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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 21, 2004
US Postal sponsorship replacements #2
Let the speculation begin...
I don't know, of course, who it will be, but I'm happy to suggest who I think it should be: NIKE.
Okay, they have already been involved in the organization, know what it's about, and have gotten loads out of Lance in US commercials. But, my experience suggests to me that Nike has significantly lower market share in Europe compared to their performance in the US. Nike's financial resources and advertising budget are staggering, they have shown time and again that they love a winner, and Nike already seems to enjoy hanging out with Lance and crew. I think Nike should throw about 10 million dollars a year (a drop in the bucket for them considering what they pay multiple individual US athletes in any given ESPN-friendly sport) at a team that can outgun even T-Mobile. Such a team should be fairly dominant and seriously help Nike push its ever-expanding range of cycling products (shoes, bib shorts, gloves, etc.) as well as general Nike merchandise in the U.S. and in Europe. But, then again, I'm an Ullrich fan--so maybe it would be better if they didn't.
US Postal sponsorship replacements #3
How about Bristol Myers Squibb? They sponsor Lance's Tour of Hope already and are a multi-national pharma-glomerate. Plus, their CEO is a big cycling fan. I've never seen a drug company sponsor a cycling team but since we have cement manufacturers, floor covering manufacturers, temp agencies, vacation bureaus, bakeries and jewellers, why not a pharmaceutical?
US Postal sponsorship replacements #4
I think a great sponsor would be Dell as I believe they are looking to improve market share in Europe. Dell also has a manufacturing facility in Ireland. Cycling sponsorship is cheap compared to all the flyers in mags they put out.
US Postal sponsorship replacements #5
Chrysler (or Dodge) would be an ideal sponsor as they at least claim to want to expand those brands in Europe. Too bad for Lance he's got that that Subaru deal.
US Postal sponsorship replacements #6
Perks? Though not a coffee drinker myself, I would nominate Starbucks of Seattle fame as a possible sponsor. People are absolutely nutty about everything cycling in this town. And I think it stands to follow the entire state of Washington for that matter. We also have some great little training hills called the Cascade Mountain Range and the wide open spaces of Eastern Washington for distance training. And a really nice collection of mild but challenging weather conditions!
Susan "just another race fan who would like to see some world class road racing
brought to this corner of the world"
I enjoyed Mr. Doug Lister's letter regarding Chris Horner, and to some point agreed with much of what he had to say. However, on the whole, I have to say, "No." No, a Euro pro team isn't going to offer Horner a leadership role after dominating the watered down American pro scene that last three years. Waxing the U.S. Pros all year and then beating the top pros in the world at most ONCE a year (T-Mobile) doesn't earn you a leadership role on Europe's biggest teams. (Just ask Danielson.)
And Horner has made it clear he isn't prepared to prove himself in Europe and earn his leadership role.
Horner beating up on the domestic pros is like Kobe Bryant dominating Division II college hoopsters, yet he continually whines about getting no respect. No questioning Horner's ability. But after all these years, racing domestically and abroad, he STILL doesn't have the maturity.
Fred has been National Champion as a junior as well as repeating the feat twice as U.S. Pro National Champion. He also had some famous second places at San Remo and Gent-Wevelgem in 2002. But I will always think of him as the tough, skinny junior with a steely glint in his eyes who would ride up Foothill Blvd. to Euro-Asia Imports in La Crescenta, Ca. and shyly whisper which parts he needed to keep his bike rolling. The road is long, eh? Congratulations to you, your team and Director Sportif from all your fans who have followed you from the start. Belle Italia!
These profound words were uttered by the great philosopher Homer J. Simpson. And as we approach the Tour, we understand how prophetic these words truly are.
Lance opens the season with a TT win in Portugal. Chomp.
Next he leads out a teammate in a field sprint for a win. Chomp. Chomp.
He then follows it up with a win in which he himself wins a field sprint. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.
And to top it all off he wins the overall title at the Tour of Georgia. Mmmmm Doughnuts.
I think we can put to rest the speculation that Lance spent his winter chomping on fritters and long johns. He’s ready for #6. Can we say the same of Jan?
The tour isn't won in the winter, but it can be lost.
I do agree [with Jack Beaudoin], Robbie can be a dangerous sprinter as everyone knows really, in a sport where the slightest miscalculation or error can have serious consequences he takes major risks but there is something I cant help but like about him. His grumpy, snarly looks on the podium (when he's not first) and his refusal to accept and believe he's beaten. Its this combative competitive streak that has got him to where he is in the sport. Its probably what gets him over those mountains which he so obviously detests and to be one of the worlds top road sprinters. I don't believe he would be what he is today without it. He would not of been able to get from Queensland to the Champs-Elysees without that dangerous but none the less fast finishing inner beast that he has within him.
