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Letters to Cyclingnews - April 28, 2006
It must be hard to be one of the friendliest, most accomplished and respected cyclists in the peloton over the last decade and continually hear negative comments like Ullrich does. His human qualities, previous mistakes and sporadic lack of tenacity make him more relevant to most of us.
The media micromanages their journalistic comments and resort to negative comments despite Ullrich's attempts to just be the best cyclist he can be. Have you seen his lean physique in Cyclingnews' Tour de Romandie photos? He's looking pretty slim compared to most years. A major UK cycling mag recently profiled him and the T-Mobile squad in South Africa a while back and listed how motivated he has been in the last six months.
Give the guy a break - does everyone want him to fail? Why is placing in the top three of the TdF in all but one since winning in 1997 such a target for critics? What other rider has performed so well again LA and his drone army? He's in a league of his own and is still favoured to win the TdF.
Then there are provocative comments from DS's over the years like Johan Bruyneel, trying to add mental stress to Jan even before he starts a TdF Prologue. Does anyone wonder where Lance got the insight into playing mental games, 'the look' and building Jan up for failure? Yes, the underrated Johan B, the Belgian mastermind behind the seven TdF victories.
And now Bjarne Riis has taken a page out of that book and made drive-by comments about Jan's overall condition. Hey, at least Jan rides and places in three tours in a year, many post-tour Pro Tour classics, the world's and Olympics. Jan will ride four tours this year; name another rider in the peloton beside Landis that does that and places as well as Ulle?
So go ahead and criticise Jan, he has thick skin. Jan never gives up. check out his two spectacular crashes in last years' tour. Unlike his rivals in the last 7 TdFs he never had a committed tour team, and, one year with a substandard Bianchi team almost beat the mighty Postals by himself. Jan has undeniable honour, respect amoungst cyclists and is feared by all in the peloton. Just let his riding do the talking, if you take an unbiased moment, look at his palmares they will guide you to applaud rather than slag.
Apri 25, 2006
A few months ago I wrote about who might win the 2006 Tour; I said Ivan Basso over Ullrich. That seemed to have set Yahn OOOOL-reesh supporters on edge. Wonder how they feel about their golden boy's chances now? It's always a case of; the butt...the knee...the butt...the other knee...the butt.
Mind you, I have nothing against Der Kaiser; it's just that he's not going to win this one and if he doesn't, probably won't ever win another. Hell of a rider, but won't mount that top step, and if you feel like getting all hot and bothered at these comments, relax. Take a lesson from VDB's (Frank Vandenbroucke) fans. They came unglued at my comments that he had shot his bolt and that Cyclingnews ought never to waste ink on him again, and look what's happened with him - obscurity and oblivion!
And so, good readers, I leave you with a contest and my earlier letter. The contest: Pevenage vs. Riis.
Even though Lance tips Der Kaiser for victory in this year's Tour, my money is not on him. No, give me E-vohn Bah-so instead. Being a year older can't hurt his time trialling, whereas Ullrich's has probably topped out. I think Basso will take Ullrich in the mountains through a series of attacks a la Lance. I suppose what it really might come down to is Rudy Pevenage vs. Bjarne Riis. With that in mind, what are your bets, gentle ladies and gentlemen?'
April 25, 2006
Finally, the Tour of Romandie! Not so much for the race but Jan Ullrich will be racing for several days instead of sitting in front of his computer updating the world on his latest ailment and subsequently what Rudy P. thinks about it. Get on your bike and race it Jan!
April 26, 2006
Many letters recently have speculated on Der Kaiser and his future victories or,in the general public's eyes, defeats. So I will look to the past and ask a question that came to mind the other day. I was reading your guy's great website, and remembered that there was an incident a certain while back in which Jan Ullrich's aero wheel for a major TT was on backwards. I think it would do us all some good to revist that, especially moi, whose brain is on overload trying to remember.
April 25, 2006
Some of the criticism is so freakin' harsh of a guy who should have won at least three tours by now! In '96 he was the strongest, and had to follow team orders and slow down in the final TT, he won in '97, and then got beaten by a smacky in '98 (sorry, nine minutes in one stage, it's not a question of IF he's on, it's WHAT he's on)!
Not to mention being the only person who has actually given Lance a REAL run for his money in any of his seven Tour victories ('00 and '03).
