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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Letters to Cyclingnews - June 18, 2004

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; please stick to one topic per letter. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.

Each week's best letter gets our 'letter of the week' award. We look for for letters that contain strong, well-presented opinions; humour; useful information or unusual levels of sheer helpfulness.

Please email your correspondence to letters@cyclingnews.com.

Recent letters

A thank you letter for USCF, USADA, AAA/CAS
LA Confidential
Green jersey dog fight
Iban Mayo's uphill TT bike
Museeuw doored - his fault?
Why thank Lance?
Will stage four decide the Tour?
Beloki's allergy medication
Discovery Channel kit
Does Zabel go?
Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong
Rochelle Gilmore
Tour-Giro double
Cycling and hip replacement

 

 
Letter of the week

A signed copy of Will Fotheringham's book A Century of Cycling is on its way to Anne.

A thank you letter for USCF, USADA, AAA/CAS

Dear USCF, USADA and AAA/CAS,

Thank you so much!

I cannot express enough joy and gratitude when I finally heard that Canadian cyclist, Genevieve Jeanson, was given a mere warning and small fine after she failed to show up for a drug test at the Fleche Wallonne race in Belgium last April. I have been following this with a lot of interest, waiting patiently for the outcome, as now you have granted me (as well as all women cyclists) a ďget out of jail freeĒ card! Now, I too can miss my next drug test of choice and get off with just a warning and fine. This has opened up my cycling future!

However, I am concerned that your punishments in past drug related cases have been quite subjective (Amber Neben was given only 6 months while Scott Moninger initially had 2 years, lessened to a year, and Brooke Blackwelder was given an 8 month suspension for the same offence). Just to be on the safe side I will have to hire on a lawyer to make sure that I am issued equal treatment with a penalty the same as Ms. Jeanson. Obviously, the only difference between us is her superstar status. We are both Canadian and we are both females. I would have to say that to treat one rider differently due to her talent and results is discrimination. Therefore, I strongly believe that I have a strong case to assure myself I will receive the same penalty as Ms. Jeanson. You have set the precedent for all women cyclists here in the USA and I cannot thank you enough for that. I have never in my wildest dreams thought I would be able to miss a post race drug test and get away with a warning!

You have given renewed hope that I just may reach some of my cycling dreams.

Sincerely happy,

Anne Samplonius (A Canadian, who may be applying for a USCF license next season)
Montreal
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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LA Confidential #1

After so many months of hearing about war, terrorism, murder, lies and hate, it feels like the bike is about the only place where we can find peace and quiet for just a moment. Itís the bike that brings us into this world where we escape "real life" and all of the problems that surround it. Cycling has allowed us to remove ourselves from what is constantly forced down our throats as important information. I can no longer turn to a news station and see what is right with the world, I can only see what is wrong. There is so much beauty in life but we are blinded by this popularity of violence and hate. For me the beauty in life is represented by cycling in so many ways. I, like most people, have a day job and can only enjoy my bike when Iím not working, which usually means riding a little tired or a little late. But I love it and wouldnít give it up for the world. When not on the bike, like most fanatic cyclists, my work time is distracted by CyclingNews live race coverage, cycling related conversation and staring at pictures of bikes that resemble works of art rather than a mode of transportation (obviously my productivity is sometimes weak). However, with any sport there are always problems and there will always be someone who wants to point them out. I donít know what makes people focus so much on the negative, whether itís jealousy, hatred, envy, or bitterness, but there is always someone who wants to take the good fortune of others and turn it into a reason to find something wrong.

In the case of "L.A. Confidential" I see a blatant attempt to make a quick buck on the conspiracy theories of others. It seems that Mr. Walsh and Mr. Ballester have put together nothing more than a collection of gossip and rumors and called it a book. What they donít know, or maybe they do, is that they are disgracing and insulting the countless number of people who look to these athletes for motivation, direction, inspiration and hope. The person who represents the pinnacle of these feelings is Mr. Armstrong, the man this book is directed against. I canít tell you how many people I know who have been motivated by what this man has done, how many people have changed their lives because his of courage, his will, his sacrifice and his work ethic or how many people have just started to love cycling because Mr. Armstrong introduced them to the sport. Why then Sirs do you want to take this away from so many people? What happens when someone who Mr. Armstrong has inspired to fight against their disease believes the words that your write? What happens when your theories and speculations ingrain themselves in the minds of those who donít know? Why do you want to tarnish this manís life and this manís career?

