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Letters to Cyclingnews - June 5, 2008
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.
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Apologies from Montreal
I wanted to say this last week, before the Women's Montreal World Cup event. Then I thought it would be too trivial for CN letters. But after reading Judith Arndt's victory words joking about donating her prize money to have the road resurfaced, I have to say I am truly ashamed at the race course condition.
The race course around Mount royal has seen the 1975 World's championships (my dad took me to see some Belgian guy ride an orange bike around the hill) the Olympic road race and countless world class athletes in world cup events (Bauer, Indurain, LeMond, Fignon, Longo, Arndt, etc.). And when I allow myself a few laps after work, I often think of my luck to have such great terrain to ride right within the city. But last week it was just horrible. Had work like that been done in my driveway, I would have it redone at the contractor's expense. What am I saying; it is MY TAX money that went into this terrible road work? (For those of you familiar with the course, go and check the stretch between metro station Edouard-Montpetit and the base of the Camillien-Houde climb.)
I feel ashamed and sorry. Sure, the winter took it's toll on the asphalt and road surface has never been great anywhere for a long time in Quebec. But last week, the usual cracks and holes where replaced by cracks and bumps! Shovels of grainy asphalt and tar where layed and flattened by hand here and there. The work of careless fools, sorry to say. Nothing to make my city the great ambassador it should be in an event like this. The road was better before this sad attempt. Sorry, sorry, sorry to all the racers. Thanks to those ladies for the good show, you all did your part, even if some of us did not do theirs.
It's been noted several times this season that Astana uses the full SRAM Red group with the exception of the chain, opting instead to use Dura-Ace. Why this exception? I find it odd considering that SRAM hollow-pin chains are lighter than Dura-Ace, and SRAM chains have a reputation for durability (with some other teams opting to use them as the exception in their Shimano group).
Scott James Pendleton
I totally agree with Stephen's comments about Bennati but disagree with him about race radios. I do not understand why you would think banning race radios will help the break stay away. A radio is just a fast communication device; the teams will still adopt the same tactics.
The directors will work out when to start chasing and at what speed just the same with or without race radios. It will just be slightly slower to communicate the info to the riders as the director will have to drive along side the rider and tell him by word of mouth or just relay the info when one of his riders drop back to the team car for water or food. Sorry but still the same result with or without radios.
The Hautacam stage referenced was in 2000, Armstrong's second tour win not his first.
Given his dominant ride that day one wonders if an earlier attack might not have gained Armstrong even more time. No one was closing in on him.
I have written about Gilberto Simoni before. I don't think there is a better example of a spoiled, pre-Madonna-like rider in the professional peloton. He has a history of histrionics about his competitors including the likes of Basso and Cunego, amongst others. Needless to say, I was not surprised to hear him whining about the lack of attacking that occurred early in the Giro mountain stages and referring to his competitors as "lambs."
It is nice to hear that he remains the same egomaniac who appears to have little respect for the riders around him.
All of this came back to haunt him on stage 19 and no one was happier than me to see Simoni implode! I was actually elated at the news that he fell so far back in one stage! Generally, I don't like to see anyone implode, but I make a special exception for Simoni! I am very glad that he is not vying for the win in the Giro. I wonder if he sees the irony in his behaviour. Somehow I very much doubt it.
With any luck, this is the last year we will have to listen to Simoni!
I note in your coverage of Contador's Giro win that you (deliberately?) failed to mention that he won this Giro without winning a single stage! What gives? He just plays the typical Bruyneel tactic of having others do work for him to avoid trouble and then wins on time. Ricco, the real winner, won 2 stages of this Giro. I do not see how anyone can be proud of this type of win, and do not give me the "last minute entry" excuse.
Giro winner #2
While many fans are eulogising the victor of the 2008 Giro d'Italia one fact is highlighted above all. Contador did not win one stage and never looked like winning any at all. He won by default and a generous smattering of TTs. He may have hung on in the mountains but several other riders took the glory and demonstrated that they are tougher than he.
Thankfully he had supportive team and Armstrong-like was able to shelter behind everyone else and profit from the efforts of those around him.
