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Letters to Cyclingnews - June 27, 2003
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NSW road race ban
Why aren't I surprised about the NSW Government's take on the road law? It smells of politics and it sticks. All they are doing is listening to the mullet-wearing rednecks from the west who want to drive their V8 Holdens up and down the road without cyclists getting in the way. I felt the writing was on the wall, in a country where sport receives unbelievable support and have some of the best cyclists in the world they don't even build cycle lanes, in a country where they pride themselves as forward thinking its certainly a step back. In the UK we don't have many cycling champions but at least we are doing something for possible future British Champions.
NSW road race ban #2
It's about time that the cycling administrators took a public stand on the issue of Police "bans" on road racing in NSW. This situation has been around for years - I raced in the Goulburn to Sydney in 1999 and think it might have been run once since then.
Did administrators think that the Police's attitude was going to suddenly change and they would become more liberal without a political imperative to do so? How naïve! Why weren't Brad McGee and other elite riders speaking out on this issue a few seasons ago? Didn't anybody tell them? What will be the point of the Fdjeux.com team investing in NSWIS riders when they won't even be able to race in their home state?
This issue should have been the subject of a thorough lobbying and negotiation process to Ministerial level in the Sport and Police departments for two or three years now. Why have Cycling Australia/Cycling NSW not built links with national advocacy groups of the Bicycle Federation of Australia and used the BFA's considerable experience and expertise in political lobbying to address this issue before it snowballed?
We can only assume that Mr Godkin's call for urgent action now simply demonstrates that cycling administrators are so out of touch with club level riders throughout NSW that they haven't noticed the demise of classics like the Goulburn to Sydney, Canberra to Goulburn and indeed many club level races. It beats me what goals road riders might find to train for these days.
NSW road race ban #3
The news that road cycling will be "no more" in NSW left me with mixed feelings. As a recreational, commuting and touring cyclists (I had a go at racing once and it wasn't for me) I welcome changes to laws that define bicycles as legitimate road users. The downside of course is that cycling races are now treated the same as car races - simply not allowed on public used roads.
Much debate has raged in our household, my partner is a keen road racer and feels this is the end of cycling in NSW and quite possibly Australia - as all the other states will be keen to jump on the bandwagon as it will be seen as an easy fix to get rid of some nasty public indemnity issues.
You indicate in your news article that we should write our local member, the relevant minister and the Federal Member if necessary - personally I don't think this will help at all.
What is the answer? Special dispensation for cyclists to race on public roads as they aren't mechanised vehicles and they (generally) don't exceed 60 km/hr? After all solar powered vehicles are permitted to conduct races on public roads in non-sterile conditions. This means amendments to the law - not an easy goal to achieve.
My experiences in my professional life, which sees our company lobby politicians and ministers for support for our various projects suggests that if racing cyclists want the law changed they need to form a unified lobby group with a very clearly defined set of goals (with supporting evidence), a moderate, articulate and "mainstream" front person AND the services of an experienced political lobbyist - which doesn't come cheap.
Employing the right political lobbyist would grant you a meeting with the Minister and his top administrative staff and give NSW racing cyclists a very real chance of getting amendments included in the law - at a price of course!
NSW road race ban #4
I realise that many readers are not form NSW, but I feel this issue affects a lot more people than just us in this state. I would like to make a political point and say that the government is absolutely pathetic. They are utterly thick if they think this is the solution. They are essentially killing a sport, period. It is the same as closing down every pool or athletics track in the state. Cyclists will still race but now they will have no support from the police to do so which is even more dangerous. Also, this wont stop accidents happening to us on training rides.
What is wrong with having a rolling closure? This way, the cyclists are protected for the whole race but motorists are only held up temporarily.
Something has to be done about this situation. Once again, this seems to be a decision made but some fat, uneducated idiot in his expensive office who has no idea about the real world in which we live. What are they hoping to achieve by this stupid legislation?
I am fully aware that some cyclists need to toe the line and stop taking risks, but banning the entire state from competing in a sport we love seems to be an easy way of making all of us scapegoats and producing an easy-fix solution, when in fact, all they are doing is aggravating a large number of people who will only rebel against this decision anyway.
