Racing to perdition, bottles in Belgium and frequent flyer tips

Vino's win, bottles in Belgium and frequent flyer tips

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Restoring a sullied reputation

Dear Editor,
I’ve long felt that those riders caught doping should, having served their time, be allowed to return unconditionally to the peloton and their careers as professional cyclists. Never, however, have I entertained the fantasy that all aspects of that career will ever be the same for the returning offenders. Certainly there are no guarantees. They return with reputations shot, reputations that must be restored incrementally one event at a time. Peers and fans alike, in their support and emotional attachment, are justified in long keeping them at arm’s length.

Vino’s apparent expectation that upon his return all is forgiven and life on the bike will go on just as before shows that at this time he may well be as out of touch with the essence of this great sport as he was, sadly, three years ago.

Dennis Keough
Clinton Washington

He’s served his time

I myself believe that doping suspensions should be longer and harsher, but the rules and punishments have been established and Alexander Vinokourov served his time.

I think it is absurd to disrespect a man who has just won one of the greatest races in cycling because he served a doping suspension. It’s not addressing the issue at hand.

If individuals, whether members of the press or fans, have an issue with an athlete winning a race after serving a doping suspension, they should lobby for doping suspensions to be longer or athletes to never return to the sport.

I wasn’t too happy with Vino’ winning the race and I would have loved to see any number of riders who had not doped in their career win in Liège. However, if we set down rules which allow for a rider to return, it is irresponsible not to give him the respect he deserves. Sunday’s Liège was a great race and Vino got a well-deserved win.

Let’s give the man the respect he deserves.

Charlie Carroll
Santa Rosa, California

He’s back!

Bravo to Vinokourov for his Liège-Bastogne-Liège win. It was hard won and a really exciting ending. Thanks again to the live reporting.

Vinokourov and others have paid their fine or served their time, so let ’em race in peace.

Welcome back, Vino. You are one of the most exciting racers in the peloton.
Nolan Winkler
Hillsboro, New Mexico

Confession is good for the soul … and career

I read with interest the reports of fan’s response to Vino’s win this past weekend. Why are some forgiven for their iniquities (doping/suspension) while others don’t appear to be? It’s simple. Some have come clean, admitted their wrongdoings, and have been forgiven.

It’s hard to forgive when one only in passing acknowledges they may have done something wrong. If Vino’ wishes to get back in the good graces of the fans (we are the ones ultimately paying their salaries, however indirectly, aren’t we?) come clean, admit your mistakes, and ride clean.

He claims to be doing the latter, and until proven differently I’ll grudgingly give him that, but I’ve yet to hear from him as to the former.

Was there a message in that camera angle? | AFP Photo
Was there a message in that camera angle? | AFP Photo

Ron Mandsager
Philomath, Oregon

A message?

Dear Editors,
Thanks for posting a picture of Vino winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège taken from the rear!

I hope that was a conscious decision on your part. What a fitting tribute to his win. It’s like leaving a nickel tip to a waiter. It’s more of an insult than no tip at all.

Mike Tierney
Ontario Canada

Trash service

As a former road racer turned to Ironman in my “golden” years, my thought on discarded water bottles is this. If you can get 2000 recreational riders to toss bottles in “trash zones” can’t you get the pro peloton to do the same? Put team names and a fine for those found outside pick up zones, wouldn’t that do it.

Gee, I hope this doesn’t sound like one of those letters from a Fred.

Billy Dean Johnson
Scottsdale, Arizona

The frequent flyers’ solution

Regarding Ian Wright’s recent letter about airline charges for bicycles, I recently took my own bicycle and paid no airline baggage fees when I extended a business trip by two days and pre-rode the Paris Roubaix course. I’ve managed to do the same in 2007n when I pre-rode Liège-Bastogne-Liège (and a bit of the Amstel Gold course), and for rides in Albuquerque, Singapore and Oslo, etc. All without excess baggage fees.

How? I own a Ritchey Breakaway, the frame comes apart to fit in a “legal” size bag. The bike handled Arenberg forest and 30km more of cobblestones with no problems at all. Riding in exotic locations (Northern France / Belgium is exotic) is a lifelong passion, and the bike makes it possible and at these rates it pays for itself in a few trips. Not only can I fly with no extra fee, but the travel bag actually fits in European-sized taxis and hotel rooms during the work week.

If you love cycling enough to travel to Europe to ride the courses of your favorite races, you already own several bikes. What’s one more?

Bret Dunbar
Houston, Texas