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Letters to Cyclingnews - November 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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I was very surprised and impressed by how Mr. Moninger has handled his unfortunate situation. I was wondering when an athlete would make the disreputable supplement companies pay for the damage they caused to his reputation, and career. This situation could potentially end the career of a cyclist who I have respected for many years. It makes me glad that he's not taking this thing lying down. Although it will be difficult, I hope some tighter controls on the production of these supplements could be implemented as a result. It is a pretty sobering thought that as professional and clean as some riders are, they face the possibility of being sacked because they bought supplements that contain things not represented on the label. Even to someone fully knowledgeable of the UCI's banned substance list, they still have no control over this kind of situation happening to them. I really respect how Mr. Moninger has come out and stated his case, and I hope he prevails.
Scott Moninger #2
Your article of November 21 on Scott Moninger suggests that the principle of Buyer Beware prevents action against a manufacturer or seller. With respect, that may not be correct at law and victims of contaminated products should consult their legal adviser in the country of purchase.
The best athletic advice I got as a junior racer was, "Go to Law School."
Regarding Mr. Johnson's statement that climbing is harder than sprinting, I beg to differ. Yes, climbing is hard, and a rider's genetic disposition plays a significant role in the outcome, just as a sprinter's does. It is hard for a sprinter to climb and a climber to sprint. You're comparing apples to oranges.
Often, the pace of the peloton up to the point where the actual "sprint" begins (leadout) is ridden at an intensity equal or greater to that of those 30-40 minute climbs. The difference is that, in the last 200 meters, the afterburners fire up one more notch and blow out the wannabe's with one massive burst of raw power. Add to that explosion, an ability shown by the best of the business to maintain a clear head and think on the fly while cruising along, elbow to elbow, at speeds in excess of 40 mph.
Consider the pain and mental discipline that riders pursuing the green jersey must undertake in order to contest multiple efforts in each stage.
Climbers vs Sprinters #2
I know the debate of "which is tougher" or "who is better" between climbers
and sprinters is one of the never-ending questions in cycling, but I felt I
needed to defend sprinters against Sammy Johnson's letter. He mentions that
"A sprint is typically a 10 second or less all out effort." Lest we forget that
sprinters don't just dog it to the last 200m of a 180 mile race and then drop
the hammer. A pure sprinter such as Cipo may spend the last half hour or so
of a relatively flat race moving up position, and keeping his team-mates at
the right pace to catch escapees, prevent new breakaways, and yet not burnout
his team. Sprinters are constantly bumping and riding hard very near the front
to maintain their position up until the last 200m or 10 seconds of the race...it's
just that sprinters are never seen at the very front in the wind before the
last 200 meters. I'm not sure how experienced Sammy is in racing himself, but
I can tell you from experience, it takes a lot of strength just to get yourself
into position to sprint, let alone whip it out in the last straightaway. Don't
be fooled by Cipo... he really makes it look much easier than it ever is.
Climbers vs Sprinters #3
To say that sprinting is only 10 seconds of work is ridiculous. Have you ever watched a Tour video or daily coverage? The dash for the line begins about 10km from the finish, sometimes more. During that time, every team with a sprinter tries to get to the front to control things. There is a lot of jockeying for position-usually at 55-60kph. (When was the last time you rode someone's wheel at 60kph for twenty minutes?)
Just because a sprinter sits in someone's draft doesn't mean he does nothing. He still has to be alert for splits, crashes, late flyers, position, roundabouts, etc. If everyone wants to be on the wheel of the favorite, it is no easy task to get there and stay there. If you watch some of the videos, you will see how much one small bobble can cost you. If someone goes down or touches wheels, guys will lose 20 places in a heartbeat with no way to get back if it is the last 3km. To maintain position takes lots of skill, strength and nerve even if you are "just drafting".
Here's a good question for you. If it is so easy to give somebody an armchair ride to the finish, why do so few teams actually do it well? Just because you don't get the focused attention on a handful of riders on a difficult climb doesn't mean a field sprint is a cakewalk. Johann Museeuw, probably the toughest guy out there, said in Cyclesport recently that though he began as a bunch sprinter, he became fearful of big sprints after a few crashes. Same for Jalabert. What does that tell you?
Bobby Julich did not have a ventricular arrhythmia. Rather, he had a re-entrant SVT (http://www.bobbyjulich.com/julich/heart.asp).
