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Letters to Cyclingnews - November 8, 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.
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Contracts can be voided if one party fails to uphold his obligations. This summer I read that Kelme hadn't paid their riders for four months. Botero, Sevilla, and the rest of the bunch should have been free at that point to negotiate other contracts. He would have had to sign another contract with Kelme for them to have anything on him now. Is that how it works in Spain or not?
Botero's contract #2
I think it is incredible that Kelme is presuming to enforce the terms of a contract (Botero's) that they neglected to pay on this past season. The team should let Santi go to Telekom, cut their losses, put their tail between their legs in embarrassment over the debacle of not paying their salaried riders and regroup for the coming season. Who can blame Santiago for wanting to go to a team where he can be assured of a paycheck?
My brother is an ex-Cat II racer and suffers from "A-fib". It makes it nearly impossible for him to return to his former training regime. There is, however, a fairly new, in-patient procedure that involves "zapping" the part of the heart that is causing the faulty electrical signals and he is looking at having it done. (See www.a-fib.com/Overview.htm) During the Tour, I seem to remember reading something about one of the Australian sprinters having had A-fib. I do remember this rider had a web site dedicated to his heart problem. Can anyone provide any info on any pro cyclist that has had A-fib and successfully dealt with it?
I read with interest the details of the 2003 TdF route as published on your website. But I was especially pleased to see the TDF organisation hosting a presentation for the living winners of the TdF. The photograph of 21 living champions together is, I suggest, a collectors item. Congratulations to Chris Henry for an excellent photograph.
Each and everyone of the Tour champions looked really fit and well - especially when you consider how long some of them are retired. Thevenet, Bahamontes, Kubler - could probably still complete the Tour at this stage ! As for Indurain, does he look like he's retired for the last six years? A great photo.
One final question, being an Irish man, I saw a photograph of Sean Kelly cycling at Journee des Retrouvailles, in a jersey with the Irish National colours (Green, White and Orange), on your website. I've never seen an Irish jersey like it. Does anyone, through your website, know where I could get one - as I thought that the jersey looked really well.
Doug Cook's six steps to a TdF victory were spot-on. I'd only like to add that this USPS template has hardly been a secret plan over the last couple of years. First of all, the team has openly discussed their strategy and game plan, so the template is out there in print for everyone. But for those who struggle with reading comprehension, the strategy has been demonstrated and reinforced these last three years, intuitively obvious to the most casual observer.
I'd like to add a caveat to Doug's step #1 ("Build the best team.") You'll note that USPS dumped all of their sprinters after the '99 win, and it was only in '99 that George Hincapie was allowed to contest field sprints at all. You've got to wonder who Ullrich would have done if Telekom hadn't been splitting their efforts between Jan and Zabel. Can't be easy.
Because this template is well documented, TdF 2003 promises to be the most exciting in years. One must hope that teams like Once and Telekom will finally realize and admit to their energy-sapping mistakes in past races and try to concentrate solely on beating LA and USPS in the over-all, not worrying about days in yellow or stage wins. Having said that, I'm reading that CSC wants three chiefs and Kelme isn't sure who their leader is, so maybe it will take five straight wins for the USPS template to really catch on.
Indurain didn't succumb to multiple attacks by Ullrich and Riis, he just couldn't follow on one of the mountain stages. When Lance loses, it will be because he just fails to hold the pace of the strongest man.
The likelihood of two men on the same team being able to follow and counter attack each other until Lance drops is less likely than finding one man that finally just has it on a day when lance doesn't. And on that day he will have needed the full support or other great riders to simply be there rather than half the support of a team and no support from the next best man on his squad.
I would think that the two headed monster theory has been proven wrong in the past, and by the very teams stated in the original letter. Teams have found that they rarely have one man able to truly contend at the few crucial times in the Tour. The efforts of the team trying to keep two people at the head of affairs is one of the reasons that the Kelmes and ONCEs of the world have had difficulties supporting the one man that shows himself to be the leader. Yet year after year, given the wealth of talent at a few teams, the greed of wanting both stages and GC men have cost others dearly.
