|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
Letters to Cyclingnews - November 26, 2004
It's getting interesting to see the new ProTour teams strengthen themselves by signing usually two big names to their roster. Is it because of the tight schedule or just coincidence?
We have seen Cunego and Simoni battling through the Giro on bikes, and on words afterwards. The argument doesn't seem likely to be settled soon: same team next year. But hey, they're Italians, it's in their blood! :-)
Then we had Ullrich and Klöden at the Tour and we'll see them in the same team next year too. Although no word battles have been reported so far, but it was because none of them we're competitive against Armstrong. Ullrich going down and Klöden going up: this year they were at the same level. Next year (particularly if the Texman keeps himself away from the Tour) both will be stronger so I'm sure there'll be some hot air surrounding them.
And now, look at Liberty: they sign Spanish star Beloki to ride by the side of Heras. Both are Grand Tour competitors and (in the absence of Armstrong) they could dominate the Tour and the Vuelta. It'll be interesting to see if Manolo Saiz will have the courage to start both of them in both tours...
It reminds me of the case in Formula One car racing, when Senna joined Prost at McLaren in the late eighties, Prost briefly said that "two pilots on this high level could only strengthen the team". They got in an (almost) lifelong dispute, often threatening each other's lives on the race track.
Now what Heras is saying is word for word the same what Prost said at that time.
Tyler Hamilton case #1
While I agree with the author, Mr. Thorpe of last week's letter of the week that the rules can't and must not be changed in the middle of the game, there are two facts overshadowing the Hamilton case which do not bode well for Mr. Hamilton: his positive A and B tests from the Vuelta. One can argue that the Vuelta blood tests should have no bearing on the Olympic case. But the fact is it looks very likely that Mr. Hamilton was blood doping. He failed three out of four blood tests in a short period of time. If we use the unacceptable false positive probability of 1/500, then the probability that three false positives will occur on the first, third and fourth blood tests is 1/125,000,000. So, if Mr. Hamilton keeps his gold medal, it will be on a technicality (or more precisely an error in procedure).
This, to me is very sad. An Olympic medal is supposed to be a medal of honor. It may be reduced to a mere technicality. I hate to say it, but in the land where OJ Simpson went free, this is perhaps not too surprising.
I saw Bobby Julich training south of Reno two days ago. I was immediately struck wondering how he, a fellow American cyclist, feels being third to Hamilton under these circumstances.
It seems that Mr. Hamilton will be sanctioned and likely suspended by USA Cycling based on the Vuelta results. So we most likely are splitting hairs over whether or not Mr. Hamilton will be sitting at home for the next two years with a gold medal draped over his shoulders.
Very sad, indeed...
When's the last time you saw an American complain about a failed drug test by anyone other than another American? Fair is fair: many riders have been damned by evidence far less than that facing Tyler. He was dirty in 3 of 3 completed tests, what more do you want? Hiding behind the "bad" B sample from the Olympics, only bad due to a technician's error, is foolish. The guy is dirty, the team is dirty. Get him out.
Raymond F. Martin
Tyler Hamilton case #3
In response to your letter of the week, the thinking that Tyler having 3 positives rules out any of them having been false positives is in error.
The dual-sample methodology only protects against laboratory error creating a false positive. In signal theory or pattern recognition theory, repeated presentations of an unchanged signal to an unchanged classifier will all yield the same result.
If Tyler's baseline physiology tests as a false positive, only a significant change from that baseline would be expected to change the results. In other words, the fact that Tyler tested positive 3 times is actually is the expected result
if his natural blood provides a false positive to this particular test. If the result changed between Athens and the Vuelta, then we would know that either their was a laboratory error, or the measurable effect of Tyler's intentional doping had worn off. All we can say from the three positive tests is either he was consistently doping, or his natural blood consistently tests positive. Let's not forget that he was supposedly "warned"
After testing at the Tour of Romandie and another race(?), so he's been effectively positive (not enforceably so) for a long time. Consistently doping, or consistently false positive? That's the question.
I am sorry to read that Michele Bartoli has decided to hang up his wheels, after an illustrious career. He was a truly inspiring rider to me, his classy position on the bike & his one day results, will be hard to emulate. It's a loss for the sport, perhaps another door will be opened at CSC with Bjarne finding a role for him to play within the team.
