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Letters to Cyclingnews - September 13, 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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Rumsas' substance list
"The following are the substances and quantities seized from Mrs. Rumsas on July 28th:
3 flasks of Actovegin ..."
I don't know what the big deal here is. It's obvious that Mrs. Rumsas (or her mother) suffers from diabetes, and needs the Actovegin for that. Or maybe she scraped a knee and needed it for the wound. I mean, what else could Actovegin be used for?
Rumsas' substance list #2
I found this on a website for Androderm.
Androderm must not be used by women, or by those with known hypersensitivity to any of the patch components.
How can this be for his mother-in-law?
"A process that takes years and costs/would cost millions of dollars" is a pretty standard industry response to questions that basically ask why the industry isn't standing up to whatever abuse is being discussed. (E.g., take a look at some of the reports on OxyContin abuse in the US, etc.) One side effect of making the drugs easier to trace is that they'd lose what I imagine to be a sizeable chunk of their market -- professional athletes.
Paul Swinand's letter skates past the point originally made that without testing, doping is more wide open. Nobody needs to do the super drugs of the pro peloton costing Thousands. A months worth of a readily available Testosterone substitute or corticoid can be had for as little as a hundred bucks. And Caffeine and Amphetamines are cheaper still.
The point is without testing, it is just plain cheap and easy to cheat, as you don't have to get too fancy to do it.
The severe penalties for positive drug tests argued for by Ross Kennedy is an extreme approach for a program which is supposed to provide for chemological equity in athletic competition. That approach leads to excessive and overly punitive actions against riders who have simply engaged in normal activities not intended nor availing them of competitive advantage.
The best recent example of this is Gilberto Simoni, who was cost his second Giro d'Italia victory for the trivial reasons of sucking on a candy and going to a dentist. I am not in favour of unregulated doping, but it is performance enhancing drugs that cycling, and sport in general, should be concerned about, and any punishment should fit the violation. Detection limits are so good in the case of most older drugs that an assessment can be made of any enhancement afforded the athlete: simply testing "positive" now does not take into account this fact.
The list of banned substances is long, but the rules should be applied individually based on the type and amount. Trivial amounts of banded substances which are widely distributed in the larger society should not cost a champion, or an also-ran, their place in a race. Cycling should employ discretion based on proven pharmacology when assigning doping penalties, rather than trying to be the world's policeman.
Stefano Garzelli is one of the good guys in cycling. His clear response to Lefevere tells the real story of his decision to sign with the fortunate Tacconi Sport team. It's also great for cycling that he is not going to retire, despite the bizarre ruling from the Swiss Cycling Federation, for his "involuntary" doping. Forza Stefano!
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Armstrong's weight were as low as 150. Look at his face, how lean it is. One has to be well at the low end of body fat percentages to look like that, and the guy counts calories like a maniac. Hell, he must use a calculator to get up to the, what, seven or ten thousand calories he burns in day. But then his system must be so efficient by now that he can bicycle for two hours on a handful of walnuts.
Regarding Lance's body weight, Chris Carmichael posted an article on OLN's site entitled "Energy Consumption Explained" on 05/06/02. Within the article he states, "A 72kg athlete like Lance..."
Ilan Vardi's conclusion about climbing performance is right, but I would add that if you are not a climber you'll loose 1/2 hour in the last 10km of a climb! By the end of a grand tour you'll loose 2 hours or more. That's a lot! Even riders who are considered climbers can loose a lot of time on a climb. Take the example of Cadel Evans in the Giro, in which he lost 16 minutes or so in the last few kilometres of the climb. After that he was not competitive anymore.
On Lance Armstrong and The Tour Dupont, you can't compare the climbs they did here with the Alps or the Pyrenees. The latter are monsters! At that time too, Lance was a totally different rider.
I still believe that it is not a matter of training or weight, but some born qualities. A cyclist is either born a climber or a roller. Take the exception of Jalabert who can climb, TT, sprint, etc. Also Lance is an exception. He became good in all terrains, but I think not only his weight changed, but also many things in his life. He started to train with focus, and he is more intelligent to race. Add to that phenomenal physiological and/or genetic qualities.
