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Letters to Cyclingnews - July 21, 2006, part 1
Stage 17: Holy Cow!
First, he cracked spectacularly, and lost his lead by an insurmountable amount of time.
Then, he cracked the whip on everyone else, and made back almost all of the time he did lose.
I, for one, am not alone when I saw Landis almost come to a standstill on stage 16 and pronounced his dreams of winning the Tour de France over and done with for 2006. Then what do my eyes behold when reading the live report on www.cyclingnews.com today? The man is attacking! Not only is he attacking, but he's gaining time over the current leader, and they're not bringing him back. Surely, he can't make it up the road 6 minutes to the breakaway that left earlier in the day. Again, I'm wrong. He flies by, and then crushes it on the last cols of the stage, and rolls into Morzine triumphant on the day, and even more triumphant in taking back what was thought to be an impossible amount of time (well, he is still trailing by 30 seconds, but damn, it's close enough).
Floyd, sorry I doubted your will to win. That was some brave and courageous riding. Even if you don't win this year's Tour, it will still be the best day of racing that I'll probably ever see in my lifetime. Bravo!
Stage 17: Viva Floyd!
Wow. What else is there to say. Floyd has ripped the nutsack from this race! (In my best Triumph the Insult Comic dog voice) I hope the tour never has another Patron if this is how the racing will be. I can't remember 24 hours as thrilling as Floyd's worst-to-almost-first 24 hours, ever! Even the legendary duels between the badger and the turkey hunter were never this good. I haven't missed the staid chess matches between the two "flesh robots" Armstrong and Ullrich one bit. Give us more wide open racing. Did I mention I was excited?
Stage 17: Landis' brilliant recovery
I suppose now that Landis has made such a brilliant recovery after such a bad day the previous day, Greg LeMond will be whining that Floyd should come clean and tell us what he's on just like he did with Armstrong.
Stage 17: Miracle at Morzine
Let's just dispense with the formalities and agree right now on the best ride of 2006:
Stage 17: Floyd's beer
I'll have what he's having.
Stage 17: Landis the Fênix
Just who knows cycling deeply, just who race hard can realize what did Landis on his mind and body. Landis the Fênix.
I was watching in the final kilometres of Courchevel and the Galibier last year and was scheduled to be in the Alps again this year, although work forced me to cancel. In the midst of my disappointment, Ullrich/Basso/Mancebo and others were forced to withdraw. My first response, to console my disappointment, was "no problem"......"this year's Tour will be a transition". I couldn't have been farther from my assessment.
We've seen Levi lose tons of time in the TT only to make it back on the climb to La Toussierre. We've seen a prior top-10 finisher get nearly a half-hour break battle neck-and-neck for the yellow. We've witnessed the heroics of Schleck in his win to Alpe d'Huez. And finally, after watching Stage 16 to La Toussierre, I've been screaming solo from the edge of my couch.
While we will wait for the "system" to sort out the travails of Ullrich and Basso, this year's Tour has proven that this event really is more than just one or two riders....that the Tour is truly one of the best sporting events in the world and I cannot wait to purchase the DVD as this will likely go down as one of my favourite Tours on record.
Vive Le Tour !
Jeffrey D. Ishmael
What does Greek mythology tell us about Sal Raisin coming back from near-death to win the 2009 Tour De France?
Hooray for Rasmussen -- not just for an impressive stage-win, but also for helping restore some prestige to the KOM competition. I mean no disrespect to Virenque or Jalabert, but clearly they were not the best climbers of their day, and only managed to take the mountain points by going on long suicide breaks while the real mountain men hung back and stalked the yellow jersey. Rasmussen, however, has put the polka-dots back in the hands of true climbers, and has proven himself the heir to Millar, Herrera, and the climbing geniuses of the 1980s.
Also, hooray for ex-mountain bikers. Rasmussen, Landis, Evans, Danielson: an illustrious company indeed! If I were the head of French cycling, I'd be seriously scouting the off-road ranks right about now.
There was rumblings earlier this year from CSC regarding "Chicken" Rasmussen not being a team player. Yes, the dude is a bit quiet and a bit particular but yesterday's stage proved he is a total team player. Rabobank played their cards spot on with Menchov riding tempo up most of the climbs. Boogerd and Rasmussen played the ultimate team players. Riis and his drill sergeant need to reconsider, almost as much as Vino probably kicking himself for not going to Disco!
