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Letters to Cyclingnews - April 24, 2003
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Women's stage racing
Hearing about the demise of the HP race and the recent troubles for the Tour Feminin, there appears to be simple solution. Run the women's events in conjunction with some of the men's stage races. It has proven successful for the classics and some US races. Why not for the Tour or the Giro? It must certainly be cheaper than a separate race at a different date since the roads are already closed, the barriers up, the fixed TV cams in place, marketing banners etc., everything including the crowd is there. If we need marshals, we can pull some from the men's race - I'm sure they won't complain about a few less motorbikes (see Cipollini, Millar, Schnider, et al) to run them off at key moments of the race.
Imagine the women racing Alpe d'Huez or the Marmolada on the same day as the men! How fast is Luperini? The fans would surely love it since they usually arrive days in advance. The women could start earlier and run shorter routes like they do for the classics. I don't think we need 20 day races for the women just yet, but 14 would work just fine for the Grand Tours. Maybe we need to bug the UCI about it.
How good is it to see Jan Ullrich winning again? Unlike Pantani who has continuously voiced his opinion about the progress of his own comeback, Jan has quietly gone about his business as a true professional and already there are promising signs. I was skeptical when he signed for Coast and that doubt was solidified in Jan's first two races with regards to payment issues, but the whole time he focused solely on the bike and left other issues alone.
I understand that a 1.2 ranked 200km one day race is not huge, but when we consider that it is only his 3rd race back after 19 months off and that he won it by attacking and riding 53km to a solo win, then it all augurs well for a great season. Jan has stated that this year is a transition year, but I think if he can keep this improvement up, then he can book himself a place on the TDF podium in Paris.
It has been said all too often, but this time I think he has grown up and with a refreshed outlook on life, he is riding with spirit - without prodding from Telekom. Maybe the thought of fatherhood has had a positive effect or maybe it is just his new found energy to race again but I think its wonderful that he wasn't lost to cycling. It's great to see you back Jan, please don't make us wait this long for your next victory!
I agree that you can't compare Binda and Cipo because they are different types of cyclists. True Cipollini has never won and will never win a major tour, because he is a sprinter. But I don't agree that sprinters are less value than cyclists who win major tours. They are different but no better or worse! Cipollini never compares himself with Binda, Coppi, Bartali and so on. But as long as it is possible to beat Binda's Giro record it is Cipo's right to aim at that record. That doesn't mean he compares himself with Binda but although he is "just" a sprinter it's an amazing thing that he might soon be soon the most stage-winning athlete of all time at the Giro. Cipollini is maybe the best pure sprinter ever although the different eras are hard to compare. Cipollini will hold his place in cycling history that's for sure. All upcoming sprinters will be compared to him and most won't come close to his successes.
Binda and Cipollini - not comparable
In my (rather unimportant) opinion, Cipollini is in no way comparable to Binda. I realise that different eras produce different talents and that it is virtually impossible to have another Binda, I think someone who only races to win and cracks the shits if he isn't in contention is not worthy of champion status. To me, he has incredible ability on a bike and is perhaps one of the best pure sprinters in recent times, however his tantrums overshadow his prowess on a bike. He throws bottles at race motorbikes, punched an FDJeux guy for stealing Zabel's wheel in Milan San Remo, cracks it with Italian TV as they didn't let his fans see him win (never mind anyone else) and whenever he senses a slip in ratings, decides to sook about retiring or some other lame issue. The sport needs flamboyant characters and he certainly has been good for the sport over the years, but I believe he is a bit too precious for his own good.
Binda and Cipollini - different eras
Right. Two different eras, not comparable. The champions you mentioned used to ride the Giro, Tour, Vuelta, the classics together, year by year. Now even the great L.A. rides only the Tour, a couple of Classics and then, back home. So the same question about Cipo could be made for a lot of cyclists... Two different eras.
I think that Dougie's premise that riders take performance-enhancing drugs because the races are "too hard" and that by making the races less taxing, drug use will decrease is quite flawed. Yes, races are hard, because everyone is trying to win. Even with an easier race format, riders will still look for an edge to get them on the podium.
Dougie, nice sentiments, but you may have missed the point.
Why do we hold our cyclists to some 'higher' moral or ethical level than we do ourselves? Do you for one second think drug taking is peculiar to cycling alone? What about football, rugby, athletics, baseball? What about you? You'd think nothing of taking a cold medication to help recover from illness, but that remedy will put a cyclist on the banned list because of the drugs it contains. What about going down to the local school and having a good look at the prevalence of drug taking (recreational, no doubt) among a sample of our children. Then pop down to your local watering hole tomorrow night and have a peek at the rest of your contemporaries boozing themselves into a stupor. Is this drugging of any lesser a nature?
Yet we somehow expect our sport to produce heroes who are somehow immune and removed from the foibles of the broader society they come from. Why? Just who the hell do we think we are? Personally, when I see up close the hell those rides put themselves through in search of victory, and (as a cyclist) have some understanding of the pain, suffering and sacrifice required to attain the levels they achieve, I can only respect and admire them as the gladiators they are. You would care little for this - as long as you can proudly proclaim that your 'heroes' are 'clean'. What arrant hypocrisy!
Go and clean up the schools, the street corners, the boardrooms, the soccer fields, other sports and the rest of society before you dare moralise about long races and what is or isn't a farce. Remove the problem - don't treat the symptoms. But until you manage that, have some respect for those cyclists prepared to delve into some kind of personal hell to keep YOU entertained.
