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Letters to Cyclingnews - September 20, 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

Pushing up the Angliru
Watching Keirin racing
Gracious and deserving champions
San Francisco GP
Climbing Weight
Doping in the USA
Banned for Life
Irish cycling
Missing Americans
Flying a bike - to box or not?
Need help identifying riders
Killer T-shirt
Lieswyn on SFGP
Great Work!

Pushing up the Angliru

What's the Spanish translation of "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"? Someone should send it to Unipublic - for if they are serious about protecting the riders on the 23.5% grades of El Angliru then pushing from the crowds isn't the only problem that needs to be solved.

During the abysmal weather on the Angliru stage in 1999, the (mostly front-wheel drive) team and official cars were struggling to get traction on the wet road. Standing on the sidelines on the steepest part of the climb, the main sound we could hear over the roar of the crowd was burning out motors and gearboxes and skidding tyres of the race vehicles. Disgusting acrid smoke poured out of the engine bays and up from tyres to taint the cool and foggy mountain air.

Nobody pushed the first dozen or so riders, but some of the cars needed pushing just to clear enough room for a bike to get past. Perhaps in addition to crowd barriers, Unipublic should limit vehicles traveling with the race on the last 10km of the climb to motor bikes for neutral service, ensure that official vehicles are 4wds and ensure that team vehicles get to the top either in advance of the riders or behind the last group.

As for the rest of the riders, when the road at the top of the last major climb of a long, wet and wild day in a grand tour is blocked by cars, motor bikes and they are struggling to ride up the side of a cliff while pulling in lungfuls of pollution enough to induce vomiting - a little push from some fans probably wouldn't go astray! Guarantee them a clear road and fresh air, and I'll be happy to watch them ride unassisted.

Steph Maxwell
Friday, September 20, 2002

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Watching Keirin racing

I lived in Japan for about 2 years and was able to enjoy some keirin first-hand. In terms of the exact venues in the Tokyo area, I am not sure, but just find a Japanese national who speaks decent English and ask them to help you out. If you are staying at a good (business-oriented) hotel, the concierge or other such person should be able to assist and help you in mapping out the train/subway route to the track.

A word of caution (and humor), though: real bicycling racing is not well-known in Japan, and "keirin" itself does not have a good image among the mainstream population. Basically, it is seen as purely a betting sport. Similar to dog racing (or maybe even cock-fighting) here in the States. When you make it to the track, you'll find that a good portion of the spectators (most?) tend to be older, hardened, "slightly down on their luck", blue-collar men. Guys in their 50s-60s who look like they've seen hard times and are betting away their savings. These folks are not cycling aficionados. They're track rats, same as you might find at a horse/dog track. Many of them are slightly drunk, to say the least. It is actually pretty humorous! One time after a race, I saw a guy rush to trackside, throw his bottle of sake (and losing betting stub) over the fence, and let loose with a long rant of obscenities at his chosen (non-victorious) rider!!

As a cycling fan, I certainly urge you to take in the keirin, it is definitely very interesting. But remember, the average Japanese on-the-street views keirin only as something enjoyed by nasty old men, and probably believe it's connected to the yakuza (mafia). In fact, some younger Japanese may not even be aware of it's existence! As such, in asking someone to "please help me get to the nearest keirin track!", there probably will be a bit of confusion. The Japa-nglish language barrier is an issue, but also it's very likely that the person you ask will have never heard of (or imagined) a foreigner wanting to go see keirin!

To make it easier, I recommend you stroll over to a newsstand or bookshop and peruse the sporting papers/newsmags. There will probably be one devoted to keirin or devoted to betting sports. If not, at least find a sports newspaper which has some photos of keirin. Buy said periodical and take it w/ you as a visual aid when asking your hotel concierge for assistance. It will make your request immediately understandable. (The concierge will probably think are a vagrant, but at least you'll make it to the track!!) And if you REALLY want to fit in at the track, just make liberal use of terms such as "kuso!" (dooty!), "chiku-sho!" (son of a b*tch!), "baka ya-roo!" (you idiot!) and "nani yat-ten da?, o-mae" (what the frick are you doing!?). Loudly and incoherently grumble/shout these phrases as you munch on dried squid and swill/spill from your sake cup -- you'll look like a keirin pro!!

