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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 14, 2004
After dominating most of the domestic racing in the US for the last three years or possibly more (with the exception of one year in which Trent Klasna dominated) isn't it about time that Chris Horner returned to Europe? He did not like being a domestique on a French team, but hasn't he proved in some way shape or form that he is stronger than that, and at least ought to be racing on a division one team, possibly an American one? I understand that he is happy being able to commute home on a regular basis, but should not he have some inner drive to realize the great potential that many though he possessed years ago? After all, at the recently completed Tour de Georgia he hung tough with the best and brightest from Europe in all phases of the race. I understand that many were using the race as training and a test of their skills, but he still defended his title quite well. He finished third and was clearly not overmatched, losing only a minute on GC overall.
Robbie "The Brisbane Bandit" McEwen proves himself more masterful at understatement than sprinting when he concedes that "maybe I'm not the nicest sprinter around".
I'm not a fan of McEwen's to begin with, but his sprint in Stage 1 of the Giro was terrible. The television pictures clearly showed him moving across the full width of the road, from right to left, when there was no reason for doing so -- other than trying to menace Petacchi and other sprinters into submission. If you can't win with your legs, don't try to win by endangering the health and livelihoods of others.
The sad thing is that McEwen is gifted enough to win in a clean sprint, as he showed in Stage 5 -- and in the best of his sprint victories at past grand tours. Lay off the intimidation, Robbie.
I look forward to my postage cost going down. Can anyone tell me that part of my 37 cents per letter was not going towards sponsoring this team. This team raced in Europe. How would a US Postal sponsorship benefit someone in Europe or whatever country outside the U.S.
Yes, I look forward to the next sponsor.
US Postal stops sponsorship #2
Maybe USPS is pulling the sponsorship because they feel the end is drawing near on 'their' team. Lance would not have too many years left in him now one would think and USPS has reaped plenty of airtime from Lance and Co.
Maybe USPS is pulling the sponsorship because they are struggling too and cycling is not in their business. Just a thought.
US Postal stops sponsorship #3
Who would the fans nominate as sponsor? Bud sponsors too many sports already (Nascar, drag, bobsled etc.) Microsoft sponsors a yacht (more costly than cycling). McDonald's, Target, USA Today? Remember, you need more than money. You need a company who wants to expand in Europe. Also, as one CEO told me, a sponsor who wants the perks. A CEO who wants to tour France, a sports fan who wants to hang out with Lance in the off season.
Can anyone tell me what is the minimum seating required to qualify a velodrome facility to host the World Professional Championships? Also, what would be the minimum seating required for the Olympics?
The UCI site lists just about every other requirement including the tunnel. This specification also is not to be found in Schürmann’s excellent Project Guide Velodromes. Any information that can be provided will be most appreciated.
Its nice to see that some of the helmet companies have finally caught up with the rule changes and are providing their sponsored teams with aero helmets. Now the question is when are these helmets going to be available to us mere mortals looking for those extra seconds. Of the two (Limar and Louis Garneau) that I have seen available, the Louis Garneau is plain ugly as it looks like a child's helmet and the Limar is not too great either. Hope I can get my hands on a nice one soon.
Bob Vermeulen's letter about Lance's Olympic goal is spot on. The gold medal for the time trial, previously won by Jan Ullrich, would be a fine feather in his cap. But let's face it. Jan showed us all some very impressive dedication and results last year.
He did the hard dance up the climbs without much support, on a new team that was not of the caliber of the USPS. And he did it without the methodical prep routine that is allowed to Lance. He ALSO showed us that he can do recreational drugs, alcohol, have fun, still wrestle with his weight, AND kick some ass in the Tour. In modern day and old school cycling, that also is a champion.
A different Wheaties box? #2
Or, maybe, hopefully, Armstrong is preparing (either consciously or not) for an attack on the hour record.
A different Wheaties box? #3
One problem there. How would Lance become the first person to keep his best condition from early July through the Olympics? Three weeks is an abnormal stress on the body. David Millar will be training and peaking just for this event. I think Lance will certainly medal in the trial. He would be smart to consider an hour attempt right after the tour and strike while the iron is hot. The old style bike hour would be a good target for Lance. If Millar would commit to the hour, it could spark other attempts.
A different Wheaties box? #4
Bob may be right, and I'd love to see Lance add Olympic gold to his six yellow jerseys. I got to see LA close up in the Tour de Georgia, and the guy's on form. I think he's unbeatable this year. Julich, Hamilton and others are having great seasons. Ullrich looks like a non-event thus far. In 2000, Lance made a mistake by missing a feed, and it cost him. He came back the following year, juked Ullrich out of his chamois, and won his most dominating Tour ever. Last year, he made mistakes again. I think Big Tex learns well, and I don't think he'll make mistakes this year. The Postal team looks stronger than ever (Landis' victories early this year, Hincapie's strength, and the power of some of the newbies) and I think Lance is at peak form. Looks like number 6 is in the bag - so on to Athens may be a good strategy to close out a stellar career.