April 23, 2006
Nice to hear someone finely support Jan Ullrich. Jan is clearly a gifted athlete who deserves the respect of the cycling community. Every spring up until the tour it gets rather upsetting to hear everyone criticize a rider that has one the tour one time, placed second five times, placed third one time, placed fourth one time, has been Olympic road race champion, has been world time trial champion, won the Vuelta Espana and The Tour of Switzerland. I'm sure there are a lot of less unknow races he has one along the way as well. Damn, I would be happy to just win my local Cat 4/5 race let alone the impressive wins Ullrich has accumulated. Race on Jan, hope you kick ass at the tour, shut up the critics, and obtain the respect from the cycling community you deserve.
April 22, 2006
Jan will lose the TDF 2006 because he is a loser...Pantani and Lance Armstrong destroyed him. He has a great body, but doesn't have the spirit to win anymore. He doesn't know that he should speak with his team mates, and they don't work together. I look forward to his retirement from cycling.
It's time for new guy's - Valverde, Basso, Cunego...
April 24, 2006
Steel, especially modern alloys, are much stronger, and posses a much higher fatigue strength! Tom Boonen was not a "luddite" for choosing to use a fork with a STEEL steering tube? And as I stated before race speeds have only marginally increased in the past 20-30 years, and I believe that is more due to the training techniques and science, rather then lighter frames. So where's the advantage?
On the other hand, I definitely believe manufacturers can produce high quality, durable carbon frames, but many of them don't. I can give you names of people that have broken carbon frames, even the so- called "high end" frames. And I can also give you names of people that are still riding/racing on high end steel, and titanium that they have had for 5 or more years. Sure all if not most of the riders use carbon frames, but that's because of marketing. That's the type of frame that manufacturers what to sell, so that's what they ride. It's only in the past few years that we've seen all these modified carbon frames for races like P-R. Back 20 years ago they used basically the same frames during P-R as they did for the other races. Personally, I think that's okay, though! I think modern bike companies should make frames for designated purposes (I think CF is perfect for aero TT bikes), but don't say that the standard carbon frames are as strong as their steel counter-part.
I personally am not stuck on steel frames, and prefer titanium. It's almost as light as CF, much high tensile/overall strength, and fatigue life. Unfortunately I think that this is another material that some companies have exploited, for marketing potential. Companies like Moots, and Serotta build high quality frames, that are expensive, but no more then the CF frames out there.
I know I'm ranting, and I really don't have any problems with carbon fiber, but I just want companies to produce high quality products! Not just aesthetically pleasing items that will not last. Believe me, I'm not stuck in the past (I'm only 28 years old), but I think there are many things we learn from the older builders that would help us today!
April 22, 2006
Kurt Bickel's opinion re the suggestion that steel frames may be the best option for cobbled races raises a number of issues for me.
I have just had a number of email conversations with Morgan Nicol from Oval Concepts in relation to the care of carbon fibre bars. Morgan was fantastic and his insights and knowledge were top shelf, but the realities of modern bike materials left me a little perplexed.
As an A grade club racer, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that "the latest and greatest" is not actually that practical for me as a racing cyclist. Why? Because racing bicycles have a really hard life and get knocked around - maybe not Paris-Roubaix knocked around, but they get thrown into the back of vans, crashed, ridden through big potholes and due to the racing season in Australia being in winter, they get covered in mud and crud almost every weekend. My $7000 race bike does not look like a $7000 bike for very long!!
For me this creates a situation where I wonder if I am better of as a competitive cyclist riding a relatively low end bike. Given that the majority of races that I do are not that hilly, I wonder if I am actually any slower on my old Columbus SLX training bike with a decent set of wheels than I am on my 2 kilogram lighter race bike. I have to be honest with Kurt in saying that over cobblestones I am sure that "I" would be faster on my steel bike than I would on my carbon fibre one - it just feels/sounds so much more reassuring to ride in rough conditions.
It is certainly possible to make a top line steel frame now at around the 1500grm mark. As it seems every git at the coffee shop has a bike that is around the UCI weight limit, I wonder how long before we are told that an oversized tubed, Reynolds 953 frame is the thing to have for Paris-Roubaix and that anyone still riding carbon fibre is a luddite!
Of course anyone who was not convinced that anatomic bars were better was also a luddite, including it would seem a large percentage of the pro peloton, who prefer the same shape as Eddy Merckx!
Something being "lighter and stronger" does not necessarily mean that it is better. Unless someone is paying you to say that. I agree with what Jason Kilmer, in that technology that doesn't actually make you go any faster is just an extension of kids wanting $200 trainers to impress their friends - fashion and consumerism.
April 22, 2006
Horse dead, flogging continues. Sorry.
