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Letters to Cyclingnews - November 19, 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

Recent letters

Tyler Hamilton case
Phonak gets what it deserves
Are you there Mr Coates?
Bike Weight
Merckx and Maertens make up
Heart troubles
Where to find cycling spouses
Mark Webber interview
Lance Armstrong
Where's Greg?
What ever happened to...
Why are cyclists so trendy?
Armstrong and Simeoni
l'Etape du Tour registration
Still Laughing


Letter of the week

A Cateye SL-LD100 safety light is on its way to Iain.

Tyler Hamilton case #1

[See: WADA code opens door to Hamilton appeal and How Russia and Australia will go for Hamilton's gold]

If the rule is that two positive samples are needed to disqualify a rider, and you only get one, you can't change the rules later with retrospective effect. This is a fundamental part of what lawyers call "natural justice". Its the same principle that means you can't change the position of the finish line after the race to make someone else the winner.

I can understand why the Russian Federation is making an appeal to the CAS. The law in Russia is not too good. But the Australian federation doesn't have that excuse. Every lawyer in Australia will know that you mustn't change the rules after the event. Why is the federation wasting money on lawyers for a bad appeal that can only reinforce a bad image of cycling?

Also, no one should be surprised if the SIAB has to change its tune about the reliability of the blood test that Tyler has been caught with. The test was originally developed for the purpose of finding blood incompatibility between mother and unborn child. To deal with that risk you need a test that does not give false negatives. You don't want to tell a mother she doesn't have problem when in fact she does.

For cyclists the issue is false positives. You don't want to accuse a rider who hasn't done anything. I've seen no media reports on the false positive rate of the test. When the test was being developed for mothers, false positives may not have been a key concern.

Even a low rate of false positives can be quite significant. If it is 1 in 500 and you are planning on doing 1000 tests a year then you should expect a false positive twice a year. Obviously such a test is not acceptable if you disqualify a rider when you get a false positive. That is why there must be A and B sample testing. On this example, A and B sample testing would give a false positive rate of 1 in 250,000 or one wrong disqualification every 250 years.

I am not sure that any of this will help Tyler in the end, who has had three positive tests over time. Santi Perez from Phonak has also has two positives. Tyler says very convincingly that he has not taken a blood transfusion from anyone else. Interestingly, the words he is reported to have used have been quite specific to that type of transfusion.

At this stage it is very hard to know what has been going on, but I wonder if Phonak have been doing something with their riders that is not a transfusion from someone else but still triggers a positive result from the transfusion test. If so, Tyler's only real hope of keeping racing is to explain what has been going on and hope that everyone else agrees that whatever it is was legal. The problem for him would be that if it was not legal and he admits that he did it before the Olympics, then there will be a good reason to take away his medal.

Iain Thorpe
Wellington, New Zealand
Thursday, November 18, 2004

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Tyler Hamilton case #2

While I understand the reasoning of the Russian and Australian appeal of Tyler's medal this is getting way out of hand.

1) First, "doping" protocol has been legally established and requires that a second sample confirm the first result. If that doesn't happen, for whatever reason, then no positive. There are many cases where riders, and athletes in other sports, have been found "not positive" due to mishandling of a second sample. If the second sample is no longer going to count then you have to change the rules and go from here, can't go backwards.

2) Technically, the testing of a "B sample" is an appeal by the rider. Are the appealing Federations saying that the rider should not be able to appeal the original finding? If that is the case then there should be no appeal of the decision by them. Rider can't appeal, they can't appeal.

3) The appeal is being based upon the fact that there is no need for a "B Sample" because of the nature of the test. (of course SIAB supports this, they developed the test). Major problem with this. First there is a BIG question as to the soundness of this test. If those appealing are so sure of the test's validity, why can't a copy of the testing protocol and Tyler's results be obtained for study? What are they afraid of? Too much to lose if proven wrong? In most scientific studies, a protocol isn't considered valid unless an independent group can duplicate the results of the original researcher. Was this done? And let's not go into sample size when developing the test. There was also mention of DNA testing; not perfect either.

I think we would all agree that we want a clean sport and those that are "cheating" are caught. However, we have to be sure that only those actually cheating are identified and punished; that in doing so there is no doubt as to the result; and that it is done in a fair, equitable, and legal manner.

Rex Gilmore
Springfield, VA, USA
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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Tyler Hamilton case #3

Dr. Michael Ashenden needs to get his facts straight regarding the Tyler Hamilton case when he states - "In Athens Hamilton returned an A sample that indicated blood transfusion. The fact that the B sample was destroyed does not affect the validity of the A sample finding. Therefore SIAB believes that there is evidence of the use of a prohibited method that is against the WADA code."

