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Tour de France Letters Special - August 6, 2004

Here's your chance to get more involved with Cyclingnews. Comments and criticism on current stories, races, coverage and anything cycling related are welcomed, even pictures if you wish. Letters should be brief (less than 300 words), with the sender clearly identified. They may be edited for space and clarity; please stick to one topic per letter. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.

Each week's best letter gets our 'letter of the week' award. We look for for letters that contain strong, well-presented opinions; humour; useful information or unusual levels of sheer helpfulness.

Welcome to yet another of our special letters page dedicated to the Tour de France. We've also had a few letters on non-Tour subjects.

Please email your correspondence to letters@cyclingnews.com.

Recent letters

If you had told me before the Tour...
Looking to the future
The Tour 2004
The power of a team
The debate begins
Fan behavior
The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004
TdF blood bath
No romance in France
Italian investigators
I hope to see the Giro at last
CSC tactics
Armstrong vs Simeoni
Armstrong vs Klöden
A Legend

If you had told me before the Tour...

If you had told me before that Lance would win his 6th straight Tour, I'd have said "you're crazy!"

If you had told me just a few hours before the Tour that Matthew White would be injured by race time I would have told you that you were crazy.

If you'd told me before that by stage 4 Iban Mayo would be down almost 5 1/2 minutes on Lance, I'd have said "you're crazy!"

If you'd told me before that Phonak would have a top 10 finisher but that it would not be Tyler Hamilton, I'd have said "you're crazy!"

If you'd told me before that Tyler would get injured I'd have said "of course", but if you'd told me that he would drop out later because of it, I'd have said "you're crazy!"

If you'd have told me before that neither Heras or Mayo would finish the Tour and that neither one would be injured, I'd have said "you're crazy!"

If you'd told me before that Thomas Voeckler would hold the yellow jersey for 10 stages, I'd have asked "what are you smoking?"

If you'd told me before that I was about to witness 17,000 commercials by about 6 companies (Fosters, AOL for Broadband, Pacific Life, Expedia, you know them all) during the next 3 weeks, I would have told you to remove all sharp objects from my reach.

Id you'd told me before the Tour that by the end I would instantly know what terms like "in a spot of bother " and "he's on the rivet" mean and that damn near everything is either "unbelievable" or "utterly unbelievable" I'd have said "Utterly fantastic, Phil and Paul must be commentating again!" (Kudos to Al and the Bobke as well).

If you'd told me before that Jaan Kirsipuu would bail out before the mountains, I'd have said... "duh!"

If you'd told me before that not only would Christopher Brandt not finish the Tour but that he would be sacked by his team even before the Tour was over...I'd have said, "I guess he's in for a big surprise."

If you'd have told me before the Tour that the French would hold 3 of the 4 colored jerseys for a large chunk of the Tour, I'd have said "you're crazy!"

If you told me before that Gilberto Simoni would be the only rider to finish in the top 20 of both the Giro and the Tour, I'd have said "that's one hell of a cyclist!"

If you'd told me before that Michele Bartoli would throw a hissy fit and quit stage 17 because he felt that he was getting jerked around by his DS during the stage, I'd have said, "Hey, guess what, you're not the team's GC contender. Think yellow, man!"

If you'd told me before that Voeckler cannot compete for the white jersey next year but that Vladimir Karpets can go for it for 2 more years, I'd have said, "I hope Karpets gets mentioned a lot by the commentators."

If you'd have told me before that Richard Virenque would win his 7th King of the Mountains jersey I'd have said, "That's terrific, good for Richard (but let no one think for an instant that he's the best climber in the Tour)".

If you'd told me before that Lance would beat Ullrich on the stage 19 time trial by the exact same time that he beat him in the 2003 Tour, I'd have said "whoa dude, cosmic!"

If you'd have told me before that Erik Zabel would continue the year getting 2nd and 3rd place finishes but no stage wins, I'd have been really upset.

If you had told me before that the only person to win stages in both the Giro and the Tour would be Robbie McEwen and not Alessandro Petacchi I'd have said you're crazy.

If you told me before that T-Mobile would have the best team time in the Tour, I'd have said "T-Mobile is a great team, but they are not the best team in the Tour".

If you'd told me before that Fassa Bortolo would win 3 stages but none by Petacchi I'd have said you're really crazy.

If you'd told me before that there would be more crashes than a demolition derby, I'd have said that the riders are just plain crazy.

If you'd told me that the winning team would win $697,360 [US dollars], I'd have said "no wonder these guys ride so damn fast, crashing all the time!"