And then there is the issue of Australia's identity of being one of the strongest cycling nations in the world. The irony is that while Aussies are kicking arse in Europe they can't even race their bikes at home! This is more than just stopping a few guys on the weekend riding on public roads; it is literally killing a whole sport. H
How can the government actually make the decision to stop a sport from taking place? Please, think about the implications this will bring to everyone from professionals, to us at grass roots level, it will destroy the cycling scene in Australia.
NSW road race ban #5
As someone who also runs and does duathlons (in the U.S. not Australia), I noticed a news item in Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph linked from Runner's World:
RTA rules running down fun
ALL they want to do is don their sports shoes and go for a run.
The RTA is taking fun out of fun runs with stricter requirements including more traffic barriers and official police traffic marshals - at a cost of up to $100,000 per event."
The net effect for running events being the same - a lot of events forced to cancel because it's too expensive to host the event.
What has caused this rash of regulations all of a sudden? Has there been a notable increase in car/bike or car/runner accidents during events? Did a group of anti-cyclist or anti-runner activists establish themselves in local or state government? Or are these events just perceived as too much of a nuisance to the "general populace", and thus it would be nice if they could be made to go away? Given Australia's rise to prominence in both triathlon and cycling, the timing of all this seems very strange. (Are there just so many aspiring Robbie McEwens and Chris McCormacks on the roads these days that it got to be too much?)
Although I'll (grudgingly) admit that cycling and running are not the most important activities in the world, these recent actions in Australia seem heavy-handed and extreme. I used to think I had it bad in Texas, and that Australia would be the greatest place for training and racing. If this can really happen in Australia, what's next?
In any case, it sounds like running events are being affected as much as cycling and multi-sport, so all parties should combine their efforts (letters, petitions, protests, etc.) to roll these regulations back.
NSW road race ban #6
The latest idiocy from the NSW traffic authorities should be interpreted not just as a move against racing but against cycling generally. It is consistent with the unhelpful attitude exhibited by the NSW Police to non-competitive charitable events (eg the restrictions placed on the Bicycling Australia Challenge in 2001), and to other cycling events like the Urban Polaris, which I understand will not be held again in NSW until there is a policy change.
Of even greater concern is that this official attitude has been, not surprisingly, reflected at an individual level by police officers who refuse to exercise their discretion to charge dangerous drivers appropriately. A prime example reported last year was that of a cyclist killed on a bridge on the Great Western Highway at Wallerawang; the truck driver was (I understand) not charged at all because (in the officer's opinion) the cyclist should not have been cycling there on a public road. What price the rule of law?
Such attitudes are not unique to NSW of course, but these developments are something all cyclists, not just competitive ones, need to be vocal about. If we are not, we'll return to the situation which used to apply in England, when the only way to run a competitive cycling event was to do so covertly in the form of a time trial. Maybe we are witnessing the birth of a new world dominance for Australian time trialists.
Being a USA cycling member for the past 20 years and having raced in Philly in 2000 and 2001, I felt that I should chime in on this with my 2 cents worth. First off, I love the whole USPRO week of racing. It is without a doubt the finest racing in this country. I feel very honoured to have raced with the world champion and many of the worlds top teams. The crowds are also the best of any race I have ever done nationally or internationally. However, I totally agree that the US championships should be for US riders only.
Every other country in the world has their nationals on a given day and we should be doing the same. However, if this is to happen, I don't think Philly should be the national championship race. It should be what it is...a great UCI event.
Presently it is the highest payout for a one day race in the world. It is an excellent event drawing top riders from all over the world. The fact that we crown our national champion here is just a side bar and I believe it takes away from the title. For a better representation of what our national championships should be, look at the 2000 Olympic trials. It was the top 250 riders in OUR country racing it out for the title. No outside influence...just like every other country's nationals.
The depth of talent in this country has increased dramatically since I started racing in 1983 as a junior. We have the quality of riders here to field HUGE elite national championship event and we could also have a great Pro championship race as well.
By the way, in case you are wondering:
2000 USPRO got my butt kicked. Dropped at 120 miles.
USPRO Championship for US pros only #2
I like some of the thinking out there about the US Pro Championships. I agree that the field should be open to foreign teams/riders as well as domestic based teams/riders. This race is very unique and the most beloved and supported cycling event in the States. But there all always ways to improve and/or change anything.
I feel the event should try to grow in stature to attract even more Euro teams. This race could one day possibly become a World Cup Event or just a great classic on American soil. As any thing in life, change and grow are a part of it... so maybe altering the course and the calendar date would help this race (series) become a truly recognized international event drawing all top division I teams.
