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Letters to Cyclingnews - June 2, 2006
It's hard for me to understand why Simoni remains so popular in Italy. Many people seem to value flamboyance and bluster over quietly earned results.
After the Cunego and Basso affairs, and the talk of a Giro-Tour double by Simoni before his subsequent Tour implosion (accompanied by trash-talk about Armstrong never doing the Giro), I can only see Simoni as a trash-talking sore loser.
Credit to him for his wins, but he is certainly not a graceful competitor when not winning. I'm looking forward to seeing Basso in the Tour - I hope he makes a good run for it, and we see a great race with him, Ulrich, and Landis all figuring in a good (epic?) battle.
So Simoni is at it again. First Lance, then Cunengo, now Basso. What a schmuck! Maybe if he stopped complaining about everyone else and put that energy into training, he'd win some more. Quit now, they're all better than you'll ever be!
Simoni once again shows his value as a team player. Not so long ago he was a jerk to Cunego. It was pretty clear that Cunego was following someone else's wheel while Simoni couldn't.
Now he has devalued stage Piepoli's win with his allegations that Basso tried to sell the stage win to Simoni. I won't miss him when he retires.
Here is to hoping that Gilberto Simoni retires. I for one have seen too many of his tantrums and watched him sulk too many times. Unfortunately, I can remember his childish fits of swearing when he lost stages, and ultimately the Giro, to the young up-start Damiano Cunego. Now we are all getting treated to his infantile antics again because he was not handed a stage by Ivan Basso.
I like to see champions gift stages to others once in a while. However, one person that does not deserve such a gift is Gilberto Simoni: His actions over the last 2 days have clearly demonstrated that. I hope that he retires before he has a chance to mar another addition of the Giro! I won't miss him a bit.
Well, here we go again. The Simoni soap opera begins. Ivan Basso has his grandest day, on the penultimate day of the Giro, devoting the stage win to his newborn son, Santiago and capping an overwhelmingly dominant Giro. Setting the stage for an even more exciting Tour de France, that could complete a Grand Tour double that would just about let us all move past the Lance Armstrong era.
Then the whining began. Does Simoni really fantasise that any strategy he could have attempted would have prevented Ivan from countering with the stage-winning move? It was stated that Ivan really wanted to win the 20th stage, prior to ending, probably to dedicate to his son. Unfortunately, Simoni never fails to create negative energy, even when it's petty and irrelevant. I'd guess he has a persistent, attention deficit disorder. So he constantly rants negatively about anything and everything that doesn't go according to his script. Meanwhile, he keeps showing that gleaming smile that hides all the silly expectations he harbours about how the game should be played. Why doesn't he realise how foolish he sounds?
Just remember, after all the nonsense he hurled at Lance, during his TdF reign, and he could never throw down a result in France. My bet (and I'll wager everything I've got) is that Ivan will humble Simoni's EVERY attempt, just as Lance did before him. Gibo's time has passed; third place in the Giro is not bad, his attempt to spoil Ivan's moment is bad, and unnecessarily tasteless, and reminds me of why it's so hard to admire Gilberto Simoni's otherwise respectable accomplishments.
Ralph Michael Emerson
Congratulations to Ivan Basso for his Giro win. But my respect for Gilberto Simoni is non-existent. The guy is a cry baby. If it's not Cunego, it's Basso. The guy is always complaining about someone.
I loved watching Basso and CSC dominate the Giro in the style of Armstrong and the great blue train, but was disappointed to see that Simoni, who couldn't make an impact on the Giro with his legs, decided to make one with his mouth.
Let's face it, Basso has always been a classy, modest rider; and Simoni has always been a flamboyant loudmouth. His comments are 1 part Italian machismo, 2 parts bruised ego, and 2 parts sour grapes. If the two of them have different versions of the events I need about a half second to decide which rider I believe. Besides, the way Basso was riding he would have won the stage even if Simoni had dropped him on the descent.
