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Letters to Cyclingnews - February 25, 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

Recent letters

Lance Defends His Title!
Build it and tear it down?
Build, dismantle and donate!
Lance's Hour Record attempt
I really don't know when it happened
Can't get enough!
Dream on


Letter of the week

The very bright Cateye SL-LD100 safety light is on it's way to Scott.

Lance Defends His Title!

Let me start off by saying that I am and always will be a Jan Ullrich fan. That said, ‘hurray, Lance is going to the Tour again!’ If Jan or Andreas, Ivan, Roberto, Iban or whoever is going to win the Tour this year, let it be against the best field possible. With Lance out there you will have the best field possible. Lance will no doubt be totally prepared and have one of if not the best support teams riding at his side.

If Jan is to win it will mean so much more to me, and obviously to him I'm sure if he does it against the likes of the Sir Lance-a-Lot! Maybe Lance will dominate the Tour again this year; who knows. But I will be there in front of my television every day in July hoping that Der Kaiser can summon up the old strength and knock him off his Trek pedestal. That would be the best. Jan maybe winning against Ivan and Iban (although they are excellent riders) just wouldn't be the same to me.

And if, as so many fans think, Jan's better days are behind him, maybe I will be treated to young Damiano Cungeo kicking butt, or some other young gun instead. The point is, even if Lance crushes everyone again, the best of the best will be out there going after the win at the hardest race there is.

Can't wait to see how it all shapes up.

P.S. - Don't miss a minute of the Spring Classics either people, they are truly some of the best races around (especially Paris-Roubaix)!

Scott Wilcox

Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Friday, February 18, 2005

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Build it and tear it down?

In regards to the letter of the week "Build it and tear it down?" I am inclined to agree with Mr. Thwaits, unless the location is the detractor. Perhaps the velodrome is to be built at a very scientifically specific elevation for maximum effect. If so, and the idea of leaving the velodrome is not feasible, then dismantle it. Further, I suggest taking care to label the parts with assembly codes and donate it to a needy city (Louisville, KY) or even sell the pieces of the history-making velodrome to create additional revenue for the LIVESTRONG cause.

The marketing value would be phenomenal for Lance, the Discovery Channel, Nike and all of the other partners. More importantly, LIVESTRONG would have its next big fundraising opportunity for such a worthy cause.

Darrin Lay

Louisville, KY
Friday, February 18, 2005

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Build it and tear it down? #2

I couldn't agree more with Alan Thwaits' assessment of Armstrong's velodrome construction plans.

However, I'm sure there is a question of land (leasing for hour attempt versus selling, or a 50-year lease), upkeep, liability, etc. Building the velodrome is only half of the problem. Creating an infrastructure that will support and maintain the velodrome is a whole other proposition.

That being said, I'm 100% positive that there is a die-hard cycling community who would make great use of the "Lance Armstrong Velodrome" and would be willing to take on the responsibility of caretaker.

While we’re talking along these lines - whatever happened to the Atlanta 1996 track? Seriously, any information on this would be greatly appreciated.

James Wilson

San Francisco
Friday, February 18, 2005

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Build it and tear it down? #3

The point made by Alan Thwaits is valid, although the reality is more likely that he (Armstrong) will build this velodrome on land that does not belong to him. Therefore it would have to be pulled down afterwards. For Lance to leave behind a velodrome for the use of others is a commendable idea but he would first have to purchase land in an area where the facility could be put to good use. It would then need all the associated infrastructure such as grandstands, toilets, etc. Money and personnel would need to be spent on a regular basis to maintain the facility.

I'm sure that we all agree Lance has gained a vast personal fortune from his exploits on the bike, but let us not forget what he has already given back to the community through the work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, not to mention the enormous exposure he has given the sport of cycling, especially among non-European nations, and of course the pleasure he gives to cycling fans. It is not Lance's responsibility to provide sporting venues though I'm sure he would if he could.

Tony McDonald

Sydney, Australia
Sunday, February 20, 2005

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Build, dismantle and donate!

Having just read Alan Thwaits letter concerning the velodrome saga surrounding Armstrong's possible Hour Record attempt, I would like to put forward another suggestion.

I agree wholeheartedly with Alan regarding the expense of building a velodrome and then tearing it down, along with all the other reasons of readers why the attempt should be made in Manchester.

What I would like to suggest is that the velodrome be built, used by Armstrong for the attempt, and then dismantled and donated by Discovery to a country where track cycling is on the increase, but due to the lack of quality facilities, the development of the sport is hampered. No prizes for guessing which country I would recommend, other than my own beloved South Africa.

