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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Letters to Cyclingnews - June 26, 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

US Postal investigation
Postal Tour selection
TDF Selection
Vuelta proposal
Vegetarian cyclists
Drinking games
Knee Supports
Cycling in Dublin
Measuring gradient
Sticking out your tongue
Louisiana

US Postal investigation

All we have now is personal opinion, since the evidence was not supplied when requested. I don't believe that Lance uses illegal performance enhancers - I've read his book, it brought tears to my eyes several times, and I believe in the man and what he says.

That doesn't stop me from being disappointed with USPS. I don't understand why they withdrew co-operation with the investigation just as it was about to be completed. No-one should set themselves above the rule of law after all.

Treating the legal system of a modern democratic country in this way certainly looks arrogant and high-handed. The previous letter comparing the enquiry to a cartoon-like comedy character is an extreme example of this kind of mentality and does not help reasonable discussion of a complex situation.

To recap - the blood samples were all tested and no evidence of doping was found. The magistrate announced that the investigation was almost complete. At no time had any of the riders been required to be interviewed personally so Lance's offer, although very gentlemanly, was not relevant. It is medical evidence not personal testimony that they were asking for.

The magistrate announced that Lance was no longer the subject of the enquiry, but that to conclude the investigation, they needed to see the medical records of the team. You will recall that detailed medical records have been important evidence in the Festina case and in the Italian investigations as well as several of the other successful prosecutions in France.

It was at this point that USPS said they would not reveal the medical records. Since the magistrate cannot compel them to hand them over, the investigation has been halted due to lack of evidence of either guilt or innocence. USPS have thus put themselves into the position of being found 'not proven' by refusing to provide the information required to complete the investigation in their favour.

I believe in Lance, but this does not put the USPS management in a good light and leaves their riders under suspicion. I find it difficult to see why they have done this since they have nothing to hide. Well, presumably they have nothing to hide - who knows now?

All we can do is be loyal, trust them and give them the benefit of the doubt - but it is worrying that they did not provide the medical records that they were asked for. Offering to meet the judge 'any time and anyplace' is a friendly gesture, but is really not the point at all.

Like I said at the start - I'm a fan, many French people are fans of this great rider, but it is a disappointing way for it to fizzle out and leaves the important questions wide open.

Syd Hancock
Norwich, England
Sunday, June 23, 2002

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Postal Tour selection

Anybody do a double-take at the USPS' Tour roster?

Big Tex, Curious George, Pink Floyd Landis. That's it. The rest of the team is 4N. Foreign.

Heras, Rubiera, Pena, Ekimov, Padrnos, Joachim. A lot of good US riders left at home: Vande Velde (who'd believe it), Tony Cruz (what a shame), Chann McRae (Captain America!). Perhaps some of the foreign riders where selected to help motor the TTT. But does the TTT alone justify selection? Even Postal's "B" team cruised to the TTT win at Catalunya, spanking ONCE in the process....

So what is the "true" story behind this decision to leave the stars-n-stripes jersey at home?

McRae had only a one year "do-or-die" contract w/ Postal and before Philly, he was told by Andreu that he was being yanked from the roster of the Tour tuneup races. Translation -- he would not be given a shot to make the Tour squad, and Postal was effectively pulling the plug on his career (not interested in renewing his contract). McRae says he was so peeved at this development that he went out and rode Philly "in anger" (thank-you, Mr. Liggett...).

Makes you wonder about how the race went down in the end... McRae claims he attacked on Lemon Hill "to setup George". But in reality George got dropped and McRae did not exactly wait. Hmm....

Now, even though McRae has won Philly (or maybe BECAUSE he won Philly), Postal shafts him for the Tour. No doubt a devious payback dealt from the hands of "Don Corleone" Hincapie and "Fredo" Andreu.

Brooks "il Padrino" Lawrence
Boston, MA
Tuesady, June 25

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TDF Selection

Mr Butler's letter regarding Saeco's exclusion was very off-base. He says that one reason (to paraphrase) is that Simoni would be a big challenge to Lance and the American public won't have a non-American winning, which would affect pay-TV subscriptions here in America. Well the TDF is on OLN (Outdoor Life Network), this is a cable channel, not a pay-per-view, and is considered a basic channel on most services, thus nobody is paying to watch the TDF here. I think the big thing the TDF is doing is punishing Saeco for having a drugged rider, though it doesn't hurt JML that he can add a French squad. Should Saeco be in? Probably. Should Simoni? NO!