Looking forward to a great Ullrich/Basso battle at le Tour
Surely Gilberto Simoni doesn't expect us to believe Ivan Basso paid him for the stage victory on stage 20 to Aprica. Basso could easily have beaten Simoni without any bribe. On no stage did Simoni out race Basso, and Basso even gave a stage to Piepoli. It’s just sour grapes from a Giro master past who came into form too late and even then couldn't beat the new master, the brilliant Basso.
Cheer up Gilberto and have a bit of class. Also, what great sportsmanship from Jens Voigt; rather than sucking Garate's wheel and outsprinting him, he let him win. Restoring all our faith in good sporting cycling.
Simoni's acts of disrespect towards Basso are despicable. Alas, they are consistent with Simoni's entire history in the Grand Tours, of boldly over-promising, woefully under-delivering, and then behaving like a child toward whoever bests him. There is no "top" rider in all of cycling who is as classless as Gilberto Si-MOAN-i. He's proven it time and time again. His team sponsor should act in their best interest and yank him off the team, and duct tape his whiney mouth in the process.
Manolo gets caught with doping products and wads of cash. The UCI stands against doping but doesn't really want to change anything about the racing to encourage riders to not resort to it (giro stage 17, anyone?). Dick Pound points at anyone in spandex and screams bloody murder while foaming at the mouth. Federations are worried about cycling's image and the health of their business, not of the riders. Highly paid riders get nervous about where their Ferrari payments are coming from, lowly domestiques wonder if they should have stayed in school. Talented hopefuls everywhere start debating the ethics of it all. All this Spanish soap opera needs is some crying buxom women and Telemundo would be knocking for a contract.
Cycling is greater than all that. Cycling is something we do because we love it, not because we want to wear the same clothes as Lance. Fans who don't actually participate in their sport watch football here in the States, or college basketball. They sit on the couch and boo or cheer people they couldn't even toss a ball to. Cycling fans ride. We're cyclists first, fans second. If the UCI and the ProTour and all that went away, we would still ride. If we never watched another sprint down the Champs Elysees in July, we would still ride. If our TV and internet gave up the ghost and all the cycling websites went away, we would still ride.
I'm always saddened to see scandal and corruption associated with my sport, but it's not going to keep me from racing my bike on weekends and drooling over the latest carbon widget on Cyclingnews. If all bike racing in the world got cancelled, I wouldn't sell any of my gear - and my computer wouldn't rack up any less miles. I'd still shave my legs. There will always be cheaters and there will always be scandal, some of it makes for great drama but it's the stories we live ourselves that keep us riding, and nothing else. Our own stories can always be clean and free.
It's raining here in Oregon, but lunchtime is coming up and I, for one, can't wait to go for a ride.
I am quite dismayed by the fact that Manolo Saiz will continue to work with the Liberty Seguros-Wurth team in spite of his implication in a serious doping scandal as reported in your May 25 column.
Cyclingnews reports: Manolo Saiz' continuing involvement with the team will likely depend on how the case unfolds. Saiz will be required to appear before the investigating judge at some stage in the near future. If he is formally implicated in this doping affair, then the Spanish cycling federation could start proceedings against him, which could result in a two year suspension, as well as the revocation of his ProTour licence.
I take issue with that and here's why. If a rider is caught doping he is suspended from his team, presumably with out pay, when his A sample comes back positive. If his B sample is also positive he is banned for 2 years and loses his income. The rider is not allowed to continue racing and earning an income through out the legal proceedings of his case. Why should this luxury be extended to Manolo Saiz?
I say that what Manolo Saiz has done is far more serious than an individual rider doping. I think we all can understand why an individual rider would dope but when the team director is caught with the money and blood in his possession one has to ask if the riders on his team even have a choice about doping.
I think we should see that rabid pit bull Dick Pound all over Saiz just as he would be all over a rider who was caught doping.
Anyone who didn't see this coming, especially the Spanish Federation, is blind. How many times in the last 2 seasons have riders on Saiz's team tested with high haemocrits? How many times have riders from Saiz's teams had Rx's for allergy and asthma medication above the statistical average? At least when such rampant things happened at Phonak there was a complete house cleaning of team management, but such did not happen here. It takes Saiz himself being caught red handed to make the sponsor realize HE and not only his riders were the problem, and this then causes an entire team to be thrown into a tail spin.
