Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: Crossing the line

I can’t stand it. The suspense is killing me. No, I’m not talking about the recent verdict on Monex team rider-director Roberto Gaggioli’s appeal hearing with USA Cycling, held Friday, May 28. (More on that below, but for those with short attention spans, Gaggioli was suspended through the end of the 2004 season for assaulting Jittery Joe’s rider Jonny Sundt with a 2x4.) And no, I’m not referring to the recently released list of American men invited to the Team USA selection road race, held June 19 in Redlands, California. (Again, keep reading.) What I am referring to is the upcoming

By Neal Rogers

I can’t stand it. The suspense is killing me.

No, I’m not talking about the recent verdict on Monex team rider-director Roberto Gaggioli’s appeal hearing with USA Cycling, held Friday, May 28. (More on that below, but for those with short attention spans, Gaggioli was suspended through the end of the 2004 season for assaulting Jittery Joe’s rider Jonny Sundt with a 2×4.)

And no, I’m not referring to the recently released list of American men invited to the Team USA selection road race, held June 19 in Redlands, California. (Again, keep reading.)

What I am referring to is the upcoming episode of “The Lance Chronicles,” premiering Thursday night on OLN.

I’m looking forward to the show’s continuation of behind-the-scenes footage from the Dodge Tour de Georgia (although I’ve still yet to see a shot of even the back of my head from scenes from any of the press conferences I attended.) But what’s really caught my attention is the “See what happens when one crazed fan crosses the line” storyline that’s been hyped repeatedly on the network’s commercials.

Perhaps you’ve seen the ad. If not, here it is in a nutshell: A young woman is shown in Georgia, lingering outside the U.S. Postal Service team bus, clutching some sort of Armstrong paraphernalia and on the verge of hysterics, shouting something along the lines of “Lance! I love you, Lance!”

Where and when this “crazed fan crosses the line”…well…you’ll just have to watch now, won’t you?

Can’t wait, huh?

Having been at the Tour de Georgia, I can attest to the throngs of fans waiting outside Postal’s team bus for an autograph, a photo, or just a glimpse of the world’s most famous cancer survivor. Lance’s amazing story is larger than life, the closest thing we can compare to a superhero. As Rick Reilly wrote in Sports Illustrated, everyone seemingly just wants to touch him, if only for an instant.

Armstrong has definitely reached, if not exceeded, “rock star” status. During and after college I worked as a music journalist, and I can hardly recall seeing that kind of attention outside any band’s tour bus. And in this modern age, I can understand his need for extra security; you never know who you’re coming into contact with.

But for the producers of “The Lance Chronicles” to splash the image of a young woman — in tears, desperately wishing to meet Lance — across network television with the voiced-over label of “one crazed fan crosses the line,” seems, well a little over-the-top to me. Emotional? Sure. Hysterical? Looks like it. Crazed? I guess we’ll see. But does anyone really want to?

•••

On the topic of “crossing the line”, a three-person USA Cycling panel has indeed denied Italian sprinter Roberto Gaggioli’s appeal and suspended him through the end of the year for an incident that took place May 1 at the Cheaha Challenge criterium in Anniston, Alabama.

USA Cycling’s chief of staff Sean Petty explained that although the hearing panel — which consisted of UCI International Commissaires Andy McCord and Noreen Landis-Tyson as well as USA Cycling certified coach Dirk Friel — recommended Gaggioli receive what amounts to a seven-month suspension from racing or directing his Monex team, (through December 31, 2004), chief executive officer Gerard Bisceglia must still approve the panel’s decision.

With the case settled, USA Cycling’s technical director Shawn Farrell was finally able to tell me a little about the proceedings. The hearing panel was done by conference call, with the three panel members, the chief referee from the Cheaha Challenge, Gaggioli, Gaggioli’s attorney Bob Mionkse, and Jonny Sundt.

“It’s not a court of law,” Farrell said, “It’s a formal administrative procedure. Everybody gets an opportunity to say what they wish. The purpose was for Roberto to defend himself. The hearing panel listened to Roberto’s testimony and that of the chief referee, and an investigator that recommended the suspension. After the panel thought about it for a period of time, they agreed with the suspension. USA Cycling’s decision was to go with the recommendation of the hearing panel.”

[Unlike previously reported, Gaggioli is not free to race within the American Cycling Association (ACA). As corrected by Stephen Haydel, a promoter of ACA permitted events, if a rider is suspended by the USCF, ORBA, ABR or UCI, he or she is not free to race in ACA races until the suspension is lifted, per rule 16.6, which states that the ACA will honor suspensions from other federations.]

“The decision of the panel was that Roberto had violated the rules,” Farrell said. “Their recommendation was to suspend Roberto through the end of the 2004 season. At the moment, the panel has the absolute authority to invoke a suspension for 30 days for a single incident. Beyond that, USA cycling’s chief executive officer is in the position to make the final decision.”

Gaggioli’s attorney Bob Mionske said that while Gaggioli is disappointed to miss out on racing, it’s the loss of his ability to lead the Monex team that will hurt the most.