Brooks Lawrence-san
Boston, MA
Friday, September 13, 2002

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Gracious and deserving champions

I have been inspired to put pen to paper (so to speak) following the recent Aussie Nationals. A friend of mine won the men's race and after talking to him today I had to write. He is one of the nicest most genuine people I have the privilege of knowing.

I am one of the great unwashed that due to reasons of having to face reality (family, work and a distinct lack of genuine ability) have very rarely climbed to the top of the podium and never in anything other than a club race. I have however had the privilege of racing against some extraordinarily talented people. My experience has been that they fall into two distinct categories. Those who strut and swagger and feel the need to let others know how good they are while at the same time reminding those less talented of us how poor we are and how we ruined their race because we couldn't hold a wheel or didn't have the strength to do a turn. These are the ones who won't give you the time of day unless they consider you at least an equal. You know the ones, you hear that they have won a race and you say they are great bike rider but a bit of wanker.

The other category, and there are far too few in amateur racing, are the ones who are truly humble and always encouraging of another's efforts. I have been dropped in club races and clawed my way back and the person who caused all my pain and suffering has turned around and said "gutsy ride getting back on". They aren't being facetious, just genuinely encouraging and it feels great. When people like this do well in a race I am over the moon for them. These people will talk to everyone at a club race and encourage anyone without feeling the need to big-note there own achievements. These are the few who have the ability to make those around them feel special because as we look up at them in awe of their ability, they look back at us and say well done for our own achievements.

These riders are the greatest champions of the sport because they inspire

Ross Mackay
Sydney Australia
Monday, September 16, 2002

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San Francisco GP #1

I had to laugh at Zachary Walker's story about getting busted for pushing a rider up hill at the San Francisco G.P. It's a funny story. I was at the race and would like to add some perspective. I'm from Pennsylvania and I was impressed with the quality of the police crowd control and the overall positive interplay between the police and the massive crowd. I saw thousands of spectators cheering the bike police when they rode on the course, and when they went airborne on their motorcycles while cresting parts of the Fillmore Street climb.

This was such a pleasure to watch when comparing this behavior to a typically more aggressive relationship between citizens and police personnel found at many public events on the East Coast. I'm sure Zachary's experience was frustrating but keep in mind that there is a learning process going on here. Bicycle racing is still a baby sport in this country. European police probably wouldn't have bothered him for the same thing, but they know there is a time and a place for pushing riders up a hill. Pushing Lance is a no-no and pushing a last place rider, obviously out of contention, is okay.

If this were an American college football game, the police would arrest someone for trying to run on the field during the game, but they wouldn't care once the game was over. It is understood and accepted practice. Hopefully, as each year goes by for these new events, the police will handle incidents like these as second nature.

As a person who has had their own disagreements with local law enforcement, this letter shouldn't be construed as a blanket endorsement of all police behavior, just as an acknowledgment of this situation. On the whole, San Francisco should be very proud with how well they handled this great race.

I also notice on your website that the Fillmore St. climb is listed at either 16% or 18%. That might be the average for the whole thing , but in the official San Francisco guide I had, the last block of the climb is measured at 24.5%. I believe it because I rode up it on a rented mountain bike in a 32x32 gear and it was a killer. I had to lean way forward to keep the front wheel on the ground. It felt steeper then the Hell's Kitchen climb on the early Tour Dupont course in upstate New York. That one is listed at 22%. There were also a couple of streets in San Francisco that are listed at 31.5%. Just sick! I hope it never rains during the Grand Prix or they're going to have a cyclo-cross on their hands.

Rich Ruoff
Tuesday, September 17, 2002

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San Francisco GP #2

A Race Director has to deal with a great number of issues. One of the most important issues is rider and spectator safety. To that end police, course marshals, and volunteers are given specific directions and guidelines to make sure the riders can compete in a safe environment. Prior to the beginning of the event team members are identified, team staff are clearly credentialed, as are the media and other individuals allowed access to the course. However, as far as I can recall being someone's "best friend" is hardly ever a credentialed category.