The federations appear to feel they are stuck in a catch 22. I am sure there were people who knew that Saiz was dirty, but were afraid that if he was exposed, due to his high profile, that Spanish cycling as a whole would take a hit. Could it be that the Spanish federation is so eager to show that their riders can compete outside of Spain that they are willing to take the risk and turn a blind eye towards doping? How much more damaging is it though when it is an outside organization that reveals the dirty secret?
I think that the only way to make national federations take more action is to also have them become suspects in investigations with such far reaching implications as this and if the investigation shows that members of the Federation Governing bodies had knowledge that such actions were being performed and took no action at all, they should also be sanctioned. Unless everyone is held accountable, then we might as well give up on anti-doping efforts. The time and money would be better spent elsewhere.
Cycle racing is sport and spectacle. Its roots are as spectacle (the better to sell newspapers, for example) to which the rules of sport were variously applied. Therefore, conventional notions of fair play apply to cycle racing only with respect to the sporting aspect, which I suggest is subservient to cycling as spectacle.
It is no surprise to me that cyclists dope. I am surprised that more cyclists haven't been caught. I am positive that if doping products and procedures were more readily available, that many more cyclists - including amateurs, both young and old, male and female - would take the plunge.
Cycle racing is the pastime of fanatics. It is unthinkable as either a hobby or a living, offering the dubious reward of having proved to oneself and others that one can do the unthinkable, often to little or no material purpose. Even at the amateur level - perhaps especially so, after all - accidents featuring broken bones, scarred faces, even the occasional death, all go to illustrate that the forces at work in cycling are rather more encompassing than those typically assigned to "sport." For professionals, the motivation is definably sadomasochistic: to race hours on end, day after day, to throw yourself over sleeted cobblestones or against the backdrop of mountains, to ruin yourself for the sake of ruining others, is ultimately a spectacular act.
Fans of cycling flock to the cobblestones, to the mountains, to the spectacular. The stories of cycling revolve around pain: those who succeeded despite it (think of Armstrong) and those who succumbed to it (Pantani). Victory in cycling is the lightning touch that sets into bold relief the trials of the champion; but as we are seeing now with Pantani, those who succumb also are championed, even to the detriment of the sporting victor (see Poulidor v. Anquetil for further corroboration).
Now, we are free to lament drug use, and should, as they compromise human life, not to mention cycling's sporting aspect. But let us not be surprised, or hurt, as if something pure has thereby been sullied when a lunatic participant in a lunatic endeavor dopes. A cyclist who takes performance enhancing drugs has gone one step further perhaps than was necessary to destroy him or herself, but there is nothing surprising or inconsistent in a cyclist who dopes.
Those who are most deeply offended by doping in cycle racing are, I would suggest, discovering for themselves the true face of cycling as something a good deal deeper and darker than the logical extension of one's Sunday ride through the park. Such people may not like what they see and they are free to turn aside. No one will stop them from doing so. Our monuments have been bought with blood obsessed.
Yes, we've had another debilitating scandal in our otherwise beautiful sport but as the Giro winds up I feel that some thanks and props are due. Thanks to Cyclingnews correspondents Scrymgeour, Tan and Maloney, and photographers Sirotti, Claessen, Clarke and Bettini for the descriptions and pictures of what is to me the most picturesque of the "grand tours".
Every day brings an interesting perusal of the action, whether it be the joy of a stage victory to a deserving neophyte, older hardworking 'assistente' or holder of the 'maglia rosa' to the emotional anguish of those with broken bodies or spirits. We all ride, we've all suffered on the bike & here we see the best in the world exposed. We are privileged to share their victories and defeats. So, thanks to the Tommy Danielsons' of the gruppo, riding indefatigably in support of team leaders you will some day surpass. Thanks to the Jens Voigts' of the lead breaks for showing the class which says "this is your day, you earned it & I give nothing up by conceding to you on this day". Thanks also to the Paolo Bettinis of the gruppo for the animation on & off the bike. You speak eloquently of the passion that is our sport.