Cycling is definitely growing in the states and I feel a separate race to determine the US title could be supported. Not everyone will agree with this thinking, but the funny thing is everyone likes the idea of major Euro teams racing in the states. So obviously, wouldn't it be great if even more top international teams show up for this race!
West Chester, PA
Assuming that Lance is the man to beat at this year's Tour, any contender for the overall title must be able to take time out of Lance somewhere. This may be either in the mountains or in the ITT. To me there are only four cyclists who live up to those demands;
1. Jan Ullrich - I still believe that Ullrich, provided he comes to the Tour in top shape, should be able to seriously challenge Armstrong. His ITT abilities should enable him to perhaps take some time on Armstrong, and he could then try to follow Armstrong best he can muster in the mountains.
2. Aitor Gonzalez - If he can put in his best time trialing performances he might be able to match or even take time out of Armstrong there, and then ride to minimize his losses in the mountains. Aitor's Fassa Bortolo team also looks strong for the TTT.
3. Santiago Botero - Much like no. 1 and 2 on this list, Botero can only look to gain time in time trials. In the mountains he is inconsistency incarnated, but if he avoids putting in performances a la Ventoux 2002, he may be closer to Armstrong than many anticipate.
4. Gilberto Simoni - Armstrong has met and bested all other aspirants to the title 'world's greatest climber' in the Tour. Simoni is the only cyclist out there who could potentially rock Armstrong's dominance in the mountains. However, he is likely to lose about 3 mins per ITT, and something similar in the TTT.
Other cyclists that are usually mentioned as challengers for the top spots include Hamilton, Beloki, Savoldelli, Garzelli, Vinokourov, Mancebo, Mayo, Leipheimer etc. None of these riders can seriously be considered capable of taking time out of Armstrong in the ITT or the mountains. Taking into account current (June 25th) form and such, my prediction of the podium is: 1. Armstrong, 2. Beloki, 3. Ullrich.
I think Beloki will be even stronger this year, but as usual, he will find no way of gaining seconds on Armstrong anywhere. Ullrich I believe won't be quite back at his best, and will concede to much time in the mountains. Aitor Gonzalez and Santiago Botero are more unpredictable, but Botero appears to be in terrible form, while I just have the feeling that Aitor will find the Tour just a little too much too soon. I expect them both to be in the top ten however.
Hamilton, Savoldelli, Mayo, Garzelli, Mancebo, Vinokourov and Leipheimer will have to fight it out for top ten spots with the likes of Moncoutié, Basso, Mercado, Totschnig, Azevedo, Heras, Di Luca, Frigo, Caucchioli, Casero and perhaps even Virenque. Hopefully, with such a strong field this year, the Tour of 2003 will be something to remember.
I plan on attending stages 13, 14, and 15 as well as the final in Paris. This may come as a completely crazy question however I felt you could give me some insight. How do these small towns handle the many cars and people that will arrive for each stage? Will we park many miles away and be bused in? If I plan on being close to the end of each stage will I need to arrive 5-8 hours prior. Per July issue of Bicycling there will be 1 million people expected per stage. I plan on going and just taking it all in, however any advice you can supply is greatly appreciated.
Here is a question to anyone who may want to indulge themselves in answering. Why hasn't anyone won more than five Tours de France? Is this because of better competition or the rigors of the event that physically prevents anyone from winning more than five? I personally believe that it's the latter, look at Indurain.
I agree with Sebastian Lecourt's letter. I always found Indurain to gain big time in the first time trial and small amounts in the last (conservative perhaps) and big time in the first major mountain stage of every Tour. On the first major mountain stage of every Tour he would surprisingly let semi-contenders attack and gain time on him, however he would unleash all his fury on the contenders on the last climb. And it wasn't uncommon for him to gain enough time there and in the prior time trial to have rapped up the Tour. He would then just ride tempo and limit breakaway time gained in the last time. Sure he could have been more aggressive, but he never was so cocky to think that he wouldn't have a bad stage later on where he might need that energy.
Sebastian Lecourt wrote that Indurain only attacked once in the mountains. This is definitely not true. Almost in every Tour he won, he attacked in the first mountain stage and rode so hard that only one or two could follow him. One of those people then won the stage.