Frankly speaking, I find his victory sterile and negative. Is this what we have to look forward to once more - a winner who sits on the wheels of everyone else and then pops up in the last kilometres to claim victory aided by the usual TT.
TTs ensure that the real heroes and animators of The Grand Tours do not win them. Thankfully, I will not see him or his team at The Tour de France 2008. No! No! Give me Sella, Pellizoti, Ricco, Bennati, Simoni, Cavendish et al. any time. It is such as these who are the true victors of The Giro 2008.
I recently wrote a letter about a road rage incident in Canberra, Australia were I was assaulted by an angry motorist in February this year.
The driver got out of the car and walked onto a bike path to push me off my bike. The result of the court case was a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The penalty received was a 2 year good behaviour bond, 300 hours community service and an order to pay $3000 in costs to me. Since it was a first offence this is considered to be quite a severe penalty.
I would like to thank the witnesses who were very helpful at the scene. They helped me with my injuries, call the ambulance, get the registration details of the car and provide statements to the police. I would also like to thank the police, who were very professional in the handling of the case.
It just goes to show that there are idiots out there who dont want to share the road with cyclists. Luckily this idiot got punished for his stupidity.
There are also good people who will help you in a time of need which restores your faith in humanity.
In Australia helmets are compulsory when riding a bike, no matter what the circumstance. Even 3 year olds, with trainer wheels on their bikes. The Professionals are there, not only to admire with awe, but to set an example to all bike riders. It was a bit of a shock to professional riders who came to Adelaide for the first Tour Down Under, 10 years ago to be forced to wear helmets when riding, whilst the air temp- exceeded 40deg C.
I, like many bike riders in OZ, strongly objected when this law was first introduced. Now I would not consider riding my bike without my helmet. I guess it is a matter of becoming accustomed to change and far from being subject to "Nanny laws", the wearing of a helmet at all times whilst riding is pure common sense. Even up a 24 deg incline.
Helmets in the Giro #2
If you were standing and you fell sideways to the ground your head would be going 30 mph when it hit the pavement. That's why!
Regarding Mr. Sills claim that Armstrong twice tested positive, "[these events] are facts, not rumour. There is no dispute over them. Only spin." is simply nonsense.
The first 'positive' comes from the 1999 Tour De France, where the cycling public watched in disbelief as Armstrong bashed the field including one very good Alex Zulle by almost seven minutes. The crowd assumed Lance was cheating, given the previous year's events that might be reasonable, and seized on a leaked report that found one of Lance's samples to have trace amounts of a corticosteroid. The test itself was not 'positive' and the TDF soon discovered that an authorized cream being used to treat a saddle sour as the likely culprit. The teams, riders, TDF, and UCI all agreed. Was there a need to push further?
Incidentally, the huge time margin was as much about a crash on the normally submerged road into St. Nazaire involving Zulle but not Armstrong as it was about Lance's performance.
The second 'positive' was the EPO 'found' in Lance's sample by WADA. An independent Dutch investigation found it likely that the samples had been manipulated. WADA and the now notorious LNDD refused all cooperation, and confidently made allegations based on a flawed 'dope test' that consumed all the evidence that could have exonerated Lance. Of course, this would never stand up in any court, but, clearly, it is Lance who is engaged in spin by asking for the independent investigation to clear the matter up.
Finally, what Mr. and Mrs. Andreau say is all well and good, but they were subsequently rejected by a judge. That Lance's doctor happened to be in the room and denied ever hearing this seems relevant as well. As many people have pointed out with LeMond's criticisms, the whole Puerto Affair, and the numerous 'leaks', it isn't what you think that matters; it's what you can prove.
Whether you like Armstrong or not, please stick to the facts. If you can't make the allegation stick, please don't make it. After all, cycling could have had its own BALCO, but we relied on innuendo and got a rushed and botched Puerto instead.
Eric E Greek
The Bottom Line on David Millar is - if he is clean, and I really want to believe that, he does not win anymore. Look at his recent TT performances, in particular the last stage of the Giro. Blown away by other British racers, who did not have the luxury of being a protected rider? So his natural talent was enhanced by EPO. A generation has passed in all of the pro peloton, and the word is out that "clean is the way", amongst the under-25's. Let's hope it stays that way.