If Lance Armstrong is retired, then why would you hate him? What did he ever do to you besides beating whoever you were rooting for? Don't forget that the Tour de France is still Armstrong's throne until someone wins the race in Paris on Sunday. If you don't like OLN's coverage, watch CBS covering the race and you will see how pathetic video leftovers can really be. What OLN is trying to do is to insure that Armstrong fans will stick around to watch the Tour this year and every year. They really had to scramble when their preview show had planned to spend most of its sixty minutes on Ullrich and Basso. Armstrong embraces the exposure and pursues it for the sake of his foundation. Maybe you could do something positive instead of crying and whining. Try to make an inspiring movie about Zoetemelk. Even better would be, "I could have won six tours: The Greg LeMond Story."
Wait until you hear the soundtrack for the Lance Armstrong movie.
At the risk of being labelled another "cocky texan (sic)" by Mr. Nagel - oh, what the hell, that puts me in pretty good company - it should be obvious to everyone that Lance's love-him-or-leave-him mug is plastered on everything OLN because Lance IS the face of cycling in America. With Lance's retirement, viewership is predictably down, and fortunately for cycling development and interest in this country, OLN understands that a link to the recent past is the best chance of keeping American viewers engaged. Although I love the current anarchy in the race and would welcome a deserving champion from any country, there's no question that a win by another American would be the best insurance that we who enjoy watching the Tour will continue to do so with the current level of coverage provided by OLN. It may not be perfect, but it was a short time ago that it was far worse. I for one am willing to suffer a little Lanceaholism if as a result I'm able to enjoy watching future Tours.
Hear, hear! Enough with Lance. Let's focus on the guys who are actively participating in the sport of cycling right now. Lance had his day, respect the guys who are trying now. I've heard Lance Armstrong so many times, his name is becoming irritating.
Besides, he doesn't need help making his head any bigger, he's doing a great job as acting master of the universe already.
Overly Lance Network is RIGHT! When an American makes a by-the-book tactical move, all four commentators drool and fawn over the "lessons from Lance". Conversely, any foible, apparent weakness, or debatable strategy is dismissed with "Lance would NEVER have allowed (blank) to happen." Clearly, these homers--American slang for local sportscasters who slobber over the home team--have strict instructions from the network higher-ups to give Lance all possible credit for American successes. I expected no better of Bob and his gesticulating yellow bracelets, but I'm appalled at the kowtowing by Phil and Paul. Those two were TdF pros before Lance even learned how to ride a bike. It's embarrassing to watch...even as I'm glued to the coverage, first thing every morning.
Not that I dislike Floyd or American cyclists, but I think that he was too cocky with the yellow helmet, shorts, tires and glasses. He had not won anything yet, not even a stage, but was acting like he owns the jersey. I only recall Armstrong in all yellow on the ride into Paris. Yellow is not something you wear, it is something you earn.
In response to Ms. Alden's comments about Discovery not being a truly American team and the apparent lack of US talent in Europe:
1) Davitamon Lotto is a Belgian team, but they have 2 Australians and 2 Americans in their initial line-up for the tour. Similarly, most teams that are "based" in a particular country are not made up entirely of that country's riders, with the exceptions of Bouygues Telecom and Euskadel-Euskadi. Diversity is the trademark of Pro Tour teams now.
2) Here's a list of Americans racing in the Pro Tour Ranks: George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Chris Horner, Freddy Rodriguez, Bobby Julich, David Zabriskie, Tyler Farrar (not in the tour, but just picked up by Cofidis), Christian Vandevelde, Saul Raisin (on the comeback from a coma - he was a rising star). Apparently, there's not a lack of American talent at all... just look at who's in the maillot jaune.
Is Discovery really a true U.S. ProTour team?
Who cares if Discovery is really a true US team? We already know that American riders can compete, et al, Landis, Leipheimer, Horner, etc. This is what bothers me about typical American sports fans. The inability to watch a sport for the beauty of it and enjoy the stars no matter what country they come from. OLN feeds this by trumping up George Hincapie when he wasn't even a legitimate contender. I watch cycling for the excitement of cycling, I could care less what country they come from. Do the Dallas Mavericks want to get rid of Dirk Nowitzki because he's from Germany? I think not. If you want to be nationalistic, watch the Olympics or American football, Discovery doesn't need to be a true US team, Discovery needs to hire the best cyclists out there, regardless of where they come from.
