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Letters to Cyclingnews - August 29, 2003
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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It's rich Patrick Lefevere complaining about his riders being "poached" by Credit Agricole, he was quite happy for Boonen and VDB to break their contracts to come to his team. Teams which have espoir or development squads accept that they'll lose riders to other teams, Credit Agricole have themselves lost several espoirs to other teams. Even if Lefevere stops recruiting former Eastern Bloc riders, other teams won't, and Lefevre's teams will be the poorer for it.
As usual, USA Cycling is extremely unresponsive to the majority of its licensed racers, whose annual dues provide it the means to operate. Their website is great at promoting big national events, and American riders who are doing great things in international competition, but as far as information about State and local races, there's little if any. Many of the links to information that would actually be useful to the majority of licensed U.S. riders isn't even there. You just get messages that "we're working on it" or something. And their "National Rankings" database is a complete joke. Their idea is good, and I think the formula they have for ranking all amateur riders in the nation is great, but in the three years they've had this up on their website, its NEVER ONCE been accurate. It seems like they use results from 3 or 5 races total. What's the point of even putting the database online if it's never even close to representative of reality? Does anyone else share in my frustration?
Telekom must be crazy in not offering Bobby Julich a new contract for 2003. Julich was a true trooper for "Vino" all year, and was a major factor in the V's success. Even though Bobby had some bad luck early in wrecking, he rode very well for Telekom, and deserves to be treated as a the great ride he is. All in all, Julich rode very well all year long, and Telekom is making a serious mistake in relishing him. Look for Julich to be a serious play in the Vuelta. He will show Telekom how wrong they are.
Reading your news about the deaths in the last 15 days on Spanish roads I feel I have to draw attention to the death on July 27 of our friend and member Jose Alberto Sanchez Martin (Alberto to his friends) who met his untimely death in a head-on crash on the descent of the alto de Safari (near Benidorm) while on a club ride. for more details see www.ucbclub.org.
What the hell is happening this year? Is it the heat, or just a change of mental
chip that cyclists no longer matter to drivers and the DGT when they design
the roads to aid traffic flow at our expense (do you know how to get round a
roundabout safely when the cars will not give you space, even if they did know
the rules of the road?)
B. R. Taylor
I only respond to this question heading to ask how John Carruthers is sure that Mr. Fischer's news is in fact fantasy, irresponsible? The short cyclingnews.com story on the Charlotte, NC race does not suggest the planned race and purse is a fantasy (nor that it is a certainty). Similarly, I wonder what, in the OLP announcement which proclaims a continuing progress towards Div III status, suggests fantasy? Just because the team does not yet have a younger elite roster does not mean it will never have such a roster.
In both cases it remains to be seen what will become of each aspiration. That is, it seems that it is an open question, in the absence of other information about the Charlotte race, or OLP's progress towards Div. III status, as to whether these plans are in fact fantasy or publicized irresponsibly. Accordingly, without showing those reasons in conjunction with his indignation and slurs, it would be at least polite, and certainly prudent, not to criticize Mr. Fischer in a public forum such as this.
$125,000 Criterium in Charlotte #2
It is rather amazing that promoters pledge allegiance to bring "big time" money to bicycle racing. I can't understand why Team Directors would say such things as "Division III awaits Southeastern Race Team". "Big time purse for International racers in 2004".
It is also interesting to find out that Ian Jackson "may be pushing 50" and that former pro John Patterson is in the "40-44 category". Shame on them. What do they know about racing? The fact that the OLP name has over 25 years of professional cycling to its foundation is of no consequence. There is no way these guys could assist in the development of the up and coming racers?!
I'm sure that Mr. Carruthers took the time to find out that Thad Fischer was not the Team Directeur when the announcement was made to progress towards D3. Is it also true that to become a successful D3 team you need former pro's to ferry the process. Mentor? I may be mistaken.
