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Letters to Cyclingnews - April 1, 2005
Sirs, Having read that Mr Lance Armstrong has lost the 'eye of the tiger', I would be pleased to offer him two from a recent night safari in the Chessington Zoo. Not quite the thrill that there was when my legs were still sound and the eyes good out in the jungles of Ceylon. Battering down the gate and running over the security guard in the old Landy was a wheeze nonetheless. Surely this sort of thing ought to be easier in America where a good shotgun can, I'm led to believe, be acquired with one's morning edition of the New York Picayune, road rules are almost non-existent, and motor cars are the size of a moderate stately home? Then again, my in-depth study of colonial road markings suggests that they haven't even discovered the eyes of the common domesticated cat. But quite what all this feline ocular 'lost and found' has to do with bicycle racing is entirely beyond me... Tally ho!
Brig. Arthur Cholmondley-Smythe (ret) Chairman, Trowbridge and Wessex Association of Tiger Shooters
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
I have been thinking of asking the same question about viral infections and antibiotics. In the example quoted by Dr Kaplan, we have detailed information about the virus in question but no information on why this counter-intuitive treatment method has been selected. Your reporters need to be more diligent and ask the doctors treating the patient or the individual him- or herself about why antibiotics are being prescribed.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Of course viral infections do not need antibiotics, but as these are highly-paid athletes their handlers are taking no chances and over treating them to avoid any athlete down time. This does lead to more resistant strains of bacteria and cannot be recommended. Don't forget that the public relations people that put out these announcements are the same types that always announce after surgery on a celebrity " All of the tumor was successfully removed", regardless what the surgery was and regardless of the ultimate outcome.
Gil Nyamuswa MD
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Hey Alex Parker, your letter was great. Why does everyone criticise and complain about Armstrong and make him the main topic constantly? The new season has begun, and as Parker explained, there are many other great events about to take place in the world of cycling that do not involve LA. Here are a few that Parker missed, but judging by his character, I am sure he is already aware of and waiting for.
The GIRO: the 2005 Giro is shaping up to be the best grand tour of the year. If some of you are not aware, I will out line it. Simoni and Cunego (will they work?, will they fight?) versus Basso. Basso has been training on the climbs used in this year's course and with the recent passing of his mother will be more keen to win than anyone.
Simoni and Cunego are both absolutely flying and in killer form already. Can the only thing that will prevent a Lampre-Caffita win be Cunego v Simoni fued? Maybe they will work together. No one knows. They might be saying that they are mates now, but when they are climbing the cols with the race on the line, I don't think they'll be able to send their teammate up the road and see their chances of victory fade. The president of my cycling club, Gino Coranachia, went to the Tour Down Under and meet Simoni, and talked to him at a cafe. Gino is Italian so naturally they got on well. Simoni said that the Giro is his main focus for the year, and he wants to win at all costs. Whatever happens, it shall be very intriguing.
Can anyone stop Petacchi? I think every professional sprinter in the world of cycling must have almost cried when they saw Pettachi climbing like he has never before in the Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico. Is this guy stoppable? The Giro and the rest of the season will be very interesting in relation to Petacchi's performances. The top Aussie in the Tour is another interesting question - Will it be McGee, Rogers, McEwen or Evans? This is possibly the hardest question I have ever formulated. McGee has a new found climbing ability and has always been a noted time triallist. He is aiming for the Tour, and will be under 70kg. Rogers is also an amazing time trialler but is yet to show he can trial in a grand tour. Evans is simply flying at the moment. He claims he is not in form and gets second to Simoni on Mt Foron. If he keeps improving like this he may well be a top five hopeful come July - we all haven't forgotten his Giro from the Mapei days.
Julich's great form and the Bettini-Rebellion-Boggard battle during the classics are another two aspects of the season to look forward to - the cycling world is in full swing - so enjoy it!!!!
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
An issue regarding the ProTour is the points system for stage wins as opposed to GC performance - I think wins in individual stages really aren't worth as much as high GC finishes because it is much easier for an 'average' rider to succeed in an individual stage as opposed to a high overall performance. The top riders on GC and their teams may or may not think it's worthwhile to chase them down if the rider going for the stage win is very low on GC.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
And I thought I was the only grump around! Who cares that Bob Bottom-Bracket finished hanging onto the back of the gruppetto by his fingernails when there was a hair-raising bunch gallop involving non-Americans going on at the pointy end of the race? It's not heresy bike fans, it's being a bike fan. Well done the man for telling it like it is - there's so much more out there.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Thursday, March 24, 2005
I live and work in the Southern Maine area; it's a 16 mile commute east to work at the University of Southern Maine where I am a cross country and track (running) coach. Monday, March 21st I rode into work, the first time on my road bike since October. It felt great, getting back on the bike, back in shape, and saving over $3.00 in fuel (ha ha). I made it to work at USM safely, took me just under an hour for the sixteen mile ride (way out of cycling shape).
