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The mail bag: Forget Merckx, let’s pile on Maines!

Editor:I knew that it was only a matter of time before some uninformed dolt would write in to discuss Lance Armstrong’s superiority over Eddy Merckx in response to Eddy's critique of Lance. In response to Justin Maines’s inept letter (see “Of Cowboys and Cannibals”) - duuuude, put down the bong, turn off the Limp Bizkit, pull out your nose ring and listen up. Here are the stats. Eddy's wins: Five Tour victories (including a record 35 stage wins and 96 days in yellow), five Giros, one Vuelta, three world championships, the hour record, three Paris-Nices, one Tour of Switzerland, seven

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Editor:
I knew that it was only a matter of time before some uninformed dolt would write in to discuss Lance Armstrong’s superiority over Eddy Merckx in response to Eddy’s critique of Lance.

In response to Justin Maines’s inept letter (see “Of Cowboys and Cannibals”) – duuuude, put down the bong, turn off the Limp Bizkit, pull out your nose ring and listen up. Here are the stats.

Eddy’s wins: Five Tour victories (including a record 35 stage wins and 96 days in yellow), five Giros, one Vuelta, three world championships, the hour record, three Paris-Nices, one Tour of Switzerland, seven Milan-San Remos, two Tours of Flanders, three Paris-Roubaixes, five Liège-Bastogne-Lièges, two Amstels, two Tours of Lombardy, two Het Volks, four Ghent-Wevelgems, four Flèche-Wallonnes, one Paris-Brussels, one Henniger Turm and one Grand Prix des Nations. In all he had 445 professional victories. And in the 1969 Tour, he won all classifications – overall, points and King of the Mountains, the only person ever to do so.

Lance’s wins: Four Tours, one Midi Libre, one Dauphine, one Tour of Switzerland, one GP Eddy Merckx, one1 GP Des Nations, one Tour of Luxembourg, two Tours DuPont, one Flèche Wallone, one Classica San Sebastian, one world championship, and a handful of lesser known small professional races.

Folks, it’s no contest.

Hey, I love Lance and have been cheering for him since his 1993 world’s victory. He is obviously the best stage racer right now. But he is by no stretch of the imagination the best cyclist of all time, nor will he ever be. Eddy is by far the greatest cyclist who ever lived. No one else even comes close.

Few people have the credentials to critique Lance, and Eddy is certainly one of them. Sure, there may have been a grain of anger or bias in Eddy’s comments, but I suspect that some of the things he said were true (like everyone around Lance telling him how great he is). You are free to disagree with Eddy’s views about cycling, but 99.5 percent of the time you would be wrong.

Okay, Justin, you may now go back to watching the X-Games and eating Captain Crunch.

Blake Terry
Kansas City

Assertions about Merckx were ignorant
Editor:
What Merckx said was foolish, but only heat-of-the-moment foolish. On the other hand, Justin Maines’ assertions about Merckx’s abilities are just ignorant.

You don’t like Merckx’s comments, say so. But don’t say he wasn’t a good cyclist – because then we’ll question everything else you have to say, too.

Tom Stork
Arlington, VA

Merckx was a freak of nature
Editor:
Has Justin Maines ever seen Eddy Merckx ride? He says, “In today’s era he would only be slightly more successful than his son.” All due respect to Axel, you have got to be kidding me – Eddy Merckx wasn’t just a little bit better than his contemporaries, he was a freak of nature. Blend crazy desire with off-the-dial physiology and you have Eddy Merckx. Whether 1960s, 1970s or 21st century, this guy would win at any level.

Mike Piek

Young, dumb and uninformed
Editor:
Justin must be one of the following: Very young, very dumb, or very uninformed. Or maybe all three. Eddy Merckx was the greatest rider ever!

Great athletes are not arrogant but confident. And the current list of top UCI racers are specialists. Eddy did all the races. Had he specialized in the Tour, God only knows how many he could have won.

In his time he was the most dominant rider in every type of race. And he did it on equipment you wouldn’t even ride down to the corner store on.We all love Lance, and he’s an amazing guy, but Justin, shut the f— up!

Michael Fine

Merckx was wrong, but Maines was worse
Editor:
Justin Maines’ e-mail regarding Eddy Merckx is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen in print regarding cycling, and that is saying a lot.

