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Letters to Cyclingnews - September 10, 2004

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; please stick to one topic per letter. We will normally include your name and place of residence, but not your email address unless you specify in the message.

Each week's best letter gets our 'letter of the week' award. We look for for letters that contain strong, well-presented opinions; humour; useful information or unusual levels of sheer helpfulness.

Please email your correspondence to

Recent letters

Olympic Madison lemon wedges
Axel, Eddy and the Olympics
The coming of the 3 kg bicycle?
Rider of the Year
Tour de France
Rider wages
Alternative criterium formats
Chris Horner
Judith Arndt
John Coates


Letter of the week

Olympic Madison lemon wedges #1

No time to drink at 55kmph!

[In response to a follow-up question about how you cope with an hour-long Madison in Athens conditions, Matt added:]

Drinking lots before the race helps. I can not drink too much, hate the sloshy feeling! I did drink in Athens, during the race - only a mouth full out of a baby bottle. The lemon wedges help when the hammer is down and you have no time to get a drink in the middle.

Matthew Gilmore
Tuesday, September 7, 2004

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Olympic Madison lemon wedges #2

He's not waiting to be handed a Corona. You can't carry a bidon on a track bike and Athens was hot and dry - a lemon wedge is then a great thirst quencher and above all it gets rid of the dry mouth thing you get going in those conditions.

The position in the sleeve makes it easy to get at with your mouth.

Robbie McEwen
Thursday, September 9, 2004

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Thanks also to the non-pro-cyclist Cyclingnews readers who write to explain what the wedges were for. - Letters Ed

Axel, Eddy and the Olympics

Maybe I've missed it on Cyclingnews, but has anyone noticed that Axel finally did something as a rider that his father didn't? Speaking of an Olympic medal. Eddy was away in the '64 games but crashed shortly before the finish. And he turned pro the next year, so he doesn't have a medal as far as I know. Hard to believe in all of Eddy's wins and placings that an Olympic medal eluded him.

Rex Gilmore
Springfield, VA, USA

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

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As in so much of cycling, times have changed - the Olympics were nominally amateur back in the 60s (I'm sure Rex knows this, but some of our younger readers may not), which meant they didn't really represent the pinnacle of cycling at the time.

The coming of the 3 kg bicycle?

This is an unusual URL to post on as it concerns some very early research into a new form of fibre that is likely to be much stronger, harder and lighter than the carbon fibres that are coming to dominate lightweight cycles and components.

Here's the story:

Don't expect much before 2010 though.

Norman Winn
Thursday, September 9, 2004

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Rider of the Year #1

Good question. Who was the last to win the World Cup and the World Championship road race in the same year? I doubt anybody has done that double AND added Olympic gold. (Pro racers have been allowed in the Olympics only since, when, 1996?) So Bettini and Armstrong both could both lay claim to unique accomplishments.

I’d go with Bettini in this scenario. His maintaining winning form and tenacity throughout the season pips Lance’s uncanny ability to peak for his key race — even for a 6th time.

Just my two cents. Anybody else have an opinion?

Conor O’Brien
Washington, DC
Sunday, September 5, 2004

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Rider of the Year #2

If you are discussing Bettini as rider of the year based on two hypothetical results, what about Rebellin? He is a lock for comeback of the year and at this stage he is the more likely winner of the World Cup. Say he takes that home, add on his amazing Classics week and lets throw in the Worlds for good luck. Argentina's favourite stepson is surely a worthy contender for the title as in cycling terms his week in Autumn is a far greater achievement than Bettini's Olympic gold.

Marcus O'Callaghan
Melbourne, Australia
Wednesday, September 8, 2004

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Rider of the Year #3

It must be coming towards the end of the year when these sorts of 'awards' start to get talked about. Well, I know I am biased but how about Stuart O'grady? He may not have the profile of Lance or Paolo, but consider the following:

* Milan-San Remo - 3rd (beating Petacchi)
* GP De Villers Cotterets (1.3) - win
* Dauphine Libere - 2 stages and sprinters jersey
* Tour de France - 1 stage win, stint in green
* Hew Cyclassics world cup - win (beating Bettini)
* Tour of Poland - stage win, 3rd overall
* Olympic Madison - Gold (with Brownie)

Now lets also focus on the things he has had to contend with

* Team suspension (involving riders and staff from before the period he joined the team)
* Fractured rib on the eve of Tour of Flander (which is was on the podium for last year)
* Death of his grandfather (at the time when the cofidis saga was gaining momentum)
* Having one of his biggest helpers and best mates, Matt White out for 6 weeks with a fractured clavicle

So, with all the misfortune he has had this year, he has still won olympic gold, stages in the 2 biggest races in France, a world cup etc etc. Why not give these sort of awards to battlers as opposed to the big superstars? And one final point. While Lance and Paolo moan about being away from their families for extended periods, spare a though to Stuey and all Aussie pros who leave home in January and return in October.