I also can assume that Mr. Carruthers knew that Thad Fischer was technical director for another event. Tour de Pont. Ring a bell? I can't understand why Bank of America, Charlotte, the medical community and supporting cast would support such an idea?? It's not like Bank of America ever has their name behind something unless they set out to "win".
I understand the plight of most racers. A big announcement is made. Promises are imbedded. All for it to fall apart and never realize the goal set forth. I also understand that before judgment needs to be rendered, details and facts need to be researched. It appears the neither were the case in this situation.
I hope Mr. Carruthers will have the opportunity to fly south for the spring and experience a truly great event. I for one can hardly wait.
Here's the breakdown in US racing categories:
Cat 5 = rank beginner...no racing experience
This is a "rough" guideline. There are specific rules as to how/when you can upgrade from one category to the next. Usually Cat 1 and 2 racers in the men's fields are together and not separated and the "Pro" guys are thrown in there as well. Typically you'll find the 3's and 4's together with the 5's racing separately (although on occasion the 4's and 5's will be together with the 3's either separate or with the 2's). It varies quite a bit. The women racers are graded the same except there is no Category 5 for women (not enough of us)
I am sure that Ullrich was relayed all kinds of information about the course. I am also positive that his teammates told him about the 1k section (where he crashed) was a skid pan. Unfortunately for them, Ullrich paid no attention to their information going all out into that section.
The information came from an OLN (American tv show) interview with Lance. Where he got that information I have no idea. Whether or not to believe....I have to, facts are too over whelming not to. In response to your dreaming of a different result in the TT, Lance would have never gone down in a TT that important. He is too intelligent of a rider to take irresponsible chances to jeopardize the Tour. If Ullrich would have not gone down he might have beaten Lance, at the most, by 5-10 seconds, not near enough time to worry Lance.
Matthew C. Riggs
"Lelli wins after Rous crashes out" the headline reads. Well, I say this to you sirs, my arse. (that's a lot like a butt, right?) Lelli should have waited during the Tour du Limousin, and seen Rous loaded into the ambulance. He should have visited him in the hospital, smuggled in some pudding, and only then finished the race.
I've never liked that Massimiliano character. He's a big gear masher... er, a little gear spinner, whatever it is I don't like. Sure he got a 'W' in his column but hey, it was at the expense of someone else's 'DNF'. And that's about, four consonants without a vowel, right? Suspicious? There's more.
He's from the plain speaking, interesting part of Italy. The rootin' tootin' part -- Manciano. The part that's about mid-shin on the boot. If the United States were a boot, the mid-shin would be somewhere around Austin, Texas. Huh? Huh? It's all coming together now.
As far as that other race over in France. Ullrich kept the diesel motoring (I myself am a diesel. Blessed are the diesels.) Then was torn, looked back constantly, ate his heart out, thought about flying, didn't, saw Hamilton pleading the case for slowing down, slowed down, was attacked by Mayo, countered by Armstrong, stoked more coal and caught Mayo and pulled to within 40 ticks of the other mid-shinner. Oh, then he got screwed out of second place on the stage by a Basque. Hey wait, that's about mid-shin on Spain.
That's all. Sportsman? Only if you like depth and dimension in your heroes. There was a novel in his internal struggle. There was an epic in his day. And in the end, Ullrich waited. In the end, in the beginning, Ullrich waited. Blessed are the mid-shinners. Blessed are the torn. Thank you Jan. Yours is the kingdom of heaven. Or to hear the German anthem in Paris, either way.
Please watch the replay again. As Lance and Mayo went down, Ullrich just missed them shooting to his left. Look behind him about 20ft and you can see a black Cervelo coming into view, not much of an effort to bridge that gap to Ullrich once his momentum was taken avoiding Lance and Mayo. After that point is where the supposedly "waiting" for Lance occurred. It didn't, plain as day he did not sit up and soft pedal.
Did Ullrich wait? #2
There's one key factor--maybe the most important--I haven't read in what must be a hundred letters about riders waiting for a leader that has crashed or experienced a mechanical problem. Imagine the alternative in a sport where riders literally push through miles of shoulder-to-shoulder spectators.
