, and with a brilliantly dark streak of humor on top of it.
Only recently did I become aware of Willy Voet's "Breaking the Chain", and though it certainly has tainted my excitement, it is good knowledge to have especially for those who aspire to be at the top--the top isn't natural! It's still unbelievable to me how so many (just about everyone) of the pros can wear such thick masks in front of the press and claim their "clear conscience" in the face of these matters.
As a final note, please send my condolences to Vandenbroucke's dog.
Victor Wang, Aspiring M.D./PhD
The issue of who could handle the chore of walking VDB's dog while he and the wife are away has been answered!
It was looking for a while that Simoni was the choice, but after the Policia took a hard look at the throat Pain killers Simoni's Grand Mama gave him they did find that Cocaine was the mystery medication that we were all looking for (A pain killer that definitely does not make you drowsy).
So now it looks like the VDB will be dropping the dog off for brisk walks by Rumsas mother in law, since Rumsas wife has proclaimed that the drugs found were meant for Mama.
This makes absolute sense as should either poochy pooch or Big Mama have a medical problem, they share matching Medications. Corticoids, EPO were a match for both Dog and Dame. And they could benefit further. Should Mama Rumsas need pain Killers, Poochy can step in with the Morphine, and should the dog need, er um..., smaller testicles, Mama can give him a dose of her Testosterone...
Whatever the case, I suggest if you are between Lithuania and Belgium and tooling along down the road, and see a little old lady (with the deep voice and large, hairy, well muscled legs) walking a dog (with the same features), I would give em some space...
I read of interest of the boycott of the 2002 Zurich World Cup race by the men's teams due to non-payment from the 2001 race. In 2001, Nicole Freedman and I competed in the women's Suisse World Cup race and the associated sprint tournament on the designated USA national team 1. Nicole won the sprint tournament, and I placed 6th. We were promised 400 CHF and 50 CHF respectively by the organizers. We are still waiting. It is only a small consolation to learn that the men were treated the same in their race in Switzerland. I wish the men luck with their boycott, we would appreciate a settlement as well. Better late than never.
Garzelli gets a nine months suspension for testing positive for probenecid, a "relic" drug that someone seems to have forgotten to take of the list of banned substances. Sgambelluri tests positive for NESP and is given a six month suspension. Can someone explain the logic behind this? Medications that can only be received by a needle, are clear performance enhancers, and can be tested for unequivocally should result in a ban for life. All this is true for NESP and Sgambelluri should be gone from the sport.
It is time for UCI to step in and create some logic behind the sentencing and not leave it for the federations to decide. Many riders will always cheat if the benefits outweighs the risk. The latest news shows just how close Rumsas was to get away with it and gather fame and fortune. No test picked up his drug use. The only way to clean-up the sport is to go after the clear offenders forcefully. And don't waste scarce resources testing for probenecid.
Amidst all of the drug scandals and other hype going on, there's still plenty going on in the world of cycling that gives me as a cyclist reason to smile and believe in my sport.
Firstly what can be said about JaJa that hasn't already? He's a true champion, always ready to have a go. The sport will be poorer for his loss but richer for his involvement.
And secondly how about Brad McGee? Stage win, finishing after his big crash, then two days later he backs up with a 4:16.358 gold medal ride in the Commonwealth Games Individual Pursuit. And so modest - his interviews throughout the last three weeks have been amazing. He's so honest and down to earth, no showboating, no boasting, just an extremely talented and humble bike rider. We all take our hats off to you Brad - you're a special individual and we're lucky as Australians to be able to call you our own.
Simon van der Aa
The lab analysis done by the Italian Police authorities showed the candy in question had traces of cocaine in it. Just Like Coca Cola once did. The Italian authorities have been some of the toughest on drugs in recent times and would not let a guy off if he was guilty. This is a case of someone having a legitimate excuse. Why can you not accept this?
If the lab tests prove it then it must be so. Remember that Simoni underwent hair analysis that also cleared him. I think this case should rest there.
I noticed that Cipo finished a few spots behind Armstrong in a crit on July 30th. Is he unretired?
Richard Adams: Words written and they convey the exact sentiment that I feel... I now look forward to September for "La Vuelta"... my only problem is that looking forward to all these wonderful races makes the summer go by way too fast... plus once "La Vuelta" is over, cycling coverage on OLN stops... we have to wait until the spring of the following year to get the ever needed fix of the peloton screaming down the road... I guess the sales of race videos peak around the end of October... Keep spinning...