Tim Lee
Friday, September 3, 2004

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Rider of the Year #4

In response to Eddie Bethel's letter - if I had a vote for Rider of the Year - it's Paolo Bettini all the way... He's deserved it over the past 3 years. And that's even if he doesn't when another race this year, which I would think is unlikely. El Grillo is the man.

Tim McDonald
Richmond, VA, USA

Friday, September 3, 2004

Tim, you - and everyone else - will get a chance to vote for the Cyclingnews rider of the Year in a few months' time. The 2003 awards are here.

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Rider of the Year #5

Good question, but it has to be Bettini. I'm a big Lance fan, but one win, even setting the record with six wins in the Tour, is not enough to be the rider of the year.

Todd Tuengel
Los Angeles

Friday, September 3, 2004

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Tour de France #1

Re Ian Farquharson's September 3 letter, wherein he wonders whether Lance and Basso could have responded to Ullrich's move without the radio-controlled help of Jens Voigt, I have to wonder whether Ian was watching the same bike race as me. In the bike race I watched, Lance and USPS p/b Berry Floor seemed to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to. There's no question they could have easily covered Ullrich's 'attack' without help from anybody. In fact, the reason the 2004 Tour lacked excitement was precisely because Armstrong was so dominant. The presence or absence of radios had nothing to do with the outcome.

In fact, it's hard to say in advance whether radios add or detract from the excitement of the race. Certainly there's more of a 'programmed' feel to the action, but how many exciting moves are made on the basis of information the riders could get only from their radios? In the place of a certain amount of random, unpredictable excitement, instead we get the excitement of a true test of the strongest in a race where all the riders are privy to the best available information. To the extent some of the current races lack excitement, I don't think radios are the problem.

I am intrigued, however, with the concept of shortening the stages. It is, after all, the riders who make the race; the terrain is secondary. Shorter stages would likely raise the intensity of the racing and would make any particular move more significant, I think.

Paul Hurdlow
Austin, Texas
Tuesday, September 7, 2004

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Tour de France #2

If I keep up this defense of the Tour, Jean-Marie Leblanc should start cutting me a check, but here goes. I understand how many fans can argue that the Giro and Vuelta have been relatively more exciting than the Tour, but for one moment, let's suppose that a certain Texan spent his July doing other things, as he admits he will be in the next year or two. We would have been treated to Basso running away on climbs, Kloden chasing him down in the final time trial, and Ulrich going after both of them, only this time, it would have been for the outright win. That wouldn't have made for compelling racing? I can't see it. And let's reexamine the TTT without Lance: Phonak's and CSC's semi-disasters would have felt like even greater shake-ups. It seems to me that without Lance pedaling away from his rivals, the Tour would be at least as exciting as either other grand tour. And in the meantime, I'll enjoy Lance's run in its twilight.

Matt Inzeo
Washington, DC
Friday, September 3, 2004

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Rider wages

[Previous letters]

There must also be the consideration of prize splitting after races or during the season. Also considering the size of some Div. 1 teams, there might be as many as 20 something riders racing at any given time. Most riders competing 100-130 days per year. That can add up to alot of dough going into the communal pot. And i would assume most, if not all Div. 1 pros have some sort of sponsorship. Remember, their travel, lodging and board is paid for, all of their casual (sport related) and racing clothing is paid for, and the bikes they ride are ridden free of charge (for whatever time period). It is quite possible that other ancillary perks are taken care of by the team administration, such as tax filing, legal advice, medical insurance, life insurance, workers compensation, unemployment, etc. These are all things that the average person counts out of their pocket, not in.

James Plank
Friday, September 3, 2004

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Alternative criterium formats #1

[Previous letter]

The Wheat Thins Grand Prix series in the mid-80's tried a win and out format that made for some interesting racing and was fun to watch. After a predetermined number of laps-10-20, every 2nd lap was for a placing. The series ran in cities across the country, with Alfa Romeo, Wheat Thins, etc as sponsors.

Mike Matthews
Memphis, TN
Friday, September 3, 2004

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Alternative criterium formats #2

About the idea of bringing crits into parking garages. I raced one two years ago that went up 9 floors each lap. I think we did 12 or so laps. It was quite hard....And a little bit dangerous as well! But the crowds loved it and it was a experience as well. The guy who came second was a junior named Tomas Lövkvist, I guess you will hear quite a lot from him in the near future...