If "the crowd" learns they can influence the outcome, then there will be people that will interfere. Since there are millions of spectators and that's way more than it takes to find just one idiot, it's not unlikely, right? I think the "unwritten" rule is a sensible vaccine to such shenanigans. You may interfere, but the riders will make sure the race outcome is not impacted, so why bother? And the race goes on as it was meant to be.
Did Ullrich wait? #3
I think the point about Ullrich and Mayo is the most interesting one, because it's increasingly the story of Ullrich's life. It seems that the entire peloton knows that Ullrich will drag them around any course, not ask for help, and find himself in the final kilometers with the wrong riders on his wheel, borrowing his energy, then defaulting (dishonorably?) on the loan.
He comes in second all the time because he apparently is a) tactically sort of inept or b) simply unable to get people to work with him consistently -- possibly because he doesn't see the advantages of throttling back a bit so as to make that work possible, or is afraid that doing so would create another type of vulnerability to attack. Though he's always the strongest rider out there, he's not a rider who on most days will mount the big attack that knocks people off his wheel once and for all. It must frustrating for his fans, because we all know that he is capable, physically, of becoming that kind of rider. And, maybe he doesn't need to -- because one day soon, his current approach will win another Tour de France.
Ullrich can stay with almost any attack, he can bridge to a breakaway, he can sit on the shoulder of the strongest rider in most disciplines, but the huge kick that he needs to intimidate or finish off his break partners isn't really there. He probably didn't attack Armstrong because he couldn't acclerate in a way that the gap he gained would be defensible. The debate about whether or not he slowed down is illuminating, because no one can really tell! He always looks the same. It's almost as if he rides as if he's the World's Greatest Wilfred Peeters, riding for someone else, instead of a past and future Tour champion.
He reminds me of the tri-athletes who come out to local training races, super-strong people who lead the pack around for the whole race, then finish 30th in the field sprint. Is Rudy Pevenage to blame for this essentially defensive approach to racing (and yes, in his case, sitting at the front is defensive)? What would Riis and his motivational and tactical energy do for a rider with Ullrich's talent? There is no reason in the world that Jan Ullrich should be the new Eternal Second.
Did Ullrich wait? #4
I have to agree with Silvan Linden. There is no way Hamilton would have caught Ullrich to tell him to wait if Ullrich hadn't slowed, let alone attacked. But the real issue I think is; should Jan have waited?
I really warmed to Lance after I read his autobiography and one of the incidents that was a turning point for me was the verbal altercation with Argentin for daring, as a nobody, to ride at the front. I am disappointed that he is now part of the cycling aristocracy. As a fellow 'new worlder' I am deeply suspicious of these 'unwritten rules' - if an action is deemed to be wrong it should be adjudicated by the race committee. There are sanctions for unsportsmanlike riding already. When these unwritten rules are interpreted by the riders they are done so in a highly subjective way. For me the crash that should be compared with Armstrong's on the Luz-Ardiden climb is Ullrich's in the last TT. I believe the 'rule' that prohibits attacks on the Maillot Jaune after/during a crash applies to something like the Stage 1 pile-up, in which case the race leader should not suffer for riding in the bunch. Armstrong's crash on the Luz-Ardiden was entirely due to his own decisions. He had the entire road to ride on and chose a very attacking line to maximise his chances. He took risks because of the excellence of his rivals. To me this is no different to Ullrich's crash in the TT, where he went all-out for a win and to put time into Armstrong. Lance didn't hesitate to put more time into Ullrich in the TT after his crash.
Waiting cost Ullrich much more than the crash cost Armstrong. He was following Lance and Mayo, and while a brilliant climber, cannot match the changes of pace, so when the next attack came he had lost his rhythm. Still, it was a brilliant Tour, and for that we can thank Jan.