I am going to assume that Mr. Maines is about 14 years old, has never read anything about the history of pro bike racing, and was reacting out of anger because he is a huge Armstong fan, as am I.

The only statement I have a problem with is Merckx stereotyping Americans as people who think they can do anything they want. Given events in Iraq and elsewhere, though, one can see why Europeans in particular might hold this view of us.

Ben Banks
The most ridiculous thing in print regarding cycling? Clearly, you’ve never read one of Patrick O’Grady’s columns. – Editor

Lance is great, but not the best
Editor:
My beef, as much as I love Lance: Please, let’s cut it with the “best cyclist of our era” crap. This is a guy who trains and lives for the Tour. We all remember the likes of Sean Kelly, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault – these boys were at the very first classic and trudging through snow with their bikes on their shoulders, doing cyclo-cross late into the winter.

We have been fortunate to live through an era that has produced some truly incredible cyclists more worthy of the title as “best of our era.” Lance is great. Best? I don’t think so.

Frank Fortunato
Markham, Ontario, Canada

Merckx was off base with stereotype
Editor:
Eddy Merckx’s comments after L-B-L have touched a nerve precisely for what he implies about the American character and the current American foreign policy. One reads that Lance is cocky and brash, as are all Americans (especially Texans), and that this behavior is not without risk. These comments are a thin veil to cover the majority European view that current American foreign policy is a dangerous form of cowboy unilateralism.

I do not wish to defend Lance’s humility, nor the policies of the Bush administration, as both are apparently lacking. However, to imply that the failings of one are correlated with the failings of the other, and to imply that both failings are a symptom of a fundamental American character flaw, is, as one of your readers puts it, “garbage.” As a Belgian-American, and a cyclist, I say, “Shut up, Eddy.”

Tom Brutsaert
Albany, NY

Look what they did to my boy
Editor:
Scene from the biopic of Lance Armstrong’s life story, with Eddy Merckx played by Marlon Brando and Lance Armstrong played by Nicholas Cage:

Merckx : So American, you are disrespecting my son.

Armstrong: No, Godfather, it wasn’t like that.

Merckx: And if you disrespect my son, you disrespect me.

Armstrong: No, Godfather, please.

Merckx: Let us see how well you climb when your OCLV frame is full of lead and your SPD pedals are set in a concrete block [bit of product placement here].

Stan Thomas

Alison’s one champ who isn’t arrogant
Editor:
I can think of one who is not arrogant at the top. Try Alison Dunlap on for size. She is never arrogant as a person or a professional. Awesome person! A true hero.

Tim Watkins

Uh, could we talk about Tyler?
Editor:
Hey, I have an idea: instead of arguing about Eddy Merckx’s dissing of Lance and whether or not it was justified, why don’t we talk about the real story of L-B-L, which is the sensational performance of Tyler Hamilton (and the rest of the CSC team) in winning the race. Tyler is, after all, the first American to win L-B-L, and he did it by outriding everybody else that day.

Phil Maloney
Boulder, CO

Darth Dura-Ace is one for the Dark Side
Editor:
Although not having viewed it in person (thus reserving the right to change my mind – I am a American, after all), am I the only one who thinks that the new Dura-Ace crank is felony ugly? It looks like some “Star Wars” prop-department reject.

Erik Nicholson
Ventura, CA

Drop a note to OLN
Editor:
I’m with Scott and Fred regarding OLN’s race-highlights show: “You can’t watch team tactics and see how a race unfolded with highlights.” I’m going to actually e-mail OLN about that. I don’t expect one e-mail from me to cause any big changes, but if enough of us pile on, (hint, hint), maybe we can get what we want.

Rob Roeder

Forget NCS: Here’s a series that works
Editor:
Instead of reporting the ineptitude of NORBA and the NCS, depressing the hell out of us all the time, why don’t you do a story on the great growth of the state series?

Check out the WORS website. Come to a race and see 1000 to 1500 competitors of all ages, sizes and abilities, get entered, to the line, start and to the finish line in a smooth, well-organized manner. It might amaze you to see what racing could be.

Craig R. Shwonek
Milwaukee, WI

Got an opinion on something – other than the Eddy-vs.-Lance issue, which has become a tad stale? Write us at WebLetters@7dogs.com.