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Letters to Cyclingnews - June 24, 2005
You guys should write a letter to the editor giving the cyclists view on The Telegraph's story, mentioning the fatal crash and danger to cyclists. Riding in Australia is becoming particularly dangerous, especially in places like the Gold Coast. There seems to be growing anger towards cyclists and more incidents of road rage. You guys know what to say, but part of the letter should put the onuses back on the government to provide a more safe environment, particularly for those commuting to work. With higher petrol prices, traffic congestion, pollution etc the government (and newspaper for that matter) should be encouraging more cycling not less. It's up to them to make it safe either with cycling lanes or bike paths.
Tim Searles (UQ Cycling Club)
Great Article! Well written!
It's very sad that some mindless individuals have the right to print articles like that in the telegraph. Like you say it just fuels the single cell population into believing that roads are just for cars and if they kill us it's our fault.
It's exactly the same here in Britain, a motorist can get away with hit and runs, speeding, dangerous driving, parking on pavements, using mobile phones whilst driving, running lights and generally killing people. That's ok, but if a cyclist holds up a motorist for a few seconds or heaven forbid uses a pavement then we should be hung, drawn and quartered.
My personal experience, I did find that despite cycling being more popular in Melbourne compared to Britain, the standard of driving towards a cyclist was in fact far worse (and we have it bad here.) The government need to pump some money into adverts that make motorists more aware of other road users as this problem is only going to get worse if we continue to accept it. But then that would cost money wouldn't it?
Fantastic site by the way, I spend far too much of my time on it!
Thank you for pointing out the obvious.
As a (fairly responsible) bike commuter, I've lost count of how many times I've been reminded by motorists that cyclists "don't follow the laws" while they remain oblivious to the fact that they regularly roll through stop signs, break the speed limit, change lanes without signalling, talk on cell phones, park illegally and run red lights. I believe the statistic I was taught back in driving school stated that the average motorist breaks the law five times per minute.
At the very worst cyclists can be considered as rule-breaking as cars. But while doing so we take up less space, cause less harm in collisions, raise the level of public health and create less pollution.
I take exception with all of the letters criticising Walter Godefroot and Team Telekom. First of all let me say that this man knows how to win a bike race. No less a competitor than Eddy Merckx himself describes Walter as the only man he really feared during his great career. Godefroot was the only man never to be beaten by Merckx in a head to head duel (Merckx words, not mine). If he expects great things from his riders, so be it. I would expect nothing less from those that would ride on my team.
I like Paulo, Bobby and Santiago and think them all great riders. But they had bad years at Telekom for different reasons - injury, self doubt, lack of motivation on their on part. I think Bjarne Riis is the best motivator in sport. Maybe Mr Godefroot is not as good at motivating his team as Bjarne. But at the professional level I would expect all riders to be motivated at all times. If they are not that is their shortcoming, not the team management's. Why should anyone have to nurse maid a well paid professional? Why should anyone have to convince someone that they can win?
If I was T-Mobile management and I was paying these guys top salaries, I too would expect a lot out of them. Also, let's face it; under Walter Godefroot Team Telekom have won more than their share of big races. They have won I can't remember how many with Zabel, Ullrich won the Tour of Switzerland last year, Wesseman won Flanders last year, Vino won Liege this year and Amstel in 2003. Klier won Ghent Wevelgem in 2003 and in fact, between them, Telekom won three or four of the classics that year, as Zabel also won Paris Tours.
The point is that many riders have done very well at Telekom, so stop crying about how some riders can't do well with a team that pays them well and expects results. If Cadel wins this year, great, maybe it will be because he stays on his bike for a change and doesn't break his collarbone for a seventh time. Oh, I guess that is Walter Godefroot's fault as well. No, I guess not, because didn't he break it this year already with Davitamon-Lotto?
Walter Godefroot is a legend in the sport - treat him with the respect that he deserves. After all the greatest cyclist of all times does!