He would be an addition to any team looking for that vital component to get them much needed victories. Michele I for one am saddened by your decision to depart - but after much soul searching you have down what is right for you, thanks for the memories & the great photo's (especially the one with your Ferrari).....Matt
So Dave Fuentes finally got a two year ban, one that started on September 26th, half a year after his positive drug test in March? What does it even mean that he has to forfeit his race results from March 26th onward? Is he going to track me down and give me my share of prize money from, say, the San Jose Memorial Day crit, where I pulled like a dog to try and bring back his break that was flying like a freight train. My teammate placed well in the pack sprint, who knows how well he would have done if Fuentes wasn't racing and we'd managed to pull back the break. Pros who get caught doping and then continue to cherry pick in local races for the rest of the year is not something that can be allowed to continue. I think Fuentes won about 12 local P/1/2 races after he was caught; it got pretty depressing towards the end of the year hearing he had steamrolled to yet another victory. I guess guys who busted their butt all winter long getting up at 6:00 to do the Morning Ride in the rain so they could be into work by 9:00 just got sick of chasing.
When someone is caught doping, the ban must come with all appreciable speed. People cannot be allowed to race out the end of the season and then finally accept their sentence. I'm not sure of USCF rules, but similar to how the Tour de France does not allow people under investigation to race, local race organizers should not let people who have failed a drug test enter their race. If the rules allow you to exclude people from your race, this must be done. Local 1/2 racers do not need to pay $35 to show up to a crit to race against people who are probably doping. While there needs to be some discretion for false positives, etc., in most cases people don't accidentally find themselves at a track world cup with an elevated hematocrit, or with traces of oxymetholone in their urine. Race directors, please don't let these people into your races.
Here we go again - "I didn't know I was taking it, it must have been the nasal inhaler I bought in the USA. Theirs has a different recipe to our one!"
No, this is not Alain Baxter from Scotland talking after the Winter Olympics in 2001/2002. This time it is Shane Perkins, Australia's (soon to be stripped of his medal?) Junior Keirin World Champion. Do athletes and their National organisations never learn that cheating does not make them better people - it simply shows that they are cheats.
The seemingly amazing fact is that National organisations, instead of being rigorously pro-active in fighting drugs by enforcing both in and out of competition testing, simply keep stressing that they will not accept cheating by their athletes (from any sport) but they continue to condone the infringements by ongoing selection of these same athletes at future events. This rhetoric indicates that they only condemn drugs when the athletes are caught or confess! Makes you wonder if Mark French was hung because he told the truth, like so many before him in Europe and elsewhere?
Worse still is the fact that young athletes are taking these substances (and liberties with truth), seemingly without their controlling organisations stressing that these substances (in this specific instance) are known to be illegal in their N. American product form since the 1980's. Was his cycling federation aware that he was using an inhaler and was Shane Perkins warned of his risk before his USA visit and subsequent "trip"? I suspect that it is a case of "We didn't know he was taking it, he didn't tell us! Oh no - we never asked him what he was eating/drinking/taking, he always seemed like he was sensible and clean!"
After reading Eddy Merckx’s recent criticisms of Lance Armstrong’s race program, I have to wonder if it was Bizarro Eddy who wrote the following in his tribute to LA in the 2004 book Lance Armstrong - Images of Champion:
Hmmm. Eddy seems prone to going over the top in opposite directions. Compare his recent “I’ve always criticized Lance because he gives little back to cycling," with his ebullient statement in the aforementioned book where he calls Lance’s Tour victory in 1999, “the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
Careful Eddy. Those kind of words might get you elected to political office 'round these parts.
So you want to be the next Armstrong? Learn from his secret routine. This is perhaps the most revolutionary idea, one that permanently separates him from other past champions like Hinault and Merckx. What is it? Rest. Well, rest and beer, and family. Take a break. Racing and training 24 hours, 7 days, and 52 weeks is sure to lead to burnout. This weekend, do nothing. Have a beer and watch a movie with your family. Don't feel guilty about it. Just think, I am training the Lance way.
I guess Mr. Lecourt has a valid point when he alludes to the "fact" that the U.S. sports press has only been interested in cycling, mainly, for the last few years because of Lance Armstrong; and its claim that he "has revolutionized a genteel, small-time Euro sport with his uniquely American 'star power'" IS rather too much. After all, true cycling fans worldwide (which, of course, include those in America) know that cycling is not a small time sport; it is a major sport with major stars and has an incredible history that goes back over 100 years!
