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Letters to Cyclingnews - January 30, 2003
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Grand tour slam
Two riders have done all three grand tours in one season, and finished in the top ten. "Le Grand Fusil", Raphaël Geminiani, was 3rd in the Vuelta, 4th in the Giro and 6th in the Tour in 1955, and former Tour champion Gastone Nencini of Mugella was 9th in the Vuelta two years later, after which he won the Giro d'Italia and finished 6th in the Tour.
Marino Lejaretta competed in all three grand tours on several occasions, but never finished in the top 10 in all three within one season - he was 7th and 5th in the Giro and the Tour respectively in 1990, but only 55th in the Vuelta, and the year before he was 20th, 10th and 5th in Vuelta, Giro and Tour. In 1991, his final full season, he finished 53rd in the Tour de France, but was 3rd and 5th in Vuelta and Giro.
Eduardo Chozas has come close, finishing 10th in the Giro and 11th in both Vuelta and Tour in 1991, and back in 1958, Federico Bahamontes competed in all three with a 17th place in the Giro as his worst result (he was in the top 10 in both Vuelta and Tour).
Other riders who have finished all three grand tours in one season include Mariano Piccoli, Neil Stephens, Guido Bontempi, Valerio Tebaldi, Iñaki Gaston, Marco Giovanetti and José Manuel Fuente. The last one to finish all three was Jon Odriózola in 2001 (he was the first to do so in nine years, since Bontempi and Stephens in 1992, but in 1991 no less than seven riders completed all three grand national tours).
Anders P. Jensen
Grand tour slam #2
In response to the "who has completed the 3 Grand Tours best?" I seem to recall Mr. I-Ride-At-The-Back himself, Marino Lejaretta. If you have any Tour videos from that time, check 'em out. You will see Marino Lejaretta, and all his minders riding around at the back, until a mountain showed up, and then he was usually near the front. I heard he went so far as to DEFEND riding at the back.
Still, the guy was a workhorse, and finished pretty high in each. He also had some brothers who were pros and I think I saw Sean Kelly dispatch one of them in a stage of the Tour of Spain, in a small mountain stage.
I heard Neil Stephens used to do all three pretty regularly as well, but we all know what his job was, and he likely didn't finish that highly in each - to take nothing away from him in ANY way. Neil is the man, and I remember seeing him back from the 1987 Tour of Ireland - where he came off at the end of the time trial with newly-crowned World Champ Stephen Roche full gas on the front in the last kilometer...
Grand tour slam #3
Peter, your letter about the 3 grand tours is very correct, but slightly lacking in one aspect. The Vuelta was not always looked at as a Grand Tour by many in the peloton until it was moved to later in the calendar year. Along with the move, the prize list was dramatically increased as well, making it the Grand Tour it is today.
Cycling's Triple Crown has never been winning the Tour de France, the Giro d' Italia, and the Vuelta a España, but instead the Tour, the Giro, and the Worlds. And this feat has been accomplished before. Most recently by Stephen Roche during his magical season of 1987.
Grand tour slam #4
I found this site (www.team.malarenergi.se/probike/tourer/slam2.html) because of my same interest in the Grand Tours. It is (presumably) a complete list of all riders who have completed each of the Grand Tours in a single year and is current through 2001. Of particular note are:
Raphael Geminiani who has the best finishes in one year - in 1955 he was 3rd at the Vuelta, 4th at the Giro, and 6th at the TdF.
Gastone Nencini who had the best single result in 1957 by winning the Giro. His other results weren't bad either - 9th at the Vuelta and 6th at the Tdf.
Geminiani (1955) and Nencini (1957) are the only two to have top 10 finishes in all the Grand Tours in a given year.
And finally, Marino Lejaretta who completed the feat 4 times (1987, 1989-1991). In each of those four years he finished in two of them in the top 10. His best results were 3rd at the Vuelta (1991), 4th at the Giro (1987) and 5th at the TdF (1989, 1990).
Grand tour slam #5
I feel sure that the only recent top ten finisher has been the Spaniard Marino Lejarreta. He won the Vuelta back in 1982 and I am sure that he did his remarkable finishes when the Vuelta was the first of the three Grand Tours.... currently he is an Asst DS for ONCE. I can't seem to find enough archives to date this accomplishment.