L. Scott House
St. Louis,USA
Thursday, June 20, 2002

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Vuelta proposal

I really hope that the reform of the Vuelta will not go ahead. I think I can make several arguments against the proposal:

1. Will viewers really be interested in watching two different packs taking the same route? Let's say that there will be a mass sprint: I for one do not wish to watch two of these. That would simply be boring.

2. Good riders for the third week might be excluded because they aren't at their peak during the first week. When looking at the Giro: how many riders in the final top 5 were really prominent during the first week (Savoldelli, Caucchioli, Tonkov)? They gave us a great Giro during the third week, but under the Vuelta proposal some of those riders might have been excluded.

3. The final kilometres would become even more nervous than they already are. This would put the cyclists in greater danger of mass crashes, something that nobody wants (I hope).

4. The doping issue (I know I am being negative here): what would happen if a rider were caught with doping abuse the first day after the selection has been made? That would be extremely unfair (doping is always unfair, but non-the-less) to the excluded teams that are clean.

5. Logistical issues would make this idea a problem. Having two pelotons going through the country? Can anyone imagine the costs of this idea?

I know that there are complaints about the selection of grand tours, but I don't think this is a good solution. Creating objective criteria for selection would be better. For instance, for the Vuelta the organisers should invite all the teams that placed riders in the top 5 of the previous grand tours during the year, plus the top ten of the UCI rankings plus all Spanish teams. The remaining places would be given away with wildcards.

I think the idea will provide all concerned with complete chaos and uncertainty. I cannot understand why the UCI has given its approval for this measure and I surely hope the Spanish teams will be opposed.

Peter Hoogervorst
Maastricht, Netherlands
Thursday, June 20, 2002

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Vegetarian cyclists #1

The whole Linda McCartney set-up from a couple of years back that ended in 2001 were all forced to be vegetarians. When they found out that the team had flunked, it was reported that most of the riders went out to comfort themselves by eating large quantities of steak. I'm unsure of whether any of the riders, like David McKenzie or Max Sciandri, or backroom staff are still vegetarians though.

I myself am a vegetarian, and have absolutely no trouble keeping fit and healthy. I just hope that it isn't my lack of meat consumption that has made it impossible to become a pro! No, in reflection, I'm just slow!

Ed Alexander
Thursday, June 20, 2002

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Vegetarian cyclists #2

When the Linda McCartney Foods team existed, the riders were encouraged to be vegetarians out of respect to the sponsor. I understand that Sean Yates was vegetarian before his relationship with the team and several well-known riders seem to have converted while on the team. As a vegetarian myself, I like to find examples to show my meat-eating friends who think vegetarians are all pasty-faced, weak and puny. Except for me, of course.

Leslie T. Reissner
Berlin, Germany
Friday, June 21, 2002

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Vegetarian cyclists #3

It's my understanding that the British rider Sean Yates was (is) a vegetarian. He wore the yellow jersey in the TdF and was also a top finisher in the Paris Roubaix. Yates was known as one of the hard men of the peloton and a real workhorse rider--not what one might typically associate with being a vegetarian. Just goes to show that it is possible. I'm sure there must be others and many that aren't are probably pretty close.

Ken O'Day
Tucson, USA
Saturday, June 22, 2002

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Vegetarian cyclists #4

Robert Millar (TdF KOM and 4th overall a few years ago)
Sean Yates (Roubaix hammer)
No doubt others - probably even more soon since Garzelli's probenecid result...

Syd Hancock
Norwich, UK
Sunday, June 23, 2002

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Vegetarian cyclists #5

I think, as a condition of membership, all of the riders in the defunct Linda McCartney team had to subscribe to a policy of vegetarianism.

I think they had to listen to old Wings CDs too, but not sure on this one....