Mr. Walker states that, "I didn't want to interfere with the race". He also states "Jackson was laughing and putting his arm around me and playfully squirting me with his bottle", now what part of that is not interfering with the race? Please tell me what form of serious racing includes a fan putting his arm around a racer who is still competing? Mr. Walker, did you ever consider that maybe Mr. Jackson wanted to finish the event on his own. That he may have considered the event an important goal and one that he wanted to complete without your assistance? If not for his sake, did you ever think that maybe the spectators wanted to see him complete the course and the race under his own power, that no matter how far off the back he may have been, he was still a competitor in one of the largest races in America? Did you ever think that your actions may not be understood by some other "jerk" in the crowd who might want his 15 minutes? While it is true that in Europe, fans running alongside a favorite rider is common and even pushing them as you did is acceptable, this is not Europe. Furthermore, while the Taylor St. climb is hard, it is no 15 mile climb in the Alps. I hate to break it to you, Mr Walker but the second you stepped onto the race course you were interfering with the race.

I would like to applaud the police for doing the job they were assigned to do. If Mr Walker or anyone else for that matter entered the race course without the proper credentials and interfered with a racer I hope they would remove that individual quickly. The Policeman must also protect his or her own safety and the hand cuffs are part of the protection and handcuffing you was the right thing to do.

Mr. Walker the police didn't make a mistake they did exactly what they were supposed to do. Mr Walker it was you and only you that did something wrong and I hope it is you that learned a thing or two. However, I doubt it.

John Baumeister
Tuesday, September 17, 2002

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San Francisco GP #3

I was one of the spectators watching Zachary Walker push Jackson Stewart up the Taylor hill and I would like it noted that the cops were not "complete jackasses" as Zachary states. In fact, from our perspective, it looked like Jackson was squirting him to get rid of him. I do not know. Not only that, Zachary was on the wrong side of the barriers, a no-no in big races in any country. The barriers are there, on that hill, for a reason. If one person can break the rules, friends or not, then why shouldn't anyone else? Now, I didn't think that Zachary should have been arrested and I did boo when they took him off the course, but when the crowd started chanting, then throwing stuff at the cops, that's when Zachary's initial action turned an enjoyable event into a mob-rules event.

The cops were not jackasses. Those throwing stuff at them were jackasses, but are they the only ones?

Eric Dahlstrom
Emeryville, CA
Tuesday, September 17, 2002

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Climbing Weight

I must respectfully disagree with Ilan Vardi's recent letter regarding climbing weight on virtually all points. First, his examples of "good" large climbers: Heiden in San Francisco Bay Area races and Lance's Armstrong's pre-cancer Tour DuPont victories are not representative.

Not to be disrespectful, but the competition these riders faced in both examples is hardly that found in the Tour de France, where the world's best climbers show themselves. In the 1995 Tour de France, Lance Armstrong finished an hour and a half behind Indurain. Why -- because Lance Armstrong in his pre-cancer days was too heavy to climb with the true climbing elites. It is amusing to look at Tour de France tapes from Lance's pre-cancer days and listen to Phil Liggett's commentaries regarding him -- strong in the flats, cannot climb.

In the last dozen years there has been only one rider weighing more than 170 pounds who could be considered an elite climber: Miguel Indurain, and only one rider weighing 160 pounds who could also be considered an elite climber: Jan Ullrich. All the other elite climbers are less than 160 pounds and most are less than 150 pounds. Forget about riders over 175 pounds, although race tactics often make heavy sprinters appear to be much poorer climbers than they really are, another point where Ilan Vardi's letter is mistaken. (On a side note, Lance Armstrong's weight is subject to much debate. I've seen "official" quotations of his weight being around 160 pounds, but most say he actual race weight is much lighter, more like 150 pounds. I have even read accounts that he is in the mid 140s by the time the Tour hits the mountains.)

Increasing power through training is cycling's Holy Grail, but the closer a ride is to his peak condition, the harder it is to increase power. For elites, even a modest 2-3% increase in power from year to year is difficult. If it were not, Jan Ullrich would now have four Tour de France victories. If you are a large rider, your real hope to becoming a truly good climber is to lose weight, and the more the better.

