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Letters to Cyclingnews - January 3, 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.

Please email your correspondence to

Happy New year from the Cyclingnews team to all our regular and not-so-regular correspondents!

John Stevenson
Letters Editor

Recent letters

Cyclingnews Reader Poll
Cyclingnews Top 10
Cyclists and motorists
Back Surgery
Becoming a pro in Europe
Cipo and Pantani
Haematocrit levels
Lance Armstrong
Paul Tracy and winners
Women's racing and bikes
The greatest?
VDB is no baby
'Cross in the USA
Classic Cycling Photos
'American' English in Cyclingnews

Reader Poll: Cipo Best Road Rider?

Wow! Voting Mario as the Best Road Rider is like confusing a dragster that dramatically blows up after a quarter mile, with an F-1 precision machine, that deftly handles a hundred miles with continually changing demands throughout the course. What sport was I watching when Armstrong dominated the best in the world, with the help of the best team. Don't misunderstand, I love watching the bunch sprints, but it is a relatively small portion of the overall event. I guess bicycle racing may be going the way of other professional sports in pandering to an uninformed spectator group that wants to see someone cross the line with flair, like football, without any appreciation for the people who hammer out the whole event with an intelligent and disciplined game plan. Too bad.

William Stephens
Tue, 31 Dec 2002

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Reader poll: bikes

The Trek 5900 the best road bike?

Sure its light and stiff, but that bike has less life than a graveyard full of zombies! My fellow Americans, quit being homers. Lance is the best rider in the world. However, if he thought the had the best ride would he have ridden a Vortex on the mountain stages until he could no longer get away with it?

If you want to vote for a carbon bike, Colnagos, Fondriests, Looks and even Giants all have some life to them. Until Calfee starts sponsoring a Division 1 team, there won't be an American carbon bike on par with the European Carbons.

Atlanta, GA
Thu, 26 Dec 2002

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CN Top 10 - Cipollini over Armstrong? #1

You have got to be kidding. Based on "The Lion King" rarely finishing any multi stage race he is nothing but a pure sprinter. A great one true, but not worthy of being in the top ten performers at all.

I have a picture in my mind of Cipollini deserting La Vuelta, while Eric
Zabel was going with a break on a Cat 2 climb.

Lee Bloom
Tue, 24 Dec 2002

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CN Top 10 - Cipollini over Armstrong? #2

I can't criticize too much because Cyclingnews is a great cycling web site but Mario over Lance? Mario's best result is still too recent memory while Lance's domination was spring through July. You have the top two correct just in the wrong order. Did you use Florida ballots?

Keep up the great work!

Justin M
Idaho USA
Tue, 24 Dec 2002

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CN Top 10 - Robbie Number 8?

After stirring up some poop earlier, I again feel compelled to comment on Robbie "MAD MC" Mc Ewen.

I can't believe you folks at CN gave him the number 8 spot... When he should have been placed higher!

For a guy who's off season consists of a call home (probably from a pocket phone on a ride...) at Christmas, he deserved a better spot as a rider.

Charles Manantan
Phoenix AZ USA
Mon, 23 Dec 2002

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CN Top 10 - Spot on!

You guys rock!

You picked things spot on for the 2002 top 10. As I went through the poll, I kept saying to myself, "Yep, that's exactly where he/she/it belongs." When I came to number 2 and saw Lance, I was a little perplexed. That is, until I saw you had selected Super Mario as number one. Then it all made sense.

I'm sure you'll hear lots of griping from other Americans about Lance being number 2, but this year, I think Cipo was number 1. Between Milan-San Remo and Worlds, he had an incredible season. He picked not one goal, but two, and then he accomplished what he set out to do. Selecting him as number 1 this year is an appropriate acknowledgement of his accomplishment.

Chris Bondurant
Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Thu, 26 Dec 2002

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CN Top 10 - Great!

I have just read the CN Top Ten and all I can is BRAVO CN. And more importantly, BRAVO Mario. He was far and away the most exciting racer this year and his 2002 season is something to be envious of. This was the year of the Lion, the Lion King. Bravo Mario from an American tifoso.

Sean Jones
An American in Trinidad
Mon, 23 Dec 2002

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Cyclists and motorists #1

The jackass factor is very high on the roads here in Tucson also. I ride just about every day, and was once on a group ride when we were brushed so closely by a truck that I could have flicked a finger off of my bars and touched it. No one realizes that all they need to do is be just the least bit patient and they can safely pass a rider or group of riders, rather then swerving across the road or running them into the gutter just to get by. I believe that because the world moves at such a high rate of speed these days, that most people seem to miss out on the little things in life, such as cycling, or even taking 15 short minutes during the day to relax and unwind the mind. If we could somehow convince society to do this, would this road rage diminish a bit? I think so, but until then we all need to be careful out there. Ride safe, but do keep riding.