Finally, to the Bassos, Cunegos, Simonis and Savoldellis - team leaders et al, props and thanks; your determination, whether it leads you to victory or seemingly falls short defines this glorious sport. The short sightedness of the opportunistic few will someday pass.
Stephen JR Wilde
Like a lot of cycling fans, my faith has been tested pretty hard this week. I don't doubt that we've just seen the tip of a very nasty iceberg that Operacion Puerto will eventually reveal, and that a lot of "heroes" are about to have their clay feet exposed. However, I feel compelled to say thanks to a couple of cyclists: Jesus Manzano, for having the courage to expose, and walk away from, a rotten system; and Jens Voigt, for setting such a great example as a pro cyclist.
The parallel between Voigt's position in this Giro's queen stage and Hincapie in last year's TdF queen stage couldn't be more perfect. Hincapie did what 99 per cent of us would probably also do, and grabbed the win. Voigt's choice, to let the more deserving rider take the win, is just another illustration of why he's the most respected guy in the peloton.
There are still heroes in cycling, and both of these riders are way up on my list. I look forward to some follow-up interviews with Manzano, so that he can get the public satisfaction of saying, "You see? I wasn't lying!"
Your actions on Stage 19 of the Giro spoke louder than any words. Bjarne might have been a little peeved that you didn't attack for the win, but the rest of the cycling world admires your sportsmanship.
Bravo Juan, bravo Jens! Jens Voigt has again demonstrated why he has earned the universal respect of the peloton with his sporting gesture and plain honesty. He stated, "I was always sitting on the back of the attack, but I couldn't win today because I didn't work at all. You can only win if you are the strongest and it wouldn't have been right if I did." These words and his actions encompass the best values of our sport.
I found this stage especially striking in view of stage 15 at last year's Tour, which I had watched on my laptop earlier this month. It was a similar situation, which saw the lieutenant (Hincapie) of the leading team going with a strong break and monitor the group. When it became apparent that the move would not be caught he was given the green light and he followed the wheel of the strongest rider.
That day Oscar Pereiro was obviously the strongest rider of the bunch, he did more than his share of work, covered all the attacks and made his move at the right time -in other words he rode the perfect race. Up the last 4k of the Pla d'Adet he was left with just Hincapie, during which it became obvious that Hincapie (who had sat all day) would not concede. Watching him ride those last few km was heartbreaking. Those must have been long moments as he came to the realization that no matter how hard he worked and how smart he rode, he would not win that stage. My blood was boiling as I watched Hincapie celebrate at the finish because to me, at that moment, it represented everything that was unjust about the world.
We all know the world is not fair, but in sports we project our best ideals onto a stage and watch them come to life if only for a brief moment. The most cherished moments in sports do this perfectly. I think we may have witnessed one today.
I write this letter to applaud Jens Voigt for his sportsmanship when yielding victory to Juan Manuel Garate in Stage 19 of the Giro last Friday. This kind of honour, respect, and sportsmanship is all too rare in today's peloton.
I remember watching in utter disgust last year as George Hincapie sat on the break for 70 kilometres, consistently refusing to do any work, taking advantage of everybody else's slipstream, and then just coming around Oscar Pereiro for the stage 15 win. It was one of the most appalling displays of unsportsmanlike conduct I have ever seen in cycling. It was made even worse by Hincapie's gloating afterwards, talking about how proud he was of the achievement and how he had taken his cycling to another level.
Hincapie's victory was shameful and he should derive no pride from slipstreaming a break to victory. He should learn from Jens Voigt, whose post–race quote says it all: "I was always sitting on the back of the attack, but I couldn't win today because I didn't work at all...It wouldn't have been right if I did." Hooray for sportsmanship, honour, and respect in the peloton, and three cheers for Jens Voigt who shows us that it's better to come in second than to win without honour.