When weight is lost two things happen simultaneously: power to weight ratio increases, but more important, relative VO2 increases; therefore, oxygen that formerly went to non-working cells can now be directed at working muscle cells. Laboratory test show that the body's capacity to use oxygen exceeds the heart's capacity for delivery, demonstrated by the fact that long term training can result in a 200-300% increase in anaerobic strength, but only about a 15 to 25% increase in VO2 max.

In their early years, both Indurain and Armstrong were blessed with extraordinary power, but neither became cycling legends by getting stronger -- they did so by losing weight, each by about 20 pounds. Before losing weight, Indurain and Armstrong were already at or close to the VO2 max they could achieve by training, but by losing weight, they increased their VO2 max by over 10% -- a tremendous increase given their already near-peak condition.

Here is a quantitative real life example: take a 180-pound amateur rider who can sustain 325 watts for an hour, and let's assume this rider trains smartly and is already near potential VO2 max. This rider would be able to climb an 8-mile, 8.5% grade (something like Alpe d'Huez in France or Whiteface Mountain here in the US) in an hour, a good time but frustrating compared to some lighter riders. If said rider lost 20 pounds, the rider would now be able to sustain about 365 watts, and would finish the climb in 50 minutes, not near Lance Armstrong's time of 38 minutes, but a highly respectable time for an amateur who at 160 pounds would still be somewhat large compared to most "climbers." Significantly, said rider would already have the strength to match the newfound increase in VO2 max. To realize a comparable speed at 180 pounds, the rider's power would have to increase to 400 watts, which would be nearly impossible given the assumption that the rider trains smartly and is already near peak VO2 max.

John Zenkus
New York, NY
Sunday, September 15, 2002

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Doping in the USA #1

All the recent discussion (Rumsas, US doping etc) reminded me of an incident at the start of a race two years ago. We were staging for the start of a Men's Cat 4 race (you know that relaxing part where you get to the line early to get a good spot, only to have thirty guys pile on top of you twenty seconds before the gun goes off) and a group of riders from a team sponsored by a local health food/nutritional supplement chain arrived en masse and proceeded to clog the start line. A rider next to me asked out loud "Why are all the _________ guys freakin' huge?" Every guy on the team was built like a linebacker. Somebody else called out "Urine test!" and we all had a good laugh. But thinking back, now I wonder how close our facetious speculation really was. In fifteen years (on/off) of racing, road and MTB, I have yet to see a urine test done on anyone (can't speak for the pro/I/IIs). A few have mentioned that the cost of doping is prohibitive for amateur racers. How many guys do you see at your local races drive up in BMWs, new SUVs, or Audis and ride $5000 bikes- sporting $200 shoes and $150 shorts. Money is not an issue.

Steve F
Denver Co
Monday, September 16, 2002

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Doping in the USA #2

Performance-enhancing drugs are in the United States peloton. The fact that some of the elder statesmen of this group continue to publicly argue otherwise only goes to show this reader that the epidemic is alive and well, as is this "code of silence" that we have heard about for years. Having spent several years racing the events on the National Racing Calendar, including one year on the US Espoir National Team, I've seen firsthand that drugs are out there, are not hard to find or costly, and that those who are using them aren't even that hard to spot. The arguments posed in this forum that the "GNC" type drugs are no big deal, that money is a serious issue, and that high ethics would keep cheaters from even bothering with a sport offering no real financial gain contain more BS than you can fit into a team van.

During one of the first meetings of the 1997 Espoir National Team, Head Coach Roy Knickman (a man who taught me much in a short period of time and for whom I have great respect) laid down the team policy on drugs. Anyone who took them was out. To think of taking them was to compromise your integrity and mission as an athlete. And he meant it. Too bad the physiology department didn't get the memo for the previous camp. At one meeting with the head physiologist, we were instructed in the fine art of calculating the limit for caffeine intake in pill form. Something like 8-10 mg per kg of body weight should keep you under they said. Folks, this is 600-750 mg of caffeine for one human! Do you know what this means when somebody tests positive for caffeine? It means they have imbibed the equivalent of 12+ cups of coffee! And that isn't doping? Issues of Sodium Bicarbonate loading were discussed as were others I don't remember.

