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Letters to Cyclingnews - February 13, 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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Using Steve McMaster's logic, where does one draw the line on where to refuse sponsorship? Subaru makes one of the most fuel efficient lines of cars on the planet, with a natural tie-in to the cycling crowd (I can't begin to estimate the number of Subies I see on the west coast of America with bike and ski racks on them.) While Soda can be harmful for you in quantity, in moderation it is no more harmful than Cytomax or the Powerbars that I'm sure Mr. McMaster purchases, so don't make it out to be a cigarette manufacturer. And finally, Mr. McMaster should do his due diligence and research the actual factory conditions at Nike's, as well as any other large shoe manufacturer.
Should we cyclists boycott autos and stop driving altogether? Never drink a Coke again? Stop wearing shoes?
I would hardly call car companies "bike unfriendly", especially Subaru, Steve. Subaru has sponsored many teams, teams such as the Subaru-Montgomery road team, Specialized-Subaru, and the current Subaru-Gary Fisher squad. Yes, soda may be a cause of obesity and diabetes in the U.S., but - assuming you're American - you should know that the McDonaldization of the world started in America, along with many, many other fast food chains (weren't those golden arches on the jerseys of the now defunct Polti squad?). There are a lot more edible items out there that cause obesity than just soda! The next time you go to a major event like the Sea Otter Classic, or a National Racing Calendar Event, or even a NORBA national, check out the sponsors' list and I'll bet you that Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew are on the top of the list; not to mention a major car/truck manufacturer. I'll finish with a question for Steve: who kills a human being, the gun or the person pulling the trigger? I would have to say that the same question could be applied to vehicles running over a pedestrian or cyclist.
Last time I checked Subaru had been sponsoring cycling teams since the early nineties. The list includes the Subaru-Montgomery road cycling team and years of Subaru MTB sponsorships and IMBA tie-ins. Which bike unfriendly company is that again?
Sponsorship #4 #
I cannot agree with the reader who criticized Lance for his recent auto endorsement deal. Cars don't kill cyclists; reckless drivers kill cyclists. It doesn't matter if they are drunk, talking on a cell phone, or looking for a CD on the floor, inattentive and impaired drivers are a threat not only to cyclists but to all of us who share the road. Blaming the car companies is a cop-out. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? As for Lance and his endorsement deal with Subaru, he hasn't sold out, he's getting paid dividends for his investment in excellence. He deserves every dollar.
Steve McMaster is disappointed that Lance would "seek even more wealth" than he already earns. He then goes on to list the atrocities of the companies which Lance already endorses. This is a very idealistic view to say the least. Lance is a citizen of the largest capitalist country in the world. He has the right to endorse what ever product he wishes. He also has the freedom to attain capital (cash) in any manner he wishes. This is capitalism.
Lance said if he was in Ullrich's position he would ride for free. He is not in Ullrich's position. Lance is in Lance's position -- which usually ends up being on top of the podium.
I bitterly resent the implication by Steve McMaster that the leading cause of obesity and diabetes in the US is soda (cokes etc etc). If you take a good long hard look at the stage presentation in the TDF, that's a bottle of Coca Cola the stage winner gets. Yummy. Is the TDF society really advocating the usage of soda as a performance enhancer? Nope. They are getting sponsor bucks so we can see big names with hopefully big talent try to kill each other on mountains.
Ironically, while one could find insulin at grand Tours, I can assure you it is not for diabetics. The main cause of obesity and diabetes in the US, (my country, my home) is very easy. In my opinion, folks have to un-ass their chairs and eat less. If you eat 4000 calories a day and you burn a total of 2000, gee looks like you have extra cals and later on, extra weight. At my height, I weighed 302 pounds, I now weigh 189. I ate too much and did too little. That was my fault, not a soda.
Personal responsibility is a big issue in dieting as well as cycling. If we were to look at Jan and Lance and their endorsements, GOOD FOR THEM. Jan can't control his diet, health or maturity, so he signs for the big bucks. Lance sponsors a car and gets millions bucks.
Wanna know how they sleep at night? On a pile of money with beautiful women...
