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Letters to Cyclingnews - February 2, 2004
Given the precedents mentioned in your report, Cofidis should not be invited to the Tour this year - what then for M. Migraine's support?
In my opinion M. Migraine would do better to say less about his current doping travails. After a good start in pledging support for his team, he would have done better to promise full co-operation and let the dust settle rather than wading in. In attempting to de-link Cofidis from the current doping scandal he has only emphasised the fact that the whole thing is centered round Cofidis, as well as stirring up more trouble in his remarks about Valverde and Millar.
It's one thing to think something, but giving interviews about your own employees just isn't good management. Maybe a quick phone call of apology would be in order?
I'm a Canadian located in Toronto, Ontario and I am looking to travel with any other Canadians, Americans, Aussies, Europeans (English-speaking?) who will be going to the 2004 Tour de France. I've already booked my flight and will be going to the Alpine stages. In particular, stage 15 finishing in Villard de Lans, Stage 16- The L'Alpe d'Huez ITT (how awesome will that day be?), and hopefully the Col de Madelaine (high point of the Tour) during Stage 17. And of course the finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
If the stages I'll be going to match the stages that you will be going to, I would love for you to get in touch with me. After all, who wants to experience the most crucial stages of Lance's quest for his 6th maillot jaune alone? Not this guy!
If you've got room for a cool travel partner or are in the same "going solo" boat as me, please e-mail me at email@example.com and we'll take it from there.
Lance's quest for immortality! Lance vs. Jan - Round 4! A never before ITT up the Mecca of cycling - l'Alpe d'Huez! Incredible!
The reason our American 24 hour races typically take less than 24 hours to complete is, simply, we don't have any time to waste.
You're looking at a culture whose existence hangs precariously on the speed of our fast food franchises, one-hour photo development centers, and "minit" (there's no time to correctly spell those long words here in The States) markets.
Why, just a few years ago we couldn't even abide watching an entire three week bicycle race on television. Sit and watch two or more hours of coverage every day for the better part of a month? No, no, no. For us, it had to be nicely condensed into a tidy little half-hour program. Most of that short half-hour was filled with shocking crashes and sweet podium girls. Now that's the way we like our sports; short, shocking, and sweet!
So you see, saving a minute or two in 24 hour MTB races affords us more time to for other truly American pursuits (hoarding oil, destroying the environment, forming and dissolving Division III cycling teams, what have you).
But Joe, the real reason is that Americans are just plain faster than Australians.
Oi, Oi, Oi!
24 hour race timing #2
In the 24-hour races I've done, the winner is the person, (or team) that does the most laps in 24 hours. If you are so strong and fast that you don't need the whole time to beat your competitors, they allow that. For example, if you finish a lap at 23:45 and have a good lead that can't be beaten, you probably don't want to ride another one.
24 hour race timing #3
The races that I've done (all in the US) have been on the basis of *completing* all laps by the given time (e.g., 24 hours). I assume that one reason for this is that it means that the race results can be fully known at the 24 hour point, which is certainly more convenient for the organizers.
The "traditional" way (based on the precedent of 6/12/24 hour auto races) is to require a lap to be completed *after* the time is up. Of course, auto racing laps generally take much less time than MTB race laps.... I can see potential problems in terms of how much time someone is allowed for completing their last lap. Presumably there has to be *some* limit, but how is that decided? What if someone straggled in after, say, 28 hours, and completing the lap moved them up a position (or kept them from getting disqualified)? (In the endurance auto racing world, I believe that the rule is that if you don't complete a lap after the 24 hours, you're totally disqualified, even if you completed more laps than anyone else. That seems pretty harsh for an MTB race....)
On the other hand, with the "US" method, you may well start your last lap not knowing whether it will count. I did a race last fall where my last lap was about 30 seconds outside the limit (for about a 40-minute lap). Ugh.
The same sort of situation as the Hong Kong race occurs in the post-Tour Criteriums around Europe. The winners of the various jerseys (yellow/green/white/polka dot) are expected to wear them and thus add to the spectacle, also it makes it easier to recognise the stars whom the public pay to come and see.
Strangely, while the UCI only allows rainbow jerseys to be worn in the event they were won in, the same does not apply to National Champions jerseys. Witness Erik Zabel in this year's Tour riding the TTs in his white kit with yellow, red and black band, when in fact Michael Rich is German TT champion and, if the same rules applied to rainbows were used, should be the only man qualified to wear those colours. The same was true of Paulo Bettini, Georg Totschnig, Jan Kirsipuu and many others.
