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Letters to Cyclingnews - February 6, 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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Perhaps it would do Dave Millar some good to take a little closer look at the current state of Ullrich's career and the amount of respect that he still has within cycling community.
In a few short years, Jan has gone from the very top to the very bottom, due to some reasons beyond his control, and some that have clearly been his own doing. Yet we never heard Jan blame his team for his poor form or performances. And when Jan made some extremely poor decisions, he took full responsibility and made no attempt to deny the actions or fight the ban imposed on him, unlike Virenque or Pantani. Has Millar ever admitted that living a playboy lifestyle might not be the best plan? And if he has, has he ever done anything to change this?
And yet despite his terrible 2002 season, Ullrich still remains highly respected by riders, managers, owners and sponsors alike. One has only to look at the respect Armstrong obviously has for Jan to see this. And Armstrong has more reason than anybody to have a strong distaste for him, seeing as they spend three weeks a year riding each other, and everybody around them, into the ground.
Dave Millar #2
Chris Whiley says the UK has no one except Millar. Well, Roger Hammond is not "no one", to name but one UK pro. I do not know who the "we" are in his last sentence, but count me out, give me Hammond any day.
Dave Millar #3
Awesome thoughts. Athletic talent is huge. The talent to work hard is huge. Many components go into being a champion. Talent and hard work are two.
All the great champions also have an issue or two to work on. The superstars at our jobs do. Greg did, Eddy did and so does Lance. But as Stephen King once said "therapy would be bad for my career." Nobody can inspire you to ride six hours a day in December - there just has to be something else.
Party on Dave.
Dave Millar #4
I see David Millar was mentioned in Sports Illustrated's Lance Armstrong sportsman of the year article. David calls Lance while Lance is out training ("it is all about the bike") and David is out drinking. One got the impression this state of affairs was not just due to the time difference. David then whines (there's that word again) about Lance being out on his bike in early December. Bloody hell is right, David.
It was disappointing to learn from your article "Lance the car salesman" that somebody who had earned so many millions of dollars from cycling should seek even more wealth by endorsing such bike-unfriendly companies.
Cars are the leading killer of cyclists: sodas are one of the leading causes of obesity and diabetes in the US, and shoe manufacturers whose workers cannot afford to buy bikes given the shamefully poor employment conditions that are outlawed in the markets the companies serve.
Taking money from these guys? This surely cannot be the same person who said if he were Ullrich he'd ride for no money?
Normally I wouldn't react to a letter about Armstrong's pursuit for number 6 (he still has to win number 5.) but Hans Stoops suggestion is so ridiculous I had to respond.
Hans writes that if Armstrong wins number five that he should "be a true champion and honor the racers of the past by establishing a Five Tours is enough precedent." What you're asking him to do flies in the face of what sports and competition are all about. If Armstrong has the skill, determination and luck to go for number 6 why would anyone deny him this right?
Hans, I'm a bit confused. If you want to show respect for the champions of the past why didn't you also call for Cipo to give up his pursuit of winning the most stages in the Giro? Doesn't Binda deserve the same amount of respect as Bernard, Big Mig, J.A , and Merckx? Where was the ground swell for the Five Tours is enough precedent in 1986?
Or 1996? Apparently Hinualt missed the memo when he tried everything in his power to win number 6. Also, didn't Indurain finish 7th in his pursuit for number 6? Hmmm. Apparently it was acceptable for these men to go for 6 but not Armstrong. And I think I know why. Because he's not European. In the past few years there has been a shift in cycling. The Europeans have had it handed to them not only by Armstrong, but Botero and the next superpower in cycling, Australia. (Actually, the way they thumped every country at track worlds they are already there.)
Instead of following these obviously successful countries/cyclists, Europeans have had to look to their past for their glory days. Ah yes, Hans for the good of the sport we should curtail the stomping. Nonsense. Maybe if Armstrong goes for number 6 the French riders will finally get motivated do something in their tour. (Nah) Also, it would be a tremendous disservice to Armstrong's title sponsor (somebody pays him to ride) for him to "round out his palmares" by winning other races.
Unfortunately, if you asked most Americans what the Vuelta de Espana is they'd probably say that it was a Mexican fast food restaurant. Cycling is a mere pimple on the ass of American sports. The only race most Americans pay attention to, if at all, is the Tour. Hans you speak of "honoring and respecting the achievements of those who came before and laid the ground work for bicycle racing today." But as much as the we must honor the past, we must also look forward. If Armstrong or Cipo were to set these records, think of how extraordinary our sport becomes. Embrace these men and their accomplishments as they move the flag up the mountain. And who knows inspired by Armstrong's accomplishments maybe in a few years we might see a Swede go for 7.
