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Letters to Cyclingnews - January 21, 2005

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 letters@cyclingnews.com.

Recent letters

Professional Cyclists
Der Kaiser's Goals
Jan Ullrich's problem = Lance
Rider of the Year
Crash distance from 1km to 3km
Help
Lance vs. Eddy

 

Letter of the week

The very bright Cateye SL-LD100 safety light is coming Elizabeth's way.

Professional Cyclists

The Rockhampton Cycling club invited some of Australia's elite cyclists to compete in the CQU Rockhampton Cup on Wheels Carnival. This was a huge drawcard for the club, and many spectators attended.

The list included Ryan Bayley, Sean Eadie, Sean Hopkins, Kerrie Meares, Anna Meares, Rebecca Ellis (all big-name Australian track riders) and many more up and coming young stars.
As a cycling parent I would like to say how much time all of these people spent talking to the young cyclists, encouraging and sharing information. What was even more pleasant was they didnít want to be treated like the Kings and Queens; they sat on the grass and in the heat with everyone else. The crowd loved them cycling around the top fence giving the kids Hi Fives, and they never refused an autograph or conversation with anybody. They had invitational rides with locals involved, lap dash, and sprint series races, not being above mixing it with our riders. The humour shown by Eadie and Hopkins when they rode Dragsters out for their sprint series was much appreciated by the crowd!

This is what the sport is all about, and I think this group need to be congratulated on their performances - the girls donated their sprint money to hard trying youngsters, who were thrilled to get a kiss and hug from them.

The injury to Ryan also shows the danger of the sport, but your photo of his broken helmet should also encourage people to have the correct equipment. As Ryan and Sean stated, these things also happen in training. I just hope them and many more attend next yearís carnival.

Elizabeth Hogg

Rockhampton, Queensland
Monday, January 17, 2005

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Der Kaiser's Goals

I agree that last year's Tour was boring. No one had the courage to risk a podium spot by attacking Lance. I think the two weeks of flat fast riding hurt the pure climbers like Mayo & Heras. Ullrich may have been a disappointment last year, but Mayo & Heras were disasters! Ullrich claims to have come into the tour with a cold or flu, and the bad weather could not have helped.

As for the 2005 Tour, Armstrong is already doing his part to build suspense by teasing us as to his participation. However, he's said he's not doing the Giro because of his legal issues and feels the Vuelta is third in the pecking order of Grand Tours. I think he'll be on starting line for the 2005 TDF.

To spite of last year's performance, Ullrich is still the number one contender to knock Armstrong off his thrown. Ullrich is a former World Champion, he's won the Vuelta and the TDF. If Armstrong had not come back from cancer, Ullrich would be a multiple tour winner. However, Armstrong did come back and is now considered by some to be the best rider in the history of the cycling. No one has been able to challenge him except Ullrich; and if anyone is going to beat him it is still Jan Ullrich. If he can manage to do this then history will remember him much differently. Ullrich knows this and I think that's why the 2005 tour is going to be as exciting as 2003.

The best case scenario is for T-Mobile show up with an in-form Ullrich, Vino and Kloeden. Here are three guys in one team that Armstrong has to really think about. Ullrich doesn't want second place, and with such a strong team he can afford to take risks. Vino and Kloeden can still get T-Mobile on the podium if Ullrich blows up. However, I believe Ullrich is extremely motivated this year and Armstrong is obviously not as focused (or wants us to believe) on the TDF, as in past years.

Shawn Collison
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

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Jan Ullrich's problem = Lance

I've never really understood the problem everyone has with Jan Ullrich. True, he finished second to Riis in '96 (as a 23 year old nonetheless!), won in '97, second to Pantani in '98 (he should have won this Tour), and then of course second to Lance three times, and fourth once. Essentially if it wasn't for Lance, Jan would be the master of the Tour. I don't find it to be a problem with his training, weight, tactics or aggressiveness...simply the problem is - Lance Armstrong. Who is better than Jan at the Tour de France - end of story. Leave Jan alone and realize that he's better than every other rider - except for one.

