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Thursday’s mailbag: Noval, black socks, OLN coverage and live updates

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.Noval’s doing a fine jobEditor:I was sorry to read Holly Whitney's note about Ben Noval not being the right man for the job. Did she notice his work today? I wish people would stop second-guessing the wisdom and experience of both

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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.


Noval’s doing a fine job
Editor:
I was sorry to read Holly Whitney’s note about Ben Noval not being the right man for the job. Did she notice his work today? I wish people would stop second-guessing the wisdom and experience of both Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel. I believe they have been able to select the right riders in the past – why not sit back and enjoy the show and trust them this time also?

Greg Gilliland
Tehachapi, California

Black socks, white skinsuits
Editor:
Black socks may be a fashion faux pas, but at least they ain’t white skinsuits in the rain.

Pete LaVerghetta
Cheltenham, Pennsylvania

Coverage critics bother industry vet
Editor:
As a person who has been in the bicycle industry nearly 20 years, it’s bothered me to read all the harsh criticism about the OLN commentators and coverage.

First off, we need to appreciate our ability to watch the coverage live. I feel Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen are very good at what they do. Do they make a mistake here and there? Sure. Commenting on live action cannot be easy. So if they miss a crank or pedal hitting the ground to cause a crash, big deal. I’m sure they could do voiceovers and we could see it recorded hours later with the mistakes edited out. I feel they deliver the race coverage in a very professional manner.

It seems as though Al Trautwig is trying to bridge the gap to help the new enthusiast understand. This sport and this event seem to have rules that need to be explained (take this year’s timing for the TTT, for example). As for Kirsten Gumm ,she seemed to be knowledgable in last year’s Tour coverage as well as the “Road to the Tour” show over the last few months. So, hopefully we can see her delivering more inside information as the Tour progresses.

Speaking for my friends in this industry, we would all like nothing more to see this sport grow, so do us a favor – instead of wasting your time by complaining about coverage, ask your friends who may not be avid cyclists if they are watching the Tour. Help spread this wonderful event to new enthusiasts.

Robb Mesecher
Valencia, California

These kids, they don’t know how good they’ve got it
Editor:
Those voicing the loudest complaints about OLN coverage appear to be mostly either too young or too ignorant (or both) to know any better. Some of the obnoxious drivel in your letters (such as “I’m often left wondering what Phil and Paul would talk about for three hours if Lance crashed out of the race”) is such egregious bunk that one wonders if the writer even knows where France is.

First of all, Liggett has been commentating bicycle races since Armstrong was in diapers, and he has been absolutely brilliant for a generation. Paul Sherwen has been reporting for at least the last 15 years or more and was a top-flight racer before that. They both know more about bike racing in general and the Tour de France in particular than all your negative correspondents put together will ever dream of knowing.

As for the inimitable Bob Roll, his VeloNews columns, both serious and humorous, were one of the few places where the nuances of professional road racing were taught to a whole generation of Americans new to the sport.

A final comment on OLN. Some of us remember the days before OLN and before the Internet when we had to wait six weeks for the next issue of VeloNews before we could find out what really happened in the Tour. I am quite content to put up with all the hype, all the hokey stuff from Al Trautwig and Kirsten Gumm, and, if necessary, a whole lot more to have the pure pleasure of actually watching the race on the same day and in splendid detail.

Let’s face it, OLN is a great gift to bicycling, snide comments of smart-ass Gen-Xers notwithstanding. Or maybe these guys would rather see the Tour once a week as a half hour “minor sport” segment on “Wide World of Sports.”

David E. James
Alexandria, Virginia

We’re not sure, but we think we’ve been insulted here. We’ll get back to you in six weeks and let you know whether we were. — Editor

Poor Bobke, next to Al
Editor:
I concur with the overall response to Al being the main cycling commentator. I feel so sorry for Bobke as he looks terribly uncomfortable at times wielding a forced smile next to Al. Bobke has so much to offer yet is stifled by Al. OLN, what a big mistake.

Carl Germano
USA

If you think Bobke looks uncomfortable after Al says something particularly dim, try watching British EuroSport and listening to Sean Kelly’s painful silences following another astute observation from Phil Anderson’s wife, Kristie. — Editor

Enough about OLN, already
Editor:
Can we call a moratorium on OLN comments? I know complaining can be fun, but jeez, enough is enough. If you really hate the coverage that much, do what I did years ago and cancel your dish/cable service and follow it on the web. Think of all the junk you could buy for your bike with the money you save.

Scott Emerson-Price
Pleasant Hill, California

We couldn’t agree more, Scott. Foaming rantist Patrick O’Grady swore off cable and satellite two years ago and claims he couldn’t be happier – but then, he has had more than a few helmetless crashes. Still, in future, anyone with a gripe about OLN should contact the network directly. We’re going to try to concentrate on bicycle racing for a change.— Editor

VN’s live updates put you right into the race
Editor:
When I’m marooned on the road without the benefit of OLN’s live Tour coverage each morning, your Live Updates remind me of how absolutely fantastic I thought they were before I subscribed to a satellite service that carried OLN.

In many ways they are even better than the evening TV coverage, since I do not have to listen to Trautwig’s uninformed ramblings or get seasick watching Bobbie’s wild hand gesticulations. The writer knows just how to tweak the suspense of certain key moments to make me feel as if I’m right there watching the action.

Please do not ever discontinue these live updates! Many, many thanks.

Jim Santagata
Brooklyn, New York

Thanks, Jim. The poor guy who has to do those updates gets up before the guy who delivers your morning paper, and it’s not always easy to be witty and incisive when the brain that drives the fingers is wishing it was back on the pillow, dreaming of stomping the guts out of Richard Virenque on L’Alpe d’Huez. – Editor


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.