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Letters to Cyclingnews - January 14, 2005

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

Der Kaiser's goals
Foreign stage races
Lance vs. Eddy
Tour '05
Rider of the Year
Best bikes for heavy riders
Quick Step helmets


Letter of the week

The very bright Cateye SL-LD100 safety light is on its way to Frank.

Der Kaiser's goals

Sorry, but I don’t think what’s been said about Jan Ullrich is true. In every interview I’ve read, Ulle said that his goal is to win the Tour, and in the best case to beat Lance. He also said that he will work for Vino or Hilde (Kloeden), if they are better than him. But he will try to be the best. You're right when you say he misses the killer instinct. But Ulle’s never had it. Does his lack of aggressiveness make the difference? We will see. I hope in 2005 he will be stronger than ever. Or maybe Cunego, Mayo or Basso could prove the strongest. Another Lance One-Man-Show would be the worst (and most boring) case scenario.

Frank Braun
Heidelberg, Germany
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

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What has happened? I am sick, tired, and totally bored with cycling. I remember when OLN first covered the Tour and I could not breath because I was so excited. Now I can barely watch. I remember when the Tour and other races were exciting, now I find the whole concept of a race ridiculous (King of the Mountains, sprinters that drop out, team time trials, a six hour flat stage, a 45-second insurmountable lead, a guy getting hero worship for wearing yellow with no actual chance of winning - spare me). Now I couldn’t care less if I never watch another day of Tour coverage. I remember when it was exciting that Armstrong won a few tours; now I find him and his boorish personality totally draining. I remember when I could not get enough of reading about cycling, spending lots of cash on magazines and, of course, on-line news. Now I can barely open a page or a link. I find myself loving to ride but hating the riders. Does any one else feel the same way. What happened?

Dave Miller
Albany, NY
Monday, January 10, 2005

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Foreign stage races

I’m a cycle racer from England and am looking for some exciting foreign stage races to ride this year. In the past I have ridden the FBD Milk Ras in Ireland (UCI 2.5), GP Ringerike (Tour of Norway - UCI 2.5) and the Giro di Eritrea and I am looking for races of a similar (or slightly lower) standard to ride anywhere in the world.
I could ride on my own, as part of a composite team, or may be able to raise a team of British riders.
You can find out more about my racing results on this website I look forward to hearing from anyone who can help.

Matt Melville
United Kingdom
Monday, January 10, 2005

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Lance vs. Eddy

Scott Wilcox produced a wonderfully accurate letter except that Eddy did not win any races after beating testicular cancer that metastasized to his brain, let alone six consecutive Tours. In this respect, Lance has won the greatest race of all. It's called life.

Denis Manzo
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

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Tour '05

Forget the accusation that over the last half decade ASO and the Tour organizers have tried to Lance-proof the race. Might be true, might not be. But what is true is that every year to some extent they try to shake it up a little - add the TTT, change the rules for the TTT, spread out the mountains, uphill TT, no prologue, whatever.

And this year, should he race it, the Tour doesn't look 100% suited to Lance's strengths, at least as measured by his ability to dominate a three week race. To do that he needs long TTs, maybe a TTT, and lots of significant mountain-top finishes. Or at least, that's the conventional wisdom.

But I'm thinking that, more than any particular rider's individual strengths, this Tour is setting up to reward the strongest team. And that doesn't mean the team with the most stars, but the strongest team. For example, Jose Azevedo and Jose Luis Rubiera aren't generally placed at the very top of the climbers list (near the top, but not THE top), but over the last couple of years, who controlled the tempo in the mountains? Taking it a step further, USPS lost Heras but lost nothing in terms of controlling the mountain stages. The stars get the glory for hitching a ride to the last climb, but it's these strong team players that really make the difference. So a team is not merely the sum of the UCI points of it’s riders, it's how the team works and gels and synergizes.

Along that tangent, having a great sprinter is actually a hindrance for a Grand Tour team, as the sprinter never works for the team and takes two or three guys along to keep him near the front. You need good climbers, even if they're not the best of the best, and you need good strongmen, even if they're not breakaway specialists with a bunch of stage wins in the resume. But the key is that everyone has a purpose.

So with that thinking, ‘Lance-proofed’ or not, this year's Tour looks ripe for the picking. And for that reason, the early nod has to go to Discovery or CSC.