Jason Karew
Tucson, AZ
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Cyclists and motorists #2

Tom makes a good example of many of the obnoxious drivers there are on the roads these least in the U.S. I myself live in Los Angeles, the traffic jam capital of the world, and I train almost daily having to constantly deal with any and every type of hazard from motorists out there.

Over my years of riding, I have developed some basic rules and good advice for all cyclists. First, especially when riding alone, I always assume that a car pulling out inf front of me, or waiting to turn across my path may not see I always cover my brakes and keep a way "out" in case I do get cut-off at the last second. Also, keep at least soft pedaling when you have right of way rather than coasting...this helps communicate to a driver waiting to turn across your path your intention to keep going, even if you're slowing or braking. Also, don't be afraid to use your voice...but use it like a car horn, not an R-rated movie.

Cyclists should also know their rights. In the U.S. at least, if there is no market bicycle lane, and it is not safe to ride on the shoulder of the road, a cyclist may ride in the right hand lane. If there is not enough room for a car to safely pass you in the lane, then ride into the lane rather than trying to let a car squeeze by you. I know many riders who have been sideswiped by rear-view mirrors in these situations. And, should you run into a motorist that drives aggressively towards you (i.e. tailgaiting, swerving at you, intentionally cutting you off) try to get the license number, AND get a witness. These acts count as potential assault WITH a deadly weapon, but you will need a witness, otherwise police usually won't care.

Stuart Press
Los Angeles, CA
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Cyclists and motorists #3

Cyclists from the U.S. must have a high proportion of emigration. It's easy for Lance to be proud of Texas when he has a suburban follow him while training and logs his serious miles out of the country six months a year.

When given the driver license written test in Missouri, where I live, scant attention is given in the questions to sharing the road with cyclists, or other forms of "alternative" transportation for that matter. The actual driving test is more of a joke - climaxing with the parallel parking exercise. Failing this alone, doesn't mean that you'll fail the test anyhow.

U.S. Drivers are put out on the road with minimal skill and a skimmed-over knowledge of the rules. The only learning method left is by imitating - imitating the present generation of drivers does not bode well for cyclists. A girl came by me today with her horn laid down. I caught up to her at the stoplight, knocked on the window to ask what the problem was and the mother responded "She's only 15!" I didn't really understand that, only that she's learning these driving habits from her mother, rather than an official institution.

Driving schools need to be intense, and mandatory. If that means raising the price of the $15 license fee, so be it if that increases my chances of survival.

Sat, 21 Dec 2002

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Cyclists and motorists #4

I read Tom's letter about his run-in with the Lilliputian driving the pickup and asking for a little respect on the road. I can sympathize with the episode but I wonder about the reasons for it occurrence. Let me explain.

For the last 45 years I have been a fairly serious cyclist and still, at 63, ride 40 or so kilometers a day around where I live in California. I ride alone now, not because I shun other riders but because the way people ride in groups makes me alternately angry and afraid. Regardless of the number of cars on the road, everyone in the group insists on riding side by side, filling up an entire lane and, if it is a 4 lane road, going into the next lane. Forget that cars and behind and in many cases unable to pass, for any number of reasons. They remain the blob they are and insist that cars wait patiently for the first opportunity to get by.

This seems to me sheer stupidity and rudeness. People behind will get annoyed; it is the nature of the human condition. And when they get annoyed drivers will take it out on the next cyclists they see, if they do not take it out in the way you describe. Reckless and stupid his actions certainly were, but a bit understandable as well. I have been riding for many, many years and cycling and cyclists could have no better friend than I. Yet, even I get so angry at cyclists riding in groups that I have to talk to myself. This kind of riding is dreadful and so I have decided to ride on my own, hoping that I am not the one on whom a driver acts out frustrations and anger generated by others.

Instead of asking that just motorists show some respect to cyclists, why not ask your fellow cyclists to show some respect to motorists. Doing so would be demonstrating what someone once characterized as self-interest rightly understood or, as my mother would have phrased it, showing some common courtesy. You are right, we all have to share the road. The only trouble with that is when cyclists ride in groups they behave as though the road is theirs alone, and this causes the kind of extreme, and inexcusable, actions you describe.

