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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 20, 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'. 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

Colle delle Finestre tactics
Rogues
It just keeps happening
Davis Phinney
Joseba Beloki
Australia - number one
You have let us down Paolo
Bettini/Cooke
What's up with pro cyclists these days?
Cipo, Cipo, Cipo
A question about team names
The disappointment of Viatcheslav Ekimov
Go Eki!

 

Colle delle Finestre tactics

As are many other cycling fans, I am eagerly anticipating the May 28th Giro stage from Savigliano to Sestriere, including the (in)famous Colle delle Finestre climb. However, having read the description of current status of the climb, I want to share some thoughts on possible bike tactics.

The climb is obviously difficult in itself (over 18 km long with average grade over 9%) but the intriguing difficulty is in the fact that the last 7+ km are run on a dirt road. However, at this time of the year the road is muddy because of all the melting snow. I seriously doubt that the road will dry by May 28th as the dirt road is 1600-2100m above sea level, where snow is continuously melting at this time of the year. Obviously, organisers can grade the road to dry more quickly but I assume it will be still muddy as of May 28th.

Therefore, in my thinking, the possible tactics on the climb seems to be a bike or wheel change from road tires to cross tires. I believe the time lost for the bike/wheel change will be more than compensated. Just imagine climbing out of the saddle on a muddy road at 9% grade on a bike with slick road tires. Your rear wheel simply keeps sliding backwards. Having a bike with cross tires can translate into a huge time advantage.

I see two following main questions regarding this strategy:

1. Is there any UCI regulation in place limiting the use of cross tires in a road race?
2. Logistics of this operation: I am not sure whether the Giro organisers will allow cars to follow the racers on the climb, because of possible deterioration of the terrain for the riders riding further back in the pack. In that case the spare bikes/wheels would have to be ready somewhere halfway up the climb and then again on the top of the climb to change back to road bike. This strategy is important mostly for GC riders, which means some 20+ riders only. Anyhow, there might be some interesting swapping taking place on the climb!

Or the organisers might just decide to omit the climb from the race at the end if the conditions are too bad.

Marek Sasik

Bratislava, Slovakia
Wednesday, May 18, 2005

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Rogues

I was talking to an Australian friend of mine, who for anonymity's sake we shall call Craig Smith-Gander, who was fined CHF25 at the Tour of China for some minor misdemeanor. He has admitted his guilt to me in confidence, but I didn't think to ask him if he (unlike most Australian cyclists in China) happened to have a ready supply of Swiss Francs in his wallet, and if he didn't, how did he satisfy the commissaire's appetite for Swiss Francs?

He's of fairly dubious origin, so I expect he has a Swiss bank account, but even he probably leaves his Swiss cheque book at home whilst racing in China. Why do riders always have fines levied in Swiss Francs? Why wasn't he fined in Yuan? If so, what exchange rate is applied (OK - the Yuan is fixed), and do the UCI take a generous basis point commission on the transaction?

In fairness to the UCI, I think this represents fairly good value, as you can gain a certain amount of notoriety (which mediocre cyclists such as myself seek) for a fairly modest outlay of Swiss francs. Unhappily, most of my conflicts with authority have resulted in fines in the local currency, disqualification or general contempt. It is time all race organisers resorted to fining errant riders in Swiss francs. My curiosity on issues such as these probably accounts for my failure to achieve anything in life.

Tony Weller

Brockenhurst, UK
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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It just keeps happening

In response to Michael Ward's letter titled 'It just keeps happening.'

A police officer who won't take an accident report should be reported to his/her superiors. It may be appropriate that the officer asks you to wait but you should never be sent away.

Given the SA Police's questionable (at best) performance during the Eugene McGee case and their current poor showing during the Royal Commission into that incident (failing to provide documents that the Commissioner specifically requested) perhaps you should report your incident to the Royal Commission.

Your email illustrates what the local cycling community already knows - that there is a culture of driving away from accidents in SA and that the police are dismissive of cyclists. These are just the sorts of comments the Commissioner has asked the public to lodge. While your incident is only a sidebar to the main thrust of the investigation this may be a good way to add to the public record. It is only through sheer weight of evidence will anything change.