I can't deny how strange it felt riding my road bike with six foot snow banks on each side of me. Before last fall I wouldn't think of riding my road bike if I couldn't wear my shorts and a jersey. My intentions were to leave work at about 5:00 pm so I could make it home during the last bits of daylight. During the day I found out I had a road race meeting at 7:00pm. It's a 5km road race I'm organizing to benefit the Maine Children's Cancer Program and it's progressing very well. We've raised over $1,000 in direct financial contributions, and with race participants we should raise another $2,000.
Anyways....after the meeting I started suiting up for the ride home in the 30 degree (f) temps of a spring night in Maine. Even before I got on my bike for the journey home I was wiped; pretty tired from the day. For the most part, the ride home went smoothly, I didn't feel especially great, but it's nice getting out there and riding. I'm about half a mile from my brother's house in Waterboro, riding just to the left of the white line to avoid cracks in the pavement and sand on the side of the road. There were no cars in front or behind me. I have my light shining in front, and a blinking red light on the back of my pack, so I'm as safe as a peanut in bubble wrap.
Knowing I am close to home I begin to relax, sit up on the bike, glide a little bit, pay less attention to what's in front of me, you know, like the cool down phase of riding. All of a sudden, 15 feet in front of me where the majority of my light shines, something runs into the road. Keep in mind I'm going close to 20 mph, on a slight downhill. By the time I see this cat-sized animal and make the reflex to try and swerve, it's at my tyres; I tried to lean to miss it because I certainly didn't have time to turn. Thankfully I was able to avoid it with my front tyre so I didn't go over the handlebars, but unfortunately my rear tyre hit it - I felt the bike lift up. Bump Are you ready to hear what kind of animal it was...?
A skunk... eeeeeeewwwwww
As soon as my rear tyre hit it, and was back on the stable pavement, I mashed on the pedals and let out a yell, knowing a skunk's stench can taint something anywhere from three to six yards away. About 50 metres down the road I finally sat back down on my saddle - I was in hysterics, and the adrenaline was just on it's decline from the climax. Whooo, what a rush! If there was anyone on the street, they would have thought I was nuts, not only for riding a road bike in the middle of March ,in Maine in the dark at 9:00 pm, but also nuts for the way I was laughing and acting, like there was someone next to me. As I neared the driveway up to my brother's house I sat up to stretch. When I leaned back on my bike I could smell it, the stench of a skunk. After later inspection the furry creature got the best of my 1998 Lemond Maillot Jaune. I had to leave it outside last night - thankfully the weather didn't spit on it. I guess it's time for the spring cleaning I was planning to put off. No bike shop will want to deal with the either... (ha ha). At least I can laugh about it now...!
P.S - when driving to work the next day I saw no signs of a dead skunk or a skunk smell at the site of the incident. So for you animal lovers, I'm certain the skunk is okay.
W Newfield, ME
Thursday, March 24, 2005
The race not to miss this year will be the Giro d'Italia. It is more than the race itself. It is the two riders who will replace the Armstrong/Ullrich era. They are Cunego and Basso. Both of these men are focused on Italy this year. Both are U23 champions (Basso in '98, Cunego '99 ). Cunego may have bested Basso in the Tour of Lombardy but Basso proved he can climb with the best in France last year. Basso has expressed that he learned last year to focus on just one race and to avoid key mistakes (look at his ride on Alpe d'Huez last year where he lost over two minutes due to soreness and gearing errors.) Cunego, who has relied on his climbing ability, will need to limit his losses over two ITT (41km and 31 km). They will not be alone of course, as Simoni, Garzelli, Leipheimer, and Popovych have all targeted Italy as well.
If my Italian is correct, I see stage 14 focused on the Stelvio ( a towering climb at 2758 m). Stage 17 includes a stretch of 6 km at 11%. Stage 18 is a time trial. Stage 19 is another big day in the mountains with a new climb that includes climbing over 8 km after the paved road gives out to dirt (at 9% no less). Both Cunego and Basso have their best years ahead, and both have said they want to target the 2006 Tour de France. They respect each other but they will be watching each other. Do not miss their first historic battle on the slopes of Italy this year.
Friday, March 11, 2005
There are few tests in human technology, if any, in which it is not possible to yield a false positive. The authorities now examining the Tyler Hamilton case are no doubt reviewing the voracity of the related homologous blood testing procedures and the likelihood of a false positive, however miniscule. Keep in mind, if there is ANY chance of a false positive, Tyler Hamilton could be innocent while being declared guilty. Having considered all this, I understand the underlying technology is quite reliable, though I for one am skeptical, to say the least, when anyone claims a test procedure is 100% reliable.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
This issue is considerably more complex than most either think it is, or want to acknowledge. First things first- in the situation concerning Hamilton and Perez, one must call into question the test itself, and the investigator who devised the test.
Considering that this individual has taken it upon himself to be the saviour of pro-cycling by cracking the secrets and providing an unbeatable test seriously compromises the integrity of the science behind the test. That being said- analysing samples for banned substances has never been the problem (aka the idiots from BALCO who thinks they know how to beat the system) but rather the ability to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the concentration warrants further investigation.
