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Photo ©: Schaaf

Letters to Cyclingnews - June 12, 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

Recent letters

A pain in the...
Vegetables anyone?
TdF selection
Where the shorts have no name
More drinking games
Jose Maria Jimenez
TdF starting times?
Our man in Colombia
Get your skates on
It's all about the right gear


While I'm far from an expert on osteoporosis, I may be able to shed some light on the recent letter.

Bone "growth" is somewhat complex, but in general, after about the age of 30, the body takes away more calcium from bones than it puts in, hence we lose bone mass. This raises questions about the efficacy of calcium supplements, particularly in the absence of physical activity, after age 30.

In either case, bones respond to the stresses placed on them. Weight bearing and impact related activities, like walking and running seem to build the most bone. However, there is evidence to support muscle strain, or pulling, on bones creates enough stress to stimulate bone growth, as well - cycling, swimming and weight training fall into this area.

I'm not aware of any research that indicates that vibration stress would make cycling a better activity. On the contrary, there is evidence that the non-weight bearing nature of cycling (at least among pro's) may be detrimental to bone density; one study indicated a 20 or 30 percent decrease in spinal bone mass among cyclists after riding the Tour de France.

Again, this is an extreme case, and one needs to remember that these guys do nothing else in the time period except ride; when they're not riding they're more or less bed-ridden.

My recommendation is stay active and eat well. IF you develop osteoporosis, chances are your choice of activity had little influence.

Unfortunately, women are in a different boat, but still riding is better than nothing!

Chris Harnish, M.S.
Exercise Physiologist
Friday, 7 June, 2002

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A pain in the ...

When I began cycling long distance, I did not know that cycling shortens the hamstrings and developed an injury.

I am seeking advice on the tightening of the glutinous maximus and the top of the ham-string. These have shortened due to excessive cycling.

Question: who is a good physiotherapist, specialising in cycling injuries as I am very keen to get back on the saddle.

Jonathan Enright
London, UK
Wednesday, 5 June, 2002

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Vegetables anyone?

I would be interested to know if any of the top professional bike racers, either road or mountain bike, are vegetarians.

Matt Masucci
Knoxville, USA
Friday, 7 June, 2002

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TdF selection #1

I fully agree with Vincenzo Santoni on Italian teams possibly boycotting the Tour De France.

The impression I get about the whole Saeco exclusion from the Tour is that the decision is based purely on the events surrounding Simoni in the Giro. Simoni is not the only rider in the Saeco team. He is a popular athlete riding for a popular team. To not include the Saeco team simply because of the whole Simoni affair is just plain petty. Even if the organisers try to use the "drug free" argument, it won't wash because at the end of the day, the whole Saeco team did not test positive.

Other possible reasons for omitting Saeco? They have a proven major tour winner in their ranks who, unless Ullrich pulls himself together, is the most likely option to beat Armstrong. The American public are less likely to take an interest in the Tour if one of their boys isn't winning the race, which will impact the Tour's income in a major way from lack of subscription to pay-TV rights in the US. The United States isn't the only country to take an interest in cycling.

Names like Coppi, Bartali, Gimondi aren't American, but Italian. Italy has a great past and present cycling heritage and tradition. It would be a shame to have no Italian team racing the Tour, allowing more minor French teams (Jean Dela-who?) to compete. If minor teams want to compete in the Tour they should earn the right, not expect it because of nationality.

Karl Butler
New Zealand
Wednesday, 5 June, 2002

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TdF selection #2

With all the commotion over the selection criteria for the Tour de France, how about an article comparing selection criteria for each of the three grand tours?

Bud Seely
Saturday, 8 June, 2002

We'll see what we can do. - Ed

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TdF selection #3

After reading the Scott Montgomery (Cannondale VP) comments about selecting the best teams for Tours, I have to offer my two cents.

There are a couple problems with this idea: First, imagine if all three Tours adopted a standard selection process which brought in the top teams based on points or something; each Tour would have roughly the same teams and lack identity - plus, no exciting surprise underdogs. Everyone loves an underdog.

Second, the sponsors for the teams from the host nation (Credit Agricole in France, for example.) need to be in their hometown Tour. My team, Capital Velo Club in Connecticut, has been invited to the Housatonic Classic for the past two years. That helps a bunch with getting our sponsor (Hartford Hospital) back next year.

My point is that if you are only selecting teams based on merit (we're pretty good, but we're not gonna win against the Pro's), it will be a classic case of the rich get richer, while the small teams eventually die out. That's not good for cycling.

Dave Sandifer
Friday, 7 June, 2002

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I am appalled at the lack of respect shown by the team management for Andre Tchmil. They say you are only as good as your last race - and he won that one.

Was the cost of keeping him on not worth the wins he would have garnered over the balance of the season ? As Scott mentioned - he was always there in the action getting PR and coverage - isn't that why they have riders like him?

