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Letters to Cyclingnews - August 20, 2004
I hate to say this, but I would be ashamed to be German after Judith Arndt's childish behavior at the Olympic Games. She should have been stripped of her medal and relegated to the back of the back for her brazen act of disrespect. It is not Arndt's place to determine who rides the games. While I'm sure that politics may play a minor role in selection, I would imagine that the German Federation was simply trying to assemble the most athletic, cohesive team that they could.
Arndt's temper tantrum over her friend not being selected was akin to a schoolgirl throwing a fit over a missing Spice Girls CD. I think that her measly fine should have been accompanied the loss of her medal and place in the field. After all, the Olympics are supposed to be the reflection of true sportsmanship, not ill tempered disrespect. I sincerely hope that the German Federation remembers this outburst in four year's time.
I'm sure that many other readers of your outstanding website agree that the crowds at the Olympic cycling road races were almost unbelievably sparse. I think we could draw more people than that to a downtown street race in this part of the world (Vancouver BC) and indeed, have done with the various Gastown Grand Prix events. Nobody has really come up with any reason why the routes were so thinly lined with spectators, but it seems to me that there may have been two reasons - exorbitantly high ticket price, and over-zealous security.
The circuit was completely fenced off for "security" and the woes of your media representatives in getting access to do their job have been well recorded by these contributors. Possibly, the areas behind the barriers were also fenced so the organizers could allow access only to those with overpriced tickets. Amazingly, there appeared to be no spectators on the balconies of buildings around the circuit - hinting at obsessive security and a possible evacuation of these apartments and homes. Events like the cycling road races present a great opportunity for local people to get a glimpse of an Olympic event and line the roads "Tour de France style." It's a known fact that in most Olympic cities, only a very small percentage of the population get any sight of the events at all - mainly due to excessive ticket prices.
I noticed that the same thin crowds seemed to apply to the rowing events too. The bleachers were almost empty for the heats, except for a gaggle of people at the start/finish line. If there are that many seats going spare, why aren't they offered to the public at low prices to bolster attendance and give less well-heeled folk a chance to see the games.
I know that a "History of Great Greek Cyclists" would be a very small volume indeed and maybe the locals simply weren't interested, but there must be some valid reason why everyone stayed away from the road cycling events. At least we had worthy winners and hard-fought races.
After witnessing the frustration of certain athletes in Athens this past weekend, I am left wondering why the Olympic road race is run as an individual event. The basketball players, for example, are not made to abandon the team-based aspects of their sport and play one-on-one. As in any other road race, it is not possible to win without support. This leads to a variety of bad situations starting in the selection process.
Granted, Olympic selection will always be controversial if your country has more than a few professional caliber cyclists. But restoring the team aspect of the event would allow selectors to base their selections on more consistent criteria. The Tour de France selection process shows that this setup can also lead to controversy. But just look at the US basketball team to see the effects of selection based purely on strong individual performances.
In order to win the race as it is currently run, riders must either have the support of their compatriots, or the support of their trade team teammates. Both strategies are unsporting if the race is run for individual glory. The problems with the trade team collusion are more obvious and were highlighted by the all-Telekom podium at the Sydney games. But if the race is an individual event, then sacrificing your medal chances by working for even a fellow countryman violates the spirit of the race.
Just as in relay events, or baseball, or softball, why not give medals to all the members of the team that have worked hard and contributed to their team's victory? Is the IOC unaware that cycling is a team sport?
I find it interesting that the reports on Van Moorsel and her headaches have not commented on the possibility of a concussion. It is one thing to race or ride with aches and bruises; it is a completely different story to ride with a concussion.
August 19th story 'Van Moorsel beats the Pain' reports: "Van Moorsel finished the race with a "terrible headache" that came on about 10km into the race, and aching all over from her injuries."
Its been further reported she's been experiencing headaches ever since her accident in the road race, where it appeared she had been hit in the head from behind. Viewing television footage, she clearly was dazed after her fall.