Alan may be correct in saying that there is a lack of quality velodromes in North America; in South Africa we have only got one quality velodrome at sea level. If Discovery were to entertain my suggestion, the establishment of an indoor board track in Johannesburg, at an altitude of over 2000m, would result in one of the fastest tracks in the world. It would also give the Discovery Channel an opportunity to make a documentary surrounding the building of the track, dismantling it, and then re-establishing it in South Africa, not to mention increasing the channel’s profile in Africa and at the same time making a worthwhile contribution to the sport of track cycling in Africa.

Gary Rabie

Johannesburg, South Africa
Friday, February 18, 2005

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Lance's Hour Record attempt

Um, wait a minute. I don't think many folks question the credibility of Merckx' record, and wasn't it set at altitude in Mexico City? So, I don't think it is accurate to say that everyone agrees it needs to be at sea level to be credible. Boardman's choice to do it in front of his home crowd in Manchester shouldn't have any impact on the ‘credibility’ of the record. That said, the concept of putting up a velodrome and tearing it down just seems wrong, doesn't it? It reeks of excess. I like the film documentary angle, but here are two more angles:
1) The idea is to create a velodrome in a stadium setting, where the event can be larger, but where the track itself would have to be taken out afterwards, or,
2) The concept of tearing it out was raised as a bargaining ploy with potential hosts of the event - Team Armstrong saying, look, we don't need you, you need to play ball if you want this event.

And maybe the latter strategy is having an effect. Less than ten days after Armstrong's comment, Albuquerque, New Mexico announced the hiring of a velodrome consultant, Threshold Sports, a $10 million proposed commitment from the city, and plans to break ground on a velodrome in Albuquerque in 2005. This comes after ideas to build a mile-high velodrome in Albuquerque have been kicking around for a decade. I’ll tell you this - I'm riding the fixie now just in case I can ride on the world record track in 2006.

Dan Long

Albuquerque, NM USA
Friday, February 18, 2005

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I really don't know when it happened

Thinking back, I really don't know when it happened. One minute I was this normal everyday kid in high school and all of a sudden cycling became so important. Maybe it was that day they cut me from the basketball team...too slow and not tall enough.

Perhaps it was the day I saw LeMond, Hinalult and Fignon on T.V. with Phil Ligget and John Tesch reporting from France. Soon after that, I rode my first real road bike with toe clips and a jersey. Back then people in the street didn't really know what to think of us. We were definitely freaks from some other planet of people that dressed in lycra and velcro.
My cycling buddy and I found an old Colorado phone book and called Davis Phinney on a whim. We were both amazed when he told us stories about the peloton for more than an hour, as if we were long lost friends. And that sums it up...we are all in allegiance to this lovely sport that captivates so many hours from us daily.

The hum of your tires on a lonely stretch of country road, the sound of the chain on your cassette waiting for a command, taking you to another gear, or leaning into a curve at high speed with only the sound of the wind at your side. The truth is that I fall a little more in love with cycling every day. From the older man at the local 30-mile ride, to the veteran pro who rides centuries almost every day. I can't wait to get out there and eat, drink and hear the cycling going on around me. I hope you feel the same!

Ruben Neria

El Paso, Texas
Friday, February 18, 2005

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Can't get enough!

The letter about coverage of cycling really got me thinking about how truly shallow we are here in the States. Don't get me wrong, I'm a patriot and love the United States. I just think it’s funny that Mr. Broque thinks that cycling in its purest form will ever be seen here in America on a large scale. If cycling does appear here, you won't recognise it. It will be some sort of ‘Americanised’ version. I think there are several reasons for this; but, I think only a couple are worth talking about.

I, like pretty much everyone who knows who he is, am a fan of Lance. I have my own reasons but I agree with Mr Broque that most people who know of Lance are just happy to see him win because it means that Europeans are getting beaten on their "home turf" so to speak. I think it all goes back to a father/unruly-child type of relationship - Europe being the father and America the unruly child. Those of you with kids, especially teenagers, can relate.

We, as a nation, are still going through growing pains. We have the bad attitude of a teenager; and just like the teenager, America doesn't want to have the same habits, customs or feelings as its father (Europe). As an example, in keeping with the sports theme, we take Cricket and turn it into baseball, we take Football and turn it into soccer, or take a bunch of steroid-enhanced goofs, put them in pads and call that football (or for you Aussies out there, we take Rugby, add pads, add whining, take away beer and call it football). Either way you get the idea.

