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Monday’s mailbag: Meirhaeghe, Lance vs. Simeoni, world’s greatest athlete, Ullrich and OLN’s Vuelta plans

The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. 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. How many suffered for Meirhaeghe’s drug use?Editor:It is expectedly disappointing to look back at Filip Meirhaeghe's past performances through the cloudy filter of drug abuse and wonder, "What if?" (See “Meirhaeghe tests positive, admits guilt, retires”). How many clean riders have

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The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. 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.


How many suffered for Meirhaeghe’s drug use?
Editor:
It is expectedly disappointing to look back at Filip Meirhaeghe’s past performances through the cloudy filter of drug abuse and wonder, “What if?” (See “Meirhaeghe tests positive, admits guilt, retires”).

How many clean riders have had to pack it in over the years after losing sponsorship opportunities to athletes that crossed the line to drug use? How much of the Specialized budget spent on Filip Meirhaeghe could have been used to develop Jay Henry, Frank Maple and Jimmy Mortenson or fund an increased roster if the sponsors had not been deceived by Meirhaeghe?

In recent years I find myself gravitating towards stories and race coverage about athletes in the middle of the pack, that have neither the means or the pressures of expectation that seem to lead to a rider considering the use of banned substances.

I would like to request an increase in coverage of Thomas Frischknecht (and his Swisspower team), who after 15 years as a professional has exhibited the spirit, discipline and skill to be an ideal role model for the sport of cycling.

Chance Cooke
Whitefish, Montana

There’s a better way to prove yourself, Lance
Editor:
I’d like to know why Lance Armstrong is expending so much energy in discrediting Filippo Simeoni, particularly for a character as questionable and suspect as Dr. Michele Ferrari. The only reason I can think of is that he has something to be worried about because of his close relationship with Ferrari. Otherwise it just doesn’t make sense. Thou doth protest too much and too loudly, Mr. Armstrong.

Here’s a thought. Rather than going after some poor putz who won’t be around long enough to cause you any problems (unless he is telling the truth and your relationship with Ferrari is more than just to get training advice), why not use your vast wealth to prove him wrong and restore some faith to those of us who have become jaded and cynical about the sport?

How about you pay for year-round blood testing on yourself for all of the known products that can be used to enhance performance? That way it’s crystal clear to everyone who follows the sport that it’s still possible to win without cheating.

Kim Feraday
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

O’Grady, Imrem and the world’s greatest athlete
Editor:
Dear Mr. O’Grady: World’s greatest athlete? (See “Friday’s foaming rant: World’s greatest athlete.”) My vote is for the best Ironman-length triathletes or the top-flight 50km cross country ski racers. Lance is also in the hunt. But I digress …

Are NFL running backs clased in the same group? Not to you and me, but writers like Mike Imrem use a different measure than you or I. I have no doubt Ricky Williams – high or not – can out-bench-press Lance or Tyler or Dave Scott or … well, you get the picture.

The audience for an Imren piece knows as much about cycling as your average Somalian villager knows about a Chicken Delight truck, and they howl with approval when someone like Armstrong is “put in his place” compared to “real” athletes. They are happy in their ignorance. Let’s, as you suggest, leave them there.

Christopher Simser
Binghamton, New York

Imrem’s ignorant: Williams wouldn’t last 10 minutes
Editor:
This article by Mike Imrem has to be the most simplified view of the sport of bike racing I have ever read. In general, most sports writers (in the USA) have almost no understanding of our sport, but this guy is truly ignorant. If Gretzky, Rodman or A-Rod could win the Tour, then apparently all you need to be the best cyclist in the Tour is to be skinny, crazy, or just plain overpaid.

I will gladly pay the entry fee for Ricky Williams to enter a local Cat. 5 race and prove that he can be the best cyclist on the planet. I don’t think this guy would have the toughness to hang will the peloton for 10 minutes in the Tour. What a joke.

