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Letters to Cyclingnews - September 10, 2004
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.
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.
Tuesday, September 7, 2004
This is an unusual URL to post on cyclingnews.com 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: www.e4engineering.com.
Don't expect much before 2010 though.
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?
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Friday, September 3, 2004
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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."
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 !!!
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....
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!
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.
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?
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