Lance might be the greatest Tour de France rider, but there's a reason for it. The ONLY objective in Lance's life is to win the Tour de France. All other pro riders, especially Europeans, have a different job, and that is to ride and compete as frequently as possible to earn their money. It's a totally different career! I think Lance is great, but given the fact that he trains all year long just for the Tour de France gives him an advantage. OK, he also rides some other races, but remember it is only for training. It doesn't matter if he wins or not. I honestly would like to see him at the Giro and at the Tour in the same year as other riders do. Or at least, have the same competition schedule as other top riders. This would put everything in perspective and could allow to make better comparisons. Still, he is great. But really, how great?
Lance Armstrong #2
Odd comments about Lance not getting along with the European press. This year (2003) he was awarded, by the press, the annual award for being the most available and most open cyclist in the TdF. Did I miss something?
Malcolm McGregor Foster
Lance Armstrong #3
In response to Seamus Weber's letter. Surely, Mr. Weber, you cannot argue that the stage in which Lance claimed to have "gifted" the victory to Pantani, was won because Pantani fought Lance to the finish. If you recall that day a few years back, Lance slowed because he thought they were already past the finish line. It turned out they were not, but Pantani picked up the win because Lance stopped pedaling. There was no sprint, no fight to the finish. Lance saying it was a "gift" is what we Americans call sarcasm. In fact, most of the evidence you present against Lance being a great champion are along the same lines. He, as far as I've seen in interviews during the Tour, never claimed Ullrich owed him. He said something to the effect "maybe he thought he owed me....." And how can you forget to mention Hinault's show of selfishness by trying to beat his teammate LeMond in 1986? He had promised to ride in support of LeMond, but instead fought him.
Forgive the man for being defensive when questioned on his training methods and climbing ability. I would imagine these champions would have acted the same had they been required to go through the same torment. Let's not forget that at one point journalists were accusing Lance of having obtained some secret potion during his cancer treatment that enabled him to perform better! I feel that if there were individuals out there challenging you on your recovery from a near-death disease, you might take it a bit personally as well.
And as for the celebrations on the podium...I know you Europeans tend to look down on that (I remember a golf tournament a few years back), however I do seem to recall quite a few European cyclists over the years excited while winning and on the podium. I guess he shouldn't be happy at the age of 21 winning a stage in the Tour and the World Championship....they were obviously minor feats for a young cyclist. The fact of the matter is, no matter when you are racing, somebody will find something to pull you apart from the "other great champions." People berated Indurain for only winning TTs. Give the Texan a break.
Finally, one comment on Seamus' earlier letter concerning doping in cycling. I cannot say if races are tainted with drugs or not, however by viewing the increasing speed as an indicator is not an accurate measure of doping. Cycling is just like every other sport. Records are made to be broken. Races will always be run at a faster pace over time. Various factors play in, training, equipment, diet, etc.
Lance Armstrong does not have the world's most winning personality, we can all agree. But I think his actions demonstrate his true attitude toward his sport, and it is an admirable one. Lance did gift that victory to Pantani, not to shame him but to honor him as a former champion. It was Pantani's ungracious response that deserves criticism. Lance did wait for Ullrich on Peyresourd, and later gifted him third place and thus a time bonus on a mountain stage. Ullrich acknowledged Lance's action when he offered him a handshake at the line. On Luz Ardiden this year, whatever one feels about the "did Jan wait" controversy, Lance gave Chavanel a pat on the back as he rode by, acknowledging the young rider's bold effort. Lance also continuously acknowledges the efforts of his own teammates, who arguably put up the greatest yellow jersey defense of all time this year; when Lance pointed to Hincapie as Hincapie crossed the line at Luz Ardiden, his genuine gratefulness to his lieutenant's work was obvious. Only a cynic could view these gracious actions as false pretenses.
As an added note, Lance never said Jan "owed him" for Peyresourd, merely that he was not surprised Jan waited given their history. Likewise, he said only that he is "not so sure" (a quote) Jan waited after seeing the video; he said nothing to insult Jan or question his abilities or his honor, and did not even hint that Jan attacked, which would have been the only real 'code violation'. Slowing is something unique that Jan and Lance have done for each other in the past. And, responding to Zelko Glisin's letter above, Lance has repeatedly acknowledged the luck he had in this year's Tour. He also has spoken openly of his fears that he would lose, first to Beloki and then to Ullrich.
