Friday’s mailbag: Sevilla, OLN, Postal, Missy and Georgia

The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. What’s up with Sevilla?Editor:I just saw the overall standings for Romandie, and I noticed Oscar Sevilla was present, but well down in the ranks. Is he being prepped as a "super-domestique" for Tyler's Tour bid, like Roberto Heras was for

The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.


What’s up with Sevilla?
Editor:
I just saw the overall standings for Romandie, and I noticed Oscar Sevilla was present, but well down in the ranks. Is he being prepped as a “super-domestique” for Tyler’s Tour bid, like Roberto Heras was for Lance? Also, what’s the story on Gorka Beloki, Joseba’s little brother? Is he one to watch for the future? Kenyon Kehl
Tucson, Arizona

Here’s how VeloNews editorial director John Wilcockson sees it, Kenyon: “Sevilla made a late start to the year because his priority is the Vuelta a España in September; but yes, he’ll likely be a Heras-type team rider for Hamilton at the Tour. As for Gorka, he is not on the same level as brother Joseba. In his first two pro seasons he scored just 5 UCI points, for 1631st place in the world rankings.” – Editor

Let’s take Postal public
Editor:
Yes, it’s tough news to hear that the U.S. Postal Service has finally bowed to the political watchdogs constantly harping about wasting resources sponsoring a cycling team. We all knew it had to end sometime. But this change opens a new door for the team and its fans.

While I’m fairly confident that the organization will be able to secure other sponsors to go along with Berry Floor (Subaru?), I’d like to propose a backup plan – and VeloNews can be first to take the plan to the public. Let’s take the idea started by the now defunct iTeamNova and make it work for real. That’s right – public support. I’d be first to pony up a few large bills to support the team, and I’m sure there are quite few folks out there who would join in.

I’ll let you guys at VeloNews be the point men for taking the plan forward to Johan and Lance. Just let me know when you need the check.

Dan Rhule
Delaware, Ohio

We’ll have our people get in touch with your people, Dan. But not by mail. – Editor

Team gave USPS cheap exposure
Editor:
It is with great sadness that I see the light of U.S. cycling sponsorship in our global village going out at the end of this year.

USPS, for eight years, managed a healthy beachhead on the shores of European marketing with the boys in blue. If the figures are correct, the sponsorship cost of $8 million per year is even less than a drop in the bucket of the $68 billion the service generated in 2003. Per the USPS financial report, the company showed a profit in 2003 of $3.9 billion. Its own internal survey shows that the USPS experience is an “excellent” one for 94 percent of its customers. While every company can do better, this is not anything close to a failing grade.

I could not find how much, if any, USPS market share growth has occurred in Europe, where most of the cycling-team exposure exists. But it would seem arguable that keeping one of the most highly recognizable sports teams on multiple continents flashing the red-white and blue might be more financially beneficial than, let’s say, introducing a few new stamp images next year.

What makes all of this very sad from a marketing perspective (and a cycling fan’s perspective) is that if you ask any successful company, they’ll tell you two things: First, never cut the marketing budget, and second, never ask the financial guys their opinion.

David Fineman and John Potter, please keep the team. Keep us global. And if you need to cut costs, I am sure cyclists would be happy to start licking their own stamps again, instead of using the more expensive self-adhesive type.

Richard Lewis
Lansdale, PA

Time for a peace summit on the Redneck Riviera?
Editor:You can let that moderate, unopinionated O’Grady character hire Sal Garcia (See Wednesday’s mailbag, Mail bag and that @#$%!!! politics). In just two short paragraphs, my knowledge was immeasurably enhanced by Mr. Garcia’s facts – er, opinions.

Sal let me know that Mr. Mica (See Republicans for OLN) has an Oedipus complex and resembles fecal matter; the four-headed media Hydra of TV, radio, print, and web is dominated by Republicans (all of whom evidently are clones of Mr. Mica in attitude and appearance); and that all cyclists are benign, fun-loving, non-Republicans. Wow! Maybe it’s me that’s just coming out of six months of cold, rainy, darkness and not Sal from Seattle.