Whatever the merits of pig-iron versus 'unobtainium' for bike frames, the Posties had a bigger problem that day. Watch the crash; one teammate (sorry, I don't know which one) glanced at Hincapie falling and kept riding, the other got on the radio and kept riding. There was not a split second's hesitation from either of them. Hincapie was written off by his team mates before they knew he had bike problems or injuries. Those are not the actions of professionals who believe their leader is stronger than they are, and doesn't suggest that Hincapie would have been there in the finale.
April 22, 2006
I have to add my two cents to the P-R discussion. If the Van Petegem group had waited at the crossing as they should have, the Tom Boonen group would have caught up and I don't think there's any question that Mr. Boonen would have won the sprint in Roubaix and been in second place.
The jury acted properly in disqualifying the two Discovery riders and Van Petegem since they obtained an unfair advantage by crossing against the marshal's command.
The Boonen group, on the other hand, obtained no advantage by crossing the tracks before the bars were raised even if the marshal hadn't waved them on.
Granted that it was a very unfortunate timing but that's part of the beauty of racing on public roads. And let's focus on the really important thing: George Hincapie crashed due to a mechanical problem.
Oh, yeah, And Cancellara showed that he is a world grade racer.
April 22, 2006
Thanks to Stephen Burke for finally mentioning the race marshall. Ever
When Boonen arrived he stood there, arms stretched out and they almost ran into him - he maybe even saved their lives. The Van Petegem group clearly ignored his gestures whereas the Boonen group had no choice but to stop. Once the train was gone the race marshall stepped aside and re-opened the course. He made a call on the field. He is the authority.
I think the communication from the organizers that Van Petegem et al were disqualified for crossing is misleading because it's clear that the Boonen group did so too. However, when the second group crossed they listened to the race marshall.
April 22, 2006
Interesting statements by Mr. Dean Stewart:
"Isn't it clear that everyone knows that getting hit by a train is well, terminal. I wouldn't risk getting hit no matter what the prize...not in a car, or on my bike, or walking with the dog. I think we all learn this at a young age…we are told, "Look both ways"..."be careful"..."trains are dangerous", etc."
I bet if we were to interview the thousands of people that have been killed by trains while crossing the tracks when the gates were down, nearly 100% of them knew that getting hit by a train is terminal. Unfortunately, we can't ask them because they're dead. I'd also wager that if we were to interview the thousands of people that have been killed by trains while crossing the tracks when the gates were down, nearly 100% of them wouldn't risk getting hit no matter what the prize. Unfortunately, we can't ask them because they're dead!
Mr. Stewart also states:
"As I think about it, I must have done this at least 40 or 50 times in my life - more, if I count walking or running. Even more if I count driving!"
Geez, you know that getting hit by a train is terminal. You wouldn't risk getting hit no matter what the prize. Yet you've ignored the warnings and crossed when the gates were down more the 50 times. Brilliant - long live Dean Stewart...
April 22, 2006
This letter is in response to Mr. Bickel's claims about modern frame materials. He says that "carbon frames, by all measure, are lighter and stronger". Yes, lighter but not necessarily stronger. Modern materials such as carbon, aluminum, and scandium are all lighter than steel, but none produce elongation numbers that steel has. You will break or snap a bicycle made of modern materials before you do any damage to a steel frame. Ballan and Franzoi were on steel Wilier frames for this Roubaix. Are they going down a "technological dead" end as Mr. Bickle would have you believe?
My guess is they were willing to sacrifice a pound or two for comfort. Modern frame building materials have become much better over the years, but the simple fact remains that steel remains as the most reliable and affordable material to make a bicycle with. The facts are out there, I just wish Mr. Bickle would've done some research before flexing his most eloquent vocabulary. Truthfully, unless you have legs like Boonen, you're in no danger of breaking a carbon frame. What always strikes me funny is that no matter where I ride, I always come across these punters on really expensive carbon, and other exotic material bikes, and I'm on my poor old steel bike. But none of these posers can ride; what's up with that? It's not the arrow, it's the Indian.
I can debate this until I'm blue in the face, and I invite any non-steel believers to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 22, 2006
I noticed that team Phonak are using Giro helmets instead of Catlike (the team's helmets) at the Tour of Georgia I also remember that Levi Leipheimer was using, at the Tour of Georgia 2005, a Specialized helmet instead of a Met helmet (the team's helmet) Maybe they can use different apparel while riding in the USA, and get back to the usual team sponsors when they are in Europe?
April 22, 2006
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