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Tour de France Letters Special - July 30, 2004
The Debate can begin in earnest now. Is Lance the best ever? I can just see it now. "Ladies and Gentlemen, in the Yellow corner, wearing red, white and blue trunks, weighing in at 145 lbs, Six time defending champion... Laaaaaannnnnccccee Armstrong. In the faded yellow corner, we have the Legends. Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Indurain."
Coppi, 5 Giros, 2 Tours, numerous classics, and the Hour Record. Also robbed of the prime of his life during WWII.
Anquetil, 5 Tours 1 Giro, some classics, and the Hour Record
Merckx, 5 Tours, 5 Giros numerous classics, and the Hour Record
Hinault, 5 Tours, 3 Giros, numerous classics, oops...no Hour Record (hated the track)
Indurain, 5 Tours, 2 Giros, some classics, and the Hour Record
Armstrong, 6 Tours, 0 Giros, a couple classics, and No Hour Record (will he attempt it?)
(and just a side note all of the "Legends" did the Giro/Tour Double so if Lance wins the Giro next year without the Tour... well...)
Merckx talked about the Hour Record he set, saying "no man wants to do that twice".
Lance will be the topic of club rides for years to come, whether he is the best or not. Bob Roll, talked about how riders from the past had to earn their money riding in the criterium circuit following the Tour because endorsements were not enough, robbing the riders of precious recovery days. And there is the biggest difference. Riders from the past had to earn their keep year round, riding in the six days, the spring classics, the fall classics and the criterium circuit. Could Eddy have won 8 Tours if that was all he rode? What about the other legends?
If Lance has shown anything, is that he prepares for the race that matters to his sponsor better than anyone, and has demonstrated a focus unrivaled. The Posties have also illustrated that they are without doubt the strongest support team. There is no question who is the leader and what their jobs are for him. Why, because they know that he has prepared completely for the goal of the season and when given the chance he will win. For this Lance is second to none. There is nothing left to chance, and he ensures that chance has nothing to do with his wins.
Why would Telekom go in to the Tour saying we have two leaders in Vino(who unfortunately did not get to race, and may well have been the only real rider that was not a pretender) and Jan? Because they knew that Jan had not prepared properly, and had to pat his ego by saying we are still behind you, hoping that he makes it.
What about Virenque, is he the best climber? No, but he has won the jersey by following the rules of the game and by chasing every little point along the course, and can now claim the record for most Polka Dot Jerseys. I have to say that I have come to no longer dislike him as much. The man chases everything he can in the early part of the stages and then hangs on in the end to finish 15th overall. Not bad.
As for the sprinters... Well we clearly saw that the teams were not willing to just sit back and let the Fassa boys lead out "Al Jet". The stage finishes were a dog fight, with scrambling abilities being a major advantage. Petacchi is a straight man powerhouse, while Robbie has the ability to maneuver and scratch and claw to win a stage. Welcome to the big league, where everyone fights for first and the team leading out means nothing.
So thank you Cyclingnews for providing the working folk a chance to get quietly excited while sitting at their office desks, stealing glances of the days current stage. You guys are amazing!
Is Lance the best ever? Let the debate begin. "Ding."
Michel van Musschenbroek
Has the Blue Train turned into the Blue Wall of Silence.
Armstrong should not be making "zip the lips" signals in the peloton regarding Simeoni. If Simeoni told the truth in the Italian court about doping, Armstrong is in effect condoning doping and blocking efforts to fight it.
The whole question will come down to whether Simeoni told the truth or whether he is the "liar" Armstrong claimed he is.
Armstrong vs Simeoni #2
Here's a possible conversation between Armstrong and Simeoni (in who knows what language):
S: Nice sprint yesterday, but I'm still going to have to sue you.
A: Thanks, I love not giving gifts. I have enough money to hire your lawyer's lawyer a lawyer, so give it up.
S: You're climbing like a ibex this season, but in Italy, it's not about money. It's about truth, justice and bureaucratic inefficiency.
A: Thanks. Sorry about dropping you like a hot potato on every climb that matters. How about we settle out of court? I can get you a lifetime supply of Power Bars and a new Subaru.
S: How do you keep your cadence so high on the climbs? I drive a Fiat and Power Bars make me fart.