Andy Carter
UK
Monday, June 24, 2002

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Drinking games

The phrase "pushing a huge gear" cannot be included in any of these drinking games. You'd not make it 5 minutes. I'm waiting for Phil to say someone is "pushing a gear my granny could use."

Raymond F Martin
Wednesday, June 19, 2002

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Drugs? The real man in Italy!

You have brought some great news from Italy. (Disabled rider aims for Italian national track championships). The physically unfortunate man that is going up against some of the fastest track riders in the world with no fear. Who needs to hear news about drugs when there is much better news about life's real heroes. Who cares about riders that test positive or Non negative. You are giving them too much undeserved attention. As far as I am concerned this man has minerals that Pantani, Simoni, and Virenque put together. Hooray to him and everyone else who has to try just a little bit harder to get a piece of the "Media Pie".

Jaime Gandara
El Paso, USA
Thursday, June 20, 2002

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Knee Supports

Following a recent accident I need to wear a knee support when cycling, but the only items available all have the same problems - the main one being that the material bunches up behind the kneecap and restricts blood flow which causes cramp after only 25 miles or so. The other problem is keeping the thing in place especially when riding in the rain (not unknown in the UK).

Anybody any ideas?

Peter Turpin
UK
Thursday, June 20, 2002

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Cycling in Dublin

I will be in Dublin next month for a few weeks, and wanted to know any information about any road clubs, training rides/races, good roads to ride, etc. Please email me with any information.

Mark Ashton
USA
marcozen@yahoo.com
Friday, June 21, 2002

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Measuring gradient

Well, simple and accurate are two different things on this. Since gradient of a climb is usually measured as a function of slope (rise/run), there is no simple, easy to transport method to do this. You can purchase some bike computers that claim to measure incline, and/or elevation gain, but as pure pure accuracy you should probably look to a GPS unit.

Here in the States, Specialized markets a computer (the Pro) which has an inclinometer, and it will be able to tell you the grade of a climb. However, since it is probably based upon the wheel circumference of your tyre AND the barometric pressure change as you climb, the absolute accuracy of it may come into question.

In short, since accurately measuring the rise of a road in relation to the distance travelled on the road is quantitative to the measuring system utilised the best method is to guess at your elevation gain over a given distance and use that. Of course, when you tell friends that the 25 per cent grade over the highway was easy, you might also want to remind them that you are using your own method of measuring it. Just go ride.

James Darlow
Sacramento, USA
Saturday, June 22, 2002

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Sticking out your tongue

Why the rash of cyclists sticking out their tongues? On the podium! On the climb! At the finish line! It can't help breathing (especially on the podium; surely the podium girls don't put a great rider like Zuelle into oxygen debt). It looks juvenile. Is it supposedly cool because a certain basketball player sticks his out? What gives?

J. S. Williams
Florida, USA
Monday, June 24, 2002

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Louisiana

One need not visit Louisiana to find dangerous attitudes, as I'm positive many an avid rider can attest. I found a marked difference in attitude toward cyclists in two cities of approximately the same size, back when I lived in Michigan. Midland is a fairly bicycle friendly town, with broad streets and bike lanes marked along many. I'd regularly ride a circuit around the city with little difficulty and rare problems from drivers. I then moved 20 miles, to the east of Bay City and found few bike lanes, mostly due to narrower roads. Most notable was the almost daily horn or shout from a driver to get off the road. Two cities, 20 miles apart, but much further in attitude and acceptance of fellow citizens not burning petrol.

Richard Adams
California, USA
Tuesday, June 25, 2002

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Recent letters pages

  • June 22 - Cycling in Louisiana is dangerous, Crankset and bottom-bracket, Hamstring injury, It's all about the right gea,r Measuring the gradient, Tour de France Selection, US Postal investigation, Colnago factory, Vegetarian professionals, Duffield, Another round of drinking games, Desperately seeking Clara
  • June 12 - Osteoporosis, A pain in the..., Vegetables anyone?, TdF selection, Tchmil, Drugs, Where the shorts have no name, More drinking games, Duffield, Jose Maria Jimenez, TdF starting times?, Our man in Colombia, Get your skates on, It's all about the right gear
  • 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 cyclingnews.com