A forthright look back on the other greats won't reveal a cast of charmers; instead, you'll find the remote "Alien," Indurain; the prickly intimidator, Hinault; the raw killer instinct of the Cannibal, Merckx; and quiet, driven Anquetil. Does anybody honestly remember a single post-race interview with these riders? Of course not: we remember their tremendous victories, and the blurred vision of hindsight makes us equate their glories in the saddle with grace in front of the microphone. To be a great champion like these men, and Armstrong, takes a personality unlike a normal human's. They live to win, which is to say, they live to crush their opponents. There's no way to be nice about that; just gracious, particularly where it counts: on the road. The other riders were, and Armstrong is.
Lance Armstrong #5
Each of the previous "5 Timers" had a love-hate relationship with the media and the fans. Each has been criticized at the time of their reign for how they raced or how they won or what language they chose to conduct their interviews. It usually isn't until they are retired and their unique personalities and skills are missed from the peleton that they really become larger than life. Probably the most liked rider from a fan standpoint was Miquel because he was quiet, gracious and didn't ruffle any feathers. Most important to remember though is he was just being himself. None of these champions would have had the same results without expressing their specific personalities because it is in doing so that pushed them ahead of the challengers of their era. Just be happy you have witnessed one of these champions at his best because I bet you will miss him in 5 years
I have watched the 86 Tour many times (have it on video) and it is clear that Hinault betrayed LeMond. He gave a promise in 1985 to help LeMond to win the Tour. This was after LeMond possibly could have ran away with the Tour but instead helped guide his team mate up the final climb. But in 86 instead of honouring his promise he attacked LeMond and the other competitors at every opportunity. LeMond clearly could have countered or attacked him, but it is bad news for an American to do that on a French team (Hinault was a hero to his nation then). Just look at what happen to Roche when he attacked his (Italian?) team mate in Pink during the 87 Giro. They had to feed him Pancakes as it was the only thing they could slide underneath the door.
It was only due to Hinault's own pride and over-confidence that brought about his undoing. Instead of conserving his 5min advantage, what does he do, he attacks again. This time blowing up and losing his lead. Then he tries again (with LeMond in yellow) on the Alp d'Huez stage, but this time LeMond had the right to counter and easily caught him up.
In the end justice was served. LeMond was clearly the strongest and would have easily won that Tour even if they were on different teams. But the only change was that I lost any respect that I once had for Hinault.
In response to Kyle Feliks' speculation that Petacchi, provided he acquits himself well in the Vuelta, could finish 2003 with a whopping 11 grand tour stage wins, Kyle Feliks writes: "It wouldn't surprise me to hear that someone like the cannibal or the badger only raced the Tour and the Giro, but won 15 stages. Just curious."
In the 1977 Vuelta, Freddy Maertens won an insane 13 (!!!) stages -- in addition, of course, to the points title and the overall. Of course, back then the Vuelta wasn't quite of the calibre that it is now, but it's still no mean feat.
As for the even bigger guns: Merckx regularly won 6, 7 or 8 stages in the Tour, so it's completely possible that he might have won just as many stages in the Giro during one of his double years ('70, 72, 74). Unfortunately, Giro stats are a bit harder to find, so I'm not sure how many stages he won in these events.
Hinault has perhaps the most consistent Giro record of all, entering three times and winning three times. Two of those years were Giro-Tour doubles: 1982 and 1985. Hinault, however, usually didn't win as many stages per race as Merckx did, so keep that in mind if you actually can find those figures.
I'm starting to promote cycling events in Brazil. Since cycling is MUCH un-structured here simple things can get be quite challenging. Our group is starting from ground zero and with just good will we have already raised sponsorship money to promote a 4 stages event.
