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Wednesday’s mail

VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something in the pages of VeloNews magazine or see something on VeloNews.com thatcauses you to want to write us, dropus a line.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mail tothis address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.It really isn't about the bikeTo the bicycle racing community;Gilberto Simoni of the Saeco/Cannondale team, to which we are the officialbicycle and clothing sponsor, tested positive on two recent occasions fortraces of cocaine.  The first test was administered on April 24, andthe

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VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. If you run across something in the pages of VeloNews magazine or see something on VeloNews.com thatcauses you to want to write us, dropus a line.Please include your full name and home town. By submitting mail tothis address, you are consenting to the publication of your letter.


It really isn’t about the bikeTo the bicycle racing community;Gilberto Simoni of the Saeco/Cannondale team, to which we are the officialbicycle and clothing sponsor, tested positive on two recent occasions fortraces of cocaine.  The first test was administered on April 24, andthe second on May 21 during the Giro d’Italia.  As a result of thefirst test, the Saeco team withdrew Simoni from the Giro.  As a resultof the second test, the team suspended him without pay.  Yesterday,the organizers of the Tour de France withdrew the Saeco team’s invitationto the 2002 Tour (see “Saecoout of the Tour“).There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that we owe you, as a fan ofprofessional bicycle racing, an explanation of our stance on drugs, onour association with Gilberto Simoni, and on our sponsorship of professionalbike racing.Our commitment to drug-free cycling
Cannondale and the other sponsors of the Saeco team are firmly committedto keeping drugs out of professional cycling.  It should be notedthat it was the decision of the Saeco team – and not the decision of theUCI or the Giro organizers – to withdraw Simoni from the race followingthe test that first revealed traces of an illegal drug.  The teamacted promptly and decisively, and we fully supported their decision.Our commitment to the rider
Simoni doesn’t dispute the results of the tests that found evidenceof cocaine in his system.  However, he absolutely insists in the strongestpossible terms that he has never knowingly used cocaine.  He is nowworking to prove how, without his knowledge, traces of cocaine enteredhis body.  A visit by Simoni to his dentist on April 24 (the dateof the first test) has proven to not be the source of the cocaine.Since cocaine use is a civil crime in Italy, the Italian police areconducting a thorough investigation into the case and Simoni is providinghis full cooperation.  In the interest of fairness, and in the absenceof any new, incontrovertible findings, Simoni’s future with the Saeco teamwill be determined following the conclusion of this investigation. Of course, should it become clear that Simoni knowingly used cocaine forany reason, he will be dismissed from the team immediately.Our commitment to racing
When we first set out to make bicycles in 1983, we never imagined thatour quest to build the finest possible racing bikes would lead us here. We are much more comfortable discussing the engineering merits of tubediameters and fabrication techniques than we are debating the technicalitiesof pharmacology and legal process.  This is new territory for us,the proper path isn’t always clear, and we ask for your patience and understandingas we try to do what is right.What is clear to us is that our passion for handcrafting the world’smost innovative bikes remains.  We count on the feedback and insightsof the world’s top professional racers to help us constantly improve ourbicycles. Our goal has always been to work with honest, fair-minded, drug-freeathletes with the highest level of integrity.  If future events orcircumstances cause us to conclude that this isn’t possible, we won’t hesitateto reevaluate and possibly terminate our involvement with any individualor team in professional cycling.Sincerely,
Joseph S. Montgomery
Founder and President,
CannondaleWhat sort of message does that send?I’m all for cheats being kicked out of the sport, but the Tour de France’sactions don’t appear to be consistent with encouraging teams to policethemselves.Saeco appear to have taken prompt action to get rid of Simoni when evidencewas available to show he was using drugs of whatever kind.  The factthat cocaine is not an especially effective performance enhancer for enduranceathletes might have given them a loophole to argue that Simoni should stay,but the management did not take advantage of this and instead enforcedthe rules they publicly committed to – as they should.However, by taking the action that it did the Tour reduced the incentivefor teams to follow Saeco’s lead in the future.  Instead of removingoffending athletes from their rosters, teams are more likely to keep positivetests quiet, and the transparency that we all want with regard to thisaspect of the sport will vanish.All of this, of course, is quite apart from the Tour’s decision to includeanother French team at the expense of a better qualified foreign organizationfor their own nationalistic reasons…Gord Henderson,
Toronto, Ontario, CanadaMario isn’t the one being slightedDear VeloNews.The Italian teams have absolutely no business complaining about theiralleged exclusion from the Tour de France. Mario Cipollini, as fast ashe is, does NOT and never has respected the race. If he did, he would haveactually tried to finish the race when his team was selected in previousyears.Andy Hampsten recently stated on OLN’s Giro coverage that the Dolomiteclimbs are usually steeper than the climbs in Le Tour. So if Mario canget himself to the finish of the Giro repeatedly, he should have been ableto finish the Tour de France, too.Regarding Simoni and team Saeco, I’m not saying the entire team is guiltyby association, but their inclusion would just bring more bad publicity.Besides, their team ranking as of June 3 is 23rd and Di Luca is not yet,if ever, a GC contender.Their replacement, however, is completely laughable. Jean Delatour isthe 25th ranked Division I team and their highest ranked
individual rider is Laurent Brochard (60th),  who is long pastthe drug-tainted prime of his career. Meanwhile, team COAST is ranked 10thand is not starting the race?!?! Ridiculous!ThanksSpencer Dech
Columbus, OH

