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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 31, 2004
The Giro has just ended and a new star, Damiano Cunego has come to the fore. Hats off to him. What is distressing is to read about Gilberto Simoni's behavior. Gilbo is acting like a spoiled, petulant child. Cunego reacted to a move in the race which his captain could not respond to and now he is whining. Simoni bragged in some cycling publications that he took off 3/4 months over the winter to get ready for the Tour de France. It was pretty obvious that he thought he could win the Giro with less preparation and then get ready to take on Lance. He gambled and lost - plain and simple. Gilberto, a word of advice. Take your medicine like a man and stop belly aching. Simoni was only three seconds behind Honchar. If Cunego had not emerged from obscurity then Honchar probably would have won. Like they say in Las Vegas, "You pays your money and you takes your chances".
What the hell happened to Pavel Tonkov? I remember the Giro he won many moons ago, his move to Mapei, his breathing problems, his Tour and Giro woes, his stage wins of the past few years, but now his real personality comes out!
I always thought he was one cool professional, a Russian among Italians who kept to himself, but could do great things on the climbs and in the time trials on their own soil. But now look at him. That long hair makes him look like a cross between Charles Manson and the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Whatever the case, the man seems completely deranged. How completely tasteless to flip everyone one (or no one in particular if you like) off as his stage win salute. Is that why he's in the sport? To zing everyone that "doubted" him? Look what that's done for Lance, though. Maybe resentment is more powerful than EPO.
With little fanfare from cycling reporters Serguei Gontchar won the stage 13 TT. As Dr. Michele Ferrari observed he averaged 53.4 km/h (33 m/h) over the last 22k. Ferrari also observed that he pedaled a low, 80-85 rpm, cadence. With that high speed, and that low of a cadence, he pushed a 56/11 over the last 22k... without shifting! Raw Power! That alone is an impressive feat.
I have been pleasantly surprised by his performance in the Giro. He has not been touted as one to win, but has been with the main group on most of the climbs. Seeing how he has been riding throughout the Giro I predicted that he would win the time trial and wear the Maglia Rosa. I was wrong by 3 seconds.
Gontchar is riding a fantastic Giro and I believe when it ends in Milan, he will stand on the podium. He is a fantastic rider who deserves more credit than is given him.
Timothy I. Applegate
With great interest I've been reading Dr Michele Ferrari's analysis of stage 13 in the Giro, especially his evaluation of the riders' power output on the flat part of the time trail. He states that "...the power output of the cyclist is related to the square of velocity" (as far as air-resistance is concerned). Just curious, but I always thought that the force (N) applied to a rider by air-resistance is related to the square of velocity. Power though, is force multiplied by velocity (N * m/s), so in my opinion is the power output of a cyclist related to the cube of velocity. If this is correct, the difference between Gonchar/McGee and Popovych is 7.6 percent and 18.2 percent between the Italian riders.
Frank de Vroome
It's customary for cycle fans at the side of the road to collect, search for and even fight over discarded bottles, musettes, caps and other junk discarded by riders and their teams...
Which deranged fan will be the one who scours the Giro route in search of Brad McGee's gloves?
Why the surprise about USPS becoming the express train at Languedoc? Thor speculated that the team was testing everyone else in the race during Stage 2, and others believe it's about Lance being hell-bent on winning the race rather than that old don't-mind-me-I'm-just-training story. Well, yeah, winning would be nice... but I'd be inclined to bet it's another Johann/Lance orchestrated race of truth to help decide who the other eight riders are going to be come July. Maybe I'm biased about Bruyneel and his approach, but he's too sophisticated a strategist to merely be looking for a vanity win here.
"Little" Robbie McEwen is a man I love to hate. But that is also why I like having him around. Without villains, there would be no heroes.
