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Sunday’s mailbag: Upset in making? Plus conspiracy theory, the sock debate, haiku and the Horner-McEwen matchup

The Mail Bag is a Monday-Wednesday-Friday feature on VeloNews.com, but will appear daily during the Tour. 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.Could Voeckler pull off an upset?Editor:I haven't heard of any real digging into the background of Thomas Voeckler, just that he is a decent all-around rider with some climbing ability. Could this be a Tour reminiscent of the Claudio

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The Mail Bag is a Monday-Wednesday-Friday feature on VeloNews.com, but will appear daily during the Tour. 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.


Could Voeckler pull off an upset?
Editor:
I haven’t heard of any real digging into the background of Thomas Voeckler, just that he is a decent all-around rider with some climbing ability. Could this be a Tour reminiscent of the Claudio Chiappucci days? It seems like a nine-minute lead and some climbing ability could be hard for the favorites to overcome. What are the chances that there is a surprise in the works and the yellow jersey becomes harder than anticipated to remove from Voeckler’s back?

C.B. Bechtel
Morrison, Colorado

Anything’s possible, C.B. That’s why they hold the race – to find out who wins. But there are heaps of time to be gained and lost once the Tour heads for the hills, and none of the favorites seem to be losing much sleep over Voeckler’s lead. – Editor

Tour organizers trying to engineer Lance’s failure?
Editor:
It seems that over the past several years, Tour organizers have made an effort to foil Lance’s bid for another victory by engineering the course to work against him.

Is it inconceivable to think that the format of this year’s race was structured so that, by chance, he could crash out during the first week? I believe at last count 99 riders have hit the asphalt, and some big names have been too injured to continue. According to Tyler Hamilton’s assessment (see “Tyler Tunes: Rain and chaos theory”), course designers bear some culpability.

Conspiracy theory? Maybe. But is it not plausible to think the French organization would try to rid themselves of the American?

Van Ramos Jr.
Nolanville, Texas

We recall hearing similar rumors during the Indurain era, and we suspect there may be a grain of truth in there somewhere. But we also suspect that, if true, such deliberate course design would have more to do with Armstrong’s dominance than his nationality. — Editor

Lance’s socks: Euro influence or attempt to accessorize?
Editor:
Regarding Armstrong wearing black socks, the following may settle the controversy.

First, black socks with a silver/grey swoosh highlight match his overall bike/shoe color scheme; which weaves together those colors. His Trek is black with silver/gray flame highlights. His shoes are black and silver/gray.

Moreover, I believe that the USPS team shorts include bands of black (on the leeward side), tying black into the rest of the apparel’s blue/red/white scheme. From what I’ve seen, the team arm and leg warmers are also black.

Second, Armstrong spends a lot of time in Europe, where I’ve found sock sense to be opposite of U.S. custom. When I was married in France, I forgot to bring socks with my black suit/black shoes. When this came to light with my wife’s family, one of the women volunteered to dash out and get a pair for me. When I asked what color she would get, the reply from everyone in the room, spontaneously and in unison, was (in English): “White, of course.” I was appalled, explaining that white socks with black suit pants and black shoes would be ridiculous by American taste.

Perhaps a broader sock-sense has diffused into Armstrong during his considerable time abroad. By my first point, above, wearing black certainly has a basis. To those still appalled, it’s noteworthy that he does wear white socks with a black swoosh highlight as well.

John Gilmore
Palo Alto, California

Road-geek pots calling Lance’s kettle black
Editor:
Doesn’t anyone else find it humorous that road cyclists are criticizing another rider’s fashion statement? Black socks are the least of your concerns!

Ed Ellinger
Evergreen, Colorado

We wear red socks ourselves. They match our eyes. — Editor

Haiku great; web reports good; OLN getting better
Editor:
Just wanted to say the haiku during the stage 6 Live Update of the Tour were fabulous. I was laughing out loud in the office, and people were wondering what I was up to. If I could have contributed at that time, I would have.

Your web reports are my only way of keeping in touch with the Tour at work (darn network folks have blocked nearly every other site, including your forum). Keep up the good work.

And not to throw gas on the fire, but Al and Bob are getting better at the announcing, and they actually look like they are having a good time – so pthhhhh to those that want to string them up.

Trish Martinez
Fenton, Michigan

Laughter in the cube
Work slows, and colleagues wonder
What goes on in there.— Editor

Praise Webcor while pounding Horner
Editor:
Let’s not alienate a good sponsor because a great racer is also an arrogant jerk. Perhaps we should all try following each statement about the estimable Chris Horner with something like this: “… who races for, but does not speak for, Webcor Builders, a company that has taken the risk to sponsor professional cycling in America and through its efforts gives Christine Thorburn, Justin England, and every current or aspiring pro more opportunity to follow the dream.”

Webcor deserves praise as much as their star deserves what he’s getting.

Dan Fuller
Seattle, Washington

Robbie, meet Chris; Chris, Robbie
Editor:
Robbie McEwen and Chris Horner should be lucky enough to find themselves on the same team someday. They could compare “I’m the greatest” stories while riding together. Good gawd, boys! Get over yourselves! Win everything you race; then we’ll start to listen.

Kevin Smith
Salado, Texas


The Mail Bag is a Monday-Wednesday-Friday feature on VeloNews.com, but will appear daily during the Tour. 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.