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Letters to Cyclingnews - October 11, 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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So now we see why Santiago Botero is a Champion. First off, no doubt that the guy is a super talent on the bike: winning the KOM in his debut Tour in 2000, beating Lance Armstrong in a Tour time trial this year, and now the World's TT gold medal. But really impresses me about this guy (and what separates him from MANY other super talents in the pro peloton) is what he does when he is not riding up to his usual exceptional level, for whatever reason.
Most top riders who see themselves (rightly or not) as major contenders for a big race, if they are not on their best form for some reason, either quit the race, or sit on wheels every day and ho-hum their way to 20-somethingth place. These guys are super talents! Even when they are not at their best, they are still better than most, that is, they are still stronger than the typical "opportunist" rider who takes his chance and busts his ass all day in a breakaway to grab a stage win. Well that's what Botero has shown in both the Tour this year (where he wasn't climbing well enough to secure a podium finish) and at La Vuelta (where he didn't start out doing much of anything very well). The guy hung in there and attacked the race on several occasions and ended up with what you would expect from a Champion: stage wins in both the Tour (where he almost got his podium spot as well) and at La Vuelta. And today, he caps his season off with an excellent win in the Worlds TT.
If only more "superstars" would ride like Botero when they are on "less than perfect form" at one of their big events for the year, instead of sitting on wheels and making excuses for riding poorly.
Could it happen in any other sport but cycling? Well maybe in triathlon in Perth!
The World Championships, the premier race on the cycling calendar, and the time trial course for the Junior Women is 3.8 kilometres short. Only 25 percent out. Nothing to worry about!
Any self-respecting cycling club can organise their local Saturday afternoon club race better than that. Where do we apply?
The only explanation I can come up with is that Basil Fawlty is chairman of the organising committee, and Manuel is the UCI Technical Delegate. Qeh?
Geoff Frost, Chairman, 2008 Bid Committee
It seems to me that the latest UCI change to the Grand Tours gives a lot of power to the individual grand tour winners and world champion. If these rules were in affect last year, Angel Casero would have had a bidding war for his services as he would have guaranteed a ticket to the grand tours for some team and Saeco, with Gilberto Simoni, would have been in the Tour de France. If Aqua e Sapone sign Aitor Gonzales, Mario will be able to go to all the grand tours, win a few stages and pull out whenever he wants. Allessio thought they had an automatic bid (they won the Giro team title), but with the changes they are now on the bubble.
I assume that these automatic bids are based on the end of the calendar year. It brings up some questions like: If a grand tour winner or world champion gets suspended during the season for doping does the team lose their automatic selection? What if the grand tour winner or world champion gets hurt does the team still have an automatic bid? Does the grand tour winner or world champion have to be on the start list for the team to receive its automatic bid?
Maybe someone at cyclingnew.com can investigate into the details of this rule change. This rule could change the face of professional cycling or the rich teams which are already in the top ten will sign the grand tour winners and world champions and no effect will be seen at all.
In response to Peter Allen's letter, let me clarify that the weight I was considering for the "well trained 180 lbs amateur" is fat not muscle. It is true that most of us enter cycling from other sports, thus bringing with us extra muscle mass as Peter suggests. Losing muscle is not easy to do: 22 years ago when I started riding, I came from a running/wrestling background and carried more upper body muscle than I do now.
Losing this took a long time! Unless, of course, you go through a trauma situation, like Lance, that causes loss of muscle mass. I can tell you from experience (which I gained from cutting weight to compete at lower weight classes in wrestling), losing too much fat is just as bad as carrying too much.
Your key phrase in the Lance Vs. Aitor proclamation is: "Lance will continue to dominate the Tour until he retires." I propose that if Lance road the number of events that a Kelme top rider is required/expected to ride that his TdF form might not be as dominant. Yes, if Lance surpasses Indurain's 5 in a row he will officially be the greatest TdF rider (except, let us not forget that on two of his 5 Indurain also won the Giro). Greatest rider... that still goes to the Cannibal, EM and I don't see that ever changing. But for my money, the greatest collective of cyclists in the world right now is clearly the Spaniards and Seņor Delgado helped make that happen. (The "Lance dance" is really just a variation on Delgado's great climbing style)
L. Scott Paden
While Matt Wilson is right to observe that Delgado's claims about Gonzalez are a bit much, it is also true that the human spirit must dare to dream of the impossible if it is not to be crushed under the weight of adversity. The prospect of two or three more years of GI Joe-dominated Tours is far more than some of us fragile souls can bear. Good God, this race has become almost as boring as Olympic men's basketball or the 100 Meter dash -- one big endless chorus of "God Bless America" in Nikes and spandex. In short, please let us have our fantasies.