“I think for Roberto, if he can’t race it’s not such a big deal,” Mionske said. “But he’s upset about not being allowed to direct the team, His manager’s license is the big deal. It’s his job. That’s how he’s making his living.”

Unfortunately, Petty added, this is not the only out-of-competition incident that has occurred this season. On Tuesday, June 1, USA Cycling announced the suspension of three other riders, stemming from various altercations over the past few months.

Radisa Cubric and Kurt Massey from North Carolina were suspended for getting into a fistfight after the Rock Hill Criterium on April 3rd. According to USA Cycling’s press release, “The incident was witnessed and reported by several people including riders and officials. A USA Cycling-appointed investigator researched the incident and made a recommendation for suspension.”

Cubric requested a hearing, and the hearing panel met on May 21st. After listening to testimony by both parties to the fight and reviewing written testimony of several witnesses, the panel decided that the complaint against Cubric was valid. They recommended a 3-month suspension for violation of USCF rules 1O2(a), grossly unsportsmanlike conduct, and 1O5(a-c), being disrespectful, using foul behavior, and assault. The suspension began on May 29th and ends August 29th, 2004.

In a third incident, Keith Horowitz of California has been suspended for a period of one year, The suspension began on May 29th and ends on May 28, 2005. Horowitz was found to have also violated rule 105(c), physical abuse to another person, at the Solvang criterium on May 8, 2004. Horowitz waived his right to a hearing in front of a USA Cycling hearing panel.“Besides being physically dangerous,” Petty said, “It’s a negative for people that see the sport and pay for the events. No one wants to be involved with that. This is not the World Wrestling Federation. That’s not what you’d expect at a bicycle race. Being physically attacked is way over the line, and there’s no room for it, especially when we’re trying to grow our sport.”•••In other news from USA Cycling, according to the selection procedures posted on the federation’s Web site, the riders listed below have earned a provisional invitation to the Team USA Selection Road Race on June 19 in Redlands, CA, based on their UCI or NRC Rankings. The winner of the race will earn a nomination to represent the U.S. at the Athens Olympic Games.