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.
Lance Armstrong #2
Hans, but I have to disagree with this concept. I do not believe for one moment, that any of the five time Tour winners would have "thrown" a possible record breaking victory in favor of honoring their predecessors. Nor do I believe that any of them would encourage Lance to do so, should he win his fifth and have the chance to go for six. My fellow Americans may recall some people expressing the same sort of sentiment regarding the consecutive games streak of Cal Ripken in baseball, when he broke the record set by Lou Gehrig. It would have a disservice to the character of both men had he done so, just as I think it would be to the men in question here. And I won't even get into what Lance's sponsors would have to say about such a notion!
These people were/are professional athletes, and they live for competition. Extremely proud, and confident in their abilities and accomplishments. They recognize that sport progresses and that records are, indeed, made to be broken. Granted, it may be a bittersweet moment, but they would feel joy for anybody that breaks the record, just as if they themselves had done it. Or so I would like to believe.
Besides, Lance has not yet won number five, so any talk along these lines is really premature. This may be the year that somebody other than Ullrich challenges Lance. I for one like the chances of Botero and Aitor Gonzalez. But, what do I know? I never gave Lance a snowball's chance of winning number one, let alone four in a row.
Lance Armstrong #3
People will continually debate how great Lance Armstrong is compared to the other icons in the sport. Each sport has its "acknowledged" best, the ones "normal" people know of, like golf's Tiger Woods, basketball's Michael Jordan, and soccer's Pele.
However, greatness can be measured in many different ways, not just in athletic achievements. If one measures how many lives a racing cyclist has profoundly affected, I would give Lance the nod. Lance's inspiration for cancer patients is astounding. My copy of Lance's book, now in my (cancer-diagnosed) mom's possession, has been instrumental in building her morale, expectations, and resolve. Although her cancer is not in remission, her morale is high, her will to fight strong, and her ability to withstand pain and discomfort great. After all, if she isn't writhing on the floor in delirious agony like Lance did, then, comparatively speaking, she's doing fantastic. We joke of when she'll win the Tour, since she's obviously stronger than Lance (no writhing on floor) and much, much lighter (102 lbs at 5' tall). He's had a profound effect on my mom and therefore has affected our whole family. Come July, we will all be rooting for him, because, in a roundabout way, it's another way to root for our mom.
Dave also seems to have forgotten very quickly the support Cofidis gave him when he had a long spell of illness a couple of years ago and was doing nothing on the bike.
I agree with Alain and Eddie - we've got enough riders spending more time moaning than riding. We need Dave riding well otherwise the UK's got no-one!
Dave Millar #2
While I couldn't agree more that David Millar should stop his bleating about how hard this stage is or that this race is to long etc... he has a point about the Cofidis team strategy. If his team mates' salaries are based on how many UCI points they score it is ludicrous to think that they will support him because he has shut his mouth and is now "riding to his potential". I am sure his team mates would love to see him succeed but the bottom line is that they ride to earn a living and they must put bread on their own tables. David Millar may have all the potential in the world but until he has team being paid to protect him as their leader he will never finish in the top 5 of one of the big stage races period.
Dave Millar #3
It seems as though David Millar has been catching some headline cycling stories over the past 6 months, unfortunately most of the press about him has not been for noteworthy performances on the bike, more about his complaining in races, tantrums, rifts within Cofidis, and explanations of his poor results.
As adults we have to take responsibility for all things that happen and account for our own lives. David still has tremendous potential, he is a tremendous talent. Unfortunately, money, fame, and youth can sometimes be a lethal combination. But David is not done, I think he sees a little past the clouds than most people would see in his situation. Here is my five step program of suggestions to get David back on track for what will make him one of the greatest riders in the history of cycling.
1) David, do your job, do what you are getting paid for, earn your money.
David is getting paid to ride his bike, and produce results, which in turn gets the sponsor's names out there. Mind you, he makes a heck of a lot more than any average income per person of any nation. All the talent in the world won't make a true champion without incredibly hard work. Do your job David and don't worry about other people and whether they are doing their jobs, just do you job, what goes around comes around. There are a lot of potentially great riders wanting to work at less than half your pay, who will put in twice the effort without the attitude and have nearly the same results you have to date.