It won’t be a cakewalk for the TexanAlthough it may appear without Ullrich and Simoni, the Tour de Francewill be another Tour de Lance, keep in mind there will still be formidableriders.  Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Joseba Beloki rode well lastyear and Galdeano beat Armstrong in the Midi Libere time trial.  Also,don’t forget about Christophe Moreau.  He won the prologue last yearand can climb.  Lets not forget about Oscar Sevilla either, if heis able to ride given the financial difficulty of Kelme.Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Levi Leipheimer challenge. He time trialed well at the Vuelta.  Can he climb?  Also, letshope Tyler Hamilton can be at the Tour.  What a class act!Phil MiddenA Letter to LanceLance;PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stay clean!  I cannot take another drugstory.Most of the riders that I have somewhat admired have fallen one wayor another into the depths of taking the easy road out.  Do it withhard work, good coaching and good food.  If this means you won’t win#4, who cares?  We will still love you.  But you and I will knowthat you did it CLEAN!Drugs, either performance enhancing or recreational (cocaine…Simoniyou idiot!), have NO place in our sport.  It is almost an embarrassmentto tell people I am a bike racer.  I, like many others believe inyou, and We now look to you (once again) to save our sport from the cheatswho are driving bicycle racing into the ground.  Go to France in Julyand show the world that you can still be genetically gifted and win a majorbike race without pharmaceutical help.Good luck with the rest of your season.Michael Gacki,
New York City
Cat 2
Think Racing Cycling TeamMore Tyler praiseTyler Hamilton is one class act. He is one guy who thinks and thanksof all his teammates — riders and non riders (See “TylerTunes: Not a solitary effort“). He rode a spectacular race, andhas made us all very proud.Cheers to you Tyler!John DeNardo
Westfield, MassachusettsKudos to VeloNews for the great coverage and side stories, andespecially congrats to Tyler for making the podium.- Matt
(cyclist, of course, and fan of the American riders showing theinternational circuit what they can do!)


Tyler Hamilton,Congratulations on an amazing Giro. I have recently moved from Watertown,Mass. to the Netherlands and got to see you warm up for the prologue, havingonly watched the major tours only on TV it was pretty amazing to see itall in person.I am writing because I although I was impressed by your perseverancethrough the Giro I was maybe even more impressed by the fact that you continuedto write for VeloNews during your transition from ‘lieutenant intoa leader’ and that you continue to be so modest.I hope your shoulder heals quickly and wish you continued success. (GoSox!)Rick Canavan
Utrecht, Netherlands


Congratulations on bring this great event to level as the Tour de France.See you at the Tour de France.Patrick Scott


Tyler deserves some sort of “tough guy” award.  Indeed, an heroiceffort.
 
