Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Tuesday’s mailbag: OLN’s on-air talent, doping, Tour history, left field and The Great Gazoo

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.Trautwig needs to try listening for a changeEditor:Al Trautwig needs to listen a little more – no, a lot more - and talk less. His producers should squelch his talking over Bobke and maybe monitor the timing of Al's ADD meds a little

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.


Trautwig needs to try listening for a change
Editor:
Al Trautwig needs to listen a little more – no, a lot more – and talk less. His producers should squelch his talking over Bobke and maybe monitor the timing of Al’s ADD meds a little more closely, so as to calm him down for the Roadside Tour commentary. It’s not all about sensationalism, wet roads and crashes, and “riders tucking under the slipstream behind the riders ‘breaking wind’ in front.” Reminds me of the inane comments of Paula Zahn interviewing Greg LeMond 20 years ago.

Don Schilling
San Diego, California

No, he needs to take a hike
Editor:
I used to enjoy listening to Al Trautwig concerning sports. However, I believe that Al has become quite a stuffed shirt. His appearance with Phil, Paul, and Bob at The Tour de France has turned me off! He not only makes fun of Bob constantly, he has made remarks about Phil and Paul’s English accents. I feel he takes away some of my enjoyment of the greatest bicycle contest in the world. How do we remove him from this history in the making? Al, take a hike!

Daniel W. McAllister
Yucca Valley, California

Al’s reminiscent of Karsten’s klowning
Editor:
I can’t take it, and I know that I am not alone. Last night my wife and I were aghast at the time-filling drivel coming out of Al Trautwig’s mouth, so much so that we have decided to only watch the live coverage with Phil and Paul (we are going to tape it).

I feel completely sorry for Bob Roll. He is out of his element, and I don’t think that even he can save this ship. Reminds me of the days of Adrian Karsten. I think I saw him last covering bowling on ESPN.

Dewayne Fox
Lewes, Delaware

Who hires these commentators, and why?
Editor:
Why, oh why is it that, year after year, the OLN producers continue to believe that the American prime-time viewing audience needs “color” commentary from the likes of Adrian Karsten and Al Trautwig? These ignorant announcers fill the air with worthless statements that only help keep the American public from learning the true nuances of Tour racing.

Yesterday, Al wondered aloud why there weren’t more camera shots of Lance, which is comparable to wondering why baseball doesn’t show continuous footage of Sammy Sosa in the field waiting for a ball to be hit to him; or sitting on the bench waiting for his turn at bat. Al, there’s a game going on out there, and the cameras are where the action is. Lance is just waiting for his turn at the plate, which will come soon enough. Meanwhile, there are other players on the field mixing it up, and giving the audience a great show. And, by the way, the film crews do an very nice job of showing the top riders riding in the peloton from time to time. Nothing personal, Al, but OLN, please increase the amount of the “Phil and Paul” morning coverage you edit into the prime-time show. Give the American public the opportunity to learn about cycling from commentators who know the sport. And my roommate would like a little more airtime for Kirsten Gumm, too.

Tom Anderson
Golden, Colorado

Short-wave coverage, anyone?
Editor:
Yes, for me the Tour is only two stages old and I’m tired of the show also. It is a double-edged sword that we Americans have to endure — the likes of Al, Kirsten and now the Cutters, just to wait for our beloved Phil, Paul and Bob.

I’ve been trying to find any short-wave bands that would bring me Tour radio coverage. Is there anyone that can send a signal?

Maybe I would lighten up a little if Hans Rey showed up in tomorrow’s stage, riding his mountain bike across the pavé with the peloton.

Thanks, OLN, for the coverage and the “Cyclysm.”

Peter Downey
Lake Mills, Wisconsin

Kirsten and Cutters are the worst
Editor:
I nearly gagged when I caught the OLN coverage of the Tour (stage 1). To begin with, I am desperately in need of witnessing Lance Armstrong dethroned, especially after having caught a few episodes of “The Lance Chronicles.” What a self-absorbed individual!