While in China last month, I saw a CCTV program on the building progress of the 2008 Games. There were plenty of clips of Hein Verbruggen looking all important and official, sitting in meetings and visiting construction sites. Then I remembered he is stepping down as UCI president after the games, but that's still three long years away. Perhaps an idea for a countdown web site…
Shortly after returning, we all learned that the kilo and the 500m TT were removed & replaced with BMX. I'm sure that went through Hein's mind as he visited the velodrome site. Two less events to worry about for all those sellout track sessions in 2008. The Chinese even had a possible medal contender for the 500, but I'm sure that won't bother the Chinese too much, right? Who wants to win an Olympic medal at home anyway! I wondered how popular BMX is globally and how many competitors it will draw, especially for the women, in comparison to track. No complaints for BMX as I'm more concerned about the UCI.
Looking back, they have made many puzzling decisions to "advance" cycling as they claim. No more funny bikes and bike positions (sorry Mr. Obree), moving the Road world's to October (with less participation), forcing the Pro Tour upon teams & promoters with little to no compromise (and re-introducing the TTT which was tried & then died in the early 90's), changing (with what input?) the technical support rules for MTB races, Verbruggen publicly criticizing Mapei for withdrawing their sponsorship, etc. to name a few. Besides doping, I'm sure I'm missing a few others but we all know the story. Verbruggen has gotten far too comfy in his plush presidential UCI chair since 1991 and it's time for him to leave.
After reading an interview with Chris Horner several years ago, when he was whining and complained about the fact that no Division 1 teams wanted to pick-up his contract, while also essentially saying "I won't ride for anyone that doesn't speak English" - I really lost respect for him as a sporting personality. Granted, he's always been an amazing athlete but his arrogance and "pity me" attitude was just way over the top. And for several years I took pleasure from his misfortunes and reading his whining words…thinking…"He'll never go anywhere with that attitude."
However! I'm now a believer. He has shown wonderful class, confidence, sportmanship, athletic ability, and tactical knowledge (which we all knew he's had for a long time) in the Tour De Suisse.
It's my prediction that if a second American rises to the top of the heap in this year's Tour it won't be Landis, or Levi. Rather, I wouldn't be suprised to see Lance and Horner on the final podium! I'd give Horner a top 10 finish at the very least!
He is riding like a man with something to prove and I believe he will.
Two weeks to the Tour and you are psyched for the battle in stage one's 19 km TT, right? Great. But, when will the mountains start to separate the men from the boys? Many are banking on stage ten to provide the first big thrills. I say that the thirst for blood will strike in the hills of stage 9. Why is that?
First: Stage 9 proceeds the first rest day. There's no need to hold back.
I predict it will be similar to last year's stage three, where Armstrong and company gained almost four minutes over riders including: Mayo, Botero, Menchov, Moreau, Karpets, and Rogers. The attack came on the cobbled pave with 70 km to go. A lot of Tour dreams can easily be shattered on stages such as these. Don't miss it.
Timothy Shame, USA
Keep the Kilo, keep the 500m, add BMX, and return rhythmic gymnastics to the opening ceremonies where it belongs.
El Sobrante, CA
I have poured my heart into this event over the past year, leaving behind all of my "fun" endurance based pursuits and even crit racing to focus on 1:05 of pain and, with a bit more training, hopefully less. My case is nothing you haven't already heard but I felt it somewhat important that a person who has actually dreamt of going to the Olympic games in this particular discipline make his voice heard. I love track and all the events but I am quite sure that I speak for most when I say that the Kilometer time trial is without question the purest test of power and strength known.
I remember even hearing someone tell me that laboratory tests confirmed that no other athletic event created the volume of lactic acid build-up that a kilo does. Doesn't surprise me...I feel like every kilo I've ever done has taken a year off my life!
I have nothing against BMX and was quite a successful BMXer when I was young, but BMX already has the X-games and that is exactly where it needs to stay. The fact is that Velodrome events are some of the first to sell out at EVERY Olympics. To spend money to build a BMX track and create the facilities to even have a BMX race is complete madness. It's like getting rid of the 100 metre dash to make way for hip-hop dancing. Some things are "tradition" because they prove a point in the clearest manner possible...