Perhaps like ol’ Jimmy Carter, I could get Messrs. Garcia and Mica together here on the beautiful Redneck Riviera for a nice, sunny ride ending at the FloraBama, a somewhat-famous roadhouse straddling the Florida-Alabama state line on the beach. We could retire inside as if it were our own little Camp David and watch . . . fishing shows on OLN. Never mind.

John Fuller
Soldier Creek, Alabama

Sorry, John, but O’Grady isn’t hiring. Seems his revenue stream is a mere trickle, and no wonder. – Editor

Cyclists need to speak up about poor coverage
Editor:
Thanks for the great cycling coverage. I read it daily and from the newsstands and appreciate the consistently good coverage you offer. It is a much-needed service.

As regards suboptimal coverage from OLN, I would like to say a couple of things. For one, I wholeheartedly disagree with the observations of Mr. Mica (and this comes from a Republican).

Yes, perhaps other sports capture a larger audience. But since when do I have to pay for OLN to give me less than a desirable product? Since when do I have to accept that I don’t have anything to say to these corporate giants, who have lost touch with their original objective to provide outdoor enthusiasts with coverage of sports not found on any other networks? Since when has this become a problem that cannot be addressed and corrected? Perhaps OLN has lost sight of its original objective, and unless it is brought to their attention, how on earth can they remedy the problem?

By gosh, let’s tell OLN that we are dropping their pathetic PBR/NASCAR trash coverage unless they improve their coverage of cycling. People outside of cycling, when offered insight, find the racing scene and dynamic very interesting. Perhaps I am a diehard optimist, but I know one thing – I will not accept these things without letting OLN know what I think. I will stand up and be counted. Shouldn’t we all?

And finally, Mr. Mica, after I watch the spring classics, or a Tour stage, I always ride a little faster, a little lighter in the saddle. I don’t lie on the couch as I watch these events. And anytime you want to ride, just call – I would love to find our what’s in your Republican legs.

Dan Johnson
Lebanon, Missouri

Remember the bad old days and be grateful for coverage
Editor:
I just finished reading the letters to the editor on your web page about OLN’s cycling coverage. As far as I’m concerned, we need to be thankful for what we do get on TV. Either some of the readers writing in are 18 years old or they have forgotten about the John Tesh, fantasy-style cycling coverage of the late 1980s and early ‘90’s. Let’s not go there. Who can stomach “alien riders from Systeme U” again? I find it a privilege (for now) to catch Phil and Paul with some quality commentary, watch the footage as it’s shot for European TV and see the riders in action. OLN has brought quality cycling to TV when no one else has. Yeah, they could schedule better sometimes, and if they say TDF at 9 a.m. it needs to come on, not Bob’s trout angling. Let’s be thankful to OLN and write them with positive feedback – if we send them abusive letters because Flanders was not on, they’ll drop their cycling coverage, I guarantee it. Think of it as a five-year plan. Then, we’re really screwed. Besides, I think the lumberjack championships are pretty cool! Sam Ames
Bakersfield, California

Save your TV money for DVD of races
Editor:
I, like most of you, enjoyed the live coverage of the classics from a year ago. This year stinks. I have come to the conclusion to go with basic cable and save approximately $25 a month. With the money I sav, I am going to buy the DVD of the events I want to watch. I can play back and watch when I want.

John Crump
Jacksonville, Florida

Letter was stupid
Editor:
I think the letter regarding “Hunting with Hank” was just plain stupid. Phil Liggett announced that another broadcaster had purchased the rights to broadcast that day’s stage of the Tour de France, so they wouldn’t be able to show the stage in real time. Furthermore, they did broadcast the stage live on their website, in audio format, to which I happily listened as I ate my morning Fruit Loops.

Erik Voldengen
Portland, Oregon

Follow the money
Editor:
I have been reading the rants about OLN’s coverage, or lack thereof, and sadly, I have to come to their defense on a couple of issues.

They run hunting and fishing programs not because they receive more advertising revenue, but rather they pay out less in production costs – much, much less – so that makes up for getting less advertising revenue.

I also have to tell Erik from Elgin to blame CBS, not OLN, for not being able to watch L’Alpe d’Huez during last year’s Tour. CBS had the weekend rights to the Tour and did not want the afternoon audience diluted by OLN’s live morning coverage.

