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09/05/00

Sept 4

Vacation time is over and the difference is incredible here in Nice. It's now possible to ride on the promenade and see the water without breathing diesel the whole time. The month of August is Europe's vacation time and a large bulk of these people head to the Cote d'Azur. The restaurants are crowded, the roads are jammed, and the beaches are packed. It's all part of the holiday spirit. Now that we have entered into September, it's easy to find a parking place, you can find a restaurant not filled with cigarette smoke, and you can sprawl out on the beach without hitting anyone's feet. The city returns to our comfortable training ground once again. I spent a couple days training with Axel Merckx. He made the Olympic team and this weekend does two one-day races in Italy. Like many of us he needs all the help he can get to get out the door in the morning. It may not be the end of the season yet but we are already talking about what we're going to do and where we are going to go this winter. We have to plan ahead because there really isn't a whole lot of down time before training for the next season starts.

If my articles in "bike.com" were one day later you would have been the first to hear about this. At least you will get it from the horse's mouth instead of an exaggerated fifth person account of what happened. I could give you a sixth person exaggerated play by play. I heard that Lance, Tyler, and Frankie were out on a ten-hour training ride. They were climbing and were up near snow level when the car - no truck - hit them and etc. etc. That's not what happened but we were in the middle of nowhere when the car appeared. We were in the middle of doing a 4.5 hour training loop. We were riding up the back side of the 15km Col St. Roch. This road is a one-lane road in so-so condition and it's not used by anyone unless they happen to live there. It's a road we've done many times so it wasn't new territory for us. The climb has a couple small downhills and we happened to be on one of the downs when we came to the blind corner. Lance and I were riding on the front and Tyler was riding just in back of us. We were not bombing the descent, we were riding casually talking about the GP Eddy Merckx and how big the trophies were that Lance and Eki won. All of a sudden all three of us let out a yell. At the last moment a car came flying around the corner and since the road is roughly one car width wide we didn't have much time to think about what to do. We all dove hard to the right to miss the car. The driver saw us at the last moment and didn't even have time to break. I was on the inside and cleared the car. Tyler, who was a bike length behind us, had the critical extra space and he made it. Lance, who was in the middle of the road, had no chance. If we were driving a car we would have hit head on; since we were on our bikes the two of us were able to get by. When I saw Lance I thought immediately that he was going to hit the car dead smack in the middle. Lance was going to be decoration on this guy's grill. Somehow Lance turned enough to the right. At this time I was thinking broken leg or hip, but the car missed his legs and hit the rear of the bike. The impact sent him flying over the hood of the car and he landed brutally on the ground. I jumped off my bike and as soon as I turned around Lance was sitting up taking body inventory. Right away I knew he wasn't hurt real badly which was a relief. Then as I looked up the road I saw Lance's TREK. Actually, lying there on the road was a bunch of tubes with some TREK stickers on them. Lance's rear triangle got completely ripped off - the chain was holding the rear wheel on and his front forks were broken off. His helmet had one huge crack in it. My theory is that the car hit the rear part of the bike tearing the triangle off and then when the front whipped around the forks broke. As I was staring at the bike Tyler was talking with Lance to make sure that he was OK. Lance was sitting up with his right arm in his lap; he couldn't move his shoulder. I immediately thought broken collarbone. Amazingly, after ten minutes Lance figured out nothing was broken but his shoulder and neck were very sore. He couldn't really move at this point and as each minute passed his shoulder kept getting stiffer and stiffer. We borrowed the driver's cell phone to call for help. The driver was an older man with his son and they were coming back from some construction job somewhere. We called Lance's wife and explained what had happened. The hard part was explaining where we were. It was decided that Tyler would ride to the top of the climb to wait for Kristin and I would wait on the road with Lance. At this time we told the drivers of the car that they could leave. By now, Lance was over the initial shock of crashing and was getting mad about crashing and didn't want to see these French guys anymore. As Tyler rode up the mountain to find Kristin Lance and I waited and waited and waited. I figured it would take her at least an hour to get to us. After about a half-hour Lance told me to flag down the next car so we could call Kristin's portable to find out where she was. The next car that pulled up was Kristin - 1.5 hours later. The entire time we were out there not one car passed us. The only car on the road that day happened to meet us at the wrong time on the wrong blind corner. Lance slid into his car and Kristin drove to the hospital to get him a check-up. Tyler and I hopped on our bikes and rode home. After seeing what a close call we had, I don't think any of us considered this an unlucky day but a lucky day.