I want to second Mr. Helps' comments about Laurent Jalabert. Jaja has been active and winning from one end of the season to the next. Aside from his, now, two Polka dot Jerseys in the Tour he's held the Green and been a force to be reckoned with as a top level sprinter. Jaja held the World Championship jersey in the TT.
There may not be such an all around rider of such ability in the peloton again for many years. And we will miss him.
Farewell, Jaja #2
I would like to endorse all of the compliments being paid to Laurent Jalabert - and I wish to express my own heartfelt thanks to Laurent his great service to the sport of cycling.
I can well remember Laurent's great sprinting ability in the early 1990's - and I watched him progress from an out and out sprinter in to a great road man. His results in the Vuelta and his recent results in the Tour demonstrated his wide range of cycling talent.
Laurent Jalabert is a throwback to the legends of the road such as Sean Kelly, Greg LeMond, Rik Van Looy etc. I want to wish him and his family, a happy, healthy and peaceful retirement. He certainly deserves it.
One final point - if your site can relay when/where Laurent's last cycle event will be before he retires - perhaps you'll post it on your site ?
Please do us all a favor and mention the make of fork that your friend was using. What good is it to say that a fork collapsed without this? I ride three bikes with three different carbon forks, Mizumo, Time, and Sintema. Of the three, the last has the nicest road feel. I understand that Bianchi had problems with their 1" carbon forks a few years ago. How much does your friend weigh? How old was the fork? Sintema sends a detailed brochure with their fork recommending its replacement every year- yep, that's right - if one races on it. It also recommended constant, careful inspection for any sign of wear. If one is not up to doing this, go for steel.
Carbon fiber forks #2
I think having a carbon fork collapse without an un-natural force is quite rare. In my now 4 years of racing full-time I can't recall any forks simply collapsing upon themselves. I do, however, have experience destroying carbon forks in crashes... one with an aluminum steerer (Kestrel) bent, but didn't snap, and some generic make I had snapped blow the crown, but only after getting the front when turned sideways at 30mph. As someone with an engineering degree as well, I'd say that carbon technology has come a long way, and as long as you verify that the fork is from some major manufacturer, it's probably fine. Occasional inspection of forks, and any critical stress points on your bike is a good idea anyways, as freak material failures will always be a part of manufacturing.
I should have asked about this during the Tour when the editors were fielding daily questions from readers, but I hope that I can still get some feedback. Why is it that steel bikes seem to be excluded from pro cycling? Looking at the Bike Tech sections during the Tour, every team was using aluminum or carbon fiber, or some combination of both. Lotto's Litespeeds may have been the only titanium frames out there.
I know steel frames can be a bit heavier, but there are some high end steel frames that are as light as the majority of the carbon fiber frames and close to some of the lighter Al frames. I'm not saying that steel is as light as the other materials, but with the high end frames (Coppi, Colnago, Cervelo, TrueTemper S3) there is some overlap. Given that overlap and the origins of cycling, it sure seems like one of the big teams would be riding a steel frame.
Are there any TT1 or TT2 teams riding steel? Why not? Back in April, an Australian reader gave some insight to the impact of technological advances in cycling relative to the average speeds of some major races. In short, over a 40 year span, the average speed is virtually the same. So I think my question about steel frames and the preference for Al or CF is a valid one.
There seemed to be a much higher use of Coke drinks during the tour this year.
However, I wonder exactly what were the contents of Cola Bidons that the neutral support motor bike provided - plain water, carbo drinks?
Still, I observed that several riders were handed small coke cans from their team car during climbs etc. Is a big sugar hit just beneficial for a short duration (eg at the end of a ride) or can it be used throughout a long ride? One negative aspect would certainly be the effect on your teeth but is still worthwhile if it gets you home. The tooth decay could be reduced by adding a small quantity of plain sugar into my usual 'carbo' drink.
There is plenty of evidence of carbo loaded drinks increasing endurance, but what would be a good ratio of sugar to non sugar carbo especially in high intensity runs?
If indeed the sugar hit does give a needed boost, then would a Glucose drink not be better as it is absorbed faster than sucrose?