Should CSC get another sponsor (with Tiscali logging off) in time to be able to afford both Ullrich and Hamilton, they will have all of the lead up for 2003 to look at both men. At that point, they will know through their performance and testing numbers who is in shape. Not taking anything away from Tyler, but I believe it remains to be seen whether he can perform at a level good enough to be considered in the same class as Jan and Lance. The Giro this year was a great test but, after all the top contenders went out the door after having shown themselves stronger than Tyler, it really wasn't a measure of a man against the best in the business.
Should CSC find the cash to continue it will be great to find that Tyler has proven himself more worthy than Jan to run the team. It's great to have a number two man on the team in case something happens to number one, and It will be great to see Tyler as that man. But Tyler still has something to prove at a few critical times before he can be considered the next Lance, rather than the next Bobby Julich.
Wouldn't it be great if the UCI could fund the rest of the Graeme Obree film? £1M is peanuts for such a huge organisation, right? Now, seriously: If you are interested in cycling movies, then the French flick: "Le Vélo de Ghislain Lambert" is a must see! "The Bike of Ghislain Lambert" is about a Belgian cyclist who becomes a pro in the early 70's (around Eddy Merckx's time). Ghislain is a guy who struggles at the very back of the peloton, gets ridiculed for his sponsors, wins his only race by ignoring the unwritten rules of cycling, experiments with drugs (of course), designs a "revolutionary" bike the beat the hour record (!!!), etc... The film is fun and sometimes sad, with the right amount of comedy and irony. Filmed in 2001, it draws a precise picture of pro cycling in the 60's/70's in great detail. The main actor/director Benoit Poelvoorde seems to be very popular in Belgium and in France. There is a French DVD with English subs on amazon.fr, for anyone who's interested.
Tim Jackson and others have defended Chris Horner's comments about Guido Trenti. Tim writes: "Chris was merely pointing out the obvious, not bashing Guido to attack him. Cycling, especially high-level professional cycling, is a business." Sorry guys, but that's not what happened here.
To say that a rider gets on the US team so that he can aid the Italians in winning the World Championship Road Race is an attack, pure and simple. It isn't "obvious" in any way that Guido is going to betray his selection for the US team. To say that Guido Trenti will cheat his team and help the Italians is degrading the character of a rider that (I'm guessing) Chris doesn't even know. This is lame, and that's all there is to it. I have followed Horner's career over the years and witnessed a few of his impressive rides in local races. He is indeed a great rider. He would be a better rider, I think, if he would try and keep his foot out of his mouth.
Trenti came to the Worlds talking about how he was pleased to be on the team and was going to do his best to help Fred Rodriguez win. Well, that's just what he did. Chris came to the Worlds talking about how he was planning on winning (a medal at least), and he did....nothing but talk.
Guido is on my World's team for next year.
I must say that some readers reacted too harshly in my criticism of Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla. Here are a few points to clear up:
I agree that commentators/ journalists world-wide are huge Lance suck-ups. This is annoying and degrading to the other (very worthy) competitors and only adds to the "it's Lance first and everyone else fighting for second" mentality.
Yes Jan has had tour podiums in all of his tours, which is undeniably a brilliant effort and one deserving every accolade it gets. But to me, when a rider WINS the tour at 23, then by age 28 one would expect more than one other grand tour victory and a couple of world championships. Jan is the most talented cyclist in the world, but his record clearly does not show the full potential of this talent. Add to this, the fact that he has had arguably the strongest team in the world built around him and had personal chiefs, trainers, coaches to baby-sit him, It would seem that he has not delivered his full potential. I don't believe in the whole "not showing enough respect to fans, his team and the sport" bullshit, but I genuinely think that if he had the motivation of Lance, then his record would be truly impressive. I wont enter the ecstasy debate (needless to say I think fairly lowly of it) but starting seasons off 10kg overweight and not been disciplined enough in general has cost Jan the tag of the world's best cyclist. Heck I would've loved to see him on the top step of the tour podium so we can stop hearing about LA but the fact of the matter is that LA has just won his 4th tour in a row and Jan has not even raced this year- both situations brought on by the riders themselves.