Steve O'Dell
Peachtree City Georgia
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

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Rider of the Year

I agree one hundred per cent, as do many of my friends. Sure, Lance dominates the Tour, but cycling is SO much more than just the Tour! And believe it or not, there are races that aren't just run in July. He needs to win at least one other Grand Tour and a few Spring Classics to become a true legend in my mind, at least.

Personally, I think it is somewhat of a disgrace that Lance doesn't represent his country in the World Championships. The Tour de France Champion SHOULD be at the World Championships, period! When he won the Worlds in 93, he was a ‘nobody’ who broke away from a group of ‘name’ riders. They all waited for one of the others in the group to chase him down. Nobody figured that he was a threat, since he was, at the time, just a domestic US pro. Sure, it was a good move for him to go when he did and they goofed for letting him go, but it was also a lucky break that nobody thought was serious. He needs to win the World's again to prove it wasn't just a ‘fluke.’ But we'll never see him at the Worlds again, since they aren't in July.

Jim Sullivan
St. Louis, Missouri
Sunday, January 9, 2005

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Best bikes for heavy riders #1

Mr. Svenson is looking for a strong bike. I'm 6'4" and generally weigh around 200 lbs with (hopefully) brief excursions up to 210 lbs in particularly good eating holiday seasons. I'm also a bike collector of sorts. I've ridden for the last 16 years or so on perhaps 30 different bikes. I had decided that all bikes are alike until I got what I presently have.

First, let me say that a big guy that isn't racing should have no use for expensive aero wheels. God made box section rims for a good reason - so that heavy riders could go several seasons on a set of wheels without breaking or bending too-stiff aero rims. The compromise is that they have to be straightened more often. And as you develop a distaste for straightening wheels, you also develop a more careful eye and dodge the potholes. So, you see, box rims are good for you. My favourite rims though were the old Mavic Open 4 CDs. Campagnolo made a similar outline.

But as for bikes: there are two frame makers which make bikes that feel better than anything else I've use - Eddy Merckx and Basso. I suspect that because Eddy is a big man and Axel even bigger that they've worked out the subtleties nicely. As for Basso, I don't know where his expertise in larger bikes comes from but surely the oversized tubing bikes of his really shine.
I've an old Bottecchia as well, which rides very well, though whether or not the newer one's are as good I couldn't judge. But certainly this 1990 version rides perfectly for a commuter.

Thomas H. Kunich
San Leandro, CA
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

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Best bikes for heavy riders #2


I am a 200 lb cyclist from the Toronto area, and bought a pair of Corima Aero wheels. My riding consists mostly of 60-80 km rides on Ontario's rolling hills with winter worn roads. I have found the wheels to be plenty strong, and when you start hammering, you can feel the aero performance of the wheel carrying more speed. They're very light as well, which is noticeable when trying to get my bulk up the hills, or accelerating from Stop signs.

One note, the ride does suffer with carbon aero wheels relative to my Mavic Open Pros. Also, even with Corima specified brake pads, braking is not as good as on the Mavics.

If I were to do it again, I'd also look at Reynolds or the Zipp Clydesdales. Good Luck!

Pepe Bakshi
Ontario, Canada
Thursday, January 13, 2005

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Best bikes for heavy riders #3

I weigh around the same weight as you and am having great success on a pair of current Ksyrium SL's. Apart from one spoke that kept coming loose on longer riders (fixed with loctite) they have stayed true for the near 12 months that I have owned them. I think many bike shops recommend these for larger riders as well. I don't know if the cheaper versions of these wheels are just as strong but would assume so.

Shane Kissick
Thursday, January 13, 2005

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Quick Step helmets

Having just finished reading the report on the launch of the 2005 QuickStep team I was amazed to discover that they use 7,000 helmets in a season. With 26 riders on their roster this works out to be just over 269 helmets per rider! Do they really throw them away after just one use? If for any reason they don't get round to using all 7,000 I would willingly take one off their hands.