What in fact happened is that the sample, taken on August 19, was analysed at the Athens Doping Control Laboratory (DCL) and an analysis report signed by the lab director on August 22 registered the A sample as negative, but with an annotation stating that the sample was "suspicious for a blood transfusion." Once the Medical Director of the IOC was informed of this, he decided to take no further action.

Tyler Hamilton deserves his day in court over this controversial test, but when he's up against attitudes such as Dr. Ashenden's I see little chance for him to prove his innocence or answer to his guilt when he's already been tried in the court of scientific opinion.

As an American who grew up racing in New England, I'm certainly a Tyler Hamilton fan, but I also did 4 seasons racing as an amateur in Europe in the mid 1990s, so I know what the realities of racing over there are like. Since the Festina scandal, far too many people in and around cycling take the attitude that if you're racing pro in Europe you must be doing drugs. That attitude is probably correct in most instances, but is decidedly unfair. Western law is built on "innocent until proven guilty", and every rider deserves that presumption, none more than Tyler Hamilton, who has represented himself and his sponsors as a true professional at every turn in his career. Dr. Ashenden would do well to remember this before commenting on a case that has yet to be presented.

Jon Gallagher
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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Phonak gets what it deserves

It's good to see the UCI is finally learning from their mistakes in the fight against doping. You would have to be blind not to realize that Phonak has a system of doping not unlike Festina back in 1998. Had the UCI effectively banned Festina from entering races the following year (1999), maybe things would be different now. Phonak will be left out of the Pro Tour, and rightfully so. The only people I feel bad for are the new team members who had nothing to do with the team's charade.

I've also read letters stating that Santiago Perez's positive is some kind of conspiracy against Tyler Hamilton and that the blood transfusion test is unreliable. Come on! All you Tyler Hamilton supporters have nothing but blind faith in a man you barely know. If you really did know him, you would realize that he is not above cheating. I bet some of you have even gone to that silly website and donated your hard earned money to him so he can pay for his lawyers (lawyers, by the way, that will not prove his innocence, but attempt to get him off on some legal loop-hole and declare some sort of victory). I'm more inclined to believe a test created by DOCTORS who are experts in the composition of blood than a jock playing a sport that already has a bad reputation for drug use. Tyler and Santiago are not the only riders to have their blood undergo this test. They are simply the only ones to test positive and just so happen to be on the same team. Do the math, it's not a very hard equation.

What's astounding is how supportive so many of you are to an, admittedly, nice guy who embarrassed himself, his wife, his dog (God rest his soul) and most importantly, HIS COUNTRY. As an American, I am ashamed of his behavior and lack of ethics and I am embarrassed at how ignorant so many of you are by continuing to support and believe him. I would like the rest of the world to see that not all Americans are stupid; just the Tyler Hamilton supporters... oh, and redneck, hicks too. Sorry, but the kid's guilty, and so is his team and both should be punished accordingly.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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Are you there Mr Coates?

The inquiry by the Hon. Robert Anderson QC into allegations regarding doping violations by members of the Australian cycling squad , or more correctly the pre-Olympic hoo hah beat up by press and sports administrators of note, on Drugs and Australian Cycling has been tabled in Australia's Parliament for all the world to see that actually that it "was a storm in a tea cup".

Where is that sports administrator Mr Coates now, he was very vocal at the time, hugely indignant and very embarrassing for Australia and sports administrators everywhere.

No comment from him it seems!

The comment from the cyclists on the Australian team was exemplified in their action, in front of the world, with success at the highest level, and much to Mr Coate's dismay , which was obvious to see as he sheepishly popped up around Athens.

How we ever got this person in that position is a mystery, he wasnt even a sportsman, he was a passenger with a rowing team, the dead weight with the mouth piece, facing the other way, I guess that says it all!

How sport's administration can continue to tolerate him there is even more mysterious.

Now even more so he must go!

Then, could it be said that Parliament and the press will no longer have access to information only available in the inner sanctum of Australia's Olympic administration? No?, well some may think that, but wow, would they actually say it?

Mate, it's time, give the Olympic movement and cycling some fresh air and a break, just leave. Actually its past time.

Rob Holder
Melbourne, Australia
Friday, November 19, 2004

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Bike Weight

Sure I like my machine to be light, and fast, but isn't there a lot of other things to consider when wanting to go faster, besides that little (sarcastic) issue of training?? What about biomechanics? What about mechanical kinetics? Or even nutrition.

One of the most underrated cycling details is biomechanics, by amateur cyclist. Sure they might be dialed in pretty close, but there are a ton of injuries every year just because of incorrect position and technique. How many cyclist do you think would spend $100 plus on professional bike fitting (i.e. Serotta Fit)? Maybe 10%, or less. I must confess I fall into this category, but fortunately I am friends with multiple custom frame builders in my area, so I get free info.