Kristian Hallsten
Tuesday, September 7, 2004

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Alternative criterium formats #3

Sounds to me like Timothy Shame wants to run velodrome races on the road. I have a few problems with this potential solution. First, track style cycling already exists. Why then recreate it on the road. Seems like you should consider taking up track cycling. Secondly, road racing is much more of an endurance sport. You propose taking most of the endurance aspect out of the events. Finally, have you been to many track races, the stands are sadly often near empty. Therefore, I don't really see this as a possible solution.

Yet millions of people watch NASCAR. A pack of cars, some on different laps, going around in circles for as much as 500 miles. They key is to figure out why this sport is a commercial success and apply it to crit racing. It would appear races like Athens Twilight might be on to something. Bright Lights, plenty of alcohol, and loud music. Yes, you may have to leave the kids at home, but be prepared to race in front of hundreds of screaming "fans."

Tim Beberniss
Friday, September 3, 2004

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Chris Horner #1

In response to Ferdinand Arcinue's letter on Chris Horner, why any professional organization would want a head case like Horner representing them is beyond me. The guy has shown his true colours throughout the year with his numerous bone head comments, that equate to nothing more than poor sportmanship. Maybe this lack luster attitude is the real reason Chris's first trip over the big pond didn't go so well and ultimately the reason for him not being invited back to the BIG SHOW. Just my two cents worth !!!

Clayton Hoffman
Calgary, Alberta
Friday, September 3, 2004

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Chris Horner #2

I think Chris Horner already tried the European thing with FdJ. Went to Europe with a ponytail and chubby cheeks, came back bald (and slightly bitter). Said something about how much emphasis they placed on his weight....

James Wilson
Atlanta, GA
Wednesday, September 8, 2004

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Judith Arndt

In response to Brendan Moylan: No sour grapes mate. The Aussie girl deserved the victory because she rode a smart race that day.

But we all saw who - by far - was the strongest rider that day... too bad the German officials were not as smart as the Aussie rider who took the Gold!

Friday, September 3, 2004

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John Coates #1

Not only should Coates hang his head in shame, but so too the mainstream media. They vilified our athletes prior to the Olympics, on their return they fawned over them like long lost children. It is beyond me how the cyclists tolerated it. They showed a lot of class.

I encourage you to educate the mainstream media every opportunity you get. And remember Coates was a cox in a rowing boat at the Olympics, the least athletic role in any sport. He was a passenger then, he is a passenger now.

Jordan Spencer
Adelaide, Australia
Friday, September 3, 2004

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John Coates #2

Couldn't agree more with the comments bagging John Coates for his poorly concealed disdain for cyclists. This was a marked contrast with his over the top hugs of two part-time cyclists who also dabble in rowing - Drew Ginn & James Tomkins - when he presented them with gold in the coxless pairs. Given his position, no matter what his personal views on Australia's cyclists might be, he should have done better. Hopefully only Australians would have picked up on Coates' shameful display.

Whilst there were outstanding achievements by Australia's Olympians across a range of sports including divers, rowers, swimmers, hockey players, etc. - the cyclists were the key to Australia's record haul as they were the ones who exceeded expectations by far enough to give us the record. Unfortunately for Ross (see earlier letter), given the record medal haul John Coates won't be going anywhere until at least Beijing. Until then he will be living the high life off Federal Government funding and for this he has cycling to thank. Irony can sometimes be so ironic. Lets hope our cyclists receive funding for the next few years based on their achievements, not on the opinions of the likes of John Coates.

On a secondary point, given that James Tomkins' training routine relies heavily on cycling as cross training - many A-grade riders in Melbourne have had the humbling experience of all 6'4" of Tomkins riding them off his wheel on Beach Rd whilst he rides TO training - could Australian cycling almost lay claim to another gold medal?