Mr. Sam Alison thinks that Cadel is going to be the future dominant rider in the grand tours. I don't agree with him. Mentioning MTB World Cup victories is well and fine but it really is apples and oranges. What you have to look at is the results on the road. True enough that Cadel certainly looks a winner and I have no compunctions with the idea that he will be a front runner. But there are lots of riders that look good right now and Cadel is in some very fast company. Let's not announce Evans rise to heaven until he actually accomplishes it. More riders have been spoiled from expectation than motivated to perform.
Well, no one is asking, but nonetheless here is a collection of advice for several key figures in the pro peloton as the new season is upon us:
French Riders: Time (past time, actually) to start skipping the cake and pie and putting in some extra miles. In Baseball, they say that the fortunes of the first player up to bat each season foretells the fate of the team's season. Applying the same idea to cycling suggests that we are in for another year of French pack fillers at the races. GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise, the traditional start to the European racing season, featured a daylong winning breakaway of 9 riders; 5 French, 2 Italians, a Swede and a Belgian. How did things turn out? Well, the Belgian (Ludo Dierckxsens) won and the French guys finished 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and... you guessed it... 9th
Robbie McEwen: I'm out on a limb on this one, but Robbie should refrain from spending his 2003 race win prize money too quickly. Robbie raced hard pretty much all of last year and I think it's already started to take its toll on him. Robbie had his big year and maybe he'll have another in the future, but it won't be 2003.
Francesco Casagrande: This guy has been under a hex since the 2000 Giro when he folded in the final TT and stole the climber's jersey. Since that now infamous time trial to Sestrieres, he really hasn't accomplished anything worth mentioning on the bike (legally anyway... he did knock the heck out of John Fredy Garcia last year). My advice to him is to appease the Cycling karma gods and sit down with either myself and/or Chepe Gonzalez over a nice Chianti somewhere and make peace. Once he has humbled himself in this way, his true talents as a bike racer will again be seen.
Tyler Hamilton/Bjarne Riis: Come on guys, I know that the sponsor is probably all over y'all to make a big splash at the Tour, and thus skip the Giro. But why not go to the Giro and WIN as opposed to vying for the scraps that Lance tosses over his shoulder at the Tour? This is in no way a knock on Tyler. I think he's great and he can win a major tour... that being said can he beat Lance? I say no. Tyler can win the Giro. I wish he would.
Team Telekom: Forget the Bolshoi Ballet approach to beating Lance, i.e. dancing around him with half a dozen lesser riders trying to threaten him. The ONCE gang tried this last year and Lance and his team brushed them aside like so many annoying mosquitoes when the time came to drop the hammer. It is probably too late for the Telekom team to change its approach, as they have gone to a great deal of expense to sign a whole company of dancers who will get their heads handed to them individually by Lance in July; Botero (love the guy, but he can't climb), Salvodelli (love the guy but he can't climb consistently either), Cadel Evans (big talent, but hasn't shown he can hack 3 weeks), Kloden (fab at Paris Nice a few years back and then....?), Vinokourov (love the guy, but can't climb either). Time for Telekom to admit that they HAD the only guy capable of beating Lance and he's gone. Maybe there's hope for next year, but for this year put together a team for stage wins, and don't forget the closest thing to a guaranteed success at the Tour, Mr Erik Zabel. Mr. Godefroot recently described his new lineup recently as having everthing except "a big star". Yo Walter, you have the number one ranked rider in the world! Throw Erik some help once in a while.
Gilberto Simoni: First off, put away the skis and get on the bike. We don't want you getting hurt prior to the Big Show. Secondly, be sure to be ready to race the Giro hard, that way win or lose, you can have a ready made excuse (tired from the Giro) handy when Lance hands you your head in July. Personally, I'd like to see Gibi miss the Giro and focus entirely on the Tour, so we all could really see who's who. It would make for a great race and no excuses.
That's all for now... its going to be a great season!
It seems to me that David Millar knows better about how Cofidis is structured and it doesn't work for him as a competitor. All these allegations of whining made by a bunch of water cooler directeurs sportifs is the real whining. If Millar wishes to change teams so that he can ride up to his potential is up to him. Not me, not you.