2) Respect the sport.
Very simple, understand the history, understand where it is now, understand where it will be going, understand the people that have sacrificed their entire lives for the love of the sport, understand why, David. Understand the privileged position you have by being in this sport at this level. Respect how lucky you are and all that this sport has done for you personally and professionally, and what more it can do.
3) Look inwards at yourself first.
It is easy to blame others when we can not explain why we are not living up to the expectations of ourselves and of others. Sometimes those expectation may have been too much, and that's the problem, but, that is not the problem here for David. Riddled with talent, David needs to take some serious self-inventory if this is what he really wants to dedicate his life to and if he truly has that belief in himself, that he can reach the highest levels. This is the hardest thing to do all steps, it takes some very honest assessments of one's self, and where one wants life to take him or her. Being honest to yourself works best here.
4) Step up or step out.
Not the same as just doing your job, more like raising the bar, push past limits both real and perceived. Both personally and professionally, physical and mental. Do something different in a different way. Make you own path in life, and this beautiful sport. Step up in this sport or step out.
5) Don't dwell or live in the past.
As that old saying goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life. A chance to start a new and do things differently, WE ALL make mistakes, and will continue to, we all make immature decisions, but as we get older they lesson in frequency and intensiveness. Don't let some of the people that tried to clip your feathers have any effect on what happens from this day forward, your future is in your hands, make sure you own it, not someone else.
For some people these 5 things come very naturally, for some, it takes some conscience reminders and discipline to hopefully someday master. Some people fall in between these two types of people, where do you fit in David? And where do you want to be?
Dave McTiernan makes a valid point about examining our behaviour in situations of cyclist-motorist space conflict. Just recently I was approaching a cyclist from behind who with a fleeting rearward glance made a very-poorly signalled and ill-timed lane-change right in front of a passing car, and who then had the arrogance to give the driver the finger! Suffice to say, I gave him less than encouragement when he looked to me for support for his actions.
However, my on-road experience and legal interpretation is in direct opposition to his assertion "the law does not permit... singletons who think they have a right to an entire lane." As in Virginia, Australian Road Rule 129 states "a driver (and rider by definition) must drive as near as practicable to the far left side of the road".
Practicable infers caution, prudence and reason. It does not require you to impair your safety envelope when cycling, encourage impatient drivers to overtake in the face of oncoming traffic, or disregard a consistent line of travel that is predictable to following road users, and removes the real possibility of being struck by people exiting parked motor vehicles.
Although a bicycle is smaller than a motor vehicle, many of us make the illogical assumption that a bicyclist needs a smaller area of space around them in traffic. In the very absence of enclosing yourself in a spacious steel cage providing a large degree of high velocity impact protection, how can a rider maintain their safety with less distance and no shield between themselves and hazards?
Many people when cycling reinforce the vehicle-width-equals operating space misconception by taking a passive-actioned, peripherally-located travel path. However, the attempt to be a discreet, unmolested presence paradoxically creates the very condition we (and the law) wish to avoid: a dangerous proximity to motor vehicles. It does this by failing to provide sequential, equal input to your roadspace and the flow of traffic, and by reducing your visibility - the trigger for all collisions (a failure to recognise the position of the other road user in a time sufficient to take safe precautionary action).
On multiple laned roads of lower speed limits (up to 70kmh) I experience far less conflict by taking the lane (front wheel pretty much mid-lane), showing those behind me that for my safety I need to be this far away from hazards, and here indeed the lane is full and a full lane change is required to pass safely (like any other vehicle they wish to pass). On unmarked or single laned roads up to 70kmh where squeeze points exist, constant attention to my helmet's rear mirror allows me to calculate well in advance whether my position and theirs will coincide at an approaching hazard. Making forewarned (not reactive), incremental (rather than sudden) adjustments to my speed, allied with unmistakable hand signals before I begin changing direction, gives others sufficient warning to adjust their travel with less disruption.
I, you, we have every right to protect our safety envelope with a more central road position. Might does not equal right. Remember, every road user has a responsibility to keep a safe following distance. Courteous, consistent, resolute and alert riders are legally, morally and practically entitled to a sufficient safety zone; and create less uncertainty and smoother behaviour around them.