I think it's a very valid rule that you're only allowed to wear your rainbow stripes in the event you won them in, there are so many World Championships out there that the RR champion, or Pursuit champion could have their achievement devalued by the presence of lots of other similar jerseys. Similarly, you wouldn't expect Simoni to wear his pink jersey in the Tour de France. The question is, should the UCI enforce the same rule for national championship jerseys? I think so.
While we're on the subject of champs, does anyone have any explanation for why some people (Jan Ullrich and Erik Zabel especially) don't wear their national or rainbow bans around the collar and sleeves of their ordinary team jerseys, as nearly everybody else does (Lance Armstrong, Stuart O'Grady, Johan Museuuw, Mario Cipollini and so on). I raised this point a while ago, but no one could offer anything, let's see if anybody can come up with anything this time.
To all cycling sponsors past, present and future.
Please, pay no mind to A. Bury's recent letter to cyclingnews.com deriding the use of your company name as title sponsor of a cycling team. I'm sure that A. Bury must have eaten a bit of bad meat, was quite ill and not in his true state of mind when writing this obviously misguided missive. If he was, in fact in strong health, Mr. Bury would have surely realized that if it were not for the invaluable contributions a title sponsor makes to a cycling team, then his favorite riders and teams would be ripping the legs off their competitors in the Tour de Industrial Park Criterium, instead of the Tour de France.
I personally love saying the Navigators Insurance Cycling Team and if I ever have an off-shore oil rig to insure, my first call is to their headquarters in New Jersey. I am, however, currently saving for a home, and when I have the money for down-payments and closing costs, I'm surely going to sign the contract with a Prodir pen, mail it to the bank with a US Postal stamp and I sure as heck am going to look into getting a Berry Floor installed in my kitchen.
So thank you corporate sponsors for keeping our sport going strong! I look forward to reading every last syllable of your name every time I see one of your sponsored riders breaking legs on the Outdoor Life Network television station.
Team names #2
I agree wholeheartedly with A Bury on the team names issue. Surely having 'traditional' team names such as that used by the Mapei teams of the 90's is far better. We had Mapei GB, Mapei Quick Step, Mapei Bricobi, etc. US Postal Service Berry Floor would be a perfectly acceptable team name. A few years back Berry Floor were the co (presenting?) sponsors of Lotto, and the team then was called Lotto Berry Floor with not a mention of any presenters. If it was acceptable then, why not now?
I partially agree with A Bury about the increasing length of corporate team names. But, to go further, I'd really like to see ALL names removed from team names and uniforms. Some American football and baseball teams are owned by corporations, but they don't put their logo on the uniforms or ensure that they're identified in the team name. Yes, they do splash that name all over the stadium. I'd like to see some of this marketing removed from cycling some day. I'm not holding my breath.
Raymond F. Martin
Team names #4
I would much rather take the time to read these team names if it gives the sponsors the exposure they need to justify supporting our sport. I'm disappointed Cyclingnews.com would elevate this sentiment to Letter of the Week.
Team names #5
Well here's the bottom line: it got your attention didn't it!
Lance said he is still looking for a spring (April) training location with a lot of long climbs. I would like to suggest he consider Southern New Mexico in the Sacramento Mountains. It is one of the best kept secrets in the nation because it is a summer play ground for rich Texans. The mountain range is about the size of Kosovo and has a number of long and difficult climbs ranging from 5 to 40 miles and varies in altitude of 4,600 feet at Alamogordo to over 12,000 feet at Sierra Blanca. That I can think of off hand, there are at least 10 climbs of ten miles or more just in the Sacramento Mountains.
Some of these include the 12 mile climb between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft, the 14 mile climb to Ski Apache, the 17 mile climbs (2 choices) from Ruidoso to Apache Summit, the 40 mile climb from Hondo to Apache Summit, a valley south of highway 70 where you drop down in and have to climb 14 miles out either way with almost no traffic, two ten to 12 mile climbs from Mayfield to Cloudcroft, the 23 mile climb from Hondo to Ruidoso, and numerous lesser climbs of from 5 to 10 miles. We consider anything smaller than five miles a roller. :-) The grades consistently range between five and 12 percent.
There are also plenty of recreational activities in the area including shopping, tourist communities, hiking, camping, fishing, boating, horse racing, golf, hang gliding, streams, and lakes in April. The area is beautiful and is home to the Lincoln National Forest, Mescalero Apache Reservation, White Sands National Monument and close to Carlsbad Caverns. It is also the stomping grounds of Billy the Kid and other bad guys. There is a lot of history and culture here.
Our weather in April is very nice Spring weather consistently in the 70's and 80's with very low precipitation (rain and snow) because we are a high dessert with the Sacramento Mountains (pine forests) reaching high above us. In an area the size of or larger than most states, we only have about 100,000 to 150,000 people with a variety of roads and low traffic. Ruidoso, Cloudcroft, and the surrounding area are used by west Texans as a hidden get away and play ground during the summer so that traffic will be low during the Spring. There are places here where, even during the summer, you can ride half an hour or more and see one or two cars. We have good roads and most roads have good shoulders.
