What's Cool In Road Cycling

MailBag: That’s Stinky… Do It Again!

Mmmm – time again to open up the Mailbag and see what stinks. This week comments on our Pro’s Union Comment, Belgian beer, Pro Team business model, Nalini’s Winter gear, Training camps, our vulgar language, and as always our daily Distractions…!

WHO’S PROTECTING THE PROS?
You make some good points regarding both subjects. However, if there was some kind of union, it would likely have instructed Tyler during the Vuelta positive(s) to report immediately to say some first class major Swiss University and conduct a separate blood test to see where the chips really fall.

The problem that many of my friends and I who are fans of Tyler have, is that rather than proceed as above, Tyler and Phonak dumped some $800,000 into building up an O.J. Simpsonesque “Dream Team” to take on the tests, the chain of custody/handling of the samples, the doping bi-laws legal verbage and finally a tactically placed P.R. statement designed to make everyone including us to take sides even though none of us, I suspect including journalists like yourself, have any or most of the facts in front of them.

Tyler speaks about some things being odd, well many of us find it odd that Tyler and Santi Perez from the same team are “positive” for the same thing in 5 of the 6 tests from a group of say 385 in the Olympics and 175 at the Vuelta.

I truly hope there is some valid explanation because it’s going to be a hard one to accept.

– Sal Garcia

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Well Said
Of course maybe everyone will have already read it on the Pez, but I hope you will get this well stated editorial sent to the Globe and Mail, the NY Times, all major papers, the other cycling sites, and transalated for the papers on the continent. Very well stated about the need for a cycling union. Not one for riders to hide behind when they have an infraction, as they do in MBL, but to bargain in good faith for proper treatment and compensation. I hope at least enough cyclists out there read this to wake up
and work together. It is a team sport, right?
– Jack Tolbert
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You have a lot of nerve writing this Pro-Union piece–especially after the startling doping disclosures of 2004. In a year of Marco Pantani’s death, Cofidis scandal, Kelme, Jesus Manzano, Philippe Gaumont, David Miller, Oscar Camenzind, Gerrie Knetermann, David Rebellin & Denis Zanetti EPO video and audio tapes, Johan Museeuw’s 4 year ban, and Lance’s own personal performance specialist, Michele Ferrari convicted of Malpractice for doping otherwise healthy athletes with illegal drugs and synthetic hormones. Instead you chose to focus on poor little Tyler and his three (3) failed bovine plasma tests.

You are way out of context. Phonak’s Alex Zulle, Tyler Hamilton, Oscar Caminzend and Santiago Perez ain’t the story. Deception and lying are.

The NFL, NBA and MLB have all raised the average player compensation—but have not slowed doping whatsoever. Increased player mortality rates and anger management bi-polar disorders rule the day, not to mention many homicides committed by doped athletes.

Both Road and track cycling are loaded with doped athletes. Tyler Hamilton may be likeable, cute and charming, but he dopes as heavily as anybody within the pro-peloton—including his former teammates at USPS.

Next time you write an article like this, why not ask Greg LeMond, Andy Hamspten or better yet, Greg Strock and Erich Kaiter, Lance’s old National Junior Teammates how they think Unionizing might affect doping habits.

The only dopes are the fans who are lied to constantly by athletes who are drug addicted to PEDs and are bought and paid for by Corporate Advertisers. Media outlets who help spread these doping apologies, cover stories, and propaganda ought to be ashamed.

We have 11 dead heart failure victims in the past 20 months and you want to unionize? Why so, we can kill another 11 in just 10 months?

Tyler has been close to doping disclosure before—but has stayed under the radar as a back-up rider. Now he is a leader and can no longer hide.

Please write another article focused on the real problem, lying, deception and fraud. That is where doping and advertising lines blur. Do the right thing, disclose the real truth, not more cover stories.
-Tom Morris


TRAINING FOR GHENT: PEZ STYLE
Please convey the following to Dave before he touches down in Brussels:
1) Monks add water to the beer they create and sell in order to consume it. We drink it straight.
2) Chimay and others like it have a greater alcohol content than what is on the label.
3) Stick to something like Palm or Hoegaarden and you actually feel the effect of the alcohol as you drink them.

I really enjoy the reports from Ghent, as well as the other great reports. Thanks,
– K.U. Leuven Alumni in Miami.


