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Monday’s Mailbag

VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something in thepages of VeloNews magazine or see something on VeloNews.com thatcauses you to want to write us, dropus a  line.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mail to this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.Hoping to see DaveI've heard worse...In reference to Patrick O'Grady's recent OLN rant (see "Friday'sFoaming Rant: Indoor living with Outdoor Life"), I'd have to agreeand add that the only thing worse than having to listen to Eurosport'scommonwealth

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VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something in thepages of VeloNews magazine or see something on VeloNews.com thatcauses you to want to write us, dropus a  line.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mail to this address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.Hoping to see DaveI’ve heard worse…In reference to Patrick O’Grady’s recent OLN rant (see “Friday’sFoaming Rant: Indoor living with Outdoor Life“), I’d have to agreeand add that the only thing worse than having to listen to Eurosport’scommonwealth commentators talking about  crumpets and tea while watchingraces on OLN is to have to listen to them via webcast without theimages!I am, alas, part of the underserved cable community of central New Jersey(in the fell clutches of RCN) that does not get OLN, and have been consideringswitching to satellite to enhance my viewing diet.  I was wonderingif there were those of you among the editorial staff who had any wordsof wisdom regarding what Midatlantic satellite services actually carryOLN?Matt Niednagel
Flemington, NJP.S. In reference to Pantani’s bowel movements (see Jason Edens’ letter”The subjects oftoo much and too little attention“), I don’t know what that guy wastalking about — it’s Pantani’s facial hair we’re all dying to hearabout!In Praise of PatrickRe: The RantCouldn’t have said it better myself.FUNNY!Thanks.
Pete SimpsonIn praise of natteringYou gotta love Dave Duffield. He does tend to natter on about extraneoussubjects during bike races he calls. But lets face it his commentary cansometimes be more entertaining than what’s on the screen.Ask yourself, who would you rather converse with at a party, the Dufferor Sherwin and/or Liggett? While Sherwin and Liggett wow you with theirknowledge of cycling lore and current riders, the Duffer at least showsan interest is the rest of the world around us.Roland Rivard
Madison, WIIn praise of progressMy televised cycling coverage origins come from the John Tesch musicvideos otherwise known as the ’85 and ’86 TdFs.  That coupled, with1-800 calls to the VeloNews results line, was state of the art for theday (that’s where
you had to find out Andy killed ’em on the Gavia).  State of theart, you know, like Sergal cotton shorts, Detto Pietro shoes and the BellV1-Pro.Hey, I knew I was spoiled when the fellow staring back at me, in themirror, was whining, that even though he just finished watching the Lionmanbeast Johan slay all LIVE in his living room, he wasn’t able to seeCipo win San Remo – THAT DAMN OLN!!!All I can say is spoil me, slap me, spank me — just don’t mess withmy Thursday nights.  Fast computers and internet connections, MP3’sat my fingertips, rise in the oven pizza, that’s pretty cool.  Butsame week/same day/same minute Euro coverage, now that’s progress, bro.Long live OLN.
Anthony S NickelYup, we gotta agree on that one… except that was a 900 numberyou were dialing to reach Hotline Cycling back then. We had to make a buck,too, you know. — EditorA modest proposalI’m sick of doping. Sick of knowing about it, sick of hearing aboutit, and, above all, sick of the hypocrisy of athletes and  coachesand managers who deny that they’re using the stuff despite lots of evidencethat doping is widespread in all elite-level endurance sports. I’m notsaying that none of the top athletes are clean. It may well be that manyof them are, in some sense of the word. But there’s no doubt that manymore athletes are using EPO, or this years fashionable darbepoeitin, orsteroids, or what have you, than are getting caught or admitting to usingsuch stuff.Does anyone besides me think that Johan Museeuw’s inspiring ride atthis years Paris-Roubaix smells funny? The beloved Lion of Flanders, knownto be hunting the one last big classic win on which he can retire withpride, and coming off a bitterly  disappointing second-place at theRonde, comes to P-R and humiliates his opposition, riding away solo fromhis strongest
chasers, with an ever-growing lead, over the last hour. And the nextday, we find out through offhand announcements like the tiny one-paragraphitem buried in the pages of L’Equipe‹that there was no doping control afterthe  finish at the Roubaix velodrome! Come again?In the world’s most watched aerobic endurance sport, and the one mosttroubled by doping scandals and by hand wringing about how to suppresscheating? The “accidental” absence of a dope testing team at Roubaix isas plausible as Ronald Reagan’s claim that his people didn’t trade armsfor hostages. (Sorry, I’m dating myself.)As I watched Museeuw riding away from his chasers, I thought back tothe last such dominating performances I¹d seen in elite aerobic competition,and I came up with the races that Johann Muehlegg and Larisa Lazutina skiedin their respective 50-k and 30-k cross-country events at the Salt LakeCity Olympics. And you know what? Of course you know what: Muehlegg andLazutina both were busted and stripped of their medals within 24 hoursof those events, for having turned up with darbepoeitin, a more-powerfulanalogue to EPO, in their bodies.There’s no doubt that Johan Museeuw is a great racer. No doubt thathe gets especially motivated for the cobbly springtime classics. No doubteither, for anyone who saw his flawless riding at this years ghastly Paris-Roubaix,that he has a phenomenal gift for keeping his traction and his balanceon slippery stone. The man is a genius at what he does. But the circumstancesof his win (the bizarre absence of a dope control) make it impossible tobelieve wholeheartedly that all we saw at work on that stirring Sundaywere his legs and his lungs and his soul and his athletic genius, and hisgood luck.The problem for us fans is that we want to be able to admire these athletesfor their accomplishments, but we can’t properly assess the accomplishmentsanymore. The rewards of victory have become so great that a lot of basicallywell-meaning athletes‹decent people who started, as did many of us, withthe most honest of motives, racing for the sheer fun of it‹now find themselveswilling to break the rules of the sport in order to have better chancesof winning. Who wouldn’t consider using EPO or something like it in theOlympic Games, or in Paris-Roubaix, if winning was likely to guaranteea comfortable material life for his or her children, or a retirement freefrom fear of unpayable bills for heating and medicines? How many of usare beyond the
reach of that kind of thinking? Not many, I’d bet.So here’s my modest proposal: We drop the hypocrisy altogether. Allowdoping of whatever kinds but continue with the testing. And publish theresults of every test as part of the official results of the contest. Nomore banning of athletes, no more taking-back of medals. Everyone readingthe morning paper after Paris-Roubaix will see who won, who came secondand third — and what stimulants and steroids and red-blood-cell-boostersthey were on. When engraving the trophy each year, we¹ll list thedrugs under the winner’s name. Engrave the drugs’ names onto the edge ofthe Olympic medal. Make the winner of the UCI World Cycling Championshipsrace for the following year in a rainbow jersey bearing a list of the drugsthat he or she used in order to win the Worlds.Of course the enforcement would be difficult. The testing would haveto be very broad and at the same time very precise, in order for such asystem to have any credibility. And it would be very expensive. But there’salready a fortune, many fortunes, being spent on the sadly escalating armsrace between the testing authorities and the people they’re trying to catch.If such a system were put in place, we’d probably see a very interesting,if gradual, retreat from the use of so many chemicals. Whatever happened,it couldn’t be worse than what¹s going on now.Howard Runyon
Seville, Spain


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