That being said, look under the dictionary under "little man complex" and you will see a picture of Little Robbie being turned away from the roller coaster ride at Walt Disney World because his head doesn't reach the sign. On the surface: like a mouthy, punch-drunk sailor. On the inside: oozing of insecurity about his Olsen twins-like stature. Kind of like a Sifer's Valomilk Cup... you know, those hard to find candy things that look like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, hard on the outside but have oozey marshmallowey goodness on the inside? Only Robbie is pure evil on the inside. We are talking love child of the leader singer of WASP and the drummer of Deicide. Wait, those guys are both dudes, but they do have long hair and they would bear awfully satanic babies... anyway, I am losing my train of thought... oh yeah, I love to hate Little Robbie.
Ever notice how, during his television commentary, Phil Ligget always refers to Robbie as "Little Robbie McEwen", never just "Robbie McEwen"? I think he does it intentionally just to piss Little Robbie off and I love every minute of it. I remember reading an article on Little Robbie in Cyclesport, wherein the minuscule Aussie says: "I'm just as big as Lance, only my shoulders aren't quite as nice." What? Why would Robbie even bring this up unless he himself was obsessed with his small stature? Not that there is anything wrong with being small. If you are small, be proud, don't worry about it- who cares? That is one of the great things about bicycle racing- small stature can be a huge advantage. It only becomes an issue because Robbie makes it an issue.
So, Little Robbie finally gets a stage win handed to him because Petacchi gets boxed in and Little Robbie, like a disease that won't go away, being the opportunistic virus that he is, uses Petacchi's lead out man as the host to launch his puny little mini-sprint. Then afterwards he goes and shoots his mouth off about how people should be talking about the duel between himself and Petacchi, instead of Cipo and Petacchi. Man, that guy is delusional, but in a way, it was great to see that comment - we need to have villains in cycling.
Have a Gd'day Mate.
Robbie McEwen #2
Being a Canadian and a hockey fan I just love McEwen. There's a spot for a lad with an attitude like that and no concern for his own or anyone else's safety on any team in the NHL.
I think the most important thing that USPS have accomplished is to make cycling interesting to young people. Supporting the health of youngsters is worth more than 8 million. Personally I'll miss seeing the American eagle fly high over the European mountains. It not only gives Americans and postal workers a sense of pride. Thanks USPS for letting the Europeans borrow some of that pride for a period of time.
As a sponsorship expert, here's my shortlist and reasoning behind the organisations vying for Lance Armstrong's lycra:
1. Krispy Kreme - they've already had a bite of the cherry on the pack of LA's publicity, and with ambitious European expansion plans, cycling could be a good bet for them. Although they may end up the fattest team in the peloton.
2. 118 118 - Brits will know what I'm talking about; expect the team to ride in pairs and for Lance to don a Zapata and a mullet.
3. Royal Mail - Let's face it, the Brits need to do a PR job on the continent and who better to take over than the UK version of USPS. However expect the team to strike regularly and steal thing out of other riders' musette bags
4. Shell - Confidence in this company is poor after recent board-room scandals, and a "feel-good" sponsorship is much needed. Not unfamiliar with cycling sponsorship, this behemoth will instil its brand values into the team, once they know what they are!
5. Dasani - Cyclists like water, and there is none finer than Coca-Cola's efforts to take on the big boys. Cycling Lance Armstrong and Co. will give them legitimacy, kudos and publicity - the trick is to get LA to drink the stuff!
Joshua Van Raalte
US Postal sponsorship replacements #2
I was thinking - just to rub salt in the wound - what about Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Creme taking over? Yes Armstrong has said he is partial to the odd doughnut, but no it has done b*gg*r all to slow the old man down. They could have a huge picture of a jammy doughnut on the back of the shirts which would be a kick in the teeth for Jan Ullrich. Storming up the Col de Madeline chasing Lance and having to stare at your biggest vice would be horrible. Although, letting Lance disappear into the distance might be harder to live with. They could even dust the shirts in a light coating of sugar just to tease Jan more. The only problem will be the whole team will want to venture back to the team car to pick up the supplies...