ALBERS Kelly Jelly Belly
ARMSTRONG Lance U.S. Postal
BAHATI Rahsaan Major Taylor
BAKER Jonathan Excel Sports
BAKER Peter Team Snow Valley
BALDWIN Christopher Navigators Insurance
BAUSCH Jason OFOTO Cycling Team
BERGMAN Adam Jelly Belly/Aramark
BISKNER Nieko OFOTO Cycling Team
BLANCHARD Scott Eclipse Racing
BLICKEM Ryan Aida’s Bail Bonds
BORDINE Karl Monex Cycling Team
BOUCHARD-HALL Kevin Louis Garneau Racing
BOWMAN Dan TIAA-CREF/5280
CALDWELL Blake TIAA-CREF/5280
CANDELARIO Alex Jelly Belly/Aramark
CARNEY Jonas Jelly Belly/Aramark
CARTER Joshua Long John Silver’s
CARTER Michael Marco Polo
CATE Steven Sharper Image/Mathis Brothers
CLEMENTE Ralp h Cycle Science
CLINGER David Domina Vacanze
CORNELIS Todd Subway-Express
CRATER Andy Monex Cycling Team
CREED Michael U.S. Postal
CRUZ Antonio U.S. Postal
DANIELSON Tom Fassa Bartolo
DECKER Carl Specialized
DeWALD Ryan Team Snow Valley
DIERKING Frank Athlete by Design
DIETRICH Mike Fiordifrutta
DILLE Ian Team Snow Valley
DUGGAN Timmy TIAA-CREF/5280
DULIN Thad Colavita Olive Oil/Bolla Wines
ELKEN Evan Broadmark Capital Elite
ELLIS Paul Jelly Belly/Aramark
ENGLAND Justin Webcor Builders Cycling Team
ERDELYI Jon OFOTO Cycling Team
FAIRBANKS Peter Bianchi / Grand Performance Racing Team
FALQUIER Dario Webcor Builders Cycling Team
FARRAR Tyler Health Net/Maxxis
FIDELUS Bart Reno Wheelmen
FRANCO Ivan JC Investors
FREDERICK Chris Aerospace Engineering
FRIEDICK Mariano Jelly Belly/Aramark
FRIEDMAN Michael East Suburban Sports
FRISCHKORN William Colavita Olive Oil
FUENTES David McGuire Pro Cycling
GANOUNG George US Armed Forces
GARLAPOW Adam Shickluna
GILLESPIE Stu TIAA-CREF/5280
GRITTERS Kyle Monex Cycling Team
HALDEMAN Benjamin Webcor Builders Cycling Team
HAMBY Russell Sierra Nevada Cycling
HAMILTON Tyler Phonak Hearing Systems
HARTLEY Chad Jittery Joes
HENRY Jay Specialized
HERRIOTT Todd Colavita Olive Oil/Bolla Wines
HILGER Eddy Gearlink.com
HINCAPIE George US Postal Service/BerryFloor
HODGES MYERSON Adam Sharper Image/Mathis Brothers
HORNER Christopher Webcor Builders Cycling Team
HUANG Ted Webcor Builders Cycling Team
HUERTA Aron Village Peddler
HUNT John Taylor
HYGELUND John Sierra Nevada Cycling
JACQUES-MAYNES Ben Sierra Nevada Cycling
JOHNSON Tim Saeco-Saunier Duval
JONES Brice Health Net/Maxxis
JONES Michael Health Net/Maxxis
JULICH Bobby Team CSC
KELLY John Webcor Builders Cycling Team
KERKHOF Joshua Ridge Mortgage Services
KILUN Roman McGuire Pro Cycling
KING Robbie Louis Garneau Racing
KLASNA Trent Sierra Nevada Cycling
KLUCK Damon U.S. Postal
LABERGE Dean GS Lombardi Sports
LANDIS Floyd U.S. Postal
LANGE Michael Sharper Image/Mathis Brothers
LARKIN Tim OFOTO Cycling Team
LARSON Dan Cycle Science
LAWLER Jesse Jittery Joes
LAWRENCE Evan Hammer Gel
LECHUGA Ernie Jelly Belly/Aramark
LEIPHEIMER Levi Rabobank
LIESWYN John Health Net/Maxxis
LIVINGSTON Adam Team Seasilver
LOKKESMOE Jason Health Net/Maxxis
LOPINTO Peter OFOTO Cycling Team
LOUDER Jeff Navigators Insurance
MAGNELL Sterling Sierra Nevada Cycling
MATTIS James Webcor Builders Cycling Team
MC CARTY Jonathan Patrick US Postal Service presentedby Berry Floor
McCARTNEY Jason Health Net/Maxxis
McCOOK David McGuire Pro Cycling
McCORMACK Mark Colavita Olive Oil
McKINLEY Scott USPS Masters Team
MILLER Andrew Landis Trek/VW
MILLER Ryan Ridge Mortgage Services
MILNE Shawn Fiordifrutta
MONAHAN Kevin
MONINGER Scott Health Net/Maxxis
MORAN Hugh Atlas Mining
MURPHY Eric Aerospace Engineering
MURPHY John AG Edwards/Nalley Lexus
NORMAN Aaron Owens Healthcare
NOTHSTEIN Marty Navigators Insurance
O’BEE Kirk Navigators Insurance
OLLERENSHAW Doug Jelly Belly/Aramark
OLSON Aaron Colavita Olive Oil/Bolla Wines
ORR Jeff Aerospace Engineering
PAGE Jonathan CCC Polsat
PAPP Joe Team Holland
PATE Daniel Health Net/Maxxis
PELTONEN Garrett Endeavour Cycling
PERERA Lawrence Sharper Image/Mathis Brothers
PIC Chris Jittery Joes
PIPP Frank Endeavour Cycling
POINTER Grayson Schwab Cycles/ Torelli
PRICHARD Ian Rio Grande
PUFFER John Athlete by Design
RABY Ben ABD Cycling Team
RAPOPORT Geoff La Grange
ROBINSON Barkley Rio Grande
RODRIGUEZ Fred Acqua & Sapone/Caffe Modambo
ROSENBERGER Jake Jittery Joes
RUBELT Jacob Landis Trek/VW
SARTAIN Jeremy Unattached
SAUNDERS Erik OFOTO Cycling Team
SAYERS Michael Health Net/Maxxis
SCHMATZ Daniel Health Net/Maxxis
SCHMIDT Chris NCVC/ Edge Technologies
SHEEDY Brian Taylor Bikes
SHELDRAKE Agnetti TIAA-CREF/5280
SHIRLEY Neil Team Seasilver
SMITH Bryan Endeavour Cycling
STEINBRECHER Corey Jelly Belly/Aramark
STEWART Jackson OFOTO Cycling Team
SULZEN Lance Team X Cycling
SUNDT Jonny Jittery Joes
SWENSON Carl RLX
SWINDLEHURST Burke Navigators Insurance
TARKINGTON Jon Vitamin Cottage
TERLECKI Todd La Grange
TILFORD Steve HRRC Pro/AM
TRENTI Guido Fassa Bartolo
VANDEVELDE Christian Liberty Seguros
VENTURA Robbie U.S. Postal
VIGUS Devon McGuire Pro Cycling
WADDELL Jason Sharper Image/Mathis Brothers
WALKER Zac OFOTO Cycling Team
WAMSLEY Kyle Fuji
WENGER David Sharper Image/Mathis Brothers
WEYEN Matt Iomega/ ORBEA
WHERRY Chris Health Net/Maxxis
WIKOFF Philip Cane Creek
WILCOX Craig Ridge Mortgage Services
WONG Phillip Fiordifrutta
WREN Tyler Colavita Olive Oil/Bolla Wines
ZABRISKIE Dave U.S. Postal
ZAJICEK Phil Navigators Insurance
ZINGARO Mike Cycle Science
ZWIZANSKI Scott OFOTO Cycling Team