The Royal Commission's website is http://www.service.sa.gov.au/krrc/. The Commissioner's email is listed there too.

I'd also add that if you are ever in a similar incident again and have a mobile phone handy, call the police immediately on 131 444 as they are more likely to act while the offender is still in transit.

Michael Davis

Adelaide, SA
Thursday, May 19, 2005

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Davis Phinney

Please encourage Davis to continue his Giro diaries. Years ago, just after he retired, I went to hear him speak. He's a great story teller and that comes through in his Cyclingnews diaries. But his latest is great - "Expecting an Aussie sprinter to back off when he can almost taste the victory spumante is like asking Mike Tyson to walk away from a bar fight. Ain't gonna happen." - classic! Spoken like a true sprinter from an underdog Pro cycling country - he should know. Thanks!

Bill Fournell

Manhattan Beach, CA, USA
Friday, May 13, 2005

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Joseba Beloki

What is going on with Joseba Beloki? As I write this, he is already over 40 Minutes [now over one hour] in arrears at the Giro; the big mountains are yet to come. I had really hoped he would return to form and spice up the Tour at some point. I have not heard much about him this year. Does anyone know if he has fully recovered from his injuries, or has he just been unable to recover from the psychological damage?

His horrific accident occurred almost two years ago, and it is a shame to see him in such a bad way. Maybe he should go to CSC next year. Riis has done such a great job with Julich and other riders who appeared to be down and out. I would like to see what he could do with Joseba. I truly believe he was the one rider who could have really put Armstrong in trouble the day after his dehydration problem in the time trial.

Eric Bowen, LLC
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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Australia - number one

Australia is certainly the strongest non-European cycling nation in the world but, at least for the men, not the strongest in the world. As of the end of 2004, the strongest cycling nation in the world, based on UCI points/national population, is Luxembourg. Now if only Pope Benedict XVI was a quality cyclist, the Vatican would be a shoo-in.

Tom Atherholt

Moorestown, NJ, USA
Friday, May 13, 2005

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You have let us down Paolo

I don't agree that Bettini's reactions were uncalled for. No one will ever know if he deliberately squeezed Cooke into the barriers. From photos on the internet, it seems like Cooke was trying to pop through a gap barely wide enough for his handlebars, and the risk did not pay off. Cooke claims that, when he made his move to come around Bettini, there was only 20 centimeters more open space on the right side. That doesn't seem possible; maybe he means that there was another rider there, that he was boxed in. The photos available seem to show that he decided to pass Bettini on the left, and that Bettini was already way over on the left side of the road when Cooke made his move.

Like I said, you could reasonably come out either way on whether Bettini deserved to be relegated. If you guess that maybe he didn't do anything wrong, then it is understandable that he would be pissed off at the race organizers for penalizing him for just doing what he thought he was supposed to do; provide some kick ass racing action. Bettini is a rider that makes his own successes; he attacks and attacks until he gets away, and then he finishes it off at the end.

If you can accept that maybe Bettini wasn't at fault, then it's not fair to castigate him so severely for expressing his discontent with the decision of the race jury. Since he doesn't get to explain his position to the race jury before they make a decision, it seems reasonable to allow him to express his dissent in a meaningful way. I'm sure that Cooke's complaint was not exactly delicately phrased.

The more ridiculous thing, is that Cooke would not talk to Bettini after the stage, preferring to retain his own assumptions about what Bettini was thinking when he drifted a few inches to the left while hammering full bore after causing the decisive splits in a brutally raced stage that was supposed to end in a garden variety stampede to the line. In my opinion, Cooke is the one who sent the aftermath of the stage into a tailspin by brushing Bettini aside publicly. If the roles were reversed, and this happened during the JCTDU, I would be quite surprised to see Cooke graciously submitting to an official decision to relegate him for slightly irregular sprinting, especially after being rudely treated in front of his home fans by an irate Bettini.

J McHugh

Westport
Saturday, May 14, 2005

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You have let us down Paolo #2

I would just like to say after seeing the footage live and listening to the informed coverage of David Cassani that Bettini was in the wrong but was in no way all at fault. If you watch the footage slowly you will see Cooke going the skinny side and taking his right hand off the bars to push Bettini. He in essence contributed to his fall.

