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Tour de France

Special VeloNews.com Mailbag: Riccò edition

Riccardo Riccò's departure from the Tour de France produced a stack of emails and letters to the editor. Here is a sampling: Zero Tolerance Editor, This little gem was in your one of your Ricardo "Vegetable" Ricco articles: "While teams like CSC, Columbia, Garmin-Chipotle and Astana have financed independent blood-monitoring programs, some question whether that “new cycling” will ever occur until doping in sport is criminalized internationally, as it is in France, and the risks outweigh the incentives."

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Outrage, disgust, modest proposals, conspiracy theories and outrageous speculation

Riccardo Riccò’s departure from the Tour de France produced a stack of emails and letters to the editor. Here is a sampling:

Zero Tolerance
Editor,

This little gem was in your one of your Ricardo “Vegetable” Ricco articles: “While teams like CSC, Columbia, Garmin-Chipotle and Astana have financed independent blood-monitoring programs, some question whether that “new cycling” will ever occur until doping in sport is criminalized
internationally, as it is in France, and the risks outweigh the incentives.”

Why does everyone in pro bike racing, including the cycling media and the fans, refuse to look at the obvious answer. The cheaters must be banned for life, never to work in bike racing again in any capacity. Take away their livelihood and their status and send them back to Podunk to be a janitor. You don’t even need to criminalize it!

VeloNews editors need to write editorials demanding zero tolerance for cheaters, instead of just looking the other way, like everyone else.

I want my sport back,
David Nelson
Denver, Colorado
BAN THE CHEATERS FOR LIFE

Bobke-inspired
Editors,

So I’m going to use a phrase to describe Ricardo Ricco that the mighty Bobke used to describe Claude Criquielion over his antics occurring after the 1988 world road race championships . . . “What a Cheesehead!”

As soon as I saw Ricco I knew I had enough of him . . .
Lay-Ting Lee Tardif,
Dubai, UAE

Test Amateurs
Editors,

The latest revelation of dopers at the 2008 Tour de France is evidence that the new system can catch dopers but not stop them.

I doubt that these cheaters doped for the first time as professionals. Many of them likely began doping as amateurs as a way to be competitive and make it into the professional peloton.

Unfortunately, the only way for them to remain competitive is to continue doping. If WADA is really serious about stopping cyclists from doping, they should begin testing amateurs. Perhaps, any cyclist wishing to become a professional should be required to submit blood samples for a year prior to receiving a professional license.

Dopers or not, I still enjoy watching the tour on VS and listening to the fantastic commentators. What would summer be like without a vicarious trip to France?
Patrick Meyer,
Harrisonburg, Virginia

It’s not about the wheels

Re: Saunier’s Secret Wheels

In hindsite I don’t think it’s the wheels that made them climb like mountain goats. Right Ricco.
Jeff Kemble,
West Lafayette, Indiana

More on the wheels
Editors,

So, it’s the light rim on the Mavic R-SYS helping out Saunier?

When it retails I suggest calling it the CERA-SYS.
Keith Cline,
Seattle, Washington

Kudos to Rogers
Editors,

Excellent article by Neil Rogers “Riccò rides right into questions” on 13 July 2008. Mr. Rogers comments that the recent stage win by Riccò “raised some eyebrows” is right on the money given the recent revelation that Riccò has failed a blood doping test.

Keep up the good journalist work Mr. Rogers!

Regards,
Nick Rupp,
Greenville, North Carolina

Plenty of time to think
Editors,

Looks like Riccardo “The Cobra” Riccò took his desire to emulate Marco Pantani a little bit too far. We can only hope that he finds someone new to idolize. If he requests a B sample and it confirms the A sample, I’m guessing he’ll have two years to think about it.
Paul Zipprich
Hop Bottom, Pennsylvania

STP
Editors,

My wife told me all week, “he’s going to test positive.” Now he is just like his hero, Marco Pantani.

Best Regards,
Patrick Keller,
Sandpoint, Idaho

Astana couldn’t be any worse …
Editors,

With all this recent scandal, I can only question the decision by ASO to exclude Astana … seems a bit funny given the recent developments.
Rick Lippincott,
Hollywood, Florida

A mess
Editors,

Just musing … but if the powers that be hadn’t removed the finishing time bonuses and Piepoli and Cobo are implicated and stripped of their wins, then Schleck would’ve won stage 11 and received a significant time bonus (20 sec., if I recall correctly) over Evans — upending the whole GC and changing the yellow jersey wearer — what a mess that would’ve been!
Tim Isle,
Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

Suspicions
Editors,

I thought Riccò was a little too quick to assure everyone that he was not there to win the Tour this year. And his very quiet stage 11 after blowing everyone away on stage 10 seemed suspicious to me. I guess it’s still true that when it seems too good (or too strong) to be true it probably is. It’s sad that every time we see an “exceptional performance” the first thing that comes to mind is doping.

Here’s a question for you — Is cycling becoming the new professional wrestling where everyone just assumes from the start that nothing we see is real?
Neil Murphy,
Baldwyn, Mississippi

Damn near impossible
Editors,

Did it ever dawn on anybody that the human body was never meant to race 2200+ miles in three weeks, at altitude? That maybe, just maybe, some people would stop trying to cheat if they weren’t trying to achieve the damn near impossible?

I know it will never completely stop, but I wonder if shortening the stages & overall length has ever crossed anyone’s minds? I mean, do we really need a 130-mile flat stage just to watch the sprinters fight it out after six hours of boring racing? Why can’t those be 75-mile stages? It would be much more exciting, and sometimes less is better.
Jeff Bergen
Omaha, Nebraska

Real bummed
Editors,

I, like many, am real bummed that yet another top tour rider got bounced for EPO, yet the bottom line I take away from it all is that Riccò is a friggin’ idiot.

The other takeaway is that the officials are catching the cheats. I had so hoped that this would be a clean tour, but I still love the race and will stay with it — it’s too beautiful of an event not to. What must the other riders think given all the attention paid toward having a clean(er) tour?
Bob Carhart,
Crofton, Maryland

Hard to believe
Editor,

Watching Riccò climb you just had to hope he wasn’t doping, but hard to believe. I guess he meant it when he said he wanted to live up to his hero Pantani.
Marc de Rochefort,
Autun, France (temporarily in Fort Lauderdale)