There aren't enough of these seasoned grizzled road warriors any more.

John Andrews
Friday, 7 June, 2002

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Drugs #1

It is a shame that a team doesn't get suspended , along with the rider, for misuse of drugs. Until you hold the team responsible (don't the riders all benefit from one another?), the team doctors will continue only to make sure that riders are "testable" rather than Clean.

And don't look for any solution to come from sponsors. Their interests are obviously with their bank-book and not with the long term betterment of the sport. Sad Really, as they are ultimately going to feel the pain of the disease as long as they continue to treat the symptoms while doing nothing to cure the disease.

Charles M.
Arizona, USA
Thursday, June 6, 2002

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Drugs #2

Cycle road racing takes place on hundreds of miles of public roads and so is heavily reliant on the support of not only its fans but the more general public and authorities. Those who deliberately cheat with drugs are whittling away this support and if the situation continues the sport will eventually be destroyed.

The drug cheaters must receive life-time bans from any further involvement in professional racing. Having said that, penalties like this must only be applied to cases of deliberate cheating with performance-enhancing drugs where accidents or sabotage can be reasonably ruled out.

Accidental causes of drugs are difficult to guard against and sabotage (rather like suicide bombing) is impossible to prevent completely. Any vandal who manages to get something into a cyclist's system will be able to destroy a rider's career or the reputation of a team and cycling will not be able to rid itself of drug scandals.

It is certainly the case now that there are a lot of people out there with an active hostility to cycling (including people in the media and authorities). Pantani is right when he says people are out to get cycling.

Peter Balmer
Blyth UK
Wednesday, 5 June, 2002

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Drugs #3

In his letter published on June 5, Mr. Lafferty implies that some riders used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Giro based on the observation that they showed less effort than the other contenders during the final mountain stage.

First of all, the facial expressions of a rider are not the only indicator of effort. There have been many athletes who show little or no expression during their chosen athletic event, even under the most trying circumstances.

As an sports medicine professional, I am concerned about the continued problems in our sport with performance-enhancing drugs, but to accuse an athlete of doping based on these assumptions is an insult to his/her efforts.

Greg Hartley
Greenville, Alabama, USA

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Where the shorts have no name #1

Mr Bauer from Boulder, Colorado, wonders why Team CSC-Tiscali's shorts display no sponsor. Actually, the team doesn't have a 'shorts sponsor' at the moment, but are negotiating with one or more potential sponsors. The space on the riders' shorts is for sale, so to speak.

Anders P. Jensen
Thursday, June 6, 2002

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Where the shorts have no name #2

There's no sponsor on the CSC-Tiscali team shorts simply because the team hasn't been able to find a sponsor. Maybe after Tyler's Giro?

Kind regards

Jacob Johansen
Friday, 7 June, 2002

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More drinking games #1

Empty the bottle when Phil yells 'And all we want now is the 2-armed salute!'

Knock the top of the next bottle if he completes the rapture with 'And there it is!'

Incidentally, under no circumstances should Eurosport viewers indulge in this game when listening to David 'slapped-wrist' Duffield. You will be in detox before the big names have finished the prologue.

John Rudge
Wednesday, 5 June, 2002

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More drinking games #2

How about when Paul calls a domestique "an unbelievably strong rider," or someone is "pushing a massive gear" or praises the "fantastic" speed of the peloton.

Andrew Turco,
Tuesday, 4 June 2002

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I too find David annoying at times although he is very good at filling in on a long stint. The main trouble is he carries on filling in when the racing starts and only seems interested when the rider has competed in one of his favourites.

However, I think he is the best English speaker I have heard for the main commentary he just needs a good fill in guy and the best of those has to be Paul Sherwen.

David Thomson
Wednesday, June 6, 2002

Jose Maria Jimenez

I saw an article in your February Archives that iBanesto expected Jose Maria Jimenez to ride the TdF this year and do well. He was very impressive at the Vuelta last year, but so far I haven't seen his name on any start lists for iBanesto this year.

Does anyone know what is up with this rider? Has he been racing, training, injured?

Bob Blasingame
Greensboro, USA
Wednesday, June 5, 2002

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TdF starting times?

My wife and I will be staying in Mersch Luxembourg for two days to watch Le Tour while in Luxembourg. What are the starting times for the prologue and stages 1 and 2? Thanks and go Lance.

Joseph L. Macaluso
Louisiana, USA
Wednesday 5 June, 2002

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We're working on our Tour section now, and we'll have stage start times as soon as they're available. - Ed

Our man in Colombia

Well, after leaving Britain and living in Oz for 14 years, I am on the move again. I shall be moving to Colombia in Oct/Nov. I was wondering if there are any readers either living in Colombia, or if anyone has had experience with road racing clubs in Bogota and Medellin.