Her reported history, complaints, and mechanism of injury certainly would make me entertain a possible diagnosis of concussion. Ride with aches and bruises from a fall and one would be at minimal risk for further injury.
Return to play (any physical activity) too soon after a concussion and symptoms such as headache or worse, depression, fatigue, dizziness, etc. return for a lengthier period of time. Return to play with a headache or any symptom that hasn't resolved from a concussion and one risks Second Impact Syndrome. Another blow to the head could cause brain swelling and death.
Marc Silberman MD
It seems like many of the riders have done extremely haphazard jobs of covering certain logos on their bikes and helmets. Tyler Hamilton covered the side logos on his helmet, but not the front. Ditto for Julich. All of Eki's are covered. O'Grady's bike is taped over, etc. Then there's Michael Rogers on a bike that is obviously not a Time, but has laughably bad Time decal on the down tube. What gives? Is this a national team sponsorship thing? If so, how odd that they do it so inconsistently.
Besides being a fine moment for American cycling, Wednesday's Olympic time trial should also be seen as another vindication of Bjarne Riis' skills as a team manager. I don't know what his methodology is, but he has almost without fail been able to take riders who are talented but under-accomplished -- or, in the case of Julich and Voigt, seemingly well into decline -- and turn them into champions. Hamilton, Sastre, Piil, Jakshe, Basso, Voigt, Julich... the difference is almost always night-and-day. Call it "the Bjarne Bounce," or "the CSC effect." One can only wonder what would have happened by now if Ullrich had swallowed the pay-cut and signed on in late 2002. Why every young talent in the sport is not pushing and shoving like crazy to get onto that squad is beyond me. Michael Rogers, are you listening?
Health Net's John Lieswyn had just finished a grueling 50-mile race last Saturday in Kansas City Saturday when the call went out over the PA asking for volunteers. Several youngsters who had been watching the Cliff Drive Classic all day wanted to ride the 2.5-mile circuit race course themselves.
Lieswyn, his jersey sweat-soaked and face still coated with road grit, was one of the first to roll up to take the eager cyclists on a lap. I witnessed a similar sight in July at the Cascade Classic in Bend, Oregon, when U.S. Postal rider Antonio Cruz and several Webcor Builders riders took time out of their pre-race preparations to do a lap of the criterium course with youngsters on bikes and three-wheelers.
Bicycle racing needs more true ambassadors like Lieswyn, Cruz and the Webcor Builders riders to "pass the torch" on to young enthusiasts. May we never forget the roots of the future of the sport.
My bike has developed the 'hippy-hippy' shakes. Last weekend whilst sprinting for the finish line (great sit on the second wheel) at a club race the 'wobbles' hit so badly I had to stop pushing, sit and pray I am not collected from behind. This was pretty scary as that particular piece of bitumen was very ugly blue metal. Speed was about 54kph and the finish was gently downhill.
I couldn't see anything obvious. Nothing loose, no flats, etc.
Called into my local (trusted) shop for closer inspection. Walked out with a new Campag Record Head set, new bars and stem (much stiffer). Next morning on training ride this new front-end felt great, particularly sprinting and climbing.
The bad news came this morning on another training ride where on a similar rolling downhill section and pedalling hard (58kmh). Wild speed wobbles again. This time lucky not to be collected by traffic (in fog) coming up behind. Not impressed and a little scared!
Can you offer any advice as to what dynamics are causing this? Both times, in the drops, pedalling hard, slightly downhill. Bike is only 6 months old, custom built Columbus steel. What the **** (hell) is going on? I would appreciate your help as I am not convinced more new bits are going to make a zak of difference to this particular issue.
Riding around 350 - 400km per week including a club race on weekends. I accept that falls are a part of racing/training but not like this surely?
Thanks in anticipation,
I am a 16 year old cyclist from Brisbane in Australia and pay a lot of interest in the European season, especially the world cup events. I am sick of some people involved in cycling who think that the TDF is all there is in cycling.
