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Letters to Cyclingnews - March 20, 2003
Here's your chance to get more involved with Cyclingnews. Comments and criticism on current stories, races, coverage and anything cycling related are welcomed, even pictures if you wish. Letters should be brief (less than 300 words), with the sender clearly identified. They may be edited for space and clarity. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.
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From the editor
As well as our regular letters today, we also have a special section dedicated to Garrett Lemire, the young Californian racer who tragically lost his life in last weekend's Tucson Classic, and our tribute page to Andrei Kivilev has been updated with your letters.
Any death in cycling is hard to take, but two so close together was more than doubly tough. Our thoughts are with Andrei and Garrett's families and friends, and we hope it's a long time before we have to report this sort of news again. Let's be careful out there.
John Stevenson, letters editor & the team at Cyclingnews
I was a bit concerned with a recent piece in the daily news bulletins on Cyclingnews about the CTC's stance on the issue, and some of it's reasoning. Firstly they state that "helmet laws caused cycling levels to drop by 30 per cent in Australia while head injuries fell by only 11 per cent" as a reason not to bring in the laws. I would say that an 11 percent drop is a big win, that any regulatory body would be happy to claim. I know those 11 percent of people are certainly happy that they were wearing their helmets. And I cannot see how you could claim that the 30 percent drop in cycling levels (if true) can be entirely attributed to helmet laws. Even if it was, this is a challenge for the bodies that want to see cycling increase to overcome this perceived problem. Secondly, "Helmets are not designed to protect areas of the head which account for more than half the figures for injuries to cyclists". By deduction, the remainder of the injuries to cyclists (which I think can be deduced to be around 45 percent, otherwise they would not use the term "more than half", they would say 60 percent or 70 percent etc) would be protected by helmets. Again, this is a good thing.
Finally, I fail to see how the statement "The countries with the lowest risk of any injury when cycling are those where helmet use is minimal (eg the Netherlands). The most effective way to reduce the likelihood of injury when cycling is to increase the number of people who cycle", is an argument against helmets. I would suggest that the greater reason for this statistic is that these countries are much more cycle friendly than Australia, the US or the UK. The combination of more cyclists, better infrastructure (bikepaths etc), slower car speeds in cities and a more understanding attitude to cyclists, would all have a far larger contribution to the statistic than the fact that not everyone wears a helmet.
You could argue that IF helmets put people off cycling this reduces the number of people on the roads and hence makes the society less bike friendly. However this is a very long term view, and I feel one that can be worked around. Taking another long term view, I will use the example of Australia where helmet use has been compulsory for as long as I can remember. In my experience, not one person who has asked me for advice when they were starting out has raised the wearing of a helmet as a issue. They all just accept that it is part of your responsibility to society if you choose to cycle on public roads, much like wearing a seatbelt. You buy a bike, and you buy a waterbottle, pump, tools and a helmet. Bringing in helmet laws will cause ripples, of that there is no doubt. However in time it will become part of cycling, much like clipless pedals, mountain bikes and any number of other "radical" changes to the sport that are now accepted without question, and we will wonder what all the fuss was about. I cannot argue with their assertions that a helmet is designed to help you when you fall, rather than when a car crashes into you. However I would point out that a natural progression of being hit by a car is (surprise, surprise) a fall. I know personally I have been hit by a car at a reasonable speed, the end result of which was me landing on my head and shoulder. Shoulder - broken. Helmet - broken. Head, fine. I'm sure we've all got a story like that.
My other major point is that the bodies that govern competitive cycling (particularly the UCI) should take a responsible stand and enforce helmet laws when racing. After all, the average driver doesn't have to wear a helmet, but that doesn't stop Michael Schumacher wearing his. Even though his driving ability is beyond doubt, he accepts that what he does is more dangerous than driving to the supermarket, and takes the appropriate precautions. Maybe I have ended up blowing a trumpet and preaching a bit, apologies if I did. I've tried not to.
