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Letters to Cyclingnews - May 29, 2002
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. 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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There's more going on than just the highs and lows of the Giro, as these letters show.
Tour de France mania
This e-mail is prompted by the news of McEwen's astonishing bail-out "to keep himself fresh for the TdF".
I find this obsessive focus on the TdF extraordinary and it is starting to be similar to Formula 1. The latter drivers now concern themselves only with Formula 1, the money is ridiculous and races are astonishingly boring, so much so that I no longer watch. When I first became interested in Formula 1, Hill and Clarke (you can guess my age) used to race in F1, F2, Saloons, Le Mans, Indy 500 and an occasional Monte Carlo and RAC rally. However, at least F1 still enables enthusiasts to see their heroes (if you can call them that) 17 times a year, giving of their best.
Lance might shake a leg at one classic a year in addition to the TdF, in contrast to Merckx, Hinault, Anquetil, Gimondi, Indurain, and others, who were shaking legs in all the GT's and quite a few Classics. I have the greatest respect for Armstrong but, based on present achievements, I don't think he deserves to be considered with the names above. Unfortunately his bank account and world-wide recognition are obviously causing other riders and sponsors to think along his lines and it is difficult to blame them whilst still not liking it.
Is this good for cycling? Does the TdF world-wide publicity rub off on to the Giro and Vuelta or does it lessen them? I have only been interested in cycling for a couple of years and am a creaking back-marker so I do not profess great knowledge, but it seems the answer is "Yes, it does lessen them". How it impacts on other forms of cycling I don't know.
I would be most interested to hear the views of more qualified aficionados.
Far from complacent, Lance seems fitter than ever to win the tour. He is a remarkable rider to watch, but more importantly he is the greatest ambassador we have ever had in the sport. He is modest, self effacing whist being cunning and deadly on the bike. We should support him in his remarkable comeback and his effect on our sport.
If you don't believe me look at what the best Euro Pros are riding. Trek, Cannondale, Litespeed, Specialized. Large companies placing enormous money into teams.
What does that mean to you and me?
Our sport is getting bigger, richer, more popular. More folks race than ever before. The pros make more money, the TV coverage gets better. Its great for everyone. Sorry if you happen to one of those exclusive types. So stop your selves for a moment and thank your lucky stars that this tour will be the best ever. The tour humbles everyone every year. Agreed that Lance is by far the most likely to win, and probably by a large margin, but the tour is about several jerseys fought out daily. Green, White, Polka and Yellow. A puncture or crash can change the complexion of the race in an instant.
As to the competition: Ulrich was toast last year and I suspect may never be a player again. Casagrande is aging, Pantani is history. Some young ones are coming up the ranks though. Vinoukourov, Sevilla, Heras, Simoni, Aerts, Stuart O'Grady etc.
On the other hand, some folks just like to grumble. If your one of those then I guess, like always, you will find fault in excellence.
Personally I shall be glued to the TV, read all the mags, follow moment by moment with cycling news and enjoy every moment of it. Just as I did when Merckx, Hinault, LeMond and Indurain were the dominant players.
Hell I hope Lance wins six or more!
In light of the events of late I've felt compelled to stand up a say a few things that must be said;
First: what's the story with fans, announcers and his team-mates still looking to Pantani like he's a top rider? Every day in the Giro all of his men ride around him at the back like they're protecting him for the mountains, when most of them could ride him off their wheel. Truth is, he's a hack, and can only be called a has-been due to drugs, otherwise he would be a never-was. He's having trouble keeping pace with pedestrian foot traffic up the driveway to his hotel, yet he still talks trash. On a positive note, maybe he can grow back his hair now that he's flushed all those drugs out of his system. Thanks to Bob Roll for calling it like it is; "Pantani can't ride his way out of a wet paper bag"...we love you for it Bob!