A: I just spin my legs real fast. In America , "Fiat" stands for "Fix It Again Tony".
S: How did you know my mechanic's name?
A: I'm Lance Armstrong...I make it my business to know. So how about we make a deal?
S: You being up here in the break might be causing a shit storm in the peloton, but it won't matter in an Italian courtroom. No deal.
A: OK, I tried. We'd better get back to the peloton before Jan's haircut gets worse. Will you do me a favor, though?
S: Sure. What is it?
A: Stay away from me in the peloton. You've been eating Power Bars again.
Armstrong vs Simeoni #3
What gives Lance Armstrong the right to order Filippo Simeoni out of the break on Stage 18 of the Tour for what appears to be an overspill from a legal dispute between the two in the Courts?
I understands that Patrons of the peloton hold a certain amount of power, but that this was usually exercised for the good of the field as a whole; i.e. stopping foolish attacks early on in a stage where a very long/hard day lay ahead. Apart from showing the darker side of Lance's nature, surely this incident should have come before the race referees, if riders can be sanctioned for such things as taking food outside designated feeding stations & slipstreaming vehicles - (is there an ungentlemanly conduct rule in pro cycling?).
Armstrong vs Simeoni #4
As much as I admire how good Lance is (and I really do mean that with all sincerity), I have found him to become quite hypocritical this tour. He gloats in his books about letting others win when he doesn't have to, in order to share the good and allow others to prosper. Where were those attitudes when he beat Klo¨den in stage 17? I understand TTs are different, but 5 wins (6 with the TT) does seem a little greedy but then again, if he was the strongest then why not go for it? It just seems like his "no gifts" policy is the opposite of what he has stated in the past.
And then there was the ridiculous episode with Simeoni. I don't know (who does?) the intricate details of their personal feud, but his line about "protecting the interests of the peloton" was a facade to hide his own personal ambitions to make Simeoni suffer. I don't want to see any doped rider get any glory, but chasing down someone like that was not a professional thing to do and it perhaps brought to light Lances desire to control everything in sight. There was no need to bring his personal feelings towards Simeoni for all to see.
Well, in any event, Lance has shown us that he is the hardest worker out there, and that Jan has not changed his habits at all. It will be very interesting to see what unfolds next year...
Armstrong vs Simeoni #5
Yes, well, yes, Lance Armstrong is indeed a champion. 6 tours, wow! However to decide if Lance is a champion in his life, as a man, we should probably try to put ourselves in Simeoni's shoes.
I became a great fan of Lance when he waved goodbye to Casartelli. And I was destroyed when Lance got sick. Then I looked at the Graham Watson's picture of Lance in Valkenburg, during the World Championship, and understood many things, and understood what determination and commitment mean. But now Lance has become only "the boss", and an arrogant boss indeed... no admiration anymore there. Respect, yes, of course, but only on a bike. I wouldn't like to have him over for a pizza, that's for sure... I don't care about the man anymore, and I am totally unimpressed.
I think I understand now why Lance is such a good friend with Merckx... same kind of "man", if you feel like calling him this way. Goodbye Lance, you've lost many many fans in just a few seconds, you can even win seven, eight, nine Tours, who cares? what you did with Simeoni explains that you are a very small man.
Lance being investigated for... "sporting fraud, violence and intimidation" for chasing down a rider in the tour?
So racers have to consult with their lawyers as well as team directors before reacting and covering or attacking in a bike race?
The Italian prosecutors are from mars!
Imran - like yourself I am a big fan of Jan Ullrich but it simply is wrong to blame Jan's failure on everything and everyone except Jan himself. Lets be honest, Lance Armstrong is just too good at the moment - he is more determined than he was last year (then he was equaling a record, this year he is actually setting a record - a big boost for one's motivation methinks). Sure it has been a shame that Vinokourov and Beloki (and Cadel Evans) didn't make it to the Tour. It is a shame that so many of the pre-race favourites (apart from Lance) failed to deliver the goods. Then there's Jan himself. He has the best conditions available to a pro-cyclist, the best equipment, the best physios and trainers - he has more money than he can shake a stick at. For this, Jan only has to train, stay healthy (i.e. no falls) and keep his weight down - that's all he has to do... Was he able to do this? Is he able to do this again?