I guess the crux of my argument is please don't use the argument that helmet use causes people to not want to cycle, helmets are there for a reason. The issue of getting more people on bikes and making society (at least in countries like Australia, the US and the UK) more bike friendly is very tenuously related to helmet use, and needs a lot of debate in itself, without tying it up with other emotive issues. It comes down to one simple fact. Wearing a helmet does NOT increase your chance of injury or death. NOT wearing one, even using the figures quoted above, does. That cannot be argued.
Simon van der Aa
Helmets - considered decision needed
It is incredibly sad to hear of the untimely passing of any athlete. My condolences to Mr. Kivilev's family.
The opportunistic re-opening of the "helmet debate" is poorly timed and with such emotion in the air may lead to inappropriate decisions being made by all parties. Decisions should not be made on such grounds as whether it is a good idea to encourage helmets (which of course it is) or whether a rider "does not feel him(/her)self while wearing one". Although I respect professional cyclists and look up to their athletic achievements the latter comment is about as weak as a gentleman "feeling less of a man" for wearing a condom.
Decision in this debate should be made on the results of scientific study. From the reports of the crash and surrounding medical circumstances it seems unlikely that that wearing a helmet may have saved Andrei's life. Death in high-speed vehicle crashes typically is a result of "Diffuse Axonal Damage". Basically speaking rapid acceleration +/- deceleration creates shear forces cause nerves cells in focal areas of the brain to pull apart. While there are varying grades of this, some with a lucid interval all forms are fatal.
As I understand and any studies that can prove this wrong are welcome, as they
will add to the scientific nature of this debate, bicycle helmets are good at
stopping low to moderate speed vehicular accident injuries. This includes such
damage as fractures and lacerations. The "crush-effect" of compressed foam provides
the deceleration essential to prevent the transfer of force to the head itself
nevertheless the brain is still under some form of acceleration and force, concussion
being a likely sequelae.
I think that the letters of Bill Sykes concerning the lack of leadership by Mr. Hein Verbruggen and the comments made by Erik Hodges regarding the diminution of races other than the Tour de France.
I'm glad that someone has finally highlighted Mr. Verbruggen's completely incompetent leadership of the UCI. This person has been allowed to remain as head of the UCI while our sport has lurched from crisis to crisis. The continuing drug crisis in our sport, the lack of corporate interest in cycling events outside of the Tour de France and the self-satisfying inertia of the entire UCI board are all directly attributable to the lack of leadership on the part of Mr. Verbruggen. In business, if the CEO of a company doesn't do the job - he gets fired.
Verbruggen is the CEO of the UCI - why hasn't he been fired ?
Erik Hodges comments about the lack of support for events outside the Tour de France are also correct. Unfortunately, a lot of sports are suffering because corporate sponsors are directed by the relevant governing bodies in individual sports to concentrate their funding to specific events. Take Rugby Union for example. The International Rugby Board have sacrificed the game of rugby to the interests of commercialism. International competitions' television transmission times are dictated by the corporate sponsor. Domestic leagues such as those in Wales have been decimated whereby clubs with a proud tradition have not been able to find corporate sponsorship and have therefore been forced to amalgamate with other clubs or face extinction.
The same scenario appears to be developing in cycling : the major tour - Tour de France - gains all of the major sponsors time and funds and yet smaller but prestigious events struggle for financial support. If I recall in recent years Paris-Nice race has faced difficulty in getting sponsorship. Paris-Nice! This is wrong and it's down to the UCI to promote all races and not just to concentrate on the big money spinners. I have no difficulty with commercialism but when that very same commercialism is destroying our sport. Contrary to what the UCI may think, they don't own cycling - cycling belongs to everyone. Therefore it behooves the UCI to act in everyone's interest and not their own interests.
While it is true that antibiotics are generally over prescribed, or prescribed for things for which they can do no good ( ex. viral infections like the flu) (this is true in the general population as well as the sport's world). And while it is also true that this has created a very real problem for all of us, as antibiotics are becoming less and less effective against things they were able (or should be able) to treat (ex. pneumonia and tuberculosis). I disagree with the conclusion that giving these riders antibiotics when they have the flu is a silly or stupid decision by their medical directors.
