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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 30, 2003
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"Logistical problems"? Don't believe it!
The argument used at first by Mr. LeBlanc was: "Cipollini is a quitter. He has never finished The Tour." Now, after Cipo's letter in which he declared that he's going to ride The Tour all along till Paris LeBlanc says: "Adding one more team is difficult because of logistical problems". Don't believe it! A few years ago a mixed Telekom/ZG Mobili team was added two weeks before The Tour as some of you may remember.
Sorry, Mr LeBlanc but I'm not going to watch flat stages of this year's Tour if there's no Cipollini in the peloton. In the 90s flat stages were fascinating with all those sprint stars like Cipollini, Steels, Svorada, Abdoujaparov, Nelissen, Blijlevens in the bunch. Sprint stars that came with strong teams. In descent years we have more breakaways on flat stages, often initiated by French riders, that's true. But I find nothing exciting in watching breaks that no one chases.
It's still possible to make this year's Tour the most fascinating one of the last ten years as Ullrich (and maybe even Pantani) are back and all main the stars of the 2003 Giro like Simoni, Garzelli, Petacchi have also declared that they will ride the Tour. But there's one more person who must ride to make the centenary Tour 'Le Tour of dreams'.
One more thing: saying that all Grand Tours are national tours isn't a good excuse for inviting French teams. The TdF is the only race in the world in which ALL teams want to start. The organisers of the Giro and Vuelta can invite more local teams because a lot of Division 1 teams don't plan to ride those tours (or one of them) and announce that at the beginning of the season. But do you know any current Division 1 team which doesn't want to participate in TdF 2003?
I just thought I'd give another slant on the Cipollini/TdF saga.
The UCI oversees the sport of cycling but delegates race organisation to other bodies. Meanwhile, it uses the results of those races to compile a ranking of riders according to points and, thus, tries to tell the watching public who are the best riders in the world. Naturally, you can only get points if you ride races; furthermore, you can get really big points if you ride Grand Tours. So participation in Grand Tours has a big effect on the UCI rankings and I thought it would be interesting to hazard a guess on how Cipollini will be affected by his inability to ride the Tour in 2003.
His last participation was in 1999 so let's look at his results in that year and award UCI points according to the current table:
Result Green Yellow Prologue 97th 0 Stage 1 29th 0 Stage 2 3rd 35 Stage 3 10th 1 Stage 4 1st 70 6th 10 9th 2 Stage 5 1st 70 5th 15 5th 15 Stage 6 1st 70 5th 15 2nd 50 Stage 7 1st 70 2nd 50 2nd 50 Stage 8 71st 0 2nd 50 31st 0 Stage 9 Abandoned
That's 316 points for his stage placings each day, 140 points for his place in the point competition each evening and 117 points for his GC standing every night. In total, 573 UCI points.
Now let's look at the current UCI rankings (correct at 11th May):
1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 2,161.00 pts 2 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal presented by Berry Floor 1,942.00 3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 1,889.00 4 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 1,871.00 5 Dario Frigo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1,670.00 6 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC 1,645.00 7 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 1,485.00 8 Aitor Gonzalez Jimenez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 1,435.00 9 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron 1,428.20 10 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal presented by Berry Floor 1,427.75
Everyone above Cipollini, with the probable exception of Aitor Gonzalez, should have roughly the same number of points after the Tour this year. Cipollini has no points from 2002 to lose so, assuming a performance on a par with 1999, it's reasonably safe for this exercise to add 573 to his current total, putting him just above Armstrong into 2nd place.
There are two obvious ramifications:
1. Leblanc's persistent bar on Cipollini taking part in the Tour is skewing the UCI rankings, meaning they have less relevance to the "real world" than they should.
2. Cipollini's team (Domina Vacanze-Elitron this year) is hindered from making it into the "top club" through inability to earn points in all three Grand Tours, therefore is very likely each year to face the same problem of hoping for (but being denied) a wild card entry into the Tour. Leblanc's selection policy is perhaps also skewing the "top club" composition, thereby helping some teams to a higher position than they deserve and pushing other teams lower than they should be.
