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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 17, 2002
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Potentially the worst Tour in 20 years?
The louder people start shouting about the worst Tour and how Lance has it in the bag, the more I'm inclined to think he is in trouble. With Jan in the race, Lance was comfortable in knowing that Telecom would share the load in chasing down breaks and keeping the pressure on. This could be the hardest Tour yet for the Postal Team, trying to keep everything together. I look for Jalabert, De Luca or Leipheimer to get in a break and watch Postal burn out trying to catch up for 200km with no help.
Potentially the worst Tour in 20 years?#2
I cannot agree to all the comments about the so-called "worst Tour in 20 years," just because Jan Ullrich does not participate.
On the contrary, for the first time in three years time, the Tour will not be monopolised by Deutsche Telekom and US Postal. Johan Bruyneel's job will be a lot harder this year, as he will not be able to concentrate on just one team (remember Alpe d'Huez last year). This year's Tour will be the tour of one (very) strong rider against 10 outsiders. As the Pyrenees come first, we can expect a salvo of attacks from the Spanish teams, to which Lance will have to respond. I am already wondering how long will he be able to stand all these attacks. In fact, this might become the best Tour since 1996, when we had a surprising winner (Riis), an as surprising loser (Indurain), saw a new talent for the first time in the front row (Ullrich), and had some unexpected leaders (Berzin). Get ready to learn some new names by the time this Tour is over!
Potentially the worst Tour in 20 years? #3
In response to those who have chided the TdF officials for creating a 'boring' Tour this year, I'm seeing things much differently. The way I look at it, this could be the first Tour in history with four separate Americans as GC contenders on their respective teams: Armstrong/Postal, Hamilton/CSC, Leipheimer/Rabobank and possibly Livingston for Telekom. Granted, Livingston is a long shot to be the team leader, and Rabobank may pick someone else, but the prospect of so many prominent Americans competing for GC is hardly making for a boring Tour! This could be one of the best, even though Armstrong will probably walk away with the win. (Read Ullrich news)
Potentially the worst Tour in 20 years? #4
Immediately after the announcement of the wild card entries for last year's Tour, there erupted a deafening hue and cry about how "The Tour is ruined!" and similar nonsense. Well, guess what? The race went on and it was spectacular!
This year, we again have some complaints about wildcards, but of course, the big news is Jan Ullrich's withdrawal and how the Tour, yet again, is ruined. We probably should wait until July 28th to make such a bold declaration. I for one, will be there to see the action once again and can't wait for it to begin. I predict that the lack of Jan Ullrich will actually make for a more interesting race, and possibly more difficult for Lance to win (although he will win, barring injury or accident). Here's why: Last year, once we all saw how well Jan was riding, everybody's thought was "It's up to Jan to beat Lance". Thus, all the GC contenders didn't do much except sit on the Telekom Train for as long as they could and then be dropped by Jan and Lance when they gave it the stick late in each mountain stage. This year, with no Jan Ullrich, the other GC hopefuls will 1) have more confidence, and 2) ATTACK the race and Lance instead of following wheels. Perhaps this year, we will see attacks in the mountains by GC climbers (remember those? they are fun) guys like Joseba Beloki, Santiago Botero, and Mr. "Bocca Grande" himself, Gilberto Simoni.
As for how it could actually be harder for Lance to win without Jan Ullrich, the lack of a strong team with a strong GC contender makes the race more open, unpredictable, and hard to control for the teams of the remaining GC contenders, especially US Postal. Crazy breaks like Pontarlier last year are more likely in a "No-Jan" Tour. If the entire race looked to US Postal to control the race about 90% of the time last year, they will be looking for them 99.5% of the race this year.
If I could wave a magic wand at the Tour and form it according to my wishes, I would repair Ullrich's knee, dump AG2R, add Acqua y Sapone, and while I'm at it, fire J.M. Leblanc. I might maybe even add Pantani to Team Saeco, so that he can entertain us for a while before he folds late in the race. Well, these things won't happen, but the Tour will be excellent as it always is. Remember 1995? Who could name a realistic challenger to Miguel Indurain for the overall prior to the start of the race? No one. What happened? Well, we saw Indurain attack the race on the run in to Liege and put a minute on the entire field. We saw Bjarne Riis come with seconds of beating Miguel in the first TT, and later go on to attack Miguel quite a fair bit on his way to third place. These attacks by Riis (and others) brought out the best in Miguel in response. We saw the emergence of Alex Zulle as a real possible winner of the race. We saw plenty of solid attacking rides by a young Marco Pantani. We saw a fantastic Laurent Jalabert emerge with fourth overall and the green jersey after battling both Abdujaparov for the green and Miguel for the yellow. We saw the tremendous attacking exploits of Richard Virenque on the stage to Cauterets. We saw Lance score an amazing emotion filled win at Limoge. The list goes on and on. 1995 was one of the finest Tours in recent years, and it began with"Boo-hoo! the Tour is boring! No one can beat Miguel!"