Mr. Hans Stoop's letter regarding how nice it would be see Lance stop at five TdFs and then round out his palmares with other races is right on the mark. Certainly, Lance winning a sixth would be the safe bet and more lucrative for him personally given the American sponsors he has, but how much money does he need?
But better still would be if Lance were to go for all three -- the Giro, Tour and Vuelta in 2004 with US Postal. Doubtful they could pull it off, but they could probably win the Giro. And then to see them struggle in the Tour would be something to watch -- as he goes for his sixth. Who wouldn't admire him even if he failed. And if he won them all? Now that would be something. And best of all it might stop the Cipo vs. Armstrong letters...
"I think Mr. Hamley forgets that in 1993 the Giro was later than nowadays and the World's were in August. That would suggest that Indurain peaked from June until August, hardly a Jalabert, Kelly or Merckx season."
Still, Miguel Indurain was certainly competitive for a greater part of the season than Mr Armstrong. I for one remember him riding (and finishing fourth) in Milano-San Remo in 1991, and then doing the Vuelta (finishing second) and the Tour (which he won). And as late as 1995 he started winning in mid-April, and ended up as TT World Champion in October, notching up 16 wins that year.
Anders P. Jensen
Lance Armstrong #2
In response to Mr. Frioud's letter: Actually, I did not forget the Worlds used to be in August and the Giro was later. I believe the old schedule would actually make it harder to do well in all three, since no racer I have ever known, including myself, can really "peak" from June to August. The longest you can really hold a peak at top form is maybe 8 weeks or so... certainly not 12. The way the schedule is set up now actually allows more rest between events and would allow for a separate peak for the Worlds, but still makes it tough to peak for both the Giro and the Tour.
In your January 30 news you ran a piece on Gilberto Simoni skiing in the Dolomites. Simoni said he is "already in pretty good shape," and continues, "When I think about the Tour, I don't just hope to do well. I want to make Lance Armstrong suffer. I should have done it last year, so will definitely try this year."
By comparison, on 12/8/02, Armstrong won the Dirty Dualthlon near his home in Austin, a notoriously difficult event. He's also been to two training camps so far, as well as racing on his mountain bike, and on 12/22/02 he won the men's elite class in the REI Cycling Team's Texas Cup cyclocross race. It's a simple fact that no one trains as hard as Lance.
Simoni's 2002 palmares Lance Armstrong's 2002 finishes Giro d'Italia - stage win Milan San Remo - 44th Giro del Trentino - 3rd Criterium International - 2nd GP Llodio - 3rd Paris-Camembert - 75th Giro Friuli - 3rd Tour Flanders - 59th Vuelta a Burgos - 10th Amstel Gold - 4th Trofeo Melinda - 10th Midi Libre - 1st Vuelta España - 10th Dauphine - 1st Tour De France - 1st, with 4 stage wins
So, would anyone care to make a small wager as to who will make whom suffer at the Tour this summer?
In response to Tim Lee's letter, you're right on the money with Cadel. Just as a period of Indurain domination gave way to an era of Armstrong domination, that honour will next fall to Cadel. He is the most complete, tenacious and professional young rider in the peleton today. Add that to two MTB world cup series victories, and a brace of MTB world championship silver medals, and you are looking at one of the future all time greats of our sport. Just wait 'til he turns his hand to cyclocross in his final years!
There are many of us who hope to see Jan back to full strength.
I personally think it is a shame that he (Jan Ullrich) did not sign for CSC and Bjarne Riis but that is his choice and we (mere mortals) must accept his reasons for joining Coast. If Jan is to compete with Lance Armstrong - he and his Coast team (including team management) will have to 'mix' it up rather than display the staid tactics employed by Team Telekom (ie. keeping the pace high).
I think Bjarne Riis would have been able to 'mix' the tactics - attacking Lance Armstrong and his US Postal when they least expected. We can only hope that Coast proves too be a strong team and that Jan is able to recover his strength and fitness once again.
I'm Filipino, and I'd be heartened to see more coverage of the Asian teams and riders, along with coverage of the Euro and Am pro teams.
It heartens me to see Filipino riders staying with the Euro and Am pros in the peleton - it shows they have the talent to compete.
Race cycling is becoming an international sport, and you do yourselves a service by encouraging bicycle enthusiasts from all parts of the world.
Tour de Langkawi #2
In response to Brad Nagela: Thank you for your kind words about Tour de Langkawi. It is always refreshing to receive such compliments from an true cycling enthusiast.