If the UCI places so much faith in its rankings system, and the selection policies that result therefrom, it should make greater efforts to ensure the rankings remain true and that they guarantee the best teams and riders get to compete in the top races.
As the riders take a break from racing due to today's rest day, it is interesting to reflect on this year's Giro. Competitive as the fight for the pink jersey is, the real fascination has been with the battle for supremacy amongst the sprinters. And that fascination is entirely due to one man, Mario Cipollini. In the twilight of his career, he has become more than a sprinter, more than a professional cyclist, he has become a magnetic celebrity. A man who conducts himself with panache. The very epitome of cool. He was seemingly made in Hollywood and has been writing his own, flamboyant script throughout his career. Despite being outclassed on the road in this Giro by Alessandro Petacchi, Cipollini has far from been overshadowed. On the contrary his star has risen even higher.
Petacchi's early domination over Cipollini at this year's event has ironically worked in the great man's favour. Hollywood couldn't have scripted it better. Coming into the Giro, few would have bet that Cipo wouldn't surpass Binda's record. But without a victory at the end of the first week, suddenly, unexpectedly, there was genuine concern amongst cycling fans and the Italian public alike that Cipo wouldn't win that next Giro stage. Seemingly out of form and up against the younger, dynamic Petacchi, Cipo suddenly looked vulnerable. However, such vulnerability, borne with dignity, enamoured him even further to the tifosi, and when those two successive victories did come, they took on the splendour of triumphs which were hard-won and all the more heroic as such. Italians, never noted for their restraint, were at fever pitch. He accepted the plaudits with a suitable display of emotion, remembering his late father, and his status amongst the cycling gods was secure. Cipollini has stated on occasions that he isn't a great champion in the mould of Binda. But the likely truth is that after his retirement he will surely attain mythical status. The sheer strength of his personality combined with his ability to entertain will weigh more heavily in the memory than any count of race victories.
Interestingly, after his crash on stage 11, Cipollini decided not to start the next day. In contrast, when Petacchi subsequently crashed, he heroically carried on in the event and was rewarded for his bravery with an immediate stage win. Petacchi himself reflected that he had achieved something great that day, which of course, he had. The difference is that Cipollini has never needed to make such drastic sacrifices, he was always destined for greatness regardless.
I must say, it is quite a shame that the World Champion must effectively grovel to be offered the opportunity to ride the Tour. Too bad for cycling if we don't get to see Super Mario do his thing in the Tour.
Given all that has transpired, I feel for Cipo. He must really want to ride the Tour bad . . . after all he has done to make amends, and Leblanc has seemingly done nothing other than offer false hope to Cipo and his team. Too bad Leblanc is too mired in his position to see what he is doing. I think if he looks back on this after 5 or 10 years he may regret not letting Cipo start, even if he doesn't finish the race!
Either way Cipo, buck up! Lets look at the facts here:
Leblanc: tubby, pasty white French dude. Cipo: tan buff, Italian lady killer.
Mario getting the record
Paul Christensen is right on about Mario, he's a champion for the ages. He has changed the speed/age continuum. Mario deserves a ride in the Tour and the Tour is diminished without Mario in his rainbow hoops. Come on Jean Marie, you have the chance to host two of the greatest riders of their generation (if not of all time), Lance & Mario, riding side-by-side in the centenary Tour. Who could pass that up? Do it for the fans.
Apparently, Leblanc is still using out-of-work French Olympic figure skating judges to help with his tour team selections. A real pity.
With all of the controversy over Cipo's exclusion from the Tour and Jan's team/Tour soap operas, I hope everyone is still loving this year's Giro as much as I am. My fingers are crossed that Simoni and Garzelli will stay neck and neck until the final time trial, so that the winner of the last stage is the winner of the race, and the outcome is not known until it is all said and done.