These riders have a higher than normal risk of contracting opportunistic secondary infections from their viral infections due to the constant stress on their immune systems from the combination of (1) the miserable weather in which they race in this time of year, (2) their current infections, (3) their onerous cycling schedules, (4) their constant travel, and (5) the large number of people (inter- and intra-peloton) with which they interact in each race. And in light of the killer strain of pneumonia that WHO just released a travel advisory about (read article: http://dailynews.att.net/cgi-bin/news?e=pri&dt=030315&cat=news&st=newshealthpneumoniawhodc), it was not unwarranted for these riders to take antibiotics prophylacticly, especially since they are under medical supervision and will presumably be forced to finish their entire course of antibiotics.
Sure Lance is theoretically in better condition than last year; sure he is extra motivated to win Tour #5... but what about the Blue Train that pulls him all over France for 3 weeks? It seems to me (and maybe only me) that the USPS team isn't in that great of shape so far this year with plenty of illness and injury to important members of Lance's Tour team. I know it's only March and it's been said before, but lack of a strong team may keep Armstrong from achieving win #5.
Ed Alexander has too simplistic a view of the drugs issue. The pressure on sportsmen to perform is enormous and it isn't surprising *some* choose to try for an edge. Banning for life is ridiculous, every test has a chance of a false positive and why take out a rider for a mistake that may not even have been intentional. I bring your attention to the number of medicines and "remedies" that contain drugs banned by the UCI.
I agree broadly with the UCI testing, but I have an issue with there blanket bans. After all, was Jan's use of drugs performance enhancing? The guy was obviously having problems in his life which the ban did nothing to resolve.
And finally, I don't see why you condemn cycling as being tainted by drugs, drugs are an issue in any competitive sport.
Drug amnesty - not black and white
I think what Ed proposes is a good idea. The problem however is that doping is not as black and white as that. The controls are so tight that going to the dentist or consuming a tainted product that should be legal can cause you to return a positive test. Riders will always be looking for an edge with "vitamins" and will forever have to walk a tight rope between legal and not yet banned.
Drug amnesty - tests and haematocrit
Marco Pantani has never failed a drug test. Never. You may believe all you want but, I repeat, he has never failed a drug screen. Never. He had a high haematocrit level measured following a severe automobile accident. He had a high haematocrit level at the end of a stressful, three week stage race. Both could be considered normal events since increased physical stress will raise readings. According to UCI rules, a rider is sat down and not allowed to race because of health concerns. It is not an EPO test. Which, by the way is the reason the test was developed. The media, not science, has decided that high haematocrit readings are a definitive test for EPO.
Please stop lumping riders who have been caught in UCI and media witch hunts with men who actually failed a test. Remember, Vandenbroucke did not fail a test, he had drugs in his home. That is a different offense. Also, before you e-mail me back and start screaming about apples and oranges, check your own medicine cabinet for cough syrup, over the counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories. All of them contain substances banned by the UCI.
Kevin Dines is right (I think) to claim that we ought to respect tour specialists in the same way that we honor classics specialists. One fact about Indurain which always seems to get overlooked in comparisons between himself and Armstrong, Merckx (etc.) is his truly phenomenal success in the shorter elite stage races. In addition to five Tours and two Giros, in the years between 1988 and his retirement the man from Navarre won:
Dauphine Libere (95 & 96)
The Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie are virtually the only races missing.
I notice the CTC in the UK argue increasing the number of cyclists will decrease the number of injuries, because more drivers will be bike aware.
This made me think. What is the quickest way to increase cycling numbers?
Then it hit me. Lobby our governments for a petrol rebate for cyclists. The basic premise is this. If you ride 100km per week, you get 5c per litre off your petrol cost (you Yanks will have to do the conversions yourself for cents per gallon). Obviously there are verification issues, but just think of it. Everyone would be rushing the bike shops. There would be less cars on the road. Less petrol being used. People would be fitter and everyone would be aware of cyclists rights.
Is this a dumb idea?
What more does Armstrong have to win?
National Championship? Done that.
Who cares if he is only riding to wine one race, all be it the biggest highest profile race of the year and one of the world greatest annual sporting events? Museeuw focuses his year on RVV and Paris Roubaix, So does Tafi, riding the rest of the year as support for other team members.