Lance is doing better as each day passes. If you know Lance then you know he was back riding and complaining how he is not healing fast enough the very next day. He's been riding the rollers, riding on the road, and doing everything he can to stay fit during this setback. No, he can't turn his head. Yes, his neck and back are killing him but Lance is one tough kid. Sunday he did a test on the Col de Madone to gauge himself. I don't know what his time was but I only kept up for three of the seven kilometers. So I figure he's still going pretty strong. Next up for us will be Paris-Brussels while the rest of the team started Tour of Poland on Monday (Sept 4). Christian and Dylan are down in Sydney training on the track


09/12/00

Paris Brussels and Fourmies

Lance called me on Tuesday, again one day after my article was due, and told me the news. His neck is killing him. It was hurting him so much that he went back to the hospital to get an M.R.I. I asked Lance if the hospital took x-rays when he first crashed and he told me, "yes." He then went three days later and got another set of x-rays. Both sets came up with nothing wrong. But then again Lance explained x-rays are like looking at the moon with the naked eye. Having a MRI is like using a telescope. Well the telescope discovered a fracture of the seventh vertebrae, I think it was the C-7. There isn't much you can do but let time heal his neck. There is no brace or splint or anything like that. Lance is actually a little relieved because now he knows why his neck was hurting him so much. There is a source to the pain. There is nothing worse than having a pain and not being able to figure out exactly why it hurts or how it happened. Obviously, the second part to this question we know. Lance continues to train. He still does his double days with weights in the morning and he still comes out and rides with me on our longer days. Lance has a goal and his plan is to work through whatever might get in his way.

Paris-Brussels

It took longer getting to the start of the race then the race itself. Kevin and I left Nice early Friday and after numerous delays with traffic and flights we arrived at our hotel eight hours later. Remember, flying from Nice to Brussels is only a 1.5 hour flight. When we hit hour six in our travel we finally cracked and decided to raid one of those freeway gas stations. We bought Belgian waffles, two jugs of yogurt (we wanted to stay healthy), gummy bears (we didn't care about being healthy), and a box of cookies (we were just plain hungry!) The rest of the trip we just floated in.

Part of our delays were because of the French truckers, ambulance drivers, taxi drivers, farmers, and driving instructors all protesting the high price of gas (about $4/gallon.) France has been under a six-day shutdown of their gas supplies. Huge semis set up blockades around the largest gas depots around France. No gas could be distributed. After two or three days all the gas stations ran out of gas and therefore the post office stopped delivering mail, the busses stopped running, cars littered the street because they ran out of gas, and flights were getting cancelled because they couldn't fly anywhere without gas. It was a mess. There were protests all over the place with the above strikers blocking the airport, small roads, and even the freeways. Even in Italy they felt the crunch because everyone from Cannes or Nice would drive there to get gas. Soon enough the Italian pumps ran out of gas and then the Italians were mad at the French for screwing things up over there. I don't know how but somehow all of this didn't affect the race. More amazingly is that it didn't affect the Tour of L'Avenir which is a two week stage race in France for riders under the age of 25.

This year's race was 250kms and luckily we had a tailwind to help us along. The attacks started from kilometer three. One rider attacked and he went away and then a few minutes later another rider attacked and went up the road. A few minutes later another rider took off. This continued until there were five riders up the road all chasing one minute apart from each other. After about twenty kilometers the five combined and quickly built up a lead of over sixteen minutes. At this point Polti started to chase but after five kilometers changed their mind and stopped. I believe they were trying to get some other teams to help chase and when no one else showed up on the front they said forget it. After a little more talking and persuading back in the team cars Francaise des Jeux, Mapei, Fassa Bartolo, Rabobank, and Polit started to ride together. Each team had maybe two guys pulling. Within a blink of an eye the break came back and we still had seventy kilometers to race. At this point the attacks started but nothing serious happened until we hit a cobbled climb forty kilometers from the finish. Rabobank hit the front five kilometers from the climb and strung the field out to one line. On the climb, the group split with about seventy or eighty guys making it in the front. I was one of the last guys to make it over. Over the top everyone was sprinting and I was dangling on the back, at the time I didn't realize no one was behind me. We were all in the gutter for about ten kilometers until we finally slowed down. The final circuit had a short 600 meter climb. The first time up the climb the group split again. I stayed in the front and the last time up the climb a small group got away. From the top of the climb to the finish was only three kilometers. The first group was only fifty meters in front and we caught them at 1.5 kilometers from the finish. Right as we caught them I got swarmed in the last two corners and ended up in the middle of the group. Part of the reason I got passed was that about a quarter of the guys cut through a gas station eliminating the sharp left-right turn before the one kilometer banner. If I would have seen that I would have been right behind them. Max VanHesswick (Mapei) won the group sprint lengths in front of the next rider.