The people here would welcome a professional racing team and you would be treated very well. I have lived, trained and raced in a number of areas from California to New York and this is the most rider friendly place I have found. They are very nice country people.
There are a number of nice, local communities he could chose from as a base of operations. These include Alamogordo (about 25,000 people at 4,600 ft), Tularosa (about 8,000 people at about 4,800 ft), Ruidoso (about 8,000 people and tourist resort at about 7,500 ft), and Cloudcroft (about 3,000 people at about 8,600 ft) plus even smaller towns and villages including some summer camps that could be leased by the team. There tends to be plenty of empty lodging in the area in April. We have very clean, thin air which will be good for lungs.
Personally, I can't think of a better place to train and love it here, especially after ten years of coaching bike racing in California.
A word of warning though, your riders need to know that if they drop into some of those valleys and can't climb out, it could be quite a while before a car comes along to give them a ride out. There are roads where you may not see a car for over an hour, easily. Great view while you wait, though.
As an ex-pro motorcycle road racer and ex-bicycle racer I have to say the cornering aspects of motorbikes and bicycles are NOT a lot different.
The goal in both is to maximize the traction your tires provide. ALL tires offer traction, no matter how narrow they might be.
I advise clients joining us in Italy for CycleItalia vacations to be relaxed and comfortable on the bike. The single most important skill I try to impart is something I learned long ago from my old pal Keith Code, who later went on to write A GEAR HIGHER - The Bicycle Racer's Handbook of Techniques. I don't know if this book is still available but its worth reading if you can find a copy. (ISBN:0-9650450-0-5)
His point was that the human eye can only focus on a fixed point in the distance. If you try to "sweep" your vision as you ride along you'll find that you can't do it, the eye must focus on something.
By looking far down the road and focusing on what Code calls "reference points" along the way you'll find that everything sort of slows down, no matter how fast you might be going.
This works at 40 mph on a bicycle just as well as it worked for me at 150 mph "backin' it in" to Willow Springs raceway's turn eleven on my AMA Superbike.
Tom. All your points on cornering are true. My beef is with your interpretation
of Beloki's crash. A rear tire will not roll off. Fronts yes but not rears.
His glue was probably soft due to the heat and extreme braking he was putting
his rims through. A lock-up of the rear wheel precipitated by the hot tarmac
or sudden realization of the proximity of the corner, could cause the tire to
blow and then become dislodged from the rim. But not the rolling off scenario
How to lean in corners? #3
Aki Sato has the right idea about how leaning the bike more than the body allows quicker adjustments. Another good reason for leaning the bike is in terms of force on the tire/rim contact. When leaning your body more than the bike you take the direction of your force on the ground out of line with the bike and put a tremendous amount of torque on the tires, pushing them lateral to the wheel. When leaning the bike more into the turn you effectively line up the direction of greatest force and push the tires in line with the wheels. This allows less chance of rolling the tire (whether clincher or tubular). If nothing else, look at it this way: the bike is the object turning, it is just taking you with it.
The best advice is to try it both ways in various conditions and stick with what feels most secure and efficient. Many will be surprised that leaning the bike will make cornering much quicker and help maintain momentum efficiently.
Unless he has grown another set of ears on his neck, it is just the shadows that make him look like a Brochard look-alike. Although quite funny, I don't need any flashbacks to when my hair looked like that!
Mullet time again? #2
Me thinkith tis merely a shadow of times that should be forgotten.
Mr. Griffin makes some interesting statements about what we should be watching for in the Tour '04, but doesn't say who will be making these moves he predicts. That's 'fish-in-a-barrel' prognostication. Tell us exactly who is going to be the big news in the Alp d'Huez TT and I'll be impressed. Say what you will, but there are only two guys we'll be talking about UNTIL someone else shows the mojo to get it done.
Raymond F. Martin
It seems that my recent letter has caused a lot of comments from many people. That was the idea!
First I would like to say, as you all probably noticed that I'm Ullrich fan; but that doesn't mean that I'm anti-Armstrong or something like that. I'll be the first to recognize that Armstrong deserves his five victories in the Tour more then any current rider; not only for his past fight against cancer and his amazing comeback but also because he wanted it more than anyone, including Ullrich. He attacked, he suffered, he wished it, he deserves it more then anyone (you know what I'm talking about if look at his eyes or his face when he attacks). That's what drives him and that's his greatest strength.