Fan
Art Cullen


This guy is a class act all the way.I for one, was greatly impressed how he thanked everyone for a job welldone “Post-Giro”. He rides a like champ, and is an inspiration to all whofollow cycling, especially when so much negative news has plagued cycling.I am very greatful he is out
there riding, and racing, as well as taking time to write for all toread.Cycling is lucky to have Tyler.Terry Solomon
Worcester, Vt.


Love the inside stories. Thanks Tyler. Thanks VeloNews.Herschel Goldwasser


I’ve really enjoyed Tyler’s diary.  He is undoubtedly the mostgracious and likable cyclist alive.  Hope he makes it to the Tour.Sandy Sharp


Thanks for the wonderful reporting of the Giro to those of us whichcan only read about it. I know that you are thrilled with the overall resultand I as a fan of yours am also thrilled.  I am wishing you the bestof healing from your injuries and am looking forward to watching your futureendeavors.  May they always be as successful.Again, thank you.John Dean


EARLIER MAILBring on the Lion KingSo Saeco is disqualified from the Tour de France (see “Saecoout of the Tour“), and does Jean-Marie Leblanc put in Cipollini’s Acquae Sapone team, fresh off of Cipo’s six stage wins in the Giro? No, he putsin another French team, Jean DelatourIt sounds like Leblanc is afraid that Cipolinni is too good for Frenchsprinters.  Come on Societe Tour de France – we want Cipollini!Debi  ToewsTour de Chauvinism What a wonderful opportunity for the Tour de France to pick upMario Cipollini and his team Acqua Sapone, or Pantani and Mercatone Uno,or Coast, or any other team that would have added some interest to theTour de France, now that they have kicked out the Italian team Saeco.What a fortunate way of getting some of the best riders in the worldinto the Tour who were mysteriously left out of it in the first place infavor of some third string French teams. And how predictable of the Frenchorganizers to pick another third-string French team instead.John P. CorradoTyler is a class actTyler Hamilton has always seemed to be a first class rider and personbased on things I’ve read and heard from him in the pages of VeloNews.However, his last diary entry from the Giro (see “TylerTunes: Not a solitary effort“) just proves what kind of person he reallyis.Finishing second in the Giro is just fantastic and something to be proudof, but taking the time to thank every single person
involved in the team’s efforts to get him there is more amazing. Youngriders (and even working class bosses) take note!Nothing says more about your character than taking time to recognizethose who help leaders look good. Congratulations Tyler and the whole CSC-Tiscaliteam on your win. Tyler, you’ve given us fans another American hero tocheer for and emulate. Thank you!Sean SmithThe man understands where success comes fromRiders of all race levels would do well to take special note of Tyler’sexample: I don’t know how many times I have been to races where the winnerhoists the big check up overhead without ever thanking the sponsor of therace, or his or her team sponsors, mates, and staff. It is just plain goodbusiness sense. Even lower category racers on local teams with minimalsponsorship need to be aware of their actions, even while training, withrespect to honoring this investment.This is the kind of individual who will help heal our tarnished sportand help it grow.Jeff Sampson
ChicagoThose thanks say a lot about TylerDear Tyler,
 
I want to commend you on your last journal entry. What a classy wayto end a great tour. Never before have I seen a professional athelete dosuch a complete job of thanking his or her teammates. Your honesty andsincerity are as impressive as your riding.
 
Thanks for a great tour.
 