Good luck to Jan in 2005. Lance probably won't race but our man in pink will surely have to contend with new pretenders to the throne - 'the king is dead, long live the king.'
Ullrich and T-Mobile #2
I agree with Imran about Ullrich and his lack of support from Godefroot, but I also wonder about Der Kaisers tactical sense...Ullrich's attacks have been very poorly timed, for example on the way to the Plateau de Beille. Going on a long range sortie like that was never going to work when LA had all his boys around him to chase Jan down, and that must have used up a huge amount of energy; energy that would have been more effectively used attacking at the foot of the final climb. It's not the first time Ullrich has attacked like this-for instance, he played into Armstrong's hands by attacking on the Tourmalet in '03 instead of waiting until Luz Ardiden. Also tactically Ivanov's attack on the Forclaz was laughable...All he did was put Guerini into difficulty and blow himself to bits. Sure LA lost a couple of men, but they had been there longer than expected anyway, but it did Ullrich and Klo¨den no good at all...I predicted Lance would take six, but I thought T-Mobile, and Ullrich in particular, would ride a lot smarter this year to put The Boss under much more pressure
Ullrich and T-Mobile #3
In the news about the rift between Jan Ullrich and his director Walter Godefroot, I was surprised to hear that Ullrich and Godefroot talk only a couple times per year. If this is true, Godefroot should not be surprised that his approach hasn't yielded more success, especially given Ullrich's tendency to prepare poorly for the Tour. Consider that not only does Lance Armstrong likely talk to his director Johan Bruyneel a couple times per week (or per day?), Bruyneel reportedly drives in behind him on key training rides and is there for the Tour reconnaissance. He knows exactly how Armstrong is doing at all times, and this with a rider who seemingly doesn't need much outside motivation.
If I were responsible for the sponsorship money at T-Mobile, I'd wonder why the man running the team doesn't speak to the man that is supposed to be the leader. Godefroot reaps what he sows, and if he is going to spend money on Jan's huge contract essentially for the sole purpose of winning the Tour, perhaps he could spend a little time making sure the investment pays off. Of course, Godefroot could say that he knows how to get the most from every rider, like overachievers Paolo Savoldelli and Santiago Botero (remember them?). I think Ullrich would have been more successful, if not wealthier, by signing with Bjarne Riis at CSC.
Ullrich and T-Mobile #4
What's with Ullrich?
I've read much that the American press has to say about Jan Ullrich and his apparent tendencies to skip training in the winter resulting in twenty to thirty pounds of off-season weight gain. Is this true? I would like to learn more about Jan's training philosophy and about how he prepares himself for the Tour, including equipment selection. Do you know of a source for this type of information.
Does it then follow that if Jan adopted the training schedule of Lance Armstrong, that he would blow Lance away given that the current gap between them seems not that substantial based on the results of various time trials?
Lance's higher cadence riding style has been used by some to partially explain the differences between Lance and Jan. Would it be correct to say that all riders should adopt Lance's higher cadence style, or are different styles appropriate for different riders?
A few comments from someone who actually was on Alpe d'Huez for that fateful TT, rather than staring at it on telly from 5,000 miles away.
Firstly, there may have been some odd bits of bad behaviour, but I saw none. The atmosphere was truly a mix of rock festival, cup final and, errr, mountain time trial...I have never seen crowds like it. Anywhere. It was insane and good humoured.
Okay, so a few folk got a little overheated. There was a fair bit of under-the-breath booing of the Posties (How did Hincapie pull uphill like that anyway when he's a sprinter????) But then it's a huge sport event folks. The fans are supposed to care, not just clap politely as they would in the Pavilion at Lords for the cricket.
I found myself calling Jens Voigt a "traitor" too - but I hadn't seen any German telly, just seen the race. It was the obvious, juvenile, dumb-headed thing to shout in the circumstances. People get heated, they love cycling, they care, they scream, shout, and later fall over. Come on loosen up.
I must say, however, the one thing that really wound me up was the attitude of some of the American fans. Most were great - especially the ones with the cardboard cut-out of Sheryl Crow. But what about the arrogant jock near us with the eight-foot flag-pole with the Stars and Stripes who insisted on barging all other fans out of the way when Big Tex came through? My only regret is that I flinched away at the last moment from tripping his trailing leg, sending him flying into Lance and into history...