On a serious note, I would think that Lance being the hugely marketable commodity that he is, a replacement sponsor will be one that can benefit more from the association with Lance than the potential internationalization of there company name. Hence company's that are already widely known: Microsoft, Dell, Google (my favorite - can you imagine the kit?), Fed Ex, UPS. However, it should, and most likely will, be a company from the pharmaceutical industry. To them, Lance is like a folk hero.
US Postal sponsorship replacements #3
HAH! With all the drugs in sports stories, a drug manufacturer as a cycling sponsor is probably NOT a good idea (and I work for one of them).
Also, BMS , like plenty of other big pharma companies, aren't inclined to take on new costs right now!
Spencer J. Dech
US Postal sponsorship replacements #4
Susan of Seattle suggested "Though not a coffee drinker myself, I would nominate Starbucks of Seattle fame as a possible sponsor." Sorry Susan, Lance drinks Peets Coffee, much to his credit. Though I suppose if Starbucks threw enough money their way he'd reconsider (bleah) ...
US Postal sponsorship replacements #5
How about Virgin or possibly Target? Virgin's sponsorship would be a subtle way of the Brits sticking it to the French yet again, if Lance goes for #6. Target is certainly looking to expand but I don't know if their upper management is looking at Europe or not. Target store kit would be pretty slick!
Give me a break, that theory may be true for a recreational cyclist, but not for a professional who is being paid millions of dollars to ride and be a team leader. Lance Armstrong does what is expected of him by his salary and as a team leader, Ullrich does not.
Jan Ullrich #2
To suggest that Jan's string of second places in the Tour de France are somehow comparable to Lance Armstrong's, because he "has a normal life" is just a nonsense. The fact that Jan "parties and takes drugs" as you put it speaks for itself. I think that he is the one who needs to take a good look at himself and either start taking his sport seriously or give up. His sponsors don't pay him to do drugs! Lance has achieved enormous, undisputed success and has done this through talent and determination and incredible self-discipline and plain bloody hard work. You seem to think that Jan Ullrich is some sort of a hero because he does drugs. Maybe-e you need to take a good look at yourself!
I agree wholeheartedly with Brienne. This sounds kind of cynical, but cycling is a business as much as it is a sport. As much as the support riders say they are riding the race for the team leader, guys like Vino who have a legitimate podium chance have to be waiting for the team leader to falter so they can get the big contract that will set them up for the future. This is the biggest race of the year, and the team's success and future depend on doing well in it. I can see the T-Mobile team supporting Jan - up to a point. If he falters, most everybody will abandon him to support Vino and try to salvage a respectable result.
Todd N. Tuengel
Jan Ullrich #4
T-Mobile is going to be one of the best (if not the best) teams in this year's Tour de France.
If you look at Vino, Der Jan, Steinhauser, Savoldelli, Botero and Zabel. The other places still have to be decided on, but there are still very good candidates to fill them. I can think of Aldag, Kloden, Aerts...
And I think Lance shouldn't yet think of having won already.
Mayo, Hamilton (my favo), Vino, Basso, Zubeldia, Julich, Ullrich, Heras and a few others will be glad to take profit from the slightest weakness Lance might show.
Jan Ullrich #5
Here's my two pfennigs worth. Look at last year immediately after the TdF. Ulli was delighted to have come so close to Lance, even though he lost. He then said he couldn't wait to take time off the bike and kick back with his girlfriend, etc. etc. The Post Master General, on the other hand was unhappy that the race was so close, even though he won. In his interview he talked about how soon he would start training, and he knew he could do better, etc. etc. The loser talks like the winner, and the winner talks like the loser. I knew right then who would be better prepared for the '04 match-up.
Jan Ullrich #6
You forgot this though: "normal people" don't win the Tour de France. Like Tyler Hamilton recently said," You have to eat, sleep, breathe, live the Tour." By the way, this is what will put Tyler above Jan in this Tour. You heard it here first.