Second: Jean Marie LeBlanc is a petty, controlling little man intent on destroying the Tour. No Cipollini??...and Lombardie, wow, what an idiot. If Armstrong would do the Giro next year, I think the Tour would lose even local TV coverage. Guess it will be fun to watch Ag2r get shot out the back daily (Tip: watch the Giro coverage of Pantani for instruction). I guess that's been the relationship with America and France for decades...they get themselves in trouble and we have to send our boys over to bail them out. Just be careful Lance, LeBlanc will find a way to exclude you when he thinks your job has been done.
Third: drugs shmugs... just forget about testing and let them take whatever they want. They're grown men, they're professionals and we all want to see them going as fast as inhumanly possible. Even then, it doesn't assure that you will win, just look at Panaria, their musette bags have more drugs than a WWII medic pouch but they're still unknowns, aside from the police wanted posters. Pro cycling isn't about giving it your best shot or personal achievement, it's about winning and publicising high-dollar sponsors...and pleasing the fans. So pop that syringe and let's see some 30mph climbing!
In response to those who have chided the TdF officials for creating a 'boring' Tour this year, I'm seeing things much differently. The way I look at it, this could be the first Tour in history with four separate Americans as GC contenders on their respective teams: Armstrong/Postal, Hamilton/CSC, Leipheimer/Rabobank and possibly Livingston for Telekom. Granted, Livingston is a long shot to be the team leader, and Rabobank may pick someone else, but the prospect of so many prominent Americans competing for GC is hardly making for a boring Tour! This could be one of the best, even though Armstrong will probably walk away with the win. (Read Ullrich news)
I don't believe in either Hamilton/CSC or Boogerd (Rabobank) as winners of TdF 2002, both are racing in the Giro, so any chance of winning is of.
My favorites would be: Livingston, Leipheimer (why pay a lot of money if not going for the victory), Lance!, any rider from Kelme!, but particularly Oscar Sevila, a Banesto rider in top 3, my pick: Aitor or Oza Gonzales.
But nevertheless Lance is gonna win again, there is no real competition to him.
Tour de France #2
Ernie, you forgot potentially the most likely American other than Lance, and that is Bobby Julich. This could be his time, and what a story it would be.
Tour de France #3
Marco Pantani does not deserve an invitation to the Tour after the way he quit last time. And now that his haematocrit is the same as everyone's, he plainly sucks. I'm a big "Cipo" fan, but he quits when he feels like it too. He doesn't deserve an invitation either.
There is always great potential for excitement in the Tour. This year will be amazing, just like every year. Watch for Oscar Sevilla, Tyler Hamilton, Levi Leipheimer, Robbie McEwen, Jalabert, Zabel. There will be 200 frothing pros giving everything.
I will not miss any poor-sport Italians.
Tour de France #4
Another way to look at this situation is to see that since Jan is not racing and that "Lance is going to win" (!) someone will need to be second, and another one for third. Whoever this "second" or "third" person is going to be a potential threat to whoever is first. Which makes this race at least as better as last year's race where there were only two contenders for the final prize.. now we could actually have 'x' amount of riders pressuring Lance.
Tour de France #5
I couldn't agree more with those who think that this could be one of the best, most open tours in years. Like others have said, there are a good number of new challengers who can all attack in the mountains and time trial. In no particular order:
Santiago Botero - KoM in 2000, gained weight last year but then became a time trial sensation. Get the combination right (18,000 plus kms at Altitude in Colombia for a start) and you have a very believable contender.
Levi Leipheimer - Aggressive, Climbs, TTs, his Vuelta performance and he raced kermesses in Belgium!! - can't get a better combination. I think it is pretty much guaranteed that he will lead Rabobank in the tour with Boogerd and Dekker getting stuck in for the stage wins, but may lack a mountains domestique...
Tyler Hamilton - Climbs very well, TTs much better than he's given credit for and like Leipheimer, knows how to train by watching Armstrong. More importantly, will know when to attack. The Giro will give the betting men among us a good form guide.