Now Bettini deserved to be relegated but Cooke put himself in a bad place and then tried to do it one handed. Most would have grabbed a handful of brakes. If Cooke had of done this he would have won the stage on protest. As it was he fell and got nothing.

Matthew Tognini
Friday, May 13, 2005

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Bettini/Cooke

Seems to me that while Cooke was the innocent party, he did himself no favours by taking his hand off the bars to push Bettini out of the way - this being the principle cause of his nasty crash.

Now having said that, you have to ask - did Cooke´s track past come back to bite him? A road sprinter would have backed off and raised a hand to protest and probably been given the stage, but a track sprinter just piles on in there and lets the judges sought it out later; they also don't have to carry their bike over the line like the roadies do.

Barry R Taylor
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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What's up with pro cyclists these days?

What's up with Cadel Evan's sensitive collarbones? Isn't this about his 7th break in the past three years? Didn't he learn how to crash properly and 'roll with it' during his years on the dirt? Will we see him wearing shoulder pads during Le Tour?

And Serguei Gonchar - his choice of time trial equipment is baffling. Could he possibly be the only pro cyclist in the world who races on a Spinergy Rev-X (discontinued for some time now)? Does he know something that all the 'aero gurus' haven't quite figured out? Does his team supply this wheel, or is he picking up spares on eBay?

What's up with Jan Ullrich dumping his long-time, supportive partner, Gaby, prior to Le Tour? Could he be taking a page straight from Lance's playbook? If Jan shows up in France with a female rock star on his arm, I'm putting my money on him for the win.

Justin Forbes

California
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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Cipo, Cipo, Cipo

I just wanted to say I found Cipo's farewell ride and parting words exceptionally classy for a rider known for so much spectacle:

"Behind these last thousand meters of a career is my whole life. It's difficult to end my career, but everything comes to an end. The affection of the fans is my last victory."

This shows a great sense of perspective and reverence. And he spoke these words dressed head to toe in pink. Amazing

I always loved watching Cipo get up to full gallop at the end of a race. He was a monster in his prime and simply loved to win. His glam boy image, to me, only added to the sport: who else has attempted to rock out a gold leaf skinsuit in public while maintaining any air of masculinity?

Cipo, you will be missed. Today when I go out to ride, I will put a little extra pomade in my coiffure and perch my sunglasses on my head in honor of your many victories and your class.

Jay Mueller

New York, NY
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

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A question about team names

Just wondering why cycling teams are named after their sponsors rather than a club or "the team", so to speak? For example, Manchester United Football Club is called Manchester United Football Club, and not whatever their current sponsors are called. Some teams seem to have had names; for example, ONCE being named after a charity for blind people (I think), but being sponsored by Deutsch Bank. The teams are obviously teams, as you can follow the history of a team; for example, Motorola becoming USPS and then becoming Discovery, and ONCE becoming Liberty-Wurth - but to the outside observer there is no connection.

This question came to mind when reading about the Pro Tour and teams being a part of the tour for four years without relegation for bad team performance. The reason given for this was that it would give sponsors a guaranteed amount of time in the Pro Tour. Anyway, was there a time when there were real teams in cycling rather than a bunch of cyclists paid to ride by a company, and how did it change?

Cheers,

James Gardner
Thursday, May 19, 2005

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The disappointment of Viatcheslav Ekimov

Eki is definitely out of this year's TdF, but could be back in time for the Vuelta. His chance at equalling the record for consecutive Tours is now lost, but I'm wondering...what's the record for most years with at least one major tour completed?

Steve O'Dell

Peachtree City, Georgia - Home of the world's highest springtime (...ah, ah, ah... chooo!) pollen count
Friday, May 13, 2005

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Go Eki!

We have a suggestion for Mr. Ekimov in regards to his rehabilitation and recovery. Clearly, he is a favourite with American crowds and with the Tour de Georgia supporters. Eki, come back to Georgia and train on Brasstown Bald and surrounding vicinities! At least you can be fairly certain that all the potholes on OUR roads were filled in preparation for the Tour de Georgia. The roads of North Georgia are still full of cycling enthusiasts who were inspired by you and the other great riders of the tour, so you will not be lonely. Nevertheless, the general public in the United States is less familiar with cycling as a sport than Europe, so you can train in relative peace and anonymity.