Atrial fibrillation, SVT, RSVT, and accessory pathway tachycardias are all distinctly different forms of tachycardia that originate in the upper chambers of the heart, the atria. They are all distinctly different because there are differences in: (1) the etiology of the condition (2) the population at risk (3) the treatment of the condition.
This last point is the most complex one, and one which is quite convoluted in the letters posted thus far. To make a long story short, all of the conditions can be potentially treated with radiofrequency ablation (microwaving the abnormal tissue) and/or medications. The science is young in this field, and the decisions concerning treatment modality are more often on a patient by patient basis.
Factors that may favor the "cure" of radiofrequency ablation include the chronicity of the arrhythmia; the age and condition of the patient; and the particular form of the arrhythmia (thus, some are very easily treated in this manner). More patient information can be found on the website for the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (http://www.naspe.org/).
Prospero B. Gogo, Jr. M.D.
In response to the very interesting article on EPO; from comments I read coming from pro cyclists, it seems like there is a lot of doping going on. The genetic doping angle is something that was mentioned that I have never thought about.
Anthony Tan's article raises a interesting question. What if someone genetically manipulated their unborn child to have the characteristics of a great cyclist? Will people in the future be asking Lance, LeMond and Eddy for a DNA sample? In the age where you can artificially enhance eye color, hair color or eliminate the precursors for cancers or certain diseases, would manipulating DNA to make the perfect cyclist be considered cheating? Would manipulating the DNA to make someone naturally produce high levels of haematocrit or a disposition for huge VO2 max numbers be cheating? What if they could manipulate DNA on currently racing cyclists?
I guess it is GATTACA (the movie) meets reality pretty soon!
"How serious do you think the issue of EPO still is within pro cycling?" I think it's very hard to say. The single most effective "deterrent" appears to be the UCI's 50% haematocrit limit, although the number of prominent riders testing at 49.9 has been noticeable! I wonder if it wouldn't be fairer (and perhaps more pragmatic), to reserve the EPO test for riders already found exceeding the UCI limit (or their own if they have a doctor's exemption); i.e. legalise controlled cheating!
The UCI, for all of its gallant endeavor, will I fear continue to fight a losing battle against doping. Its clear from the evidence of cycling, that the science, and the method of evasion deployed by the sporting cheats, is invariably one step ahead of the testers!
Regarding general drug use in sport: if ALL athletes were made to keep an 'open book' ( available for all to see ) with regards to ALL they ingest, from regular food stuffs, over the counter supplements to doctor prescribed products, wouldn't it be true to say that TRUE success in sport could only be attributed to one's physical prowess, one's awareness, one's training environment, one's commitment to training, and one's tactical knowledge?
In addition to present testing methods, if samples ( blood, urine, hair etc.) of all winning athletes were stored for subsequent testing for comparison with the athletes' 'open book' might that have a significant cleansing effect regarding the way all sports are both played and perceived?
Finally, I hear of cyclist's shunned by the peloton for 'flicking' other riders, and have heard the phrase 'no longer allowed to win a stage by the peloton', used in relation to some ( unnamed ) individuals. Yet convicted drug cheats come back after their suspensions and win stages - doesn't this seem to indicate that drug use is still widely accepted by the powers who exist within the bunch?
I think as long as there is the amount of money that is in any professional sport the temptation to cheat will be present. However complicated the tests are to detect it the temptation will be there. I do think that the more information about how certain drugs that even doctors call "as dangerous as orange juice" can have detrimental effects to the rider's health, even under close supervision, the less they will be used. The interesting thing to see in the future will be what is considered doping, and who is considered liable for doing problems, such as in Scott Moninger's case. I think a race series like the World Cup, which last all year really put a strain on riders' health. This seems to put a premium on staying fit all year which seems to increase the temptation.
Being from the United States and a nutritionist, I think that the general lack of education about the dangers of supplement use because of the lack of regulations, at least here, is a cause for concern for more of the general public that people who could even afford to buy EPO. I know that Collegiate athletes are constantly told to read the label on any cold medicine, etc., to avoid a positive drug test. I get my USA cycling book, like everyone else does who holds a racing license in the US and can look at what is illegal. The problem is that up to 25% of the time, as the British study showed, those ingredients aren't listed on supplement labels.
I see the benefits of EPO for people who need it to avoid constant blood transfusions and the untold risks associated with that procedure. In most cases with any medicine there are risks as well as benefits, and as long a professional athletes want to try and skip some level of work to strive for the top level I believe some drug use will be present in athletics.