Oscar Sevilla id also an extraordinary talent no doubt about it. But lets be objective and look at his season to date. after winning the white jersey, he has had a few good races (Classique des Alpes was a great ride, but he was beaten by none other than Botero) but he pulled out of the tour with 'stomach problems' that sounds vague to me and if anyone taped the tour for the past 2 years, I challenge you to tell us he has not put on weight this year (sound like Jan yet?) this point was proven when it was said he had lost 6kgs for the Vuelta.
however it lost them too quickly to be in good enough shape for a grand tour (sounding like Jan?) so he subsequently performed worse in this year's race than last year's 2nd place.
Finally, yes LA has bad days, but may I point out one small fact: even with these so called 'bad' days, he still wins the Tour De France! A bad day for Lance is to loose a time trial by less than 10 seconds, or that he is not able to attack. So you see Kelly, that is why everyone doesn't jump on his back, because if you compare the net effect of these 'bad days' (and the number and consistency of them) you should be able to work out that he is still winning as opposed to being dropped in his element (Sevilla on the climbs) or ousted for drugs (Jan). I am not a Lance fan, but I give respect where it is due.
Jan Ullrich #2
I think of Ullrich as a "class act", at least in part because of the comments of numerous people rather than knowing it directly. As for Lance and the finish of the first climb in the Tour, I think that he misunderstands both the objective and the circumstances. The objective is to win the Tour; other things are secondary and treated as such.
Even given this, I think that Lance might well have let Heras win of he could be sure that that would happen. Unfortunately, he probably could not and you can't give Beloki that chance to win and take the bonuses. Remember that when Lance attack in the last several hundred meters, he won by 8 seconds over Beloki and 15 from Heras. While this does not indicate for sure that Roberto had used his efforts in burying the rest of the contenders, it probably was the case. I suspect that if Roberto had been able to continue his attack from Beloki and bridge up to Armstrong completely, then he would have been given the victory, as the race dynamic had shifted enough by then that a few seconds difference would not matter compared to giving Roberto the stage win.
In another letter, this one about Botero (a very nice one, by the way) there were comments that I felt did not express a complete understanding of race dynamics (the writer may very well understand them better than I do). Specifically, Botero was allowed to get away with the group from which he won the stage precisely because he had lost 15 minutes previously. If he had been sitting in third or fourth at the time, neither Postal nor ONCE would have let the break succeed. I even suspect that JaJa lost additional time on the climbs because doing so would help him win a stage later, for two reasons. First, his legs would be a little fresher for not burying himself to finish higher. Second, by losing time he was no longer a threat on GC and he was allowed to get away in a break. Does anyone believe that the gap that allowed Virenque to win at Ventoux would have been allowed if Virenque has close on GC? Postal would have used more of its precious resources to limit the break (as might ONCE). While Armstrong wanted to win that stage, it was secondary as an objective. I think that if Armstrong always had his team working harder than it needed to in order to control the race merely so that they would pull back the breaks so that he could win those stages that the other riders would see him as selfish. It is a different matter when they control the race adequately and then Lance is so strong that he catches everyone in the break. What would have happened if Lance had caught Boogard a couple hundred meters before the finish? Would Lance have worked the extra bit to win the stage, I suspect that he would not.
I wonder if anyone can help. I was planning a trip next year to watch some of the Classics and one I would like to see is the Amstel Gold Race. I know the exact route will come out sometime next year, but has anyone any tips on watching this race using a bike. I would like to avoid using a car, as parking will no doubt be tricky and as the route is fairly compact it should be possible to catch the race several times.
Thank you for keeping on top of the situation at Big Mat Auber 93. As one of the few Gitane fans around, I am interested in reading about the team that rides their bicycles...even if they are one of the worst teams in pro cycling!!! I still hold out hope that Gitane will trade up this year....