The hail and snow of last month are a distant memory, and the trout fishing is great this time of year. We may not have the great sites of Rome or St. Petersburg, but in the summer the roadside apple cider and boiled peanut stands are great for hydration or a quick shot of protein. Besides, where else can you cycle and encounter such great names as Hogpen Gap, Booger Holler, Jot-em-down Road, and Blood Mountain? So, what do you say? Eki, are you there?

Seriously, we wish you the best. Your fans are all hoping to see you back racing again soon. Never lose that great smile!

The Caseys

Atlanta, Georgia
Thursday, May 19, 2005

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2005

  • May 13: Hit and run, Bettini vs Cooke, Bettini's Illegal sprint, You have let us down Paolo, Giro, Bettini/Cooke, Cookie's crumble, Bjarne's right: There's only one Jens Voigt!, Jens Voigt and the blind, South Australians protest against hit-and-run death, It just keeps happening, Liberty Seguros, The disappointment of Viatcheslav Ekimov, Go Eki!, Australia - number one, Irresistible in July, UCI weight rule
  • May 6: South Australians protest against hit-and-run death, Tyler Hamilton's case, Hamilton and the facts The USADA decision on Tyler Hamilton, Tyler Hamilton, Tyler, Testing and the Virenque Comparison, How do dopers live with themselves?, General view on doping, Hamilton guilty regardless of the facts, Hamilton verdict, Tyler is good going uphill, Hamilton interview, Klöden comments, Tyler H, Simoni, Grazie Mario, Sheryl Crow, or should we say...Yoko Ono
  • April 29: South Australians protest against hit-and-run death, Tyler Hamilton's case, Hamilton and the facts The USADA decision on Tyler Hamilton, Tyler Hamilton, Tyler, Testing and the Virenque Comparison, How do dopers live with themselves?, General view on doping, Hamilton guilty regardless of the facts, Hamilton verdict, Tyler is good going uphill, Hamilton interview, Klöden comments, Tyler H, Simoni, Grazie Mario, Sheryl Crow, or should we say...Yoko Ono
  • April 22: Lance Armstrong's retirement, W is for Witchhunt, Tyler's mishandling defense, Not for real, is it?, Bad Science, Blood testing issues, Hamilton - finally a decision, Regarding the Tyler Hamilton decision, Tyler Hamilton, Satisfying Verdict for Hamilton Case, How do dopers live with themselves?, Hamilton's case, Tyler Hamilton's case, Hamilton, Hamilton verdict and a call for outside expertise, Tyler Hamilton saga..., Tour de France preview...2006!, Klöden comments, Tour de France Training, The New Dynamic Duo, Sheryl Crow, or should we say...Yoko Ono, Random Musings
  • April 15: Glenn Wilkinson, USADA and Hamilton, Bergman; so sad, ProTour leader's jersey, That's a Jersey?, Too many chiefs?, Track World Championships, What do you think?
  • April 8: The New Dynamic Duo, Boonen's Hairdo, Viral infections and antibiotics, George Hincapie, What do you think?, Track World Championships, VDB?, A little bit more about blood doping, Blood testing issues
  • April 1: Well done Ale-jet, Eyes of tigers..., Viral infections and antibiotics, Let's talk about cycling…, What's worth talking about in cycling?, First Ride of the season, The New Dynamic Duo, Blood testing issues, Sydney Thousand, UCI Pro Tour Grand Theft, not Grand Tour
  • March 18: The Forgotten Hero!, Way to go Bobby, Bobby J, Lance has lost the ‘Eye of the tiger’, Blood testing issues and Hamilton, With all Due Respect, All this Lance Talk..., Is Lance getting soft?
  • March 11: Blood testing issues and Hamilton, Cycling on TV, In Defence of UCI president Hein Verbruggen, Defending the Pro Tour?, Is Lance getting soft?, Lance has lost the "eye of the tiger"
  • March 4: In Defence of the Pro-Tour, Grand Tours back down...for now, Armstrong and Simeoni,Help - what’s on the TV?, Cycling on TV, Lance Defends His Title!, Hamilton movie role downplayed, Blood testing issues and Hamilton, I really don't know when it happened
  • 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
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com