Faith restored in cycling. In a week where we read that cycling is once more in the mud because of doping allegations, suddenly there is a real sportsman: Jens Voigt. I have a feeling that the real winner of the Giro 2006 is/will be him. An ambassador for his team: CSC, his sponsors, an ambassador for cycling, an ambassador for his country and an ambassador for sport in general. I never had so much pleasure in watching someone finish a race. Grate’s gesture said it all. Jens Voigt is the man, the ultimate sportsman. The winner.
Jens Voigt's wonderful gesture on stage 19 of the Giro takes me back to the Amstel Gold race in 1999 when, unlike Jens, Michael Boogerd notably failed to ignore his DS and just outsprinted Lance Armstrong for the win - despite having sat on his wheel solidly for what seemed like half the race.
In his eagerness to get in the record books, he embarrassed himself and the whole Dutch nation - I, for one, have never taken him seriously since. Judging by his more recent record though, it would seem that I am not the only one who hasn't forgiven him. Thank you Jens, we needed something like that this week.
What Jens Voigt did on Stage 19 of this year's Giro was what George Hincapie should have done during the queen stage of last year's Tour. The situations were identical: both riders were present in a breakaway to protect the interest of their respective race-leading captains.
Neither did much, if any, work in the breakaway. While Jens opted not to contest the sprint and let the one who worked get the deserved victory, Hincapie came around Oscar Pereiro to "win" a "breakthrough victory".
What Jens did was pure class, a thing that makes the sport so enjoyable and precious to us old-time fans, and a thing that Hincapie sorely lacked. I hope there are at least some up-n-coming riders taking notice of the difference.
With great anticipation I looked forward to this year’s giro because of its mountains. I had some trepidation as a Discovery team fan when it was made clear that Savoldelli would be the leader. I thought Popovich or Danielson were better suited to the Giro, while Il Falco or Hincapie would find the Tour more fitting their talents. My fears were realised as Salvodelli, as classy as he is, couldn’t compete with the other Giro contenders in the mountains.
I think Danielson could be a good team leader, if he can prove himself over an entire stage race (apparently the flu has knocked him down during the last few days). Rubiera did a yeoman's job and really earned his pay. The Disco boys were a disappointment, never attacking Basso the Invincible, and disappearing the last couple of stages altogether. Well I hope they show themselves a bit stronger in the Tour.
Several people have made the logical suggestion that WADA should be "working with the pharmaceutical companies to put traceable markers in doping products" as a way to prevent their abuse by athletes.
In addition to the fact that it is impossible for me, at least, to imagine Dick Pound's WADA doing anything sufficiently constructive to merit the descriptor "working with _________", there's a practical reason why this will (unfortunately) never be done. If the chemical formulation of any pharmaceutical product, for example Procrit (Ortho Biotech's unfortunately named brand of EPO), is materially changed, e.g. by addition of a tracer compound (even one whose safety is well-understood), that new combination must be put through a series of animal and human clinical trials to demonstrate that it is as safe and effective as the version it replaces.
Depending on the exact level of proof that FDA and EMEA (their European counterparts) would require, this might cost anywhere from $25-100M per product. Pharmaceutical companies are certainly not going to fund this on their own initiative, so unless WADA can figure out how to package and sell stupidity (of which they apparently have an infinite, self-renewing supply) to raise the money, I'm afraid it ain't gonna happen.
Everyone: please stop with the whining already!
Every crop of letters, it's the same thing: "Bettini's a punk, is not, is too"..."Jan's too fat, is not, is too"..."You can't win the Tour and the Giro"..."He's peaking too early...not peaking early enough"...
Man, it makes your head spin and pop off! Look, for the most part, we (the fans) are armchair sprinters/climbers/domestiques and we get wrapped up in the passion of the sport, fair enough. But can we please keep it on the sport and away from the game show, American Idol drivel?
Why aren't we talking about the great rides and surprises we love about this sport? Valverde's Liege, Saiz's detention, what the hell is Vino going to do now? Enough about Bettini's gold shoes! Here's a couple of pointers to help us not lose out way:
1: We don't know these riders, even if we met them once at a crit and they signed our t-shirts. Stop talking as if you grew up with the man.