Paul Hunnicutt

Washington, DC
Wednesday, January 19, 2005

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Rider of the Year

After reading Jim Sullivan's letter (Rider of the Year) I find myself in the surprising position of defending Lance Armstrong. Sullivan is correct when he says that the rider of the year should win more races than the Tour de France, but saying that Lance Armstrong was an "unknown" and "just a domestic pro" in 1993?

Before he won the world championships in August 1993, and after only one year as a professional cyclist, Armstrong already had an impressive palmares Ė a stage win in the Tour de France, second in the Championship of Zurich, fifth in the Leeds Classic (then a World Cup race, for all you Americans who discovered bike racing in 1999), Victory in the Tour of Galacia and the Trofeo Laigueglia, and ninth in Paris Nice. While these results did not put Armstrong in the same league as riders in the group that finished just behind him (Indurain, Museeuw, Ludwig, Fondriest etc) he was certainly known as an excellent one-day rider, and had some fairly good international results for someone who was "just a domestic rider." Lance Armstrong has plenty of professional and personal shortcomings that deserve criticism; maybe Jim Sullivan should have done a little pre-1999 research before slamming Lance on a rare area where he does not deserve such criticism.

Jeff Colbeck

Redwood City California
Date: Tuesday, 18 Jan 2005

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Crash distance from 1km to 3km

I read with interest about the proposed UCI rule change moving the crash distance from 1km to 3km before the finish of a stage race. Once again, the UCI has missed the boat on a critical issue. The reason the GC contenders must be at the front to contend the finish of stage races is because of the ridiculous time splits the officials make when small gaps open up in the peleton in the final few meters of a finish.

The overzealous actions of the UCI officials forces the GC contenders to be at the very front of all sprint finishes. So what if they crash and can get the same time as the bunch. That wouldn't have helped someone like Levi Leipheimer or Tyler Hamilton who were injured as a result of their tumbles.

What the UCI needs to do is assign the overall GC time with 1km to go. This would allow the GC contenders to sit up and not have to contend the crazy finishes. Time bonuses can still be awarded to the top finishers but, the GC riders would not have to put themselves in harms way and potentially ruin a whole season of training.

Bruce Hildenbrand

Mountain View, CA USA
Monday, January 17, 2005

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Help #1

Your letter doesn't mention whether or not you ride, or race. For me, professional cycling is something I'll never acheive; all the same, I follow it closely, craving new information as you described. I think the key is that I ride my bicycle every day. When I'm on my trainer, I'm trying to keep pace with Michael Rogers, and when I'm out climbing, I'm trying to hold Richard Virenque's wheel. Even when I'm just commuting, I have to come around Alessandro Petacchi before the finish line at the telephone pole.

In short, I think that a combination of imagination, competitive drive, cycling will ensure that professional cycling stays relevant to your life.

Don Yungher

Cleveland, OH
Friday, January 14, 2005

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Help #2

It's like being dehydrated and begging for a drop of water...then getting drowned by too much.
I think we all got exactly what we had wished for, and that was for someone in the US to pay attention to cycling. But the US media cops did not hear that we wanted our Euro cycling covered in a Euro way. So instead, they gave us the SuperBowl of the TDF and made sure that we got the full Lance-enema to go along with it. The good news? - the fact that you can utter the name "Lance" to virtually any American and they know exactly who you are talking about, and they might even know that the TDF is a big, hard bike race.
The bad part? We cyclists who like to feel a little bit alternative in our lifestyle are now competing with Lance for our lifestyle. Its not unique anymore to be a bike racer, but rather you are trying to "be like Lance" in the bigger opinion of the population. By the same token, I find it hard to believe that anyone could ever actually want to own a chopper anymore, given that even our kids can now get their own choppers at the toy store or corner tent sale at the freeway off-ramp. I imagine that wearing a Livestrong bracelet while riding a chopper down the blvd is about as pop-culture as you can get right now. And as a fan of two wheels in any category (bicycles or motorcycles) I find myself having to look away from the TV once in a while too.
But I still love it.