Is Discovery really a true U.S. ProTour team?
Barbara Alden wonders if the Discovery Team is an American Pro Tour team... well, a couple of thoughts on that...
A:Is there any team that is comprised of one nationality? All teams are multi-national since the teams went to the trade team model from the national team model decades ago, no? What would the benefit? How would so many riders from any one country get on a team? Right now, there seems to be more Americans than ever before in the peloton, so I'd say we're being represented pretty well...
B: As for the Discovery team in specific, I think we're seeing the after effects of Bruyneel's "one star" strategy. All for one seems to have worked pretty well when you have a rider that can ride for one race. When the riders actually have to act and think as a team, it gets more difficult, as we're witnessing at this Tour. While Lance was on his Tour rampage for 7 years, the Discovery team had a few good successes, notably Heras at the Vuelta and Savoldelli at the Giro. Now, at Le Tour 2006, however we see the Emperor's New Clothes. No leadership, few capable riders, and some really poor top-down leadership, ending with the announcement that stage wins will be good enough as the team has to rethink it's strategy in the face of this deficit.
At least Riis and the others were a little more honest with their assessments. they said that MONTHS AGO. every DS said that if they had GC capable rider they would go for the overall, however, stage wins were always a great way to make their presence felt at the Tour.
Question: Going into the Tour with no star rider, was it ever a wise idea to go over with all the bravado that Bruyneel went into it with? Lance was a force to reckon with, due to his single race focus and ability...who's afraid of Hincapie? George is a good rider, but Tour contender? I think the Reality Check is in effect.
Lat thought: speaking of Reality Checks, is there any way to gag Bob Roll? The guy makes more wrong calls than a Christian Senator voting on stem cell research! Besides him being embarrassing with the redneck pronunciation while commenting on an international event.
"Except for Armstrong in 1999 has any rider ever won the tour without a previous podium spot (except for those who won their first tour)," Barry Whittle asks. The answer is a definite 'yes'. Has Barry already forgotten about Miguel Indurain? [Actually, Barry sent us a "Doh! I forgot Indurain" note already – Letters Ed]. He had scored 10th place as the best end result before his first win.
Since the Second World War, there have been a total of 29 Tour winners. Twelve of them had a previous podium spot before their first win. Eight won their first Tour. That leaves nine riders who on earlier attempts did not make the podium. Those nine riders are, with their best result until then:
Ferdi Kubler in 1950 (abandon)
While Leblanc has stuck his foot in his mouth in the past, I commend him on calling for rule changes regarding race radios. With the inclusion of new technology in the peloton, cycling has seen big changes that have affected the way races are decided. Of these inclusions of technology, none has had such a far reaching affect as the race radios that allow riders to communicate directly with their director's, who are watching the race on television from their team car. With these radios, riders are aware at all times about how far up the road a break away is, or how far off pace they are in the time trials. Gone are the days where real tactics win the day. Instead, riders now simply wait for instructions from their directors on whether to attack or not.
Imagine for the moment that race radios are completely eliminated. In the case of stage 12, Popovich, well down on GC, could have gained even more than the four plus minutes that he earned while in the day's main break away. Instead of knowing that Popo was in the break, the protagonists (Landis, Kloden, Menchov, Evans) would have had to stay vigilant at the front of the peloton, ready at all times for an attack. A rider like Levi Leipheimer, who lost huge time in the time trial, could hope to escape as a means of gaining back time on the GC. Not only would this open up the race, but it would give an advantage to those contenders with a stronger team. Being able to control the race would take on new importance as teams fought to keep attackers that they may never see again at bay.
Even limiting the amount of radios would be a great equalizer. If only two men from each team were allowed radios, it would put more onus on teams to plan the day's strategy more carefully. And don't forget the TV's in the team cars. Eliminate them and bring racing back to its roots. Allow the riders to make the race instead of the directors. Allow the strongest legs to win, not the strongest radio frequency. Do that, and you give fans a sport that they haven't seen for twenty years. Do that, and you give control back to those that deserve it most, the riders. Leblanc, on his way out, must be searching for a legacy. The elimination of race radios would be the perfect way for him to leave a positive mark on pro cycling, instead of being known as Armstrong's antagonist.