2: It's about the sport. If Erik Zabel were not such a great rider, you wouldn't know him from the guy that just moved in three doors down.
3: While we're on the subject, can we please stop fixating and buying into the "Grand Tours are all that matter" hype? Yes, they are the most difficult, but they are an endurance event. Greg, Lance and company set the idea in motion (and we bought it) that this was the way to race. It was a corporate decision. No disrespect, Lance was great at the Tour, but that's just it: at the Tour. The season extends from January till October, let's cheer for the guys who ride the whole route: Boonen, Bettini, Van Heeswijk, Sastre, McEwen, Zabel, Valverde, et al.
4: And last but not least: Stop the BS about peaking in time, too early, too late, he missed it by three days, etc. Arguably the greatest rider we have known to date, Eddy Merckx, raced all year round, won everything that was on offer and so did his compatriots, de Vlaeminck, Maertens, and the rest that followed in those footsteps: Hinault, Jalabert, Cipollini, Zabel and now Basso, Valverde, Landis, Evans, McEwen. Now riders do 20 races a year, win two of those and everyone thinks that’s great. It's fine, but far from great.
All I'm saying is, there's a lot that's great about this sport, which is why we're all here and not watching golf. Let's get into the sport and away from the cheap tabloid aspect by cheering for our heroes and not spitting on the rest. It's hard enough getting to the finish line.
I will probably get blasted for my following comments from many readers but what the hell…here goes.
Elite sports (all of them) have become such a big business that anything goes as long as you don’t get caught. Anything to get an edge over your competition or just to keep up with them.
I consider the athletes more victims than perpetrators of this whole affair. We the public, demand more sporting events, tougher sporting events, more records, so much that the human body just can’t keep up. Then when the athletes turn to outside help to relieve their pain or to help enhance their endurance and/or strength, we cry foul and start the finger pointing.
This “Manolo Saiz affair” will probably be categorized as “a few bad apples”. Some suspensions will be handed out, some pats on the back for having cleaned up the sport and then business will go on as usual. Just like it did with that other scandal to end all scandals. Remember Festina? Willy Voet was the bad apple in that scandal.
Some have suggested that doping scandals have tainted the entire sports world and that we should simply allow pro athletes to use these methods openly. If so I suggest we take it a step further. We also open up their medical records and allow qualified doctors to follow these athletes over their entire lifetime. This way we get to see and study all the long term effects these illicit materials have on the human body. Maybe then we could prevent untimely deaths of these otherwise healthy young individuals. Remember Florence Griffith-Joyner?
The police investigations into the activities of Dr Fuentes in Spain are ongoing and it is too early to judge what is going on. So far, Manolo Saiz is innocent.
Yet Saiz has a lot of questions to answer. Alex Zuelle told the French police what happened at ONCE, that doping was organised on a similar scale to Festina. This is a matter of public record. Yet Saiz was given a ProTour licence. Why? Because he has never been proven to be involved in doping; for example he denied any association with Heras' positive test for EPO in the 2005 Vuelta a Espana.
So we have a lot to thank the police for here. At last, some people might be convicted of wrongdoing, instead of the usual slap on the wrist. As Manzano showed us, riders are risking their wellbeing and so far the UCI has done little to combat the spectre of blood doping. For sure, the blood controls run by the UCI are more than you'll see in many sports but it seems they are easy to deal with.
I'm sick off all the pros complaining about the dawn raids of the UCI "vampires". The sport is so tarnished, they only have themselves to blame if they are woken up at 6am by the doping control guys.
Yet as we know, these tests happen hours before the race, giving riders ample time to engage in blood doping before the start. This has been known for some time so why hasn't the UCI insisted on blood controls right before the start of the race, it's not hard to organise, no?
Some might say doping only reflects society; you'll always find a few cheats. Yet we're still seeing widespread, institutionalised doping programmes, and not the behaviour of a few bad guys.
