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Letters to Cyclingnews - December 12, 2003
Am I the only one who sees Heras' departure from Postal as just further proof of the strategic genius of Bruyneel and Armstrong? The talk of Postal "not being happy" about Heras leaving is simply for the media. Postal is seen as the aggrieved side, but takes the hide ride in not being critical. Isn't it revealing that Postal didn't lift a finger to try to keep Heras? Why didn't Bruyneel try to match the Saiz offer?
Heras riding "against" Armstrong in the next Tour is perfect for Postal. Heras is a great rider, but he will not win the Tour. But he will be a contender, and he will attack. Where will Heras attack? Obviously on the steepest slopes. Who will this hurt the most? Obviously Ullrich. Who will this hurt the least? Armstrong. Postal couldn't ask for a better "enemy". Heras is better as an enemy than as a teammate.
Heras was certainly not Armstrong's best teammate in the last Tour. Rubiera was Who was there on Luz-Ardiden?. Postal could use another Rubiera much more than Heras. Can anyone think of a more Rubiera-like rider than Azevedo? Isn't it interesting how quickly Heras was replaced?
The real genius in all this is how Bruyneel engineered this while making it seem like Saiz' idea!
Roberto Heras #2
Remember the talk of Lance asking Roberto Heras to slow down the pace on climbs in Tours past?
Anybody going to bet against little Roberto in the time trial on Alpe d'Huez next year?
Well Heras has finally done it. He will lead his own team in 2004. It couldn't have happened to a better rider. Heras epitomizes, to me, what it is to be a great cyclist. He is a spectacular talent that cannot be denied. He also represents what I consider an iconic rider. For those of you who seem my rambling letters on this page before, I usually go on and on about how there should be more rider loyalty to teams. Riders these days tend to skip out on their teams at the first signs of success only to lead another team to Nowhereville. It's stupid and annoying.
Heras is different. Heras is a cycling samurai who has sacrificed himself on many occasions for the greater good of his team leader. He is an honorable man. He has put in his time, made his (former) team great, learned from the best and now is MORE than capable of being a contender. He has demonstrated how it should be done. His loyalty to US Postal and Armstrong is without reproach. Armstrong has his five Tour wins thanks in large part to the efforts of this great yet soft-spoken warrior. Now he will lead the Liberty team where it will be his turn to be shogun.
In his new team he will have the likes of Igor, Isidro, Allen... almost the entire ONCE squad! What a squad it is! This last minute team has come together and will undoubtedly be a force in next year's season. Keep your eyes on this one boys, it's going to be a contender!
One thing though. Heras, if you're listening buddy, work on your TT skills, it's too big a weakness.
Roberto Heras #4
I for one say let him go also. Yes, he is an amazing rider, but as we all know and we all have seen in history, the Tour is nothing like any other stage race in the world. Roberto Heras will never win the tour. Never! He simply does not have the strength, power, nor watts to race against the top riders in the world in France's grand race. He should stick with his program to peak for the Vuelta because that is about the only stage race he has the ability to win. Maybe the Giro, but I doubt he ever rides it, and then again, he would run up against Simoni who would also crush him in that three-week race as well.
Heras is an amazing rider, probably the best climber in the peloton, but when it comes down to the Tour de France, he cannot handle the vicious assaults that Armstrong, Vino, Mayo, or the next up-and-comer will throw out him. If he does leave, I would bet on him to win Huez TT next year with Armstrong one second behind him. But by this point Armstrong will have already put 3 minutes into him on the earlier flat TT, easily hung with him in the mountains, so nowhere for him to hide.
He should leave, though, as he has made it clear he wants to win the tour and Lance said he may be back in 2005.
Roberto Heras #5
I don't think the Posties should be too miffed about the Heras departure. From Postal's perspective, it probably couldn't have worked out better for a few reasons:
1) Heras would have been a free agent at the end of next year and likely would
have left anyway
I don't blame Heras for leaving - with a Spanish team (financed by the advertising budget of a US company... ha!), he becomes a more popular figure around Europe. With a good team around him he can perform, but, if he has ticked off Lance, look out on the slopes next summer. Lance rides better when he's angry.