Marcus O'Callaghan
Melbourne, Australia
Wednesday, September 8, 2004

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Recent letters pages

  • September 3 letters - Posties at the Vuelta, Rider of the Year, Tour de France, Chris Horner, Scott Sunderland, What is going on in Belgian track cycling?, John Coates , Judith Arndt, Criterium in Charlotte, Embrace technology, Rider wages
  • August 27 letters - Olympic road races, Kudos, Medals, John Coates must go!, $125,000 Criterium in Charlotte, Judith Arndt, Death wobbles, Pedaling furiously, Rewriting history, IAAF getting tough?, Rider Wages, Tour de France, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Mactier's reaction, Yiddish Cycling Terms
  • August 20 letters - Rewriting history, Arndt should have been relegated, Crowds at the Olympic road races, Olympic road races, Racing with a concussion?, Sponsors and Olympics, Hamilton, Julich & CSC, True ambassadors of the sport, Death wobbles, There are other races, CSC tactics, Shmenges, The debate begins, Tour de France, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Pedaling furiously
  • August 13 letters - Bush vs. Kerry, Brits at the track, Nicholas Roche, Olympics and Lance, UCI Bike Weight Restrictions, Pedaling furiously, Armstrong vs the hour, Armstrong vs Simeoni, David Millar, Greg LeMond's comments, No romance in France, The debate begins, The power of a team, The Tour 2004
  • August 6 letters - John Coates must go!, Witch hunting in the 21st century, Greg LeMond's comments, Bush vs. Kerry, David Millar, Adam Bergman
  • August 6 Tour letters - If you had told me before the Tour..., Looking to the future, The Tour 2004, The power of a team, The debate begins, Fan behavior, The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004, TdF blood bath, No romance in France, Italian investigators, I hope to see the Giro at last, CSC tactics, Armstrong vs Simeoni, Armstrong vs Klöden, A Legend
  • July 30 Tour letters - The Tour 2004, The Debate Begins, Armstrong vs Simeoni, Italian investigators, Ullrich and T-Mobile, Fan behaviour, The supporting actors, The power of a team, The anti-Lance attitude at Tour 2004: A French view, TdF blood bath, TdF 2004 ITT profile, Tour Favourites, Most inspiring ride of the Tour, Postal for la Vuelta? Poor prize money, LAF Bands CSC tactics, A Legend
  • July 30 letters - Adam Bergman, Greg LeMond's comments, Drugs in cycling, Doping reporting, David Millar, Museeuw and getting doored
  • July 16 Tour letters - The TdF saved my life, A sad day for Hamilton, T-Mobile's choices, LAF Bands, Mario Cipollini vs. Jaan Kirsipuu, Playing by the rules of the game, Robbie McEwen and sprinters, Ullrich v. Riis, Stage 3, Stage 4 TTT, Stage 5 - 12 minutes?
  • July 16 letters - Greg LeMond's comments, Drugs in cycling, Museeuw and getting doored, Human evolution and cycling, David Millar, The French affair, Why thank Lance?, Canadian TV
  • July 9 letters - Drugs in cycling, David Millar, Cadel Evans, John Lieswyn, Human evolution and cycling, Museeuw and traffic, Canadian TV
  • July 9 Tour letters - Stage 5 - 12 minutes?, Stage 4 - The team time trial & those rules..., Stage 3 - Should the leaders have waited?, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong
  • June 25 letters - Chris Horner & US Olympic Trial, The French affair, Cadel Evans, The battle for the commentary podium, Tour contenders, Will stage four decide the Tour, A thank you letter for USCF, USADA, AAA/CAS, Museeuw doored - his fault?, Beloki's allergy medication, Discovery Channel kit, Green jersey dog fight, Iban Mayo's uphill TT bike, LA Confidential, Tour-Giro double, Why thank Lance?, Searching for Bill Clawson
  • June 18 letters - A thank you letter for USCF, USADA, AAA/CAS, LA Confidential, Green jersey dog fight, Iban Mayo's uphill TT bike, Museeuw doored - his fault?, Why thank Lance?, Will stage four decide the Tour?, Beloki's allergy medication, Discovery Channel kit, Does Zabel go?, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong, Rochelle Gilmore, Tour-Giro double, Cycling and hip replacement
  • June 11 letters - Will stage four decide the Tour?, How Ulle will win this year's TdF, Climbers' Jersey, Rochelle Gilmore, Simoni and "the impossible", Cycling among top five tested sports, Rousseau's au revoir, Jan Ullrich / Lance Armstrong, Giro, Does Zabel go?, Days of racing needed to prepare, Cunego's Giro victory, Chris Horner, Robbie McEwen, Cycling and hip replacement