If you'd have told me before that this year's winner would be the second oldest guy ever to win and that he would record the 2nd fastest time on what could be called one of the toughest Tour routes ever, I'd have said, "nothing the man does surprises me anymore."

If you'd have said before that Lance Armstrong's win was like an 18-wheeler running over a beer can on the highway, I'd have said that's probably just the way Lance and his team planned it.

Tom Atherholt, Lance Fan #279,495,168
Moorestown, NJ, USA
Friday, July 30, 2004

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Looking to the future

I don't know about the rest of you but I am hanging out for the Tour battles between Damiano Cunego and Alejandro Valverde. Both riders are astonishing for their ability to climb with the best and sprint hard as well. They seem to have all the best attributes of classics riders and tour riders all rolled into one. The last person I recall (and I am sure this will prompt a reaction) to have the ability to sprint and climb was a young Jan Ullrich (not a current day Jan, just a young Jan).

Ross Mackay
Sydney Australia
Wednesday, August 4, 2004

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The Tour 2004 #1

Firstly, forgive me but in the UK we have no idea what a Schmengie is, unless I had grown up in a bubble. Maybe someone can help me with that one? So to the questions...

Question 1: I don't know what Bahamontès said but I am continually perplexed as to how Virenque was allowed to compete in the Tour or any cycle race after dragging his denials through the courts way past when all the other Festina guys had served their bans. These actions have brought the sport into so much disrepute and yet he is still so highly regarded, as I say I am perplexed, and yes the previous polka dot jerseys should have been nullified if proven to be enhanced.

Question 2: Don't be too hard on Ullrich, I don't buy it that his heart was not in it. He simply hates the cold and wet and is physically effected by it. This is what put him behind until later in the Tour. As to his performances for the rest of the Tour his form was not quite there but it was the first weeks weather that cost him the podium, not his motivation.

Question 3: Absolutely, yes, the new breed are on their way but don't expect to see them sweep the board yet. Voeckler held on to a lead based on a breakaway so would be surprised if he is a new one to watch. Karpets had a very good Tour, and look at his time trial performances both on the flat and the mountains. Watch out for him in the next 3 years. Basso has to go away and work on his time trialing, if he nails that he will be next years hot favourite.

Question 4: Poor Cipo, yes it very likely will be his last Tour. He has opted to not retire on a high which he could have done in his World Championship year. A shame really its just not his style to fade away.

Question 5: It is surprising that the other teams are not learning from USPS team preparation. In interviews prior to the Tour Ullrich seemed to even be implying his way of preparing was his style and he was sticking to it. That won't win the Tour against Lance though. I can only surmise that the other teams are either a) Happy to race for second place b) Have not woken up and smelt the coffee or c) Are distracted by other races / priorities in the season. Previously the ONCE team were more serious contenders as their team time trial prep was superior to USPS, but since that team finished Liberty Seguros don't seem to have the same spark.

Question 7: I do not expect Lance to retire this year. He will be back next year and my gut feeling is it will be to go for a seventh Tour. But maybe all this talk of who is the greatest cyclist will push him to have a go at things like Paris-Roubaix or the World Hour. I hope so, I would like to see USPS contesting the cobbles and Lance in a velodrome against the clock. Not because I think he should prove himself, but because I think he has it in him to beat those events too. People have also said will he ride the Giro, I must say I'm not bothered about that because in my view the Vuelta is now the Number 2 tour, it is much more competitive than the Giro, it is where Lance started to show some form coming back from cancer, and so many Spaniards have helped him in his career.

Here is my question: Will Lance stay in the team when he stops contending for the Tour? If so who should be the team leader that he assists in a Tour win? Azevedo in my view.

Harvey Jones
Yorkshire, UK
Friday, July 30, 2004

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The Tour 2004 #2

1.) I agree. Take the Frenchman's polka dot jerseys away from him (for those years he rode for Festina). I think the same punishment should have been applied to Marco Pantani, a gifted rider but a known substance abuser.

2.) I really like the "WIN-CLAUSE" concept. And not just in the TDF or solely in the sport of cycling. I think these sometimes overpaid athletes require bigger motivation for their activities. A WIN-CLAUSE might be just the thing.

3.) I believe, particularly in Basso's case, we have definitely seen the start of a new generation shining through at the TDF.

4.) Cipo's done.

5.) Perhaps TDF prep plans are so individual and so unique to each club/rider that no one is cloning Lance's training technique. Lance has had the advantage of working with a sponsor who allows for limited racing time (to 'billboard' their name around Europe). Can any other rider/team succeed in a similar arrangement? Lance enjoys 12 months of training with minimal racing; can any rider duplicate that process AND be successful in July? Hard to say.