Andy Farrand
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Cyclists and motorists #5

As Tom points out in his letter, a cyclist invariably loses motorist/cyclist interactions due to simple physics. During such interactions it is difficult, if not impossible for a cyclist to share his thoughts with the offended motorist. Anyone wearing tights, slick-soled shoes, and armed with nothing more than perhaps a frame pump or a water bottle (hopefully full) has little chance of reasoning with an ill-tempered, slow thinking, motorist who sits inside a relative Panzer armed with all sorts of weapons of mass cycling destruction. Though you may have a well reasoned argument all prepared and are more than ready to save this motorist from a life of idiocy, save it, trust me on this one.

The laws of nature along with some of Murphy's dictate that we cyclists rise above the lunacy that hurdles down those country roads. We, like Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire, must rely on the kindness of strangers. Let us lead by example, showing courtesy and restraint when interacting with motorists. When given offending hand signals by passing motorists, just let it slide. They will be over that hill soon and out of your life. With strong patience of heart and sober presence of mind we can bridge the mental gap that sometimes divides us from our 4-wheeled friends. (Of course, an occasional potatoe (thank you Mr. Quayle) in the tailpipe, however immature, can offer deeply frustrated cyclists some psychological relief when needed)

Michael Snyder
Albemarle, NC, USA
Friday, December 20, 2002

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Cyclists and motorists #6

Regarding motorists who slow down enough to yell. I always turn it around and ask where should I ride, or if they know of quieter roads. Also pointing out that writing to a congressperson( for the politically correct) asking for wider roads is also a good choice.

But the last thing I want to do is try to badger on, because I can assure you that if he was pissed enough this time, he will be again, and maybe somebody will get hurt. So just apologize, tell them that you wish they made bicycle lanes, and that you are keeping as far to the right without putting yourself in the ditch.

So for the meantime...just do what you can...but be nice. It is not our fault, but it is our problem. Being nasty wont help, but fuel the fire for restrictions on bicycles, or cause for more laws, for which we will have to pay for.

Be safe everyone?

Happy New Year.

Michel van Musschenboek
Mon, 30 Dec 2002

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Back Surgery #1

[Previous letters]

Four years ago, as a result of a snowboard accident, I injured my back. My hips were soon shifted dramatically out of their normal position, and I was in a great amount of pain. I decided that I had to do something about my back problem and so I started physical therapy, but the pain would only disappear intermittently. I always felt as if my back pain could flare up at any moment, and therefore I should be very careful. In babying my back I did not run, tried not to bend, and had to give up on many of my favorite activities.

I confirmed the fact that I had back problems when I got an MRI and had an army of physical therapists and doctors analyze it only to tell me that I had degenerative and herniated disks in L5-S1 and that I could expect back pain for the rest of my life. I believed them.

Over the course of the next two years, I raced my bike a lot, pushing through the pain, and praying that my back would not give me too much trouble. In the middle of the 2001 season, after the Berkley Hills Road Race I felt a searing pain in my knees. Soon I was diagnosed with patella femoral tendonitis and chondromalacia in both of my knees, and now I could not ride my bike because of the pain. Essentially, I was a cripple. I could not run, bike, or even swim (the kicking hurt my knees). For nine months the torture endured as I sat on the sidelines of my favorite races and felt terrible.

Then one day I read a book that changed my life. In my desperation for a cure to back pain I had found a book entitled, Healing Back Pain, by John Sarno. I will say it again, Healing Back Pain, by John Sarno. Every person who reads this email and suffers from back pain, tendonitus, or both must read this book. The philosophy that John Sarno uses has cured tens of thousands of patients completely and permanently of pain.

John Sarno is a back surgeon. Thirty years ago he was cutting people's backs open in the hope of curing their pain; however, he began to realize that only certain people were helped by back surgery and many, the vast majority, were not. With this in mind, he began exploring new avenues for healing while still a back surgeon. When he began to tell people that a large component of back pain was mental, and that back pain was actually a psychosomatic disorder, and some people were spontaneously cured.

To make a long story short, over the past twenty-odd years, Sarno has honed the theory that back pain has a mental component. The idea is that back pain, tendonitus, and any other nagging, chronic injury, is simply a distraction from repressed anger. All that is required to rid your body of pain is to tell your mind that you recognize the hurt feelings that you have repressed, and you no longer need the pain as a distraction from these emotions. Yes, I know that many people have a hard time believing this, but hopefully my case will prove its validity.