Joseba Beloki - As above, less able than the others in my opinion, but cannot just sit there hanging on for another year - he will be yet another rider who will be attacking Armstrong.
Moreau - maybe not a contender for the final top spot, but will join the pack attacking Lance. TTs and can climb.
Simoni - again an attacker in the mountains who Lance will not be able to leave alone.
Casagrande - we'll see after the Giro, but yet again a high-profile, attacking climber for Lance to watch.
Garzelli - Would've put him at the top of the contenders, but now, who knows? Watch out for Cadel Evans though....
David Millar - the patriotic choice I'm afraid - but from what he has been saying and doing recently, he seems to have finally got his act together. Hopefully, will be attacking with the others.
Oscar Sevilla - His vuelta performance was apparently ahead of schedule for his team, but assuming Kelme is still solvent in July, I expect to be cheering on him, Millar and Botero on the Cormet de Roseland!
Add in a few rank outsiders like Casar, Vinoukorov,Verbrugghe and I reckon this could be a very interesting year. At the very least, even if Lance does win for the fourth time, we'll see some great attacking from many different challengers.
In response to Mr. Reynolds' excellent description of the "OLN Liggett/Sherwen drinking game", let me add a few more rules:
Drink every time Paul refers to a rider as "taking risks", "enormous risks",
or "incredible risks".
Liggett/Sherwen drinking games #2
How about a drink every time Paul says someone is a "great revelation" or "Max Sciandri should be the big favorite out of this group".
Liggett/Sherwen drinking games #3
Other drinking notes:
Drink twice for any homoerotic comments by either including "now it's man on
Liggett/Sherwen drinking games #4
In response to Douglas Reynolds' letter on drinking in response to Phil and Paul's eccentricities, I applaud you. In fact, my friends and I do the same thing, so I wanted to add a few you overlooked, if you do not mind.
Drink when either Phil or Paul say "he's hit the wall";
For the record, I am a huge fan of both Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen. They do a wonderful job and make it seem so easy we can scoff at them. Long live P & P.
From most reports Team 7UPs John Lieswyn is one of the good-guys of US professional cycling and his diary entries are generally pretty entertaining. This however, does not excuse him from coming off as a first-class elitist wanker now and again. His latest journal entry does so in fine form.
Before you disparage all of us Cat 2 cyclists as mere obstacles to your health, wealth and otherwise good fortune, remember it is we, the rank and file amateurs that often find ourselves "contributing" our own money in the form of entry-fees to the winner's podium. And before you berate race-organizers for their apparent ineptitude in the ABCs of race-organizing (as you did at Valley of the Sun, AZ), remember that without their efforts, you might just be hammering the locals in an early-morning group ride, instead of cherry-picking the money of local amateurs in regional cycling events.
How many times have you raced the Quad Cities Criterium? The course is super-fast, has at least 8 turns and the longest straight-away is maybe 2-1/2 suburban-blocks long. As you pointed out, even the strongest pros (and I do count you as one of them), have difficulty "moving-up" in the field. Riders just run out of straight-away before a hard right, right, left, right, left, right, right, left, right, right. Furthermore, it's a super-fast FLAT race which allows riders of moderate fitness to finish in the pack. But you should know all that! You should also probably know too (being a mentor to a group of midwest amatuers), that the Quad Cities Weekend is also the un-official kick-start for a midwest racer's summer season. It's very big, big weekend for mid-westerners their first opportunity to test their legs against some top-notch competition for 4 days. So for you to suggest that all us lowly cat 2s go and do a different race that weekend is beyond obnoxious. It's offensive even.
Look, I willingly absorb a first-class beating from the pros and donate my $150 entry fee at stage-races like Massachuset's Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic for the opportunity to take my racing to a higher level. I know what I'm getting into and that is a choice I have made. You have been a professional racer for far too long to not know exactly what's in store when you show up to just about any start-line in the United States. If you want a more "professional" field of riders, why didn't you and your team travel to the National Race Calendar's Tour of Somerville? Of course they let Cat 2s in that field too, so I don't know what you're going to do...