In a world that is filled with 24/7 live coverage of death and violence there is no room for a book on why we should hate what we love. Cycling represents so much to so many people and one book will not ruin it, but it may hurt it. I know this letter was not necessary for those who truly love this sport, because nothing can damage the relationships we have built. But for those who are unfamiliar with the sport, for those who have yet to understand why we spend six hours on a bike seat and call it fun, for those who donít know who Mr. Armstrong is, this may be damaging.

I know these situations pop up in life all of the time and I wish this was just another bad channel that I could change, but itís not. I think the world has enough of this hateful speech and itís time to move on. So get on your bike, get on some good miles, get ready for the Tour and go Lance!

Aaron Kenney
San Francisco, CA
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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LA Confidential #2

So, David Walsh is at it again! Well, hardly surprising given his record in recent years. Walsh himself has admitted the book, "LA Confidential - The Secrets of Lance Armstrong", proves nothing. This being so it must be the strangest 'exposť' ever written since ultimately, by the author's own admission, it manages to expose nothing. Well, that's maybe not entirely true, it perhaps exposes authors and contributors as mean-spirited individuals intent on character assassination.

The only secret that really matters is the one known to everyone who knows anything about cycling, that Lance Armstrong is a clean athlete - as he says himself, the only thing he's on is his bike - for up to eight hours a day.

The best response to this book would be, in my opinion, to ignore it, to refuse to buy it, don't even insult your parrot by using it to carpet the cage.

Andy Anderson
Bangor, N.Ireland
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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LA Confidential #3

So here we go again. Not content with hounding one champion to an early grave, we're onto the next one. From what I can gather so far, the forthcoming book about Lance Armstrong should be called: "LA Confidential: Gossip, Rumours and Lies." How on earth can a book like this ever get to print? The co-author, David Walsh, has even admitted that all of the content is "circumstantial evidence" - come back when you've got something concrete. It's just vindictive and damaging - surely the people responsible for this book could better channel their efforts in the battle against doping?

Richard Jenkins
Swansea U.K.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

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LA Confidential #4

What a disaster!

What are we, as true believers in the sanctity and purity of the unmatched efforts of the professional cyclist to do with the information David Walsh is excreting at our feet?

I, for one, loved Marco's crazy emotionalism; his caution to the winds lifestyle, his seeming devotion to the unmatchable tradition of self-denial and suffering that was created by riders like Bartali and Coppi. I was stunned and horrified by the news of his fall...

I, for one, love the story of Lance and its perfect fit in the tradition of the greats. It is a story for the ages, it is the stuff of legends, it is what people truly mean when they talk about Role Models; just that most people use that term in a negative sense now, when they speak of sports figures who have let us down.

There is no doubt that drugging is present, if not widespread, within the peloton. To disbelieve that is to stuff one's head into the sand. But must we believe that ALL upper ranked cyclists are drugging?

"It's all circumstantial evidence" Walsh says, "We don't actually prove anything." This is journalism on a par with L'Equipe's article about Armstrong's positive test for a muscle rub that turned out to have been approved by the UCI beforehand, except they just forgot to mention that wee little part about the approval.

I would expect more from the National Enquirer.

What are we as the average cycling nut to do about this? I must say that I live in a kind of nebulous, shady, half-world where I believe completely in Armstrong's self-avowed drug purity; I HAVE to believe in this; but yet I listen for the half-imagined sound of the other shoe dropping.

If it does fall, I think I would be done with Professional cycling forever.

Is there no way to clean the ranks? To purge the Peloton? To prove to the world once and for all that the players all start from the same line, ride the same course and finish based on their merit?

Whitney Wyatt
USA
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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Green jersey dog fight

While I can't wait for Armstrong, Ullrich, Mayo etc to battle it out for yellow, I am really starting to get excited about what is shaping up as an excellent battle for green!

Here are my views on what I think will be one of the most hotly contested jersey's in many a year.