Molto grazie to the Giro organization for structuring an exciting race whose outcome is still (as we head into the final week!) wide open; despite their misguided inclusion of hairpin curves in the final sprints, I think they have done a marvelous job.
And what about Garzelli? After the Zoncolan, I so hoped that he would attack on the final climb of yesterday's finishing circuit. I figured that even if Simoni caught him, he would still best Simoni in the sprint and get some seconds back. But alas, I had no faith, no one ever seems to risk anything in the grand tours these days (how many times did I wish Jan just would risk a crazy solo breakaway...) But what did my wondering eyes behold: Garzelli leaping off the front on the final climb and then battling Pettachi in the sprint! Sono nell'amore! Buona fortuna Stephano! Pozzo si giro!
It is a shame that U.S. Postal doesn't field a team for the Giro. This race and its passionate tifosi deserve to see representation from one of the world's best grand tour teams. The Posties are quick to trot out the stock story about the team's focus on the Tour de France, but you can't go to two grand tours and not the third without it seeming like a snub to the Giro.
I don't think it is Roberto Heras' race either. His personal focus is on the Vuelta, a race in which he can get the best support and results. But this would be a great race for Floyd Landis as a team leader, or any other young riders that the Berry Floor's would want to develop for the TDF. After all, Lance won't race forever.
Great to see the new national kit, but only the Italians would think of having a mannequin with a Linford lunchbox!
Several years ago here in Victoria, Australia, the laws with respect to the analogous crime of 'vehicular manslaughter' were changed due to a reluctance of juries to convict motorists of the crime of manslaughter. The source of this reluctance was attributed to panel members of juries assessing how a lapse in concentration at the wrong time could result in causing death and that the label of manslaughter was too extreme for this instance and more associated with murder than negligent driving, hence acquittals were commonplace. As a result we now have the offence of 'culpable driving causing death', but substantively the law is the same and so is the maximum penalty. Now juries are not reluctant to convict and instances such as that described in Texas would result, if found guilty, in a sentence of anything up to 20 years imprisonment.
That being said, maybe folks in the US should take a long hard look at how you sentence offenders. Custodial sentences are not the only answer and an effective criminal justice system should not have retribution as its sole ambition. Rehabilitation is an often overlooked consideration and I doubt whether putting someone in an overcrowded prison with hardened criminals will achieve this. In addition, what is the likelihood that offenders of this sort will re-offend and how does that relate to our need to protect the community from further violations of the law?
I do not intend to suggest that people who kill cyclists through gross negligence should 'get off lightly', - if I had my way they'd never drive a car again. I urge people to think about why we assign arbitrary figures of the years a person should be deprived liberty for committing an offence, where does the number come from? How is it relative to the circumstances? And will it achieve anything other than a feeling that he/she got their 'just desserts'?
More pertinently, let's work to try and prevent fellow cyclists and their families from having to feel the wrath of another tonnage of metal and rubber.
Your latest articles on Rabobank and Levi Leipheimer were inspirational. Especially the close-up pictures of Levi. The Italians have Pantani and Garzelli to show the shine of success. It's about time we had a bald American on the podium to exclaim for all to hear, "I'm bald and I can climb better than you!"
I have a theory that those who use their testosterone for something other than growing hair are likely to be better climbers. What do you think?
This is ridiculous! Sure Pantani is a good rider. May even challenge again one day in the Tour, but you have to earn it. He should have thought of not being in the Tour last year when he was using his big words to try to challenge Lance then rather then training. When other riders were preparing themselves for the races and putting their teams into the Top 10 Pantani was using the press, talking. He was seen numerous times off the back of the fields last year. But low and behold after he would drop out he would just use the press. Instead of sitting in front of the media Lance was training and racing at the front. These are facts no one can deny.