Finally, it seems you and your team could use a good press/media representative, or at least a pre-season workshop for the riders in "media relations." Honestly, complaining about how team 7Up doesn't get any press or respect in a post-race diary entry (a recurring theme this year?) is NOT going to get the local race announcer (who may or may not know even know who you are) to call your squad to the line. I'm not saying your team didn't deserve a call-up, but I'm betting that making a little nicey-nice before the big event with the announcer/organizer would get you called up where you probably belong. Of course in year's past they've been much more democratic at the Quad Cities Criterium, calling up riders in groups of 10 by order of registration. Either way, you've got two highly effective ways to get your squad to the front at the start. Send in your entry forms in early, or introduce yourself to the man holding the microphone and take your place at the head of the pack. Or don't...and race from the back, try your best to avoid the wrecks and move up like the rest of us. Just do it without complaining.
By the way, I believe last year's US Pro Criterium Championship weekend in Downer's Grove, Illinois feature a Cat 2-only criterium (unheard of in the midwest) because a local cycling-club, Higher Gear, ponied up cold-hard cash to inspire the organizing body to include such an event. Maybe that's something for 7Up marketing executives to consider for events at which they hope to do especially well.
John Lieswyn #2
I just read John Lieswyn's race report, as I have read many of his reports. This time I can't hold back from commenting on his seemingly incessant whining.
We know your job is hard, John, and we respect what you do and the effort you put forth. We amateur racers also have hard jobs and try to get faster and better at bike-handling in our spare time. Your comment about all those miserable cat2 riders is ridiculous. I'm guessing you didn't take the time to inspect the license of each person who caused a crash to determine their category. Who causes the crashes in the fields that only have pros? How many fans and how much prize money would there be in Rock Island, Illinois if only pros with your attitude showed up to race? Almost none.
If you don't like racing with cat2's, do what the rest of us hackers do and get better so you can race with guys who crash less. We won't miss you in the Quad Cities one bit.
John Lieswyn #3
I used to enjoy reading about the exploits of a pro racer (a dream that I am "chasing", but lets face reality here) and John Lieswyn's Diary was a glimpse into that lifestyle. Not any more.
You probably won't hear too much against his argument that maybe some races need a separate Cat2 field. It makes sense in terms of progression and making your way through the ranks. But until that time, that is the state of racing here in the United States, your other option, go to Europe to race against strictly Pro's.
Mr. Lieswyn, get a glass of cold water and dump it on your head, get a reality check. Do you think every Cat 2 racer should roll over and die because you show up to a race? John, it is ironic that you have no problems putting a Cat 2 or a fellow Pro in the gutter, but when the shoe is on the other foot, you complain.
Next time John, when you show up to a Pro/I/II race that isn't on the NRC list (yet your there for the prize $$), think about this: There are several dozen local Cat 1's and 2's at that race who are just itching to say I beat a Pro (you perhaps?) despite the fact that he gets up early, goes to work, trains 3 hours after work, goes home, eats and get ready for the next day, repeat five times, times 52 weeks. Did he mention he has wife and/or kids? Now add the schedule of racing twice a week in spring and summer.
Sometimes as a Cat 2, all you got out of all the expense, training and huge sacrifices is the fact that you competed against the best this country has to offer and finished well and sometimes just finishing is enough. That is true love for the sport. Think about that John when you don't get your "call-up" and your mad about it.
Lance Armstrong said (at a press conference, clearing him and his team of drug allegations) that the true story that should be reported is all the hard work that goes into Professional Cycling and winning the Tour (Road to Paris documentary). Maybe the wrong story (John Lieswyn's Diary) is being told.
My question to Cyclingnews.com, why not invite a Cat 1 or Cat 2 racer that works full time, and has other obligations, to write a diary about what it takes to race against the 7-ups, Mercury's and Saturn's? That is a story that hasn't been told yet, and a better one.