  • June 4 letters - Giro, Cunego's Giro victory, Damiano Cunego, Cunego in stage 18, Team tactics at the Giro, Simoni trying the impossible?, Robbie McEwen, Pavel Tonkov, Jan Ullrich, Chris Horner, Cycling among top five tested sports, Cycling and hip replacement
  • May 31 letters - Au revoir Lance, Cunego's Giro victory, Pavel Tonkov, Serguei Gontchar, Dr Ferrari's Giro stage 13 analysis, When the boss has to go..., US Postal makes waves?, Robbie McEwen, US Postal stops sponsorship, US Postal sponsorship replacements, Jan Ullrich, Iban Mayo & the Tour, Tour de Georgia, Chris Horner, Orbea Orca
  • May 21 letters - US Postal sponsorship replacements, Chris Horner, Fred Rodriguez - persistence pays, Donuts. Is there anything they can't do? , McEwen's sprint, US Postal stops sponsorship, Soooper Mario, Jesus Manzano, Jan Ullrich, Orbea Orca, Trying to contact John Auer
  • May 14 letters - Tour de Georgia, Chris Horner, McEwen's sprint, US Postal stops sponsorship, Seating requirements, Aero Helmets, A different Wheaties box, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Skip Spangenburg, Cycling and hip replacement, Afscheids Criterium Johan Museeuw, indeed, Timing, Davide Rebellin's remarkable feat, Orbea Orca
  • May 7 letters - A different Wheaties box?, Afscheids Criterium Johan Museeuw, Jan Ullrich, George Hincapie, Doping and team doctors, Davide Rebellin's remarkable feat, US Postal stops sponsorship, Top 5 at TdF 2004 - not Mercado!, Two Men and a Dog, UCI Pro Tour, Cycling and hip replacement, Timing
  • April 30 letters - Doping and team doctors, Davide Rebellin's remarkable feat, Spring Classics slam, Mercado - the time is now, USPS stops sponsorship, UCI Pro Tour, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Jan Ullrich, Harmonic motion, Tour de Georgia, Cycling and hip replacement, Timing
  • April 23 letters - The rainbow curse, Verbruggen is the problem, Gilberto Simoni, George Hincapie, Jan Ullrich, Questions on doping, The doom of doping, Floyd the future of USPS?, Dope testing, Magnus Backstedt, Roger Hammond, Gear ratio chart
  • April 16 letters - Floyd the future of USPS?, Magnus Backstedt, Jan Ullrich, David get outta there!, Cofidis and the Tour, Michelin Tubeless at Roubaix, Manzano, Vale Muur van Geraardsbergen, The Doom of doping, Hincapie, Javier Oxtoa, U.S. Excitement, Radios, Roger Hammond, England or Wales?
  • April 9 letters - Vale Muur van Geraardsbergen, Manzano, The Doom of doping, Amore e Vita, Boonen, Two Speed Cycling?, A welcome end to pro cycling?, Stripes, Karma, Wesemann's setup, Roger Hammond, USPS sponsorship, Javier Oxtoa, April Fool's, UK to Geneva route?
  • April 2 letters - A welcome end to pro cycling?, Manzano & doping, Finding the right team?, USPS sponsorship, WADA and Armstrong, Karma, Bjarne Riis, Is Tobias Steinhauser a real person?, Javier Oxtoa, Max number of champions in a TdF, Radios, Stripes, Chamois: real or synthetic?
  • March 26 letters - A cycling fan's prayer, Manzano, USPS serendipity, UCI statement post Jesus Manzano, Jonathan Vaughters doping response, Moser comments about "updating" the MSR, WADA and Armstrong, Parsimony, Drugs, Genes, US MTB racing, Bjarne Riis, Iban Mayo, O'Grady & Milan Sanremo, The 'World' Cycling Series, Javier Oxtoa, Max number of champions in a TDF, Radios, Sean Kelly and the 1992 Milan-San Remo, We're not sprinters, Is Tobias Steinhauser a real person?, An old cycling top
  • March 21 letters - Bjarne Riis, Radios, US MTB racing, WADA and Armstrong, The "World" Cycling Series, Doping, Iban Mayo, Armstrong's brakes, Fixing Cipo's problem, Max number of champions in a TDF?, Sean Kelly and the 1992 Milan-San Remo, The most fashionable men of the peloton, We're not sprinters, Jame's Diarrhea, Bobby Julich Interview
  • March 12 letters - Radios, WADA and Mr Armstrong, Speculation about Genevieve, Doping, Aero helmets, Brad McGee, Chubby Lance?, How many more have to die?, Iban Mayo, Lance's Performance, Marco Pantani - who is guilty?, Rabobank and U. S. Postal, There's more to life than sprinting, Tour without Kelme?
  • March 5 letters - Speculation about Genevieve, Brad McGee, Doping, How many more have to die?, Tour without Kelme?, Aero helmets, Chubby Lance?, Climbers and sprinters, Fixed gear, Mt Wallace climb, Stage 3 of di Lucca, TdF04 travel itinerary?, Tour de France 2004
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on