But let's take a look at the facts: Armstrong is getting older (none of the previous five time Tour winners had won six, especially at Armstrong's age - he would be the first, in an era where cycling is more competitive than ever before); Ullrich is coming to his best years and it looks that finally has grown up mentally; he comes with probably the strongest team in the peloton and looks motivated. If we take a look at last year, Armstrong's best performance (Luz Ardiden) we see that he only took 40 seconds out of Ullrich and for what I realise if the climb would go on for longer it would take even less or lose his advantage. I haven't seen that face of pain on Armstrong for a long time, not even in his amazing performance on Mont Ventoux 2002 on a very hot day. He was clearly suffering a lot to win that stage in Luz Ardiden. And I think that shows the difference between him and the others, he wanted to win the Tour more then Ullrich and that drives him up; he wanted it more then anyone and that made the difference.
Has for the dehydration issue, bodies are different form person to person, that's a fact; but all the riders did the same course. Ullrich did it faster and wasn't dehydrated, that's also a fact. Another fact is that Armstrong doesn't like hot days (maybe we saw last year why) that's a weakness compared to Ullrich. Dehydration comes from a deficit between the liquids lost and the liquids drunk.When a person exercises at an intense level the breathing rate goes up and you lose even more fluid as water vapour; you lose more liquid from sweat and the energy consumed in the muscles also causes even more loss of liquids. If the losses are not compensated dehydration comes.
Now taking a look at the time trial, it was a hot day, Ullrich was very strong, taking a lot of time out of Armstrong; Armstrong losing time, trying to compensate his losses takes it a bit too far, to a level that he can't really handle and the deficit begins. Dehydration is not a disease, it his a consequence of a deficit that happens when you took your effort to a level that you can't cope with. It happens the same with me. I'm not a professional bike rider, I just do it for pleasure. But it also happens to me in a very hot day, in a comparative lower level.
Tour de France 2004 #3
I love what's in store for the TdF in July. So many riders can look at 2003 with pride and encouragement. That's what we want so they train viciously hard and maximize their potential and give us some good viewin'. Some letters disparage or criticize this or that rider. Frankly, I see nothing but positives in everyone. Steve Greene in the Jan 27 letters crisply summarized Armstrong's positives: he definitely suffered -- you can quibble the details -- but prevailed.
Ullrich: Out of cycling for more than a year and did so well in the 2003 TdF. Highly respected by his chief competitor. You gotta think he's motivated and believes in his upside.
Hamilton: Suffered like a dog in the Giro two years ago; suffered like... well, he set the new standard... suffered like a Tyler in the 2003 TdF and finished fourth. He's got a Lancealike team to fight for him (he lost time on some key mountain stages in 2003) so he's gotta like his upside.
Beloki: Knows he had the goods in 2003. Has a team dedicated to him. He's gotta be motivated as well.
Mayo/Zubeldia/Leipheimer: Nothing but upside to get THEM out of bed in the morning.
Only Vino seems to have less reason to get out of bed and really suffer in training since he gets to do George/Eki/Floyd duty. Lance's 'mates don't win stages for a reason and neither will Vino. Maybe he gets the Vuelta bone.
Around the globe, right here in New York, Patrick Jonker had two fans rooting for him every step of the way, as he made his way to a very impressive ending to his pro cycle racing career at the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. It was great to read the reports daily and to read his diary, which gave us insight as to some of the things that went on inside of his thoughts.
My wife and I rode with Bikestyle Tours for the centenary 2003 Tour de France, and on that wonderful journey we got to know Patrick a little. Also with Bikestyle Tours is Neil Stephens, who Patrick thanked in his diary. Stevo and Patrick both spent some time with ONCE, and once during the Tour, Stevo took a bunch of us over to the ONCE lodgings on a rest day, where we met Manolo Saiz and the team (minus Beloki at that point). Stevo was also fun to be on the bus with when his little daughter called him on his cell phone, and Dad dispensed some invaluable strategy for a bike race she was undertaking. Later, he got a call with the results, his face and his smile lit up with pride. It was a memorable moment, especially when I later read that Stevo had played an equally invaluable role for young Australian Michael Rogers on his way to his silver at the 2003 World Championships ITT.
After we'd seen the finale on the Champs Elysées and we were having our last dinner with Bikestyle Tours, our guide team gave out some parting prizes and did a lot of joking with and about each other. And Patrick was the target of a lot of the jokes, but it was all done in such a warm way, filled with a camaraderie of respectful peers. It made the whole experience unforgettable.
And so the win by Patrick, to cap his career, was one I rooted for as soon as I'd heard he was going to enter the JCTDU. My wife and I would like to thank Patrick and Stevo, and the team of men and women from Australia, for all the memories. Now when we see their names in the news we say "Hey, We know those guys!" May the future bring nothing but good luck!
Ralph Michael Emerson
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