There is no such thing as luck, or even strategy for that matter, in the kilo and the 500. Just a precision-tuned athlete, powerful in body and mind, trying to do one thing to perfection. No "getting into the rhythm", no "coming around" during it...THAT is why the crowds are riveted to the edge of their seats when it is underway. THAT is why it must stay.
US Masters National Kilometre Champion (30-34)
It's been said here recently; T-Mobile is not a place to go to improve. Michael Rogers seems to be following the Euros to T-Mobile after a great run with Mapei/Quick Step. Why?
Look at the T-Mobile "class of 2001" - Botero, Salvodelli, Julich, Evans, and to some extent Sevilla all fell apart under the German system only to thrive (SB, PS, BJ) again after leaving. For a guy who wants to win the Tour, going to Ullrich's team just seems like a bad move.
Derek A. Schreihofer
Oh dear. Mick - what have you done? You obviously doesn't read cyclingnews, or speak to Cadel, or watch Botero, Salvodelli et al.
All the Australians better hope Mick rips it up in the tour this time because we won't see him for the next two years…
It could just be a ruse to ensure he wins the TT in Beijing - if it's a two-year deal he should get the customary post T-Mobile bounce right on time in 2008. Good luck Mick.
Not wishing to hex Michael but has he not seen what happens to Grand Tour hopefuls when they move to T-Mobile? Like the reader's letter about them - Jan was back at his best with Bianchi, Cadel was left out of the Tour last year, Botero and Bobby J's careers were revived after leaving, etc. etc.
Somebody talk to the boy.
I cannot believe that Mick Rogers is headed to T-Mobile next year. Surely he's seen how a lot of other potentially great cyclists have fared there over the last few years? Not only that, but T-Mobile already have a number of potential Tour leaders. His chance of being the only number one come Tour time with T-Mobile is pretty remote. Don't do it Mick!
Here's a few more movie titles for your collection:
"Home Alone" - E. Zabel
Great idea. Perhaps from "The Terminator" comes Aitor Gonzalez? Here are a few better ones:
Lance Armstrong in "The Seven Year Itch"
For years I've been watching Chris Horner. For years I was wondering just how fast European riders could be if Horner was remaining in the USA to race. Could it be that they were that much faster than Chris so that he couldn't find a good contract there? But in the races where I attended and watched him closely I couldn't see how anyone could be faster.
Well, apparently he is fast enough, as he showed in Philly and in the Tour de Suisse. Fast enough that he might even land a contract next year that pays enough money to keep him in Europe for a couple of years instead of scooping up all the bucks at the US races.
I'll miss Chris at all the races here but look forward to his results in a suddenly less threatening European peloton.
Fassa Bortolo must be learning all their management lessons from T- Mobile…
First, Ivan Basso moves to CSC for 2004 and climbs onto the podium at the TdF (after an already impressive 7th in 2003 with Fassa) and might very well have won this year's Giro if not for some ill-timed "digestive problems".
Then Tom Danielson jumps ship to Discovery and ends up taking the GC at the Tour of Georgia and will probably be one of Lance's main henchmen in the Tour this summer.
Now Aitor Gonzalez, who had two mediocre seasons with Fassa after winning the Vuelta with Kelme in 2002, joins Euskaltel this year and kicks butt in the Tour de Suisse.
If the formula is correct for Fassa (as it seems to be with T-Mobile), Pozzato should soon be producing some big results for Quick-Step (although how big can your results be when Tom Boonen is your teammate?) and Cancellara should have teams throwing money at him when his contract with Fassa is up. Maybe even Petacchi will see his career take off even more (if that's even possible) if Fassa doesn't find the money or the sponsors to keep him and his leadout train for next year.
As for me, I guess I'll be sending a CV/resume to Fassa along with the one I am already sending to T-Mobile in the hope that a couple years in the trenches will pay off with some future Grand Tour glory (but not with Fassa or T- Mobile, of course).
Yes, non-Americans are talking at the cafes about the rides of Horner. I don't like saying getting hurt was a blessing in disguise but in this case and for Horner's final years I think it may be.