1. Petacchi - The obvious favorite if he can make it to Paris. He showed in the Giro he could hang on and the mountains coming late this year will give him a sniff of the Champs Elysťes. The Tour is ridden at a different tempo though - Verdict - elimination.

2. McEwen - Will chase points throughout the flat stages, weak team - Verdict - be there but fall just short

3. Cooke - Defending champ and still improving, seems to be climbing well and should hang on okay in mountains - verdict - Top 3

4. Zabel - Ageing master, will struggle without team support, verdict - out of contention long before Paris

5. Boonen - Can be a big factor if green is one of his objectives - verdict - mystery man

6. O Grady - Perennial contender, new climbing ability means he can hang on when other sprinters are dropped and gain valuable points - Verdict - this could be his year

7. Hushovd - My dark horse if his new sprinting prowess has not come at the cost of his hanging on in the climbs (worrying signs in the Dauphine) - Verdict - Be right in it come Sunday the 24th.

There may be some others I have overlooked but irrespective this one promises to go to the final sprint with perhaps 4 or 5 still in the running.

Brent Graham
Johannesburg, South Africa
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Iban Mayo's uphill TT bike

Can anyone explain why, given the UCI weight floor of 6.8 kilos, one would bother to mount a magnesium stem and carbon bars, drill brake handles and pulley cages etc., without first going for much lighter wheels than the ca. 1.5 kg Ksyrium SSCs? Of course, Mayo's relatively heavy wheels certainly proved to be no hindrance compared to Lance's custom carbon, but I have always been led to believe that rotating weight is of prime importance. Presumably the Euskaltel and Orbea people couldn't have known in advance that Mayo would beat Lance by almost two minutes, so why not give him every advantage?

Michael Friend
Switzerland
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

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Museeuw doored - his fault?

I take issue with a couple of things you said about the Museeuw dooring incident.

"Proving that it can happen to any of us..." implies:

1) That none of us are vehicular cyclists. Getting doored can only happen to someone who is riding in a door zone. Vehicular cyclists are trained not to do that.

2) Cycling skills are cycling skills, and if Museeuw, who is obviously one of the most skilled cyclists in the world can get doored, than anyone can. But cycling skills are not cycling skills. There are racing skills, and there are traffic skills. I see many local racers ride in traffic like they are a child, not like a skilled adult vehicular cyclist.

"As they used to say on Hill Street Blues - let's be careful out there."

Saying to be careful is fine, but being more specific, like "take care to stay out of the door zones out there, and take a bikeleague.org Road 1 course if you haven't already", would be a little more useful.

Serge Issakov (who is not an instructor)
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

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Why thank Lance?

When I was in the sixth grade, one kid was by far the fastest sprinter in the county, beating his nearest rival by 10-15 yards in a 50 yard dash. By the eighth grade, we were asking our coach why he had slowed down so much and no longer dominated as he once had. His reply: "He hasn't slowed down, you guys have just caught up with him."

Last year's Tour was the fastest on record, at a time when there began a chorus of "Lance is slowing down." Maybe he is slowing and maybe he's not, but on Thursday, Lance rode Mt. Ventoux three seconds faster than his previous personal best, while Iban Mayo was thoroughly trouncing him by just shy of two minutes. Dr. Ferrari reported that Lance's performance was "exactly the same" as his '99 Ventoux effort, while Mayo and Hamilton's time and VAM exceeded it.

Perhaps on top of the list of things Lance has done for the sport of cycling is that he has set an "impossible" standard and dared other cyclists to step up. Assuming that drugs are not a part (I don't believe they are) of the achievements of riders who are currently beating him in the mountains and time trials, their growing palmares in difficult stage races lie, at least in part, at the doorstep of Lance Armstrong.

Yes, Lance is aging, but so is everybody else. At age 30 riders often declare themselves to be coming into their best years. Maybe 32 isn't the maximum age to win the Tour anymore that people have suggested (such as Indurain). If Lance could ride the fastest Tour at age 31, why is only one extra year considered such a ceiling? Armstrong has provided the example and the motivation for riders like Mayo and Hamilton to outstrip his results and raise the ceiling.