Fan behaviour #2
I agree with the correspondents deploring unsporting "fan" behaviour towards Lance Armstrong and Jens Voigt, both of whom were doing - extremely well - exactly what they were being paid to do.
But those from places where cycling is a minority sport viewed only by enthusiasts (such as the UK, US and Australia) should remember that having cycling as a "mainstream" sport is a double edged sword. At the Tour de France (I wouldn't know about other European races, this is the only one I have attended) you get drunken beer-bellied "sports fans" attending who don't really understand cycling, and just want to support their countryman against "the foreigner".
The only solution is to assign more gendarmes to the rowdier sections of the course on mountains, and have a crackdown on public drunkenness. This should have been possible on Alpe d'Huez with only 7 kilometres of unbarriered road, and hundreds of gendarmes usually policing a 200 kilometre road stage.
Fan behaviour #3
I am somewhat ashamed of being a German, and Basque people should be also. I know the small number of German's acting poorly do not mean the entire country feels the same, but the painting on the road, the shouting of expletives and the spitting by Germans and Basque people disgusts me.
Don't these people realize they are going to ruin the experience of being on the side of the road during a mountain stage for everyone in the future, including themselves. If the tour organizers have any brains, they will have to consider sending paint crews up the climbs the morning of the race to cover totally inappropriate comments and setting up barriers to keep fans away from the riders.
It was a very sad and maddening sight to see. I can only hope the tour and the cycling groups throughout the world get involved to get control of the drunken Quasi-fans that think acting this way is acceptable.
Fan behaviour #4
Hey Lance-fans/France boycotters,
Say what you will about the boorish behaviour of a bunch of cycling fans on L'Alpe d'Huez, but that display was pretty tame compared to the punch in the gut that Eddy Merckx took many years ago! Get a grip. Spitting is/was a poor decision, but fans are fans, they can write what they want on the roadway (whether it's EPO=LANCE or the outline of penises), they can yell what they want, and they can support who they want. Hey, I like Lance Armstrong, I've bought his books and I follow his progress intently, but I'd love to see Ullrich challenge him and make this thing interesting. I find all this whining about the lack of professionalism or the disgrace to the majesty of cycling amusing coming from largely American fans who've turned the once respectful galleries of professional golf into a mass of drunken, name-calling clowns that diss internationals on a regular basis.
Dude, if you've got any life left in those Michelins, I'll take them off your hands in a heartbeat, right after I'm done my French fries (or is that "Freedom Fries").
Fan behaviour #5
in response to Michael Ahman's Boycott France! letter.
I assume you will be boycotting German and Spanish products as well since I doubt the slopes of L'Alpe D'Huez were lined with purely French supporters.
I agree the behaviour of the fans in general was very bad however to blame it totally on the French is just misguided. The only crime the French is guild of is not predicting the situation and trying to do something about it like more barricades.
Fan behaviour #6
I'm not sure how anyone can condemn the French for "fan behavior" during the Tour. Do they close the borders and only allow French citizens access? There were an enormous number of Spaniards with their Euskaltel orange shirts on the mountains, and lots of Americans clearly visible- draped in the flag as it were.
Fan behavior is poor in most big time sporting venues: some slob also poured a pink colored liquid on Ullrich's head while he was going up L'Alpe. Nothing I like more than a Gatorade bath during a time trial- I've had adolescent kids do the same thing to me. I've watched every stage and can't say I saw any spitting, but maybe I was distracted for a moment. It wouldn't be the first time an athlete has been spit on.
My solution: give Waldimir Belli a medal for poking that Simoni hooligan on the nose in the Giro a few years ago.
Raymond F. Martin
After reading your brief news story on the Sky News report that Matt Damon may be picked to play Lance Armstrong in an upcoming movie, then surely the producers would go for support with Ewan McGregor as Stuart O'Grady and Ben Kingsley to do a walk on as Marco Pantani (see Sexy Beast) if the script calls for it!
Exactly what I was thinking this morning when the "Landis has an offer" rumours started.
None of the guys who have left to lead their own teams have , with the exception of Hamilton, if he could stay on his bike, achieved anything like what they did as part of the Blue Train.