Also, what about the mechanical kinetics of our bikes, like friction? So much of our energy is lost due to friction, and heat. In a car, over 70% of the energy is lost due to friction, and heat. It seems like it would be less with a bike, but still significant. It seems like developments in this area would be equally as vital to speed as weight!

Jason Kilmer
Thursday, November 18, 2004

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Merckx and Maertens make up

So after 31 years Merckx and Maertens have made up after their falling out following the 1973 World Championships in Barcelona after which Merckx blamed Maertens for bringing Gimondi and Ocana across to him after he had broken away with 3 laps to go.

Now far be it for me to criticize Eddy Merckx, I have been an avid cyclist since 1962 and followed Eddy Merckx career from start to end and I adore him, I have had near fist fights defending his palmares as the greatest cyclist in history against knuckleheads who have the temerity to compare the likes of Greg Lemond to him, but much as I hate to admit it - Merckx got it all wrong in Barcelona in 1973.

First, Maertens did not bring Gimondi and Ocana across, Maertens bridged across on his own and offered to work with Merckx and let him take the win, Eddy refused and immediately stopped riding (see Fall from Grace - The Freddy Maertens Story, pages 40 and 41 for a full description of what happened). Second, if you watch the video "La Course en Tete - The Eddy Merckx Story" there is a motorbike camera next to the riders that captures the last 400 meters of the sprint perfectly and shows that Maertens did indeed lead out the sprint for Merckx with about 300 to 350 meters to go, as he had promised Merckx he would. After starting the sprint Maertens looks over at Merckx at least 3 times waiting for him to come around, you can see the dismay on Maertens face, but when it is obvious that Merckx cannot take up the sprint it is Gimondi who comes past both of them, at this point Maertens has almost stopped riding - he looks at Merckx AGAIN and realizes that Merckx is finished and so has to start his own sprint again to try to overcome Gimondi, but there is not enough distance left and Gimondi wins from a fast closing Maertens in second, Ocana is third with Merckx astonishingly in last place in a four up sprint - when did that ever happen before? Merckx beaten for fourth place to Ocana in a four up sprint just proves that Merckx didn't have it that day. Merckx unfairly vilified Maertens for over 30 years for his own mistakes.

To put this result down to Shimano versus Campagnolo and that some sort of pact was in place between Gimondi and Merckx to beat Maertens, as has been postulated over the years, is taking conspiracy theory too far (Gimondi and Merckx on Campagnolo and Maertens on Shimano) nobody is going to throw away the World Championship because of which groupset is going to win. Merckx just didn't have it on the day and was not magnanimous enough to let the newcomer Maertens win, as he would have done if Merckx had admitted that he was not strong enough to win himself and had left Maertens to sprint for victory himself.

Brian Booth
Toronto, Canada
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Heart troubles #1

Wow! What a relief to hear that others have had this Atrial Fibrillation problem. I don't know anyone here in Connecticut that has had it. I had a problem with it ONCE! Only once but it was the scariest situation I think I've ever been in. I had gone on vacation for a week with no riding what so ever. When I got home I couldn't wait to jump on my bike. I did a 40 mile ride (the fastest I had ever done as a matter of fact). When I reached my house I was quite proud of myself. Unfortunately, after 30 minutes of relaxing my HR still felt very fast, I was dizzy and it was all I could do just to walk up some stairs. I felt like I was going to faint multiple times.

I decided to put my Heart Rate Monitor back on to see what was going on and it went crazy. It would jump around between 212 bpm (yikes!) to 60 bpm.. pretty scary stuff. I went to bed thinking I could just sleep it off but in the morning I was still not right. Luckily I actually work in a hospital and figured I'd make an appointment with my doctor and see what she thought. Well needless to say she had me put in an ambulance and driven across the street to the hospital (it was that bad). I spend the night in the hospital, they gave me some meds and at around 3:30 a.m. my heart regained its sinus rhythm. Its never happened again but it was such a scary experience I've been afraid to go all out on rides.

I remember thinking after that "Wow, now I can see why cyclists sometimes just drop dead from heart failure." I'm only 30 (29 at the time). So all of you guys that accuse riders that have heart failure of doping should think twice. I've never taken a drug in my life.. well... maybe aspirin. After this occurrence my doctor suggested taking one a day to thin the blood a little.

Thanks to all of you guys that wrote in because I thought I was alone in this.

Warren Beckford
Bloomfield, CT, USA
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Heart troubles #2

Boy, am I glad that this thread started a couple of weeks ago. Now 42, I was a runner from grade school through college, then got into triathlons and mountain bike racing thereafter. I still ride my bike to work about four days a week, on average. Much to my surprise, I started having the symptoms of AF about a month ago. My doctor didn't diagnose it as such, but I'm going back in on Monday with these letters in hand! Time to take a second look.