I enjoy watching him sprint, I enjoy those finishes where he loses and spins his head around looking for the nearest official to scold the rider who he believes has taken him off his line. I don't enjoy seeing him cause a pile up or injury but I don't see that streak changing. When it does he'll probably retire. As a spectator its one of the reasons why I think cycling is popular and can set itself apart from other sports. Those personalities and the drama it creates. Keep it up Robbie (but be careful too).
McEwen's sprint #2
While Robbie McEwens tactics on stage 1 of the Giro may have been questionable, he is not alone in the use of biff and barge in an effort to win a sprint. Petacchi, the so called 'gentleman sprinter' has also been known to employ such tactics, as do Cipollini, Zabel... the list goes on. Sometimes these incidents happen deep in the pack, away from the scrutiny of the cameras, but they do happen. We mustn't get carried away when the tactics become more obvious and open.
If you are worried about McEwen using bully tactics to try to intimidate Petacchi, I say good on him. Have you seen the size difference between these two men? Robbie McEwen the Bandit? I say No.
Robbie McEwen, mighty mouse? Yes.
McEwen's sprint #3
I am a fan of McEwen’s as I like the spectacle of a hectic and chaotic sprint and he is a master of his craft. A street brawler who knows all the tricks. If he breaks any rules then he should get rubbed but short of that, why not have a go at intimidating others? He knows his way through a bunch better than almost anyone and rarely finds himself out of position or getting boxed (despite not having Cipo or Petacchi-like trains). And how many crashes has he caused?
The real sprinters should not only be fast but also should have an incredible amount of guts and nerves of steel. Petacchi is extremely fast but he even admits that he fears the scrap. And as much as I respect his gift for moving a bike fast, I think he is quite boring. At least Cipo has the charisma along with the speed.
If you want to see fast and pure speed without bumps or scrapping then go to the track and watch the individual pursuit. I for one wish there were more like McEwen.
McEwen's sprint #4
McEwen seems to have chosen the role of bad guy in cycling entertainment. Or maybe it just comes naturally to him. I know I love to hate him. His comments are beyond belief- he could have beaten Petachi head-up if he'd been there? He's not only contemptible, he's delusional. But it does sort of disappoint me that an anglophone turns out to be such an ill-behaved loudmouth. Richard Virenque has become tolerable by comparison.
First, again I will state that $8 million for sponsoring the team is pocket lint when looking at the billions of dollars that comes in and goes out of the US Postal Service every year. The money was, literally, advertising dollars. There's alot more being "wasted" by the service than that. Second, postal rates will never decrease. Anyone who actually believes that because the US Postal Service is ending its sponsorship that their cost of a stamp will go down...get a grip on reality!! That $8 million "saved" is going to line some exec.'s pockets. If 37 cents is too much for you, feel free to go to another country and mail a simple letter across that country for anything near the low cost of doing it here. Finally, the postal service is not in financial trouble, as some may believe. After only 2 years (post 9/11), it is back in the black again for this fiscal year. It's actually hiring again in certain areas of the country. "Watchdog" types just don't seem to understand that the service receives absolutely no tax money. It runs on it's own finances. It does not get bailed out (ex. the airline industry) when it is having financial trouble. Yet, it is still a government entity so that government officials can dip into its profits when it makes money.
I wrote in once before denouncing the postal service's decision to discontinue. Once again, yes I am a postal worker. I am also a huge cycling fan. I am torn between both my own disrespect and respect for the service. It makes seriously stupid decisions at all levels yet it is still the best postal system in the world. Personally, sponsoring the team gave me a little more sense of pride about where I worked that wasn't there before. Not all employees feel this way. Yet none could argue with how well the performance of Armstrong and the team reflected upon the service.
US Postal stops sponsorship #2
The tone of the letter makes it unclear whether or not there's tongue-in-cheek, but I guess we can assume the best. Otherwise, we're left with this amazing vision of someone's internalized outrage as he waits for postage costs to go down next year, anticipating some kind of beautiful and just economic cause and effect. If that sentiment and belief are for real, then good luck with that. Ironic or straight, it's a funny image, and I give the writer credit for putting it out there.
USPS gave eight years and won five - and maybe will end up with six - Tours de France. Their justification was to compete in global shipping and they chose cycling as an effective way to raise their international profile. That's not a crazy idea, nor is it something they need to do forever, it's just marketing. Yes, even government and quasi-government organizations market, and they do it with taxpayer dollars. Theoretically, the expense in marketing is justified in new revenue . . . right? Sometimes new revenue - or lost revenue - cannot be accurately attributed to new expense, sometimes the balance isn't right and a campaign is abandoned, sometimes campaigns have built-in shelf life . . . . Isn't that pretty much the way it works?