6.) Lance will go for TDF win #7. With another strong team around him he will win #7.

From: Mark P Czapinski
Friday, July 30, 2004

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The Tour 2004 #3

I have no idea what a schmengie (sp?) is, but I appreciate Laurent Schoux' provocative questions.

With respect to Question No. 5, I doubt any riders besides Armstrong and Ullrich really have the liberty of putting all their eggs in the Tour de France basket. They have to get results somewhere, don't they? I think this is a significant advantage for Armstrong, especially since Ullrich won't match his commitment. (In a way, isn't it a positive thing that Ullrich won't subordinate everything else - family, etc. - to the Tour?)

With respect to Question No. 6, I'm having a lot harder time coming up with reasons for Armstrong not to race the Tour next year than reasons for him to race it. In addition to the advantage mentioned above, he has the team (virtually a system), the money to keep or rebuild the team and the ability. I don't see why he can't win two or three more Tours if he wants. How about this question: Was the U.S. Postal Service Tour de France team as powerful as they appeared to be, or did the withering pace of the first week make them look more dominant than they really were?

David Sprawls
Louisville, KY USA
Wednesday, August 4, 2004

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Tour 2004 reflections

I am disappointed with this year's Tour. I was expecting much more than what I saw. If it wasn't for Basso, Lance would have absolutely and literally cruised the race.

Even though a lot of people are very critical of Ullrich, I was really surprised with his performance.

Of course the Postal Team rode superbly, but I was really impressed with the performances of Floyd Landis and George Hincapie. Too bad "El Gordo" wouldn't let Floyd go, he really deserved that stage.

Claudio Izzo
Stgo, Chile
Monday, August 2, 2004

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The Tour 2004

After reading through all the letters about the Tour I have a few questions.

1.) Why is it that everyone is so convinced that Ullrich's fourth place is due to poor preparation? He lost over five minutes in the Pyrenees and he has explained that he was ill. If it was due to poor preparation then how could he recover so quickly for the Alps? Everyone knows he does weights in winter and gains muscle. Maybe this is the wrong tactic but it is unfair to question his dedication. People should accept that, while Ullrich is streets ahead of the other contenders, he can't match Armstrong at the moment. Leaving aside last year, when he had problems, Lance seems consistently a minute quicker in the time trials. On the mountains, illness aside, I don't think there's a lot between the two, except tactics, team support and maybe sprinting now!

2.) Why does everyone bemoan stupid fans but assume nothing can be done? Sure, you can't put barriers up the whole way but there could be a crackdown on such behaviour. Cycling should learn from soccer where video evidence is used to charge hooligans? Laws could be introduced making it an offence to touch or chase or spit on the riders. Or at the very least these things could be officially condemned by having guidelines for fans which are displayed on posters along the course. Furthermore, TV is much to blame for giving publicity to the idiots. People know that if they run along the road carrying a huge flag then they'll be on TV - same as terrorists know that they'll get publicity for blowing things up. Often these clips are replayed in montage sequences rather than ignored.

3.) What on earth happened to Heras?

Bruce Murphy
Tuesday, August 3, 2004

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The power of a team

This is a silly point to make that no other Posties have had successful careers after leaving USPS besides Tyler Hamilton. Tyler has obviously had an amazing couple of years, and I expect him to do similar things next year. What about Tom Boonen, and his 16 wins so far this year, including Ghent-Wevelgem and two Tour stage wins? What about Kevin Livingston, who did well as a domestique for Telekom a few years ago?

Obviously Heras has been a bit of a disappointment, but he's only been gone for one year, and hasn't even contested his home tour, the Vuelta, the only event he's had great success in. Would we be calling him a great success if he came in 9th, 15th, 34th as he did in his 3 years with USPS, or would he prefer his 5th place from his Kelme days?

The great mythology of USPS as the best team in cycling because of their organization and management reminds of Phil Jackson, the great basketball coach, who just happened to have Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaq, and Kobe Bryant in the primes of their careers. Can we really give Johan and the Postie management that much credit for Armstrong's dominating victories?

Silas Laudon
Newport RI, USA
Friday, July 30, 2004

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The debate begins

T-Mobile did not say they went into the Tour with two leaders, they stated they had a strong team with more than one potential podium placer and whoever was the strongest when it mattered the others would ride for him, be it Ullrich, Vino or Klöden.