For those that want to poo-poo Hincapie's results in the spring classics over the years, label him over-rated and generally call into question his real status as a Classics contender, there is one particular statistic worth bearing in mind. Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle tried doggedly for years to close the deal on Paris-Roubaix with only modest, albeit consistent success. It wasn't until he was 39 years old that he finally claimed the cobble, and just to make sure people remembered, he did it again the very next year.
This was after summers spent in the service of LeMond in the Tour on a team which could hardly be considered a classic specialist team such as the Mapei of their day or Quick-Step today. I tend to see Hincapie as a similar rider to Duclos in many ways, especially in terms of his longevity. He could very well be riding the cobbles till he's near 40, and anyone who writes off his ability to bring home at least one major win by then does so at their own peril.
George Hincapie #2
Everyone likes to bash Postal for only focusing on grand tours. A few things need to be considered before voicing this criticism. First, Postal fields a strong classics team every year. Top 10 at Roubaix every year for the last 5 or so years, with two appearances on the podium. George and Max van Heeswick are always in the bunch gallop at San Remo. Second, an American sponsor expects results at the Tour de France. The Tour de France is the only race that would get an American cyclist mainstream recognition in his home country.
Aside from this, other teams have seemingly singular foci. Quick.Step focuses its guns on the classics, especially the northern classics. Virenque's attack on the polka dots are not exceptionally supported. Domina focuses all its efforts for Cipollini. T-Mobile is focusing all its guns for the Tour, but will probably let Zabel ride to go for the green jersey.
Yes, Postal does focus on the Tour, as would be expected from an American division 1 team, but, they have, at least for the last 5 years, achieved their paramount season objective. George Hincapie has expressed his satisfaction about riding with Postal and has stayed despite offers from other teams. If he was that unsatisfied, he most likely would have left by now. But he hasn't. What right do we have to criticize if he is happy?
Let the man make his own decisions.
I agree with Mr. Beckford in part. Ullrich is a beast. Every year he competes in the Tour he does well. However, second place in the Tour is not an excellent result if you could have been first. Armstrong has said that he thinks Ullrich is the most talented rider in the pro peloton. I think Armstrong sincerely means this. This is evidenced by the fact that Ullrich can come into the Tour under form, often overweight, and still place second. I doubt Armstrong could do the same. Armstrong has to dedicate himself 100 percent to win. Anything less and he would not win, and probably not be able to get second. The point is that fans of Ullrich get frustrated with what they see as an unfulfilled talent. I think Ullrich's track record shows us that this is the case.
Juan Ureta (UW Cycling Team)
Jan Ullrich #2
I find it hard to believe that people (fans) can possibly think that top riders like Jan and Co do not know how to prepare themselves best for a particular event. I am sure Jan has a plan which he is following, the same as Lance and all the other contenders. Personally I hope Lance does it again, but have a sneaking suspicion that Jan will surprise everyone and be a major threat to Lance. Who will win, is impossible to say - to much can happen over the 3 weeks. Lets say “It isn’t over till the fat lad(y) sings”
You forgot someone when discussing Lance's competition: Hamilton. I'm pretty confident there will be two Americans on the podium in July.
Jan Ullrich #4
I am also fan of Jan Ullrich but for me it looks like amateurism that it is possible on top level cycling that you can not control your shape in the way that you are able to ride a programmed schedule!
I mean T-Mobile is a big team with many top riders and they work for sure with doctors, trainers and all the equipment necessary to bring their riders on time in top shape.
It looks like Ullrich is surprised about his poor shape! A rider with a little experience knows if he is good enough or not on a certain moment.
Not only did Skip ride for Navigators in the late 90's but he was on the fledgling IME team (IME-Bolla and IME-Healthshare depending on the years) in the early 90's, duking it out in the 1992 Tour du Pont. His teammates in the race included American McCormack brothers Frank and Mark and the Irish McCormack brothers Alan and Paul. They were all very active in the race and showed well for a domestic pro team. IME was one of the teams that helped grow the domestic racing scene. Perhaps Skip was being a bit modest in simply stating "ex-pro" but he's definitely been out there on the bike and has raced the biggest races a non-Euro pro could race.
Sheila Gaffney, PTMS responds with what I feel to be a very optimistic opinion regarding returning to recreationally competitive cycling following Total Hip Replacement (THR). Her advice regarding proper gearing and mounting the bike are among just a few of the things this man will need to consider.