The worst thing about the coverage is Kirsten and those Cutter freaks who meander about Belgium and France asking the locals about Independence Day. I wonder how many Americans would be able to explain the Bastille Day celebration.

Just cover the @#%&*!! Tour! I don’t need to hear some hick explain his most exciting Lance moment.

David Rusnak
Claremont, New Hampshire

At least Al knows the race’s name . . .
Editor:
At least Al Trautwig can pronounce the name of the event properly. Perhaps when someone (please, pretty please!) grabs some duct tape and ties Bob Roll’s hand behind his back, he will be better able to concentrate on other things like proper pronunciation. Sorry, Bob, but the race is not called the Toor dee Frayntz.

Michael Nathanson
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Bring back Kirsten, and remember Eddy
Editor:
I agree with Steve Bailey. The moment I first listened to Trautwig I shuddered. Bring back Kirsten; she’s just as good or better, easier on my eyes, and seems much happier and enthusiastic.

And one more thing … these guys are talking way too much about that if Lance wins he will “own” the tour. I wrote OLN about this, and I’ll repeat it: Nothing is going to happen this summer that will affect Eddy Merckx’s reign. Not until Lance spends as many days in the yellow jersey as Eddy, wins as many stages as Eddy, wins the sprinter’s jersey like Eddy, wins the climber’s jersey like Eddy…. Sorry, guys, Merckx still casts the dominant shadow over the Tour, no matter what Lance does. Sure, if Lance wins a sixth it will be huge, but these clowns on OLN are neglecting to put it in what I consider, at least, to be the correct perspective.

During a ride yesterday I was forming this way of describing Lance all of this. I think Lance’s mountain stages of the past five years should be afforded legendary status in the annals of the Tour. He has ridden the mountains, attacking while in the yellow jersey, in the manner of Eddy; and I am sure his close friendship with the Belgian has had its influence even if Lance had been predisposed to this style. His climbing technique was taught to him by Indurain. He is definitely the brightest son of two of cycling’s greatest gods, but in the hierarchy of the Tour, and of cycling in general, Eddy remains Zeus.

John Salomon
Bloomington, IL
P.S.: I’m laughing really loud at the editor’s remark about yellow jerseys being for everyone. Well put!

Al is for Yanks and newbies, and he’ll improve
Editor:
I would like to come to the defense of Al Trautwig in response to Steve Bailey’s request to pull his plug. It seems to me that Al’s job is to ask questions that someone who is new to the sport might ask, in order to better educate the American public about the sport of cycling. If so, then he’s right on.

Granted he’s had some blunders, such as mentioning Floyd Landis in a list of Lance’s rivals, but he’s new to the sport and I’m sure we’ll see him evolve as the Tour goes on, much like a GC rider who is riding into form for the final week.

Besides, if you don’t want to hear so much of him, tape the live coverage of the race and watch it later. This will give a healthy dose of Phil and Paul and no Bob and Al. There voices over the race in the prime-time coverage is an obvious attempt to appeal to the American viewer who can’t relate to Phil and Paul’s British demeanor.

Roderick Vesper
Erlanger, Kentucky

Al’s welcome change from Brits
Editor:
I have to disagree with you and the reader that lamented over OLN’s decision to pair Al Trautwig with Bob Roll. It has been music to my ears to not have to listen to those two Brits, Phil and Paul. I mean, seriously, don’t they get on your nerves, too?

Phil is like the Bob Costas of cycling … when he’s on he’s on, but when he’s not on he just talks for the sake of talking, needlessly filling any void with stupid or self-glorifying comments. And if I have to hear Paul talk about his “glory days” one more time, I’m going to puke.

Scott Kennedy
Chattanooga, Tennessee

How’d we get Al? How do we lose him?
Editor:
I agree with Steve from Boulder. The question isn’t, “How did we end up with Al Trautwig?” What most of us wonder is how long will we have to listen to him before he gets booted?