John McMillan (an ex-Pro from the 70's)
I temporarily suspend my boycott of all affairs, cycling, to make a few comments. First of all I'd like to say that it is very satisfying that Team High Road performed so admirably at the Giro. Animating many stages, and taking multiple stage wins through Greipel and Cavendish. In the end it shows that banning that team, as was initially proposed at the outset of the season would have been incredibly inappropriate, especially since they have undertaken an aggressive and comprehensive anti doping program, in response to the loss of sponsorship(T-Mobile) and the indignities they suffered as a result of some cheats they had in their ranks. Bravo Team High Road.
Secondly, may I laugh out loud at the ASO and Mr Prudhomme for their claims that they will be showcasing the best teams in the world at their Grand Tour. The only thing they have done is emphasize how incredibly spiteful, self indulgent, and short-sighted, for the sport of cycling, they are. Well, Astana, and Alberto Contador at the Giro D'Italia have punctuated the French pomposity. Now, Prudhomme has given Alberto and Astana the opportunity to go for a win at La Vuelta. That's an opportunity that might not have been there had he been allowed to defend his title at the French grand Tour.
So, in the end, I congratulate Astana, and most especially Alberto Contador, for stepping up so extraordinarily, after an invite to compete at the Giro, at the last possible moment (at least the Italian Tour had the sense to reconsider their original position). I'd like to thank the Giro organizers and riders for a very exciting Grand Tour. Next stop La Vuelta, where Contador will attempt to climb up amongst the immortals with a win that would give him a victory in all three of the Grand Tours.
The exciting plot line for this year is unfolding in such unexpected ways that it should show all that are watching and participating, that no one race is bigger than the entire sport, and that goes for the Tour de France as well. Sorry, but as an American, on July 4th I celebrate my freedom, and my boycott of cycling will be back in place for the wonderful month of July. See y'all on the road, in the beautiful sunshine.
Ralph Michael Emerson
Do my eyes deceive me or are all the teams riding the Oval bars and stems using standard diameter instead of oversize?
Good on you Chris, for articulating a haunting suspicion I had when reading the same review. I am a 50 year old recreational (non-competition) rider, back riding for about fifteen years, and now average about 150-200 km/week. I ride flat and hills, and have two Specialized road bikes (Roubaix and flat bar) both with 50/34 compact cranks and 12/27 cassettes. Works for me.
Review error #2
I would have to disagree with Chris' comments in regard to gearing on the Willier. Chris you mention a cadence of 100 and 120 RPM. I am yet to see a novice use anything larger than a 70 cadence so they would in fact benefit from a better ratio on the bike, such as an 11-23. What does 70 RPM in a 50x13T give us? Anything useful?
Review error #3
Chris Jackson, who wrote in about how the 50/34 with a 13-26 is a 'perfectly acceptable' gear combination, has evidently never ridden competitively, or descended any hills outside of Indiana.
I know that at Superweek in Wisconsin, you would be off the back within minutes. Hell, at Joe Martin this past spring, I made the poor mistake of using a 13-26 with my normal 53/39. I was off the back on every single descent.
Yes, it is a 'perfectly acceptable' gear ratio if you only climb, and like to ride at 120 rpm all the time. However, I think your review was totally correct in criticizing the gear ratio that was provided with the bike. It is way too low to actually be worthwhile. 50-13 as your biggest gear? Can you spell s-c-r-e-w-e-d ?
I thought part of the whole idea behind compact gearing was that it allowed you to use a tight-block cassette, like an 11-23 or 11-21, and still be able to climb? Using a cassette like a 13-26 just sounds horrifying.
What is going on with Ricardo Ricco? Did he really say that his team let him down? It was because of his lieutenant Leonardo Piepoli that he wound up in the position he's in - just four seconds off of the lead as I write this after stage 20, an enviable placing by any measure.