This was nothing compared to what I heard and saw from some of the guys actually on the team. Stories of needles from the previous years trip to France, trips over the border into Mexico to la pharmacia, one guy taking ephedrine to loose weight that he didn't have... So I got curious about ephedrine - I mean why would anybody take something illegal if it was no big deal and they ran the risk of getting caught? After all, the previous year's crit champion, Levi Leipheimer had tested positive and received an apology and a slap on the wrist by having his title taken away? Do you really think he didn't know? Well let me tell you, two little pills called Ripped Fuel which you can buy at the GNC is as good as rocket fuel - that's why. This is as far as my experimentation with doping went, but if there is stuff more potent than Ripped Fuel, I don't even want to know. Mr. Lieswyn chooses to not concern himself with this product in the peloton? Perhaps he should reconsider.

My education in the drug habits in the US peloton continued as I gained awareness of their presence. The guy in line at the jiffy john who couldn't talk slowly enough to be coherent, the packages of Spanish and polish labeled pharmaceuticals and bloody needles in the trash can out in the lawn of the race hotel, the evidence was piling up. Former teammates of some of the lesser liked guys in the bunch were more than willing to spill the beans on who was on what and for how long. Details that couldn't have been fabricated in a million years - the where's, the who's, the how much's. I remember going to a small stage race and getting schooled by a guy who was a former champion of the most prestigious race in the country, but for some reason was on a D-3 team without a big salary. Why? I asked a friend closer to the situation. Duh, he said, do you think a top team like the one he was on when he won the race could tolerate the press associated with the inevitable positive test? The guy, he told me, could never do the really big races where they actually test. I went on to acquire info on guys on most every top team in the nation with facts that would hold up in a court of law.

So why do people bother? Well your guess is as good as mine. I'm sure there are more reasons than one. Cycling is a beautiful sport. It's fun to do. Competitive nature is something that most people that attain greatness in the sport possess. Some simply don't like working desk jobs and some just really like looking at their own fit legs - take your pick. Should someone else's genetic inferiority preclude their desire to succeed? Regardless, success in the sport is a pre-requisite for being able to support yourself if you are going to remain a competitive cyclist, and if you aren't making it without drugs, just maybe taking them is better than the alternative. You want fries with that? Should I photo-copy some more of those Mr. Smith? Shall I read up on tomorrow's marketing meeting at home tonight?

Ryan M. Tie
Washington DC
Friday, September 13, 2002

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Doping in the USA #3

Kim West's letter condemning an entire group for one person's positive test is typical of the small minded criticism leveled at our entire team this season. Any reasonable person can figure out that each individual is responsible for the choices they make, and the consequences thereof. Kim West attacks an entire group of nearly 200 avid cyclists, the Saint Paul Bicycle Racing Club, and thinks his self righteousness will help improve the situation. If referring to individuals as "scum" is indicative of his level of respect for all people, and I have to wonder if forgiveness has a place in Kim West's life, or if he is just too bitter because he can't ride due to a back injury.

As an interesting anecdote, Kim West was DQ'ed from the 1994 Pepin Hills GP for wheelsucking a higher category rider, after being repeatedly warned of the consequences. As promoter, I could have refused him entry to the next day's criterium for refusing to follow the official's orders, but I chose to allow him to compete. I recognize that people make mistakes, and deserve a second chance, if only to prove that they have learned from the experience. Hey Kim.. "WWJD?"

Bob Benedum
Durand, Wisc.
Friday, September 6, 2002

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Banned for Life

Mapei suggested a year ago that the rider's UCI points be eliminated if a rider was found to be doping. Guess what, nobody listened and now we have lost the largest and best funded team in cycling. It was only because of the good graces of Joe Montgomery that Saeco still rides Cannondales. We are talking about very big money turning its back on our sport.

How many sponsors throwing up their hands does it take before the message sinks in. Drugs drag the sponsor's name though the mud. Remember Festina? They were very happy to be associated with Zulle, Virenque etc... Sure they were.... When Gilberto Simoni sucked on a cough sweet brought to him by his grandmother he should realize that he was taking a drug. Simoni's suggestion that he must have gotten cocaine from the dentist was shot down as soon as he spoke. While the list of banned substances is indeed long, taking cough drops from Colombia, England or Timbuktu is borderline insanity. Self medication is a no-no. He should know that just as well as Ullrich in the German disco as he popped pills that it would be detected. They deserve to be stripped of their tours past and present for being so utterly stupid. That Deutsche Telecom would even entertain the idea that they are picking up Garzelli is beyond me. He's as daft as them.