Dean Burke
Thursday, January 20, 2005

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Help #3

Dave, I feel bad for you that something you love has been lowered to that level. I haven't hit that stage yet, and hopefully I won't. I still love to read who's doing what and where. Its part of what drives me to keep getting on the bike - that and fear of losing my fitness and having to start all over again. I can however sympathize with you.
With the success of US Postal Service and Lance Armstrong comes more media coverage. With more media coverage comes increased media and fan scrutiny. It's odd that we feel our sports icons should be better people than we are. I know we all feel we wouldn't do some of the things that we criticize various riders for, but who really knows how any of us would act or react in certain situations - under the pressure these guys feel at times in their careers.
I have been very disappointed in the behaviour of some fans, and very disappointed in the choices some riders have made, but the sport of cycling is really about whether or not you have the strength and the will to beat the guy next to you, or climb that next hill, or whether my legs have another 10 miles in them. There's nothing like the feeling of finishing a long ride and knowing you did very well, relatively speaking, of course. Dave, I can still watch pro riders and equate what I'm doing on a fitness level to what they are doing in competition, and it keeps me coming back for more. If you can let the bad apples in pro cycling fade out of your thoughts, and get over the way LA has been dominating the tour and concentrate on the drama of the daily competition, maybe you can start following it again.

Todd Tuengel

Los Angeles, CA
Friday, January 14, 2005

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Help #4

No Dave, you're alone. As a former Pro, long time fan and now director of a cycling tv show, (not yet aired) I still find the cycling race scene exciting! I thank OLN for being the only ones to present it. I would have liked to see the Vuelta on tv, though. There are plenty of really exciting stories out there, you just have to be able to look past the "Scandals" that the media loves to push in our faces.
As for the yellow jersey pretender - you must be talking of the great story of Thomas Voeckler, speaking for myself as a former pro that didn't make the big show, (Europe) I was so happy for him that I cried. And finally, Lance. He may be boring to you but I find it refreshing that he does his talking on the bike, and loudly at that! He's a true professional. Thanks to the riders and sponsors, and especially to OLN. Otherwise we would have to move to Europe.

Brian Smallwood - Director, Pro Road ACCESS
Friday, January 14, 2005

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Lance vs. Eddy #1

In response to Denis Manzo's letter on Lance vs Eddy - while not suggesting that Eddy Merckx had anything like as serious an illness as lance Armstrong, he did have a series of health problems. The ones I know about are: 1969 knee trouble, 1969 serious motor pace crash that left Merckx with back trouble for the rest of his career (his pacer was killed), winter of 1973-4 broken leg, 1975 perforated sinus and fractured jaw in Tour de France, 1976 abscesses on crutch during Giro that needed surgery (missed 1976 Tour because of this) and 1977-78 mononucleosis. In addition he had a number of milder illnesses possibly due to the very full, year-round racing calendar he was working to.

Stephen Burke

Canterbury, UK
Friday, January 14, 2005

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Lance vs. Eddy #2

Lance, Eddy...Eddy, Lance...No mention of Fausto? Bartoli? Both of these men lost five years due to World War II. If Fausto Coppi won five Giro , maybe he could have won many more. Back then the Italians did not always race the Tour. I wonder...what if Bartoli or Coppi had won just three or four in those years. Maybe Lance would have tied Fausto for most wins with number six.

Come on guys, stop the arguing. Eddy has won more events than anyone else; he himself admitted that if he rode like Lance he may have won 20 Tours, and Lance says that Eddy was a more complete rider. Is Lance the best Tour de France specialist ever? Very possibly. Is he the best all-round rider?

Lance has the pleasure of riding for a sponsor whose sole goal is to win the Tour de France, because that is the focus for fans in the USA. Yet, back when Eddy/Bernard/Miguel/Jacques/Coppi et al. rode they had to comply with the demands of the sponsors - riding races locally - and remembering that they had to ride the crit circuit after the Tour to gain money for bread on the table. These guys competed in a considerably harder time than Lance's current era. They rode the six days because they needed the money. Lance himself admits that he cannot ride the World's because he is still recovering from the Tour, but the greats have all done it, and apart from Miguel Indurain (who sacrificed himself for Olano), rode a TdF wearing the Rainbow Jersey.

Lance has won more Tour de France races than any other rider - but there is more to cycling than one event. Lance has overcome cancer, which is an amazing feat in itself, and lost a couple years of riding (but he admits that he would never have won the Tour without the disease that transformed his body).

