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Letters to Cyclingnews - July 15, 2005
I am so glad to see Joseba Beloki back. I am from Texas and so am a pretty big Lance fan, but I sure thought Joseba looked good enough to maybe beat Lance. It was a real tragedy for the race the day Joseba crashed. And I have been hoping ever since to see him back at the front. I am so glad he made it. Maybe next year he'll be back at his former level. Too bad Lance won't be around then. I'd love to see that race finished; it would have been a really great race regardless who won.
Weatherford, TX, USA
I'm a fan of yours. I am following your diary on Cyclingnews.com. I used to be a hobby racer (Cat 3) and live in Santa Clara CA. I saw you win at SF Grand Prix and also ride a great race at the worlds in Hamilton. I also saw you on the road a few times when you were training with Webcor in the Bay Area. Congrats on the Tour of Suisse and the Worlds last year (Although I wasn't there in person for those).
I'm glad you finally got to ride the Tour and you seem to be having a solid ride. Great ride today to Courchevel - it looked brutal but you finished ahead of GC guys like Vinokourov and Julich. Good luck for the rest of the Tour. To win a stage would be the icing on the cake.
Hope to see you ride in SF in September,
I am just wondering why Lance gets a police escort after each stage. The other riders have to wait in traffic for hours while Lance is getting his massage and dinner. Should he not be treated just like the rest? All of the perks he gets definitely give him an unfair advantage over the rest of the riders.
I, too, agree that the prominence of Lance in the OLN coverage is a little much; after all, 188 other cyclists started le Tour. However, I am grateful for the popularity of Lance. I remember the 15 minutes of coverage the Tour received on ABC Wide World of Sports during the 80's.
When ESPN started airing the Tour, I thought it was heaven to get 30 minutes a day. If it weren't for Lance increasing the popularity of cycling in the US, I doubt I would be sitting here watching live coverage of the Tour on a Sunday morning. I am willing to put up with the "Lance Infomercial" atmosphere in order to get the wonderful coverage we see. Thanks OLN!
Overland Park, KS
A lot has been made about Robbie McEwen's head on Stuart O'Grady's shoulder, but extreme circumstances call for such actions. If you go back in the sprint before McEwen leans on O'Grady you can clearly see that O'Grady moves left and inadvertently flicks McEwen's right elbow which causes him to steer left and uncontrollably lean right. Because McEwen was slightly behind O'Grady's shoulder he couldn't use his own shoulder to straighten up so he used the next best thing, his head.
Had he slowed down while leaning right he would have surely crashed because O'Grady wouldn't have kept him up. By leaning on O'Grady he was able to straighten his machine and cross the line safely. The problem is he made it look so easy that in turn it looked deliberate. McEwen demonstrated what it takes to be a great sprinter and got relegated as reward. I hope he comes back to win green.
Cycling at times is one of the most professional of all sports; at other times at its highest level its organisation is incredibly amateurish.
As a race manager if I designed a course for a local bike race that included crossing angled railway lines I know the response I would get. How is it that the TdF can be sent over such angled lines knowing that inevitably several riders will crash as their front wheels get skewed sideways. I can accept that it is not possible for the route to avoid the lines but surely there is a technical solution that sees some packing put in the groove beside the line so the hazard is elimimated.
These riders train for years to ride in this the greatest of all bike races. It is not OK for them to have all this put at risk because they are forced to ride over a dangerous rail crossing.
Don't you find it a little strange that NONE of the Discovery team were with Lance on the last climb of stage 8? It was only a cat 2, at 4%. That seemed a bit odd to me, then I read this quote on Cyclingnews.com:
"Paolo Savoldelli was there for a while on the final ascent and told Alessandra Di Stefano of RAI-TV, '...on the final climb, I closed a gap on Vinokourov and could have stayed there but Armstrong told me to back off."
Why did Armstrong tell Savoldelli to back off? That makes no sense to me, unless it's all a ruse to make T-Mobile and others think that they are weak, saving their strength for the more demanding Stage 9. Maybe Paolo was the only one that didn't get the message in that morning's pre-race meeting that they were all supposed to play lame duck on the last climb and make Lance look like he's been isolated. This wouldn't be the first time that Bruyneel has pumped up T-Mobile's hopes by feigning weakness, prompting T-mobile to burn themselves out early.
Discovery may have just done it again before the first decisive mountain stage. Only time will tell if my gut feeling is right, but I think Johan has something up his sleeve again.
It seems high coincidence that Discovery, so strong and consistent for so many years, all had off days on a single day. Lance's climbing lieutenants; Chechu, Triki, Popo, Azevedo and Savoldelli all fell back like like they were first-year domestiques. So weak that they failed en masse to protect Lance?