If your team was not invited you have to live with it. If you're not on a team that has earned a spot in the Tour de France go home and work harder for next year and get your own team there. Better yet, attack harder in the Giro and dedicate your win to the Italian people that have supported you.
Just wanted to know who really thinks that there is any competition for Lance at this year's Tour?
I am a Jan Ullrich fan but I just can't see how he can win the Tour with the style of riding he has riding against someone like Armstrong who seems to ride like a pure climber when in the mountains and a pure time trialist when doing that discipline.
I would even go as far as to say that Armstrong could have beaten the Great Miguel.
If Armstrong does not have a bad day who has ammunition to beat him? Is there another rider that has a similar riding style to him? How about Santiago BOTERO?
I couldn't agree more with Stephen's comments regarding the production of track cycling events. Until track cycling starts to attract and cater for non-cycling enthusiasts, cycling will remain a non-mainstream sport with little or no coverage.
I recently attended the three major sessions of the Sydney round of the World Cup, the racing was exciting and well organised. But to the non-cycling friends I took along, some events were hard to understand. Why do sprinters go round at walking pace for half the race? Why have boring scratch races?
The three non-cyclists I took along left commenting, they might, if I paid for the tickets, go along again. The racing was "all right". "All right" not "exciting" or "good". Their main comments were reserved for the lack of spectator facilities. Queuing for 20 minutes to order a cappuccino only to reach the counter to be told they had run out, on another night a similar queue to get food with similar results. In fact at all three major sessions similar problems were obvious.
Until spectator facilities at the velodrome, particularly for world class events, are greatly improved, I will have trouble persuading non-cycling friends to come along and see what should be a spectacular promotion for our sport.
I don't think the controversy surrounding Robbie McEwen is a claim that other sprinters haven't lost their tempers at time. Sprinters most of all are highly charged super competitive beings and we all understand that they are going to lose their tempers upon occasion. But afterwards when tempers have cooled McEwen makes statements leading people to believe that he is not sorry he lost his temper in the heat of battle and he adds bravado indicating that in similar circumstances he will repeat his actions. I think that might be honestly equated to not learning his lessons. And that is what disturbs people about the man. Get mad? Who doesn't. But we should know that it accomplishes nothing and isn't part of honest competition.
I don't know where David Abernethy got that idea from, but the rule (or tradition) seems to be that if you ever become World Champ in any UCI event you can wear your stripes for ever.
Witness Stuey O'Grady with his stripes from the track, Chris Boardman from the TT (and track) and Sven Nijs with his Cyclo Cross stripes etc. etc. Even stripes won at U23 level seem to be kept on by some, see Kurt Arvesen with his, won at San Sebastien (in 1997). Even little Miguel Martinez wears his old MTB ones, and rightly so.
It's always puzzled me why Jan has never had rainbows on his sleeves. It seems to be a peculiarly German thing, Zabel, Bolts, Aldag et al don't seem to wear their German bands (no rhyming slang intended, you cockneys!) either, unlike the French and Italians who need very little excuse to remind the world that they once were kings.
The only possible reasons I can see are either modesty, or an unwillingness of the kit suppliers to provide custom jerseys (seeing as Telekom riders have their names on their chests this seems unlikely).
Perhaps we should ask Jan himself, and press Bianchi-Whoever to add his stripes.
David Abernathy is correct about World Champion stripes, but only for current year champions' jerseys. They only wear the World Champion jersey in their respective event. So Santiago Botero can wear his rainbow stripes only in time trials, this year.
However, for stripes on sleeves, which was what readers were questioning, this seems to be an informal "honor" for former champions. Ullrich, despite being a past two-time champion. has no rainbow strips on his sleeves this year. However, you'll see Ekimov with stripes for a track World Championship, and (formerly) Jalabert wearing stripes for his World TT Championships. Arveson has World Championship stripes on for his U23 World Championship.
In fact it has trickled down to national championship victories as well. Hincapie and McEwen currently have national colored stripes on their sleeves, and Cipollini had as well before his World Championship victory.