Sincerely,
Jeff Suddendorf
Port Washington, WisconsinTyler’s singing the right tuneTyler’s journal was the best “from the field” bike race reporting I’veread.  In his final entry, the magnanimity evinced by his thankingALL of his teammates in writing, one-by-one, is stunning.Plus, he finished the Giro with a fractured arm. Superlatives run outwhen discribing the man.Go TYLER!!
Greg MillerMore women’s racingEditorI would like to see more coverage of women’s racing. Your current coverageis about 90 percent men’s cycling and 10 percent women’s cycling. Pam ReidMore on Blackwelder
 
Unless someone actually witnessed Brooke Blackwelder (see “Blackwelderreceives 8-month suspension“) ingesting steroids or heard her say shewas doing so, anyone condemning Brooke most certainly has his or her headup her ass (ahem, Ms. Zoller, Ms. Bjork…).  (see “BrookeGo” and “Sayit ain’t so, Brooke“)If you have a personal dislike of Brooke, why don’t you just admit thatinstead of using this fiasco as a platform for expressing your personalfeelings about the woman (maybe it’s because she always kicked your collectivebutts – your bitching sounds more like sour grapes than the voice of reasonyou pretend to express). Her test was non-negative. Have such tests everbeen wrong? Yes. Are the Women’s Challenge testing methods as thoroughand scientifically robust as other international cycling events? No. Didthe USADA admit that Brooke’s defense had merit? Yes. Did Brooke have anythingto gain by using banned substances? No. It seems that reasonable doubtexists here.Unfortunately, all the peanut gallery condemnations of Brooke make thebike racing community look much worse and stupid than do the poorly controlledand administered drug tests and athletes’ “failing” of them.
 
Bob McMichael
Boise, ID”Non-negative” is the currently popular euphemism employed by dopetesters for the results from the first — or A-Sample” — test. The term”positive” is used when both the A- and B-Samples come back with resultsindicating the presence of a banned substance.In Blackwelder’s case, both samples indicated that her levelsof 19-norandrosterone and 19-noretiocholanole were nine times the permittedlevel. Blackwelder did not dispute the laboratory analysis, but did arguethat her levels were the result of dehydration and natural production ofhormones. The finaldecision was handed down by an arbitration panel that concluded that”she tested positive for nandrolone metabolites at a level that could notbe rationalized by studies or other scientific evidence that might supportthe theories she presented…” — Editor


Monday’s Mail
 
 Why replace Saeco with pack fodder?To whom it may concern:I do not dispute Saeco’s exclusion from the Tour (see “Saecoout of the Tour“) because of Gilberto Simoni’s two “non-negative” testsfor cocaine.  However, by rights, shouldn’t Mapei also be excludedbecause of Stefano Garzelli’s positive test for Probenicid?Without delving too deeply into whether or not either Saeco or Mapeishould be excluded (for the record … Simoni screwed  Saeco, butI believe Mapei was the victim of some sort of plot), my issues are moreoriented towards the team that was invited in Saeco’s place.Once again the Société du Tour de France shows its chauvinisticnationalist behavior by inviting another no-hope French-based team, ratherthan a team that will provide some excitement (and perhaps even a challenge)to the race.The only rider on Jean Delatour who has done anything of note is LaurentBrochard, of the ill-fated 1998 Festina squad, and even that (a stage winin the Midi Libre) was relatively minor.However, I believe that Team Coast and/or Acqua & Sapone would make much more attractive entries into the Tour. Imagine, Mario Cipollini justwon 6 stages of the Giro d’Italia, he’s having the season of his career,and for once, just might make it to Paris.  He might even add to thechallenge for the green points jersey, so Erik Zabel doesn’t coast hisway into his
7th consecutive jersey.Alex Zuelle (of Team Coast) was showing great form prior to the Giro,and Fernando Escartin earned yet another top-10 placing in a Grand Tour.They may be older, but their experience could prove to be a formidable challenges to Lance Armstrong’s dominance.With Jan Ullrich’s absence, Tyler Hamilton’s probable absence, and now the exclusion of Gilberto Simoni, there is no one else who will be at the start line in Luxembourg who is capable of providing a challenge to Armstrong’s quest for his 4th consecutive maillot jaune.The Tour de France is supposed to be the greatest race in the world… so  why is the SdTdF filling its ranks with second-rate pack fodder,instead of  inviting the top teams and riders who will make the eventcompetitive?Even team EDS-Fakta or Landbouwkrediet-Colnago would likely prove tobe better animators of the race.I suppose the only saving grace is that at least the SdTdF didn’tinvite BigMat.Steven L. Sheffield
West Valley City, UTTyler, Tyler, he’s THE manTyler,
 
