Letters to cyclingnews

Here's your chance to get more involved with cyclingnews.com. 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. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.

Please email your correspondence to letters@cyclingnews.com.

Recent letters

Lots of you have favourite rides that you'd like to find videos of, so just this once, most of the letters page is given over to people seeking videos, books and magazines. It's obvious to us we need to make this sort of reader ad a feature of the site, so we're looking at adding it in 2001. If anyone out there can help these folks, please email us and we'll pass along the information.

Tom Simpson has framed the question on everyone's lips: what was US Postal carrying Actovegin for? By coincidence, Mark Gorski of US Postal provided the answer in today's news.

Discussion of the Trofeo Baracchi stirred Regis Chapman to reminisce and reflect on his time trialling days, though we're not convinced the TT is quite that important. Time trialling was the main cycle sport in the UK for decades and is still hugely popular at grass roots level. It doesn't seem to produce many great all-round riders, just lots of guys who are good at punching huge gears while drafting trucks on major roads.

Barry Johnson agrees with an earlier writer that cycling is a fringe sport and pastime outside Europe, but I think he speaks for all of us when he sayd he totally doesn't care. We know our sport is the greatest and we'll leave the masses to their wrestling.

John Rudge is sorry to see Daniel Baal step down from the French cycling federation, and thinks Baal should be running the UCI.

Finally, letters on your favourite performances of 2000 are still flooding in – they're in our special section here.

John Stevenson
Letters editor

US Postal
Time trial memories
Profile of cycling outside Europe
Daniel Baal


Berlin Six day tickets
Agonistic Cycling
Criquelion, Roche, Bugno Videos
Kelly magazine
Hampsten Giro and Tour de Suisse video
Zülle video
Indurain video
Six Day Bike Racer movie

US Postal

Regarding US Postal's current investigation by French health authorities and Lance Armstrong's vehement defence of the team and their support crew, Armstrong said:

"It's pretty simple - our team doctor is on the road with us for three weeks (during the Tour de France) to treat a group of 25-50 people. If something were to go wrong with any of them he would be responsible for their well-being. That's why he would have things like adrenaline, cortisone, scissors, stitches, etc. Some may be viewed as "performance enhancers" but they're not used in that sense. And to so incorrectly call something a substitute for doping is clueless and irresponsible."

I'll accept that no riders on US Postal were familiar with or used Actovegin but, please have the doctor educate us - why would he carry Actovegin in his medical supplies? What emergency procedure or therapeutic treatment would use the stuff? I'm very curious.

And please, no hysterics about the cleanliness of cycling versus other sports and how many tests our sport performs - the condition of other sports or how often they do or don't test for steroids or corticoids or anything else is simply not germane to our own invidious problems. And regarding Marco and the hundreds of tests he has taken and passed - the certified urine test to detect EPO is still waiting for ratification. And we've all read extracts from Willy Voet's memoir about the masking procedures to drag your red blood cell level below the magic 50, those combinations of water, aspirin and various salts or saline solution IV's.

Tom Simpson
San Francisco, USA
Thursday, December 14

Trofeo Baracchi and time trial memories

I also remember the Trofeo Baracchi. I remember being fascinated by the two-man time trial, as I had never done one, and I thought it must be so cool and how fast you could go...

How I miss time trialing....what a sublime amazement when watching from a follow car when a rider is doing a really good time trial. Nothing else holds a candle to that.

I once coached a rider named John Rutherford who was more beautiful to watch in a time trial than even Lemond was. He was built perfect for the event, both physically and mentally. I got to follow him during a practice TT once, resplendent in his stars and stripes EDS jersey and his custom red, white and blue GT TT bike.... I seem to remember him doing sub-1 minute 1k's during that....

Time trialing was my favourite event, and being rather large a man - 6'3" - I have always thought that doing the 4 man tt was also amazing, and how fast you could go in 4 man breaks that work well together.

Anyway, thanks for your letter highlighting the appeal of these events. I like the fact that even the greatest champions can sometimes rise or wither under the pressure of such events. I was disappointed all those years ago when they took out team time trials from the Tour, and regular world championship competition.

Those of us who truly appreciate time trialing understand how mad you must be to go so fast, for so long, and really miss these events. Is it a surprise that many of the best roadies of the most recent generation (especially in Australia) came out of those team time trial programs? Time trialing is the core discipline in racing, and we need more events like the Trofeo to hold up the flag.

Cheers to Eddy Merckx for having his event switch formats recently (go Lance and Eki!), although I still remember Yates steaming 'round the bend on his Scott DH bars to win THAT event over Johann Museeuw (!) about the same year I was racing Lance Armstrong at Nationals in Salt Lake City.

The drama of time trials for me is unparalleled. Another great TT memory is the fastest ever Tour TT at the time, again won by Mr Yates. Ever notice how the best masters of the sport have often been beaten by their domestiques who have great rides on the day? Yates is one, Ekimov another, and there was another Frenchman who kept getting second to Big Mig in time trials, whose name is right there. The mountain TT in 1989 and the beautiful photos of that event I have from Graham Watson.

Boy, I could go on and on.

Regis Chapman
Monday, December 11

Profile of cycling outside Europe

Conor Cairns has a great attitude! I have been following competitive road cycling since Lemond's first world's. I have seen the general public wax and wane with interest in cycling. Only when a Great Champion is at the forefront does America pay attention, but not for long. Its attention span is short as it is with anything except the big 3 sports, football basketball and baseball.