Brand Lemaitre, An average Cat 2 racer
Just a little info re: the possible "early retirement" of the AG2R rider. I'd been doing some article searches a couple years ago while involved with developing an osteoporosis clinic (physical therapy... or physiotherapy if you prefer). There was a study done on a group of Euro pro cyclists. They found that the bone density mass of the cyclists was only 70% that of regular males the same avg. age as the cyclists. The deficit related to that percentage if quite on par with osteoporetic classification.
Ever wonder why cyclists fracture so many bones? Those fracture locations always coincide with our elder population's more common fracture sites, particularly re: osteoporosis. The pro (and some amateur) cyclists push that nutritional "limit" in an attempt to get over the climbs with greater ease. Nutrition can have a big impact on bone density mass. Persons with eating disorders can develop traits of the osteo disease also.
The single biggest factor, though, is that cycling is not a weight-bearing activity. There are no true reaction forces from the pedals. Bone requires stress in order to become stronger. That stress will encourage more bone deposition. If people ride their bikes for 6 hours, then go home and nap, get up and eat and then return to bed, there is not a lot of opportunity for weight-bearing activities for any of the bones. Even going for a walk in the evening would provide great benefits for their bone structure. Throw in some jump rope and push-ups and they might stay together better.
This is not to discount that it's possible to develop the disease process itself regardless of ones daily activities, but I think if they were to look at a lot of the cyclists, others may be classified in the disease category.
I noticed that in the May 19th "Second Edition News" you report that the Columbia River Bank Cascade Cycling Classic is America's oldest stage race. While I'll admit there is not comparison in scale, the CCC is not even close to being America's oldest stage race. The 31st annual Tour de Louisiane will be held June 22-23 this year. I suspect that it is the oldest continuous stage race in the U.S. . At any rate, it is certainly older than the Cascade Cycling Classic.
Randall J. Legeai
I would firstly like to say thank-you for this wonderful internet site, however if I would like to ask why don't the women's events get the coverage that the men get.
I have three friends who are elite Australian women cyclists. These ladies are Kym Shirley (racing with Itera) Katie Mactier (racing for Fanni) and Sara Carrigan (racing with the Australian team). Every time I now that they are racing I look through your web site, and the Internet looking for results, photos or information about the race. But this is to no avail.
Yes I do realise that the men are the big draw cards and that they receive more money than the girls. But women's cycling is growing, and it would be nice to see a better coverage of the women's cycling, instead of an extract version. I do realise that it is very hard to keep up with Kym and Katie, but I do believe that they deserve some recognition, as they have worked their butts off to get where they are.
Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a right pain in the arse. Everyone knows what this is. You do some excercise that is out of your normal routine (a friendly football match, or a vigorous hill walk), and you pay for it for days afterwards with localised muscle pain. The pain and feeling of stiffness isn't immediate, typically peaks after 24-72 hours, and takes several days to go away completely. From what I've been able to find on the 'net, DOMS is a bit of a mystery. It's not the result of major muscle damage, or lactic acid build-up, and there's a fair debate about how best to treat it. It seems to be brought on most strongly by eccentric muscle load - when you load a muscle under extension rather than contraction (think of a bicep curl; you load your muscle raising the weight, and the load continues as the weight is lowered). Does anyone have any useful tricks to speed recovery from this? How about those of you who have had a go at some weight training in the off-season? I'd be dead keen to read your suggestions.
If you are coming to New York City, there is Central Park. The 10km loop road is a excellent course, and is closed to vehicular traffic from 10am till 3pm, and from 7pm to 10pm. During the winter months there is a good pack ride that starts at Tavern on the Green at 7pm, and rides a pretty quick 50K. But once the weather gets warm the park becomes very crowded in the evening, and cycling fast is problematic. There are rides north of the city, across the George Washington Bridge for instance, but you would do well to contact the Century Road Club to make contacts with the local biking community, or go to a good shop, like Renaissance, or Toga.