Earlier in this year me and some athletes have decided that we aren't going to wait any longer for some "nonexistent" local cycling federation for help and we did promote another 4 stages event with even less money (almost no money at all). Some technical problems of course did occur, most because of lack of staff, but one problem did catch my attention since I'm the responsible for the technical part of the event: the photo finish.
It's quite challenging to make a complete arrival list with a 10+ group of riders. I used my digital camera to record but it hadn't the resolution or speed necessary to distinguish all the riders through the finish line. I began looking at photo finish systems and found their prices way too high for our society: the cheapest I found was at some 7500euros.
I'd like to know more about photo finish systems, how much do they cost, and if there are some creative (and cheaper) alternatives to create a photo finish system starting with normal cameras. Are there any used system in the market?
Anyway, we are starting to create our own physical structure (sign, lines, etc) and some video system for the finishes is on my priorities list.
Marcelo Iannini, U-23 national champion on '99 and 2000
OK, OK, enough already! Armstrong is great (though a little arrogant) and Ullrich is great (awesome actually). The Tour is done and over with and Armstrong has won his fifth so lets move on. I love Armstrong and all, but next year I hope Ullrich wins. At this point, after all these years, Ullrich can only have a TRULY GREAT Tour win if he beats Armstrong to do it. Their rivalry is now the stuff of legend, like Sherlock Homes and Moriarty or Batman and Joker. So here's to hoping Ullrich can pull it off... he deserves it at this point. Don't you all think? He's the only person to even really challenge Armstrong at all. He's the only challenger to make the Tour interesting over the past few years. Without Ullrich the past few Tours would have been boring (like the 2002 Tour for instance). Next year I'm cheering on the big German.
The Motorola, Seven Eleven, Coors Light, etc. teams aren't around anymore because that is the nature of professional cycling. A company sponsors a team for a while, gains brand name exposure, and then after a certain period of time reaches the point of diminishing returns. That's why the European teams of the 80s aren't racing today-eventually they all pull the plug, just as ONCE has done, just as Mapei has done, etc. Just like there are no more commercials with the Budweiser frogs. Eventually these marketing schemes wear out, and you have to do something new. That doesn't mean that there is no marketing value in sponsoring a cycling team-clearly there is or major corporations like Motorola, like T-Mobile, like Saturn, etc., wouldn't sponsor teams for year after year.
As for Starbucks, did they open a bunch of stores to generate brand name recognition, or did they gain brand name recognition and then open a bunch of stores? I knew what Starbucks was long before there was one on every corner in California.
US television ratings for le Tour #2
James Darlow wrote: "From where I sit, the numbers, math and statistics all say that the 1% of the households receiving OLN are not as numerous as the 99% that are receiving ESPN. Therefore you must conclude that there are more people watching baseball than cycling. That's the math! Plain and simple! No Nielsen ratings book will tell you otherwise."
Let me clarify the facts and assumptions. First of all, for 2002, OLN's coverage of the Tour beat ESPN's coverage of baseball every single time they went head to head (which was about 70% of the airings). This is despite the fact that more people get ESPN. In other words, a very small percentage of those with ESPN availability chose to watch baseball, while a higher percentage of those with OLN chose to watch cycling. Now, here's my assumption: no one in America chooses a town to live in based on cable TV coverage. Therefore, the availability of OLN has very little to do with choice. So one could conclude that, based on an arbitrary distribution of OLN coverage, that America has a propensity to watch cycling, but just doesn't have the means to that end.
One more assumption: for 2003, the ratings were closer, with more of an even split. However, the difference between 2002 and 2003 is that OLN covered the Tour several times during the day, therefore dividing their own ratings among several showings. If ESPN were to only broadcast the last three innings of a ball game, and rebroadcast those three innings three or four times a day, then it would be closer to a fair contest.