While impossible to compare riders of different generations, it is pretty fair to compare Indurain to Armstrong. Both were far superior to the other riders in their fields at their time. Too bad we never got to see the two of them race in their prime against each other but it is fun (if not completely pointless) to try and speculate. Both of course are tremendous time trailers. Indurain won his Tours by destroying the field in the Time Trials and hanging close enough in the mountains. Armstrong pulls ahead in the TTs and then secures his wins by being the most dominant climber in the Tour. My guess is that Indurain goes out to a small lead after the first TT. Then Armstrong attacks in the first mountain stage and gains a minute with Indurain doing damage control. By the end of the mountains, I think Armstrong cracks Indurain on at least one stage and takes an insurmountable lead into the final TT. My belief is that Armstrong would beat Indurain by at least 3-4 minutes. I guess this mental exercise is in lieu of having a competitive TdF for the last few years.
The question isn't has anyone abandoned more than Kirsipuu (certainly Cipo has) as several probably have. The Question is why the hell did they take Kirsipuu's team over A&S in the first place.
If you're gonna abandon, at least do it with 2 or 3 (or 4 in a row, or 6) stage wins. And the speculation that one stage win by a lesser French team means the tour did well in taking them holds no water at all...
By the way, in Cyclingnews tour wrap up, I found the line about Robbie McEwen's "Schooling" Cipo at the Giro pretty funny. If Robbie Mc were to take Cipo to school it would be to learn, not to teach (but great job with the Aussie tag teaming of Zabel and Telekom to take the Green!!!).
Yes, Marco Pantani was caught with a high haematocrit. And we cannot be so naive as to believe that it was a natural occurrence in the middle of a grand tour.
But let us not forget that Marco was a product of the times. Why should athletes be any less human than those fans who so readily smoke a little weed or snort a little coke and then stand on the sidelines and criticize an athlete for the same thing? I lost a brother to drug abuse. I have no love for such drugs whether it is in a dirty little back hallway, a board room or on a baseball field in the system of a star pitcher.
But with perhaps 80% of the peloton using some sort of drugs, Marco Pantani was still a star. He was the greatest hard-climb climber of his time and probably, were he to train up again properly, he would still be able to show Lance his rear wheel on the worst pitches.
Add to this that he is a remarkably marketable item in Italy and it only makes sense for people to talk about him. I hope he puts a team together and brings himself back to his best form. We missed him in this Tour.
Pantani was a persona that would rank as a super star and before retiring or even in retirement the Superstars of sport will continue to make the news. I take nothing away from his Tour and Giro wins in the same year (how long will it be before that happens again...) because I doubt that he was beating clean competition. Pantani certainly suffers from his actions, but he suffers from bad timing as well.
Lots of our hero's in this sport are positive testers ( From Eddy M's positive test, to Jacques Anquetil's famous quote "you don't win a Tour De France just taking Mineral water"). But they didn't get caught in an age when the public was so well informed and so set against doping. It's a step in the right direction to be sure, but to take discredit Pantani's Palmares and remember only his faults would not only be sad, it would be unjust.
Again, Pantani brought his problems on himself with his actions. But he also brought the public interest to himself with his action on the bike.
I am afraid I have to beg to differ on your opinion of Virenque here Chris. Sure, I will never (and neither will millions of others) forgive Virenque for his pathetic attempt at claiming innocence after Festina '98, but I do feel that you are doing him a disservice in this instance. I feel that the very fact that he did struggle after Ventoux merely cements the opinion that just maybe he now is "clean", maybe he was fatigued for the rest of the race, hence his struggles in the Alps. Have you ever not felt shattered the day after a tough climb / ride on your bike? Remember, Virenque was so far down on GC before Ventoux that nobody in the top half dozen would have worried about his breakaway so early in that stage. The group he got away with merely worked together as a team for 90% of the stage (all of it on the flat), before the Ventoux. They must have been mad - Virenque was the ONLY pure climber in the group at the foot of the Ventoux. In conclusion I feel that Virenque's victory was good for the race. Surely if you are going to say "hello what's he on?" about anyone who appears to be riding above himself then you could have said it about a lot of others as well?
Boogerd's win was impressive, because he stayed out there for so long and really suffered, and had enormous speed and energy output. I really enjoyed watching him accelerate over the small rises, and use his whole body to try to move the bike forward faster. Though, most Americans are not fans of his because of the way he won the Amstel Gold Race a few years ago over Armstrong, and I am not his fan either.