I have raced locally for 15 years and at this time of year all the guys who ride on the road (be it A-grade, cat 1, or D-grade, or Cat 4) are talking about the race or races they want to focus on. For me its from the end of July to the beginning of September. There are lots of good races then and I can hold my form for that six weeks.
What Armstrong does is choose the race that is most important to him and focus on it. If you had a set of results like he does you can afford to be fairly picky.
I'm fairly sure that most pros would be happy with two seconds and a fourth at Amstel Gold FOR THEIR ENTIRE SET OF RESULTS! let alone backing up by winning the TDF in each of those years.
I'm not a mad Lance fan but I get sick of the people who attack him without any real understanding of what he does each year. Tour domination is bad for cycling? I doubt it. Anything which makes non-cyclists aware of cycling is good and Lance has definitely helped that along, just as Greg LeMond and (in Australia) Phil Anderson did.
Lance Armstrong should support Roberto Heras in the Vuelta
I'd too would love to see Lance ride the Vuelta. Riding the Giro might put the TdF at risk, but la Vuelta in September seems free of that problem. Too bad the Vuelta overlaps the San Francisco GP, which I believe is sponsored or run by Tom Weisel's group. Tom, of course, is the only person that stepped up to sponsor Lance when he returned after his bout with cancer. Lance's payback and presence goes a long way to the great success of the SF GP in its first two years. So, wish for the rescheduling of the SF Grand Prix and you might see Lance (and George) in the Vuelta!
The recently-reannounced Monex/Hot Wheels team is a prime example of what the UCI Trade Team 3 designation has become in the U.S. After a 'leaked' announcement about the team becoming a new U.S. pro team, they've thought it over and are going to concentrate on building their program this year, with the goal of Division 3 status in 2004. So what are they building, a pro team strictly for Masters? Virtually every rider so far associated with Monex/Hot Wheels is at least 30, and several- Roberto Gaggioli, Thurlow Rogers, and the infamous John Wordin- are 40+. Once again, Division 3's original purpose- providing opportunities for up-and-coming young racers- has been subverted into an excuse for a bunch of 30-somethings to race in Philly and San Francisco on someone else's dime.
Since USA Cycling clearly isn't going to do anything about the current situation, it's time the UCI steps up and changes the rules governing Division 3 before it becomes any more of a laughingstock than it already is.
Some journalists prefer a sensational story above putting some things in the right context. I think De Vlaeminck meant that he prefers cycling to be an individual sport, above one where the team that has most financial support dominates a race. He thinks cycling would profit by it if Museeuw and Bettini (numbers 1 and 2 of 2002 in the World Cup) weren't racing for the same sponsor. Some of the greatest cycling moments in the past were the moments where De Vlaeminck challenged Merckx. This wouldn't have happened when they had raced in the same team.
My passion in life, from an early age has always been cycling in every shape and form. Since graduating from university I was on route in a promising structural engineering career until I began to realise that my heart was never actually in it. Then came physiotherapy, which has been at the back of my mind as an 'if only I'd done that' thought for several years and which now I feel very honored to be back at university studying with all my enthusiasm. During my course I hope to establish as good an appreciation of every aspect of physiotherapy from subjects as diverse as neurology and sports injuries, so as to facilitate my new career path. One obvious combination would be to combine my two passions, cycling and physiotherapy. Since living in Scotland limits contact with real cyclists, never mind the even rarer breed of physiotherapist associated with cycling, I would greatly appreciate if you could pass this e-mail onto any physios you know of in professional cycling, who would be kind enough to disseminate any advice or information that might give me an insight to the profession within the sport.
I've noted the number of important races on the US Pro calendar that are folding with surprising celerity. A significant factor is the logistical expenses - traffic control, police escorts, etc.
Recently I was on AZ 264 that drives horizontally across the Navajo and Hopi reservations. (I work for the federal government in DC on Native American issues, and am honored to do so.) I remarked to myself how fantastic a one day or stage race would be on these sovereign lands.
It is to be noted that the Navajo and Hopi peoples are renowned for their endurance and running ability. The Hopi people in Old Oraibi are the oldest continuously live settlement in North America, dating back nearly 1000 years. You'll ride past it. And you'll see how the Navajo have amped up their economic development in sophisticated, polite, ways.