Basically, quantifying these substances, and determining suitable 'cutoff' values has become the issue. A cutoff value is simply a pre-determined limit of an allowable concentration of a substance within an individual's sample whether it be blood, urine, hair, etc. This is particularly the case in naturally physiological 'freaks' - as some pro -cyclists just happen to be. I am not saying that I believe everyone is drug free - quite the contrary - but as in all forms of science, you cannot (should not) come to conclusions without every bit of evidence humanly possible...which is hard to do in the cycling world when test results are wanted almost immediately. Much more research needs to go into these tests - I mean they started using them without even having other experts check the validity and reproducibilty! That is simply ridiculous!
Matthew D. Davenport
Saturday, March 26, 2005
More on blood doping...
The paper describing the research performed to establish the current test used to detect homologous blood doping opens with the following sentence: "Blood doping is the scourge of endurance sports since it provides immoral athletes with an illegal performance advantage." (Nelson et al, 2003. Haemetologica, vol. 88:11). How prevalent is this "scourge"? The tests described in the aforementioned paper yielded just one alleged positive out of all of the athletes tested at the Athens Olympics. This is not much of a "scourge", and raises a serious issue about both the testing protocol and the probability of false positives.
In my previous two letters (March 11 and 18) I outlined basic problems with both the researchers' and testers' logic in using this test to begin with, and problems associated with false positives. The fact that the test is very good at preventing false negatives (which it was originally designed to do), while producing unknown numbers of false positives (there is currently no alternative test to confirm positives), leads to two obvious conclusions when considering the results of the Athens Olympics blood tests:
1) Since the test rarely yields false negatives, the practice of homologous
blood doping is extremely rare or non-existent.
John Winnie, Jr.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Cycling's latest blood doping scandal has certainly aroused a number of scientific, ethical and legal debates. Legally speaking however, I wonder by which standard Tyler Hamilton will be judged.
In American civil trials, a defendant is judged guilty if the "preponderance of the evidence" is against him. In criminal trials, a higher standard, "beyond a reasonable doubt," is required for conviction.
It seems to me, these distinctions could play an important role in the outcome of the case.
New York, NY
Friday, March 25, 2005
I was interested to see discussion of John Scott's plan to revive the Sydney Thousand.
Riding in one was among the highlights of two seasons I spent racing in Australia in the '70s.
The race was held at Camperdown, and there were both amateurs and pros on a packed programme. Several of us were invited to come up from Melbourne, and we flew together on a late afternoon trip; Malcolm Hill and Murray Hall were the pros invited, and Colin Fitzgerald and I were the amateurs. It is a long time ago - there may have been others.
The venue was packed. I don't know how many people were there, but there was no room for any more spectators. It was a lovely warm Sydney evening and the atmosphere was incredible.
There was an Aces omnium as well as the Thousand for our code. All I can recall of the omnium is feeling outclassed and struggling with the tight bends on the Camperdown track. The Thousand was interesting, the heats had been run at a prior session, and we were inserted into the final without having to qualify! I felt quite embarrassed about that, because getting in major wheelrace finals was so difficult, and I didn't manage many. I was on 10m, on my own, and the next guy was at 40m. Scratch was frightening - Fitzy, Kevin Nicholls, Kenrick Tucker and Gary Sutton. Shane Sutton was somewhere in the field; I suspect he was also on scratch but can't exactly recall.
Gary Sutton won the thing, and the clear recollection I have of the final (after I had done my bit) is watching them on their last lap, Gary flying around the last of the front markers, with Shane on his wheel making damn sure nobody was getting around them.
There is nothing in the world like a big time Aussie wheel race, and I mean that literally. It is an Australian phenomenon. I believe the endless string of great Aussie cyclists your country produces is possible in part because of the unique track culture there.
Friday, April 1, 2005
When ASO's Patrice Clerc was referring to an American sports model, as opposed to the traditional Euro sports model for team structures in his latest comments regarding UCI's Pro Tour, he judiciously avoided making reference to another nefarious American model that the UCI wants to impose with Pro Tour TV revenues - the "Tony from Philly" model.
Just say this with a Soprano's-style accent, "Yo, I'm Tony (read: Hein) and me and my associates are gonna be your new partners - we'll take 50% off the top". Even us dopey Americans can recognize a smash-and-grab job when we see it. In earlier rounds of discussions when the top three promoters were baulking at falling into the UCI Pro Tour program the Hein-ster mentioned that the promoters need the UCI more than the UCI needs them - dead wrong, Mr. President.
If you need some perspective from other sports businesses, take a look at F1 and Mr. Ecclestone, and the rebelling F1 constructors and CART and Indy League in the US. Who needs who, Mr. Verbruggen? The UCI doesn't promote a single event - when you start telling the people who truly are responsible for the growth of the sports business that their properties can be easily replaced - or "Nationalized" by the UCI - you are seriously deluded. It's time for a serious house-cleaning in Aigle - or maybe just a change in their meds.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
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