After nine months of not being able to ride a bike, this book gave me a renewed sense of hope. Sarno describes the typical person who gets pain as a consciencous and nice person who does not like to burden other people with their painful emotions.

This rung a bell in my head, and I knew that I was going to make my best effort to get rid of my back and knee pain. I read the book on February 17, 2002 and on February 18 2002 I told myself that I was going to ride my bike until me knees didn't hurt. I simply was not going to accept the pain any longer. On my way to the biggest hill I could think of, I kept telling my mind that I was not going to accept that pain, and I was going to keep my thoughts focused on the psychological anger that I may have generated in my past. When I hit the hill, I stood up and sprinted.

No pain. Since that momentous day nine months ago, I have been completely free of knee and back pain, and I have been able to start riding and racing hard in the sport that I love. The reason: the pain no longer serves its purpose as a distraction from repressed emotions.

Just seeing how this book, Healing Back Pain, has worked for me, anyone suffering from pain must read it to get back to a full and happy life. You absolutely do not have to suffer from chronic pain!

Feel free to email me with any questions at

Tyler Hester
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Back surgery #2

When I was 19 I had dreams of becoming a professional athlete. During a sprint workout I felt an excruciating pain in my back that left me immobile for a week. I decided to see a certified chiropractor who told me that I had herniated a disk in my lumbar region and if it did not heal within a month I would most likely never compete again let alone walk or exercise normally. The treatment I was given was unsatisfactory at best and I spent 9 months depressed not being able to ride or engage in nearly any athletic activity. Thankfully I did not have surgery although my pain persisted for some time.

After learning to live with my injury I decided to learn more about it and spend more time learning to correct my biomechanical imbalances as well as achieve a more balanced body. After nearly half a decade getting involved in other sports such as lifting weights, power lifting and triathlons I slowly recovered. During this time I also found that I required knee surgery to remove bone fragments (childhood injury) that limited my legs range of motion. This most likely contributed to my imbalances causing my herniated disk as well as preventing me from training at the intensity that I wanted to.

I stopped racing for 5 years and recently decided to come back to cycling full force this last season (2002). Within 3 months I came close to upgrading to a Cat. 2 track racer from Cat. 4, place 3rd in our state kilo event and have been improving on a weekly basis since.

Since my injury I constantly need to be aware of my back and perform exercises to keep it strong as well as flexible. I am stronger, healthier and wiser than I was when I was 19 and have far exceeded my improvements at 30 years of age with 3 months training/racing than at 19 years of age with 4 years of training/racing.

My experiences are testament that through determination and knowledge it is possible to recover from a back injury without surgery and be competitive again.

Stathy G. Touloumis
Chicago, Illinois
Friday, December 20, 2002

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Back surgery #3

I have had that same operation that you did in the end of the season in 2001. 15 days after my operation I started to ride my bike slowly and after a month I was already going to the rides and in February I started the season in racing. I won all championships and now am The Champion in Florida Point Series.... I feel magnificent and if you would like I can send you the name and address of the surgeon in which operated me, I have been training this season also and I feel great.

Pedro Barzaga
Florida Point Series Champion
Wed, 25 Dec 2002

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Back surgery #4

As a physician Board Certified with Added Qualifications in Pain Management I found this letter interesting. I have not read all of the letters on this subject, but had previously been thinking of writing in when I read about the Graeme(sp?) Miller situation. Statistically, in one year from onset of symptoms, there is little difference between those who have surgery and those who are able to use conservative treatments for disc herniations. As long as you can get to that point, you should be happy that you deferred surgery. The only serious impediment to this is the development of a rapid progression of neurologic deficit (progressive numbness, muscle weakness or bowel/bladder dysfunction...), which is then a cause for requirement of urgent neurosurgical evaluation, since urgent or emergent surgery could be required to avoid the possibility of permanent neurological deficit (nerve damage).

Furthermore, many people have disc "bulges" or even disc herniations which are not symptomatic and therefore in some people these findings do not even correlate with the cause of pain. While I don't have all of the medical details in the cases here, a two-level fusion surgery for one disc herniation and an adjacent "bulge" (which may in fact be asymptomatic) would seem a little extreme. A second opinion would always seem to be in order, unless it is the above-noted circumstance of progressive neurological deficit.

One specific good note about cycling: in the case of spinal stenosis (narrowing of the canal from congenital causes or developmentally, from wear-and-tear degenerative changes) it is usually spinal extension (leaning backwards) that makes symptoms worse. Slight forward flexion feels better. Therefore riding a bicycle or stationary bike/ergometer is preferred to walking or other forms of aerobic exercise during the rehabilitation process.