The state of 'cross seems to be on the rise. I've been racing cross the last couple of years in Montana and our 'cross scene has grown every year. This past weekend we had the Montana Cyclo-cross State Championships in Missoula. We had 40 total racers and over one hundred spectators in our population-challenged state. There are very challenging fields....we have a racer who raced the Road Worlds in Zolder this past year, and a racer who raced in the latest 'cross Worlds.
In Missoula, MT (pop. 50,000) we have a group cross day on Thursdays and would have 25 to 30 people show up every week. Most of them new to the sport and excited about it.
Cross is definitely on the rise here.
'Cross in the USA #2
After reading the interview with Jonny Sundt, I would like to chime in of the state of cyclo-cross. I my region (Midwest), cyclo-cross is gaining in popularity in leaps and bounds. In the last four seasons, we have seen the number of cross bikes at cross races increase, as well as, the number of racers. Not only are more people racing, but the Midwest cycling community as a whole is supporting cross races.
I live just outside Louisville, Kentucky in Southern Indiana. On any given weekend, I can find a race either in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington or further south in Tennessee. From my location these are all within two hours driving distance with the exception of Tennessee. Each of these cities has a cross series of races established, each promoting 4 to 5 races!
We have national caliber talent racing as well, Phil Noble (winner of the B's race at last year's Super Cup, Chicago) can be found at many of the races. Lindsay Wilson College has a excellent cross team. They routinely put someone in the top three each weekend. I'd like to think cyclo-cross is longer an east coast or west coast thing. There's a strong tradition of cyclo-cross building here in the Midwest. Check us out at www.kentuckycyclocross.com.
Todd W. Wieringa, Rapid Transit Racing Team
My opinion of cross racing in the U.S. overall is positive, but there is room for improvement. I live in New Hampshire and there are numerous regional/UCI races within 2.5 hrs of driving from September through December. Adam Myerson, regional promoters, and all others involved have done a super job making the number of races multiply!
Everyone I ride with participates in or has participated in cyclocross. The only complaint I hear about the "state of cross" is that it costs too much cash to race and I agree.
If you are just a pack filler in the Elite Men's you pay $20-30 to race plus a $70 international license fee if you do the UCI races to compete in a 60 minute race. My wife does the women's A's and is surprised that it costs her $15-25 to race for 45 minutes. She comes from a collegiate/elite level running background and rarely paid more than $15 dollars to race. At the running races she said, "There was almost always cookies, bagels, and hot coffee for participants." In her opinion this made it more fun and inviting for "recreational participants." Some promoters do this and I congratulate them. It makes for a more comfortable venue.
I am a college student and part time wage earner. My wife is a teacher. We don't have a lot of cash to invest in racing especially for races, which last 45-60 minutes. I have no problem with road racing entry fees because the races are normally longer and follow what I recommend in the next paragraph.
Keeping entry fees between $10-15 bucks (equivalent to what a lot of people make for an hour of work) could possibly make participation more appealing to those who just want to come out and have a good time racing. I think the hourly rate of racing should reflect what the wage earning masses make per hour. Especially if the goal of the promoter/sport as a whole is to attract younger (25 and under) and typically less financially stable participants.
An example of this occurred with the New Hampshire State Time Trial this year run by the New Hampshire Cycling Club. The entry fee was $15-18 bucks. All volunteers received t-shirts, all involved including friends/relatives received food/drinks, and we got loads of positive feedback from participants and volunteers saying how much they enjoyed the friendly social atmosphere created by the promoters thoughtfulness/inclusion of them. Having a good prize list is good, but not if it means charging so much money that the masses stay home and ride on their own.
This is just meant as constructive criticism. I am not a promoter and I do not know where the money goes. I am expressing my views and the views of those I ride with. See you at the races.
Isaac St. Martin
I just had my back stuffed up in a motorcar accident. They had to fuse L4-L5-S1. I used to do adventure racing, triathlon, MTB and rock climbing. I am wondering if there are any one out there that had a similar operation. How has it affected your sport?
Is there a physical outdoor life after this?
I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed your article on the Japanese Keirin. It looks like a lot of fun. And thanks for the diversion.