To get where they got with Lance they have to have the equivalents of Eki, George, Pardnos and company to get them to the climbs and through the Team Time Trials and they seem to forget that they had the best of all possible leaders and directors.
I live a quiet life in Saint Etienne, I never post on forums and well, I suspect the folks at Cyclingnews have decided to publish Michael Åhman's hysterical letter only to tease the average French cycling fan like me, but still I'd like to respond to this, er, person, and give my view on that "fan behaving badly" thing. So here goes:
I'm French, a real Frog who speaks English like chief inspector Clouseau. So, according to Mr. Ahman, I'm a "bastard". Why is that? Because a few braindead idiots spat on Lance Armstrong and a few more ones gave him the finger. Did I do anything like that? Certainly not. I've too much respect for this champion or for any athlete sweating buckets on a tough climb. Now did 99,5 % of the French fans did anything like spitting on him or insulting him or whatever?
Mr. Ahman, the answer is NO, no way, they would never do such things and I'm sorry to say you sound like a moron.
So I could go on telling you most "angry" idiots on the Alpe were German whereas most "angry" idiots in the Pyrenees were Spanish. But what's the point? We're talking of an ultra small minority here, wherever those heckling idiots come from. Now I think you'll agree you'll find drunken idiots in every nation -including Swedes, apparently. And this Lance knows because, in case you don't know, in France he's a mega-star. He's got tons of fans. He may be the only cyclist who gets mobbed while walking in a Paris street. He's the boss, the champ, he's totally respected for his achievements.
Then you always get the sad, depressing loser who's nagged by his successes and this guy's going to loathe Lance cos he's an ugly American and he always wins. (Similarly, some French twats would throw up abuse on Indurain, BUT ALSO on Anquetil and Hinault in their own respective times.)
Now, in France just like the rest of Europe, cycling fans sometimes lose it and start behaving like the worst soccer fans. I hate it, I despise it, but hey, what can you do about it? The Tour isn't raced in a stadium. The roads are wide open for any lunatic to come by.
Sadly, stupid idiots by the road insulting champions is nothing new: Eddy Merckx got punched by some hopeless cretin while climbing the Puy de Dome, in the 1970s. And it's not a French problem either. Have you ever heard about Robert Millar's Spanish misadventures when trying to win the Vuelta in 1985 and 1986? All that hate he got in his face more or less ruined his career. And have you ever heard stories about the "Simoni hooligans" at the Giro? Hey Michael, next year Lance may be riding the Giro and he may well be booed by 0,5% of that dirty wop crowd, so you'd better stop buying Campy stuff now.
And as for Richard Virenque, many people still like him in France but please realize once and for all that there are many more people in my country who think he is the ultimate embarrassment to French cycling.
Glory to Lance Armstrong, the Boss.
Pierre Dupont (not my real name, but I wanted to play up to my "bastard" reputation,
I have to strongly agree with the letter from Eric Fraer of Pasadena , CA on Monday, July 19, 2004 . It has been severely disappointing to watch so many great riders being shut down by crashes and resulting injuries. I was really hoping to see Tyler Hamilton, Petacchi, and others battling it out this year. Instead, they go down in senseless crashes that are the result of bad course planning and antiquated rules. I would love to see a rule whereby in sprint stages, all the riders get the same time if they are in the peloton at 3km to go... let the sprinters do their thing in the last 3km, and let everyone else survive. I think this will help the sprinters to avoid crashes as well, because there won't be such a crush to stay in the peloton at the finish of sprint stages.
Has anyone found a more detailed profile for the Besancon - Besancon ITT? L'Équipe had some great maps of the mountain stages showing distance and elevation for the peaks and the valleys, perfect for programming into a trainer. The only profile I've found is http://www.besancon.com/tdf/p2.htm, which shows the profile but is short on data. The Cyclingnews profile (http://www.cyclingnews.com/road/2004/tour04/?id=stages/stage19) has style but no details.