Rick Bose, M.D.
Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA
Fri, 27 Dec 2002

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Becoming a pro in Europe

Hello, and thanks if your reading this. I am a 23 yr old UK rider and I want to move to Europe once I graduate this coming May so that I can race more and attempt to try and become a pro cyclist.

Before I can move there, I need to find somewhere that fits the following criteria:

1) Be fairly central to lots of racing.
2) Have a university where my wife can study in English, as it is her 2nd language and she doesn't fancy having to struggle with a 3rd language just to get a degree.
3) Have sunnier weather than the UK.
4) Not cost loads of money to live/race - I will also need to do a job.

My degree is in Architecture and I am very computer literate.

If anyone can offer my any advice, I would really appreciate it. My wife and I are open to all suggestions of where to try and achieve my goal and don't really have a specific location in mind right now.

Happy New Year to you all.

Mike Zagorski -
Thu, 2 Jan 2003

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Cipo and Pantani

Although Pantani hasn't done much lately, as the last to win two grand Tours he is still a monster personality in Italy. So much so that he comes with his own budget of a couple of Million Dollars with Mercatone. Horrible but accurate comparison (although at a considerably smaller amount) is Tiger Woods who earns just a couple of Million on the Golf course and tens of Millions off... Pantani's income would have been halved. Not that it shouldn't be in the first place...

Phoenix AZ
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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In 2001 I watched Cipo and the other sprinters climb the Bandoni, a 4000+ ft climb averaging 7 to 8 %. His group was not with the leaders, they didn't need to be since none were GC riders, but I'll bet you that "sweet" carbon bike you bought yourself so that you could be a "climber" that you could not keep up, even if you hadn't ridden over Passo Pordoi 2 times the day before.

Bob Ilchik
Tucson AZ
Sat, 21 Dec 2002

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Chris McReynolds' letter appears to suggest that Garzelli knowingly took the drug. I have not heard of any evidence that even purports to confirm this, in fact the anecdotal evidence is just the opposite.

While I'm writing on the Probenecid subject, the inconsistencies of world sport are never more apparent than when comparing Garzelli's punishment with that of the two Aussie cricketers found positive in two separate incidents earlier this year. Theirs was no more than a slap on wrist. Cycling might have its drug problems and be criticised for the way the rules are enforced but other sports bodies are even worse.

Steve Moult
South Africa
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Haematocrit levels

I see that a Mr Rumsauer was prevented from starting a race because his haematocrit level was over 50%.

I am a 50 year old recreational rider and the comment opposite my recently tested level of 49% says that normal values can range from 40-56%. If this is so, can somebody tell me why the figure of 50% has been chosen as "the line in the sand"?

My concern is that, in an otherwise laudable attempt to catch EPO users, people with innate high haematocrit levels are being prevented from exploiting an advantage as natural as Mario's quantity of fast twitch muscle fibres. (I make no comment on the legitimacy of Mr Rumsauer's level.)

All the very best - I look forward to your continued high quality, comprehensive service in 2003.

Steve Moult
Johannesburg, South Africa
Mon, 23 Dec 2002

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Lance Armstrong #1

Erik van Bommel is absolutely right. Lance is no Eddy Merckx, but like Merckx Lance inspires kids to do sports and he's a great support for people with cancer ... that's why I say, Lance has a beautiful mind in a beautiful (and very strong) body. For me, that's the definition of a great champion.

Dries Vereecke
Sun, 22 Dec 2002

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Lance Armstrong #2

In response to Erik van Bommel: When's the last time that the "best" have shown up for any race in the autumn? Do you really believe that Lance didn't suffer in Flanders or Amstel last year? Or Paris-Nice in 1998 for that matter? How about when he won the world championships? Or when he defended the world championships the following year in Sicily? Or the TDF stage to Limoges?

Give it a break. Maybe Lance is one of the greatest, maybe he isn't.

But lighten-up. Is there any race that he'll enter next year where he wouldn't be a marked rider? If Lance's sponsors wanted him to win in the spring classics, don't you think it would probably happen?

He is the preeminent rider of this era. Isn't that enough to make him one of the greats? Or are you suggesting that the riders that he's humbled aren't of the caliber of the riders that Merckx, Hinault and Coppi humbled?

Are there any riders in the past that could ride against him and beat him with the same consistency with which he has defeated today's best riders? Perhaps . . . But not in the league with the greatest? I don't think I would bet against him in a race against the greatest over any conditions.