I was watching the Olympic road race and the commentators were beginning to annoy me because when ever they saw a rider and started to list some of their achievements it was always something like 'had a good tour this year', 'did not ride the tour this year', 'has won 4 stages in the tour' and various other phrases that give the viewer the idea that the professional season only has one race.
I understand that the tour is the largest race, but there are a lot of other events worthy of being mentioned. Occasional they listed one or two World Cup events but it was never as often as the TDF.
Lance Armstrong is undoubtedly the most well know cyclist in Australia and USA. I just wonder what the public (most non cyclist) thinks when he only deems one race in a calendar of over hundreds worthy of training for. He obviously races other events but they are part of his plan for the TDF and not really for trying to win.
I became interested in cycling though the SBS coverage of the TDF, but I became a lot more interested and began cycling when I started paying close interest to the great one day races such as Milano San-Remo and Paris Roubaix, and also watching the amazing mountain passes in the Tour of Italy.
If cycling is to become a major sport in my country (Australia) then I think that the public needs to be aware of other events that exist.
I agree totally with Russ Howe (CSC tactics, August 3). While I'm sure Basso is a very nice guy, the tactics (presumably issued more from the management than Basso) of helping US Postal chase down Ullrich's break was boring and negative - NOT because "he's Jan" (as Lee Diehr suggests) but because Ullrich was putting pressure on Armstrong (whom we all know always considers Ullrich the main threat). By attacking Ullrich, CSC demonstrated that they had no belief in Basso's ability to challenge Armstrong overall and were settled for second. As usual Armstrong won the psychological battle by convincing the others that they were only riding for second. Although we had expected he might find it hard this year because even his tactical sense might struggle with the sheer number of potential challengers, in fact, due to injury, illness and negative tactics, it was all rather comfortable for him.
I think this is Bobke's mis-hearing of the word. An exhaustive search of on-line Yiddish dictionaries point to the word "shmeggegie" (shmeh-geg-gee) which means a doofus, an idiot, a silly, foolish dolt. A hapless fool who's maybe not quite playing with a full deck. There's a whiff of emotional instability about such a person. Sorry, I think 'shmenge' is made up.
With the fitness and speed that Armstrong was carrying at the end of this year's Tour, arguably the best condition of his life, I am saddened that he did not immediately attack the Hour Record, because I think he could have beaten Boardman's record (assuming he knows how to ride a "conventional" track bike). Alas he has probably already lost that keen edge that he had, a missed opportunity I think!
Le Tour has now been dominated by time-trial (individual and team) results for many years!
This was (partially) recognised by ASO who responded by their time-loss limitations in the 2004 edition and they received almost universal condemnation for their actions.
How about some drastic (draconian?) changes to bring back the excitement and drama to the race.
1. NO radio or telephone communications to/from team cars and the riders on any stage. The team captain and riders will then have to "manage" the breakaways and other actions on the road, on the day. (CSC team car would have had to driven up to Jens Voigt to pull him back!) I realise that teams will then probably try to control feedback by having radio/phone contact with helpers further up the roads but this would be less advantageous than the constant contact curently happening.
2. Individual time trials will be no longer than 50km and TTT (since they really are only for "effect"?) no longer than 30km with no time-corrections/adjustments or penalty-limitation.
3. Time trial start-order will be reversed and maillot jaune (maillot jaune rider's team in the case of TTT) is first rider, 2nd on GC (2nd on GC's team in TTT) next etc. Now the leaders have to ride pro-actively without feedback from team-members regarding road conditions. Additionally instead of "time-loss control" (as 2003 when Jan Ullrich crashed, Lance Armstrong was told and thus rode "conservatively" to maintain his time advantage without risking a crash) these riders will have to maintain their own schedules.
3. Limit teams to 6 or 7 riders and these must have raced for at least 25 or 30 days in France during the January to June of the year of this tour and completed 6500 km in those races (NO start and ride to the end of the neutralised zone to meet the 25 or 30 race requirement). The race would then have far more events which could change the results (as in the Olympic Road Race which is always described as a lottery).