On the final stage of the recently concluded Vuelta Asturias Iban was trailing the leader by 49". He made up the 49" and won by 1'18". This was not a mountain stage. These stats are quite impressive and I've got to believe that both Jan and Lance have taken note. Iban's partner Haimer Zubeldia looks to be in fine form as well. With Tyler also going well, this is going to be one hell of a Tour.
Worst news for fans of the Tour de Georgia is that the count-down clock must be ticking on it already. "No Lance" will be "no race" within a couple of years. Tour de Trump/DuPont was another nice event, yet it still didn't have the staying power of the also now-absent Coors Classic/Red Zinger. If the US can get create an ASO-style organization that isn't depending on one single sponsor, then we have the potential to have an international-level stage race that will stay on the calendar for some time, for the sake of the fans. For the sake of the racers, amazing people will continue to put on events like the Tour of the Gila, which just finished its 18th year in a row. Nice to know the events that feed the future of the sport are here to stay.
Mr. Danek, you really need to read cyclingnews a bit more!!
"(being a top US pro)....doesn't earn you a leadership role on Europe's biggest teams -- just ask Danielson."
Did you miss the latest installment of Tom's diary on Cyclingnews? He is going to be riding the Vuelta as the GC man for Fassa! Not bad for a rook. He also explains that he's not at the Giro because Fassa came with a Petacchi-ized squad and won't be at the Tour b/c the team wants to give him a year to get his "sea legs" before throwing him in the Grand Boucle.
"(Horner's dominance in)... the watered down American pro scene... is like Kobe Bryant dominating Division II college basketball."
You know, I really HATE that attitude. Didn't you follow the excellent Tour de Georgia race call on Cyclingnews at all? Cipollini could BARELY eke out a stage win against those "lousy" US-based pros. He was beaten soundly twice by Gord Fraser and only grabbed his sole win thanks to Ivan Dominguez mistakenly throwing his bike at the wrong line (painted across the road 10m prior to the finish). As for Horner, he spanked Bobby Julich in the GC and almost caught Jens Voight -- two Euro pros who are in the form of their careers and collecting palmares and podiums at places like Paris-Nice and Criterium Int'l. As for the two big mountain stages, the Americans were outclassed and upstaged by the Euros, right? Nope, Jittery Joe's and Healthnet took those honors.
Somehow, that doesn't quite sound like "bush-league" cycling to me. Your perception of US domestic pro cycling is quaint and deliciously arrogant, but it's really about 15 years behind the times. You should get out and read cyclingnews a bit more!!
A couple of points about the stiffness of the Orbea Orca. I have not read the article in the January edition of Tour Magazine but have heard about the same results in other forums. However, unlike the other letter writers, I have ridden the Orca and have put just over 1,000 miles on it. My experience is that the frame is plenty stiff.
I ride nothing but hills in the "East Bay" across from San Francisco. Almost nothing is flat and it seems that I either going up hill or down hill, some of them representing pretty good climbs and corresponding descents. I have found the Orca to be plenty stiff in the sense that it both handles well on the downhills and I have a feeling of an instantaneous transfer of power to the wheels when doing hard climbing or sprinting. I have also not seen any mention of a lack of stiffness except for Boardman's review, and he mentioned that only in passing. His description of the ride was positive.
At the same time, I was disappointed in his review--not because he didn't rave about the Orca but because he complained about the ability to actually ride the bike given the area and conditions under which he was conducting his test. Why, one might ask, write a review about a bike if you can't ride it appropriately? Even given all of that, his final conclusion was that it was comparable to other bikes in its price class. Given what is in that price class, that is very high praise indeed. I have never been of the opinion that one bike can be called the best bike. I have always felt that when comparing really good bikes one finds they are more alike than different. Granted, one person might prefer one bike over the other, but that is simply a matter of preference irrespective of how much hyperbole is used in stating the preference.
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