All these discussions about one rider being better than another make me wonder if you aren't all riding around pretending to be the rider you choose as your "favourite"...Look at the big picture, then you'll get the point-The cycling year is full of all types of drama, and the losers make the winners... The greatness is relative to the moment and, over time, you build up a memory of heroic moments. Trying to pick rider one over another is like trying to pick your favourite pop-star; if you can, you're probably a bit obsessed.
There is a fantastic shop in St. Charles, IL - 45 miles west of Chicago called The Bike Rack/Creative Mobility.
Adult Tricycle #2
Check with your local shop and see what they have access to. If you have no
In regards Mr. Fosenberg's letter about behavior on and off the bike: has everyone forgotten how reviled Lance was early in his career? He was the epitome of a brash, young rider who had little support from his fellows. He has certainly changed all that, but let's not be too hasty to condemn Mario for being occasionally emotional. Mario brings a wealth of public attention into the sport, almost al of it good. And he is very self effacing about his position in the Pantheon of cyclists. He knows he's just a sprinter, albeit a great one.
Martin, Raymond F
Here's a question to fuel the debate on crank length: what size crank does Brad McGee use in his pursuits on the track? Does he go to a long crank to match the big gear he turns or ride a shorter crank like most trackies?
Brad McGee replies:
I use 175mm on the track for pursuits - just like my road bike. In the past i was always riding the standard 170's like all trackies but now find the need to go longer for two reasons 1) Less time to assimilate to short cranks after riding so many miles on my road bike and 2) I use quite large gears now so the longer cranks seem more efficient.
I don't think anybody noticed, but we had one podium finisher, and a couple of top twelve finishers at the World Masters Cyclocross Championships recently.
My thoughts go out to those unsung masters.
I believe what Fraser Hogg had to say about Jan Ullrich was true. I was a mountain biker who watched the Tour in 2001 (primarily as that was the only time ANY cycling got any coverage in Australia). I became an Ullrich fan because I was sick of Armstrong's utter domination of the Tour. Even now (I now do more road racing than MTB racing) I don't mind if LA continues to win, but I just want to see a contest and someone give him a serious challenge. In my opinion, Jan is currently the only rider capable of this. His inspirational ride in the 2001 TDF was evidence of this, but I just wonder how (if) he will be able to get back to his former self. All the signs are not good, considering the overwhelming theory that his team of choice centered around financial motives.
I personally want to see Jan win this year's Vuelta to prove that US Postal is fallible and then go on to win next year's Tour and deny Armstrong his 6th. Even if he doesn't, how fantastic would it be to see a gripping race where the final time trial decides the winner?
I think Beloki is a professional rider (as witnessed by his Tour success and consistency) but he will not topple Armstrong. I think Aitor has the qualities to do well, but will need to improve his climbing before he can expect a win, but certainly a podium awaits him. Rumsas is all over the place and this lack of continuity in his regime will see him not reach such heights as he did last year. I think Botero will be used as more of a stage man than a GC contender by Telekom, as his erratic but brilliant style is more suited to this.
Speaking of Telekom (and being an Aussie) I have big hopes of Cadel in this year's Tour and in the future. Cadel can climb, but whether he can handle the tough mountain passes under tonnes of pressure is yet to be seen. He can time trial, but possibly not quite as well as LA. If Cadel is to challenge for a podium, he will have to limit his (relatively small) losses in the time trials and try like hell to stay with LA on the climbs. He is definitely one for future tours that is for sure.
One final point regarding rider's performances being over-shadowed by Lance's domination. Well I for one am fed up with the media and those know-alls who knocked Joseba Beloki for his attacks in last year's Tour. If he didn't attack, he would've been criticized, so what was he meant to do? OK so they were not strong enough to trouble Armstrong but at least he tried and for that, he deserves every accolade he gets, because apart from Botero (whose riding impressed me so much) he was the only potential GC challenger to try something other than sitting on LA's wheel every day. I believe he knew Armstrong was stronger but he had to try as he was seen as the most likely chance of beating LA.
The same goes for the 2001 Tour, where Jan refused to give in to LA. Lance slipped in straight behind him without a worry, but for some reason he was not the subject of ridicule as was Beloki this year. I take my hat off to Jan and Beloki foe attempting to shake up the American, because they had the guts to try it on, unlike the other 'hopefuls'.