4. Prevent motor-cycle photographers etc from being closer than (say) 25 metres from front of riders. Too often they are trying to make their photos more dramatic by extreme close-ups etc making them dangerous to the riders instead of providing photographic records of the events. Many times in recent years they have actually caused accidents (unintentionally) and this has created the drama and news instead of being in the vicinity to report the news.
Give us back le Tour and let's see who the thinking, skillful and capable riders are!
I disagree with Kurt Larson when he says that "The idea that weight equates to safety is goofy". Much to the contrary. By enforcing a minimum weight, the UCI is removing the incentive for manufacturers to try and achieve the lowest possible component weight, at the expense of safety. It is not for the UCI to decide what constitutes a safe handlebar, or a safe stem, or a safe pedal axle, or a safe seat rail, etc... The UCI has no expertise on such matters. It trusts that the manufacturers, who have such an expertise, will allocate weight and safety margins rationally.
It is a pity that cyclists are so obsessed with component weight reduction that they are willing to take a chance on unproven components from obscure manufacturers on the basis that they are lighter than proven designs from major manufacturers. Unless a superior material or design is used, weight reduction is always achieved at the expense of the safety margin. I wonder which portion of the lightweight components higher price goes to pay for liability insurance.
UCI Bike Weight Restrictions #2
Sorry but the UCI certifying components for safety really is the daftest thing I've read in ages. The point that K.B. was making was that these pieces need to be handled carefully; that in the fight for light weight, ease of use and installation was going out the window and that if pro mechanics could do a faulty installation, what happens in the hands of the average mechanic/DIY freak who doesn't have a quality (if any) torque wrench handy?
We all know sombody who's cracked a carbon seat tube by over-tightening. Now with carbon steerers and carbon handlebars this can be catastrophic if not noticed in time - not a weight problem but an installation problem that looks likely to be more frequent as the use of these materials grows. The product is fine: it's the human element that's causing problems, you can test them to destruction and then somebody leans on an Allen key a bit too much and...
Maybe common sense will break out and this rush for new materials and lower weights will slow down. I doubt it, as most people will still prefer to buy a bar that's 50 grams lighter rather than shed that kilo (or three) that they gained during the winter.
As for the minimum weight, I thought this was brought in to try to keep costs under control for the lesser, 3rd division and junior teams. Remember these rules, like those for soccer, apply for all UCI sponsored cycle events world wide not just to us here in the affluent west (and Australia of course). That some of the rules are just plain stupid - diamond frames, no monocoques, wheel size etc - is a question best left for later.
Barry R Taylor
Our winter night time training group was pulled over for breaking the speed limit between Porchester and Havant (Hampshire Southern England) in 1962 having been tailed by a police car for some time. No ticket was issued though.
Pedaling furiously #2
As to getting a speeding ticket on a bike - I've managed to get pulled over by Plod twice for speeding, but was given a 'talking to' rather than a ticket. One was in a speed trap at the bottom of a steep hill, apparently I was doing over 40 mph in a 30 area (my pre-computer days.) I do know that I was overtaking cars and thinking that the on-coming cars were flashing at me for being dangerous. The other was when I was riding around Aldershot (home of the British army) and got pulled over by the military police. With an Irish surname, that's scary.
Pedaling furiously #3
As regards getting a speeding ticket on your bike, I understand that the speed limits in the UK strictly only apply to motor vehicles, not pedal cycles. There are still laws about "cycling dangerously" or some such broad term, but riding, say, above 30mph in a 30 zone would not per se be a breach of the law. It's up to the individual copper to determine whether riding at this speed would be considered "dangerous".
Pedaling furiously #4
In response to Tom Weller's letter ('Pedaling furiously' August 9th), I'm sure someone else knows the details better but there was a story about a year ago of a top British cyclist (I can't remember who) being fined by police while out riding in Cambridge. He maintained that he was not breaking the 30mph speed limit but apparently he was charged under the "pedaling furiously" law which seems to allow police complete discretion to judge what they consider furious, irrespective of speed.
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