Ullrich's preparation - according to him and his trainers - was perfect preparation for HIM, what knocked him low for the first ten days was the 'flu he caught from his baby daughter and for which he was taking anti-biotics.

If Lance knows he is second to none why on Earth is he not going to the Olympics to attempt a gold medal - which he himself said in 2000 meant more to 'the folks back home' than the Tour de France. The excuse of having been 'many times before' is hardly true (he only got a bronze in the ITT in 2000) and spending just a few more days away from the kids who see him irregularly anyway - well for someone so obsessed and convinced of their superiority, you'd think it would be irresistible.

Beth Portwood
Sunday, August 1, 2004

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Fan behavior

I have read some of the letters in response to the fan behavior on Alpe d'Huez, so I thought I would throw in my two cents. The spitting and name calling was once again an act of the minorities that has been blown out of proportion. I have nothing but great memories of that whole day. We partied with Germans, Basques, Italians, and the French, and had a fantastic time. I even wore a Postal jersey (the only time I have ever worn it), and had people cheering for me as I rode up the mountain. Everyone who is screaming outrage and demanding boycotts needs to just calm down. The behavior on Alpe d'Huez was actually very mild compared to any SEC football game that I have attended.

Jim Wueste
Atlanta, GA
Friday, July 30, 2004

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The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004 #1

I agree with "Pierre Dupont" and I think you're right when saying the Lance is quite popular in France. Still I get the impression during my visit this year, in which I saw 6 Tour stages (I'm a very big Postal/Lance fan) that there are a lot of "brain-dead idiots" on the various slopes in the Tour. First of all, the thing that pisses me off the most is that you can get up at 5:00 in the morning and then be lucky enough to find a spot on the mountain, but at the time when the caravan arrives, a major bunch of various supporters (in this case, Basque supporters on Plateau de Beille) arrived and blocked our view, and not just that, they literally invaded our spot and found that our car was a perfect bench. Then they found it amusing to start imitating that they were burning the American flag and making their "Lance-EPO" finger signs. On that day it wasn't only the Basque who was acting like idiots, also a lot of French supporters dressed in KOM T-shirts (=Virenque fans) found it amusing to irritate us with their "Lanc(ePO)" crap.

You say, that it's not more than 0,5 %. Well, then there must have been a whole lot of people on the slopes of Plateau de Beille, because all day long they came by and had a smart comment to our "GO-Lance signs". I wonder what their problem is. We don't stop in front of them and shout "Virenq(ePO)" or "Ti-Thomas sucks". Instead we talk to others (including French) about how brave Thomas Voeckler was fighting. I don't say that all French are like that but I was surprised by how many it actually was who acted like fools. I've been to the Tour since 1996, and I haven't noticed that many idiots before. Another thing made me wonder if the Basques are on the course to see the race or to come with political statements. I noticed that many of the Basques were not even looking at the race when the riders came by, they where standing and talking with their front turned towards the crowd line. I have no problem with that, except that they stand right in front of you, talking, so it's difficult to see the riders.

I'm glad to hear from a French that Virenque is pathetic, I agree. That man has admitted to use banned substances, but all he had to do was to cry on national TV. I really don't hope that this is how it works in France. Another thing that I despise is the French press, why can't they just realize that the man is working harder than anybody else?

Well, back to the thing you said about Lance being popular in France, It's probably right, but I don't get the impression. On Plateau de Beille one guy (a Basque supporter) said, "Armstrong - OK". One man! Towards the end of the stage, people gathered around our little TV-set to see the result. I don't know if it was to be friendly so they could watch the TV or if it was a question of choosing who they would like to the win the stage between Lance or Basso, when they all shouted in joy when Lance won. That was me, my dad, two British, one Basque and one French. The more I think about it I think it was to be polite so they could watch our TV. The two British were Lance fans but I don't know about the two others. My point is that if he is such a popular figure, the French tend to hide it very well.

Joan Blomsterberg
Sunday, August 1, 2004

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The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004 #2

Bravo to Pierre Dupont (not his real name) for his defense of France.

If you are going to discuss stupid behavior at sporting events, you have to ask why the player entrances to football (the American kind, not the real kind) stadiums have awnings stretched over them. The reason - idiots spitting on the players.

In fact, I would hate to see what would happen in the Tour de Georgia if cycling was as main stream in the US as it is in Europe. You know some redneck would be throwing Bud bottles at riders. (Heck, they yell obscenities and have thrown beer bottles at me when I am out riding and it isn't even a race.)