I agree that OLN’s cycling coverage is lacking in many areas, but please be accurate in your complaints.

And no, I am not an OLN employee.

John Larscheid
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Fringe sport, light coverage
Editor:
Just face it. Cycling is a fringe sport in the U.S., while hunting and fishing are not. For that matter, soccer – “the world’s most popular sport” – is also a fringe sport in the U.S., and, relative to its world popularity, gets even more atrocious TV coverage than cycling (unless you speak Spanish). Just be glad that “watching” a bike race works okay on the Internet. Ever try to follow a soccer game on the web?

At the same time, given the decreasing coverage of cycling, it is annoying that when advertising that it carries OLN, the cable provider in my area usually uses an image of a certain yellow-jersey-clad Texan. Misleading advertising? How shocking!

Stefan Wawersik
Boston, Massachusetts

Missy’s misguided critic needs to wear his helmet
Editor:
I must respond to the reader’s comments from Phoenix concerning your update on Missy (See Wednesday’s mail bag, This reader doesn’t miss Missy). I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the letter. Do you mean to tell me that you are truly offended by her engagement to another woman? Or by her honest reflections on a well-documented and sometimes-rocky relationship with another rider? Whether or not she’s your idea of cycling’s pin-up girl, she is certainly a fixture from an important time in our sport’s history.

Having recently returned from the 24 Hours of Temecula, we had been discussing “the early days” between laps, and out of the five big names that I pulled up when commenting on the early to mid-1990s Missy was one of them.

Is your problem that she was controversial? Because there are many, many riders that fit that bill. Is it her outspoken demeanor? That’s certainly not a rarity among the male riders on the circuit, and I hope it wouldn’t reflect poorly on a female rider. It can’t be the keen fashion sense, because everyone knows that it’s what’s inside that matters. And I would certainly hope that it has nothing to do with her sexual preference, because unless you are one lucky individual (insert laughter here) that’s taking place in her bedroom, not yours.

It sounds to me like you need to worry more about your life, and spend some of that misguided energy on your bike. Oh, and be sure you wear a helmet. You need it.

Shane Blay
Fort Collins, Colorado

Great writeup on the Missile
Editor:
Thanks for the great write-up on Missy. She was one of the few “real” people in our sport who wasn’t afraid to express her opinion, whether it was in popular favor or not.

Missy has been around for years and should be given credit (along with Shaun Palmer) for the growth of downhill mountain biking. Was she loved by all? Of course not. But she is well respected within the downhill community, even by those who did not personally care for her.

Regardless of what certain XC geeks think, we need more riders in our sport like Missy.

Chris Gil
Phoenix, Arizona

Don’t like Missy? Don’t read about her
Editor:
Hey, Mr. Hummer, when you can ride even 10 percent as well as Missy or Shaun can ride, maybe someone will respect your ignorant rant. By the way, if you don’t want to hear about it, why did you read it? Don’t blame VeloNews if you don’t have any self-control.

Patrick Caselli
San Jose, California

Friendly roads in our presidential future?
Editor:
I was reading today’s New York Times about John Kerry’s “chief of stuff” (it’s on his business card) who handles daily personal logistics (stuff like peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches) and the author mentioned that Kerry travels with his “fancy” Serotta racing cycle. Is this good news in our future? Can we hope for some friendly roadways? I gotta believe.

Margaret Berkey
Haddonfield, New Jersey

Georgia: Fantastic race, friendly folks
Editor:
The Tour de Georgia was a fantastic experience. I was at the stage in Macon, and the citizens there should pat themselves on the back. I have never seen such a friendly group of people.

Cipo’ was everywhere. Hell, I even got my picture with him! I know, some of you snobs say, “Big deal.” But how many times do you have a huge Euro pro racing in your back yard?

We parked our motorhome right at the corner of the pits. The wrenches were busy almost the whole night long (that’s right, Jittery Joes).

I hope this race continues next year. It was great! Sterling Murphey
Jacksonville, Florida


The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com, appearing each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have a comment, an opinion or observation regarding anything you have seen in cycling, in VeloNews magazine or on VeloNews.com, write to WebLetters@InsideInc.com. Please include your full name and home town. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.