Roberto Heras #6
Heras moving on is not going to stop the Blue Train. Livingston left and nothing happened. Hamilton left and nothing happened. Why should this be any different? With last year's acquisition of Manual Beltran the boys in blue are still in position to put Lance in position to take another yellow, it all comes down to his preparation.
I don't think Heras was the deciding factor in any of the stages. I am not undermining his role or talents but I did not see him keep the field at bay as he did in the past. I say let him go, why keep someone who does not want to be apart of the Blue Train? Even with Heras leaving I don't believe this makes for an open Tour. The last time there wasn't a dominant team that controlled the race was in 1999 and guess who won? Besides that, in the last few Tours, the only teams that have been able to put up a fight against Postal have been Telekom and ONCE (which is no longer). I say it is Postal's philosophy around the team that has put them in position year after year to take the yellow jersey. They have all the right ingredients from top to bottom not just the climbers to protect Lance. Look at who they have besides the few billy-goats: Hincapie, Eki, Landis, Joachim, Pena, Chechu - they all have played a vital role in Lance's success.
S. C. Alexander
Roberto Heras #7
After reading Lance's book, Every Second Counts, I have to agree that US Postal only have themselves to blame for Heras' departure. I mean, ZZ Top every morning on the team bus? I'm surprised he didn't quit there and then!
Perhaps reading the most recent interviews with members of the USPS cycling team would help you to understand that no team is happy when a strong rider leaves, but the USPS cycling team did not stand in Heras' way. Lance himself wished him luck.
T-Mobile is indeed a very strong team. The question of interest is not can the USPS help Lance defeat a very strong T-Mobile team, but will T-Mobile be willing to overlook individual glory to help Jan Ullrich win his first Tour since 1997. Every year the USPS chooses a team of individuals who are willing to work together to help the team leader reach Paris with yellow on his shoulders. With the incredible season Vino had, is he willing to stand in the shadow of Jan Ullrich to help him win the Tour when he was very, very close this year? A focused team wins the tour, not a team of names.
I am a BIG Lance fan, but it is clear that he is in trouble next year! His rivals have learned that it is not enough to follow. To win they must risk losing the race. This year they finally realized that they have to attack him separately and often. They did so, and the cracks appeared. Next year the gloves are off. Even his faithful lieutenant sees the opportunity to jump ship and claim the throne. With real challenges coming from a buff T-mobile team (Ullrich, Evans, Vino, Savoldelli), Seguros (Heras, Nozal, the Galdeano brothers), Phonak (Hamilton, Sevilla), Boulangere (Beloki, Chavanel), CSC (Sastre, Jaksche), and Euskatel (Mayo, Zubeldia) it's an open race. No doubt, several of these folks will fall to the wayside early on, but 2004 promises fireworks.
In response to whatever was said about Simoni and the Giro, I believe that all cycling mad nations hold the Tour winner above all else. Bartali and Coppi were more popular than Binda. Indurain and Delgado more popular than Heras, Casero and Gonzales combined. And in a case of "non-cycling" nations LeMond more popular than Hampsten. Simoni knows that with Ullrich and Armstrong still racing for the win, he doesn't have near the chance of winning in France that he will enjoy in Italy. That, and the fact that he is Italian. If Simoni were to win the Tour in the next two years, it would be his greatest victory and he would be remembered more for it than two Giro victories.
By the way, it was Fignon not Hinault supposedly hindered by the helicopter.
to this letter
Floyd has become my favorite rider. It seems to me that he is just a notch away from an elite rider. Think about his scenario, background, and role. A self-taught rider who grew up with the basic of bikes, no coaches, no dreams of a career in racing just the love of the bike and the feeling that riding gives. Lucky a local rider, friend, or bike shop picked up on his ability and commitment and got him started to where he is today. He also sacrificed a lot, roughing it, etc. but it has probably helped him in dealing with and knowing his current role on the team. It also has giving him recognition and yes I realize it must be tough to sacrifice individual victory for that of the team but that is his current job and he does it very well. I myself traveled to Canada knowing he was going to ride well. He didn't disappoint as he rode near the front all day on a challenging course with the world's best. Floyd Landis keep working and enjoying and writing your diaries. You are a winner!