Frankly, I'm surprised that Lance was able to dominate the Tour so thoroughly from '99 to '02. It seemed to take four years for cyclists to wake up and realize that to win the Tour these days is a year-round enterprise. (Even Ullrich now scouts out coming Tour stages, something he steadfastly refused to do until now.)

This brings us to another prickly point; that is, the complaint that Lance is a one dimensional rider (and won't take on the Classics consistently), whose palmares relegate him to Tour status only. In the first place, riders have for years dedicated their training to peak for one race: the Tour. Indeed, Indurain began doing this over a dozen years ago. Lance has just refined it. And Lance has been competitive in the Classics. (The notion that Indurain, for one, was a superior rider to Lance often astounds me. Take a look at their results in the Classics - one victory each, Lance with eight podiums (six seconds), Indurain with one, not to mention their Tour results and the manner in which they dominated - just who is the one dimensional rider?)

Never before has the gap between those who win grand tours and the one-day riders who dominate the Classics been so glaring. The last time a Tour winner won a World Championship road race in the same year that he won the Tour was 1989; even more flagrant, for a Classic win in the same year as a Tour victory, 1981! And it would be hard to argue that Tour domination is not a tougher road than prevailing in the Classics (riders have won Classics into their 40's as recently as 1993).

Some would say that Lance's approach is not progress. It's intoxicating to harken back to the days of Eddy Merckx, by whom we will always measure all riders. But the criterion he set, winning any and all races year 'round (Dr. Ferrari explains in a recent interview why riders of the past were able to dominate so thoroughly), would be impossible today; I think we can agree on that point. So if single-minded, year-long, gut-wrenching training (and attention to detail) that would kill most people, with remarkable results at the end is not progress, then so be it. As long as the Tour de France is considered the pinnacle of cycling (can there be any doubt about this?) one must admire what Lance has accomplished and be thankful that he has set such an unimaginable standard.

In a sidebar, I hope that the American public continues its love affair with the Tour de France when Lance decides to depart cycling. But sadly, due in part to the American public's front-running tendencies, it's unlikely, unless other Americans can stir up the kind of attention Lance has delivered. Although Americans' participation in cycling may be on the rise, the apparent dearth of interest in competitive stage racing (the now-defunct Tour de Trump and Tour du Pont are good examples) continues, notwithstanding the Tour of Georgia this year, which benefited from an abnormal year for Lance. It's hard to imagine that kind of success in any event on American soil should he choose not to make it a yearly priority. But we can hope.

Wes Baki
Green Mountain Falls, CO
Sunday, June 13, 2004

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Will stage four decide the Tour? #1

I can see Joe Coldebella's point -- that arbitrarily limiting the TTT losses of a weak squad like Euskaltel could give its strong riders, like Mayo and Mr. Z, the "unfair advantage" of being able to ease up during that stage, and of limiting losses that they would otherwise have had to take back in the mountains. But to me the bigger unfairness is that a brilliant cyclist like Mayo can be penalized 2:30 just because he rides for a weaker, less well-rounded squad. I believe it was Merckx who pointed out that it's money that makes the most difference in the Team Time Trial.

I'm unhappy with this year's TTT compromise too, but only because I think it shows that the stage should be mothballed once more. My dad, a defender of the TTT, says that it emphasizes the fact that cycling is a team sport. But don't the other 20 stages do that already? It's hard enough for a rider from a weak team to win the Tour without adding a multi-minute handicap on top.

If Armstrong wins #6, it should be because he is the stronger rider, mano-a-mano, on the road stages. If someone bests Armstrong in both the mountains and the ITT this year, it will be by a slim margin -- quite possibly smaller than the time this person has lost in the TTT. Ugh.

Sebastian Lecourt
California
Saturday, June 12, 2004

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Will stage four decide the Tour? #2

I think this stage could make all the difference. Armstrong is going to be getting attacked from everywhere in the mountains, Mayo is not that bad of time trialist, and if I am his team manager, he doesn't sniff the front in the TTT. Odds are and reality is, Euskaltel can not make up a minute on the Posties in the TTT to get under that 2:30 limit, they go out for a training ride that day, take the 2:30 hit, instead of 4 or more. The key for Armstrong is Beltran, Rubiera, Azevedo and watch Landis. If these guys are making good tempo, slow down the relentless attacks which are sure to come from every angle, Lance wins 6. BUT by very little time, especially with the late, long TT.