And accusing Sella's team of collusion with Astana is just not right, they barely have enough resources for Sella and besides, he had his own glory to work for. He was absolutely correct to say that Ricco was a gifted athlete but a small man.
I agree with the comments made about reckless group riding. I ride in Melbourne and have done the infamous Beach Road ride about 2-3 times, the last time was more than enough. In their essence, these rides are supposed to be training rides. If you're sitting in a bunch of 60 or so riders at 40km/h and hardly working, what is the point of being there?
The majority of the time in big bunch training rides such as these there are usually only a small proportion of riders rolling turns on the front and really working. The problem you have is genuinely good riders using it as genuine training, and a whole lot of weekend warriors tagging along so that they can say 'I ride the hell ride' or some other well known big bunch ride, and some actually even treat these rides as races. For god sake, pay your $10 entry fee and race in a properly marshalled environment where it belongs.
Road rage incident #2
I am a road user, both a cyclist and a motorist (for work). I live in Brisbane. I am currently teaching my 17 year old daughter to drive. I have been abused, assaulted etc when riding on the roads by car drivers , but also have experienced the intolerance and rudeness of other drivers particularly when driving with my daughter, L plates displayed. Most Australian riders and drivers will also identify the Australian lack of tolerance for others where drivers speed up to prevent others changing lanes, hog the fast lane at less than the speed limit on multi lane roads and do not allow others to merge. I have probably had more "fingers" whilst driving than riding.
The issue may be not one of attacking cyclists per se, but one of total intolerance to anyone else, and the feeling of invincibility and anonymity that comes from being ensconced in little cabin of ones car or truck. Why else would we see so many drivers cleaning the inside of their noses with their index finger while stopped at traffic lights?
Road Rage Incident #3
To provide some background, I commuted to primary school, high school and university in Melbourne, and work in Adelaide, Brisbane, and Sydney. I commuted to work and trained in Colorado. I commuted to work and trained in Guelph and Ottawa in Canada, and have been on cycling holidays in Europe. I have been hit three times, run off the road a couple of times, and had friends hit as well.
I agree with other respondents that Europe is by far the safest location to cycle, despite the narrow roads and volume of traffic. But, having cycled in Europe and read recent articles in Bicycling magazine, the whole approach to cycling and cyclists, and the infrastructure provided to them, is entirely different in Europe compared to Australia, Canada and most cities in the US. Respectfully, I do not agree that a belligerent approach to cars and trucks is going to be successful.
Cars and trucks will always win because of their size and speed. Until local and federal governments start waking up and providing cyclists with better and safer infrastructure, then we cyclists need to find ways of safely riding on the roads. I know we are road users as well, but we do go slower and we are only going to irritate car and truck drivers, and hence incite their anger, if we persist in obstructing traffic on a one lane road. On multilane roads, we should provide cars and trucks with the ability to manoeuvre around us without impeding their progress. They can do this with well spaced smaller groups, not large groups of cyclists. If we are respectful of other road users, then the large majority of these drivers will hopefully be respectful of us. This will obviously not work for the moronic drivers out there that are going to risk our lives and limbs regardless of what we do, but then again nothing will be effective against these kind of drivers other than better police action and more severe penalties.
Road rage incident #4
I spend 90% of my time training solo, up to 400km per week and race frequently, the real downside of this is funnily enough a lack of witnesses. In the space of the last three years, I have been involved in three hit and runs, two assaults and one incident where my best friend sustained a lasting brain injury (this was an accident due to a driver not paying attention, but it does tarnish my views of the average motorist). I am no angel, when honked and abused I often display the middle finger, but 95% of the time I ignore the abuse and try and justify it by saying that the bloke throwing full bottles of beer at my head while travelling the other direction at 80km/hr has probably been booted onto the couch by his Mrs, never exercises and that a certain group of people have to be below average intelligence.