During the race, when we entered Belgium, the striking farmers had set up a protest. When we approached them their tractors had narrowed the road down to less than a car width. They didn't stop our race but when the team cars went to follow us they pulled out and stopped them. At this moment we were still chasing the break so we were not going slow but we were going slower than before we had went through the tractors. This gave the opportunity for many riders to stop and pull over to relive themselves. What they didn't realize was that there were no cars behind the peloton. That meant no drafting on the cars to catch back up to the group that was cruising along at 45km/hr. Eventually, the tractors moved and the cars rejoined the race.

Because the race finished in Brussels it was mandatory that everyone wore a helmet at the finish. Because the start was in France it was optional to start with a helmet. Almost everyone had a helmet on at the start except for maybe three riders. One of was Koneschev and one other was Vainsteins. They picked up their helmets from the team car right before we hit the Belgian border.

Sunday's race was G.P. Fourmies. It's a rolling race that twists all over the place. Somehow they manage to put on a 200km race on about fifty kilometers of roads. We did one small loop at the start then a bigger loop that criss-crossed and figure-eighted on itself. The final had five laps on a ten-kilometer circuit with two hills. The race went from the gun - no surprise there. What was different was that no one wanted anyone to get away. As soon as one guy attacked everyone chased and counter attacked. The first hour was 50km/hr and no one was in the mood to slow down. I decided to race hard the first half and try to get in a break. After numerous attacks and chases I couldn't get away with a group but then again no one could. Finally, after two hours, a break went up the road. Almost immediately Polti started to chase. They chased hard, more so to destroy the peloton than to catch the group. At the pace they were going guys were getting dropped all over the place. I decided I had enough when I reached the feed zone. I ended up meeting Kevin and Benoit there also. Since there were three of us at the feed zone, which is not supposed to happen, one of our souigneurs, Bart, had to catch a ride with the Collstrop van. There wasn't enough room in the team car for him. As all the teams took off to the finish Freddy jumped in the car to take us back. When he cursed something in Flemish I knew something was wrong. Bart had forgotten to give Freddy the keys to the team car. Benoit, Kevin and I were stuck and we sure didn't feel like riding home. At that time we heard a phone ringing inside the car. We could hear it ringing but we had trouble figuring out where it was. We found it in the glove box and when we answered the phone it was Freddy. Bart had left his cell phone in the car and it was Freddy trying to ring him up. Somehow Freddy managed to call the right person and Bart made it back to the car with the keys. No harm done we just arrived a little later at the showers.

The race program had a huge color photo of Lance on the cover. They had 250,000 programs printed up with his picture. Lance was supposed to do the race but because of his neck it was impossible. That's the gamble the organizers sometimes have to take. They have to deal with weather complications, rider complications, travel complications, etc. It's a list that never ends of things that could go wrong.


09/19/00 The season is over, at least for me. Since I'm not going to Sydney and there isn't much going on during the Olympics the team allowed me to head home. I can honestly say that it took one full day to pack everything and get ready to head back to America. Am I looking forward to going home? You bet, I always miss being home. I used to get very home sick but that doesn't happen anymore. As long as I know my schedule then I'm content to put in my time in Europe.

This weekend was the final tune up for our American TT riders Tyler and Lance. This weekend was the GP Nations, an invitation only 75 km time trial of the best of the best. Well, almost the best of the best because there are some riders still at the Vuelta. Lance continued his domination winning the event therefore putting to rest any doubts about how his neck would affect his legs. I'm sure this boosts his confidence in trying to win the gold medal in Sydney.

The Olympics are under way and Satuday I sat in front of the TV and watched all sorts of different sports. That's the great thing about over here, they show all the event all the time. None of those personal profiles, no in depth look at the city, and no commercials every ten minutes. The Olympics are about sports and they show the sports. I watched fencing, team handball, swimming, soccer and all the events from the first cycling day on the track. I saw Christian match up against Felipe Gaumont in the individual pursuit. I saw Felice Ballanger win the 500meters, and saw the one kilometer final. It was so nice to watch the race as it happened without a bunch of stupid interruptions. Tomorrow my Olympic high will probably end because I will return to the American version of Olympic programming/commercialization.