Just wait and see.
p.s. In spite of his ramblings (partly because of them) I love the sound of David Duffield's voice babbling about what he had for dinner last night or how long it took him to get through the Tunnel of Frejus this morning. Why? because if I'm hearing that voice, it means that I am in one of my favourite places in the world... in France in July following the Tour.
Potentially the worst Tour in 20 years? #5
My response to your letter has less to do with the actual content on the letter as it does with the TONE of the letter. Without even scrolling down to see where this hot-headed and tempestuous letter came from, I knew it was from an American.
"No zebra train means every WHACKED-out-no-hoper Frenchman and his brother will tear-a$$ around..." Please inform me why you feel the need, as an American, to jot down sentiment in such aggressive fashion?
I live in the USA, but have the good fortune of being Canadian, and every time I see Yanks spout off in such an aggressive and ignorant fashion, I thank god I come from the land of the leaf.
I am a Lance fan, and he has shown incredible grace, class and sportsmanship.
What are those tags some riders have dangling underneath their saddles in this year's Giro?
I agree with Anthony Hubbard's views on David Duffield's commentary skills.
I have the TdF '97 stage to Alpe d'Huez on tape. Duffield's commentary is NOT
race commentary, but rather a lot of other noise that is not linked to what's
happening on screen. On the positive side he's got Stephen Roche as his sidekick
and he does an interview with Francesco Moser (that said, Roche's Irish accent
is not easy on an untrained ear) and adds some focus on the race action.
Sometimes I do switch to Norwegian commentary just to check how bad it can be, and yes, it's as bad as Mr. Duffield's rants, except it's a different bad. (read original letter)
Regarding English language TV coverage of cycling, my friend and I have decided
to turn Paul and Phil's little eccentricities into a fun little drinking game,
in the tradition of "Hey Jerry" or "Hi Bob." Try this during
your next OLN Broadcast:
Douglas J. Reynolds
It's been interesting to watch Graeme Brown mixing it at the front in the Giro during his first season in Europe. When we watched him racing in Australia, we wondered whether he had grown up wanting to be Abdoujaparov, an utter yob in the bunch sprint, a burden to himself and a danger to others. Sure enough, he nearly ran Robbie McEwen into a parked car during the Bay City series last summer (in Australia) and was quite unrepentant and whiny about being picked on. Penalties don't seem to have altered his habits a whit. Never mind, we thought, the big boys in Europe will sort him out. Graeme is a huge cycling talent, but we wonder whether the peloton will allow another Abdou to develop, someone who causes serious injuries to others through their reckless riding until they finally crash so badly they take themselves out of the race. Erik Zabel and Cipo seem to be able to win continually with sheer speed and skill.
Some say there is no room for manners in sprints, but cycling shouldn't be a blood sport. What do readers think? (read interview)
Just outside of NYC 30 to 40 min is Harriam State Park it has some great road
Coming to NY#2
NY city... or wherever? NY is great for bike racing! Just show up at any race and I'm sure you`d get good info. On group rides and good training routes.
I'd have to disagree with John (Leiswyn) on his position of the use of radios in the peloton. I am totally against the use of radios. It changes the dynamics of the races and minimises the value of knowledge that takes riders years of racing to attain.
Historically, in road racing, the strongest rider hasn't necessarily been the winner. Usually not. If it was the case, then every stage in the Tour would be won by the same rider. It is one of the truly great things about the sport. It takes strategy, knowledge and a little luck. The ability to "read" the race and constantly change your race strategies allow good riders to become great riders. It has always been the rider's responsibility to know where his team mates and competitors are. A good team has an ability to ride together. Each rider has the responsibility to know the strengths and weaknesses of each of his team mates. They rely upon each of these strengths to try to win. It is the team director's responsibility to have riders that possess these unique abilities and can be cohesive.
Radios ruin the necessity for teams to have experienced riders with this knowledge. Radios allow the "dumb" riders to instantly have the knowledge. One knowledgeable rider can direct his team from the peloton, but also an experienced ex-pro rider can do the same in the team car.
The radio calls from the team cars is more disturbing than just the riders talking to each other. The position a team car has in the caravan should not be an important part of a bicycle race. The major European races where the team cars have live television coverage minimizes the advantage. But in all other races, obviously, the first cars have a better view of the race than those far back in the caravan. It is an unfair advantage.
I can think of one example that makes this point. In the HP Women's Challenge race a few years back, I remember reading a quote by one of the Saturn riders, Lyne Bessette most likely, about the race. She said that she was told by her team car that Jeannie Longo was at the back for some reason. Maybe a mechanical, to get a bottle, whatever. The Saturn team went to the front and put a bunch of time on her. It would have been a legitimate tactic if the riders themselves would have initiated it. But having that extra vision from the team car was not correct. A rider shouldn't have to worry that when he/she is at the back of the field using their team car, that the other team directors are screaming into their radios for their riders to attack.
Lance himself has used radios to change the race tactics of other teams. His dramatics on television, conveyed to the riders through the radios, dramatically changed Telekom's race tactics in the Tour. He has ridden many riders off his wheel on mountain stages without ever having to look back and evaluate his competitors strengths. His team director has already done it off the TV.