But cycling is better than that. There is no way to put enough police or barriers on the side of the road to control every meter. Fans have to let other fans know when they are over the line. Not to the point of physical confrontation, but maybe just a reminder that it is just a sport and whether Lance wins or Ullrich gets chased down by a fellow countryman, it really just a bunch of guys riding bikes. When you find yourself taking it too seriously it is time to go for a ride of your own.

Matthew Wheeler

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The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004 #3

This is in response to the letter written by the man AKA Pierre Dupont:

Please do not think for a minute that just like the fans at the Tour de France, that everyone in America hates France. I think you, and your countrymen have a better worldview than that, well most do at least. Sure some people hate Lance Armstrong, but there are plenty of Armstrong haters in the USA as well. The electronic bulletin boards and Usenet groups are full of them. They hate him because he wins. They hate him because he's better at something than they will ever be. This actually amazes me that anyone from the US would hate Armstrong who enjoys, participates, and or watches cycling, because in general, he has forwarded and brought to the forefront in many different aspects, the world of cycling to a lot of people in the US who would have never known about it before. I believe he is almost singularly responsible for the increase I've seen personally in the amount of races that I can now ride in because more people have an interest in the sport now. In the USA, it's still a "fringe" sport, but with Armstrong "winning" a recent poll on ESPN.com about being the greatest athlete in the world, and with him winning a 6th Tour de France, the case for cycling has been forwarded even more. I say keep heckling Armstrong though, as it tends to make him try even harder, and it drives him to win even more. I'm not a huge Armstrong fan, but I can definitely respect and I do admire the things that he's done in the sport over the years.

Going back to my original point though, there are bad fans in every sport. I've seen fights in the cheap seats at American football games. I've seen scuffles in parking lots. I've seen athletes spit on and have things thrown at them while on the field of play (batteries, baseballs, snowballs, bottles, and other debris). People like that are everywhere. Instead of behaving like civilized people, you add some alcohol, and the bad side comes out in some folks. As you mentioned before, there is no way to control everyone, it's just possible. Franco-phobes in the US are just dumb people who wanted to jump on the George W. Bush train of "Either you're with us or you're not" kind of attitude. Just keep in mind, that should Bush win reelection in November of this year, I might be looking to move to France.

Tom Arsenault
Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Friday, July 30, 2004

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TdF blood bath

I had the same initial disappointed reaction as Erik Neumann to the crashes in the early days of the Tour. Then I ran across my tape of the highlights of the '89 Tour, the one where LeMond won by 8 seconds, and I took a look. There were several early days with really bad weather and equally bad crashes. It's not a new phenomenon.

The Other impressive aspect was how much that Tour was like this one, counter-clockwise, big stages in the Pyrenees, L'Alpe D'Huez, although the time trials were more evenly spaced. And the team time trial was on the same day as a road stage! The big Alpine stage had to be the Alpe D'Huez day—up the South side of the Glandon, then back around the North side of Croix de Fer and South to the Alpe. 3 HC climbs, one after the other.

The big difference was that there was a real contest in the '89 race. No one really had a killer team backing them up, and both Fignon and LeMond regularly keyed off of riders from other teams. No blue train, or System U train, or ADR train, just good racers reading the race and using the work of those who had something to gain on the day.

Larry Klose
Friday, July 30, 2004

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No romance in France

In this new un-romantic 21st-century era of the Tour (and perhaps all Grand Tours), I have but one question: Will we ever see the Maillot Jaune in a break-away ever again? (The infamous Simeoni break-away does not count!)

The '04 Tour leads me to believe the only answer is "No".

Voeckler's time in yellow was marked by the courage of a champion, but alas, his legs and lungs (and team) didn't contain the strength for attacking. Armstrong's time in yellow was spent waiting for his rivals to crack at the hand of his superior team, then merely riding up the road with the remnants on his wheel.

Is this becoming the new style of stage racing? An all-day bore-fest culminating in a few all out attacks, one of which might just stick, in the last few uphill kilometers? Will the top GC contenders ever have a burst of Merckx-like inspiration, or merely just plod even deeper into the now tried and true formula of the Maillot Jaune?

More questions to ponder as I wait for the Spring Classics.

Scott Thompson
Victoria, Canada
Friday, July 30, 2004

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Italian investigators

Let's change the scenario a bit to illustrate the problem Mr. Armstrong may have created for himself with the Italian justice system.