I agree with Rupert Guinness. Without the media, cycling is nothing. I find it funny that when people are searching for fame they love the media, but as soon as they get it, they seem to hate them. Laurent Fignon is a good example. He barely talked to the media during his hey day, but now he's the one who appears to be tracking them down. Loud mouth, or no loud mouth, Robbie is still a great rider. We all have our weaknesses. Perhaps though, Robbie and the other cyclists who get caught out on the heat of the moment can learn from the Mighty Indurain who, while very friendly and cooperative with the media, was always very thoughtful, controlled and careful when speaking.
Anyway keep up your great write ups Rupert. Based on what some friends have told me, journalism isn't an easy job and is very competitive. Keep catching those moments.
Rupert Guinness wants me to believe the criticism of the media is unfair. I don't buy it. Sometimes, making money seems to be more important objective. This might be editors rather than a journalists, but I only get to see what's in print, or in this case on the web.
In my original letter, I tried to make the point that we hear many times from many different outlets the "fist in mouth" comment, but almost nothing a few days later when McEwen backed off. If this is about reporting what is said, why wasn't equal coverage given to both sets of quotes? The fist quote was beat to death. Very popular quote and I'm sure it gets people to read. It certainly got my attention. I'm not faulting the reporting so much as the emphasis. I don't believe this is unfair criticism. It's to me a valid point.
I enjoy Cyclingnews just because there is so much content (And I enjoy the Aussie point of view.). Thank God for the web. It actually lets me choose the coverage I prefer
The media in cycling #3I completely agree with Rupert on the integral role the media plays in cycling, and all sports for that matter. Sponsors are involved in cycling with the objective of gaining a commercial return for their investment and it is the media coverage that provides that return. As Rupert pointed out no media coverage would result in no sponsors, no teams and no bike races. It is in the riders interest to assist the media as the more media coverage the sport receives the more sponsors will be prepared to put towards the sport, which will increase the earning capacity of cyclists, team management, race promoters etc. It's no coincidence that the athletes from the sports with the highest level of media coverage receive the highest wages.
The media in cycling #4
In general, it is the media's role to report that which is "newsworthy." That is to say, that which is of interest to the fans, supporters and participants of cycling. I have to laugh at the level of speculation which is employed in reporting the soap opera that cycling can sometimes be. Rumors and innuendo fly like a bunch sprint and we the public never really know the truth until the final facts cross the line. Who said what, conspiracy theories, secret alliances and backroom negotiations make for colorful reporting and, I for one, delight in it. As the riders are always telling us, "We are not machines!" And as their inevitable humanity emerges in the form of scandal, courage, frailty and fortitude, the media brings us the human side of cycling. As an American, I am thankful to be living in a time when I can not only watch the three grand tours and a handful of spring classics on TV, but can stay updated continually through Websites like Cyclingnews. Thank you, Media, for bringing us the good, the bad, the unsubstantiated. You keep the sport alive and growing.
Developing a career slowly is one thing, but I don't think TB will be burned out if he rides a few more classics. the team of USPS is a very good team but they lack riders for the classics. You can't build a team for the classics with just one or two riders. I don't mean any disrespect for the other cyclist in the team (they're good otherwise they wouldn't be riding for a top team), but they mostly work in the tours for Armstrong or Heras. Maybe USPS should let TB go because an unhappy cyclist will not win many races. As to riding with Museeuw, next to being a great classic rider, he's a wonderful guy.
Tom Boonen #2
Boonen needs a few Belgian pros to pull him aside and develop his career slowly? Isn't his father an ex-pro? I think I am correct in guessing that his father has great influence on TB's career path. Boonen just wants to make it big with a Belgian team that specializes in Classics, period! He may be with the awesome USPS where he may learn a LOT, BUT USPS specializes on the Tour de France. In my opinion, Boonen really is better off riding FOR Museeuw instead of leading USPS in the Classics or riding for Hincapie.
Paolo Raymond M. Tiangco
It was stated a few letters back (Oct. 31 2002) that Tyler indicated, while out riding with a CN reader, that he expects to be a co-leader with Jan.
Lets hope he has the legs! (You chose who "he" is in this case.)
Does anyone recall the route of the first Tour du Pont in the early 1980s, which I recall as a well attended, one day road race finishing in New York City? Phil Anderson, then with Panasonic, won the race after a substantial solo breakaway. I am a recent transplant to the New York area and would be very interested in any route information available. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Here are words from someone wiser than me who speaks on this subject quite nicely. It is edited for relevance.
Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were
not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.
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