Terrain across 264 (E-W) along an elevation of 5000-6000 feet ranges from pineland, to brush, to mesa, and this is the pitiable description. Riding past 1st and 2nd mesa, if you look up to the top of those mesas, you will see houses with folks living there. As you rise over a mesa, you are treated to a 360 degree view at the top the extents 4-10 miles forward, and I don't know how many miles across the bows.
For your race organizers, these roads are used lightly, and generally by people who know how to take care of one another. The vast visibility affords drivers ample notice. Police escort would be more courteous and less expensive than what you're currently experiencing. Innovative racing camera shots are available - camera a top a mesa, alternating shot for 8 to 12 minutes, catching the riders coming forward 4-6 miles afar. Media exposure and revenues to the tribal governments would be appreciated, provided it stays on the main roads. All other exposures to be done only with tribal government consent.
Those folks interested in extending this conversation (not guaranteeing anything!) are free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Hopkins hasn't factored all the operating costs (maintenance, insurance, depreciation, tires - a major cost). These vary depending on where you live and how much you drive your car, but 50 cents per mile is a better number (and likely conservative). Thus his driving commute costs him around $10, a little more than the cafeteria food. If you're interested in determining your own commuting costs Pierce County Washington (USA) has a little calculator at http://www.ptbus.pierce.wa.us/rideshare/costs.htm
And this doesn't factor in the external costs (off the books). These might include such things as subsidies for road construction, environmental costs, reduced medical cost (physical & mental) due to the exercise/stress reduction of the ride...
The bike ride is definitely cheaper
Jim Shoemaker (a fellow commuter)
Ride to work - driving is not cheap
I just wanted to thank the World Gas Crisis for my health and share this story with your readers. First, let me state that I am not an advocate of the brewing conflict that lead to my decision, but I made the best of it and I hope the message comes thru that.
I drive a 1989 Range Rover. It's a fine SUV. Very luxurious and plush. I have wanted one since I was in high school. I went to college to get a good degree in a high paying field so that I could afford a vehicle like that. When the day came that I found the one I wanted, I bought it. Sounds good so far, but there is a huge catch. That truck gets 12 miles per gallon on a good day. Often 11 mpg is the actual. But I loved that truck. I could afford it and I drove it everywhere, as it is such a fine vehicle. Well, after 3 years or so of that, I noticed I was about 30 pounds heavier than before I bought that vehicle. I am sure that there are many other reasons, but the truth is I was 30 pounds heavier than the day I bought it.
I decided to do something about it when gas prices hit $2 per gallon in my area. I started to ride my bike back and forth to work, school, the store, the Laundromat... everywhere. And that is no small feat when afternoon temperatures often climb to 95 degrees and the humidity is over 90 percent in my area. I often am a sweaty rag when I get to where I was going. But the payoff is the best part. In 3 months I lost that weight. In the past 5 months since losing the first 30 pounds, I have lost another 20. I am back to my college soccer playing weight. I never thought I would see the day. I even decided to sell the Rover for a much more efficient Honda Accord. But I still don't drive it that much. I like the benefits of being fit, and I forgot what that was like too long ago. I am a happier healthier person, and I have gas prices to thank. My insurance for my Honda is less than half of the Rover and I get nearly four times the fuel efficiency now, so I spend less of my day pumping gas. I never wanted to do that for a living, yet I spent so much time doing it with the Rover, that I felt I should have been paid to do it.
I can not believe that some people would think it's too expensive to ride to work. Even if it costs you more in food, think about what you are doing for you health. I am sure your loved ones will be more than happy that you are making a lifestyle change that may extend your life a few years. If that happens, I guess it truly would be more expensive, but I argue that it's worth it.
Ride! That's why we all own bikes and what brings all of us together on this website!
Ride to work - real cost of gasoline
Responding to the note from Nigel White, I agree that we Americans have not been paying the full cost of gasoline. During graduate school I took a course on Energy and Environmental Policy. Back in 1981 we estimated the true cost of oil at about $75 per barrel, about 3-4 times the market price. Secondary costs arise from negative health impacts of auto pollution, car crashes, military costs of defending oil production, and other factors such as the disposal of spent cars, tires, batteries, etc. The true price of oil is not the price we pay at the pump.