Why am I picking on ESPN? I'm not, really, but they are the largest national distributor of the American pastime, baseball, throughout the week. Their corporate heads have invested in television rights, and their advertisers are all part of a corporate web, around which sports are a major strand. This isn't a conspiracy, but merely a synergistic relationship among the teams, the league, the national networks, the local affiliates, and the people who sell t-shirts, hot dogs, beer, sodas, and the news. So, if ESPN is going to broadcast four or five ball games a week, and their major sponsors also work with the league and individual teams, then what do you think is going to get the majority of their "news" coverage? Without that synergy, without the networked relationships among teams and the media and the sponsors, there's just no way to easily work ones way into the equation. However, it's foolish to look at this successful arrangement, be it baseball, football, or auto racing, and say that the sport in itself is inherently more interesting, more popular, or more appealing than another sport, such as cycling, soccer, or what have you.
(Another example: Soccer in America has been the largest participatory sport across all age groups for the last twenty years. That success has not translated into the creation of a thriving professional league or television coverage.)
Why am I off on a tirade against baseball and ESPN? I'm not. But it does bug me when the lack of commercial success in cycling translates into the assumption that we the viewers don't really want to follow the race, and we are subsequently forced to endure the totally lame coverage that CBS provided this year, heavy on the sunflowers and new age music and very light on the analysis of the race. Unfortunately, the only way I see to fix this in the near future is to embark on a letter writing crusade to the networks, to Budweiser, to whomever, telling them when we watch baseball, all of the Coke and beer commercials get mixed up in our head as part of a deluge of mass media advertising, but when we watched OLN's coverage of the Tour, we actually subsequently went out and purchased a CamelBak, test drove a Subaru, bought a few Clif Bars, etc.
Rick Bose is probably right. To say that Lance Armstrong lost something like 7-8 kg (over 16 lbs or >10% loss) because of dehydration over the course of a race that was only about 1 hour long is a bit of an exaggeration to say the least - unless he forgot to consume fluids all day including the warm-up prior to the start. He likely would have lost quite a bit more time 1:30.
As an exercise physiologist and former category 1 racer I can attest from both research and personal experience. Maximal sweat rates of athletes have been measured at about 3 liters per hour. This value is highly variable between athletes with many not capable of attaining this rate with values of closer to 2 L/min more the norm. (American College of Sports Medicine. Position stand on exercise and fluid replacement. Med SciSports Exerc. 1996;28:i-vii.).
Even if he were not to drink during the race itself at a sweat rate of 3 L/min he could still have lost 3 kg (since 1 L = 1 kg) or just a little over 6 lbs, with majority of this loss over the final minutes of the race. A more realistic loss, say perhaps of 4lbs (a 2% body weight loss) over 1 hour would probably not have resulted in a serious performance decline. Unless he was already significantly dehydrated before the start - not impossible but unlikely considering his experience.
On many occasions I have raced 1-2 hr criteriums in very hot conditions (I recall one race several years ago, about 60 K, where the temperature at the start was 105 degrees!) where I would not even bother to bring along water because I knew there was no way I was going to drink during the race. Losing 4-6 lbs didn't usually inhibit my performance, aside from the intense thirst afterwards. Being the same weight as Lance, my percent loss was the same. I did make sure I was well hydrated before the start however.
Frank Russo, Ph.D.
We wrote the following in our coverage of the 2000 Giro di Lombardia regarding Rumsas winning: "Once again, Giancarlo Ferretti and his up and coming Fassa Bortolo team won the day, while Casagrande, who will move to Fassa Bortolo in '01 moved up to 3rd in the World Cup standings and further solidified his position as World #1 rider."
Subsequent to that, we have reported the lack of good vibes between Rumsas and Casagrande many times, and at the time of the Lombardia report, the future roles of Casagrande nor Rumsas were clear. So we didn't indulge in speculation in the course of a factual race report, nor chose to delve into the nuances of Italian team hierarchies.
Much of the dynamic you refer to vis a vis team transfers and internal politics are elements we are well aware of at Cyclingnews, but we chose not to report. Why?
We report the news and what you refer to is insider gossip. Often interesting, usually not entirely accurate, but certainly not cycling news.
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