So ask yourself: would you still be arguing for Lance if he had been the best one day classic rider to never have won a Tour?

Michel van Musschenbroek

Buford, GA
Thursday, January 20, 2005

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Lance vs. Eddy #3

Mr Manzo, I will freely admit that I can't really point to anything that isn't going well in Lance Armstrong's life. I had not realized that my failure to contract cancer made my accomplishments less valuable. If you really want to hit these guys below the belt in 'life', you might also ask if Eddy has ever gotten divorced. You might even ask yourself what you really know about these men and their lives in the first place.

I must ask you to excuse Eddy, he probably didn't realize at the time that he had to get cancer to be the greatest cyclist. Eddie was probably even foolish enough to think that by winning more races and more prestigious races than anyone else he would be thought of as the greatest of all time. Certainly the way things have gone it doesn't look like the Grand Tour Triple is possible anymore. Sure Marco got the double, but really, is there much doubt it was drug assisted? This feat really separates Eddy from Lance, not to mention the fact he took all the jerseys in all three tours. One would argue Lanceís six tours give him an edge, since no one has been able to exceed five wins.

Personally, I think if Lance won a bunch of the big classics a couple of times and pulled off a Giro/Vuelta double then we could talk about him as POSSIBLY the greatest ever, given the era he is in. Granted Eddy was clearly not as dominant in the Tour as Lance, but come on - he won a greater number of races and won more of the sportís prestigious races.

There is simply no direct comparison. Lance has put himself in a class all his own with his results at the Tour. Is he the greatest Tour rider ever? Of course! He probably has the ability to do this in other large races assuming he has the motivation and the time. Right now the difference is that Eddy's career is over, we know what he was capable of. Lance has a shot to be the greatest cyclist of all time given his era and I'm excited to see how it works out. Until it has, we just won't know.

Fraser Hogg

Calgary, Canada
Sunday, January 16, 2005

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2005

  • January 14: Der Kaiser's goals, Help, Foreign stage races, Lance vs. Eddy, Tour '05, Rider of the Year, Best bikes for heavy riders, Quick Step helmets
  • January 7: Death of Dmitri Neliubin, Der Kaiserís goals, Rider of the Year, Best bikes for heavy riders, Who's Greater? Come on now!, Virenque "most charismatic"?, Downhilling, Downhill time trial, Trendy cyclists, No flat tyres, Spring classics trip advice, Bettini's trainer
  • January 3: Spring classics trip advice, Big Bear ends downhilling, Armstrong and Simeoni, Holding teams accountable, Downhill time trial, Trendy cyclists, Bettini's trainer, No flat tyres

Letters 2004

  • December 24 letters - Why are cyclists so trendy?, Business and cycling, Big Bear ends downhilling, Off-bike weight gain, No flat tires, Armstrong and Simeoni
  • December 17 letters - Business and cycling, Tom versus Axel , Big Bear ends downhilling, Shane Perkins, Spring classics trip advice, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Mark Webber interview, Armstrong and Simeoni, Injured and missing it: an update, Clyde Sefton
  • December 10 letters - Why are cyclists so trendy?, Big Bear ends downhilling, Floyd's choices?, Merckx, fit and trim, Pound must go, Spring classics trip advice, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Punishment: Vandenbroucke vs Hamilton, Prosthetic hip, Armstrong and Simeoni, Dave Fuentes, Homeopathy, Jeremy Yates, TDF coverage for Australia, Weight limits and maintenance, Mark Webber interview
  • December 3 letters - Domestiques vs Lieutenants, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Dave Fuentes, Santa vs Hairy Guy, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Mark French and homeopathy, Shane Perkins, Jeremy Yates, Weight limits and maintenance, UCI regulations, Armstrong and Simeoni, Prosthetic hip
  • November 26 letters - Mark French and homeopathy, Two big guns in one team, Tyler Hamilton case, Bartoli's retirement, Dave Fuentes, Shane Perkins, Merckx and Armstrong, Training like Lance, Lance Armstrong, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Phonak gets what it deserves, Armstrong and Simeoni, Bike weight, Spouseless riders, Mary McConneloug, Adam Craig, Mark Webber interview, Santa vs Hairy Guy
  • November 19 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
  • 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
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com