Was it something in their food? Did a legion of irresistible succubae visit them in the night? Or, could this be part of a plan to give them all a break for one more day and let the stage play out on the broad shoulders of a super-strong Lance (oh yeah, I forgot, Lance was having an off-day too), or was it to give all his big-gun rivals something to waste time thinking about and possibly get overconfident about, a la Alpe d'Huez in '01? Or...well, you fill in the blanks (which they were all apparently shooting).
Green Mountain Falls, CO
Having just seen today's stage (9 July) and I'm a little confused. In my humble opinion Ullrich should have been the next to attack a lone Lance after Vino's attempts, not Klöden. He (Jan) is probably not going to get a better chance with a 2-0 team mate ratio against Lance. Or did T-mobile really think Armstrong would try to hunt down Klöden all by himself? And THEN after that it would be Jan's turn...? Or is he waiting for the alps? Or what? I think he's just hasn't got it, physically or mentally, to beat Lance. And I think we'll see a change of the guard at T-mobile half way through next week.
This is totally random, but I've noticed an alarming increase in long socks among riders in the pro peloton these days. I have also seen this dangerous trend trickling down to riders at local races. In fact, in a recent Cat 3 event, I witnessed a racer wearing black calf-length trouser socks (which immediately conjured up images of my father wearing the same along with denim cut-offs and flip-flops).
Can we all agree that this really tacky fashion trend gets nipped in the bud? Does anyone recall the "dream sequence" at the beginning of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure where he dreams of winning the Tour de France in front of several long-socked fat guys? And I won't even go on to mention Breaking Away. Let's practice some good judgment and relegate this fashion faux pas to a brief and embarrassing blip among the pro ranks (along with gaudy gold necklaces).
According to the Quick Step boss, in response to Sinkewitz breaking a supposed verbal contract, "I've been in this business for 25 years and never experienced anything like this before." He need only think back a couple of years when he happily benefited from Tom Boonen breaking a WRITTEN contract with US Postal.
Much has been said about Armstrong's protection in the peloton by his teammates. Well, every other contender for the GC has the protection of his team, too. Let us remember, that, cycle for cycle, pedal for pedal, Lance must match that of the front man (men). As do his rivals, such as they are. In the final drive for the finish line it is still Lance versus Jan versus Ivan versus Landis versus others, and who has the guts, the ability, the balls, the desire, the chutzpah, to win? Only Lance.
Hutchinson, KS, USA
It may just be a Euro pronunciation, but having spent several weeks in Italy over the last few years, I would find it difficult to believe that the Italians would pronounce Liquigas as anything but "Lickvigas". Nonetheless, Phil and Paul, OLN's resident TDF cunning linguists, insist on applying the moniker "LeakyGas" to the boys in green and blue. Not sure that a fuel company would want to be associated with gas leaks. Or maybe it's like veggie-diesel, but made from members of the alium family: "LeekyGas".
Could somebody, anybody, please explain to me why any TdF sprint finish with a corner (gasp!) in the last kilometre is derided as dangerous and results in carnage when, in comparison, U.S criterium races usually finish (without issue) in sprints with full lead-out trains on circuits less than 2km long that contain 6-8 sharp corners, including rain, road paint etc? Why do the tour guys have so much difficulty turning?
Conshohocken, PA USA
I remember reading at the start of the season of a public argument at an airport between Hein Verbruggen and Dick Pound, the result of which, if I recall correctly, was that HV was going to step down as head of the UCI in June and DP was going to take over.
I have not heard much on the story for a while, but it is now July and I wondered if HV had stuck to his plan?
Thanks for such an informative and entertaining site.
Try riding a tubular that has been left to dry for six years...and you'll fall
flat on your face if it's just a bit moist in the air.
Obviously, individually LA is gifted, and is one of the top three (TdF only) riders over the last six years.
But, his team IS a major part of his armamentarium when winning the TdF. Here are two examples:
1. You mention ITTs. Bob, would you feel more energetic if the days prior to your ITT you initiated solo breaks or worked extra hard in TTTs to pull your inferior team closer to LAs? Remember Team Postal/Disco has won the last three TTTs and benefited from the time bonuses too. You will agree that energy used on days preceeding an ITT will diminish your ITT performance; I defy you to tell me otherwise. LA drafting on routine days, or having the strongest team during TTTs, allows him to save energy and then perform better than his competitors in ITTs.
2. Did you watch Stage 8 on Saturday? Was LA happy that his entire team was shelled on a Cat 2 climb? His post race comments are deafening and respond to your theories directly. No teammates, no hiding, no safety. Five mountain stages alone like that and we'll see if LA survives. If he does then I owe you an apology. At least those stages will be even.
While watching the long breakaway in Stage 5 of Le Tour it was obvious that
rider number 153, Salvatore Commesso (Lampre-Caffita), had an attachment protruding
from the rear of his seatpost. At first glance it seemed to be one of those
old under saddle tool kits but I'm tipping this is not the case, unless the
Lampre budget has been seriously curtailed. After some debate the most plausible
theory was that it's a battery pack for a prototype Campag electonic shifting
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