It will be worth watching for sure this year.

John Olsa
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Will stage four decide the Tour? #3

Yes, Iban Mayo obliterated the field in an ITT and immediately the question is raised if he shouldn't be awarded for the effort...

You're saying the time cutoff will bring an unfair advantage to a rider like Mayo. I disagree. The TTT included in the TdF in recent years have effectively served to dissect several riders from top spots in the final GC on an early stage of the Tour. I think this is much more unfair to riders of the smaller teams (like Euskaltel) that don't have the budget (like USPS among others) to handpick strong time trialists for the TdF starting line up. Sure, USPS should be awarded for their strong TEAM effort - in the TEAM competition! It should not decide the outcome of the entire Tour.

I'm sure that Mayo and others would be happy to be in a team composed of strong time trialists so they DON'T have to suffer the 2:30 time loss. However, the cyclists themselves don't have that much say in which team they will end up and the strength of that particular team. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the TTT having no effect at all on the individual rider's times, but rather only on the team total's. It's great fun to watch but when I sit down to watch it every year I can't help being worried that several cyclist's GC hopes will be obliterated simply because they ride for the 'wrong' team. I'm sorry to say it, but I have a feeling your argument would be reversed if USPS was a low-budget, weak time-trialing team and Euskaltel was the strong one...

Stefan E.
Uppsala, Sweden
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Will stage four decide the Tour? #4

If the 2:30 limit loss is a poor ruling, what about the "rule" of no TTT whatsoever? The stages and related rules are presented well in advance. All potential Tour winners have to prepare themselves and their team in order to best solve this 3-week maths problem.

Given that there have been tours without team time trials, I think Armstrong is more than happy to at least have this opportunity of putting time into Mayo and others.

Even though I am an Iban fan, I am also disappointed with the decision to limit the time losses. For one, a TTT is the visual display of cycling glamour and efficiency. Can you imagine a single-filed blue train flying past a group of orange-clad riders, 3 cyclists abreast, sharing jokes and listening to the latest Basque tunes in their ear pieces?

More importantly, I think all stages in the Tour de France should force cyclists to race. Having riders taking the day off during a time trial is no way to run the worlds most prestigious cycling race, and I think for this reason, this rule will not be extended to next years race.

The solution? I think a shorter route is a great way of still showing off a team time trial without handicapping the teams with a lesser budget, and hence, weaker team.

Finally, watch out for Phonak in this years TTT..

Conor Mahony
Johannesburg, South Africa
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Will stage four decide the Tour? #5

Interesting thought, although I must say that I'm in favor of the new rule, which imposes a 2:30 "cutoff" at the team time trial (TTT). While the whole idea of the TTT recognizes the critical role that a "team" plays, victory at the Tour (in my view) still comes down, and should come down, to the talent, fitness and determination (and a measure of luck) of the individual rider. As such, I think it is right to limit the damage that a weak team can provide to the Tour-hopeful individual in the TTT.

To that end, if the Posties are still dominant in the TTT and Armstrong picks up 2:30 on Mayo, good for him. If Armstrong cannot hold on to such lead in the ITT or other mountain stages for whatever reason, he does not deserve to win the Tour.

Shane Blackstone
Chicago, Illinois
Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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Will stage four decide the Tour? #6

Rules are rules, all the teams know the score going into the race. The directors can alter the make-up of the team to best take advantage of this year's course. For many years there was no TTT in the Tour. A counter-argument could be made that it is unfair to count the TTT for individual GC.

John Bertolini
New Jersey, USA
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

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Beloki's allergy medication

I sympathize with Joseba Beloki for his year of bad luck, and hope things turn around for him soon. It's a shame that his allergic condition has ruined his season, and it seems a bit draconian that the French won't allow him to use his medication. I'm not familiar with the science of performance-enhancing drugs, so what is the consensus? Does his use of the allergy medication give him an advantage over healthier, non-allergic riders? Could it be that his allergies have worked as an advantage for him in the past, allowing him to take medicine that makes him stronger than he would be without allergies?