Does anyone know of a good specialist in the Seattle area?

Andy Bury
Woodinville, WA, USA
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Heart troubles #3

"I wonder about the cyclists whose deaths I read of in Cyclingnews, and what may have happened to them?"

I started to wonder the same thing after I read about Gerrie Knetemann's heart attack while out riding. I trolled through several web sites commenting on it and discovered this link:

This article (published in 2002?) reports that athletes have an increased risk of heart attacks in the 24-hour period following strenuous exercise lasting more than three hours.

Searching the Cyclingnews website using "heart attack" and "heart failure" I found some 12 stories since 1997 concerning heart attacks among cyclists. Five of these (including Mr. Knetemann) were "while riding," and, in the remaining cases, the stories are silent on what, if any, endurance activities these people had undertaken in the 24 hours prior to their heart attack. (Perhaps Cyclingnews could begin to include this information.) The ages of the victims ranged from 21 to 79.

One might conclude from the on-line essay and these news stories that hard training is hard on you.

It would be nice if there were a test that would help identify those people at risk, but the predictive value of stress ECGs has been questioned both by the article cited above and this one that states "the predictive value of a stress ECG in preventing a new ischemic coronary event at altitude would be about 1/1,000,000." (My other bad habit is mountaineering).

Brian Johnson
Tokyo, Japan
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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Where to find cycling spouses #1

I hate to rub this in, but I am a cycling spouse. I guess. I'd prefer to think that my husband is the cycling spouse. We ride in Northern California with a lot of women (yes, some single), and I agree you just need to look harder, because women are riding bikes. And we love it!

You do need to know what you are getting into: "Cycling spouses" tend to be a bit high maintenance - we prefer bikes to jewelry (my 10th anniversary gift was a Merckx Team SC, my 8th anniversary gift was a Colnago), WE need time for OUR rides as well (tricky when you have kids), and we can sometimes be a bit competitive (when we started riding, I could drop my husband like a bad habit, but then a year or so ago, he got all motivated and now he drops me - so I really have to ramp up the training now). But it is a blast riding with your spouse, and sharing your life with someone who really understands your passion for the sport. We have vacationed the last 2 years at the Tour de France, we do several centuries a year together, and I have a tandem that I am trying to convince our 8 year daughter old to ride with me. (She did a 50 miler this year which was pretty good!). I have friends who ride tandems as a couple, but my husband and I can never agree on who would be in front, so that option is probably out for us. It might be a nice transition if one is trying to meld a fit and athletic person into a "cycling spouse", but I really could never let anyone else steer for me.

So keep looking. It's worth it.

Sarah Burke
Mill Valley, California, USA
Tuesday, November 16, 2004

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Where to find cycling spouses #2

Need to meet women who ride?

Get your self involved in a cycling based charity event like Team In Training (benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society). During my time training with the group this year I observed that the majority of participants and organizers were women. You’ll be doing some good for others and yourself.

I met my wife on the local Monday night recovery ride. You see more women on these kinds of rides due to the more casual pace (no slam to you ladies who race). My wife to be was using this ride to train for the AIDS ride. I cruised on up to her in the pack and gave it the old “Ride here often?” line. Well, it worked.

Erik Van Name
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Mark Webber interview

I quote from the recent Mark Webber interview:

"[I've found] mountain bikers to be a good lot - they're certainly friendlier than the roadies. Roadies think they're all legends."

Just who does this Mark Webber Formula 1 guy think he is? Slagging off roadies on a roadie site!

I reckon if you have put down 10 Big Ones on the latest carbon frame/gruppo/wheelset, you are perfectly entitled to consider yourself a legend!

Carlos Remedios
Sydney, Australia
Tuesday, November 16, 2004

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Lance Armstrong #1

What exactly does Mr. Partridge mean, when he says about Lance, "Where is the giving something back to the sport and then also giving back to his team-mates? Is it such a coincidence that the best of his team-mates (except Hincapie and Ekimov), jump ship and try and find other teams that may support them?"

Lance has given back a great deal to the sport of cycling over the years. Much of what he has given has gone unnoticed by the general public. Among other things, he has helped to make the sport much more popular than ever before, and he has helped to show how exciting the sport can be! I believe that this increased popularity will continue even after Lance retires. I, also, believe that the sponsors of cycling teams, the manufacturers of cycling products and the cyclists themselves, will continue to reap the benefits of this more popular sport for years to come.