When I was there last, all I could find was mountain bike shops. But every Sunday in Bogota the roads are closed so the people can cycle and blade etc. On these Sundays you will literally see thousands of cyclists mostly on mountain bikes, but I did spot quite a few road riders, with nice bikes and all the gear. Unfortunately I was on foot, so could never inquire about clubs.

Any info greatly appreciated. If anyone is interested in what it's like there, drop me a line at:

Wednesday 5 June, 2002

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Get your skates on

I suggest checking with Bont Skates. They are made in Australia and are a world leader in speed skating. Check:

David Hickey
Thursday, 6 June, 2002

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It's all about the right gear

This may not be of interest but since I'm going on tour to ride Stage 17 of the 2002 TdF, is there anyway you could post, or do you know the average gradients/km of the mountain stages.

Here's why. Last year, it was stated that the average gradient on the Col du Tourmalet was 7.8 percent. I geared accordingly. I found out the day of the event that the first 6 of 17km were about 4.5 percent and the last 11km averaged about 9.26 percent. I WAS NOT geared properly.

Cycle Sport magazine did this last year for a couple of the climbs, but not all. I think your readers may find the steep and shallow parts of the various climbs very interesting.

Doug Hurst
Springfield, USA
Thursday, 6 June, 2002

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Recent letters pages

  • June 5 - Saeco rejection, Doping, Giro coverage, Bob Roll, Shorts, What to about DOMS, Cadel, Drinking Games, Osteoporosis, Landmines, House swap, Get your skates on, Andrei Tchmil
  • May 31 - More on Le Tour, Lieswyn, Giro, doping, drinking games
  • May 29 part 2 - Tour de France, Drinking games, Lieswyn, Osteoporosis
  • May 29 - more on the Giro & doping
  • May 24 - Pantani, Probenecid, LeBlanc, Bob Roll, Garzelli, Simoni, Giro, McEwen
  • May 17 - Eurosport, Worst Tour in 20 years, Who now for second place, Radios, Coming to NY, Saddle tags
  • May 13 - Eurosport, Worst Tour in 20 years, Who now for second place, Radios, Coming to NY
  • May 6- Eurosport, Live coverage, RAI for free, Amstel Gold, Bike Tech a waste of time?, Radios, Hincapie
  • April 26 - Eurosport, Armstrong's tax problem, Johan Museeuw, Shelby Crit, Podium Girl
  • April 19 - Cipollini, 30's Classics Club, Eurosport, Paris Roubaix - a touch of sanity, new site design, Armstrong's tax problem, Freddie's "Quiet" Classics Campaign, Sports Crimes, Roubaix winner Johan Museeuw, Hincapie
  • April 12 - Cipollini, Armstrong's Tax problem, Love the new site design, Lieswyn a class act, Tour of Flanders, Agilis test, Atrial Fibrilation
  • April 4 - Cipollini and Paris-Roubaix, Milano-San Remo Live, To the top of the Mont Ventoux, Lance Armstrong Article, Cyclists as second class citizens, Marcel Wust, Atrial Fibrilation, Raybestos Brakes Advertisement , Question Regarding knee patches, Roland Green winning the Canadian Athlete of the year , Lieswyn diary on Valley of the Sun
  • March 28 – Cipollini, Milano-San Remo Live, 50km Madison Championship, Cyclists as second class citizens, Motorcycle/cameraman, 96 Atlanta Road Team, Baby Boomer, Raybestos Brakes Advertisement, Tour De France , Lieswyn diary on Valley of the Sun, Milano-San Remo Live, Marcel Wust
  • March 23 -Vasseur comments, Motorcycle/cameraman, Sponsored teams, 96 Atlanta Road Team, Insurance and police costs
  • March 14 -VDB, Vasseur comments, Cross-over champs, Langkawi, Hernias, Paris-Roubaix
  • March 7 - Cross-over champs, Press to blame?, VDB & doping, Langkawi, Hernias, Paris-Roubaix
  • February 28 - Tour de Langkawi, Olympic cyclo-cross, rest heart rates, domestiques
  • Valley of the Sun special edition, part 2
  • Valley of the Sun special edition, part 1
  • February 19 Tour de Langkawi, Olympic cyclo-cross, rest heart rates, domestiques.
  • February 8 - Where's Greg?, Road rage rampage, Team listings, Who's the best climber? Canadian 'cross selection, TV Coverage of Worlds 'cross championships, Worst Team Kit
  • January 31 – Vasectomy and cycling, Road rage rampage, To edit or not to edit, Worlds selections, Simoni vs Armstrong, ugly kit, reader poll
  • January 24 – Worlds selections, Simoni vs Armstrong, ugly kit, reader poll
  • January 18 – About the poll, Acqua&Sapone, Canadian athlete of the year, Lance & the Spring Classics, Mystery Aussies, Broken Hips
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on