Assume that one Mr. Simon has been operating a commercial garbage hauling business in NYC. Simon voluntarily testifies about alleged illegal activities by Mr. Fuchs., the owner of a carting company, before a Federal Grand Jury investigating corruption in that industry. Assume also that one Mr. Armbruser is the owner of a carting company similar to that run by Mr. Fuchs and is a personal friend of Mr. Fuchs.

At the San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy, Mr. Armbruser and Mr. Simon bump into one another near the outside of a restaurant on Mulberry Street. Mr. Armbruser says to Mr. Simon, "It was wrong for you to testify about Mr. Fuchs. When I called you a liar in the trade paper, it was wrong of you to sue me for defamation. I've got enough money, lawyers and time to make you regret what you've done. You'll never get another carting contract in this city." This is overheard by third parties, and word of the conversation spreads like wildfire in the industry. Other carting company owners who were thinking of testifying now have second thoughts and keep quiet.

If a prosecutor learned of the above, I feel confident, as an attorney, in saying that Mr. Armbruser would be well advised to retain criminal counsel because it is likely that he will be the target of a grand jury investigation and indictment for witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. Contrary to what some Americans believe, Europe (that includes Italy ) has ancient and respected judicial systems that function quite well. These judicial systems take witness tampering in judicial proceedings very, very seriously, as well they should.

Brian Lafferty
Longmeadow, MA
Friday, July 30, 2004

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I hope to see the Giro at last

I for one really hope Lance does race in the Giro so those of us in the States can at last get the coverage this race deserves. I am sure the Giro feels the same way. What has always amazed me about the fan's is the interaction between them and the cyclists, bottles of water, people with misting stations setup etc. Maybe this will inspire the start of a "Tour of the United States". Can you imagine a stage race over Trail Ridge Road in Colorado, 85 km and it tops out at 3,713 meters. The climb is a killer, and the descent is like a kamikaze dive. Smiley with tongue out emoticon

Kenneth A. Crips
Saturday, July 31, 2004

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CSC tactics

I can only agree with Theron that the purpose of a race is to "WIN". Not to finish second. When Jan went up the road the proper tactic for CSC would have been to allow USPS to chase him down and then attack after Postal had (hopefully) tired themselves out in doing so. The only time that CSC's tactic of joining the chase is logical is when CSC has decided that their man has no chance to "WIN" and thus they are racing to preserve second, not to "WIN" first. The second place rider's team must be willing to risk losing second to have a chance to "WIN".

Once CSC decided to only preserve second, they then raced using tactics that could be called "conservative", "defensive" or "negative" racing. It may work if your goal is preserving second, but it makes for a dull race. You may not like the traditional terms for this kind of racing, but that is exactly what they did.

Russ Howe
Aurora, ON, Canada
Tuesday, August 3, 2004

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Armstrong vs Simeoni #1

For all of you people who think that Lance was wrong to chase Filippo Simeoni after his breakaway attempt during Stage 18 of the TDF: get over it. When Phil and Paul and company professed not to know what was happening at the time and everyone—the peloton included —was totally discombobulated, I KNEW instantly what it was all about...

... and I CHEERED! Yes, maybe Lance could have been more "decorous" in his attitude and not chased after Simeoni, but, then, Lance wouldn't have been true to himself. Remember, now, you don't ruffle Lance's feathers and expect to get away with it—rightly or wrongly. Lance stands up strongly for his friends—especially when he thinks one of them has been unfairly maligned by false accusations.

Briefly: Simeoni is suing Lance for defamation of character after Lance said in 2003 that Simeoni lied during an Italian court appearance in 2002 where Simeoni claimed Dr. Michele Ferrari prescribed EPO for him. (Dr. Ferrari is a friend and trainer/consultant of Lance's). Keep in mind, the only evidence against Dr. Ferrari that this court has to date is what Simeoni—a past cheater by his own admission—has alleged in his statement and, so far, has not been corroborated by anyone else. And this case against the doctor drags on and on and on with the court fishing and fishing and fishing. Remember when the USPS team was investigated for 2 1/2 years while a French court dragged its feet, searching and searching and searching for evidence?

Lance was/is angry, he let slip the word "lied" and, now, Signor Sanctimonious (past) Cheater is suing him for "defamation of character". What character? What a farce.

Don't take my word on the "facts" of the court case against Dr. Ferrari. Do your own research. Keep an open mind, then maybe you'll understand where Lance is coming from when he says "I was protecting the interests of the peloton". That an admitted (past) cheater can sully the reputation of another with no corroborated facts is definitely bad for the peloton and for cycling in general.

By the way, Stage 20 with the whole USPS team versus Simeoni — delicious!