Pedro Delgado is a former Tour De France winner, and extremely popular in Spain. He is not 'nuts', but giving encouragement to his fellow countryman to ride the best he can, in the world's biggest race. He claims that Gonzalez can 'challenge' Lance, not dominate. There is a clear distinction of terms. If no one was challenging Lance, why don't you suggest the Tour organizers simply award the Tour to Lance for the next few years? I believe that Santi Botero also was incapable of challenging Lance, so maybe according to you his win was a fluke and Lance was probably having a serious day off? Come off your American soapbox and give credit to those who train hard, ride hard and would like to challenge others rather than just lie down and give up.
In his day, Delgado was challenging the best of the era - Fignon, Roche, Lemond, Breukink, Mottet,etc. He never gave up, and his never say die attitude endeared him to millions everywhere. When such a man says Gonzalez can challenge Lance, we should at least respect his opinion, and believe that our sport is about challenging each other and each rider's limits. To say he is 'nuts' is entirely disrespectful and an insult to Lance. Lance overcomes his challengers in a sporting manner, and thats why he is a great champion.
I have to take issue with Matt Wilson concerning Delgado's comments about Gonzales. Perico is an astute racing observer and past Tour winner. He may be looking through rose colored glasses but all you have to do is look at the results from this year to see that Lance isn't this year what he was in 2000. While he is still winning big it is plain that the team is taking a bigger role in the wins and Lance's overwhelming domination a smaller one.
My personal opinion is that Lance will win a fifth Tour, but it seems pretty plain that a sixth certainly would be a challenge and no one else regardless of how motivated has ever achieved that. One thing that struck me this year was that Lance seems to be growing larger than when he was at his most aggressive. He wasn't as dominating on the climbs and his TT performances didn't sparkle like before. No one stays on the top forever. Even Eddy Merckx is a past champion.
If Pedro Delgado, who has observed Gonzales first hand, and talked to him, thinks that Aitor is a possible Tour champion we must at the very least respect that opinion.
To Martin Hardie What a fantastic response! It adds tremendously to our appreciation of Euro-racing to grasp even a little of the Euro-culture and idiom of our sport. Keep giving us the literal translations (perhaps with an indication of the meaning of the more obscure idiomatic phrases).
I disagree with Martin Hardie's rationale for preferring the literal translation of the Catalan word "regularidad" to the correct English translation. If the Catalan word "regularidad" produces the same mental image in the mind of a Catalan as the English word "consistency" in the mind of an Englishman, then isn't that type of translation the best way to understand what the other person is thinking? The point it is, when we read the literal translation, we don't get "how other people in other places think and see things".
Martin Hardie, please do not apologize for your translations. I imagine your English is better than most Americans' Spanish, or Castellano for that matter, and we should be applauding your efforts. I think the gent was just trying to be funny, but unfortunately did not succeed.
Adios Amigo, gracias, a bientot mon ami, merci.
Michel van Musschenbroek
Martin Hardie: Good job on your "regular" translations! Unique sentence construction and colloquial imagery do reflect cultural differences, even when the translations aren't 100 percent by-the-book accurate. That's why you can take the cat to the water, but you can't make it think.
When the Vuelta a Galicia comes around, will we get CN translations of the beautiful language of Gallego?
Brad Davies should perhaps read more carefully and become better informed (There is no Commonwealth Bank Classic anymore) before writing stinging comments about me. As I should find out the facts before writing that I may have been snubbed for selection. I do write hastily, straight off the top of my head, and this helps to keep my entries timely. Sometimes I end up putting my foot in my mouth, so I want to retract my statement about "preferring racing at home". Note that I wrote the USA doesn't have many stage races over 4 days. I wouldn't continue accepting foreign invitations year after year if it weren't for a love of travel and a love of racing, win or lose.
Since my last entry, Herald Sun Tour organizer John Craven has personally assured me that he's very pleased with my winning performances on and off the bike, and team selection was more a factor of budget than anything else this year. With more advance notice to Mr. Craven and a lighter schedule next September (to keep me fresher mentally), hopefully I'll be back in the Sun Tour peloton for 2003.