However, if I had to bet on someone it would probably be Merckx.

Jeanne Smith
New York
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Lance Armstrong #3

Seems to me that LA had a pretty good spring, but I agree that he ends the season a little early. Also, I wish he would do one of the other Grand Tours. He may not be as complete of a biker as Hinault or Merckx, but he has won classics as well as the World's. Frankly, how many tour contenders in the last 10-15 years have done a tough, full season?

Russell Sawyer
Silver Spring, Maryland
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Lance Armstrong #4

I am writing in response to the letter that Erik van Bommel wrote this past Monday. While I too looking forward to Lance Armstrong possibly winning his 5th Tour de France next year, and applaud his position in the peloton, I think Erik is off base in regards to Lance suffering in races. Every race he enters, he does suffer. He's just able to hide and contain that suffering better than any of his peers. What about the spring classics this past season? Milan-San Remo? He rode well and suffered. Amstel Gold? Fourth place and he did suffer. In the Clasica San Sebastian (near Fall) he did suffer quite a bit, and dropped out.

And as far as trying to compare him to Bernard Hinault, Sean Kelly, Eddy Merckx, or Fausto Coppi, it is by and large unfair. Those riders represent different eras in professional cycling. The sport has changed so much, that the tactics employed now, along with training methods, etc are an about face from what those legends were used to. Maybe his palmares don't approach the luster of those riders, but they're pretty damn good. One of the most important aspects to remember about Armstrong (and he has mentioned this himself several times), is that he is the first rider to win the Tour after coming back from the grips of cancer. All those legends Erik listed never had to deal with that.

Derrick Galvan
Seattle, WA
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Lance Armstrong #5

In response to Mr. Erik van Bommel's letter no one is claiming Lance Armstrong is the best ever. Even he is the first to claim Eddy Merckx is the best. However, you cannot doubt the way he wins; he is just downright dominant. Therefore, he may just be the greatest Tour rider there ever was.

Jeffrey Lynne
Boca Raton, Florida
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Lance Armstrong #6

I strongly agree with Erik Van Bommel's depiction that these riders are truly great, but the idea that Lance is in a lesser league because of his race itinerary is simply incorrect. International racing is specialized and the major sponsors have different goals and passions in which to win a race. All the grand tour contenders (true contenders) specialize for specific races. This fact, as I'm sure most would agree, has not detracted from the romance or excitement of the sport. I think it brings the tours to a whole other spectacular level... The same parallel could be said for Cipo and Museeuw.

I don't think you would say they are lesser riders or anything other than truly great cyclists because they look for races that suit their talents and delivers the wins...

In my opinion, if all the cyclists raced the entire season in the company of Lance, I'm certain his palmares would be enormous...

Let the sport change and evolve. It's healthy, normal, and exciting...

Jennifer Martin
Sat, 21 Dec 2002

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Paul Tracy and winners

12/20, Kim writes:

"...and next year, I will watch CART racing, with my full fan support behind this generous person [new Players-Forsythe team member Paul Tracy]. Thank you, Paul, for making me feel good about race car drivers."

Yes, thank you, Paul, for sending the most mixed message of 2002.

Paul Tracy has donated some of his winnings from car racing to the LAF, a support group for cancer patients. Paul Tracy is going to race for a team sponsored by a cigarette company, Players, next year. What, exactly, is generous about that? Getting paid hundreds of thousands to promote cancer, only to turn around and give an itty amount to a cancer support group? Am I missing something?

Philip Higgs
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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Women's racing and bikes

Thanks for profiling Kristin Armstrong's Cannondale in your recent tech section! You are the only source for pro women's cycling news. As a female racer and bike geek, as well as a loyal reader, I love seeing what the pro ladies are riding. Having profiles like this included on your site validates the entire women's racing and cycling community. Keep up the good work, and we'll keep reading!

Happy holidays,

Natascha Grief
San Francisco, CA USA
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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The greatest?

I believe that the fascination with the greatest, strongest, fastest and best is a human quality that we find in all sports, cycling certainly.

But, the exchange I see on Armstrong and his hopeful 5th win at the TDF is typical, but, in my opinion, it misses the point. Who was the best? Right?

Here are my candidates:

1)Freddie Hoffman-Rode over 1 million miles on his 80+ pound Schwinn. Still riding too from what I have heard.

2)Anybody who shows up on a Touring bike and wins a cat 4 event, wearing Chuck Taylors canvas sneakers and swimming trunks.