Start by saying that I am a huge Lance Armstrong fan. Second that by saying the Lance fan wagon is bursting with the overload of people on it. Third it, by saying I picked at Simoni a year ago for making comments until someone here got it right and asked if we are so "Postalized" that we think nobody else should speak.
Next up is the fact (although it doesn't mean Simoni's a better cyclist) that Gibi was suspended in a race he may have won, and held out of another that he could very well contend in because the UCI is great at finding drugs in people's system that have jack sh!t to do with cycling, but can't seem to find performance enhancing drugs unless they are loaded into a syringe stuck in someone's arse as they leap from hotel window into the arms of French or Italian Police posing for the camera's outside.
Simoni's a quality rider that has the nerve to say that he want's to try and beat Lance. Hell, he wants to make Lance suffer! It's sad to think that nobody else will even make a peep about challenging the man. It's also happened before That Lance has lost time in the mountains, and will probably happen again. Gibi's not saying Lance sucks, or Lance Dopes or Lance's Mamma is a *&%#@, he's saying I want to win, I want to beat Lance at his own game. And you know what, SO DO I, SO DO YOU AND SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE WHO RIDES A BIKE! Tell me you don't wish you were a super champion!
If anyone wants to play "anyone wanna bet...", Do it right and give descent odds when you pick an overwhelming favorite like Lance. And shut it about the top Pro's that want to give him a go. It's a contest and does in fact require "contestants". And if nobody else wanted to make Lance suffer, there wouldn't be much of a race.
I'm sorry to hear that Erik Dekker is having problems with his knee. I have to say, though, that I'm not too surprised. I recall reading that when he rode the Tour last year he was unable to walk without pain, and I thought at the time that he might very well have problems in the future.
I'm a bit of an expert on broken femurs, unfortunately, because I had a pretty similar (maybe a little worse) injury a few years ago (you can see the gory details at www.cs.wisc.edu/~wenger/broken_leg.html and www.cs.wisc.edu/~wenger/hardware.html if you're interested).
Anyhow, it took a couple of months for the bones to heal, but a couple of years to truly recover and get back to where I was in terms of my racing form. During that two years I had to struggle with lots of little problems caused by the imbalance between the injured and the uninjured leg. (This included some problems with the *uninjured* leg because it was working too hard to compensate for the injured leg.)
The big problem was that my injured leg was doing quite a bit less than 50% of the work, without my even realizing it. I finally ended up doing a lot of training that isolates my legs, so that the injured one can't do less than its share. (Isolated-leg riding on the indoor trainer, and single-leg squats, for example.)
It's a long, hard, road to recovery from such a serious injury.
I certainly hope and expect that Erik Dekker has top-class medical resources available to him, and I wish him the best of luck in a full recovery.
I have supported Jan Ullrich since he first caught my eye in the Pyrenees during his debut Tour in '96, there he went on to 2nd overall at the tender age of 22 – 2nd to Bjarne Riis. The following year he won the Tour, thanks in no small measure to – Barne Riis! Ullrich needs the strong, no-nonsense direction and inspiration of Riis to help him re-launch his enigmatic career - joining Team Coast is hardly a fresh start with Rudy Pevenage, Peter Becker and the ‘baby-sitters’ squabbling over him as usual.
I was really hoping for a ‘Jalabert-type’ renaissance for Ullrich at CSC, but not to be and sadly now I don’t see him taking the Tour de France again. Was the move to Coast as Armstrong suggests ‘ just for the money’? Maybe, and really who can blame the boy from the former East Germany and the privations he grew up with? Let’s just hope that the miracle happens and Jan is fit, happy and motivated enough to give Lance a real contest in July this or next year and thrill all his fans again with his considerable talent, fabulous good looks and indisputable courage for the three years of his contract with Coast – the very best of good health and fortune Jan!
Having read Peter Winton's comments and criticisms of the South Australian Government for continuing to support the TDU, I feel that Peter unfortunately misses the point completely.
If it wasn't for the support provided by the SA Government for the TDU, then it probably wouldn't happen at all and certainly not at the current extremely high level of presentation.