Bravo. One hell of a race, and now considering you shoulder, (see “TylerTunes: Not a solitary effort” )truly amazing.Makes me want to go ride my bike, think I will. Thanks again for a sucha gutzy performance, and your taking time for writing your reports,. Ienjoyed the hell out of both. Get well soon.Sincerely,
Vert Hallahan


U Tha Man Tyler!
 
Great ride.  Remember this as the tour that took you to the “next”level as a professional.
 
Your Fan,
Enrique Garibay


Congrats Tyler,In the light of your troubled performance at the start you rode a wonderful Giro.Second over all is a respectable finish too bad the New England paperswon’t even realise what happend in Europe.But for the real enthusiast weknow who the man of the hour is. Again congratulations are in order. Thanksfor a entertaining race.Brad Libby


Tyler:Man, you are a class guy!! Great riding and great writing!Martin Grasse


Hy Tyler and Team,I’m sure you get loads of these but here is another one. I’ve followedyour articles and from two different teams and I still make a point ofreading all I can find. The opportunity to look into the “glamorous life”of pro-racers is always a real eye-opener. The dedication and grit youguys have to come up with when the going gets tough is inspiring. I hopeCSC-Tiscali realizes it didn’t just get an excellent racer but a real ambassadorfor the sport.You yourself are doing great and I am glad you have a chance in thesun since your move. All the best for the season, look after that shoulder.Andy Blumel, enthusiast


PERFECTO… thanks for the daily journal. OLN is great cause it’s live,but Phil, Paul and Bob can’t go to detail and real insider provided inTyler’s Diary. Congrats, Tyler on fabulous 2002 Giro. You the Man…What’s this about soy milk for your cap…. Isn’t there some Italianlaw against that???Avid cyclist and fan,
Ed Taylor


Tyler did a killer job.First major race as the leader of a team, first Giro ……second place……damn nice result. His reward now is being on the list of favoritesfor EVERY stage race he starts for the rest of his career.I bet he gets free dinners in Italy for the next dozen years or so toboot.Nice going Tyler, you’ve got every reason to feel great about your effort,you’re the MAN!Sterling McBride
San Luis Obispo, CA


Tyler,To us on this side of the pond, you will never be second best. It is so refreshing to see an athelete heap praise on and truly appreciatehis teamates. You can be sure that we will be ‘pulling’ for you at nextyear’s Giro.A New England rider


Tyler Hamilton has produced a truly inspirational result in the 2002Giro D’Italia.  He overcame all manner of adversity during the raceto finish courageously well.  He is a true American Star Athlete,whom we can all be very proud of.The upcoming Tour De France might just be a very interesting race forthe United States as well.  I haven’t seen any pundits commentingon the prospect of three Americans contesting the GC:  Armstrong,Hamilton and Leipheimer.It is interesting that they all originally are from the same team aswell! Now that would make for a pretty cool podium finish!Dudley A. Hudspeth, MD


Tyler,Just wanted to give congrats to you for an amazingly gutsy Giro. Withouta doubt, you would have won the overall had it not been for your misfortunes.What’s more incredible is that you still raced competitively with all yourinjuries & beat healthy competition.The toughness & dedication you showed are worthy of the supportthat your Teammates give you. By the way, it’s great to hear how supportivethe whole CSC-Tiscali team is for an American leader and a new one at that.I’m sure all VeloNews readers enjoyed your race diary and appreciateyour taking time to write it. Best wishes for your continued recovery andpreparation for the Tour de France. I would like to see more than one Americanon the podium in Paris.M. McEnaney
Midland, TX


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