Kevin McAuliffe
San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

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Discovery Channel kit

So now that the Discovery Channel has taken over from US Postal it's time to pose the most important question. What will the kit look like?

Let me venture my opinion and suggest that each member of the team take on the image of an animal, to truly promote the Discovery Channel angle. They will all have the same basic kit, embellished with their animal essence, similar to the goalie helmets worn by ice hockey goalies. So what should each member of team be represented by?

Lance: Lion - King of the bitumen jungle.
George: Giraffe - Tall and tenacious.
Floyd: Wild Boar - When focused can be devastating.
Victor: Panther - Quiet, gets the job done with maximum efficiency.
M Barry: Moose - Isn't he Canadian?. Sorry, cant do any better than that...
Azevedo: Cheetah - Smooth and efficient.

Any other suggestions?

Byron Davy
Australia
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

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Does Zabel go? #1

While the question of whether Zabel should go to the Tour is valid academically, it has only one answer in real life. Zabel will go to the Tour because he is German and a cycling legend riding for a German team. The sponsors would not allow team management to exclude him. Besides, without a lead-out train, any success that Zabel has on stages will garner more publicity than if he won with a train. I think the only question T-Mobile team management are asking, is whether they should bring a lead-out man for Zabel or let him fend for himself.

Gavin Linnett
Durban, RSA
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Does Zabel go? #2

Erik should be watching from the bar. The goal is to win the Tour and an in shape Ullrich can win; an in shape Zabel finishes 3rd to 5th in sprints. Why take him?

Chet Ritchie
USA
Saturday, June 12, 2004

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Does Zabel go? #3

Yeah not a bad point, but you've got to think about why Zabel would be going - to get "The Green" of course. Remember he has one this how many times, 5, 6, I can't remember, but he didn't win it by winning all the stages. He accumulated it by winning individual bonifications. The fact that he is also reasonable climber for a sprinter; he still manages to get over the mountains in a fairly decent time, gives him a far better chance at winning the stages, where Petacchi, Cipo, McEwen, Cooke etc. have no chance.

Sure he has lost his pure pace, but as long as he can keep battling it out, for the green, then T-Mobile, have surely got to take him. If he wins it, and Jan finishes not in first place, then T-Mobile have still had a very successful Tour.

Earl Sorensen
France
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong

I get a bit tired of all these predictions that Ullrich and Armstrong are the outstanding favorites for the Tour. Some go so far as to claim they are the only possible victors. How many pundits thought Ullrich or Armstrong would win in the weeks prior to their first winning Tours? How many thought Riis was going to win in 1996, or Indurain in 1991? How many thought Cunego would win this year's Giro?

The Tour is deceptive, because it tends to have periods of dominance, during which it seems easy to predict, successfully, that last year's champion will win again. But there can be no doubt that we are now close to that unpredictable point of "fin de rŤgne". And quite likely at the beginning of a new "rŤgne".

For what it's worth, my money's on Mayo (and has been since before his victory on the Ventoux). In fact, I fancy him winning the next three Tours, or five. By the way, here's Mayo's Tour and related history:

2000: Neo-pro, did not compete
2001: Did not compete (won the GP du Midi-Libre)
2002: 88th at 2:18:27 from winner
2003: 6th at 7:06 from winner

Matthew Bramley
Gatineau, QC, Canada
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Rochelle Gilmore

In the Tour, it is up to the rider (and the team) in the yellow jersey to control the race to retain the yellow jersey. This is much the same as the outgoing world champion, they are the marked person, people will attack and if that person wants to repeat as world champion it would seem to me that it is their responsibility to pick up the chase. There's my Canadian 2 cents ... which after conversion isn't worth a lot!

Byron Davis
Canada, Eh!
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Tour-Giro double #1

In response to Jon Garrett, who in his "book," can't say that Lance Armstrong is truly great until he rides a Giro-Tour or Tour-Vuelta double, he and anyone who might be like-minded ought to consider the implications of the cancer and its treatment Lance endured for extreme athletic endeavors. It's more than highly likely Lance knows his body better than anyone else, most particularly those of arrogant opinion, and that he has a finely-tuned sense how much can be demanded of it.