I guess with cycling, we just haven't figured out how to truly "Americanise" it yet. Even though a bunch of guys out in California started the whole mountain bike thing, and that sort of qualifies, (even though cyclocross predated it by a few decades) we just can't get it. I guess the closest thing we have to pro cycling with all its sponsors and attitudes and crazy fan support is NASCAR racing. Maybe in the end, that's how we'll Americanise pro cycling. We'll take Lance, put him in Monte Carlo, and then give him a crack at the hour record. Something tells me he won't have any problems with it. You know - he did catch a ride in a F1 racer a little while back. Hmmm....

Steven Slone

Lexington, KY
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

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Dream on

In recent weeks I find myself dreaming about what I would do should I hit the lottery jackpot. One thing for sure would be to ride my bike even more (and not necessarily around the gigantic Montreal potholes in winter, that's for sure).

How much money am I talking about? Well let's say at least 10 Million Canadian "Looneys" which is roughly the same in Australian dollars or about 7.5 million US dollars, or 6.5 million Euros.

I would start a professional cycling team.

The business plan for my own team will be either to
1) Start from scratch, sign on a few people with experience and/or take a couple of chances with promising rookies (in either function), or,

2) Buy myself into a Division III or II team that (in my eyes) would show the potential to succeed, but that may also be in dire need of money. I may start the operation in France (although the riders and staff could come from all over the world since I believe that there is a higher chance of getting "invited" to ride the Tour if you're based in the "Grande Nation").

There will be a few key factors in the venture:

1) Set sensible goals for the seasons ahead. Something like "by the fifth season we would like to get into the UCI Continental or Pro-Tour" is somewhat realistic, yet still ambitious enough to provide a long-term incentive for success.

2) Have a strict No-doping policy. Riders caught doping (either by the Team or during a race control) will be sacked without pay. No discussion! The same would apply to team officials that provide, suggest, or in any way endorse any form of illegal performance-enhancing methods. I will want to make sure that the riders get all the possible advantages to increase their performance in legal manners so that doping would be (in theory) a superfluous activity.

3) Seek the advice and maybe even support of proven people. I would certainly try to recruit some top people, but even just to get advice from managers, trainers and medical experts in the field, that have been around the peloton for a while and have a successful track record, would add credibility and value to my venture. Some recently retired riders provide in my mind the pool of expertise that I should try to recruit from (looking at examples such as Bruyneel, Riis and the like support that point).

4) Seek options to form strategic alliances or to align my program with a proven team. Let's say in the second season the team pulls off the odd win and/or has a few promising talented riders in the line-up. I would be willing to take the entire operation and incorporate it into a larger team's organisation and become (for example) a Pro-Tour's development team.

Financing the venture should be fun and somewhat easy. Not only will I bring some money to the table, but I could use that money to unlock some venture capital from other sources. Fun is actually one of the key words. Because the final point will be to have fun - even if the venture fails I will have FUN. I will have had a great time training with the team (yeah at 33 years of age I do not really have hopes and dreams to make it as a racer - but I can still ride with the boys) and pulling the strings behind the scenes. And last, but not least; hanging out with the big names in the sport.

So in order to do this...all I need is the winning lottery ticket for this weekend's drawing and off we go to the races. Easy!

I'll let you know, dear cyclingnews-smenges, if I succeed.

Laurent Schoux

Montreal, Canada

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2005

  • February 25: Lance Defends His Title!, Build it and tear it down?, Build, dismantle and donate!, Lance's Hour Record attempt, I really don't know when it happened, Can't get enough!, Dream on
  • February 18: Build it and tear it down?, Remember Marco, One Reason I Love Cycling, The ongoing Hour Record Saga, Lance’s Hour Record attempt, Can't get enough!
  • February 11: One Reason I Love Cycling, Francisco Cuevas, F-One - Come down to earth Lance!, Armstrong and the Hour, Can't get enough!, Greatest of all time
  • February 4: F-One - Come down to earth Lance!, Armstrong and the Hour, Armstrong and Simeoni, Can't get enough!, Help, Greatest of all time Eddy is King, but who is second best?
  • January 28: "I am the greatest of all time", Armstrong and the Hour Record, F-One - Come down to earth Lance!, Lance Drug Probe, Armstrong and Simeoni, Can’t get enough!, Help, NBC's 2004 RAAM Coverage, Doping, Crash distance from 1km to 3km, Eddy is King, but who is second best?
  • January 21: 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
  • 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 Kaiser’s 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