Read it again, Mr Davies: collusion is a natural consequence of small team sizes and not particular to a nationality. You don't see 10 day races being run in Europe with 5 man teams, but the expense involved in flying riders to Australia means that teams must be kept small. One must accept that Mr. Craven has little choice here and I merely report on the collusion because it is one of the usually untold stories which adds depth to the results. The Herald Sun Tour has instituted some very big changes this year with shorter stages. The racing will be faster than ever and small teams should have a better chance of executing tactics without opening the pocketbook.
Next month I am returning to the Southland Tour where there will be small teams, and where our team got spanked by the Kiwis last year. Why am I returning? Because it's well organized, beautiful stage racing, and the people are amongst the nicest I've ever met. Of course I'll try my hardest to win but that's not the only reason to go!
Lieswyn and Australian races #2
I think Brad Davies might be missing the point. John Lieswyn can say whatever he wants about racing. He's earned the right through his years of racing at a high level, and like it or not, he pretty much calls it as he sees it. John has no problem providing critical review of race organization, other racers, and for the most part, himself. I for one appreciate his race diaries on CN, as they provide a lot of detail and first-hand perspective to the races. As for the Aussie races not wanting a "whingeing second-tier racer from the US", they will also be missing one their best race animators who likes to attack early and make the race hard. JL please keep up the diary writing and all the best in 2003.
Lieswyn and Australian races #3
I think Brad might have misunderstood John's joking reference when he talked about being "snubbed" for the Australian races. John pointed out that the riders from his team who were going had "marquees like National Champ and SFGP winner." When I read the diary, I chuckled a bit because I understood John to mean that he understood why he was not being invited.
As for his "whingeing," don't we all complain a bit about our jobs? I can understand the difficulty he has with collusion, especially if it is aimed against his team by several other teams. But I also think that this is just part of the sport, along with flats, getting squeezed at the line, and crashes. It's not always the way you want it, but the challenge is what makes it great (even for Cat 4s in a local race).
Lieswyn and Australian races #4
Can I say that I agree with Brad in his comments about John Lieswyn? Australia is fast becoming one of the best places in the world for 'off season' bike racers to train and to see it fouled by the lower level pros like John would be a shame to all those top level pros who love the style of racing and the hospitality this country offers. Thanks Brad for raising this point and for John, you might like to take a quick peek at the emerging Aussie stars and then think about whether you should open up your chequebook, I think you'd find there may not be enough cash there.
Lieswyn and Australian races #5
I would have been completely in accord with Brad Davies, until I read the last reports from JL on the Tour of Sinaloa. I have never met John, but my view of him was right inline with your letter a complaining US cyclist. My view has changed after reading his reports of his race in Mexico. John I am sorry for judging you without knowing you. If you could excel and on top of that enjoy racing in a race in Mexico then you are alright with me. Staying above water and making a living racing as a Pro in the US is especially hard as no other rules apply with the rest of the pro peloton. Thanks for being real and saying it as it is.
In response to Othie Galen Burk's letter:
Are you shaving upwards, i.e. towards your groin? Against the hairs rather than with them? Because if you're shaving downward (towards your ankles), you won't get as close a shave.
On that note, two questions:
Does anybody have any opinions on waxing?
O, the ridicule I am expecting for this ...
Shave closer. You are leaving stubble behind. Use a blade, preferably a triple bladed razor. Your legs should feel completely smooth when you are done. You might need to shave several times a week (or even every day).
Apply liberal amounts of butter or olive oil to the thighs. Works for me.
I would like to address two points regarding Mr. Cooke's letter - concerning the racing and the CRCA racers.
Firstly, I think it is difficult to argue that this year's edition of the Univest Grand Prix was not exciting or was inferior to past editions - an early break, 4 man split on the final circuit, solo victory, and a pace that was sufficiently difficult that only 50 finished out of over 160 starters - What more could the crowd ask for? And what a great crowd it was - as a rider I felt tremendous support, especially on the final circuits.