He showed he could ride with the co-favourite of the upcoming TDF, showed he can win a stage in Europe, all while not being at his best. He wasn't scheduled to ride the TDF and he had to come off an injury, train hard, contend in every race to earn his spot. I talked to him in Trenton and he told me what he had to do, hoped to do, and he did it. Barring a sub-par TT in the TDS he might have hit the podium. Anyhow, congratulations Chris Horner.
After the TDF I think more non-Americans will be speaking of another American joining the list of Armstrong, Landis, Leipheimer, Hincapie, Julich as top cyclists in the world. Above all what I also notice, like Landis; he loves to ride a bicycle. He took a 50% pay cut this year, but by the year's end I think he'll have made an investment towards signing his next contract. I, like many others, are glad he didn't let money stand in the way of not giving Europe another shot and showcasing his amazing talent and will, which made him a virtual favorite in all U.S. races.
Being a true American cycling fan has me wondering why Bobby Julich is not someone mentioned as a major American competitor for this year's Tour de France. I, like others, have followed his career from the times he was labeled "promising young rider" and feel he is showing that same promise in the twilight of his career. He has shown a definite competitive side to his racing this season and the Tour always brings out the best in him.
Montrose, Colorado USA
Ah, the old "cyclists endangering themselves and others". Nice to see the journal of record (aka the Daily Terror) looking out for cyclists welfare. I haven't lived in the Emerald City for 6.5 years, but riding in London isn't all that dissimilar (London traffic is slower, but at T intersections drivers have an incredibly irritating habit of poking their nose out, forcing you into the traffic or over their bonnet [US = hood]).
When did driving become a proximity contest ("mate - you can get closer than that")? Why do Transport for London employ psychopaths to drive buses? What possesses motorists to stop in a clearly marked cycle lane (no, putting your hazard lights on does not cause your vehicle to hover at a distance above the ground such that I can continue on my journey unimpeded)? Why at 8.00 on a Sunday morning in country Surrey with not another car on the road does some idiot in a Range Rover feel the need to sit over my right shoulder (I may be overweight but there would seem to be little point in a 4WD trying to suck my wheel) then accelerate past screaming abuse just as the only other car we have seen all morning appears from the other direction? Idiots.
Motorists should be forced to ride home from work along the local A road at 6.30 on a damp winter's evening. And at the risk of starting another debate, I run red lights all the time. Have done for years. Now I have a daughter I am a little more circumspect, but I rode to work this morning and probably ran five or so lights. Didn't endanger anyone, myself included. But there's always some bloke (wonder why it's always a bloke) in a car who pulls up at the lights then roars up after you and has a go at you for running the light. Why? How did it ruin your day? If you don't like it, run your own red light(s). If for financial reasons you don't want to run red lights in a car, then buy a bike and join me and the rest of us trying to survive the commute or the training ride or the short trip to the shops.
Just a quick note to add my five star rating to the Hell on Wheels film. I drove the hour and a half up from the Gold Coast to the Schonell at the Brisbane University campus and I have to say it was more than worth the drive. I think above all, it shows surprisingly ordinary sorts doing extraordinary things in a matter of fact way and without complaint.
I have seen the tour in person three times (1990, 1994 and 2001) at various stages and we all think we have a idea of the suffering and mental strength needed, especially when the road tilts up...well, this film paints a very real and at times cruel picture with a team car's front seat view. It is unbelievable at times; the speed the riders go up these monster climbs, the terrifying descents, the everyday 45-50kmh pace of the peloton and yes, the crashes.
Eric and Rolf take all this in a very natural and workmanlike way, though Eric does convey his doubts, fears and hopes, sometimes in a stream of consciousness whilst being massaged, he nevertheless gets up the next morning and just gets on with it. These people are all very human, there is a touching moment when Jan Ullrich is telling someone he's talking to on the phone that his screensaver on his laptop is pictures of his baby daughter, and another of Rolf pulling one polka dot best climber's jersey after another out of this rucksack and joking about how long they thought he was planning on wearing it.
Shouldn't say too much more, but if you can, see it, even if you don't ride but know some who does, it might give you a idea of the culmination of what some of us dream about as the pinnacle of life's ambitions.
Palm Beach, QLD
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