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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 20, 2005
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.
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.
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!
Manhattan Beach, CA, USA
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
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.
Moorestown, NJ, USA
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
New York, NY
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?
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?
Peachtree City, Georgia - Home of the world's highest springtime (...ah, ah,
ah... chooo!) pollen count
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!
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