I've just seen Stuey perform awesomely at the Herne Hill Good Friday International, winning the Derny Race and the Golden Wheel 20km Scratch race. He did all this in his Aussie champs jersey, or more accurately skinsuit. I was fully with the "Robbie's jersey was better" camp until now, because quite frankly the yellow sleeves looked really classy today. More to the point it stood out against the other Aussies there in their national team kit, which is probably why the Federation of Oz decided to have the jersey like that in the first place.
Good on yer Stuey! Lets hope we'll see those yellow sleeves raised in triumph plenty more times this year!
Does anyone know where I can find a complete list of substances banned by the UCI? I'm writing a paper on performance enhancing drugs in cycling and this would be a great resource.
I agree ... It is amazing to see how athletes can shine when allowed to do so by management or when political responsibilities are removed/lessened. Unfortunately, it's a reality of just about every job!
Stathy G. Touloumis
Have any of you visited any bike shops in Rome? Please send me their names and addresses as I am desperately in need of a new frameset and the only dealers we have here are Giant and Trek. I am looking for a nice Ciocc or Wilier frameset.
The World Cup races are listed at the UCI web site.
Non-World Cup races and many other European races have race websites in their native tongue along with an English (UK flag) version mirror site. I've found quite a few races and gran fondos (and other 'non-racing' but nonetheless extremely competitive and timed events) in Italy by searching using the race/event name along with the internet domain of the hosting country (RVV and .be on Google; or Milano San Remo .it, among others).
Thanks for all the great cycling news all the time.
Andy, I used to be in your shoes. Asthma illnesses galore. I recommend that you cut out all meat, dairy, wheat products, cane sugar. See how you feel then! My breathing now is awesome. My VO2 is 77.5 and my riding/life happiness is improving every year. I'm now racing in Belgium for an amateur team. I haven't eaten any milk or meat products since march 2001, the same time I was last ill. My asthma is all gone and I have ridden just over 50,000km since. I do not use any drugs of any sort; the only supplement I take is a multi b or some panax ginseng now and then.
The best doctors back home could only sell us more drugs, and my entire childhood suffered. I was told I would never be an athlete! I do not drink coffee even when winning the state 24hour champs back home. Don't need it. Or when riding across Australia. In the off season I plan to challenge Perry Stone in the race around Australia; unsupported, averaging 250 a day for 2 months.
Read 'Fit for life' by Harvey Diamond. It is equivalent to a triple PhD in nutrition and will cost $10; if you do what everyone else does, you'll get what every one else gets. Modern medicine just treats symptoms, you have to look at the cause, which is 99.99% of the time diet. Don't believe me then prove me wrong and I'll eat 10 Big Macs. Yuk!
I was watching the fantastic French film 'Amelie' recently and noticed several references to Le Tour. In some video footage of the race, a horse is shown galloping along in front of the peloton an motorcade. can anyone tell me if this actually happened, when, and what was the outcome? Thank you.
Where can I find bios on riders, particularly height and weight? I'm mainly interested in finding stats on Cipo.
Roger Hammond turned pro in 1998,and is now in his sixth year as a pro.
Hey Stephan - you're on my side after all! And while we're at it what about Rachel Heal's fantastic third overall in the Damesronde van Drenthe and Nichole Cooke's two wins, a 2nd and a 3rd in her four races so far?
The Brits are coming! (only joking!)
Could this be the next step for cyclists:
We are a cycling group based in Singapore made up of primarily Aussies, New Zealanders and Brits. A few of our group are racing in an upcoming "tour of thailand". I have had trouble getting hold of information about the event (such as maps etc) and would like to know if any of your members have a contact.
The race generally follows:
Satge 1 May 1st: Kanchanaburi to Wachira-Longchorn dam
Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org
There have been several letters discussing my post in the April 10 Letters column. If I may just quickly address them:
Mr. van der Aa said, "This is simply incorrect - the function of a helmet is to reduce the impact forces transmitted from the road/car/tree to the head of the wearer, either by absorbing the energy (into a shell) or by increasing the time taken for the head to stop (Force = change of momentum / time, basic high school physics), by some softer lining crushing or compressing."
This is completely correct but you are arguing that a helmet breaking somehow is a compression. A helmet that is breaking is only compressing in a very limited area and so absorbing very much less energy. That was my point.
Mr. Parker's posting said, "Mr Kunich (Letters - April 10) now wishes to assert that it is in fact the extra *weight* of the helmet on one's head that will drag the head down in a crash, causing it to smack against the pavement and suffer *worse* injury than if there was no helmet at all."
What I said was: "For all we truly know the weight of a helmet and position of a helmet and risk homeostasis might cause more head blows in falling cyclists than the helmet mediates." I think that you can see a difference.
Mr. Rigby wrote, "The helmet probably did not save my life, but had I not been wearing it I probably would have trouble writing this letter."
I think that you misunderstand me. If a helmet is designed in a manner to "save a life" it is necessarily designed to absorb the maximum amount of energy possible. This means that the foam is harder than prudent for the most common sorts of accidents in which a helmet might be of some use. Your accident is a prime example of that. Thankfully you were not seriously injured. Perhaps with a proper study of bicycle accidents, helmets could be designed to be more effective in just your sort of accident. If they are thought of as "life saving" devices they are doomed because the forces present in most fatal accidents are entirely outside the regime of a helmet to ameliorate and so forces the manufacturers to design to the maximum possible energy absorption.
Mr. Darlow stated, "However helmets by themselves do not save lives. That is done through safe riding, paying attention and if you race -- learning how to crash."
In this we are entirely on the same page. I cannot stress too highly that a bicyclist must remain alert at all times. The principle responsibility for avoiding injury should always be the brain inside the head and not a few ounces of foamed plastic on the outside of it.
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