When someone can give me a reasonable explanation for why the UCI let Floyd Landis ride with that “illegal” position in the prologue of the Tour de France and not in Stage 7 of the same Tour, only then will I begin to see the correctness and ideology behind the 6.8 kg rule. Persuade away!
Landis' aero bars
Gee, thought it was about bike racers, not gadgets. I think the UCI should take a step back and institute more stringent rules...such as round bicycle tubes. If not, bike racing will start to look like Nascar...with a label on something, where 'inside', nothing of a real bicycle remains. The only thing 'Chevy' on a NasCar, is the label on the hood.
Landis' aero bars
Lugano accord: Man over machine. I agree with that. Otherwise we would have a Formula One fiasco where the best machine keeps winning. The problem is that the UCI is not responsive enough to allow changes in technology to enable teams to adapt. The BMC bike is a good reference as they have the technology within the rules, that allows their riders to perform at the top level. If the UCI could adapt their rules then BMC can equally readapt their bikes to fit the rules and at the same time let their riders demonstrate that Man can be supreme.
Landis' aero bars
I've read a lot of letters condemning the UCI for their decision on Landis' bar position. But I think these are unjust attacks! It's easy to blame the UCI for all of cycling's problems but the responsibility truly falls on his Phonak team and not on the UCI or the organizers of the Tour. These rules have been in position for many years now and Phonak should have been aware of them. The fact that he has not been 'caught' and had his bar position corrected in other races is a black mark to the organizers of those races for not conducting adequate bike inspections not the UCI for making the rule.
There are many 'exceptions' to the rules allowing for riders who fit 'outside the dimensions' set out by the UCI. Anyone who's been to a high level track meeting will see that every bike is measured before every timed race. When a bike fits outside of the realm the rider is required to sit on the bike to see if their position is acceptable (arm angles and knee positions etc). So there are allowances for taller or shorter riders to compete. But Landis is only 1.78m tall (5 feet 10 inches). He clearly is within the realm of a 'normal' rider size so should be subjected to the same rules as the other riders.
Everyone seems to be forgetting that Landis' bar position is not a 'medical requirement'. It's simply a position that allows him to go faster. He spent some time in a wind tunnel and found that by extending his hands outside of the legal limits he could go faster! Just like the Superman and Egg positions did (although they were not illegal at the time). Further, his position is not that 'Radical and new'. Just look at any photograph of a time trial between 1989 and 1995 and you'll see that that's what EVERYONE did.
Let's also not forget that Landis time trialed perfectly well for 8 years with his bars in a flat position similar to what most riders are using now. See here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/2004/vuelta04/index.php?id=stage8/14 where he finished 3rd in the Vuelta TT.
I think Floyd Landis' is a great bike rider and will do very well in this Tour. But all the excuses about a dodgy hip and the UCI not playing fair about his bike position seems to be a nice way out should he fail.
Bon Chance Floyd! Hope to see you on the top step of the podium in 10 days time.
Judging by the dozens of photographs, I'd go out on a limb to say that this year's mountain bike national championships was run on the most boring course in history. It looks like the organizers just strung together some gravel roads, paved roads, and open grassy fields. Rocks? No. Roots? No. Singletrack? No. Even the Super D looked like they were riding on a football field! Were it not for obligation to the sponsors, I bet that more than one racer would have ridden a road bike...or at least a cyclocross bike.
Ok Patrick, I'll take the bait -
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I vote for Floyd as Man of the Year for a variety of reasons.
First, I don't' agree with your assessment that he "leaves something in arrears" in the looks category. In fact, I think Floyd is a very good looking guy - he has a great smile, a twinkle in his eye, and a he cuts an awesome figure - have you checked out his legs lately???
Furthermore, if you compare him to "what we are accustomed to" on the podium, let's be real - not everyone can be as dreamy as Ivan. If you leave "Brillo" out of the competition, I submit that Floyd matches up well with any of the other podium finishers.
Finally, you cannot separate the looks of a man from his true character. Floyd appears to be a man of honour and devotion - both to his teammates, his friends, and his family. He has made his marriage work despite the challenges of a pro cycling career - which is much more than can be said of the last Tour winner; he honours his mother and father when he mentions them in interviews - as opposed to continuing to hold a life-long grudge like the last Tour winner; and he lives a modest lifestyle, crashing in a college-style apartment in Spain with a fellow American - rather than surrounding himself with the pretence of class in a multi-million dollar showpiece like the last Tour winner.