Sure Lance won again and all, but no doubt once again the knockers will pull out all the clichés about how it's so much easier to win the Tour in this modern age when it's acceptable to prepare for just the one race, how Lance has never done the Giro, how Merckx competed all year round etc etc etc. But it occurs to me that, perhaps more than any other year, the other 'top favourites' as they are so delightfully described, also focused their whole season on the big prize. It would have taken an eagle-eye to see the names Hamilton, Mayo, Heras or Ullrich on any starting list before June with these superstars preferring to train in seclusion for months on end. Sure they're professional athletes with enormous experience but based on the obvious fact that IT DIDN'T WORK one wonders if a few of them might be using the excuse of the Pro-Tour to change tactics and actually test themselves in a few more real-life lead-up races next year. Admittedly Hamilton, unlike the others, probably had some form going in but even he might benefit from a bit of time in the peloton in learning how to stay upright. Hell, the fans might even get to see their heroes for more than three weeks a year. Whatever, as much as I wish anyone but Lance had won, the knockers will surely now admit that it takes a special type of dedication not only to win but to win the way he does.
It was fantastic to see a Frenchmen and his team doing so well in the Tour. The way he fought his way up the mountains was a great example for younger aspiring athletes and made for inspirational viewing as well.
I hope the end result of this would be for Jean Marie LeBlanc to decide to include better teams (i.e. Kelme or Vini-Caldirola) other than Rover RAGT Semences who I think do not deserve a Tour participation at all. He's got no excuses now.
At least include teams with riders that can actually win stages, not just make up the autobus numbers. No doubt this is a French race, but it'd be great to see the likes of Valverde and Garzelli stirring up the packs.
What now for Armstrong and Postal? It seems to me Bruyneel has his first really big management dilemma to deal with. He's got a group of ever more talented riders he has to keep happy and try to re-sign for next year. Most urgently, who is going to be the team leader for the upcoming Vuelta a España and in important races beyond?
My first thought is that while Armstrong has such undeniably incredible form going, there is no time like the present for him to see if he can regroup energies to come back and take a second grand tour in the same year. If he were to pull it off, then he could try to go for a "Tiger Slam" of sorts by trying to take the Giro in the Spring too. He'd piss off even more people that are tired of his domination, but he would certainly prove himself to all of those doubters that somehow see him as Tour de France one dimensional.
Assuming that it's more likely that he'll be having a beer on a beach and playing with his kids in September, what then? Azevedo just finished 5th in the Tour while covering all his duties as a gregario unflaggingly. He would probably love to go show Manolo Saiz what could have been if he had thought to use the Portuguese rider as team leader at Once in the Spanish tour. Thinking of Spanish riders for the Spanish Tour, is there anyone that can really deny that Chechu deserves a shot at riding his home Vuelta with the support of everyone else after the years of spectacular service and the performance he just put in the Tour de France himself? And last but not least, Floyd Landis. The newly crowned Mofo of the Mountains and a man with serious drive, ambition and talent who is openly looking for the chance to strike out after his own opportunities. He wants a big win badly. All of these guys can ride in the mountains and time trial.
Bruyneel not only has to figure out who's best prepared for the job and the one they may be able to go out and win it with, but how not to upset the delicate balance of the world's best team. US Postal/Berry Floor's success in these Grand Tours is built on the unquestioned support around a single team leader. Look at the support that Floyd gave Heras in the Navacerrada stage of the Vuelta last year.
So, to continue that success, who's going to be the new go to guy? And let's not forget, there a lot of guys like Mayo and Hamilton who had high hopes for taking the Tour this year and are now aiming at the Vuelta for redemption. It won't be an easy assignment. Personally, I'd like to see El Jefe come back out and keep his opponents in their place.
I have just been looking at the prize money distribution for the Tour de France this year and quite frankly I was dismayed to see just how little the riders get from the organisation.
When the prize money is compared with the prizes given in World class Golf and Tennis competitions I feel that cycling really is a Cinderella sport and yet we are constantly being told that the TDF is the greatest sporting event in the World today.
When one considers the pre-race work that these guys have to put in in order to compete at the top level and then the ordeal of three weeks of almost continual riding I think the prize money should be at least double what is shown below.
Oh I know the guys get paid a wage as well but they surely deserve more money for their efforts, I am aware that the top riders get appearance money and endorsement fees but for the lower riders the incentive is rather poor I think.
What do other people think about this subject?