The cost of putting on the event is massive, and it is an absolute credit to the Mike the promoter, the Government and the other sponsors that they are able to stage an international event that draws such high quality teams and riders and to expose this wonderful sport to so many people. It is clear that all of the riders love the crowds and the support they get.
As far as the tourism goes, as a resident Sydneysider I am pleased to say that traveling down to Adelaide each year to watch, be part of the fun and enjoy the delights of SA is one of the highlights of the year. This year a friend of mine from Sydney also had a great day at Willunga and loved it despite having no previous interest in the sport.
So in my view all power to the SA Government for its foresight and commitment.
Jacob's Creek TDU #2
Hear, hear Peter! But having attacked "business" like government who have opened a can of worms of another kind and that is the appalling television coverage of the great event outside the "Commonwealth of South Australia"!!! I have been lucky enough to go to the tour for 4 years in a row and witness this world class event first hand. The way the South Australian people embrace the event and the superb organisation makes for a brilliant week. But this year I didn't make it to the tour and after watching Channel "Tennis" I was left asking myself is the tour on this year. Why would the organisers, who I assume have cycling's interest at heart, pass up the opportunity to promote all that is good in cycling and instead take a few extra bucks from a commercial television station that obviously has no passion for cycling instead of sticking with SBS. Outside South Australia, the viewing public had to wait until the 1st of February, nearly a week after the race finished, to see a highlights package. SBS on the other hand had a 10 minute wrap up of the all the stages within a few hours of the last stage finishing on their Sunday afternoon show. Come on TDU organisers, get serious. Commercial television chooses to buys events coverage, SBS provides events coverage "buy" choice!!!!
Peter A. Doody, Passionate Cyclist
I despise the 'how much money do you need' line tagged onto successful people who are capitalizing on the brief moment in the spotlight.
If a letter came in the mail to you today and said please choose either $1mil or $10mil, which box do you check?
Listen to no-one but your own conscience Lance. Let the judgments the rest of the world make never dwarf the one you make with your family, your integrity, and your values in mind.
Although this is a direct response to Mr. Pearson's letter regarding Lance Armstrong's earnings, I see a similar thread running though several letters regarding the present TDF champion. What is it that upsets people so about a person earning large sums of money? Mr. Pearson seems to be dismayed that Lance may win a sixth Tour, and wonders aloud how much more money does he need.
Let me answer for Lance, since he is out training right now. He should earn as much money as he can get his hands on from the effort he puts into cycling. Unlike other professionals, an athlete has a limited life span regardless of their talents. The time to make the money is now. Ten years from now he won't be a pro cyclist. However, he will have some money put away for himself and his family. Maybe he can parlay his Subaru spokeperson position into owning a dealership somewhere down the road. I know one thing, he won't end up like so many of the cycling giants of the past... broke. I would guess a near death experience can show a person how short life is and how important it is to make the most of it.
It looks like I will be spending the fall and winter in Glasgow, Scotland and I hope to have one of my bikes with me. I was wondering if I could get any info about the roads/places to ride/bike shops to use/ amount of people riding in the area. I will be living near or at the Glasgow school of art.
I could not agree more. It's funny how the people with the 2,000 pound plus vehicles (cars trucks etc) don't follow an obligation to safely operate around 200 pounds cyclists (rider and bike). There are no excuses for "accidents" caused by cars running cyclists off the road or hitting them from the side (other than cyclists broadsided running stop signs or traffic signals) or from behind. Its time the authorities stop calling irresponsible behavior an accident when the driver intentionally fails to share the road with cyclists. Even when the manage to just scare the daylights out of you by passing within inches at high speed they exercise a level of carelessness which is so blatantly negligent as to be criminal.
If I passed an individual on the street swinging my arms wildly (like a punch) and whiffed (but just barely) on an individual's head, would they have a right to be miffed. You bet. But when a driver fails to exercise even a modest level of judgment (at 55 if the guy even brushes you it could be your demise), they call it an accident. When did negligent driving become acceptable? The only answer or suggestion I have for why authorities fail to rein in this kind of behavior is that you give up your rights as a citizen when you take to the roads. While this is unfortunate, it is borne out by the manner in which "accidents" are treated by the police and other authorities. Only when some kind of prominent figure is run-off the road or killed and it receives prominence in the media will things change. Such a fact will not stop me from riding, but does make me realize that at the wrong place and wrong time I too could meet my end. Until then I will keep on asserting my rights by riding and sharing the road with motorists.