3)Anybody who shows up to a state level TT and comes in the top 3 riding a mid 80's stock Peugeot against machines that are right at the weight limit for UCI regulations.

4)The person I saw in the rain, on a recumbent, breathing through the hole in his neck because Lung disease was eating him alive from the inside out.

5)The guy Chris who taught me about carbon fiber on a ride by showing me his artificial leg and how it is a work of art.

6)The guy who showed up on a Schwinn Cruiser for the Tour of Colorado and finished the Tour after riding that tank up hills that made some people cry.

So, that's my list. The stars? Sure, Lance Armstrong:

Pisses and shits through tubes due to the cancer that nearly kills him and comes back to win the TDF 4 times in a row. In addition to the other minor issue of bronzing in the Olympics with a cracked vertebra. That does tend to attract attention.

Merckx, Coppi, sure, they were beyond great, they were phenoms. Look at Coppis 20+ minutes of victory margin during one of his TDF victories. Merckx and the hour.

But just for a minute, take a look at the list above, and compare. There are some very great people there as well. Know what really shocks me? We discount this greatness as quickly as we discount our own hours of our lives we spend on our bikes. Not me.

Mark Combs
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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VDB is no baby

If I hear Frank Vandenbroucke referred to as "Enfant Terrible" one more time, I am gonna puke!

At what point in this MAN'S life do we start holding him responsible for his actions and lack of control rather than tossing around adjectives that imply he is still a young phenom full of potential? At what point does the press stop calling upon a few successes early in his career for fuel and start questioning the way he won them?

It would be a shame to see VDB tossed in the waste can, but that's where he belongs. I would rather see him (and the folks who give him 2-3 second chances) there than continue to see the sport's image dropped in.

Charles Manantan
Phoenix AZ
Fri, 20 Dec 2002

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'Cross in the USA

[Previous letters]

It is a free market. Isaac voted with his wallet by not racing at the American Express Financial Advisors Cyclo-Cross (Verge #6). He also did not show up on Saturday, despite my invitation, to run a snowblower, or finesse stakes into the frozen ground, or chop ice, etc., for which I gladly would have given him free entry, like I did to the dozen or so people who did show up.

Next year's series will take his concern with entry fees under advisement. Lowering the entry fees for the non-elite events will put some races (even deeper) into the red. For the sake of the sport, let's hope that the promoting organization is prepared to lose money. Otherwise, those events will be history. The current talk of NEBRA and amongst the promoters is that only the elite events will get cash prizes. What other event even pays cash prizes to anyone other then professionals?

I invite all readers to provide feedback via the survey on the Verge series web site at

Here are the actual numbers from my event:


  Sponsorship             $1,740
  Entry fees              $3,940


  Announcers             $(  350)
  Insurance              $(  568)
  Officials              $(  366)
  Prize list             $(3,415) [did not have 25 placed elite riders]
  Park & Rec fee         $(  180)
  Series fee             $(  150)
  Trophies/Medals        $(   95)
  Food for staff         $(   62)
  Advertising            $(  240)
  Course materials       $(  370) [includes salt, snowblower repair...]
  Stake rentals          $(   90)
Net:                     $(  206) [assuming there is no bill from the
                                   town for damages to the grass]

One of the long-term goals of having UCI status for CX races (I think there were 18 total this year, USA-wide) is to get the attention of the Europeans, and eventually have a CDM (World Cup) event here (rumor has it that there will be one in North America for next season) and maybe even the World Championships. The races in October have gotten some attention in previous years, prior to the European CX season being in full swing. Shaun Snodden (GB, U23 champion) entered the final 3 events. I got inquiries from a few European riders, but couldn't afford to pay them the start money they requested. Another goal is to improve the US riders' chances at the world's, where they start in order of UCI ranking. UCI races on American soil means points and thus ranking for American riders, who will then have a fighting chance, instead of starting in the back row.

Tim Lucia
Sat, 28 Dec 2002

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Classic Cycling Photos

I'm sure this is a question answered many time before, but where can I buy decent poster size prints of the classic cycling photos of Merckx, Anquetil etc.?


Christian Pearce
Mon, 23 Dec 2002

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'American' English in Cyclingnews

Reading through through the news and various sections of Cyclingnews I often come across Americanised spellings of some words ie: 'Z' instead of 'S' etc. Granted that some of the articles may be lifted from other sources, although there seems no reference to such. Is this a disturbing new policy to further go down the globalisation path to which there seems no return, or is it some sort of covert admission that Cyclingnews has lost its Australian identity?