As to Garzelli, I suspect that if Bob Ilchik or I were to eat all the foods he ate, neither of us would test positive for a steroid masking agent. Probenecid is not found in candies, it's not found in hamburger and it's certainly not found in bread. It's found when some bozo takes a drug, orally, rectally or by injection. Geez, maybe he got it off the toilet seat. Strewth!

While I agree that genetic testing can be used to determine which drugs will work in which body (look at Variagenics in Cambridge , MA), suggesting that we test athletes to grade them on what level of drug is beneficial is quit frankly ludicrous. Some drugs don't work in some folks, so by your standard we should forgive them for taking the drug as it had no effect on him/her. Same goes for pseudoscience herbal stuff with precursors of steroids or any other banned substance. If in doubt don't take it!

It's simple.

If the drug ain't in their system, then they didn't take a drug. I don't give a damn if the rest of society wants to poke, prod or inject monkey poop, widgets, rocks or narcotics up every orifice they have. They are not professional or national level athletes who derive their income from riding a bike. They are not subject to drug tests as part of their normal job. They don't agree to abide by the rules of a sport that they derive their income from. They don't owe sponsors value for money. When they sign the dotted line they have to abide by it. Same as you and I bob. Our driving license requires us to abide by other rules. Don't be drink driving etc. Don't speed etc. We break the rules we suffer the consequence.

To be a professional they have to act professionally. The rules are the rules. Abide by them. Tammy Thomas deserved what she got. I don't know her from a hole in the wall by the way, but she was let off once for a similar infraction but she still didn't cotton on. Perhaps it will cause others to think otherwise before they try to take the easy way out like she did.

To suggest that we apply rules loosely or look the other way, when there is simply no other way of getting a drug in your system other than by taking it, is to perpetuate the nonsense that we read about week after week. Taking drugs is not, I repeat not a normal activity. It's a conscious act whether performance was enhanced or not. It simply demonstrates intent to enhance. No doubt some genius could demonstrate a placebo effect too.

Cycling is just making it to the big time, as could be witnessed in the local racing here in New England this year. Don't let a few stupid or rotten apples ruin the sport. Kick 'em out. They can all get jobs as baseball players, wrestlers or pornstars! They don't drug test.

Ross Kennedy
Concord, MA USA
Monday, September 16, 2002

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Irish cycling

As someone who has had a long-standing keen interest in the development of Irish cycling, (my mother was born in Donegal) several points raised in the previous letters merit a little time and reflection.

When I first went to Ireland to race, the standard of domestic racing scene was comparable to that of the better amateur races in Brittany but over the years, mainly due to internal politics, those standards whittled away. Some 10 years ago, as a candidate for the position of National Coach (revised down to become National Team manager), I prepared a 7-year development program that would effectively have raised the standards of Irish domestic racing to their previous standing. Concurrently the plan would have provided the better Irish rider with continuing experience of Continental racing at the higher levels on a rotational basis. It was my opinion that the program would have raised not only the domestic standards, thus making cycle racing more attractive to in-coming youngsters, but continue to provide role models in the declining years of the Kelly/Roche/Earley era. Having already managed and experienced an Irish project in France during 1989, ( > 30 victories) assessed how Irish cycling politics influenced situations, seen how little or no physiological controls were applied, the ad hoc manner of selecting riders, my attitude lead me to suggest that Ireland was capable of producing a similar number of "real" professionals as Switzerland, another small country.

Today, we are seeing Irish teams riding in events, it seems, all around the globe. When the World's were held in Japan only the Irish "blazer-brigade" was present, apparently as they had the "right" to be there, no riders mind other than Kelly! It is certain that riders who come to the Continent, lack grass-roots expertise, which suggests something is still lacking on the domestic scene. No matter how well-intentioned, the situation can only become progressive, when the officials have enough in-depth experience of the sport, a more professional application, along with financial structuring so as to develop all of the necessary amenities, including a correction of a riders approach and thinking.