As for his teammates, Lance is, and always has been, extremely generous! It's not only the training help and tips and overall solid support that he gives his teammates, which is very valuable by itself, but, it's the financial rewards that he gives, too. I think it's pretty common knowledge that Lance doesn't keep any prize money for himself--he has a LARGE salary under contract! The money, including Lance's share, is divided up amongst his teammates. And then there are the bonuses that Lance pays out of his own pocket! My goodness! How much is he REQUIRED to give back, Mr. P.?

Nobody has "jumped ship" in the manner that Mr. Partridge insinuated. Floyd Landis is, and always will be, a good friend of Lance's. He is one who, in the past, has particularly benefited from Lance's teachings and generosity. I believe Floyd left the team this year mainly because, just maybe, he wants to lead his own TdF team, and the window of opportunity keeps getting smaller and smaller. Lance is still going to be in the picture for at least two more years. Lloyd probably felt that he needed to go NOW, when the contract was offered to him, if he's ever really going to have a chance to fulfill his dream. The same went for Roberto Heras who left at the end of 2003. He wanted a chance to be the leader of a team in the TdF. He and Lance are still on friendly terms. And, please, Mr. P., don't slight the really great cyclists that are still with Lance. Not only is there Hincapie and Ekimov, as you stated, there is, also, Rubiera (remember how he helped Lance all through 2003 -- especially during Stage 15 -- and 2004?), and Azevedo, who just keeps getting better and better (Lance doesn't call him ACE for nothing)! There are others.

Then there is the last paragraph, "This is why so many people complain about Armstrong, if only he rode some more races after the Tour, so the fans could see him" and "...until he gives something back to the sport and his team, he will always have more critics than fans." Well, the first thought always boils down to the people who think that Lance has it too easy, per se, since he "only" focuses on the TdF, and when he doesn't ride a race after the Tour that was on his schedule, they complain. Forget about the always legitimate reason for his dropping out or not starting a race, the complainants always attempt to belittle his accomplishments. This is ridiculous, of course; I attribute the complaints to pure jealousy, sour grapes, jealousy, envy and, did I mention, sour grapes? The second thought has--mostly--already been addressed. But, I ask you, Mr. P., how do you know that Lance has more critics than fans? Is this just wishful thinking on your part? I don't have any facts one way or the other, but I find it very hard to believe that the majority of people who know about Lance and his story and his INCREDIBLE achievements would do anything but support him and give him his due. Are these people fans? Maybe not. Are they critics? Definitely not!

Mary Ann Blood
Canyon Country, CA, USA
Sunday, November 14, 2004

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Lance Armstrong #2

I don't like writing snippy letters -- being a sports fan is about having fun, goddammit! -- but I was a bit peeved by this:

Mike Kallal, speculating on whether Armstrong will take a crack at 2005, writes that "Merckx won more races, but Big Tex swallows the Cannibal whole as far as international image extending far beyond bicycling."

Well, I guess that's true -- if by "international" you mean "in America." This is something you hear from the U.S. sports press a lot: they say that Armstrong has brought a whole new level of interest to the sport, by which they really only mean THEIR interest. Armstrong, they like to claim, has revolutionized a genteel, small-time Euro sport with his uniquely American "star power" -- the Michael Jordan tongue, the Brandi Chastain bra, the sweet science of kicking ass with style that (apparently) we do best. Of course, Merckx had plenty of this back in the day, but "Sports Illustrated" didn't care.

I may be wrong -- and I don't want to take anything away from Armstrong's achievements on the bike -- but I doubt that the Tour has any more prestige in Europe and in other parts of the world because of Armstrong. The Tour is neither more international nor more "credible" than it was thirty years ago -- it's just that now God's America gives a rat's ass. And when Michael Rogers wins it later this decade, I doubt that "Sports Illustrated" will claim he's upped its international calibre -- or that they'll even mention it at all!

Sebastian Lecourt
Connecticut, USA
Saturday, November 13, 2004

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Where's Greg?

So what the heck is Greg LeMond up to these days? Last I heard he was racing cars, doing some team direction, and making some criticisms of a few of Lance's choices. But I totally miss the guy. Each winter I crack out the dusty video of the 1989 Tour (complete with obnoxious ABC commentary) and re-live the coolest TdF moment ever. It would be great to see him more involved in American cycling.

Steve Smith
Monday, November 15, 2004

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What ever happened to...

Tom Leaper is now working as a sales manager for a Melbourne based courier company. Living in East Malvern with wife Jo, and enjoying a normal person's life. Not riding bikes, but still keeping fit with fun runs and amateur AFL football, he only rides to work every so often. There are no thoughts of a comeback at this stage.

Joanne Leaper
Sunday, November 14, 2004

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Why are cyclists so trendy? #1

Warren Beckford’s sentiments have been echoed somewhat by my own experience. I too have replaced a classic steel, road bike with a light weight, race ready rocket and have occasionally caught myself lamenting the soullessness of the new steed, even though it is lighter, stiffer and “better” in every way.