I'll give some examples of this. In 1991 he attacked on the Tourmalet together with Chiappucci, while there was still some 50km to go. Chiappucci won the stage, Indurain gained minutes over Greg LeMond. The same thing happened in that Tour in the stage to L'Alpe d'Huez: Attack with Bugno, Bugno wins the stage and Indurain gains a minute over Chiappucci. In the '93 Tour he attacked with Rominger and Jaskula in the first mountain stage. The '94 Tour has been commented. And now comes my favourite: the Tour of 1995. In one of the stage to Liege Indurain attacked with 25km to go (never seen Armstrong doing this, until now) and gained almost a minute while 3 teams where chasing him (ONCE, Gewiss and Mapei), Johan Bruyneel sat on Indurain's wheel for 25km and won the stage.
A few days later, on the road to La Plagne, Alex Zulle attacked quite early and gained five minutes over the first group with Indurain and a few of his teammates, Riis, Virenque, Rominger, Pantani. When Indurain lost his last teammate he pulled the handle and set Tonkov and Pantani more than 2 minutes back. Virenque, Rominger, Riis lost 3 to 4 minutes. In fact, he rode that hard that most TV commentators were convinced that he would catch Zulle in the last kilometres, but he "slowed down" a little. I think that Indurain's La Plagne showdown is comparable to Armstrong L'Alpe d'Huez showdown in 2001.
With the 2003 only about a week away, every cycling junkie in town in getting geared up for the Grande Boucle. With this comes the inevitable 'Fantasy Tour' games - contestants picking their own specialized team of riders who they think will gain them the most points. My brother and I have decided to have a crack at it this year, except we chose a bit of a different stradegy. It's not the fastest sprinter, time trialist, or climber that gets onto our teams -- it's the rider with the coolest name. Here are our teams:
I: Raimondas Rumsas, Jakob Piil, Danilo Hondo, Beat Zberg, Marco Velo, Bram de Groot, Christian Knees, Bolbaatar Bold-erdene, Aldo Klomp
II: Iban Mayo, Francesco Casagrande, Jacky Durand, Bo Hamburger, Giuseppe Di Grande, Beat Zberg, Thor Hushovd, Jesus Ramirez, Ytting Bak
As you can see, many of our choices are not actually riding in the Tour but we have faith we will be victorious, regardless of Leblanc's shifty selection process.
I'm going to Paris for the finish of the Tour. How do I find out what other exciting extravaganzas are planned for that day? Will there be fireworks or anything similar?
How would I get hold of a yellow book (are they called yellow book or have I just imagined that)? I've always thought it would make an excellent competition prize.
I will have the opportunity to personally attend the Tour de France this year from Stage 3 (Charleville-Mézières - Saint-Dizier) through Stage 9 (Bourg d'Oisans - Gap). During the road race at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the organizers broadcast information in English and French via Race Radio, which used a low power AM or FM transmitter and could be received using a conventional radio. I have often heard of Radio Tour, and was wondering if the Tour de France broadcasts the same type of information which may be received via a AM or FM conventional radio. If so, do you know what frequency they use? If not, is there a local radio affiliate that broadcasts live Tour coverage? I will likely be taking an AM / FM / Shortwave radio with me, so I do have the means to receive BBC, Radio Netherlands, etc.
Todd Curtis Fryburger
As far as we know, Radio Tour uses the HF band, but is fairly low-strength - you'll have to be close to the race to pick it up.
As far as I know (and that ain't too far), the team/sponsor logo are iron-ons that are simply transferred to the appropriate jersey after the stage is completed. The jersey people also have a mixture of foresight and common sense. They, like the rest of us, know who will probably be wearing what jersey when the time comes, which makes their job easier.
Although they do get surprised. I recall Ivan Gotti taking the lead in one of the late '90 Giros, but he wasn't supposed to. They had a pink jersey picked out for a larger sized rider resulting in little Ivan looking a little silly and even smaller on the podium!
Sponsor names on leader jerseys #2
I read an article some years ago on how the Tour de France does this. Basically they print up one large jersey (with a zipper up the back) with each sponsor's logo. They do this for each of the various jerseys (yellow, green, white, polka dot). There is one person who's entire responsibility is to manage this. At the end of the day the "jersey" guy prints up new ones for those sponsors whose jerseys have been handed out. He then prints up jerseys in the appropriate sizes for the riders to wear the next day in both long and short sleeve.