I agree with Mr. Vardi's excellent observations that heavier riders can be excellent climbers if they train properly. when I was training in the san Francisco south bay area in the 1980's Eric Heiden, despite being heavier than 95% of elite riders, held the record for the old la Honda hill climb (?about 17 minutes---I don't recall the exact time anymore....). of course Heiden is/was one of the great athletes of our time. Indurain is another example. that said, when one starts talking about long mountain climbs lasting more than 30-40 minutes, being lighter starts to make more and more of a difference.
Weight doesn't affect climbing? Why was Indurain 154 lb = 69 kg for the worlds in Columbia? Moser at 139 lb = 62 kg for the indoor hour record? These guys were taller than a REAL six foot tall bike racer, like Fast Eddy. Then there's LeMond, perhaps at his best in the 130's.....Fignon, well let's just say he could hide in a group of 7th grade children standing on his tiptoes.
My take? North American climber 140 lb or less, European climber 130 lb or less and South American climber 120 lb or less. How about the Sean Kelly bio where he doesn't eat the whole day when weather interrupts training? We've all heard the 'diet queen' stories which all distil to this, the hardest training for a climber is pushing the dinner plate away and walking away from the table.
In response to Stephen Rainey's letter about Irish Cycling, both he and Tommy Campbell have chosen to highlight a small issue, criticising Cycling Ireland. It is only fair to bring it back into perspective. Cycling Ireland is run by a team of passionate supporters in a country with only a population of 3.84 million. Only a handful of Cycling Ireland personnel are full time and the many of the others have full time jobs too. A number of names come to mind like PJ Nolan and Declan Byrne for showing a high level of dedication but these names are only two of many that I could mention. Time after time, the generosity of commercial sponsors have helped to continue the drive towards Team Ireland success on both the domestic and international fronts, and expecting little reward in return.
Mark Scanlon and Phillip Deignan are the results of years of grass roots development in a country where you are unlikely to go training in shorts more than a handful of times a year.
We should be celebrating major success against all the odds.
Irish cycling #2
Stephen hold up just a second. I've kept a close eye on the Irish squad for many years now and can honestly say for the most part they have been given every kind of support possible.
EVERY year the lads ride on beautiful bikes worth '000's, bikes that can compete and beat any others in the peloton. I've seen them on top of the range Treks up until this year when they switched to immaculate titanium Merlins. All have been equipped with the best stuff available such as Dura-ace groups, Spinergy Rev-X's and Mavic Cosmic Carbones. Every year Cycling Ireland has progressed in this area, with support vehicles, rider ear pieces, down to Giro helmets, all being at the disposal of the Irish team rider- for you to rant on about their lack of support simply makes you sound ridiculous. They've got a base in Belgium at their disposal!
Your argument is stuck in the past over 10 years ago, you should look at the present situation more closely before you shoot your mouth off. The federation tries to give the team riders all it can on a stretched and relatively small budget, and does extremely well sending riders to the other side of the world on a regular basis. And you complain about bloody tracksuits!
Find out the facts before you make comments again please.
Irish cycling #3
Mr Rainey, nice to see you're still alive and kicking. I'm sure watching the Commonwealth Games this year with the Aussie boys doing so well brought back a few memories. Things have changed back here in Ireland and the kit has got better, you can even buy it yourself on the net from over there (mind you the design is manky). The UCF have a great kit at the moment, it's a copy of the Telecom kit but it's white and green as apposed to white and pink. Are you still racing with the Penrith Panthers if you are say hello to Jeff Smith for me. Do you see John Kenny anymore? Brad Mc Gee has gone along way since we raced against him in the Canberra milk race.
Carlos, Iwould take a different approach. Instead of training to run in your red zone for an extended period of time, train to increase your speed with a lower heart rate. Your problem is a lack of horse power not anaerobic capacity. There are tons of different power workouts, I'm sure some of your team-mates can advise you on good ones.
Heart Rate Zones #2
I'm an experienced Cat II racer, and I have some ideas for you. I find that I need to do a few jumps or short efforts the day before a hard race. When I don't, my HR in the race usually pegs really high, and it feels like I'm going to swallow my heart....sometimes followed by getting dropped. Give that a try if you're not doing it already.