A few years ago some friends of mine in California were paid a small stipend ($1-2 per day) by their employers to ride their bikes to work. This inducement was the result of a government-led effort to increase vehicle occupancy during commuting times. Are there any employers still supporting bike commuting in this way?
Ride to work - costs
The commuter bike cost analysis provided within the last few weeks has left me a bit puzzled. I commute within the Washington DC area a very modest distance, BUT I also train and save a bit of money due to the commute. I have provided a very modest cost analysis below.
Why are some people commuting on nice bikes? Don't they know that that is begging for theft? I ride an old MTB with a suspension fork I filled with plumbers putty as the shocks stopped working. My buddy had it in his garage and I gave him some money for his troubles. The lights would fall off the handlebars, so I taped them on with duct tape and presto, they don't fall off.
I will not debate the food argument as it is folly to believe that at the moment of mile 75 in a century your body ceases to function as the next calorie might have come from a Twinkie.
A modest cost analysis of commuting by bike versus car:
Total: 308 dollars US
Total 11,750 US Dollars.
Eliminate initial cost of car 1750 US dollars.
I conclude that unless you are desperate to have a high priced commuter bike and 50 buck a gallon urine with all the vitamins you are going to piss out, bike commuting is far cheaper.
I hope to see Paris Roubaix this year. I will be traveling to the race from Southern Spain. Does anyone out there have any advice on which airport is best? And how best to get to the course from the airport? Besides the Forest of Arenberg, the best spots to watch? I have not previously traveled in Europe, so I'll take even the most basic advice.
Are the media. In so doing, he has made cycling suddenly a worthwhile sport to invest money in, and thus all the exposure for all of Division III here in America. From this will grow a larger and more professional body of athletes with higher standards for teams and so on. You are seeing this even in the "big" pro ranks overseas.
Anyone with aspirations to go to the big show, juniors, U23s, and everybody in Division III owe what little money they do make directly to Lance, and before him Greg LeMond, who made Lance possible.
Steffen, I agree with your statement that many American fans don't appreciate the Spring Classics and give the one day races the credit they deserve. I do appreciate a victory in the Ronde, or Roubaix, or in La Primavera. See, I am a well informed cycling fan, and I am not closed minded like many American or European fans who seem to think that the achievements of Lance Armstrong are any less amazing than the achievements of a rider like Johan Museeuw. It is obvious, and justified, that Europeans love Johan Museeuw, he is a great rider, a great champion, and he is European. It is obvious that other Europeans would love him, same as it is obvious that other Americans would love Lance Armstrong. But you state in your letter that Lance doesn't give a real go in the spring. He isn't competitive in the Classics. That is only half true, as Lance has won Spring Classic races, but more to the point, Johan Museeuw has never been competitive in the Tour. He has never been a major threat there, yet many Europeans laud his spring achievements on one hand while simultaneously discrediting the achievements of Armstrong on the other. Do you fail to recognize the irony?
I will never join in on a debate of who is the better rider of someone like Armstrong who is a Tour CG contender, or Museeuw, who is a Spring Classics master. I can honestly appreciate both for their amazing talents, even if those talents dictate they excel at different types of races. I am not so close minded an American to claim Armstrong is the greatest rider of the day because he has won 4 straight Tours de France, nor will I listen to any close minded Europeans telling me that Museeuw, or any other single day specialist should be given that honor. There are great men in the sport of cycling and if you try too hard to single them out to place them on a pedestal, you may just miss a great ride by someone you weren't looking at.
Tour domination - Americans will lose interest
Speaking as an American I agree The Tour is the only bike race many Americans know, let alone appreciate. And that includes many who consider themselves cyclists. I personally like the Springs Classics, and have found the last few versions of the Giro more exciting than the Tour. When Lance retires, you'll see a huge decrease in interest among Americans for the sport. Probably just as well. Better to have a few real fans than a host of cheerleaders.