BUT, who cares what the reason is for the increased popularity of the sport in America?! The fact that it IS more popular now than ever before is most likely due to Lance Armstrong, and Greg LeMond before him, and the many other interesting stars--both American and international. And if the American press, in all of its inaccurate arrogance, finally deigns to cover cycling, GREAT! Let's not knock it! The old adage "it's better than nothing" most definitely applies. As to whether or not this coverage will continue after Lance retires will remain to be seen. However, with the increased TV coverage, the plethora of excellent cycling magazines, and these great websites, who needs the American press? My subscription to my favorite cycling magazine runs through August 2007. I think Lance will have retired by then, but this relatively new fan will still eagerly await each new issue! I'm sure Lance would agree that "it's not just about Lance"!
Gotta go now! I'm watching my copy of the extended version of the 1999 TdF--again. I've been "cycling" through my many, many tapes on a regular basis; and--WOW--what excitement! Somebody was responsible for the opening up of this sport to me! Maybe it was the American press...
Mary Ann Blood
Cyclists are about the least trendy people on the face of the earth. For starters, just compare cyclist with other enthusiasts, fans, or participants. Face painters and belly painters in pro US sports, those silly leather jackets and matching caps at NASCAR, etc -- everyone is a nut, just in his own way. Second, in nine cases out of ten, cycling trends have to do with nothing other than technology -- not personal preference, not whatever the corporate sponsor is selling, but pure, honest science. And third, and most importantly, the coolest thing a cyclist can sport are a pair of cut legs -- something that doesn't come and go with the latest fad.
What really upsets me about this matter is the bad press given to Phonak and not just to the Phonak racing team. As we all know, Phonak is relatively new to professional cycling and has poured a great deal of money into the team. This action has been extremely beneficial to cycling in general and to Swiss cycling in particular. It will be a sad day if the actions of one or two persons cause Phonak (which is a fine company with an exceptionally fine product) to reconsider its commitment to cycling. And even sadder if other potential sponsors are discouraged from entering into the sport because of these doping incidents.
Phonak gets what it deserves #2
The marriage of drugs and sports, I believe has taken on a new evolution. Namely pissed off fans like myself. Tyler is not innocent until proven guilty. He is guilty. The tests have verified this. This makes me angry. Why, because like so many other cyclists we want to emulate them. However, if fans want to support him than so be it. Just like the Italians love for Pantani, the French for Virenque, the British for Miller, and the Belgians for Museeuw. It is one tragedy after the next. Oedepus Rex.
A few months ago I was so pissed at Greg LeMond for his comments regarding Lance. However since I read a letter from Andy Hampsten explaining that in the early nineties he and Greg noticed a huge acceleration in the peloton. Namely EPO. My perception of this madness started to change towards the larger picture at stake. This goes above and beyond Tyler's poor choice and Phonak's lack of accountability.
As an American speaking for passionate cycling fans, let's get our sport back to some level of respectability and accountability.
I have had an unmatched passion for this great sport as a cat 1/2 racer, casual rider, TDF tourist, and a consumer since 1982.
William H. Forrest
Phonak gets what it deserves #3
I have to agree with you on all points. Admittedly, many cycling fans are in extreme denial about the sport. They admit drug use/performance enhancement is rampant, but certainly not by their heroes. I guess hero worship is blind. While Tyler is probably the nice guy most people believe him to be, even Pete Rose has his fans who did not believe he bet on baseball (I guess until Pete admitted doing so 15 years after the accusation).
Like Mr. Reiches, I am one of those that, even absent the facts, believe that most of the sports are under the influence of drugs. Sad as that is, I think there is some foundation in reality for that belief.
I will simply add this one caveat to the scenario--I do not believe LA is taking drugs. Not because he says so, not because "I have never tested positive" statements or because of anything else LA has said or has been said about him. I know several cancer survivors and they are loathe to add anything to their bodies that is not natural. I have seen them suffer with a migraine because they did not want to take a simple Tylenol or suffer with the flu rather than get a flu shot. They, and I can't speak for the all cancer survivors but I believe it probably is close to universally true, do not want foreign substances in their body. All those who want to put something in LA's bloodstream via rumor, lies, etc., have you just considered the fact that he cheated death and now thinks and believes he can't be beat by one little race? Maybe his greatest "drug" is nothing more than the eradication of the mental blocks of other mere mortals who have only won it 5 times (tongue in cheek there) that made them unable to continue to win. Thinking you can't do it has to be as difficult to overcome as the lack of training.