This helps me deal with the anger and abuse I experience on a regular basis, however this is hard to justify when someone drives up alongside at about 40km/hr and decides to open their passenger door into me as a joke leaving me lying on the side of the road. Furthermore when one bloke decided that it would be fun to bump me from behind with his car because I had to move a little toward the middle of the lane to avoid some glass (in a 50km/hr deserted back street), and once he had proceeded to bump me twice more and I failed to stay upright the third time, I gave him a mouthful and he then tried to reverse over me. In both cases I got the number plate and rocked up to the police station covered in blood and dirt and they declined to investigate the incidents because there were no other witnesses, and they said it would be my word against him.
There was another occasion where an apple was thrown from a car travelling the opposite direction at over 100km/hr and it bounced and ripped through the spokes on my rear wheel as I swerved to miss it, leaving my rear wheel missing 8 spokes and myself contemplating what would have happened if I had not been so alert. As a note I do not live in Sydney or Melbourne but a rural area, I do 90% of my training outside of peak traffic times, I avoid busy roads and I do not break traffic rules apart from occasionally bunny hopping a curb to escape an angry motorist, I do not run lights and I don't move up in position at the traffic lights so that everyone has to overtake me again and I get as far left as rural roads allow.
My attitude has become that I assume all motorists are out to kill me and the less I antagonise them the better, however I am still subjected to abuse and violence. So I really want those who state we bring this violence on ourselves either solo or in a group to outline to me how I am doing this. This behaviour is going to happen regardless of how considerate we are, why not ride in a group, then we have witnesses and someone to help brush me off next time I get chased with a tire iron (which has happened). To those who state we have to be considerate to motorists, I don't think this is the solution as I find it very hard to be open minded when I do what you say and the behaviour is as above, it really is us and them and this 'considerate approach' is far too passive.
Road rage incident #5
I've observed this trail from a distance and cannot hold my piece any longer.
Circumstances have dictated that I no longer ride as much as I'd like, but having spent most of my cycling life in and around Sydney, I have some observations.
1. Cyclists are undervalued by every single agency, elected representative
and public/media group.
In more detail;
1. There are next to no facilities for cyclists anywhere. A local politician arranges for the breakdown lane or a footpath receives some paint and maybe a sign and goes home feeling good about themselves. A few years ago a popular training road in a large park was stripped to a car lane (50% of its width), a walking lane (30 %) and a cycling lane (20%).
Not good enough.
2. The average motorist thinks that they own the road they drive on. This is not related to cyclists, you only have to see the general behaviour whilst in traffic to see this. The fact that a bicycle can legally be ridden on the road without a licence, registration or insurance is abhorrence to people who think that paying for these things gives them the right to decide who gets to use any tarmac they might wish to use.
This attitude fails to recognise that of all the adult cyclists I have ever known, only 1 neither owned or drove a car.
3. A cyclist I used to race with was nearly killed by a truck driver who crossed from one side of the road to the other and back again after striking him down. The surveillance footage was shown in court and the justification was along the lines of "he shouldn't have been there". The court failed to recognise that the cyclist had been taken to the edge of his life. Again. The courts often fail to recognise this, even when a death has occurred. The Police will vary in their attitude; you just can't rely on them.
After spending a lot of time riding on lane edges and past parked cars I decided that the daily near misses from cars squeezing past just weren't worth it. Ever since, I have claimed my entitlement and ridden in the middle of a lane or with enough space to clear a swinging car door if required. I get more horns, but I also get a lot more room that way.
4. Most of us wear helmets, which are legally required in all parts of Australia. Some of us don't. You aren't helping. If you don't think they're useful, find the footage of Mario Cipollini's crash in the Vuelta in 1994. Some of us skip red lights. This doesn't help either. Let your heart rate drop at the lights, it's like an interval when they go green. Some of us don't have proper lighting. I have had the experience of driving into an unlit black car doing a U-turn at 11pm. Both cars were written off with only minor injuries. The picture isn't any prettier with a cyclist involved.
If we're going to claim the moral high ground we need to occupy it. For bunches, stop at lights. The other issues don't often apply to the readers of this site, but use peer pressure on any rider you see.
Unwelcome attitudes do exist worldwide; as the Australian Women's team is painfully aware, but the difference in Australia is that the percentages are reversed, making a considerate attitude exceptionally rare. How to resolve the issue?
There will probably be 3 factors.
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