But there does not seem to be any fixed rule about sleeve stripes, and individual riders are applying them as they see fit.
These are the same folks who threw Casagrande out of last year's Giro for punching a totally unknown Colombian rider. I think it unfair to bring up the specter of favoritism.
Raymond F. Martin
Road racing and crits are different animals. Probably the reason, too, why Americans don't excel in Europe right away. Remember Lance at the NYC crit? Or the last stage of this years' TdL? Or the cancelled stage of stage race in the US last month? Cycling is inherently a dangerous job, and adding a corner in the last 200 meters in the rain makes the situation dangerous. And BTW, was the first time I saw the final leadout man peel off before a corner.
I purchased a Cardgirus Trainer this winter and overall, have been quite pleased with it. Other than some translation problems contained within the generally inadequate set-up instructions (e.g., "after each 90 seconds of use the Cardgirus trainer may become overheated and must be allowed to rest for 30 minutes," or "do not use the trainer for a least 30 minutes prior to or after eating") it has worked extremely well. Hooked up to my laptop I spent the winter months happily cycling on courses simulating those all over Europe. The Cardgirus does not have the animation of the Computrainer nor does it allow for use outside like the PowerTap system, but boy has it improved my cycling. It provides more data than most persons would ever want to know about their cycling including heart rate, cadence, speed, distance, watts generated etc. In addition the bike has enough adjustments so that if you carefully measure the bike on which you typically ride you can pretty much simulate it right down to the bike's weight. You also have the opportunity to: input data about your weight, general physical condition (the system has a number of tests [e.g., the Conconi Test] that you can perform to establish heart rate parameters), choose the particular type of bike you ride (track, mountain, road), any number of gearing patterns, and even the option to cycle with a head or tail wind. The interval function allows one to train with either a prescribed set of intervals or create one's one set. I've personally found the watts based interval function to be especially helpful.
The system does take up some room but its quite sturdy and a lot quieter than most turbo trainers. The version I purchased came with a rather limited number of "courses" or stages (it was probably around 12-15) but it's relatively easy to create any course you desire if you're willing to spend some time inputing the necessary data. Where does one get the data you may ask? Most of the important races have course profiles listed on their websites. Other than a great site for the Touir of Flanders these typically don't provide sufficient information to simulate much other than to know the distance and average gradient of climbs. After a lot of trial and error I found a site on the web, www.salite.ch, that has detailed information about thousands of climbs in Europe. Some of the climbs gradient information down to .5 kilometers. With this information in hand I have been able to simulate 30-40 additional routes. I've been to Europe since I got the trainer and have been able to test out its ability to adequately simulate a real course. While in Spain I did several climbs that I had practiced for on the trainer including the Sierra Nevada climb used in the Vuelta. I have to say that while the Cardgirus doesn't provide the beautiful views, otherwise it quite good at simulating the real thing.
More than anything else, the trainer kept me in shape and on the bike over the course of the winter which in Minnesota can be quite long. In comparison to my trainer, I didn't seem to mind rides as long as 2-3 hours. Given the flatness of the terrain around where I live it has also allowed me to do weekly hill intervals that would just not be possible outside and to gauge the progress of my conditioning in a much more controlled environment. Even through we are now racing, I still use the trainer at least twice a week for certain types of intervals and when the weather is rotten.
Overall, I'd say I would give the Cardgirus 4 out of 5 stars. It would be a higher rating except for the fact that it doesn't come cheap (price is about $1,500). If you're serious about your cycling and there are times when you just can't get outside to do the real thing, its a wonderfull tool to have available.
I imported a Cardgirus back in December 2002 and am very pleased with it. Full disclosure: I haven't used another trainer except for brief sessions at the LBS checking bike fit.
I also read the cyclingnews review and was intrigued. Last winter, I wanted a trainer for bad weather and getting home too late for a road ride. I initially used the Cardgirus exactly as expected (saddle time), but even with summer upon us it now has a special place in my [fast beating] heart for semiweekly, high-intensity, power-based training. I know now that, if I'm going to get faster, it'll be because of the Cardgirus.