Pre Olympic The biggest race of the year, at least to the American public, is less than two weeks away. The riders are all in the process of doing their final preparation to be ready for the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. There is no one way to prepare yourself; the same way riders take different routes to get ready for the Tour de France or World Championships, they are taking different routes to prepare for the Olympics. At this time certain riders are doing the Tour of Spain thinking the fitness from a three-week race will help them achieve their goals. Some riders are already in the process of quitting the Tour of Spain only opting to do ten or so days. Oscar Freire (Mapei) stated this at the start of the race and I'm sure many others were thinking the same thing. The other route is doing the one-day races. There are many one-day races in Italy and France during the end of August and the start of September. If the Olympics are a one-day event then it's probably a good idea to test yourself in one-day events. The riders train hard on their off days and race the one day races to the maximum, not necessarily looking for a result, but looking for that extra intensity that you can't always find in training. Some of the one day races include the races in Italy: Coppa Lazio, Melinda, Coppa Piaci, Giro Romania as well as the races in France: Paris-Brussles, Fourmies, and Isbergues. The other route is doing a couple of small stage races - five to six days long - with plenty of rest in between. This keeps your body ready for competition by continuing to race but doesn't tear your body down with the day after day efforts of a longer stage race. A couple of the stage races that many guys going to the Olympics are doing are the Tour of Poland and Rheiland Phalz in Germany.

There might be different routes towards their fitness but one thing is common - they are all leaving around the same date for Sydney. Almost every Euro pro is departing on September 17th or 18th. This gives them ten days until the road race. The time trial follows a couple days after that. Some riders like the local Australians and the South Africans leave a bit earlier. The South Africans, Robert Hunter and David George, leave on September 12. Almost no one is going to the opening ceremonies; the Olympics are a time of business and not play. Some of the track riders have their events the very next day and with the late departure date of the Euro guys most will miss it anyway. Some guys will attend the closing ceremonies but then again cycling is a business and the sponsors want their riders back to doing their jobs a.s.a.p.

The Belgians leave the very next day after the road race. When the riders arrive in Europe the first races on the calendar are Franco-Belge and then the World Cup, Paris-Tours, followed by Worlds. Now, if we start to talk about the track riders, I only know Dylan and Christian's plans - they left on August 28 and are down there for over one month. Their event is earlier but the extra time is needed to train on the track, practice with the team pursuit team and the Olympic sprint team, and of course adjust to the time difference. After flying from twenty to thirty hours, everyone from Europe connects either in Bangkok or Singapore; the riders and staff have to deal with a twelve-hour time change. Daytime is nighttime and nighttime is daytime.

After the riders land, each country has their own idea of what to do and where to go for training before the big day. I've been told that training from Sydney isn't very good to begin with. To make it worse, you have the traffic and hoopla of the Olympics on top of the already bad roads making it darn near impossible to train. It's not like you can ride five hours in city traffic or do fifty laps on the local bike path around a park. The Olympics is 230 kms long so you have to continue to prepare for this distance and effort. The only time you can relax is a couple days before the race when it's time to rest. To handle this training problem the Americans (George, Freddy, Antonio, Lance, and Tyler) are flying one thousand kilometers north to Brisbane. They will train there until a couple days before the race and then fly back down to Sydney. Meeting them up in Brisbane will be Jeff Brown who is the team's Olympic mechanic. Jeff is in charge of transporting everything that will be needed while down in Australia. For the US Postal Olympians he is bringing fifteen bike boxes. He has to transport time trial bikes for Lance and Tyler along with their spare time trial bikes. He has to bring Lance and Tyler's road bikes and spare race bikes. He also is carrying George's and Eki's race bikes and spare bikes. He needs to bring six disc wheels and six front aero wheels. One pair each for the race bikes, one pair each for the spare bikes, and one spare pair for each rider. Then he has to bring about twelve pair of race wheels for all the riders for the road race. He's also in charge of brining whatever spare parts that might be needed and all his tools that will be needed. When Jeff arrives in Sydney he immedialty has to load up the rental van and drive the 1,000km's (nine hours) to meet the guys up in Brisbane. This is just an example for the American team and I'm sure the other countries have to carry over the same amount of stuff.