What kind of helmet was Paolo Salvodeli wearing in Stage 6 of the Giro?
Bill W. McDorman
In response to Mr. Granger's letter, it appears they are past the finish line by at least 10 meters, so braking and shifting down would be appropriate, as would be banging your bars in frustration. Cheers.
I was interested in that same bike - minus the wheels, I ordered Corima medium - and wanted to order it in the local bike shop, but the current delay is 5 weeks. In France that means 8 weeks and that is too long for me, so I decided to upgrade my best bike instead. Time only builds the frames when they are ordered, no stock, even for most common sizes. The bike was described in a recent issue of "Cyclo Passion", a french magazine (in "Le Cycle" as well I believe). Apparently the Bonjour racers participated actively in the technical choices made for that bike.
If you know some french go to http://www.sergedutouron.com, then go for "cadres", which means frame.
The bike only comes in one color.
Serge Dutouron is a reputable mail order firm.
Where do I sign to petition Cyclo-cross as a Winter Olympic sport? I have been told by sources at Gale Force (the guys who put on the Super Cup 'cross series) that a key factor as to why 'cross hasn't made it to the winter games is due to a rule about all winter olympic sports having to be competed on snow or ice. The loophole I see is to put the event on in the snow. If that wasn't enough snow on the course at the National Championships in Kansas last year we could always shovel on a little more. I have my cow bells ready.
Keeping track of records seems to be a problem all over the world. I was part of a team who rode relay around the Australia (14,200km) in 21 days in 1996. Two English teams have done it faster since but haven't told anyone! As far as I can make out our team is still recognised by the Guinness Book of world records as the holder of that particular record. Anyone , if you intend attacking a record let the local authorities know and then tell them how you went using whatever evidence they need to verify it. Wish us luck in our race against Perry Stones two man team across Australia. We are racing in a handicap style race, 6 man team against Perry's two man team, 4200km. Start time 8pm AEST 21st June . Go see http://www.bikestories.com
Mt Lemmon record #2
I think the real challenge should be both you and Price going for the record. Matt, you say you have your September check to donate, I say Price should match you. Who ever loses has to donate his money to ACA. Now that's a show down. And worth media as well. I would bet you could draw a pretty good audience and spread even more awareness. I truly admire your commitment to giving back to your community Matt. Therefore, Mt. Lemmon should hold a new record, one that is dedicated to helping others, other than proving ones fitness. I personally can't wait till September, please keep me posted Matt.
Mt Lemmon record #3
Wow, I must have missed a press release on Scott's Record up Mt. Lemmon. He must have said something bad for Matt D to go off on him. Matt tries to demean the record by implying that Scott's efforts are meaningless by bringing Lance and Andy Hampsten into this.
Think about it though Matt, doesn't that imply that your record was worthless too? Or are you saying that you are the Division 3 version of Gilberto Simoni and that you too can beat Lance in the mountains?
I realise I've commented on this before, but "I needed evidence to send to Eurosport to get him sacked."
Come on Mr Antony Hubbard, get real.
If you do manage to do this then come up with a commentator, that would replace David Duffield. There is isn't one, and there is no need to take up such a personal vendetta.
Cycling is struggling to get the coverage it deserves, i.e. Nicole Cooke 4 world Titles & No Coverage. (On non-Eurosport at least).
Ladies, just as becoming a professional cyclist is a long and arduous task, so is that of a Podium Girl. Where as the life of a pro cyclist starts with long hours on the bike, resting and a healthy diet, the life of a podium girl, starts (surprisingly) with me, The International Podium Girl Picker! So ladies, if your dream is to become a podium girl, simply send some photo's to my e-mail address "firstname.lastname@example.org". I will review your photo's and before you know it, you too could become a Podium Girl!
DJ, The Int'l Podium Girl Picker
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