2003 marks the first year that TDL operates in the 2.2 status. And with that - better preparations and facilities are provided for riders and officials of the tour. Although it attracts high flying trade teams - like Lampre and Panaria, TDL still opens its doors to National teams and other trade 2 teams to compete as well.
I somewhat agree with you that there is a kind of 'double-standard' when it comes to the matter of sponsoring a European/US cycling team (Pro or Amateur) to any Asian Pro Team for that matter. It's true that there are so many talented cyclists out here in this region. And they have been around.
It's just that they haven't been to the right places. Malaysia for instance, had an Asian Champion in the 70's. So, he's now into coaching/managing and also owns a bike shop. In the early 90's, a Malaysian was good enough to be recruited into a German-based Pro Team, Gerolsteiner. And let's not forget about our Junior World Track Champion who is based in the US. What about those - who are as equally as good - if not better - but haven't had the opportunity or luck (or money) to be where they're supposed to be. To be trained professionally to their true potential and maybe be good enough to be racing in pro races.
The racing scene in Taiwan is quite active, though. The Giant-ART team feature a mixture of multi-national riders, including Tonton Susanto and a few Malaysian riders. The Eagle Tour of Malaysia which was first organized last year - gave the opportunity to Asian Teams, Trade III teams and cycling clubs to compete in a 5-day, 2.6 stage race. These are some of the efforts that can be seen to further improve the Asian cycling scene.
Maybe it's the corporate culture of this region - not to favour cycling as a tool of sponsorship. Asian corporates would rather sponsor Football or Motorsports - which happens to bring more mileage. Whereas in Europe - cycling is sometimes regarded as a religion to many. What about National Associations and Bodies? It's quite sad - that most of the time - there are more politics going around that actually giving support (morally or monetary) to the cycling sport itself. Therefore cycling fails to move forward and stay stagnant and stale as they are today.
Today - at stage 4 of the TDL '03 - I saw a Malaysian rider broke away from the peloton to join a lead group of 4 riders and kept the pace up for quite a distance. He managed to secure sprint and mountain points in the process.
His effort, power and determination amazed me (and most of the officials).
Now, do we let this 'star-potential' go away just like that? Or do we want to keep this one - and produce another TonTon, Kam Po, Josiah Ng, Kumaresan or Joo Ngan?
I simply wish to voice a comment regarding the article on the JCTDU and in particular the reference to the South Australian Government's continued support on the basis, and get this, of it's importance as a tourism generator for SA.
Never mind the sporting/cycling attributes of some of the world's best cyclists.
Seems the SA government would only be interested in sports providing they attracted the tourist dollar. It's readily understood that business sponsorship of such profile events needs to see some return value in either product exposure, advertising or immediate sales of some kind but for Government to come out and be as bland as this (if what was reported is the fact) is pretty ordinary in my view.
Personally I've never agreed with the notion that government is in "business", it is in the business of "government" and in Australia that is to be for the "common wealth" of the people. And wealth need not necessarily mean dollar value. I am disappointed with the comment and feel the importance of cycling at this level has been done a disservice because of it.
It is also worth noting that the California Vehicle Code (and perhaps other jurisdictions as well) state that one does not have to stay as close to the curb as practicable in situations where the lane width is "substandard," which is defined as a lane that is not sufficiently wide enough to allow a bicycle and a automobile to travel together in the same lane safely.
In my experience, the only place where groups create traffic problems are on roads where the lanes are of a "substandard width." I participate in several regular group rides, and there are several roads where the lane is wide enough for a vehicle and that is all. There is no shoulder. On those roads, under California law, I have the legal right and duty to ride in the center of the lane. With that in mind, it really doesn't matter if a group rides in a pack, because we could ride a paceline down the center of the lane. In that situation, a motorist would have a paceline 100 yards long to pass, instead of a pack of riders that takes up 50 feet of road. I also note that there is no statute in California that expressly prohibits side by side riding. So when a group is out on a country road in California, riding in a pack isn't really "wrong" and in fact makes it easier for a driver to pass the cyclists.
Do groups tend to break traffic laws? Yes, all the time. But motorists also break the traffic laws all the time, by speeding, running stop signs, etc. Neither cyclists or motorists are free from blame. The reality is that when a cyclist is on a narrow road, motor vehicles need to slow down and pass at a point where it is safe to do so. And cyclists need to not ride through intersections in groups of 100 riders while the light is red. However, in my experience, the most disturbing incidents come when I'm out on the road alone, hugging the non-existent shoulder as well as I can, and a pick-up truck passes me at 55 mph less than a foot away, when the truck could easily move over a few feet into the oncoming lane of traffic because there isn't another car around for a mile. That is the kind of behavior that generates ill will in my mind, and in that situation, I'm not doing anything wrong, in the general and in the legal sense of the word.