Frank Tornetta
Conshohocken, Pennsylvania

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones . . .
Editor:
Is anybody else old enough to remember “Kazoo,” the space-alien friend of Fred Flintstone? I could have sworn that I saw Kazoo racing in the TdF prologue (or else a lot of riders were borrowing his helmet and skinsuit).

Kevin Kinnear
Boulder, Colorado

. . . they’re a modern Stone Age fam-il-y
Editor:
I don’t think that was Robbie McEwen at all. It was the great Kazoo.

Eric Nelson
Waukesha, Wisconsin

Kevin, meet Eric; Eric, Kevin. You should get along famously, as you clearly have something in common – you both got the name of The Great Gazoo wrong. And yeah, we’re way old. We remember the Yellow Kid.— Editor

Would other sports accept this doping toll?
Editor:
Imagine seeing the headline in Sports Illustrated: “Seventh NCAA Basketball Player This Year Dies of Heart Attack.” It would never happen. Why? because panic would ensue after the first, or certainly after the second. There would be so much attention that the scandal would literally shut down the sport.

Granted, cycling has headed in this direction on a couple of occasions, but it remains unbelievable the way we are willing to accept the sheer number of athletes who die every year as a result of “natural causes” in their team hotels, dentist chairs and the like. If nothing else, this should ring some alarm bells, yet it seems to be swept away with astonishing efficacy.

The UCI was so quick to put a helmet rule in place after the Kivilev incident. Now, let’s stop dragging our feet on doping and stamp the problem out where we can make a difference — in the amateur ranks and neo-pros in Europe and North America. Once these guys reach the top of the sport ranks; it is too late for old habits to change, and it is much too late for those who never make it.

Andrew Leach
Montreal, Québec

Make ’em all dope
Editor:
The whole problem with doping is it allegedly gives an athlete an advantage over his competitors. If that’s the case, and we can never be too sure who’s doped and who’s not, why not make everyone dope? Line them all up at the starting line and let them inject, snort, or insert whatever suppository they believe will help them win.

Dan Murphy
San Diego, California

Doping, schmoping: Prologue gave us a fine sports moment
Editor:
No matter what anyone says, Saturday’s prologue is what cycling is all about. Screw the doping, the mega-millions, the politics – the looks on Cancellara’s face when he not only won the stage but the yellow jersey, and seeing a kid riding – and winning – the dream, is what it’s all about. I’m as big a fan of Lance, Tyler, Bobby, and Levi as they come – but seeing Cancellara visibly blinking and wondering if he was dreaming on the podium brought it all home. That was as fine a sports moment as we have ever seen, people. Dave Parish
Houston, Texas

And now, a Tour history lesson
Editor:
Roy Townsley sees a French Socialist conspiracy in the new rule limiting the time loss an individual rider can suffer in the team time trial. I might submit that this rule goes to the heart of Tour de France culture and its origins.

The Tour’s founder, Henri Desgrange, felt very strongly that the winner of the Tour should be the victor by virtue of his own efforts. He detested the idea that a weaker rider might win because he had a stronger team or that a better rider might fail to win because his team was not strong enough.

It all came to a head in the 1929 Tour when an ailing Maurice Dewaele was nursed through the final stages and eventual overall victory by his powerful Alcyon team. This enraged Desgrange. The next year, trying to solve the problem, Desgrange did away with trade teams and switched to a national-team format. This did not bring about the resolution Desgrange sought, but it demonstrates the seriousness with which this question was viewed.

In the 21st century, we don’t take these concerns as seriously as Desgrange did, but the strength of the Tour culture cannot be ignored.

Bill McGann
Camarillo, California

Batter up . . .
Editor:
Nice column (see “Friday’s foaming rant: Trouble is my business”), but Barry Bonds does not hit homers to left field. Marc Drabik
Portland, Maine

Funny, Marc, O’Grady has spent most of his life out in deep left field, and he’s certain that Bonds has popped at least one his way. — 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.