But then I got to thinking… maybe the bike has nothing to do with it at all.

My old Cecil Walker was my first serious road bike. It was a 21st birthday present from my parents. It was custom made to my dimensions. I chose the colour scheme (Motorola team replica, hey it was 1993) and all the parts on it. I competed in my first race on it and explored the far reaches of my home city on it. In short, I went through some significant moments with that bike.

Still, I don’t believe that an old steel bike has any more soul than a shiny new Aluminium or Carbon fibre machine. Instead, I believe that some bikes are imbued with emotional significance by their owners that make them fondly remembered and in my case, impossible to part with.

Matt Downey
Melbourne, Australia
Sunday, November 14, 2004

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Why are cyclists so trendy? #2

Plain and simple technology is cool. And in some cases, yes wallets are making up for training deficiencies, in other cases wallets are simply buying the bike they always wanted. And what is wrong with either one? We all like having shiny new stuff. In the past, I went from foaming at the mouth over expensive bike parts when I started riding, and then started racing and could barely afford a basic quality bike. Eventually I bought a custom steel frame, for about the price of a Merckx steel (circa 1990) and hung old and new Superb Pro on it. In time a graduated to a team bike with most of the trimmings for a number of years. Some years later I actually graduated, from college, started a career that paid more than a graduate student could make and decided that it was time to race less, work a bit more, and buy the bike I want, not the one I could afford. That is why I have my dream carbon frame, with 10 speed DA, and all the carbon I can get my hands on. Why did I choose that technology over steel, or Ti? A few reasons, one, the stuff is awesome to ride; light, stiff, and as smooth as freshly churned ice cream! Second, let?s face it looks really cool! Third, I can finally afford it. So why not have a bike that represents everything I love about cycling and technology. I still ride train, and race, not as much as I did eight years ago, but enough for me. Lastly, I am a techno weenie, and do not need to justify my bike purchases to the rest of the world, just myself, (and my wife!!!). If others feel steel is real, and that is all you need, have at it. I still love steel, and think Titanium is a great material to build a bike from, but it is not what fancies my attention right now. When that fancy changes, I will be in line again to try something new. My cycling soul is not in my bikes, old or new, it is in me and I feel it every time I throw my leg over the saddle and pedal down the driveway.

G. Cumming
Rochester, MN, USA
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Why are cyclists so trendy? #3

I agree with the response of Mr. Beckford and the anonymous respondent that newer is not better. Given that I raced on 12-speed equipment (with down-tube friction shifters) in the seventies, why would I now need a nine or even ten-speed cogsets for recreational riding and commuting? Carbon is nice, and I have an old Trek carbon/aluminum bike, but my favorite bike right now is my steel Bianchi cross bike, with 8-speed Ultegra. Maybe it's the pretty celeste blue color.

I am not totally retro. Clipless pedals are way superior to toeclips, and STI/Ergo are arguably an improvement over downtube shifters (better function, but not more dependable).

Hey, let's not forget wool. Most of my jerseys are polyester, but I wore a wool jersey on my morning commute today in the rain and was wet but warm.

Michael Roy
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Armstrong and Simeoni #1

Isn't it kind of ironic Simeoni does not have a team for next year... Nothing speaks stronger than the "contract" or lack thereof.

Philip Shepherd
Ocean county, NJ, USA
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Armstrong and Simeoni #2

Tim Shame asks "how can anyone believe that the peloton is full of illicit drug-enhanced riders?" Well, I believe that the peloton is full of illicit drug-enhanced riders and I do not think I am alone in my opinion.

In fact, I think that illicit drug use is widespread through professional and amateur sports, such as baseball, track and field, football, and cycling.

I don't have any proof for these beliefs. But I don't think the argument "they have not been caught, therefore they do not use drugs" holds any merit. I think the bicycling community must realize that many people believe the sport is "dirty," and that to call those who hold such beliefs as misguided and ignorant does not do much to change this perception.

I really don't have any suggestions on how the cycling community can change the perception that many cyclists use illicit drugs. Perhaps more testing and harsher penalties is the way to go. I just pray in my heart that Tyler and Lance do not (and did not) use illicit drugs. In many respects, both of these athletes are exemplary human beings. I just hope that the pressure to succeed did not cause them to take steps which they might later regret.

Stephen Reiches
Monday, November 15, 2004

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Armstrong and Simeoni #3

Simeoni only accused a doctor of providing him substances; he made no claims about other riders. He has accused no rider of doping. He took his ban for his indiscretions I applaud him for speaking out agaist those that provide the drugs like Ferrari.