The English, with David Millar, are also travelling to Brisbane to sustain their training before the Olympic race. The Australians are also training and staying about 250kms outside of Sydney as is the same with the Belgians and the Danish who are staying one hundred kilometers outside of Sydney. The Dutch will stay in the Olympic Village the first two days when they arrive and then stay fifty kilometers outside of town until the race. So if you are going to Sydney early to see or ride with some of the riders before the games you can forget about it. Then again if you happen to live up in Brisbane then you might strike gold.

And going for gold is what's at stake here. After hearing some riders talk about the course, I've come to the conclusion it's going to be a tricky race. For starters, there are lots of corners. This makes it difficult for the riders even if the pace is slow. The braking and accelerating out of the corners will sap the legs after 230kms. If the pace is high then the sling shot effect will be a big factor once you drift out of the first thirty or forty riders. There is nothing worse than coming into a corner only to slow to a stop while at the same time seeing a line of riders already sprinting away from the corner you are entering. That's usually when I take a big breath and say, "Here we go!" At the bottom of one of the climbs is a sharp turn - over ninety degrees, and this will be a critical spot for staying in good position. The threat of the group breaking up while going up the climb after a sharp corner will be very high. And the last thing told to me about the corners in the race was that if it rains, which there is a very good possibility given it's the rainy season, then it will be crash city. This will make it an exciting race for us on TV but it will wreck the riders' morale and their nerves. Another factor that the Olympics have that no other race has is the limiting factor of only five teammates. If you thought the Italians had too many captains and never worked for each other on their twelve man World's squad, you just wait to see what happens in Sydney. With five guys it's impossible to control a 230km race. Because of the distance of the race it's important to save as much energy as possible until the end. This becomes tricky because if a break goes with only six or seven guys from the right countries then it's game over. The only chance to control the race, which the Germans might do for Zabel, is to sit and do nothing until the final couple laps. If the Germans want a field sprint then they have to gamble and hope the race is in striking distance in the last two or three laps. The ability to chase more than that is negligible. That will be the key to this race: which country doesn't end up having to chase. With only five riders and being put into a position of chasing it will seriously diminish one's team's horsepower. Once you lose that strength the game of numbers in the front group becomes more important. As the race progresses there's a good chance it will split into big groups and in the final into a small break. If a country does not have the numbers in the front group their rider will be out manned. It will make it very difficult to respond to the thousands of attacks that I'm sure will come that day from start to end. I do not believe the course will be a field sprint. It's not necessary to have a course that beats up on the riders; the riders will do that to themselves. I'm sure there will be many attacks, lots of chances for big TV time, and a very exciting race at the end. Go USA!


09/26/00

The cycling industry's life support system was hooked up and running the weekend. I'm not talking about the road and mountain bike events at the Olympics but the incredibly huge Interbike show in Las Vegas. Two years ago I went to my very first bike show. For starters I couldn't believe the size of the event because it took me two days to walk around and look at all the different booths. I had such a good time looking at the different products, talking with everyone, and going out at night that I told myself never to miss another opportunity to attend. Last year I wasn't able to make it because I rode the Vuelta. This year, since I didn't make it to Sydney, my schedule was wide open and Carnac gave me the invitation to come out on their behalf. This was my second time to a bike show and as much work as it is for all the companies, dealers, reps, and buyers it's a blast for me. Seeing the whole other side of the industry and all its components is fascinating for me. Everything is there from BMX to mountain biking to even baby strollers. From the reflectors for kids bikes to the very high priced frames that only the rich can afford. Interbike has it all and more.

My "job" this weekend, at least that's what I told my wife, was signing autographs for Sinclair Imports promoting their new Carnac Quartz road shoe. I flew in Saturday and stayed at the gorgeous Monte Carlo hotel. I think it's pretty tough to get a bad hotel on the strip nowadays. The bike show opened Sunday at 9:00AM, I was in the doors at 9:01AM. My first "job" wasn't until noon but I wanted to walk around and check everything out. For me half the fun, besides seeing all the products, is meeting new people, seeing old friends, teammates, and ex-racers. Some guys I haven't seen in five or six and without the show I probably would have never seen them. I got to see Steve Bauer, Alex Steida, Jeff Pierce, Juli Furtado, Marty Jemison, Greg Demgen, Greg Randolph, Scott Parr (ex- Motorola mechanic), Neil Lacey (ex-Motorola mechanic), and even John Tomac. The last time I saw John Tomac was when we lived together in Europe during the Motorola days. I probably saw a dozen more old friends and like I said that's what makes the show so great.