I've been able to get several hair nets on eBay, both American and German. My best recommendation, however, is to go for a Rudy Project Stratosphere or Atmosphere. These are the modern version, made of polymers rather than leather, feel about the same and may even have a little more protection. I think you can get these in Rudy Project Japan, I know you can in Rudy Project Germany.
Paul Tracy doesn't run the team, he is a driver, or in other words, an employee. He also has his name on a contract, certainly keeping him in his current seat for the time being, even if he had the inclination to move to another team. The team owner(s) are responsible for securing sponsorship, not Paul Tracy.
Cancer is not exclusive to users of tobacco. If Paul Tracy wants to give money he has earned to the LAF, then good for him. Finally, when did having a prominent spokesperson for your charity and receiving millions of dollars in donations become a bad thing?
The issue of "liveliness" seems to me similar to the endless debate about "harshness." As someone who has ridden Columbus steel for years, I was sure that my ride was more comfortable than that new-fangled aluminium stuff. But while living in Germany, I read a detailed test in "Tour" that basically said that you can make material do whatever you like and that in their tests (and you can imagine how Germans approach tests!) there was no discernable difference. What made the difference was bike layout and particularly tires.
I was a bit surprised at the comment about the instability of Italian steel bikes. I think that this is a function entirely of frame design; my Bianchi has a very short wheelbase and is easy to overcontrol on corners, whereas my custom Marinoni (sort of Italian), which has a very long top tube, just cruises through them. My most recent bike is a LeMond Maillot Jaune, and its configuration is almost to the mm exactly the same as the Marinoni, so I expect the bike to ride on rails as well.
Leslie Thomas Reissner
Stuart apparently had problems with his iliac artery. Now, I am only a student, but have studied the leg so this is my breakdown of what went on. His iliac artery was partially blocked. This is the chief blood source to the lower limb. There is an external and internal iliac artery. The internal supplies the pelvic region but the more important external continues down the leg under the name of femoral artery. this gives off several branches to the thigh musculature. So, in Stuey's case, my impression is that his 'quads' (3 vasti and rectus femoris muscles) were being deprived of blood. The quads are imperative in cycling, as in they are used (primarily) on the down stroke to straighten the lower limb, thus if these muscles are deprived of blood, they will lack oxygen and assorted nutrients from our food that is needed for muscle contraction, adversely affecting performance.
I am 26 years old and I am a student at the University of Trier, located in the south-west of Germany. My subjects are German and English. I am in my fourth semester now and I have to spend at least 3 or 4 month in a English-speaking foreign country to enhance and improve my English.
Beside my studies, I work as a mechanic and shop assistant in a bicycle-store in Saarbruecken/Germany. I am therefore looking for a job in an English-speaking country from the end of July until the end of October.
I have raced mountain bikes and now race on the road and do long-distance rides.
Can anyone help?
There is a good training group close to Cody - they meet every Sunday at 10.00 am at a place called the 'Monumnet' - which is at the corner of the Grand parade and Southmall in the city centre - close to the city library.
They may also meet on a Saturday - but definitely on the Sunday. Some of that group also have a wednesday spin at 10.00 am, not exactly sure if they meet at the same place - but if it is close by , and the guys on Sunday will fill you in on this.
'Offically' it is the St Finbarrs club spin, but in reality it's open.
In terms of standard - on Sunday you will be looking at 60-80 miles, very well organised, up 10-12 in the group - nearly all well experienced racers - A and B cats - with top class vets/juniors. Good steady tempo - depending on terrain and weather average speeds of 18-19 mph. Steady on the climbs, and at this time of the year likely to have a 20-30 minute lineout toward the end of the spin.
No issues if people want to sit on the back for a while - and generally a lot of fun. I go out with them the odd time when I am home , don't live in Cork the odd time, but I know must of the guys.
Hope to see you on one of the spins. By the way racing in Ireland will start on the first Sunday in March - most of them will head off to this, plenty of racing relatively close - you should try it over here.
Dear Commentary Team,
Thank you very much for the great coverage of the 2003 JCTDU. I have been logging on every day to catch the latest. You helped me to feel part of the action, even though I couldn't watch it by the roadside or on TV.
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