Another point about the double, even triple, is that in the days when the Vuelta was in the spring (moved from then in part, by the way, because of the draw the Tour duPont had), it was viewed as a training exercise with little status. The Giro was viewed as preparation for the Tour and not an end in itself. That is one of the reasons people were able to win a Giro-Tour double. Its organizers could even get away with cancelling a mountain stage so that Francesco Moser could beat Laurent Fignon! Nowdays, the Giro is a much more seriously competitive race. The Vuelta now can be a crowning moment for those whose Tours don't go well or those who use the Tour as preparation for the Vuelta, which has bumped the World's back much too far into the season, but that is another story.

Scott Phoenix
USA
Saturday, June 12, 2004

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Tour-Giro double #2

We keep seeing letters about how the Giro-Tour double is possible and these letters always cite the examples of Merckx and, Indurain as justification for its plausibility. Enough of this nonsense already; that was then and this is now.

Through 1994 the Giro could really be used as a training race for the Tour de France, and someone intent on winning the TdF could also take a serious shot at winning the Giro. The Giro traditionally started the third weekend in May and finished three weeks later, which meant it would end no more than three weeks before the TdF. I don't recall which ex-Giro or Tour winner said this, but I recall reading that someone with designs on the double could enter the Giro at 90%, ride himself into form and reach 100% towards the end of the third week, and that would be enough for him to win the Giro on GC. Since the TdF started three weeks later he could hold that peak just long enough to ride the TdF at 100%. But this is no longer the case.

I seem to be the only one who recalls that In 1995 the UCI rearranged the international calendar so the Tour du Pont could attract Euro fields worthy of its UCI status. The Vuelta was moved from April to September and the Giro was moved up by two weeks. It doesn't sound like a whole lot, but those two weeks made a huge difference when TdF GC contenders were deciding if they wanted a crack at the Giro.

As we all know peaks can only be held for maybe 6 weeks; under the current calendar someone entering the Giro at 90% and riding himself to 100% by the third week will maintain that level for maybe 5 more weeks - just enough to start slipping in the second or third week of the TdF. And the level of the Giro is so high that *nobody* can enter the Giro at 80% and expect to win (or even finish on the podium) by riding himself up to 90%. Sure, riders can still use the Giro as Tour preparation but they can't make a serious run at the GC in both races any more. If the TdF is their goal the best they can hope for is to start showing signs of improvement in the third week but no more.

Since '95, go through the records - except for Pantani in '98 you can't find *anyone* who finished in the top six in both. Plenty have tried and the only two who did half decently (Rominger in '95, 1st and 8th, Ugrumov in '96, 4th and 7th) were still relative non-factors in the TdF.

I know, I know - what about Marco Pantani in '98? Like many, I feel the results of that entire Tour need to be marked with an asterisk. Festina (with Alex Zulle, who had a serious chance at winning that race) was expelled, Abraham Olano (who had looked fit enough to challenge that year) crashed out, Kelme and ONCE pulled out, and one mountain stage was ridden as a protest so we have no idea whether Pantani may have been cracked if there had been more aggressive racing.

The bottom line is that times have changed, and unless the calendar is modified so the Giro and TdF aren't as far apart as they are now, the Giro/Tour double just isn't a realistic target for anyone. Not even the Lance Armstrong we saw in 2001 could have done it.

Jim Burlant
Mesa, AZ USA
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Tour-Giro double #3

You can't write a letter like this which includes the best cyclists of a previous era who have won two grand tours in the same year and not include Stephen Roche with his 1987 season. Of course to top of a year with two tour victories (both of which he won with the assistance of only one other Carrera rider) he went ahead and won the world championships too. A feat nobody has been able to do since and the only other cyclist to ever achieve such a feat was the cannibal himself.

Colin Canty
New Jersey
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Tour-Giro double #4

In a letter by Jon Garrett from June 11 letters section he states that, "He cannot be truly great in my book until he gets out there and does some other races and wins them." Before Armstrong started winning multiple Tours that he did race and win in other races around the world?