Also, the jersey wearer can request additional jerseys to be printed up so that he can have them to give to sponsors, friends, family and to keep as mementos. Some riders apparently request quite a few extras but I understand that they've never refused any request.
Sponsor names on leader jerseys #3
I think they have yellow jerseys ready for everyone at this year's Tour except Jean Delatour.
Frenchmen in the know all agree, Mario Cipollini shouldn't ride the Tour.
When you interviewed Jean Luc Jonrond he solemnly said, "I also think that Mario Cipollini's past behavior of always dropping out of the race by the halfway mark doesn't impress ASO." And, in another interview, Laurent Brochard concurred, "He [Mario] gives up after one or two victories and this is not fair to the other riders and to the organizer."
It's hard to believe that is the real reason for excluding the World Champion.
Lance Armstrong quit in 1993, 1994,and 1996. They let him start.
Bernard Hinault, the last actual French person to win a Tour, quit in 1980 wearing the yellow jersey. They let him start and he won three more Tours.
The darling of France, Richard Virenque quit in 1998 and they let him start. Wait, wasn't he was kicked out for using drugs? That's not such bad behavior, not compared to Mario's.
Maybe the Tour organizers think a Frenchman has a chance to win a field sprint this year and break Mario's record for the fastest ever mass-start Tour stage.
Or maybe they just don't like his aftershave.
That's a great idea. Only problems: France espoirs probably beats the regular French team; you left Freire off the Spanish side; should Beloki be on the Basque team? Still great fun!
In response Richard Robbins's letter, it is frankly pretty meaningless to draw conclusions based on the time taken to go up a hill in separate races. What came before? How tired was Ullrich in both cases at the start of the climb? And such an approach also ignores the mental factor - part of the fascination of watching sports is witnessing the psychological dramas that are played out. If Armstrong suddenly streaks past another rider on Alpe d'Huez, most riders will slow down, as they sense they have been beaten. Only the very mentally toughest can keep form. I saw the 2001 race live on the television, and it was evident that Ullrich cracked mentally. Had Armstrong not attacked, Ullrich would probably have gone up faster. This is what makes the sport interesting, isn't it?
Ullrich peaked in 2001 #2
The watch may "not lie," but nor will it tell the whole story. For example, if Ulrich flatted, and still was 2 seconds slower than L.A.'s time, the watch won't tell you he flatted and could have been faster. For another example if Ulrich were not pushed, and riding his own pace up the mountain, the watch won't tell that he had no competition and was just trying to crest. So, while Ulrich probably was in better form in '97, the watch alone will not tell us that, it is circumstantial.
Ullrich peaked in 2001 #3
Jan Ullrich may indeed be the greatest natural talent in the cycling world today. But don't compare Jan of '97 with Jan of today. Pictures of him then showed a youth with beanpole arms and no upper body mass. There is no way an older and more mature Jan will ever get a physique like that again and he will never be able to climb as he did in '97.
That doesn't mean that Jan can't win the Tour again, but it certainly means that he will never again be able to use his '97 techniques.
I had epididymitis in college, and it was entirely due to riding my rollers long enough to put my crotch to sleep, which needless to say did not stop me from continuing for my appointed several hours' training. My right testicle swelled up to the size of a grapefruit - yep, that big. The doctors who treated me were first concerned that I might have suffered torsion, but when that was ruled out, they told me that compression of the epididymis allows bacteria to concentrate at that point. Antibiotics and ice put me right in short order. I spent my recovery reading Mcphee's Coming into the Country.
I have never had a recurrence, and am surprised at the different symptoms described in these letters. Saddle type and position certainly must be a factor, as must also be the sort of terrain one rides. Long flat rides that don't require on to change position often would be a likely not be the best choice for the recovering rider.
I am a great fan of the Belgian cyclist Fons De Wolf. I collect anything about him. I am interested to know if there are old videos of the following races; 1980 Tour of Lombardy, 1981 Milan San Remo, 1982 Liege-Bastogne- Liege, 1982 Het Volk, 1983 Het Volk. Any old magazines, posters or books about the Fons would be of interest to me. If anyone knows what he is doing now let me know. He was director sportif of Domo in 2001 and that is the last I have heard. Thank you.
The "stripes" issue is a fascinating one. I see Brad McGee wearing stripes on the road and surely he hasn't won one road title?
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