Should Simeoni be quiet and hence condoning doping that he knows to be occurring (through admitted guilt for which he took his ban) or should he speak out and try and put an end to the problem. I for one think the latter. After all clean riders will have nothing to fear from what he says. It is the culture of silence that has got the sport where it is now.

Matthew Tognini
Friday, November 12, 2004

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l'Etape du Tour registration

Regarding l’Étape du Tour 2005, to be fair to ASO they are a commercial organisation and one would assume want to maximise their revenue and give value to their sponsors. That may be contrary to the needs of many cyclosportifs (including me) and thus raises the question; if you want to participate in a commercialised race do you also want to suffer the downside of commercialisation?

What I really find incredible is there is no means of electronic entry, and that there is not an electronic version of Velo-Magazine. Oh, silly me, commercialisation again, they want to make more money by selling thousands of extra paper copies.

I contacted ASO and asked why there are not any tour operators for Switzerland. Their response was that we could buy Velo-Magazine in Switzerland. This ignores the fact that seventy-five percent of Swiss speak Swiss-German. It ignores the differences in payment systems, and it ignores the postal delays. The only option is to take a trip to France on the day Velo-Magazine is available, for which the precise date in January is unknown. Whilst not happy with ASO’s planning I will take that trip to France. I have already booked a Hotel room as I do not want that to be the next problem. C’est la vie…

I know that Ben Atkins is a great fan of the Gran Fondo series, and fully support his comments. Adding to these comments, there is the official UCI Goldenbike series just for cyclospotifs including the Gran Fondo Felice Gimmondi (Italy), the Quebrantahuesos (Spain) which also goes over the Col Marie Blanque (likewise the 2005 l’Étape du Tour), and a week later, the Ariègeoise (France) which goes over Col d’Agnes, (likewise stage 13, 2004 TDF) and many more easy to enter events. also supports the ‘les 3 Ballons’ which is very similar to, stage 9 of the 2005 TDF.

I am hooked, just like Ben, it must be all that practising up Ditchling Beacon and the Race Hill!

Philip Sinclair
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Still Laughing

One word about Greg Taylor's thoughts on the omnipresent cycling catalogs and their models:


Keep 'em coming Greg.