Now wrestling, unh, is a major event. Does that tell you something?

I do not think grass roots cycling will ever take off and foster the masses to support road biking, it's not a spectator sport with seats, concessions and tons of memorabilia.

I am afraid being yelled at, cans thrown at you and being called "fag" will have to be the norm for roadies out for a ride. It still doesn't discourage me from enjoying the GREATEST sport known to humankind.

Barry Johnson
Salt Lake City, UT, USofA
Thursday, December 7


I am sad to see that Daniel Baal is stepping down as president of the FFC. He has put himself out on a limb by his very public anti-doping stance and has been derided by many, often in France ('a prophet in his own land...'?) for daring to try to improve matters and not bury his head in the sand.

He obviously loves his (our) sport, and having met and chatted to him at the World Track Champs, believe you me, guys and gals, this is one sincere fan. This is the man who should be at the head of the UCI.

If anyone knows Daniel Baal's e-mail address I would be grateful if they could pass it on. I want to drop him a line to say 'thanks for caring', and wish him well for the future. Please God, for the sake of the sport we love, may he and his like flourish.

John Rudge
Monday, December 11

Wanted: Berlin Six tickets

I was wondering if you or any of your readers know how to get hold of tickets for the Berlin Six this winter? I'd be grateful if anyone could let me know. It might be useful to publish such details on the track racing calender page.

Matthew Strutt
Wednesday, December 13

Wanted: Agonistic Cycling

I'm searching for a copy of the book Agonistic Cycling by Agostino Massagrande. I believe it was originally published in english in the mid 70's by Arti Grafiche Landoni, Via Crema, 3, 20025 Legnano Milano. Any help would be very sincerly appreiciated.

Karl at Oak Bay

Wednesday, December 6

Wanted: Criqueliion, Roche, Bugno Videos

I would like to find a copy of the Criquelion video also. Does anyone have anything on Stephen Roche's triple in 1987? How about Bugno's 1992 worlds?

Tom Rhodes
Richmond, VA
Friday, December 8

Wanted: Kelly magazine

Can anyone please help me locate a copy of the Sean Kelly themed issue of Cycle Cport, January 95 I think it was? I'm willing to pay a good price for it. I can be contacted, of course by email at m_falcon51@hotmail.com.

Matthew O'Brien
Saturday, December 9

Videos wanted: Hampsten Giro and Tour de Suisse

The recent letter about Claude Criquielion's Worlds victory reminded me of videos I've always wanted to see -- footage of Andy Hampsten's wins while riding for 7-Eleven in the Tour of Switzerland and the Giro. I think a Colombian-sponsored team may have won the Dauphine before that, but those two wins by Hampsten on 7-Eleven were significant steps for a non-European team. Any ideas where to get that footage?

John Tomlinson

New York, NY USA
Thursday, December 7

Videos wanted: Zülle

I am searching for two things.

The first one: Has anybody a video of the time trail Worldīs in 1996? Thatīs the year Alex Zülle won! I donīt care about the language but it should include the presentation ceremony and it should be in VHS format.

The second thing: Is anybody interested in founding a fan-club of Alex Zülle? If yes, please contact me at: www.alex-zuelle.de or send a mail directly to: webmaster@alex-zuelle.de!

Anne Richter
Monday, December 11

Videos wanted: Indurain

At the time much was made of Indurain's form in the 1996 Dauphine Libere, and there was much excited journalistic writing about this. However I never saw mention of any video footage of this apparently good race by the five time Tour winner. Is there any video/film footage available anywhere?

What happened next, in the Tour, is well documented, as the best recent Tour winner was trounced by a seemingly invincible Riis. A sad ending to a great tour career, only mellowed by the gold medal in the Olympics shortly thereafter.

John Maynard
Sunday, 10 December

Videos wanted: Six Day Bike Racer

Let me know what if you find anything. A couple months ago I turned on the TV and they were showing this movie. I was floored. It featured real six day footage from Madison Square Garden and was centered around a mob guy trying to fix a race in a way that threatened rider's lives. The track owner needed money but he was an honest man who loved the sport. I imagine that was probably pretty close to the condition six day racing in the US was in a little before or around when this movie was made. I only saw the last 45 minutes and I'd love to see the rest.

Allen Pritchard
W ashington, DC, USA
Thursday, 14 December


The last month's letters

  • December 7-18 – US Postal, Trofeo Barrachi, cycling's profile, Baal, wanted
  • December 4-6 – Videos wanted, Trofeo Barrachi, doping, UCD NORD87
  • December 1-3 – The profile of cycling, pressure on racers, doping and the Trofeo Baracchi
  • November 28-30 – Trofeo Baracchi, Claude Criquelion, pressure, doping, and Virenque
  • November 22-27 – Even more on doping, Virenque, and bone wasting
  • November 20-22 – Doping, Virenque, bone wasting and the gobsmackingly brilliant
  • November 14-19 – Doping; Virenque, pro training and the French media
  • November 11-13 – More on doping, technology and Giles Baudet
  • November 8-11 – Doping, technology, US Postal and Giles Baudet
  • Letters Index - The complete index to every letters page on cyclingnews.com