Perhaps when we try and determine who was the greatest of all time, you really need to look at what you mean by the word 'greatest'. The word 'Greatest' can mean different things to different people. Does it mean the most victories? The most raw ability? The most TdF wins? Who raced the most? The nicest guy? etc.
For me when I think of the greatest, I think of raw ability. Here is how I have come to this conclusion. We all know that different eras in the sport has brought about different styles of racing. In Merckx's era, the racers basically raced all year round. However, if you look at a continuum from this style of racing to what we have today with Armstrong, you will quickly notice that the champions are racing less and less. Some of this is due to new and more effective methods in training, more understanding about peaking and prioritising races to win, etc.
Now here is my point. Lets swap which era these champions rode in. Given that most of these champions' raw ability levels were very similar. Had Indurain or Armstrong lived in Merckx era, they would have also raced most of the season like Merckx did and no doubt still would have won many Tours, Giros, World cup races etc. Had Merckx raced in our era, you would have expected his ability to be slightly higher due to better training methods etc, but there is no doubt that he would have had to priortise like Armstrong and Indurain to win. In a world where different champions (and there are more of them now) try to peak for different races, there is no way he could have went on a winning rampage like he did in his era.
So based on this you really can't name the 'greatest' as the person who won the most all year round as it was the luck of the draw as to which champion was born in which era. Looking at my point of view, "Who had the most raw talent and of course used it in their era"? This will change based on people's differing opinions. For me, I wish it was Indurain, but sadly have to say that it could be Armstrong. But who am I to say that if Merckx had Armstrong's training methods, he couldn't have become just as great? And let me throw another spanner into the works, how great would it be to have a magic wand to find out who won their victories with and without drug assistance. This could put another prospective on who was the greatest. So it is easy to see even when using the single factor of raw ability, that you have to consider many other factors before coming to the conclusion of who had the most.
So my final point on who is the greatest? Who knows! Perhaps one of them, perhaps all of them together? It will forever be subjective due to our limited knowledge of all the factors that go into defining the term 'The Greatest'.
Stop the discussion and listen to LA. In an interview with the Flemish newspaper "De Morgen" on 29-Nov-03, Lance responds makes a very clear end to the discussion.
Q: If you win the Tour for the sixth time next year, you are doing better than Merckx. Many cycling fans will have some difficulty accepting this, do you understand?
A: I know, but every-one can relax: even if I win the Tour 10 times in a row, I will never be greater than Eddy Merckx. Nobody will ever be a greater cyclist than Eddy Merckx was. He won so often, nobody can repeat that. Meanwhile, I will still try to win that sixth one.
Als u een zesde Tour wint volgend jaar, dan doet u beter dan Merckx. Daar zal menig wielerliefhebber het moeilijk mee hebben, weet u dat?
"Dat besef ik, maar ik kan iedereen geruststellen: zelfs al win ik de Tour tien keer op een rij, ik zal nooit beter zijn dan Eddy Merckx. Niemand zal ooit een betere wielrenner zijn dan Eddy Merckx ooit was. Die heeft zo vaak gewonnen, dat kan niemand. Maar ondertussen zal ik wel proberen om die zesde te winnen."
Greatest of all time? #3
While I agree that Lance is NOT the greatest the cycling world has ever seen, you can not blow off the effect Lance has had on our country or should I say my country over the last five years. As selective as the American public is towards cycling one has to start big and work ones way down to popularize the sport in a country that is focused on other sports. But let's criticize Lance and complain that he doesn't do enough in the "other races". BS. The resurgent "road bike" market in the U.S., the quantity and quality of domestic races and the emergence of American corporate sponsorship has largely been due to the success Lance has had in the Tour de France. Lance has always said Eddy was the greatest cyclist of all time and he knows the limits of his talent. Yet Lance has done more for American cycling than any man to hit the open tour. And for that he should be truly honored and celebrated.