Mark Mitchell
London, UK
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

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Recent letters pages

Letters 2005

  • January 7: Death of Dmitri Neliubin, Der Kaiser’s goals, Rider of the Year, Best bikes for heavy riders, Who's Greater? Come on now!, Virenque "most charismatic"?, Downhilling, Downhill time trial, Trendy cyclists, No flat tyres, Spring classics trip advice, Bettini's trainer
  • January 3: Spring classics trip advice, Big Bear ends downhilling, Armstrong and Simeoni, Holding teams accountable, Downhill time trial, Trendy cyclists, Bettini's trainer, No flat tyres

Letters 2004

  • December 24 letters - Why are cyclists so trendy?, Business and cycling, Big Bear ends downhilling, Off-bike weight gain, No flat tires, Armstrong and Simeoni
  • December 17 letters - Business and cycling, Tom versus Axel , Big Bear ends downhilling, Shane Perkins, Spring classics trip advice, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Mark Webber interview, Armstrong and Simeoni, Injured and missing it: an update, Clyde Sefton
  • December 10 letters - Why are cyclists so trendy?, Big Bear ends downhilling, Floyd's choices?, Merckx, fit and trim, Pound must go, Spring classics trip advice, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Punishment: Vandenbroucke vs Hamilton, Prosthetic hip, Armstrong and Simeoni, Dave Fuentes, Homeopathy, Jeremy Yates, TDF coverage for Australia, Weight limits and maintenance, Mark Webber interview
  • December 3 letters - Domestiques vs Lieutenants, Tyler Hamilton, Phonak and the UCI, Dave Fuentes, Santa vs Hairy Guy, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Mark French and homeopathy, Shane Perkins, Jeremy Yates, Weight limits and maintenance, UCI regulations, Armstrong and Simeoni, Prosthetic hip
  • November 26 letters - Mark French and homeopathy, Two big guns in one team, Tyler Hamilton case, Bartoli's retirement, Dave Fuentes, Shane Perkins, Merckx and Armstrong, Training like Lance, Lance Armstrong, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Phonak gets what it deserves, Armstrong and Simeoni, Bike weight, Spouseless riders, Mary McConneloug, Adam Craig, Mark Webber interview, Santa vs Hairy Guy
  • November 19 letters - Tyler Hamilton case, Phonak gets what it deserves, Are you there Mr Coates?, Bike Weight, Merckx and Maertens make up, Heart troubles, Where to find cycling spouses, Mark Webber interview, Lance Armstrong, Where's Greg?, What ever happened to..., Why are cyclists so trendy?, Armstrong and Simeoni, l'Etape du Tour registration, Still Laughing
  • November 12 letters - Why Armstrong will ride the 2005 Tour, Scott Sunderland, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Armstrong and Simeoni, Where to find cycling spouses, Lance on Italian selection, Heart troubles, l'Etape du Tour registration, Tour 2005 team time trial, What ever happened to..., Love and a yellow bike
  • November 5 letters - Love and a yellow bike, Tour 2005, Where to find cycling spouses, Why are cyclists so trendy?, Lance on Italian selection, Armstrong and Simeoni, Tour of Southland, Construction technique for veloway, Heart troubles, l'Etape du Tour registration, Rahsaan Bahati
  • October 29 letters - Armstrong and Simeoni, Lance on Italian selection, Armstrong and Tour 2005, Lance to Tour Down Under?, Davis on Lance, Bike Shows, 2004 Cycling Spouse of the Year, Cycling and hip replacement, Doping - Enough drama!, Doping redefined, Injured and missing it, Heart troubles, Interbike, l'Etape du Tour registration, Whatever happened to...
  • October 22 letters - 2004 Cycling Spouse of the Year, Doping , Floyd Landis, Armstrong and Tour 2005, Interbike, Armstrong and Simeoni, l'Etape du Tour registration, The new blood test, Injured and missing it, What ever happened to..., World time trial champion, Cycling and hip replacement, $125,000 criterium in Charlotte
  • October 15 letters - Is the Pro Tour a good idea?, Cycling is bigger than doping, Doping, Floyd Landis, Museeuw is too nice to be guilty, Pound must go, Armstrong and Simeoni, Blood doping, Peers and Planckaert, Doping and nationality, The new blood test, Tyler Hamilton, World Championships, World Time Trial Champion, Erik Zabel Interview
  • October 8 letters - Pound must go, USA World's Team Selection, World Championships, Armstrong and Simeoni, Filip Meirhaeghe, Say it ain't so, Dario!, Baby names, Blood doping, The new blood test, World Time Trial Champion, Tyler Hamilton, Doping and nationality, Erik Zabel Interview
  • October 1 letters - Baby names, World Time Trial Champion, USA worlds selection, Tyler Hamilton, The new blood test, Rider of the Year, Tyler, USPS and Bruyneel, Alternative criterium formats
  • Letters Index – The complete index to every letters page on