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Letters to Cyclingnews - April 7, 2006
Jeff Jones’ description of this Sunday's Ronde Van Vlaanderen is a masterpiece of suspense. One can almost feel the bumps of the cobblestones along the race course.
Cycling in the USA is just as exciting as European racing. But the pubic is generally ignorant about the excitement of the sport. American fans need better reporting about racing competition. We need more Cyclingnews.com.
Sarasota, FL, USA
From what I’ve heard, Edwig van Hooydonk can serve as a great example why doping should be fought even more. He was a very strong and successful rider with his best years yet to come, especially for a classics rider.
Since the early ‘90s marked the beginning of the EPO decade you could suddenly see other names in the big races, and consequently some others dropped out. Unfortunately Edwig van Hooydonk (two-time winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen - 1989,91) was one of them. Eddy Bouwmans (best young rider in the Tour, 1992) and Gilles Delion (winner of the Tour of Lombardy, 1990) belong in the same category.
My mates and I saw Edwig on top of Alpe d'Huez back in July 2003. He was there with his family in a pizzeria we were eating at, and he was smoking a fair bit. He popularised the 3/4 length tights for the spring weather - a lot of people still call them 'Van Hooydonks'. I'm sure other readers can tell you more, though!
Birkenhead North End CC, UK
Edwig Van Hooydonk was a professional cyclist until 1996. After his victory in 1991 in the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) he didn't reach his former shape anymore. He did win the Brabantse Pijl twice (1993 & 1995), a stage in the Vuelta (1992) and a stage in the Tour of Romandie (1993). In 1996 he quit pro cycling because he didn't want to risk his health. At that time EPO was introduced in the peloton. Some say that's the reason why he didn't reach his former shape anymore.
Stefan Van Cauwenbergh
Why doesn't Discovery have more American riders? Could it be that talented Americans ready and able to do well in Pro Tour events might want to ride on a team promising a bit more freedom?
Things could be different now with the retirement of Lance Armstrong, but since Lance became the focus of the USPS/Discovery team, anyone hired on was there to work for Lance to win LeTour.
Any other ambitions these riders might have dreamed of seemed to be tolerated at best, and then only if they in no way jeopardized the rider’s value to the team come July in France.
Why else would so many of the talented American riders have departed USPS for other teams over the years? These guys put up with the "all for Lance" programme just long enough to get established in the pro peloton, then they left to explore opportunities for team leadership and race wins elsewhere.
I believe the folks who run this team (including Lance) have the same two objectives as any other
1. Sporting success - race wins and high placings
They'll hire the riders who they believe will best help them achieve their goals, no matter what it says on their passport. Should they also be spending some of their money on a lower level development team similar to what Mapei has done for many years? Should they try to hire Americans for this? Of course they should! But THAT is another matter entirely.
Sioux City, IA, USA
I am pretty sure that I had read an article indicating that Discovery Channel WANTED international riders as part of its marketing strategy. I presume this means that Discovery Channel has broadcasts in Europe, if true. If it is true, there is nothing more American than a savvy marketing strategy.
A question for readers who follow the sport more closely than me - where would Tom Boonen be as a cyclist today if he had stayed with US Postal/Discovery? Would he be a world champion superstar, a frustrated domestique, or somewhere in between?
Geoff Frost - an interested Aussie
Every year I seem to read your April fool’s news first thing; I don't realise it's April fool’s (well I figured it out this year, once I hit the coriolis article), get excited about the news, go tell someone about it, subsequently realise what day it is and feel like some naive Bambi again. Good job - I love the cast iron wheels.
You did forget one interesting follow on to the Cipo/Hondo hair care line story that I read in the European press. It seems that Stefano Garzelli and Yank Chris Horner are both spokespersons for the Cipo/Hondo line.
PS: I'm also follicly-challenged, by the way. but like my bald grandpappy always said, you only have so many male hormones, and if you want to waste yours growing hair on the top of your head, that's your business.)
First of all, thank you Cyclingnews for your continuous coverage. Forget all the doping pre-season garbage talk, I look forward to this year’s Giro and Tour - a new era without Lance indeed, and by the way, did anybody noticed last year’s final time trial and the exactly same one eight years ago won by a young German star? Compare this result and this one. Incredible, to say the least.
In response to Gary's letter regarding the track bike Peter Latham used for the Commonwealth Games time trial, it appears that he did not start on the track bike but was required to swap the bike due to mechanical problems. This link shows the bike Peter started on and swapped for the track bike.
I can’t imagine teams bringing two time trial bikes for each participant for the event. The commissaires obviously didn’t check the spare bike and given the nature of the wind and course it was certainly to his disadvantage to have a fixed gear and I believe this was highlighted by his time.
It would have been against the spirit of the games to disqualify him for a mechnical. If he had of beaten an Aussie then perhaps we could have had Jana Pittman lodge a complaint.
Brighton, Victoria, Australia
I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with John Spevacek - Tom Boonen’s reaction to Pozatto shows not just his sportsmanship but the sheer delight that a teammate has won a major race.
Maybe this, Lance's reaction to Big George winning in the Tour last year and one or two other events like this show that our top cyclists really are human after all.
Here’s my comment about your letter: Zabel and Petacchi have done the same earlier this year (Tirreno-Adriatico) and we have seen this more and more often in the last three years or so. I think it’s just an effect of the growing professionalism – an attempt to show as much as possible sponsor names to the press photographers behind the finish line.
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