In response to Stan Green's letter about Miguel Indurain, I would agree with most of it except his reason for not respecting big Mig: he was the one who limited Greg LeMond's tour victories to three. This is just not the case. It was Indurain's time, Greg's had passed....Greg was not second to Indurain in 1991. Rather, it was Hinault on the other end of Greg's tour career that kept Greg from winning more, and of course his hunting accident. One could speculate that had he not been stopped by team orders in 1985 he would have beaten Hinault that year (he finished 1'42" back)...and he was shot in his prime, and was always better than the next two tour winners, Stephen Roche and Pedro Delgado. That would have been three more! And let's not forget that when he won again in 1989 riding for AGR, he finished in Paris with NO team mates left standing, something Armstrong has never come close to sharing at US Postal....No, Miguel didn't stop LeMond, and he deserves to recognized as one of the best.
Many years ago I falsely proclaimed that Lance Armstrong would never win the TDF. On that point I was foolish. But in terms of LA and dehydration I think Stan Green, Jr. is a little wrong. Lance's claimed dehydration is simply a PR exaggeration. LA was sore that he lost to Ullrich in that first TT in the tour. So what does he do? He puts an addendum in his recently released book to justify his loss. Blaming the loss on dehydration has been appropriately dealt with in the Aug 01 letters http://www.cyclingnews.com/letters/?id=2003/aug01letters. But to stretch the truth of the dehydration beyond credulity undermines his training advice else where in book. Ultimately Lance's legacy as a champion will be diminished by how he has approached losing.
I respect Indurain. Sure he won five Tours de France and a world record for the hour (something Lance has yet to attempt). He also did not have the training and racing latitude that Postal gives to Lance. But so much could be said for any of the old stars. Sickness, too many days racing in the saddle, accidents, team weaknesses have effected past champions and could still haunt Lance, as he freely admits. Winning two or six Tours is not all there is to respect.
I cheered for Sean Kelly, not because I thought he would win the Tour. But because he had dedication and integrity to his bike, wife, kids and fans. He made the most of his abilities. So too, Indurain and others. Maybe Lance will change. Perhaps Jan is done with the playboy nightclub image too. For now, I pay my respect to Tyler Hamilton. Even if Lance proves faster, my respect and cheers have left him.
An international racing license is not required for riding a granfondo. In fact, it isn't necessary for a non-Italian to have any racing license at all to ride the major granfondo events, such as the Maratona dles Dolomites, Granfondo Campagnolo, or Granfondo Pinarello. Some do require a note from your doctor (in your own country) and some require payment of an insurance surcharge. There are smaller local events which cannot permit you to ride at all if you do not have an Italian license (there is more than one federation, with some, such as UDACE, allowing non-resident riders to take out licenses).
Granfondos are considered races (but you can ride them at whatever pace you wish), as everyone is timed and there is a published classification. Most of the top riders are ex-pros, who are in effect pro granfondo riders, and earn a salary. They are very big events indeed, extremely well-organized and supported. The Maratona, for example, gets 8,000 riders, and the route, which includes several famous Dolomite passes, is closed to all motorized vehicles! Every American I know who has ever ridden one said it was spectacular and the culmination of his or her cycling life.
I've been riding GF's since 1997, and have an entire section about them on my website (non-commerical), as well as a calendar of GF events in the region where I live (Veneto): http://www.biciveneto.it. I invite you to visit if you'd like to more about these competitive rides.
April Pedersen Santinon
While at Harworth, visit the small museum we put together at the Pavilion on Scrooby Road, it's full of Simpson memorabilia. But to feel what he was really about you have to visit the memorial on Mont Ventoux.
Put me back on my bike #2
I have just finished reading 'Put Me Back On my Bike'. It is one of the best biographies I have ever read. As I am from almost the same era and can identify with much that is in this brilliant book, it brought back many memories. The subject of doping is handled with understanding and tact without resorting to the usual 'Holier Than Thou' attitude often seen in letters to the cycling press. The insights into the pro cycling scene of that time are very revealing. It's a wonder any of them survived! Thanks for a great read.
I have a 1978 Gios Torino Super Record #53 with all the engraving. I haven't ridden it since 1980 and can document such. It is in great condition as you can imagine. How would you suggest I part with it in finding an enthusiast that would appreciate it for its value and beauty?
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