Share the Road #2
With regard to Simon Day's letter about sharing the road, he wrote "I, you, we have every right to protect our safety envelope with a more central road position. Might does not equal right." That is wonderfully logical and perhaps legally correct. It also makes for some very readable copy for one's tombstone. However, I doubt very much that taking a lane of traffic and doing the other things he suggests (except for signals and being aware of one's surroundings) would pass muster around where I live, especially if one has to ride during the time of day when mommie dearest is taking the kiddies to school or picking them up or the farm hands are finished relaxing in a local bar after a day's work in the field.
Then, it is best not to be in a lane at all, let alone riding in the middle of it. Asserting the moral high ground is fine when one is off the bike and sitting before a computer screen writing letters to the editor and quite another when out on the road, dicing with vehicles against which cyclists have no protection at all, not even the moral high ground. This is why, as Mr. Day so rightly points out, courtesy and thinking of things from a motorist's perspective, not just the cyclist's, is so critical in reducing the animus in the cyclist-motorist interface.
I just witnessed a commercial for Right Guard Extreme Deodorant where some guys stretch a rubber band across the road in front of a group of cyclists.
I think they were trying to be humorous by crashing the cyclists into a mud hole but I was offended at the suggestion that it was OK to commit these kinds of actions against cyclists. Am I being a little too sensitive because of the random acts of road violence that I have encountered while cycling? I was just wondering what some of my fellow cyclists might have thought about this commercial and whether my anger at Gillette for airing such an ad campaign is justified.
Hi, going through the letters in the last months I've seen few inquiries about racing abroad and getting into teams. I've got a similar inquiry.
I coach a mountain bike team in Bogotá in Colombia, South America, which is preparing for the national games set in December 2004. I don't know if due to a cultural issue or what there are very few women racing MTB at the elite level (10 in the all country, including juniors). So I'm looking abroad for an American or a Canadian racer holding a Colombian passport competing at expert level. If this rider exists I can provide tickets for coming over this July and race the national championships, so she can take the opportunity to visit relatives.
Check out www.justtwobikes.com - they aren't tricycles but would work for what you describe.
Can anyone tell me which team / teams the Irish rider Joe Barr rode for and what main events he took part in?
Thanks in advance.
In response to my letter(s) on Paul Tracy, R Adolph writes:
"Finally, when did having a prominent spokesperson for your charity and receiving millions of dollars in donations become a bad thing?"
I never said those things were bad. In fact, I said the opposite, that I thought it was great that LAF was so huge and had loads of money - I think Lance does good work, though perhaps less focused than in, say, 1999. My only point is that I prefer to give my money to those organizations that *don't* have millions of dollars or donations from large corporations -- specifically, more local charities that address problems limited to the community, where I can see the differences my money makes -- as it seems to me they need my money more. I'm not saying this is the only way it should be done, I'm just saying that's what I prefer to do.
And yes, Paul Tracy is under contract, but so was Roberto Heras, so was Aitor Gonzales. They got out of their contracts - for financial reasons, of course, not for principle's sake. What if PT's team were sponsored by, I don't know, Dog-Killers Inc? I'm sure we wouldn't be having this discussion.
In the never ending debate about which frame material is best it is rare that anyone mentions the subjective variables such as rider size and weight, riding style (big gear pounder or spinner), intended use of the frame, and each rider's individual expectations. The elusive ride quality we all seek is hard to define and ever changing with new technology.
Further, there is a wide range of tubing alloys, sizes, and shapes available so generalizations about any material are useless. It is obvious that Cipollini's S-Works frame is dramatically different than the aluminum frame on anybody's entry level road bike and that Mario's image of ride quality and mine are not the same. For those of you who are about to plunk down some cash on a new ride the implication that one should worry less about what their favorite pro or local guru thinks is best and more about defining what they expect from a bike can't be understated.
Janet, you don't have to be half way around the world to appreciate Cyclingnews' coverage of the TDU. One of the odd moments of the week's racing was when I found myself in front of a laptop at a Handorf internet caff (free of charge, thanks guys) with my back to the start-finish line. After a miserably slow climb from the Glenelg start, it was good to be able to relax and actually find out what was happening.
Although the local TV coverage has improved marginally, the radio station which advertised loudly and often that it would be covering the tour gave very few if any updates. Even at half-hour news bulletins, the only sporting news seemed to be regarding Shane Warne's possible retirement.
So thanks again, guys.
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