What's needed is an amnesty. As with many other examples where bad behaviour becomes institutionalised and the norm for many, this needs to be dealt with openly and honestly. From the "Truth and Reconciliation" hearings in post-apartheid South Africa or a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, only by confronting the wrongdoing can you understand it and learn from it. So several lead riders need to come forward and admit their past in an open and honest way, explaining in full detail what they have done. And from then onwards, all Elite riders with a UCI licence should submit themselves to frequent tests, like the season-long blood and hormonal tests that French pros have to undergo.
Maybe I'm dreaming but I can't imagine any sponsors who want to employ cheats, corner-cutters and dopers to represent them. Cycling is a tough sport and there's sometimes an attitude that the sport is so tough that "a little helper" is needed. But we've gone beyond this now, pro cycling is part-sport, part-pharmacology. Liberty took a brave decision to pull out, and if the ostrich-like world of pro cycling doesn't clean things up for good, instead of sweeping the dirt under the carpet, not only will other sponsors pull out, but few will come forward.
I've visited L'Equipe's website several times since I caught the BBC news article this morning (May 31, 12:15 GMT) titled "Armstrong cleared in EPO inquiry." You'd think the news hounds at L'Equipe would have been on that story like Pedro's on a chain. I mean couldn't they weasel their way in to get a scoop, print a full-page, full-colour photo of Armstrong on the cover for the newsstands and spike their sales?
We'll see how long it takes for L'Equipe to respond and what kind of a splash they give the story. And how about apologies from Jean-Marie LeBlanc and Dick Pound thanking Armstrong for everything he's done to show that with courage, innovation and hard work an athlete can be a great champion in cycling without doping? I should live so long.
Phil Van Valkenberg
It is rapidly apparent that CSC is the classiest and strongest team the peloton has seen in a long time. Besides the innumerable success stories (Basso, Dave Z, Bobby J), they also compose themselves like gentlemen. For recent examples, see Basso's refusal to wear a pink helmet (Bettini take note) and Voigt's refusal to take a cheap stage win. Somehow, CSC has managed to create a team with the dominance of Postal/Disco and a team leader who rides like Lance incarnate, without the suffocating arrogance and self-aggrandisement.
Let's hope that the "No presents" policy as stated by Bjarne Riis, and the dominance of Basso at The Giro are not an indication that we have a new US Postal/Armstrong situation arising. While I admire Basso and the way he has won the Giro, the fact that the next CSC rider on GC was Jens Voigt at almost 1' 30" does indicate that CSC are adopting some of the methods used by Armstrong and co.
This is "in memorian" of Jose María "Chava" Jiménez, the incredible "grimpier" of El Barraco. I am a young Spaniard, 18 years old, and he’s the reason I feel like I do for cycling - to the point that I have also been a cyclist since 2002 to try to be like you.
The way he was, the style he had, I think that it’s impossible for me to see another cyclist like him; many cyclists inspire me, many, but none the way he did, when I saw him attacking in Abantos, in Angliru, in Lagos, in every mountain, I started knowing what they mean about the love of cycling.
People think that if he had wanted, he would have been a better cyclist, a three-week stage racer, and that he was stupid because he didn´t do anything to be that kind of rider. But I know that he didn´t do it because what he loved was the mountain; despite this fact he was third in La Vuelta ‘98 because he had to help Olano.
When he died, I felt that cycling left me and that I couldn’t see more races, but, I am a fan every day, and every day I train I think about him, to try to be like him. Thanks for every days you attacked and for your wins.
PS: I hope you could be now fighting every day with your friend Pantani
Adding "markers" to pharmaceuticals is not a viable option. Adding the "marker" means that you now have a new drug that needs to be requalified through extensive and expensive clinical testing with real human subjects, not just in the US, but also around the world. Heaven forbid if the innocuous "marker" should lead to harm or death of one or more individuals.
The money would be better put into improving the testing techniques, and should actually be cheaper. The improved techniques would also be useful in areas outside of just catching drug-cheats in athletics, in much the same way that the current techniques were not devised just to catch drug cheats.