With Paddy Doran's influence (a stalwart of Irish coaching) Irish cycling is beginning to move forward, with physiological test facilities being developed in Limerick, whilst the house in Belgium is a pied-a-terre, a base providing riders with accommodation and more highly competitive racing. The means have now been provided to offer riders an opportunity, whilst officials, team managers or selectors need to throw off the old concepts and realise that just because it worked before, applications need changing to keep pace, let alone catch-up.

Individual presentation is a reflection of one's own self-esteem as well as a mobile for publicity. Along with the beer-swilling image, the scruffy appearance or antics considered a "good crack" one is confronted with the old but typical behavioral patterns of the Irish which have to go. Unfortunately the Irish have a reputation for such idiosyncrasies, but hopefully this new era of education should alter that! Ireland is now fast moving forward but has already lost 10 years - again!

In that context a little phrase that I coined many moons ago and still frequently use, reads :

If as an amateur I think "amateur", I will remain an amateur.
But if, as an amateur I think "professional", I will become a professional-amateur.
So when I become a Professional, I shall be a "professional-professional!

William David James
BE1 - France
Friday, September 13, 2002

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Missing Americans

If we're speculating, then maybe (read between the lines of John Lieswyn's diary conversation with McRae) McRae was in the same situation last year and Postal gave him an opportunity. Maybe he didn't perform as well as the other members of the team, given whatever 'management' has decided constitutes performance. Maybe he complained -- as Lieswyn's diary suggested - about his role on the team. Remember Cedric Vasseur?
Mark Jenkins
Portland, Oregon
Friday, September 13, 2002

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Flying a bike - to box or not?

After three trips to Europe with my bike, once using a rented commercial bike case, twice using corrugated shipping crates, I am planning to present my bike at the airline counter next month more or less as is. Following instructions on the airline Web sites, I will remove the pedals and release the handlebar so that it can be lined up with the top tube, but other than that and some pipe insulation on the main tubes, the bike will be road-ready. I actually went out and blew $250 on a Trico bike case a few weeks ago, but one look at this 30-pound monstrosity with its instructions for removing both wheels, pedals, handlebar, seat, chain, etc., and I realized there had to be a better way. Now, upon arrival at Fiumicino airport I won't have to lug a 50-pound wheeled box on and off the train, and when I reach my destination I won't have to spend 30 minutes reassembling my bike. Nor will I have to find storage space for the empty case while I travel -- and at my home. I'd like to hear from others who have traveled with uncrated bikes on airlines recently. Any horror stories?

Steve Oakey
Saturday, September 14, 2002

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Need help identifying riders

Please visit and take a look at two photos which I picked up recently. I have some questions in order to caption them properly; all details at the URL. Many thanks for any help from the experts in

Brian Hooper
Surrey, UK
Wednesday, September 18, 2002

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Killer T-shirt

Di Luca's killer T-shirt? I would think that since Di Luca is a cyclist that killer would mean, killer climber, or killer sprinter, or killer time trialist , or killer legs etc. but a child with a gun, I don't get the significance. Is it some kind of inside joke or bad taste?

John Smith
Thursday, September 19, 2002

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Lieswyn on SFGP

John Lieswyn's diary is one of the best things going on Cyclingnews. He's bright, funny, frank, grounded and above all - he's articulate. I learned more about the SFGP from his diary than at least two other sources. I loved his description of the crowd effect on riders' motivation. Here's hoping the "veteran" gets picked up for some major international competition next year. I at least hope he makes it to the World's next year because Hamilton is in my back yard. Keep him plugged into Cyclingnews for all of us.

Greg Soto
St.Catharines, ON, Canada
Thursday, September 19, 2002

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Great Work!

I think you guys at Cycling News do an outstanding job. Cycling is my first stop on the WWW every day. Your race coverage is top notch! I really appreciate your use of pictures to fill out the race coverage. The Vuelta coverage has been outstanding as well. We hear very little about cycling here in the USA, and your website is a valuable resource. I've found the Pro Cycling team database very helpful when I want information on a particular rider or team. Thanks for all your hard work. Keep it up.