Ian Loxton

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Cyclingnews publisher Gerard Knapp replies:

When you visit, you encounter a site which is produced by persons of various nationalities; hence an American may spell colour "color", and so on. We prefer Oxford English for our style, but we're not that concerned if an American writer uses his or her spelling. Sometimes we correct it, other times there are more important things to do. Europeans tend to use American English, oddly enough.

Is it globalisation? Indeed yes, but in the case of, it's controlled by an Australian company, which just happens to produce the world's most popular cycle racing web site. So relax, it hasn't lost its Australian ownership or sensibility, rather, it's reflective of the great number of people who contribute to the site.

Recent letters pages

  • December 20 - Cipo and Pantani, Lance Armstrong & Tour number five, The need for supplements, Cuba, Graeme Miller, Gerard Bisceglia Interview, T-Mobile, Racing in Asia, 'Cross in the USA, Back surgery, Cyclists and motorists, Garzelli, Gene doping, USA Cycling, Paul Tracy and winners, Tom Boonen
  • December 13 - Tom Boonen, T-Mobile, 'Cross in the USA, Graeme Miller, Why Lance will win his 5th Tour, The need for supplements, Scott Moninger, Cipo and Pantani, Velodrome certification, Asian races, Gene doping, Robbie McEwen, The media in cycling, Back surgery, Climbers vs sprinters, Training in Spain, Brooklyn Cycling Club
  • December 5 - 'Cross in the USA, Tainted supplements, Tom Boonen, The media in cycling, Scott Moninger, Back surgery, EPO, Climbers versus sprinters, Cows biggest threat to overseas riders in Asian races, Nancy L. Contreras Reyes 33.605s, Original Tour du Pont, Peugeot Jerseys, Stolen bike
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  • November 21 - Robbie McEwen & the media, Tom Boonen, Bas Van Dooren, Cyclo-cross USA, DynEPO, John Lieswyn's Diaries, Saeco and Cannondale, TdF 2003, Atrial fibrillation, Cyclo-Sportifs, Joseba Beloki,, Tyler Hamilton, Cipo, 'Ferrari' people mover
  • November 18 - Bas Van Dooren, Tom Boonen, Cyclo-cross USA, Atrial Fibrillation among the pros, Cipo, TdF 2003, DynEPO, Saeco and Cannondale, Living in Europe, Soren Lilholt, VDB, Where's Tom Leaper?, Cyclo-Sportifs, Amstel Gold Race
  • November 8 - Botero's contract, Atrial Fibrillation among the pros?, Tour de France 2003 Presentation & Sean Kelly's jersey, TdF 2003, What about Tyler?, Graeme Obree film, Horner/Trenti, Jan Ullrich, Amstel Gold Race, Big Mat/Gitane, Boxless bicycling, Cipo, VDB, Living in Europe, Lisa Mathison, Mass start event safety issues, Podium Boyz Pic, Raul Alcala, Shaving, 19th Century 24 hour racing
  • October 31 - A House Divided..., Robbie McEwen, Botero, Real inclines, Lance's seat post, Chris Horner, Cipo, Namibia, Numb data, Pics of Bauer's chopper, Shaving, What about Tyler?, Jan Ullrich, Jan Ullrich's knee pads, Women's race length
  • October 25 - Robbie McEwen defends himself, Cipo, The Worlds Sprint, Chris Horner, Cipo and Pantani, Tour selection, Namibia, I had that Brad McGee in my store once, What about Tyler?, Botero, Lance in good company, Lance's seat post, Numbed by the data, Real inclines, World Masters Games in Oz, Young champions, Shaving
  • October 18 - The World's, What is up with Robbie McEwen?, Cipo and Pantani, Botero, Lieswyn and Australian races, Namibia?, Numbed by the data, Shaving, Tour de France, Only in Cycling..., World Masters Games, Youngest world pro champion?, What A Goose
  • October 11 - Why Botero is a Champion, It Could Only Happen in Cycling!, UCI change, Climbing Weight, Delgado, Language, Lieswyn and Australian races, Shaving, Univest GP, Triple Bypass Ride, Around Oz racing
  • October 4 - Univest GP, Vicente Belda, Kelme, the little team?, Pedro Delgado is nuts, Aussie track team, Box or not?, Climbing weight, Guido Trenti, John Lieswyn, Regularity, Triple Bypass Ride, ag2r, Advice on shaving
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