In response to Gerry Latimer's letter, the right and proper thing would be for all cyclists everywhere to boycott all products made by the producers of Right Guard, as well as all products that are advertised by the agency with the Right Guard account.
I have until this morning been using said deodorant, but have now binned my can and will be going out at lunch to find something not made by Gillette.
Come to think of it, my razor goes into the bin when I get home.
Right Guard Xtreme Commercial #2
Personally I wasn't really offended about the joke. Another ad features a group of racing cyclists being given new electric razors to try..they missed a real trick by having them shave their faces racther than legs..
Right Guard Xtreme Commercial #3
In my opinion, yes, you are making too much of it. It's humor. I've yet to encounter any mad, copycat, rubber-band stretching bandits on my group rides.
Some things are not worth giving them the energy of getting excited about.
Right Guard Xtreme Commercial #4
I saw the commercial and had mixed reactions about it. For one, it tends to promote bad treatment of cyclists, which I'm not too crazy about, but that didn't bother me too much, not enough to be angry with Gillette. I looked at it as something more positive than anything else. It just shows that cycling is getting more popular in North America. They could have used hockey, basketball, or football players, but instead they decided to use cyclists.
Gerry, I agree with you entirely. It is in the same vein as the start of one of the Bond films (can't remember which one, not a huge fan!), when James is racing against another vehicle along a mountain pass. They both speed past a group of cyclists clearly out on a training ride, resulting in a "domino effect" crash. Cyclists made to look foolish and clumsy. I don't know what can be done to get rid of this image, but it seems to be a world-wide affliction.
Right Guard Xtreme Commercial #6
Mr. Lattimer should really take a step backward and rethink his position on advertisements. To assert that the Right Guard commercial empowers people to attacks cyclists is ludicrous. It's a commercial! Look at the other commercials on your TV, are any of them reality-based? No. And, if you recall the entire Right Guard advert, the cyclists end up chasing the two guys who knocked them off their bikes. Is it fair to advertise cyclists attacking pedestrians?
Raymond F. Martin
Right Guard Xtreme Commercial #7
Mr. Lattimer, yes you are being too sensitive about what is nothing more than a humorous commercial. Cycling is still a small sport in the USA and any publicity we can get will plant that seed in the back of people's minds that there is another sport out there that even they can do. So, when you see that commercial smirk along with the rest of us and try and see what kind of bikes they're riding.
I'm a Filipino, too, and I'm envious of the TdL. Great race, great organozation, great vision.
After 8 years riding the TdL, our Filipino riders have stayed on the same position in the peloton, at the tailend, no thanks to the rotten set up of cycling in the our country.
It saddens me to see such waste of talent as the (Victor) Espiritu's comes only like Haleys comet visits us.
I dread the day when Vietnam will drop us in the Genting a few years from now.
A very late response to Ian's letter, but I don't know whether he's had any answers so far. Indeed, the Amstel Gold race has a very compact "route", and is best visited by bike; most of the action is on an area of 20 by 20 kilometers.
I usually park my car in the neighbourhood of Maastricht or Valkenburg early in the morning, get on my bike and try to get a race schedule for the day. In the local newspapers are the estimated times when the peloton should pass all the small villages and "hills".
I make it a lovely day of biking through the southern part of this Limburg-region, doing my own Amstel Race, and plan to see the pro's in action 3 or 4 times that day. When you don't want to search for the parcours, easiest thing to do is to stay in the neighbourhood of the famous Cauberg in Valkenburg; the riders will have to do this hill (60 meters height-difference, but at a maximum of 13%) two or three times that day.
It's a pity that the other famous one, the Keutenberg (max 21%) is closed that day for tourists. It was impossible to "handle" the massive crowd of spectators!
Wishing you a good trip and an enervating Amstel Gold race. This time I put my money on Armstrong.
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