Cycling is a unique sport. There are so many different variables that the outcome is never assured. This makes the sport exciting. Radios remove many of these variables which is a detriment. A detriment to the riders and also to the fans.
Pot calling the Kettle black?
With all due respect to a professional cyclist, Graeme Miller's carping about
John Lieswyn's race diary smacks of a hatchet job by the "all conquering"
(at least in the American domestic scene) Mercury team. Management put you up
to it? Are they still bitter about last year? Or is it just that Mercury have
dominated the domestic race scene for long enough that anything other than fawning
praise sets them off? Shades of the arrogance that Manchester United have shown
for years now, almost as though any dispute with other teams or officials is
an insult and winning is their god-given right.
You really have to laugh out loud when Graeme Miller, of the Mercury cycling team no less, becomes the moral conscience of the peloton, and the arbiter of all things fair. Graeme wants to ban John Lieswyn from writing for Cyclingnews.com because he disagrees with John's interpretation of what happened at Gila. John said "It was one of them racin' deals". I for one believe John. Graeme would like you to believe that John Leiswyn is a cheat and a poor sport. Graeme would also like you to believe that Mercury stops and waits for every rider who flats to catch back on and will even send some of their guys back to help the poor soul out. Come on Graeme, it's Mercury we are talking about here and after what went down last year, well....
Lets get rid of these "unwritten rules" and race flat out all the time that way Graeme will have one less thing to whine about and the real racers will not have to waste time defending their actions. (See result)
I can remember a hot and stressful day in March during the Oak Glen stage of Redlands, when me and my boys were working really hard for Chris to control the stage. It would of been nice to get a bottle in that first feed zone, but it is kind of hard when two Mercury riders are attacking through it. It wasn't you Graeme, but you guys started it. At the beginning of the season people need to show respect. If it doesn't happen, you can only expect things like this to happen. I have no problem attacking Chris Werry, after the treatment we got from Mercury this spring. And I expect the same treatment from you guys. Hopefully next season we can all start out and be nice to each other.
Hey all in Cyclingnews land...
I am responding to Graeme Miller's letter concerning John Lieswyn's supposed attack during a stage at the Tour of the Gila when Scott Moninger had flatted. I was part of that particular attack (I had no radio and no knowledge of Moninger's mechanical) but I distinctly DO NOT recall John Lieswyn even being present in the move. I'm not taking sides here by any means, I just read the letter and felt I had to respond. No harm no foul.....just telling how I saw it. (See result)
Could you explain what all the classifications are in the Giro and how points are awarded? This would help greatly as it is not too clear what some of them are for! (Giro News)
The Bonjour team has been riding bicycles with Time decals for a couple of years. Does Time make a frame or is it another manufacture with Time's logos? It's a great looking frame and I would love to know if the general public can get a hold of one. I've been looking around online and can't find mention of Time frames anywhere.
Any help in clearing this up would be appreciated.
Loyal cyclingnews.com reader,
Dunno about anybody else, but I reckon Pantani's new moustache and beard thingy make him look all suave and sophisticated, almost a smouldering romantic lead in a Hollywood swashbuckler. Could he be preparing himself for a new career? (Except he'd need to stand on a box for his romantic scenes) (Pantani pics - make your own mnd up)
Mario - and another thing
How come no one is complaining about Mario winning all the stages to the Giro and the race becoming boring with no one else contesting the stages? How come no one is suggesting that Mario sit out this Giro to give someone else a chance to win some races? Do I sense a double-standard here? Maybe Phil Ligget's preference for English speakers is his way of compensating (or retribution) for decades of France/Italian discrimination against English speaking riders. I am so thankful for the OLN coverage of any racing and for the excellent coverage of all racing by cyclingnews.com. (Latest Giro news)
I am wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to send an item to a rider to
be signed and returned. Short of travelling to the Tour or a World Cup! Although
one can send mail to riders during the Tour, I hesitate to do this, as I am
sure a rider's free time is quite limited.
I would like to congratulate Scott Price for breaking my record up Mt. Lemmon,
beating my old mark of 1:41:27 with a fast time of 1:38:34. I made the first
"official" record from the bottom guard rails to the cross walk at
Ski Valley February 2nd in snow, ice, and over unfinished gravel roads. Now
the road is nice and clear. Legend has it Andy Hampsten did the fastest time
but he never let anyone know. Armstrong trains there too, but he never let anyone
know. From what I hear you did in fact break my record but the only problem
is you forgot to alert the media in Tucson, so I am still the current record
holder in their eyes, I guess that is the way things work. After you get a hold
of the media, you should head on down to The Southern Arizona Centre Against
Sexual Assault, and say hi, because this record attempt means a lot to them
too. You should of told me in Gila, that you were gonna make an attempt and
I could of helped you out. The first week in September, I am gonna be making
an attempt at the record, only thing is this time I am giving SACASA my pay
cheque for the month of September. To me this record was never meant to be about
resumes or bragging rights I did it to raise awareness about sexual assaults.
I have been milling along this season working for Horner, and I hope I have
some juice left in the end to take the record back. This record belongs to the
victims and I am gonna give you a run for your money.
I spend so much time reading about 8km at 10.1% etc etc.
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