One more thing: Simeoni claimed during questioning by the Italian "drug squad" on July 27 that Lance "threatened" him during Stage 18. As a result, the police are considering filing charges of "sporting fraud, violence and intimidation of a witness" against Lance. One wonders why this claim of being threatened wasn't made immediately after the conclusion of Stage 18 when Simeoni had numerous news cameras in his face wanting "his side of the story". It took 4 days to "remember" to mention this so-called incident? I repeat: What a farce.

Mary Ann Blood
Canyon Country, CA, USA
Friday, July 30, 2004

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Armstrong v. Simeoni #2

I am sorry, but I really don't understand the big fuss over this issue. Lance was able to cover an attempt by Simeoni to bridge up to a break, and he did so. This is something that is allowed to be done in a race. Who cares what the reasoning behind this move was, it was legal, it was Lance's choice. As to any statements made by Lance to Simeoni, again, I don't see the problem here. Are we always supposed to be nice to people, are we not allowed to vent our frustrations to others? Also, what right does an Italian court have to try and bring charges against an American for something done in France? In my law school classes we have covered jurisdiction some, and it seems like the only connection to Italy here is Simeoni, doesn't seem like this is a case that can be brought under international law. Everybody needs to stop whining so much, Lance is an actual person, and he has emotions too. So what if he decides to show them in a race, he didn't punch Simeoni, or violate the rules in anyway. If Simeoni had a problem with Lance's actions he should have tried accelerating, not whining. As to the doping aspect of this, Simeoni is a confirmed liar, he contradicted himself in two court statements, obviously one of them is a lie. He accuses Dr. Ferrari, who has been repeatedly misquoted (read the actual statement about EPO and Orange Juice sometime and get the context). Doping is a problem in cycling, but accusing people baselessly is what is truly ruining this sport.

Chris Moeller
Bloomington, Indiana
Friday, July 30, 2004

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Armstrong vs Simeoni #3

Jim from Jacksonville, FL doesn't get it when he criticizes the Italian prosecutors.

If Armstrong in some way threatened Simeoni about his testimony in the Italian court, this could very well constitute intimidation of a witness. That's illegal in the US as well as Italy. Even if Simeoni did not testify truthfully in the Italian court, Armstrong could be found to have intimidated a witness.

As for the sporting fraud, I do have to agree with Jim on that. That just shows how crazy Europeans are about sports.

Ed Shendell
Friday, July 30, 2004

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Armstrong vs Simeoni #4

What takes Lance's right to join a breakaway. It seems to me that he didn't "order Filippo Simeoni out of the break." In fact, he worked with the break and took pulls. It was the other riders in the break that ordered Lance out. Lance just had one condition to his withdrawal from the group. He actually had every right to be in that break, as far as the sport and rules stipulate. There are actual rules applied to feeding and drafting vehicles. There is no rule that says you can't do anything that you are strong enough to do. The only thing I think is strange about this whole situation is that the peloton was not strong enough (or unwilling because they knew what he was doing) to keep the yellow jersey from taking two minutes on the flats.

Ben Faulk
Friday, July 30, 2004

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Armstrong vs Simeoni #5

I'm confused, someone is suing me for 100,000 euros and I'm supposed to just sit and smile and be happy about it? Good one Lance for chasing him down and not letting Simeoni have a chance at a stage win. Maybe it's the "ugly American" in me, but I think what Lance did was great. Maybe if Simeoni had talked to Lance before suing him this wouldn't have happened. Simeoni was reportedly mystified as to why Lance wouldn't talk to him during the Tour, maybe it's the court case stupid...

As for sprinting for Klöden, Lance made it clear that he did that because of the way the German fans treated him on several of the mountain stages. He talked about it in the latest "Lance Chronicles" basically saying he was going to let Klöden go until he remembered the spit on his face. So Klöden has them to thank for not winning the stage.

So the way I see it, if everybody is super nice to Lance maybe he'll lose the Tour next year, continue to berate him, sue him or spit on him and nobody is winning anything.

Jake Gilmore
Lexington, KY
Friday, July 30, 2004

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Armstrong vs Simeoni #6

Just to be very clear, I am neither a Lance groupie nor a Simeoni sympathizer...I appreciate both on their merits.. that said, to my point.

Since when does Simeoni HAVE to drop from the break? Yes, Lance in the patron these days. However, Simeoni did not have to stop racing. Seems to me that Simeoni wanted to draw the very result that occurred in order to support his "martyrdom." He never could have won in the break, enabling him to say that he lost because he is the only one not doping. Dropping off the break "due to pressure from the patron", he can claim persecution.