Secondly, did Mr.Cooke notice that Todd Herriot of CRCA/Thinkracing (NYC) won the race, I certainly do not think he was outclassed, or that 19 year old Stu Gillespie of the CRCA/Remax (Elite) squad was 1 of only 45 finishers. Other CRCA team members: Chris Rozdilsky a Cat 1 from Remax was completing a long year of racing outside the city, which included the Tour of the Gila and Housatonic; Eugene Boronow, a long time participant in the Northeastern race scene; and Jason Bremer, who had won numerous races as a Cat 3 on the East Coast this year before upgrading and partaking in Mt.
Holly and the NYC Championships as a Cat 2 before Univest. I also raced on this team and made the final circuits before getting pulled with about 25 miles to go - case in point you would say? What was a recently upgraded Cat 2 doing in a field of this quality? I disagree.
Univest represented a unique and important opportunity for my racing career which is only 2 seasons old. Surviving 80 miles and outlasting 100 strong Elite racers gave me the confidence to attack with the likes of Herriot and Joe Papp versus the Navigators and GS Mengoni in the Mengoni GP one week later - finishing 4th with a flat. Univest is a race that provides different opportunities for the cyclists who take part, whether they are an Elite road race champion, a young european rider with an opportunity to race on the other side of the Atlantic, a univesity student with dreams of joining a pro team in the future or one of the many strong cyclists who participate in this sport because they love it and excel despite holding down a job 5 days a week.
Univest, for Todd Herriot was a showcase of his dedication to the sport and capped off a tremendous season of racing, which was not without difficulties. For Stu Gillespie it was an affirmation that a 19 year old can race with top Elite Amatuers and survive - confirming his future potential in cycling. There were over 160 stories in the peloton and this great race represents a different opportunity for every racer. To belittle the Univest GP, is to belittle the commitment, sacrifice and ambitions of the athletes who get the opportunity, through the hard work of the organizers and volunteers, to race and gladly suffer for 105 miles around the Pennsylvania countryside once a year.
Univest GP #2
Others have responded quite well to Mr. Cooke's letter, so I won't reiterate what has already been said. I will touch on one subject, however, the quality of the european teams. Mr. Cooke claims that they were weaker. How would he know? Is it because they didn't do well? Or is there another reason? By my recollection, many of the Dutch and French were the same as in years past, so if they are no good now, why were they so good then? A better explaination is that their relative performance to the Americans was due to the elevation of the quality of racing by the Americans. Although we have been to every edition of the Univest GP we never had a full squad that was healthy. This year we made it one of four target races and came loaded for bear. Our tactic was to turn the tables on the Europeans for once.
Before, they have always taken the offensive and dictated the race. This year the Americans did, lead by West Virginia-Gomart. We attacked from the gun and put two riders in a break in the first ten miles that stuck for the next sixty. Joined by other American - especially Jon Hamblen the break was surprisingly strong. The Europeans ignored it as too early. When they finally tried to do something about it they were thwarted by West Virginia-Gomart, Kissena and other teams with representatives in the break.
In the past, the shoe was always on the other foot, because the Americans weren't aggressive enough or without strong enough teams. This was by far the strongest team we have ever had for this event. It showed.
It was a great race and a great event - one of the best on the calendar. I hope Mr. Eustice continues his great work.
The Triple Bypass is put on by the Team Evergreen Bicycle Club (www.teamevergreen.org) of Evergreen Colorado. The 2003 ride is on July 12. This year it will be 120 miles from Evergreen to Avon (just west of Vail) Colorado. Typically it crosses Squaw Pass (11,140 ft), Loveland Pass (11,990 ft), and Vail Pass (10,560 ft) for over 10,000 ft. of climbing. Climbing to 12,000 ft., if you're from sea level (like me), is a real effort. I spent a week in Colorado trying to get somewhat acclimatized. It's a great ride, but I still prefer (in my humble, biased opinion) the Ride Around Mt. Rainier In One Day (RAMROD) put on by the Redmond Cycling Club (http://www.redmondcyclingclub.org/).
This ride is 154 miles long, same 10,000 ft. of climbing, lower elevation, and is a loop, so logistics are a lot easier. Great scenery on both. Both get pretty crowded. I'm not sure if the TBP gets filled up. I know RAMROD does. And for the true masochists there's the Marklieville Death Ride... I won't even go into that.
I would just like to wish the two maniacs presently planning for and riding around Australia good luck and stay out of the way of the road trains.
Tim Pallister left Sydney 4am 5th October to try to beat Perry Stones record and Perry leaves later this month. Both are aiming under 40 days, unsupported.
Good luck fellas, stay safe.
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