Marc Bertucco
New York, New York
Friday, November 12, 2004

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2004

  • November 12 letters - Why Armstrong will ride the 2005 Tour, Scott Sunderland, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Armstrong and Simeoni, Where to find cycling spouses, Lance on Italian selection, Heart troubles, l'Etape du Tour registration, Tour 2005 team time trial, What ever happened to..., Love and a yellow bike
  • November 5 letters - Love and a yellow bike, Tour 2005, Where to find cycling spouses, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Lance on Italian selection, Armstrong and Simeoni, Tour of Southland, Construction technique for veloway, Heart troubles, l'Etape du Tour registration, Rahsaan Bahati
  • October 29 letters - Armstrong and Simeoni, Lance on Italian selection, Armstrong and Tour 2005, Lance to Tour Down Under?, Davis on Lance, Bike Shows, 2004 Cycling Spouse of the Year, Cycling and hip replacement, Doping - Enough drama!, Doping redefined, Injured and missing it, Heart troubles, Interbike, l'Etape du Tour registration, Whatever happened to...
  • October 22 letters - 2004 Cycling Spouse of the Year, Doping , Floyd Landis, Armstrong and Tour 2005, Interbike, Armstrong and Simeoni, l'Etape du Tour registration, The new blood test, Injured and missing it, What ever happened to..., World time trial champion, Cycling and hip replacement, $125,000 criterium in Charlotte
  • October 15 letters - Is the Pro Tour a good idea?, Cycling is bigger than doping, Doping, Floyd Landis, Museeuw is too nice to be guilty, Pound must go, Armstrong and Simeoni, Blood doping, Peers and Planckaert, Doping and nationality, The new blood test, Tyler Hamilton, World Championships, World Time Trial Champion, Erik Zabel Interview
  • October 8 letters - Pound must go, USA World's Team Selection, World Championships, Armstrong and Simeoni, Filip Meirhaeghe, Say it ain't so, Dario!, Baby names, Blood doping, The new blood test, World Time Trial Champion, Tyler Hamilton, Doping and nationality, Erik Zabel Interview
  • October 1 letters - Baby names, World Time Trial Champion, USA worlds selection, Tyler Hamilton, The new blood test, Rider of the Year, Tyler, USPS and Bruyneel, Alternative criterium formats
  • September 24 letters - Tyler Hamilton, The new blood test, Thomas Aberg, Tyler, USPS and Bruyneel, Rider of the Year, Senor Ochoa, True ambassadors of the sport, Tour de France, American style, Cycling and hip replacement
  • September 17 letters - Alto de Monachil, Tour, technology, predictability, La Vuelta is the race!, Tyler, USPS and Bruyneel, Frank, Trent Klasna retires, True ambassadors of the sport, Tour de France, How good is VAM, Super Mario, Alternative criterium formats, Axel, Eddy and the Olympics, Rider of the Year, The coming of the 3 kg bicycle?
  • September 10 letters - Olympic Madison lemon wedges, Axel, Eddy and the Olympics, The coming of the 3 kg bicycle? Rider of the Year, Tour de France, Rider wages, Alternative criterium formats, Chris Horner, Judith Arndt, John Coates
  • September 3 letters - Posties at the Vuelta, Rider of the Year, Tour de France, Chris Horner, Scott Sunderland, What is going on in Belgian track cycling?, John Coates , Judith Arndt, Criterium in Charlotte, Embrace technology, Rider wages
  • August 27 letters - Olympic road races, Kudos, Medals, John Coates must go!, $125,000 Criterium in Charlotte, Judith Arndt, Death wobbles, Pedaling furiously, Rewriting history, IAAF getting tough?, Rider Wages, Tour de France, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Mactier's reaction, Yiddish Cycling Terms
  • August 20 letters - Rewriting history, Arndt should have been relegated, Crowds at the Olympic road races, Olympic road races, Racing with a concussion?, Sponsors and Olympics, Hamilton, Julich & CSC, True ambassadors of the sport, Death wobbles, There are other races, CSC tactics, Shmenges, The debate begins, Tour de France, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Pedaling furiously
  • August 13 letters - Bush vs. Kerry, Brits at the track, Nicholas Roche, Olympics and Lance, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Pedaling furiously, Armstrong vs the hour, Armstrong vs Simeoni, David Millar, Greg LeMond's comments, No romance in France, The debate begins, The power of a team, The Tour 2004
  • August 6 letters - John Coates must go!, Witch hunting in the 21st century, Greg LeMond's comments, Bush vs. Kerry, David Millar, Adam Bergman
  • August 6 Tour letters - If you had told me before the Tour..., Looking to the future, The Tour 2004, The power of a team, The debate begins, Fan behavior, The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004, TdF blood bath, No romance in France, Italian investigators, I hope to see the Giro at last, CSC tactics, Armstrong vs Simeoni, Armstrong vs Klöden, A Legend
  • July 30 Tour letters - The Tour 2004, The Debate Begins, Armstrong vs Simeoni, Italian investigators, Ullrich and T-Mobile, Fan behaviour, The supporting actors, The power of a team, The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004: A French view, TdF blood bath, TdF 2004 ITT profile, Tour Favourites, Most inspiring ride of the Tour, Postal for la Vuelta? Poor prize money, LAF Bands CSC tactics, A Legend
  • July 30 letters - Adam Bergman, Greg LeMond's comments, Drugs in cycling, Doping reporting, David Millar, Museeuw and getting doored
  • July 23 Tour letters - Most inspiring ride of the Tour, Fan behaviour, Le Grand Bornard, The power of a team, Scott's diary, Sandbagging, A sad day for Hamilton, CSC tactics, Rabobank tactics, Mountains, TdF blood bath, Ullrich and T-Mobile, LAF Bands, Virenque's nationalism, Robbie McEwen and sprinters
  • July 23 letters - Greg LeMond's comments, Christophe Brandt, Drugs in cycling, McConneloug's Omission, Local Report of the Year, David Millar, Museeuw and getting doored, Hardie articles
  • July 16 Tour letters - The TdF saved my life, A sad day for Hamilton, T-Mobile's choices, LAF Bands, Mario Cipollini vs. Jaan Kirsipuu, Playing by the rules of the game, Robbie McEwen and sprinters, Ullrich v. Riis, Stage 3, Stage 4 TTT, Stage 5 - 12 minutes?
  • July 16 letters - Greg LeMond's comments, Drugs in cycling, Museeuw and getting doored, Human evolution and cycling, David Millar, The French affair, Why thank Lance?, Canadian TV
  • July 9 letters - Drugs in cycling, David Millar, Cadel Evans, John Lieswyn, Human evolution and cycling, Museeuw and traffic, Canadian TV
  • July 9 Tour letters - Stage 5 - 12 minutes?, Stage 4 - The team time trial & those rules..., Stage 3 - Should the leaders have waited?, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong
  • July 2 letters - Tour de France: Result already known, Stive Vermaut, Disappointment, David Millar, Cadel Evans, Open letter to the World and Canadian TV Executives, Human evolution and cycling, The Mark French affair, Drugs in cycling, TdF heroes, Tour Contenders, Museeuw & traffic, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong, The battle for the commentary podium, Green jersey dog fight, Why thank Lance?
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on