Proper seat height, stem height and handlebar position are others, as the important thing to remember here is that he is going to have to use caution to limit relative hip flexion during the pedal stroke. Hyperflexion above the recommended 90 degees can occur during pedaling or while in an aerodynamic tuck.
My advice would be to first and foremost find the right orthopedic surgeon. Ask the MD to explain the different approaches that can be taken to do the surgery. By this I mean, what muscle and tendons will be cut to put in the THR. Which approach will sever muscles key to pedaling? Which approach will allow you to utilize as much hip flexion as possible without risk for dislocation. In short, tell the MD what your goals are and pick one who has done the appropriate surgical approach many times before and who may even let you talk to a former patient with similar goals.
I believe the gentleman's goal to be quite lofty and probably not conducive to a THR lifespan of 20 years but I have been surprised many times before. Another option which just came to mind is to make sure to ask the MD whether a THR is necessary or just a "hemi" or femoral head "resurfacing."
David Rous PT, OCS
Tom, I think the fact that his young son (7 maybe 8 years old) rode the first lap with him; that it's called the 'Afscheids Criterium Johan Museeuw'; that the 'race' report reads as follows: "There could only be one result in such a race, and the Quick.Step team gave Museeuw a textbook leadout for him to 'win' the bunch sprint" clearly lays out that it was a farewell event.
Perhaps something like what was used at the 2003 El Tour de Tucson would work for you:
Chip Timing System for results will be used. A computer chip will automatically record your time as you cross the Finish Line. (Note: Your start time is "gun time" at your event Start Line line and NOT the time you cross the Start Line) You will be issued a chip band at El Tour Bike Festival which will record your ride time. El Tour staff will collect your chip at the Chip Corral once you enter the rider chute. It is your responsibility to make sure your chip is removed! No Chip, No Results, No Time. Also, we will still be using the original pull tag system as a back up results system so you MUST have the tag on your back rider number pulled when you enter the rider chute at the Finish Line.
Due to the small number of races, the combinatorics is rather simple. I will enumerate one of the possibilities, the others are very similiar.
For the seven races suppose a rider had for the seven races (in order) a W, W, W, L, ?, ?, ?; where W = win, L = loss and ? = either. However, this is not quite correct, one the the ?s must be a L to unsure there is not a three in a row block at the end of the classics. This yields a probability of 0.15^3 * 0.85^2 * 4. Where the 4 comes from the four possible ways that the remaining two ?s can be made of Ws and Ls.
If we shift the three consecutive Ws through the season we see that there are 5 more possibilities (all fortunately contain the same factor of 4). We are left with the probability being 20* 0.153 * 0.852 = 0.049.
This number is way too high. We seriously need to consider the sanity of assuming the probability per race is 0.15. This assumes that there are roughly 7 people who are equally capable of winning and no others can win. It is humorous to consider this as there are seven classics. Therefore, there is a semi-implicit assumption that the seven people who win the seven classics in a year are the only ones capable of winning, which is clearly wrong
Davide Rebellin's remarkable feat #2
The original email on Rebellin seems to have spurred a mathematical debate. Steve is a long time collaborator of mine (he's my brother), and he is getting at the right thing. However, his math skills are a touch lower than mine. His combinatorics are off. He posted a probability of 4*0.15^3*0.85^2 for a streak of the form W,W,W,L,L,?,?,? which is not right. We can't just use a multiplier of 4 in this calculation. The final 3 question marks can either be three L's (one way to do this for: 0.85^3), or 2 L's and 1 W (three ways to do this for: 3* 0.15 * 0.85^2), or 1 L and 2 W's (three ways to do this for: 3* 0.15^2 * 0.85). Summing these up yields a multiplier of .996625. It's actually simpler to use complements for this calculation, but we'll save that for another time. So it turns out that the calculation is a touch less intuitive than Steve makes it out to be.
Now July is coming quickly, so we should get back to the great Lance, Jan banter that I look forward to every week.
I love your website. There is no better source when it comes to inside information about riders and races, interviews and live coverage and photos. Therefore it is particularly annoying that your test of bikes and equipment is not at the same level at all. Your recent test of the Orbea Orca bike is a very good example. You rate it a maximum five yellow shirts - emphasizing the frame's "resistance to flex" and "rock steady" handling in descents. You even make a point of explaining the technical reasons for these outstanding characteristics of the frame in the initial part of the review.
In the January edition of the Tour Magazin - 20 different carbon bikes were tested - including the Orbea Orca. This magazine performs sophisticated physical tests of the frames and forks stiffness. Orca was rated second from the bottom of the list. The frame/fork was one of the least rigid and most flexible of all - easily surpassed by mainstream and much cheaper aluminium bikes.
How can you arrive at so different conclusions? Could it be that you were carried away by fancy good looks?
Niels Montano Frandsen
Cyclingnews tech editor John Stevenson replies:
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