All told, I'll take Floyd any day - but he's already spoken for.
Floyd's not "photogenically challenged"
As a 41yr old American, I am frequently struck by the vast aesthetic gap which separates my cohorts and myself from those as little as five years our junior. It has occurred to me that Mr. Landis's quirky appearance and the off-beat personality are most apparent when viewed from the age of 40 and beyond. I have found much to admire in Floyd Landis and welcome what appears to be a genuine and unique athlete to the league of cycling heroes. His vast talent aside, Mr. Landis's persona is a refreshing contrast which will serve him and the cycling community well.
Floyd IS "photogenically challenged"
I appreciate the humour, but Landis is the new king of France. For the same reason you pick him as challenged, I am such a huge fan. He is a simple hillbilly from Temecula (well Pennsylvania via Temecula). He is Kid-Rock meets le tour, down to being skinny and rockin' the hat backwards, and he used to party like a rock star back in the MTB days. The Rock ain't got nothing on Floyd, Floyd is the people’s champion. He isn't some Cinderella story like LeMond, or a comeback king like Lance, or pretty like The Big Hinc, he’s just an average Joe with a super sized motor that would probably look more at home working construction than climbing some hors climb in the Pyrenees. Rock on Floyd, this Bud’s for you.
Andres “SoCal Refugee” Aguirre
Today, it has happened again. In Stage 10 of the Tour de France, yellow jersey wearer Sergey Gonchar was seen riding back to his team car to fetch water bottles for his teammates. This is just another instance of what I deem a disrespect for the yellow jersey. The most brazen example of this occurred in last year's TdF when team CSC decided to leave yellow-jersey Dave Zabriskie after he crashed into the barriers during the team time trial. The main reason for CSC to abandon Zabriskie was to protect Ivan Basso against any time losses. Nevertheless, I always feel a fit of anger whenever I see a picture of a bruised and bleeding Zabriskie lying on the ground as his teammates ride away.
What has happened to the significance of the yellow jersey? It has apparently become a victim of team tactics and the overriding will to protect the so-called leader of the team. I know this sounds a little old-fashioned, especially in this age of big-budget sponsorships and the high expectations this engenders, but I think the team managers should try to adhere to a set of "rules" for the wearer of the yellow jersey:
1. The yellow jersey becomes the de-facto leader or co-leader of the team, even though he may be just a domestique, as such
2. The yellow jersey never carries water bottles for teammates, and
3. As the co-leader of the team, the team must protect and wait for him during the stages, even during the team time trial
Cycling is a sport about traditions, and if the professional teams cannot uphold the tradition of the yellow jersey, what does this say about the state of our beloved sport?
How can you be on the US National team and not be aware of the registration deadlines/registration process for the US National races? Is no one looking out for you guys? Is this a USA Cycling problem? I just don't get it. I'd be mad as heck that your coach or the administrators who oversee the National Team didn't get you in the race(s) on time.
As far as the question of why Nationals are held where they are - there's hardly anything in sport or business these days that isn't driven by money or what someone/someplace can do for the organization. Unfortunately, that's just the reality of living in 2006.
I agree that the rules for applying to the Nationals are a little dated. However, I know that the USCF sent out at least four communications in the weeks before registration to make certain that people were aware of the procedures. The sign-ups for this event have been done this way for quite some time. In the past, the event was held in a more remote area of the country and I don't believe the fields were ever filled completely. In the case of this year, there was a great venue in a relatively central part of the country with respect to cycling. Your point has been made to many people and the USCF is listening. I suspect there will be changes to next year’s procedures.
I know JM Leblanc was happy, from a competitive standpoint, to see Lance go, but um, this isn't any better. First several of the favourites are ousted (perhaps with good reason) but now we are looking at a possible fluke victory by Oscar Pereiro. He is a fine rider no doubt, but mark my words, he won't be winning any Tours de France after this one. I'll bet T-Mobile, CSC, and possibly others are regretting letting that break get so far ahead. Hopefully Kloden or Sastre can make up the time and give this tour some legitimacy.
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