Virenque's stage win looked pretty gutsy to me, because he was clearly dying on the road before our eyes. Personally, I enjoyed watching him suffer, because he is a liar and a cheater with no positive character traits that I can recognize (on the bike). Maybe he is a good family man; I hear he has a large family.
Since he quit E.P.O., he hasn't come close to the climbers jersey. With Festina, he would sprint up the climbs looking barely challenged, similar to all the other cheaters. He is half the rider now. And I question why a team would hire him with such a sorry record of breaking the rules and lying about it for 2 straight years. Domo lost fans with that move I'll bet. I also questioned why a top-quality rider like Tyler Hamilton would go to a team directed by cheat, who throws his bike off the road during a time trial in the Tour, the year after he won it. That display was enlightening as to his character. Riis has seemingly been surrounded by problems, and another one occurred during this tour when he lost the team time trial for his riders, and alienated Jaja to the point of retiring. Bruyneel also cost his team the win that day, but he did it with tactical errors that aren't nearly as worrying as Riis' indecisiveness. Jim Ochowiz did the same thing to his 7-Eleven squad in the eighties. He told his team to wait for a dropped rider when they were leading the team time trial. Directors who throw away victories for their teams can't last long I think.
I agree with Mr. Carter, the KOM is sort of a joke. Jalabert essentially was just showing himself off at the front over the climbs that the GC riders considered unimportant. Maybe he should have been helping Sastre and Hamilton out a little instead. I'm disappointed no real climbers decided to take him on, any number of riders without GC hopes/duties could have won the KOM if they had just put in a little effort.
While we are jersey bashing, what was with Zabel and Telekom? They put in minimal effort as a team to chase anything or to deliver Zabel to the line in good shape, and Zabel himself appeared to decide that McEwen was faster and that's that I wont even try. There were many sprint points Zabel could have gotten over the last 10 days while McEwen was struggling to hang on at the back but he chose not to bother going after them. Telekom should watch some Giro film of Mario's team setting up a sprint, they might learn something.
KoM competition #2
Does the criticism that Botero is not a climber because he "hauls himself up the mountains by strength rather than panache" imply that climbers are not strong? Is "panache" the key to world class climbing ability? I hope so, because then I will just buy a colorful feathered plume for my helmet and go to charm school instead of trying to improve my strength to weight ratio. Sure, the KoM competitors seem a bit less petite than one might expect, but they made their attempt within the rules of the competition. To achieve your objective of distilling the truly classic climbers from the rest, maybe the competition should be redesigned. But this year, such a redesign may have left it a mimicry of the general classification. That would not achieve the diversifying effect that is arguably the goal of the subcompetitions.
KoM competition #3
Andy Carter's letter is one of the more ridiculous I've read. Did anyone else find Jaja's constant attacking interesting?
I think they did, and he wouldn't have done it but for the KOM jersey. And the comment about Botero, "a brute with no panache". Come on, you must be pretty confident of your own ability to criticise someone like that. I think you'll find nobody ever got up a mountain with panache alone, strength is a pretty useful attribute here. The other jerseys are there to stimulate competition amongst those not liable to threaten overall. It would be a poorer tour if the only race was Lance wiping the floor without the distraction of Jalabert's antics and Zabel v McEwen.
Lance wasn't involved in any breakaways. He simply rode fast, while everyone else methodically dropped off the back of his group. On the stage where he dropped Heras and Beloki, he was away for all of what, 4 km? Powerful riding, to be sure, but not a 'breakaway'.
Most aggressive rider #2
In response to Eric Gribbell's letter about the most aggressive rider competition, the point is to award the riders that take the chance of hanging out in the breaks all day to try to grab a stage win, or even just to get camera time. Jacky "DuDu" Durand is a prime example of this....he will break away at just about any point in any race, as suicidal as it may be. Jalabert won the mountains jersey the last two years by spending all day off the front of the main field, often solo, but in a manner calculated to grab the mountains jerseys. Lance, on the other hand, rides a tactically smart race, using up all of his team-mates, and letting early attackers fry in the breaks all day. While he does attack, and very dramatically at that, it's usually only in the last few kilometres. Even when he does attack, it's not always at the very front of the race, as early breakaways may still be just up the road. His only concern is to stay with his biggest GC rivals, and then take some time each stage at the end if possible. Lance is therefore much more tactical then aggressive.
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