Heart Rate Zones #3
I don't race anymore, and I'm not a coach...but I did stay a Holiday Inn Express...
Seriously, I'm still a complete DORK for HRM/power data. I'm 35, and I just had a VO2Max test done to help me with training to drop the "old fat guys" group.
The trick for you will be to develop more power in zone 3, or at your AT, and improve your VO2Max so that you can race for a longer duration at (or just below) that level, and use your higher HR zones for attacks, or to catch a wheel on a break.
As the coach that I hired to help me tells me, intervals are the way to go when you train, but DON'T do too much. He says (and his opinion is mirrored by a cat named Chris Carmichael, who you may have heard of) that most racers and elite rec riders do too many hard (90% of max+) intervals (since they think THAT's what makes them stronger...WRONG), and too few recovery rides (60-70%)...and that the intervals that they do are not hard enough, and the recovery rides that they do are too hard.
In short, if you're ALWAYS riding in the 75-85% zone when you train...you're NEVER going to get stronger. That's like training "no-man's land".
One first suggestion....get to your local university's School of Exercise Physiology. They should have a VO2Max test that you can do on your bike. It'll only take about 30 minutes, (you'll be completely blown at the end) and that'll give you the exact HR where you are in each zone. The estimates that are pre-programmed into your HRM, or that you figure out yourself from your max are averages, and not precise for your body. Having that info alone is worth the $100. I just did mine with a dude named Roberto @ Ohio State, and it was a GREAT experience, and a GREAT training tool.
Then ask them to set up a periodized training plan for you. Every 3-4 months, they suggest that you take the test again, and re-establish your HR zones...and re-do your training map for the quarter.
V02Max, and power output ARE changeable, and with the right training, you'll be doing the dropping!
I will be in Japan in October and I was wondering where the best place to see keirin racing would be. Is there a good venue near Tokyo?
Montello TT framesets come with the Campagnolo brake, they are modified in some way as to not hit the rider's feet or cranks should the cable break. They are also of a slightly different reach, to fit the somewhat odd location. The brake is mounted down below as it is much more aerodynamic, both in terms of the brake itself, and the cabling attached to it. The frame is double duty, for both road and track, and is specced with different dropouts at the factory. With actual retail price as equipped being somewhere around $18,000, we don't see too many of them here, but every once in a while one sells.
As the summer has progressed at an all too quick pace I have become more and more determined to unfold the onion that is professional cycling in Europe. From the United States, the European race season is not much beyond race results, photos, and commentary from a select few sources that will reliably cover the calendar on both sides of the Tour de France. While I'll refrain from shameless flattery, Cyclingnews.com has proven to be perhaps the best and certainly the most thorough of these.
As such, I hoped that you might shed some light on what I've found to be a very dark corner of the professional season, that being what becomes of the pro team's kit after each season is ended. My interest is primarily in the oh-so exclusive bicycles that are either custom made or so highly specced that I would love to acquire one if for nothing more than a collector's enthusiasm. Thus, if your knowledgeable staff can uncover what becomes of these thoroughbreds after their racing days are over, might you please spread some enlightenment on the rest of us?
Recently we have been celebrating the successes of Armstrong, Hamilton, Leipheimer etc but I see something missing. The Tour de L'Avenir is the showcase for new talent and unfortunately there are no Americans in the peloton.
Additionally we have the sight of the current American champion, Chann McCrae, without a contract for 2003. Maybe he worked "too hard" for George in Philadelphia and picked up the jersey and the Posties didn't like his attitude... though shalt not win unless management decides... as is the case of Le Tour when personal ambitions are cancelled out for the sole aim of getting Lance to Paris in yellow.
A few years back, in the now defunct UK bike mag "Bicycle Action" there was a fascinating feature on a chap called Mark Silver. 'Mad Mark' as he was affectionately known by his friends had so many bikes, though particularly a love of tandems to the degree that his faithful feline, Sedis had moved out. The other notable things about Mark was that he claimed to learn how to build bikes before he could ride them and this was born out his father's love of Citroen DSM cars- his father used to build (rebuild) each new family car. I recall the article being in a 1989 issue but I've heard nothing of this enigmatic and charming character since. Does anyone know Mark?
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