Zol Whitman
Placerville, California

Cyclists are tough; Imrem is mentally challenged
Editor:
Dear Mr. O’Grady: I applaud you for your patience in dealing with the mentally challenged of your profession. We as cycling fans know that every sport is different. Each has its own set of skills required to excel. Football players require large bulky frames and an excess of testosterone. Cycling requires toughness beyond belief, a love for pain, the patience of a champion chess player, and intellect. The toughness of an NFL athlete doesn’t go beyond the amount of punishment his body can dish out. Give them a hangnail and they’re out for the season. We have witnessed the battering an elite cyclist can take. I think this guy has most likely never even participated in any organized sports, otherwise he would have some idea and appreciation of the work it takes to be at the top.

David Perkins
Fargo, North Dakota

Run that spell-checker, Mikey
Editor:
The funniest thing about Imrem is that he used “peddle” instead of “pedal.” And he’s supposed to be a journalist? Way too funny!

Bill Battle
Richmond, Virginia

Join Bjarne at CSC, Jan
Editor:
Bummer about Jan Ullrich and Walter Godefroot making up (See “Saturday’s EuroFile”), I was hoping Jan would’ve jumped ship to, oh … CSC! With Bjarne Riis at the helm, Jan would be a killing machine at the Tour. Jan, lay off the strudel and we’ll see you on the podium (hopefully in yellow) in ’05!

Jeff Landauer
Roseville, California

Jan’s real problem is timing
Editor:
I’m a bit tired now of every year hearing that Jan Ullrich is getting fat again in the off-season, that if he were as mentally tough and diligent as Armstrong, he’d win the Tour this year and every year, and that he’s probably the most talented athlete in the peloton. Then on the TV coverage, year after year, we’re treated to the whole “diesel” thing and Jan’s low cadence versus Lance’s cadence – the key to victory. If only Jan knew enough to pedal faster! What an idiot he must be to not have caught on yet. I guess if he watched OLN coverage he’d have figured it out by now.

Jan is Jan. He’s an awesome racer. He happened to come on the scene when Lance was there and at his best. Bad luck for him. But he’s no disappointment to anyone with half a clue. Anyone who doubts he’s giving it his all in the Tour hasn’t been watching. Who has done better than Jan in the last half dozen Tours? One guy in the world – Lance. No comeback by Lance and Jan is a multi-Tour winner.

Could Jan be better? Sure, if he were a different person, an extreme outlier, 47 standard deviations from the norm on the bell curve, who lived to win the Tour every day of the year. Heck, I’d be a better racer if I had a higher VO2 max and a better power-to-weight ratio and was 30 years younger. I guess that makes me a disappointment. Luckily I haven’t garnered the attention of the OLN and VeloNews crews.

I’m not feeling sorry for Jan – I’m mostly jealous of him. I am sorry for the fans who have to hear the same old lines, year after year from the guys who really “know” the inside scoop. I guess they have to make it simple for the crossover fans and new cycling fans, break it down to an Ali vs. Norton sort of matchup.

Richard A. Pierce
St. Louis, Missouri

OLN and its Vuelta plans
Editor:
As of this moment, OLN will not be broadcasting the Vuelta de España this year. The past several years, they have broadcast the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta, and have done a great job at it. Please help us, in a grass-roots effort to get the Vuelta broadcast restored. Thank you.

Steven L. Adams
Palmdale, California

Steven, we were as disconcerted as you when we first heard the news. So we dropped a note to Amy Phillips, OLN’s director of public relations and events, who told us the following: “Our current plan is to air a one-hour highlight show of the Vuelta on October 27 at noon Eastern time.” Not much, it’s true; whether it’s better than nothing is a matter of opinion. Maybe it will help to know that VeloNews.com will be covering the Vuelta day in and day out, from the opening team time trial in León to the final race against the clock in Madrid. – Editor


The Mail Bag is a regular feature on VeloNews.com. 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.