As in the review, the first thing I noticed was the realism in pedaling action. The effort to run 35 kph in a 53/19 on a 0% grade, or any other circumstance, is amazingly similar to that on a top-notch road bike. Doing 5-min intervals on a 5% grade, just like on the hill by my house, felt the same.
I liked the idea of NOT using my road bike as a trainer. The downside is setup. It's just like buying a new bike so be prepared to fine tune. I'm long of leg (106 cm between seat top and pedal axle measured along the seat tube), so even with the handlebar support extension they provided, there was too much (18 cm) difference between the seat and the handlebars. A trip to a local machine shop fixed that; I cut their extension in half and welded in a 10 cm Al extension (visible in picture). If you're shorter, expect no problems. Everything else is muy adjustable.
I eventually bought new bars (44 cm) to match my road bike; there wasn't room inside to stand and climb or sprint (which you can do on this very stable machine). I switched to my bar tape and bought Record brake hoods because I liked the familiar feel. I bought a new seat post (it's 27.2 mm, not 31.6 as stated in original review) because of the long leg problem and to get better seat angle adjustment. I also replicated my road seat as my backside is picky. Good thing the heavy versions of what's on my road bike are cheap. I also swapped the Look-alike pedals that Cardgirus provided with a set of Time pedals I got on eBay. Just your normal bike setup process.
I bought a Manhasset music stand (in matching yellow!) for the notebook computer. It's cheap, high quality, and height adjustable. I originally bought the optional TT bars with bolt-on computer rack but it didn't work well. Because the handlebars are cantilevered from the seat area, any movement makes the notebook wiggle and hard to read. The music stands is on the floor, stable, and perfect. Kris Ortubai (sales at Cardgirus) recommended against buying the extra bars/rack but I figured I was paying for shipping anyway... my mistake. Buy only the road bars.
I use the interval portion of the software the most. There is also cardiovascular and watt-based training sections, but it's easy to get to the same place using intervals. Even a couple 20-min lactate threshold sessions can be programmed as intervals. The software takes some study, but with the complexity comes flexibility. I overuse the interval portion because I understand it's capabilities. You can basically set up any form of a workout you can imagine; initially you wonder what all the columns could be for, but eventually you understand the nuances they've built-in for the pros.
The stages are for fun miles after getting home late from work. What I've gained is an appreciation for how hard it is to generate enough power to spin 90+ rpm up some of those steeper TdF stage climbs (I can't). Totally cool is bombing down the backside and watching your speed INCREASE even while you're not pedaling. Turn your fan up high and you'll find yourself in an aero tuck position dreamin' the dream.
Last but not least, I really appreciated the analysis portion of the software. I was really happy I didn't have to do anything but push a few buttons to review my results. There's no need to download to Excel (you can't anyway), because they've given you all the statistics you need. You can even click through your ride in a second-by-second review of power, cadence, heart rate, grade and gear. I had one glitch where I couldn't review a ride (some sort of data problem), but I suspect it was because my computer screen saver/password screen activated. I turn this off now. You can export one or more rides, but only in the Cardgirus format, and then e-mail them to your coach. Your coach can load the software off the web for free and review your results in detail.
I'm happy to answer specific questions. Send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
Thanks for publishing Scott's diary. There've been a lot of high points in this year's Giro, but for me, reading Scott's daily posts has been most enjoyable and informative. I really like his insights and some of the behind the race details that we don't usually see. Hopefully you guys could lend Guido a laptop so he can do the same. Anyway, thanks to Scott for taking the time to do his daily write. I don't suppose that you could somehow get the name of the hotel that Scott wrote about the last two stages. I'm planning a trip to the dolomites, and the hotel outside of Bolzano definitely sounds like a winner.
Kyle C. Lindvall
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