Simeoni is notorious for claiming he is the sole exception to the rule, vis-à-vis doping. Yes, there are many who do dope. There are many others who do not. Lance's actions were not in support for the former group, but for the latter.

Ullrich, Indurain, Merckx, Hinault...any of the Greats would have done the same thing, in defense of the honor of the true sportsmen in the peloton.

Steve Dorsey
Sammamish, WA USA
Tuesday, August 3, 2004

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Armstrong vs Simeoni #7

I would agree with Mr. Deere if Simeoni did not seem to be such an arse! According to an interview with Lance, last year when he won a stage in the Vuelta, he got off his bike and walked it across the finish line and proclaimed he was the only clean rider in the race. Simeoni appears to think Lance and every other rider in pro cycling is dirty and it's his job to call them all out. If Simeoni was good for the peloton, he would not have been verbally attacked by nearly every rider when he got back from the break. Simeoni is making his own trouble and deserves what he gets from the peloton and Lance.

Todd Tuengel
Los Angeles
Monday, August 2, 2004

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Armstrong vs Simeoni #8

The point that everyone is missing in this issue, it is wrong for a cyclist to sue another cyclist for what he says. This is what Lance was saying with his 'legal' action in the race. If you break this rule, you will be targeted by those you try to take to court.

Otherwise, you will have too many frivolous lawsuits over: " He said,' I was out of shape' ", "He said 'I would not win' ". Bellyache and cry and whine to the press if you must, Simeoni. Don't take a fellow rider to court. It seems he has the idea that if you take a celebrity to court , you will make yourself famous.

Armstrong could sue Greg LeMond for his statements. It would be a lot more reasonable than Simeoni's actions. Yet, it would not benefit the sport. Lance won't do it.

Timothy Shame
Saturday, July 31, 2004

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Armstrong vs Klöden #1

I just love the fact that most have forgotten all the German fans and some others spitting on Armstrong up Alpe D'Huez. I thought Klöden made a great break for the line, but then sat up, you all saw it, and Armstrong showed him a clean pair of wheels at the line. Memo to Euro spitting scumbags, don't piss off the boss. Simeoni, if he had any guts would have attacked the lead group right then and there, and rode off alone. If he didn't like Armstrong being there, then start pedaling and drop him, oh wait he can't.

Maybe Ullrich is the most talented rider out there, but Armstrong uses his talent the best, most efficiently and violently when needed.

If this was Bernard Hinault, Richard Virenque or any other French Rider, the press would be bowing to them.

Lance is the best, live with it.

John Olsa
Grand Rapids, MI US of A
Friday, July 30, 2004

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Armstrong vs Klöden #2

In response to why Armstrong chased down Klöden other than the fact that he could? Well, he said that, he thought about all the Germans and the many loogies to the face and said, no, not Klöden!

Friday, July 30, 2004

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Armstrong vs Klöden #3

Did Tim Lee listen to any of the interviews during the Tour coverage? Armstrong not letting Klöden take stage 17 was his way of getting back at the German fans that cursed & spit on him, as well as, others including one of your fellow countrymen, Robbie McEwen during their way up L'Alpe d'Huez. Armstrong & McEwen have certainly had their differences in the past, but McEwen was very upset with the treatment that he received from the Germans while making his way up that mountain. He was seen after the race conferring with Lance, probably comparing notes concerning the treatment.

As for the "no gifts" attitude that LA adopted this year, I think that he was trying to send a message to the Tour Organizers. This years Tour, with the TTT rule changes, the L'Alpe d'Huez ITT & the last week of mountain stages, was obviously geared towards keeping Armstrong from attaining the record-breaking number six, so I believe that Lance wanted to give them a good bitch-slapping. I believe he got his point across.

As far as the Simeoni deal is concerned, LA may have been in the wrong for bringing personal feelings into the bike race, however, there were mostly smiles coming from the rest of the peloton when the two of them reintegrated the field so I have to assume that Simeoni is not very popular amongst to many of his peers.

Tom Puckett
Sunday, August 1, 2004

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A Legend

Lance will race the Tour De France in 2005 baring death or injury. He can't help it. No matter the Pro Tour, Giro interests, Hour Records, Classics hopes, respect for the 5 timers, whatever. The Tour is bigger than all of that and defines "best". Anyone who has followed Lance career and personality knows he can't not do the Tour. No way. Maybe he doesn't realize this yet but he will. See ya in 2005 Lance!

John Haley
Saturday, July 31, 2004

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