Back from a 3 1/2-week vacation, including flights from San Diego to BWI, Dulles to Heathrow, Heathrow to Rome and then back to San Diego via Heathrow, all with two unboxed bicycles that we rolled in and out of the terminals. And the bikes came through virtually unscathed, despite some rough handling on a quick plane change at Heathrow. Never again will I be burdened with an empty 30-pound hard case that I have to store or lug with me from airport to hotel and back. I will continue to refine my padding technique, but basically I used Velcro mini-straps that I got at Radio Shack to fasten pipe insulation around the main tubes and used split 3/4-inch aquarium tubing to protect the stays. The pedals are removed and the handlebar is turned parallel with the top tube, with more padding taped around the brake levers. The agents always seemed a bit surprised to see virtually road-ready bikes at the ticket counter, but we were never required to buy a box or put the bikes in plastic. We were charged only for the S.D.-BWI leg on Frontier ($50 per bike). The bikes flew free on British Airways.
Needless to say, the cycling was great in Tuscany.
Regardless of how great Cipo may be in a final sprint I for one would like to see him make the entire trip to Paris. His domestiques are capable of doing it. I am in no way degrading a domestique, they are all world class riders, but when you carry the reputation Cipo does he should be able to make the journey with his helpers. Go the distance Cipo and let us watch the mountains chew you up and spit you out.
Dear Frank Vandenbrouke: Don't worry, nobody is comparing you to Eddy Merckx, or Lance Armstrong. Enough said about him. Let's talk about him when he does have some success. Until then, how about reporting on anybody else who has actually won an event?
Michel van Musschenbroek
I'm wondering if you can help us, or have any suggestions. We are planning on living in Europe for at least a year to follow the pro cycling events. We will be taking advantage of several of the tours offered and doing some on our own. Do you know of a good place to start to inquiring about affordable housing in Europe. Any links, suggestions, advice, some reader who's done it, staff person who know how to get started, etc.?? Thank you for any information you can provide us.
Sharyl & Michael
It is great to see you do an interview with Lisa. As Development Manager for Cycling Queensland for the past three years I have seen Lisa develop tremendously and shine out from the rest. She has clearly been a talent ever since her first interschool race back in 1998. Lisa has a great team behind her from her family through to her coach Donna Hamlin and support staff such as Jon Newrick from Dog Mountain Biking. Her development has improved out of sight since Australian Head XC Coach Damien Gundy first sighted her during the National titles at Kooralbyn a few years back. Damien has not only assisted her in realising her potential but has also improved the coaching skills of Donna which saw her go to the 2002 World's as Assistant Coach. The talent pool in Australia is getting better all the time and with Damien as National XC coach and Scott Sharples looking after the National DH program the scene will continue to get better. Australia is in a great position at the moment with excellent results at the road, track and mountain bike world championships. Congratulations to the Cycling Australia High Performance Team!
There are many safety issues related to mass start events. Unfortunately, most cyclists learn about them by trial and error. This can cause a novice to have an unhappy introduction to the sport.
It would be a good thing if there were a resource, an accumulation of wisdom that organizers and cyclists could refer to so avoidable accidents need not occur.
For example, a loose water bottle cage can cause a bottle to be ejected resulting in an accident. Some road hazards are guaranteed to cause problems for the first riders to come across them or the following members in the same group who don't see far ahead, things like bumpy level crossings and wide cracks in the surface.
I'm sure that the combined wisdom of Cyclingnews readers would represent a significant database of useful wisdom.
Mon Dieu, zee Podium boyz live in Sydney, not France! Quel surprise!
In response to Mark Fall and his e-mail regarding Raul Alcala
Raul Alcala is currently living in his hometown of Monterrey, Mexico. He is a successful businessman and actively involved in the community. He still rides three times a week and works as a commentator for both the Mexican and Spanish media for cycling events such as the Tour or the Olympics. I see him about once a month and would be glad to forward any messages.
After numerous experiments, I find (apart from waxing which is great) MachIII with hair conditioner after a bath, then some moisturiser rubbed in works best. Don't forget the sun screen if this is new to you!
I am looking for information on a 24 hour race in South Wales, 1892. One of my colleagues here at work had a medal from his grandfather winning this race. I want to know more about it, what type of race? Track? Indoor? Type of bicycles used? It was funny, after I won the 24 hour race at Lake Placid all of a sudden this medal is on my desk at work, and now I am interested. Pictures of the medal can be seen at http://chump.geog.queensu.ca/osborne.htm
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