PRO TEAM BUSINESS MODELS
Long time reader, first time writer. I have always wondered what business model do pro teams follow. Specifically, the sponsors such as USPS, Telekom, etc., what motivates them to get in the biz. Is it entirely one big advertising expense or do they generate any other revenue beyond apparel licensing. Soccer, baseball, football it ain’t as there are no ticket sales. The closest thing I can think of would be NASCAR racing, but again there are ticket sales to support those sports.
– Frank White

That is a good question! As an ex-marketing guy myself, it’s an area I’ve also wondered about. The exposure generated by being associated with top teams and athlete’s is mucho big biz, and everyone wants to be associated with a winner. Most sponsors use the sport as a marketing tool to promote their brand to their desired audience, but much like the “Nascar Dads”, we cycling fans are a much more diverse crowd, as sponsors in Europe have long known. Go to any Spring Classic and you’ll see more out of shape smokers than you will actual cyclists – because the sport is a part of their culture – much like baseball, basketball, hockey and football are in North America. So the sport has broad appeal for savvy marketers.

In North America, since cycling is not nearly as popular as in Europe, many sponsors will spend money in the sport because one of their executives is a cycling fan, and that’s what it takes in many cases to convince North American sponsors to take cycling seriously as a marketing opportunity. Signor Squinzi, who own the huge tile and building brick company called Mapei, poured millions into cycling because he loved the sport.

One interesting case in sponsorship smart-thinking goes to the guys at Tailwind Sports, who brought US Postal Service into the sport several years ago. I read somewhere that they convinced the other sponsors of the team to hire US Postal Service for all their shipping. The amount of increased business to USPS offset what they had budgeted for their own sponsorship expense, and eventually became a profit center for them. I suspect Discovery Channel will be looking at ways to package some tv programming around their newly sponsored team, and use that to generate advertising revenue as well.

A lot more can be said about this, so maybe we’ll revisit this one down the road. – Pez



TRAINING CAMPS A-COMIN!
I would like to hear any thoughts about spring cycling camps. I have always wanted to do one, and see that you are affiliated with one in California. California is, unfortunately, a little far to accommodate my schedule. Could you maybe write about things I should look for in a camp, and highlight some likes and dislikes of various other camps around the country? Thanks again for your work,
– Brian Sumners

We’ve had a few questions about training camps and are working on a story now about what to look for, what’s avalaible, and how to choose what’s right for you. Stay tuned.


KEEP DISTRACTIONS!
In response to a letter we received from a male reader who is NOT a fan of our Daily Distractions, we received several impassioned epistles from the apparently silent majority:

Dude, whatever that crazy guy says….KEEP the daily distractions. It might turn away some uptight snobs, but they obviously have nothing to do with ‘what’s cool in pro cycling’. I for one, enjoy those distractions, and rely on them now that I have nothing else in the world to look forward to…at least for the next four years.

Oh, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and keep up the good work in 2004. Now, back to married distractions……
– Stephen Miller

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Don’t even think about getting rid of distractions!! I have guys that come by my office just to check it out and they don’t know a bike from a hole in the wall. Keep up the good work. It is just part of the sport as there is not a guy out there who has not almost slammed into the peloton while checking out a distraction or to at a coffee shop or riding the opposite direction.
– Jay.

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Keep ’em. I write this in response to the humorless/ testosteroneless/sensitive guy who was in the mailbag today. I can only hope that he’s writing this in order to appear sensitive to some chick whose pants he wants in. That’s ok. Otherwise, lighten up a bit Francis. The distractions…ahhh.
– Sheldon


NALINI WINTER GEAR – SERIOUS QUESTION


Dear PezCycling, I just read your enthusiastic review of the Nalini winter gear, and I have only one question, and I assure you it’s a serious one. Why do they make this stuff in black? I know Mrs. Pez likes it because it makes you look like you just came from a cocktail party in New York, but doesn’t it make more sense to make cycling gear in bright, visible colors that attract your eye in low light, i.e. the kind we have on most winter mornings and afternoons. I’m lucky enough to live in Southern California where most of the time winter gear isn’t much of an issue, nonetheless, I try to choose gear that makes me the brightest item in someone’s rear view mirror. I know Nalini makes plenty of bright team gear so why would they make this stuff in black?
– Jon R. Tower

I just called Gianluca at Albabici – the US distributor on this one. Bottom line is that there is not enough demand from consumers to convince dealers to stock more than the simplest, easiest to sell colors. The Nalini gear we tested is their top-o-line (and therefore more expensive), and the distributors had to place orders in June – 4-6 months before it would appear in stores – long before most dealers would commit to an order. Since most retail shops are small, and don’t want to get stuck with unsold stock at season end, they get conservative when ordering, and tend to bring in more of what they know will sell. And for us conservative North Americans – that means black – and lot’s of it!

I could not agree with you more that brightly colored clothing is a great defense against careless drivers, and up here in Vancouver, it’s dark by 3:45 (even though the sun technically sets at 4:30). Albabici did confirm that the winter gear is available in dark blue as well, but you may have trouble finding a retailer with any stock.


SEROTTA OTTROT VULGARITY?
I was wondering, is it really necessary to use vulgar language when writing a report? – Randy

Absafugginlutely. – ed.

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