Sean R. Jones
Armstrong and Simeoni #2
I think Phil is missing the point somewhat in asserting that Simeoni's lack of a contract (if this is the case) next year somehow justifies Lance's ridiculous behaviour in chasing him down in the closing stages of the Tour. Surely the biggest problem with the whole episode was that Simeoni, coming to the end of his contract, needed some big rides to attract attention for next year and Lance, secure in both his yellow jersey and continued employment, single handedly ensured that he didn't have any. That's just plain vindictive.
In response to "Bike Weight" by Jason Kilmer.
The bicycle is an amazingly efficient machine, with little losses to friction. For example, Frictional losses due to ball bearings (pedals, BB, and wheels) is found to be less than 1 percent. While losses in the chain drive are near 1.5 percent for a clean drivetrain. Rolling resistance may account for 3 percent loss of power. Wind resistance makes up for the majority of power consumption. For example, some fairings can reduce the power lost to aerodynamic drag by almost 70 percent. Also, the faster the speed, the larger percent of energy lost is due to aerodynamic drag.
It is interesting that many people will spend large amounts of money on the lightest wheel when they may be better suited getting the most "aero" wheel they can afford.
Comparing the bicycle to the automobile is comparing apples to oranges. Automotive drive train losses are large due to the fact that most of the transmission is immersed in lubricating oil which provides a large amount of drag while the gears are moving at high RPM. That is in addition to of losses of the internal combustion engine.
There is a wealth of information on these subjects, much of which is summarized in: "Bicycling Science", F.R. Whitt and D.G. Davis, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1995.
A few years ago the major bike club in Seattle discussed the issue of people looking for other singles to ride with. One solution came up that on major rides such as the STP and other extended runs that those singles seeking the opposite sex to ride with would attach a certain color ribbon to their saddle. This would eliminate unnecessary time being wasted on people already hitched for whatever reason. Since finding I am not capable of keeping pace with this crowd I really don't know how this turned out. But one could imagine a plethora of different colored ribbons to communicate ones description couldn't one?
Thanks for the interview with Mary McConneloug! In addition to being a nomad and a great racer she is a sincerely nice person. I don't know her personally but each time our paths have crossed she has proven to be friendly and happy to be riding and willing to spend time chatting about it. Last year on her way from the NCS in Sandpoint, Idaho she stopped at the Intermountain Orthopaedic White Knob Challenge in Mackay, Idaho. She easily won the woman's pro race and beat most of the men too. But nobody really talked about how fast she was, they only talked about how cool and easy going she was. Her loyalty to sponsors also shows her strong character. I hope they recognize this. A lot of pro dirt athletes are friendly but Mary has remained 'just one of the gang.' Good luck in 2005!
I just read your interview with Adam Craig, a rising and promising mountain bike and cyclocross racer, and I couldn't be happier reading about him.
I got to know Adam a short while back while I was still living in Maine, and he was just starting high school. He'd come out and ride with us all of the time, and of course drop everybody in the woods. Watching him race on the Maine mountain bike circuit and the more regional larger races was great, because he was whipping the junior fields regularly and beating pro downhillers before he even had a driver's license. It was fun to watch Adam and his Team Grimace teammates (a junior developmental team started by Beaux Lambert in Maine) basically kill everyone in just about all of the races. The best thing about Adam Craig though is that he's a genuine person, he's a straight up nice guy and good person, and I really enjoy seeing him do well, racing hard, and putting his name out there. If anyone deserves it, it's definitely Adam. So with that, I just want to wish him continued good luck for the rest of this season and beyond.
Look where Mark Webber's coming from - car racing. Have you ever tried to get near a race driver in even a national championship, let alone a Formula One event? Compared with this lot, all two wheelers (motor and pedal) are the very model of outgoing sociability and friendliness.
Thanks Greg, I thought I was alone wondering about these things. I often try to determine whether these people are racers, recreational riders, posers or simply models. I have noticed that some of the high end catalogs are starting to have more "Men's Health" guys with monster biceps and Barbies than people who might be racers, posing in "look at me having so much fun on this bike held up by stage hands... by the way, what do these levers do?" type shots. I also check out the bikes. There are many times I have see the same bike with 6ft guys and then later on another page, 5ft girls standing next to it. I must say however that I have seen two guys from the Excel catalog at races in Colorado a couple of years ago. Other things I have noted:
Recent letters pages