Raymond F. Martin
Tour domination - a gateway to cycling
How dare Steffen state "I do not feel that the Americans give other races than the Tour the credit they deserve". The one and only bike race that ever gets any coverage at all in this vast country of football and NASCAR fans is the Tour. I am not a fan of Lance. I am not that excited by the Tour but the Tour provides the gateway into the rest of cycling. My family and I began our cycle racing passion by watching the Tour alone. Since then, we have matured to relish in the spring classics as the true heart of cycling. We don't have live television coverage of any races in my house but we all follow the spring classics coverage via this website. We went absolutely nuts when we were willing Virenque to last to the line at 2001 Paris-Tours. My 3 and 4 year old sons were just cheering righteously for Museeuw to win Het Volk and we all wait for Easter because we know it's Paris-Roubaix. My sons, myself and even my wife have many great spring classic riders that we cheer for (Dierksens, Weseman, Hincapie, Museeuw and Bettini to name just a few!). We were sad to see greats like Ballerini and Tchmil go. Each year we cultivate a deeper understanding of the spring classics and it is something we all look forward to.
Tour domination - Postal focus is understandable
Steffen Sinning observes that Americans don't give races other than the Tour the credit these races deserve. Although many Americans (like me) do follow the other races with great interest, Mr. Sinning is right. The overwhelming majority of Americans who care about cycling at all are only interested in the Tour. Armstrong rides on a U.S.-sponsored team, so naturally he and his team design his season around the only race that matters to U.S. fans. Perhaps if Lance rode for Cofidis or some other European team his season would be designed differently - who knows? I do not understand why fans insist that Lance should focus on races like Ronde van Vlaanderen or Roubaix or Liege when these races mean nothing to the vast majority of U.S. fans. Criticism like Mr. Sinning's is even more absurd considering that focusing on those "other" races would diminish Armstrong's chance of winning the only race that most U.S. fans have even heard of! So, enjoy Lance Armstrong if you want to, hate him if you want to, but don't blame him for building his season around the Tour when that's precisely what he was hired to do.
As a lifetime safety and health professional and former resident of Tucson for 15 years, I am stunned that organizers allow a peloton to race Gates Pass without vehicular traffic being stopped completely. Gates Pass is treacherous enough on a motorcycle with oncoming cars. I stopped riding my Harley there after a close encounter or two, even though it is a gorgeous ride. To expect cyclists to race it with oncoming traffic is absurd. I will be surprised if the organizers aren't sued. A sad day in cycling: one dead, 5 seriously injured.
Raymond F. Martin
Are they black and white photos? A black and white photographer has less to work with than a color photographer. It could be high contrast or a big flash.
I moved from Australia to London 2 years ago and today was the first time I've fully browsed the site in almost 18 months, having been a regular reader in OZ before relocating overseas.
This website is, if anything, stronger and more informative than when I last read it and I was gladly surprised that the old link still worked and that the format wasn't that much different to before.
Thanks to the staff here for maintaining this site, it is still the best of its kind in my opinion and knowing that it still exists I will be checking it out every day again from now on.
Just want to say congratulations for the interview with Erik Weispfennig. I was just wondering how he would be feeling after his Madison partner Stefan Steinweg got caught with drugs - and then I logged onto cyclingnews.com and hey presto, there was a story about just that! I like Karen Foreman's writing style, it's very conversational and she seems to really be able to convey the character of a person. I also liked her Bums On Seats article but where is part two? It is good to see her doing more on Cyclingnews.com again. Is she Australian? I can't believe Steinweg would be so dumb to carry steroids into Australia. I wonder if he considered the consequences not only for himself but his partner Erik and for cycling generally. It was good that the Bendigo Madison organisers were brave enough to take a stand and tell him he couldn't ride. Zero tolerance is the only way we will ever stamp out the problem of drugs in sport. It's Erik I feel sorry for. You just have to wonder how much Steinweg's actions affected Erik's ride in the Madison. I mean, would he have won it if he was riding with Stefan? Let's see what the German cycling authorities do now. I like Ed Alexander's idea that there should be an amnesty on drugs. As he said in his letter, there was a time when taking drugs was considered normal, everybody did it. But now we know the effects and the legalities and public acceptance is much less, it is time to take a tough stand.
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