There is that little rainbow jersey that he won. Fleche Wallonne. 4th in la Vuelta. Several Tours du Pont, Dauphine, Tour of Georgia, and I'm sure that there are plenty of others in there that he's won over the years that we're forgetting. People are always obsessed with Armstrong winning the Tour de France, and that he hasn't won any other races. Open your eyes people. He has won other races throughout his years on the bike. He's finished well in other races over the years. He's not a one dimensional rider as most people have tried to point out. Over the last 5 years, yes, he has focused on the Tour and put most of his eggs into that basket. He's an American though, on an American team. Most people who don't know much about cycling know about the Tour de France. Most Americans are well aware that Armstrong has won several of them. That's what matters most in the American market. That's what matters to his team. That's what signs his paychecks. So that's what he does. He goes and wins the hardest cycling race in the world. Take a look at the career highlights from his website.

So let it rest. I'm sure that next year, after he wins #6 this year, he'll probably show up at the Giro and win that. Show up at la Vuelta and win that. Maybe throw in a few classics wins for you naysayers out there, and to round out his "one dimensional" results.

PS: Bear in mind, Armstrong, not my favorite rider. I prefer the classics guys.

Tom Arsenault
Chapel Hill, NC
Friday, June 11, 2004

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Cycling and hip replacement

This letter is in response to the inquiry on hip replacement and cycling.

I was in the same situation, I had leg perthes (a degenerative disease in which the head of the femur does not fully develop, resulting in a shortening of one leg). I was advised by my doctor to put off a total hip replacement until I was closer to 40. After years of taking Celebrex twice a day and a rapid quality of life, I decided to seek a second opinion.

I was an avid cyclist, both mountain and road. However, I had to "modify" the set up on my bikes to accommodate the 3.5cm difference. I was able to make up most of the difference by using a shorter drive side crank (10mm difference). However, I still suffered back and hip pain. So, at the age of 28, I had my hip replaced. It was a total replacement. The "cup" or socket of the hip and the ball of the femur are both cobalt chromium. I had the largest cup and ball used, to increase stability. My legs are now approximately even, less then 5 mm difference.

After 6-8 weeks of rehabilitation and months of building my leg strength back to pre-surgery, I am riding twice as many miles as I did prior to surgery. I also have virtually no hip or lower back pain. I highly recommend this surgery if needed. Sure, it takes some work to rehab and strengthen the operative leg. However, it will pay off in the end. I enjoy being on the bike now more then I ever did.

In short, go bionic.

Aaron Payne
Columbus, OH
Monday, June 14, 2004

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Recent letters pages

  • June 11 letters - Will stage four decide the Tour?, How Ulle will win this year's TdF, Climbers' Jersey, Rochelle Gilmore, Simoni and "the impossible", Cycling among top five tested sports, Rousseau's au revoir, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong, Giro, Does Zabel go?, Days of racing needed to prepare, Cunego's Giro victory, Chris Horner, Robbie McEwen, Cycling and hip replacement
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  • May 21 letters - US Postal sponsorship replacements, Chris Horner, Fred Rodriguez - persistence pays, Donuts. Is there anything they can't do? , McEwen's sprint, US Postal stops sponsorship, Soooper Mario, Jesus Manzano, Jan Ullrich, Orbea Orca, Trying to contact John Auer
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  • March 21 letters - Bjarne Riis, Radios, US MTB racing, WADA and Armstrong, The "World" Cycling Series, Doping, Iban Mayo, Armstrong's brakes, Fixing Cipo's problem, Max number of champions in a TDF?, Sean Kelly and the 1992 Milan-San Remo, The most fashionable men of the peloton, We're not sprinters, Jame's Diarrhea, Bobby Julich Interview
  • March 12 letters - Radios, WADA and Mr Armstrong, Speculation about Genevieve, Doping, Aero helmets, Brad McGee, Chubby Lance?, How many more have to die?, Iban Mayo, Lance's Performance, Marco Pantani - who is guilty?, Rabobank and U. S. Postal, There's more to life than sprinting, Tour without Kelme?
  • March 5 letters - Speculation about Genevieve, Brad McGee, Doping, How many more have to die?, Tour without Kelme?, Aero helmets, Chubby Lance?, Climbers and sprinters, Fixed gear, Mt Wallace climb, Stage 3 of di Lucca, TdF04 travel itinerary?, Tour de France 2004
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com