USPS was lucky enough to hit the jackpot when Cofidis choked, or they wouldn't have been in it for this long in any case. If it hadn't worked so well, if the team was merely pack-fill few would notice or complain, because both expense and results would be less. Given that there's a global - at least in the English speaking parts of the globe -- conversation going on right here about (or that at least contains the words) United States Postal Service of all things -- not to mention the ubiquitous presence of its logo in marketing for other sponsors of LA, including relatively well known concerns like Nike and Subaru, for goodness sakes -- suggests strongly that the strategy worked. Living in the US, I can't remember a time in my life until now when USPS had any positive associations with its brand - and that has always seemed irrespective of whether or not it did its job well.
However, shutting it down isn't bad for cycling or cause for outrage or disappointment or glee or even very much analysis. From a cycling point of view, it was just a really good run and it's over. Be happy for it -- or not -- and move on.
US Postal stops sponsorship #3
Why do people not understand that USPS has an advertising budget just like other companies? Will you expect UPS, FedEx, and others to lower their prices if they stop sponsoring events? Remember, the events these companies sponsor have astronomical costs. UPS, for one, not only sponsors individual racers but whole races! Do you think that’s cheap? Also remember, that the USPS’s costs on services are lower in almost every case over its competitors. And, most importantly, the USPS does not get any taxpayer funds (and hasn’t since the postal reform of ’72).
This may sound like I’m a postal worker, and you would be right. I’m a bike nut letter carrier. I got involved in racing back in the 60’s with Merckx & co. long before Americans were riding those strange bikes (the Stingray was popular then). When we took on this sponsorship I was elated. I’ve also been able to follow the Tour in person the last 4 and will be on the Champs for #6. (Oh, and with no company help —they did not give us any perks. Actually I felt like I should have gotten a ride when the team car just happened to stop in front of me on Ventoux 2 yrs ago, but alas, they were ferrying Robin Williams!)
I will say that I am sorry management has come to this decision. And, yes, it does look like they’re looking to a Lanceless future, but business is business. It’s a shame we couldn’t at least fund the US side of racing and leave the European side to a more well-heeled sponsor.
US Postal stops sponsorship #4
Just remember, U.S. Postal's main goal was to get a foothold in Europe for their Global Priority mail. It worked well. I work for the postal service, so I may be biased, but all successful companies advertise to increase their market share. We have received information as employees over the last few years showing that for every dollar spent, the USPS got five in return. Do you think McDonalds would lower the price of a Big Mac if they stopped advertising? I don't think so.
US Postal stops sponsorship #5
Jon Barker commented that he is looking forward to his postage cost going down. I wouldn't count on it. When talking to postal employees at the TDG they were very excited about their next sponsorship -- NASCAR. Don't know if it is true but these employees seemed very excited about it.
I know this might be beating a dead horse, but what the heck. As much as one can respect Mario Cipollini for all his extended dominance and prowess in the sprints, you do have to shake your head at his insistence upon parading around as though he’s the current world champion. In addition to the de rigeur stripes around the sleeve cuffs, collar, and gloves, he has them on his shorts and his socks and his shoes and his bike and his shoulders and his chest and his… (you fill in the blank). Doesn't it look as if he has enlisted Tonya Harding to design his outfits?
Sorry, Mario, it’s no tag; you ain’t it anymore. Last year was your year and what did you choose to do with your opportunity, I mean, outside of contact a designer for that spanky look? Move over, bub. It's Igor's year, not yours.
The reason I'm troubled by Manzano's comments is the way he went about it. He could have gone to somebody while he still had traces of meds in his body - he waited almost six months.
He could well have spent these months fabricating his evidence. He had enough time but lets say it's true. Why did he wait and then sell his story? It's like when W Voets waited six months before handing over evidence - in six months even I could write a convincing diary, so can you trust a man singing for his supper?
I want to see a complete and through investigation, but should teams and riders be punished BEFORE anybody's been found guilty on just one person's claims to the (paying) press? The UCI seems to have had it in for Kelme this year, what with one thing and another (remember the registration of riders, the team, problems?) so don't expect them to deal with this quickly - in fact don't expect any reply until the end of the year if then.