Here is the published list:
1 US Postal Service 578,842 €
Of course, we watched the Tour this morning, then packed off the family to the Seattle Art Museum. Two days ago I received my packet of LiveStrong wristbands, so all of us were tagged with yellow. From the time we stepped out of the car, a funny thing started happening: people kept smiling at me. I found complete strangers smiling at me as we walked through the parking lot, wondered at the African masks and wandered the Van Goghs. A quick glance told me why: they were wearing LiveStrong yellow bands too! I had no idea that there were so many supporters of LAF in my neck of the woods. Then my mind started extrapolating the concentration of yellow band wearers I'd seen today to the rest of Seattle, then to Washington, the USA and the World. It was like seeing the land masses painted yellow.
Granted, I've got quite an imagination, but it's a beautiful thing.
I absolutely have to respond to what has to be the most overused, and possibly the most ignorant, comment about team strategy - "negative racing." To begin, let me relate my own experience with this nonsensical term. I was on a small new professional team based in Richmond, VA. We were doing a local road race, and our entire primary strategy was to bring up our young, but blazingly fast sprinter. Wes needed a good win to boost his confidence and this was just the venue. The race was aggressive from the start, with several breakaways. We worked our butts off to get a man in each to monitor it, but not work, or chase the ones we didn't have a presence in. Remember the purpose of a race - to win?? We simply kept control of every situation, and in the last two kilometers, I buried myself and gave Wes the best lead-out I had ever done, and he did win. After the race, however, we got blasted from several other racers and team directors for our "negative racing." Here is a wake-up call. The ENTIRE PURPOSE of a racing is to WIN. And the ENTIRE PURPOSE of a team is to get their leader to.... (wait for it!)...WIN! Can I be any more clear than that? If that means chasing down the crowd favorite, then you do it. If that means crushing the heroic breakaway in the last 500 meters, then you do it. And if it puts your team leader in second place in the GC in the worlds biggest bike race, you do it! What I have observed most, however, is that it is usually the people who did NOT win the race who cry "negative" the loudest. And oh, by the way, why is it that when the Petacchi or Cipollini express marks every break and almost invariably chases them down, you don't hear the same idiocy said about them? There is no difference! If there is a rider up the road wearing a different jersey than yours, you'd better get your butt in gear, unless of course, you like the idea of coming in second.
My advice is to train more, and be more tactically astute. But please, shelve the "negative" comments. It's just a lame excuse to try to hide the fact that you got beat. Everyone, and every team, gets beat. It is the good ones, however, that accept the fact, train harder to avoid it happening again, and are gracious and congratulatory when it does happen.
CSC tactics #2
Why does CSC have to care what you or anyone else thinks about their tactics? I think this tour has been great. Sure the winner is pretty much decided, but the race for the green jersey, the fall of many greats, the race going on for podium spots behind an amazingly dominant performance by a team which has worked for this moment. CSC was doing what they should to keep Basso where he is in the GC. Should they just let Jan go, because he's Jan? Come on, Get Serious.
I stated after stage 13 that the Tour de France was over. When the final time trial ended, yes, the fat lady sung. Lance Armstrong, the Boss, proved every day of the 2004 Tour that victory number 6 was his and his only. He stands alone as a living legend. Thanks for the excitement, Lance. I went to www.wearyellow.com and made my donation.
I am reminded of the movie "Ben-Hur" where Messala lies dying in pain and agony. He calls himself Judah Ben-Hur's enemy. Ben-Hur responds, "I see no enemy." Indeed, Lance Armstrong has treated his rivals with respect.
Will Hamilton be ready next year? Will Ullrich return? Yes! ( if you will believe the following ) Lance will not ride the 2005 Tour de France.
Why you ask? First, Lance Armstrong believes that Floyd Landis can win the Tour de France. ( This will really excite Ullrich, Basso, and Hamilton. ) Second, Armstrong wants to challenge Cunego and Simoni in the 2005 Giro. Cunego had better start working hard. There is a third reason also. The LAF is asking Lance to attempt the hour record of 49.44 km for a special fundraiser. This would be too much to consider if Lance was to race the 2005 Tour de France.
A special thanks to CyclingNews for their hard work this month. Also, to thank 'The Voice', Phil Ligget for the excitement he adds to cycling.
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