Corey Cromer
Thursday, September 19, 2002

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Recent letters pages

  • September 13 - Rumsas' substance list, Marking doping agents, Doping in the USA, Banned for Life, Garzelli, Weight, Irish cycling, Heart Rate Zones, Watching Keirin racing, Pinarello TT bike, Euro Pro secrets?, Missing Americans, Mark Silver
  • September 6 - Banned for life, Pinarello TT Bike, Heart Rate Zones, Tommy Campbell on Irish cycling, Climbing weight, Armstrong's weight, Rumsas, Saturn Classic, Name the Lion, Armstrong's lost opportunities, Doping in the USA
  • August 30 - Doping in the USA, Rumsas, Saturn Classic, Rabobank botch-up, Australian women at Commonwealth Games, Name for Lion, Brake lever position, Fairing, Climbing weight, Javier Ochoa, Jose Perez Cuapio, Simoni, Armstrong's lost opportunities, World Cup prize money, Virenque
  • August 23 - Doping in the USA, Rumsas, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie - Oi, Oi, Oi!!!, Armstrong vs Indurain, Armstrong's lost opportunities, Simoni, This is NOT a fairing?, Records and altitude, Saturn classic, Prize money for overall World Cup winner?, Oldest rider jersey, Virenque, Brake lever position
  • August 16 - More Rumsas, 1000m time impressive, Oldest rider jersey, Allez Roche, Singlespeed, What's in it for us?, Doping in the USA, KoM, Armstrong Vs Indurain, Virenque, Armstrong's lost opportunities, Steel bikes, Scratch race rules, Jose Perez Cuapio, Jaja, Photos, Tour revamp, Simoni
  • August 9 - Rumsas, KoM competition, Farewell, Jaja, Comparing riders of different generations, Armstrong vs Indurain, Oldest Rider Jersey, What's in the bottles?, Most aggressive rider, Tour revamp needed, Record Tour abandons, Tour Finale Crowds, Cycling Photos, Singlespeed?, Girona Cycling, There's still some good out there, 20km scratch race, new rule sucks, Virenque, Simoni, Missing riders, Where are the steel bikes?
  • August 2 - Rumsas, Big Mama Rumsas!, Swiss World Cup didn't pay some women in 2001 either!, Doping, Still some good out there, Simoni, Cipollini, Post-Tour Blues, Farewell, Jaja, Carbon fiber forks, Technical advantages, What's in the bottles?, Armstrong v. Indurain, Record Tour abandons, Pantani, Virenque, KoM competition, Most aggressive rider
  • July 30 - Rumsas, Merci and farewell, Jaja, Armstrong's acting, Points Dinging, Lance and style, Record Tour abandons, Virenque, Back to normal, Most Aggressive Rider Competition, French "fans", King of the Mountains, Blue Tram, Tour Revamp Needed, Jacky Durand, TdF history: Wins by Country stats revised, Props for CN, Pantani, Simoni, VDB, Obree update, Asthma and Salbutamol, Carbon Fiber Forks, Armstrong's lost opportunities
  • July 24 - Asthma and Salbutamol, Americans in Paris, Drugs, Dopers and class - mutually exclusive, Is Lance bad for the Tour?, French "fans", Armstrong's acting, Record for TdF abandons?, Erik Zabel, OLN Coverage, Lance and style, Jonathan Vaughters, In support of Willy Voet, Headset Info
  • July 18 - The Tour, Zabel Swats!, Asthma & Salbutamol, Bob Roll, Americans in Paris, Floyd Landis, Tour Trivia, Moto Madness at Le Tour, Drinking Games, Drugs, VDB's new team?, The real reason Armstrong never rides the Giro, Dick Ploog
  • July 11 - Verbruggen & Mapei, Verbruggen must go, Jan Ullrich, Drugs, Australian Commonwealth Games selection, USPS Tour selections, Americans in Paris, Watching the Tour at Ventoux, Where's Bobke?, Missing riders, DynEPO, Ghent, VDB's new team?
  • July 3 - Mapei & Verbruggen, Verbruggen must go, US Postal Tour selection, Cycling in Dublin, TdF selection, Dynepo, Reporting, What will Cipo's world's kit look like?, VDB's new team?, Best years for US cyclists?, Sticking out your tongue, Ghent, Time trial rigs, US Postal investigation, Vuelta , Drinking Games
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