This is coming off of Chuck Scarpelli's letter. I must agree with Chuck, and his words made me realize that one main reason I have always loved Jan Ullrich is because although it is obvious he cares about the Tour, it is also obvious he is capable of living a normal life. One of the best pieces of advice I received in college was from a senior who told me "if you really have to try that hard, you should just give up" which by that he meant if you can't live a normal life (the college life is by no means normal...) and fulfill your duties at the same time, you should really take a good look at what your doing.
Jan Ullrich goes out and parties, he takes some drugs, he speeds in his Porsche with what, three girls in it? Then what does he do, someone tells him he can't focus, so he goes and gets second in the Tour, for what, the fourth or fifth time? I get the impression Lance pushes a lot of things aside in favor of the Tour, which I commend him for his dedication, but if you really have to try that hard, you should really take a good look at what you're doing. I finish this point with the declaration that I firmly believe if Jan lived the life of Lance (trained like him, lived like him) he would kill Lance in the Tour, but what does he do? What any red-blooded human should do; be a normal person once in a while.
Jan Ullrich #2
I wonder if Jan and Rudy are finally adding psychological warfare to their bag of tricks. Lance and Johan are masters at it. Maybe Jan is acting like a wounded duck to take pressure off himself and to lull Lance just that little bit (he knows that I know that he knows that...)
Watching the Lance Chronicles, you can't help but think Postal's strategy is to plant the seed that to win is hopeless because Postal is [supposedly] an unbeatable juggernaut with the best rider with the best dedication with the best DS and the most dedicated team with the best scientists. The message: "don't you wish you had a team as good as this?" One side feigns incompetence. The other side, the complete opposite.
Jan Ullrich #3
You are kidding me? So if Ullrich knows what he is doing, why does his DS freak out in front of the press about Jan's lack of form. Everybody in cycling knows that Jan leaves it to the last minute to find some form. He has changed his racing schedule 3-4 times this season and looks to me to be bigger than ever. Only this time he is carrying shed loads of muscle - which is a great deal harder to lose than fat. So, if this is his 'plan' I dread to see what he's like unprepared.
By the way, I happen to think is a fantastic talent. He just lacks the will power and drive to be the best. For the three weeks of the tour very few can claim they work harder but it’s the other 11 months of the year that count. And that’s why Lance is the best.
Jan Ullrich #4
Spot on Brad! Looks like Ty is in great form again this year and minus the pain of a broken collar bone, Ty will be a force. Also, don't forget about our other ex-postie Roberta Heras. We're not hearing much about him and don't be surprised if Lance has to grab his wheel in the Mountains.
I think it's safe to say after abandoning at Fleche and withdrawing from L-B-L, things have not gone to "plan" for Ullrich this Spring. That's not to say that he won't or can't get it together to race well in July, but there's more to this story than Jan's weight and preparation issues. T-Mobile is a deep team with more than one GC contender. It's hard to imagine that Vinokourov, who has ridden well this spring (including three stage wins at Paris-Nice and a podium finish at L-B-L) and finished on the podium at the Tour last year, is going to be all that happy to give up his own GC hopes to ride in support of Ullrich who hasn't gotten it done. And how do you even justify asking Vino to take a supporting role at the Tour when all we've heard from Jan in 2004 is that he knows how to diet?
Jan Ullrich #6
Put this in perspective... every year Jan goes to the tour in his present shape he gets second my 6 or 7 minutes. Last year when he was in great shape he nearly won. But if he thinks he can repeat last year's close result by repeating the mistakes he has made in the past (save last year) he is a fool. He may get second, but he will not get within 6 minutes of the Boss...
Niels has inaccurately correlated frame/fork "benchtop" stiffness with overall real-world function. The frame must certainly be stiff enough to transfer a rider's power effectively, but it must also have reasonable compliance and good handling characteristics. Those variables are not easily balanced in a design. And there's no engineering test which will measure all of that simultaneously. That you must decide for yourself. On the road.
Raymond F. Martin
Orbea Orca #2
I hate to do it but I've gotta' go with Mr. Frandsen on this one. I'm not completely agreeing with him because I've been referred to some very good equipment from your tests. Equipment that I love to death. I have not ridden an Orca so I can't say either way. What I'm going with in what he said is that other magazine reviews have specifically mentioned that the Orca is not particularly stiff. Recently Chris Boardman tested the bike for ProCycling Magazine and he agreed with you on the ride but made it a point to mention that it was not stiff. In your sites defense however, I will also mentioned that Mr. Boardman said he was really being picky.
John Auer (now with Somerset Wheelmen) and I trained together in 1956 for the Olympics that year and I've lost touch with him. My email is email@example.com. Thank you for much in advance or your assistance.
Scott Campbell (Lang), formerly with the North Hollywood Wheelmen
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