In C. Halleus letter of last week, he suggests that this was more of a training ride for the Discovery Channel team. this may explain the lack of agressiveness they displayed in the Giro. They knew early on that Paulo didn't have the legs to defend his title. Discovery did have a number of people close to the top (Beltran, Danielson, Rubiera) that they should have sent them attacking at the bottom of climb. They could have launched a different guy on different days. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference the way Basso was riding, but why not take a chance? Basso wound up crushing the field in any case. I was disappointed at Discovery's approach -- you would think without Armstrong, they might try for some publicity by launching attacks
On the other hand, there was one stage (can't remember) early in the mountain stages where CSC took a page out of the Discovery/Postal playbook. In Stage 12 of the 2004 TDF finishing at La Mongie, Postal rode like hell at the front of the field, up the first mountain during a rainstorm, then when they started up the final climb, there was nobody left that could stay close to the Blue Train (except ironically Basso, who won the stage). CSC did the same thing and destroyed all the other teams and could offer no resistance to the power of Basso
Dick Pound should immediately resign his position in light of the findings of the independent Dutch investigator. The issue in this situation has always been about the serious legal and ethical breakdowns among WADA, the French Ministry of Youth and Sport, and the French lab.
It has never been about testing the use of EPO by Lance Armstrong in the 1999 Tour, as that was not and cannot be done under any approved protocol. Pound's continued attempts to deflect attention from WADA's lack of fairness and integrity by continuing his disingenuous campaign against Armstrong only serves to demonstrate the lack of accountability and transparency at WADA.
WADA has both an Executive Committee and a Foundation Board. I wonder if either body actually exercises any oversight of WADA's operations. If so then, in light of this humiliating embarrassment to both WADA and the cause of doping control, now would be a good time to demonstrate it. Progress in the battle against doping cannot be made until all interested in sport - fans, sponsors, officials and athletes - are confident the rules are administered impartially by fair and accountable organisations.
Sadly, the current version of WADA falls far short in this regard. It is entirely consistent with WADA's reckless and irresponsible approach to this matter that Dick Pound's initial reaction is frustration that WADA did not see the report before it was made public! WADA apparently values its ability to hide its actions and put its "spin" on independent investigations more than pursuit of its mission of ensuring fairness in sport.
The leak of Lance Armstrong's private medical information in a context where a true competition test was impossible, and the subsequent campaign of insinuation and intimidation by Dick Pound and WADA in violation of WADA's own protocols and ethical standards, suggests Pound is running a circus at that organization. If WADA is to be taken seriously in the future, someone must be held accountable for this travesty.
We Yanks in the states are currently suffering through a time of decreased Giro television coverage. Being a true Giro addict I am forced to follow live updates. I appreciate the accuracy and adequacy of Cyclingnews' coverage, and with entries every two minutes we junkies are never left itching for a hit. This week however your live updates have provided something I've missed from TV coverage...beauty. Kristy Scrymgeour's vivid descriptions of everything from mountain streams and above-tree line passes to crazed, oddly-clad half man-half horse fans has been exceptional. Further she didn't miss a beat delivering the details of the race action. Brava Kristina!
Why don’t the pharmaceutical companies put traceable markers in products used for doping? Someone who knows the pharmaceutical industry better than I can correct me on this, but:
1. Clinical trials of a new drug cost in the vicinity of $100 million.
So adding the marker exposes the pharmaceutical company to huge potential costs. No responsible company can justify such costs to its stockholders without a clearer benefit to the company.
It’s easy to dislike Paulo Bettini's occasional unsporting behaviour but he is undoubtedly one of the most exciting members of the European peloton. How often, at the end of a long stage or one-day race, do you see that gold helmet weaving along near the head of the bunch or taking a flyer off the front? How many other riders, team leaders or not, are as consistent in their efforts to win? Almost without exception when he's in a race, Bettini livens up the action and adds to the enjoyment of watching.
Mike van Niekerk,
Mr. Ventura asked a series of questions in a letter to Cyclingnews in which
he left out the answers. I have tried to provide some answers to the questions.
Notice that Bettini is not the answer to any of the questions in my book.
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