After completely wrecking my back and feet from walking around so much I sat down for my first two hour autograph session with Sinclair Imports. I signed autographs along with Steve Larsen promoting the new Carnac line of shoes. After that I went to Oakley for an hour and signed some photographs that they had printed up. At the Oakley booth I saw their cool over the head sunglasses. These are the sunglasses that Marty Northstein wore on the podium at the Track Nationals. The other cool product I saw, one that you can actually use or wear, was Oakley's new sport watch. I got an awesome looking red and black one. I was finished in the Oakley booth by three but I didn't leave the show until closing time at six. My back never hurt so badly, you have to remember I'm still a wimpy cyclist. That night I went sample some great beer at the Monte Carlo brew pub. Mark, the brew master, and Sinclair Imports threw a great party for their guests. It was a lot of fun. The next day, Monday, I again was the first one in the doors. I wanted to walk around the perimeter and check out the smaller booths and smaller companies with out of the ordinary products. At one point I ended up in the BMX zone and was totally lost. It was a whole different world compared to the other side of the hall.

There were a few products that stuck out in my mind as a neat idea or a cool product. One of them was the Fit Stick. It's a device that straps to your bike and enables you to measure your position and then transfer that same position to a new bike. It incorporates everything from seat height, seat angle, seat fore-aft, handelbar height, crank arm length, and much more. Speaking of cranks, I saw the Lemond Power Cranks. These cranks are on a ratchet system and force you to pull up on your pedal stroke or the cranks will fall to the ground. I've tried these before and they are very hard to get used to. While I was talking with the Power Crank's guy some kid strolled up and hopped on the bike and started riding. It was no problem for him. I kept telling him I couldn't believe what he was doing but he thought it was no big deal, it was easy for him. Maybe I just need to try harder next time. I also saw the new Shimano carbon wheels. They are absolutely gorgeous and light. They give the ADA or Kinetic wheels a run for their money. I saw a new tubeless mountain bike rim by Rolf. It has something to do with the rim tape and the valve that enables it to work. Rolf Diettrich, the developer of the Rolf design, explained it to me but he's so technical he lost me as soon as he picked up the wheel. I also saw an incredibly quiet turbo trainer by Kinetic. They encased the fluid inside the resistance unit so it can't leak and then magnets turn the resistance unit. You can't hear a thing when someone is riding it. I ran across Paul Swift who set me up with a pair of Big Meat adapters. These thin plates are supposed to correct your pedaling style and ultimately give you more power to your pedal stroke. I also bought a rain jacket from Rain Shield. The demo the guy did for me about its breathability and waterproofness impressed me so much that I busted out my wallet. You can never have enough bad weather gear. Finally, I have to mention the Specialized/Festina booth. No excuse me, not booth but ball room. They set up in a ballroom that had huge posters of Marcel Wust's Tour de France win hanging from the ceiling. There was product from wall to wall; it was a nice set up.

After two days of being on the "job" at Interbike I flew home. The show is four days long and maybe that's why I like it so much, I can leave after two. For everyone at the show who actually are working it's an important, long, and tiresome event. I just want them to know I appreciate their efforts. Today is my birthday and I know I already received an early gift from my wife. She allowed me to take this trip and do my "job" while she knew good and well this was actually a small vacation for me. And, as usual, she was right.

While I was in Europe I read about the incident between Adam Meyerson and Scott Mercer. I also then read about the suspension that Mercer received for the incident. At first I saw the original sentence was going to be a one month suspension. My question is what idiot thought up that penalty and what bigger idiots at first approved it? One month for almost ruining someone's life forever?! This incident was a matter of life and death. It was not an accident. It was a deliberate attack on Meyerson. I then saw that the penalty was increased to one year. They must have been trying to make themselves feel better. Although this sounds better, it is my opinion that this is like a slap on the hand. You might as well just tell him not to do it again and send him on his way. This suspension should be much more severe - a lifetime ban - and it should send a message to the rest of the cycling community that behavior like this is inexcusable.

This week has seen the ultimate highs and the ultimate lows in cycling. Watching and reading about Marty Nothstein dominating the sprints to take the Olympic Gold was unbelievable. He rode in a way I haven't seen since the days of Hesslich and Hubner. These East German track stars used to kill their rivals day in and day out. Their size alone was intimidating but their ability to win from the front or the back put them in a class of their own. This is exactly what Marty did for three days in Sydney. His power and speed was untouchable in every ride. He qualified fastest and finished fastest. Congratulations to Marty.

On the low side was the sad news of Nicole Rheinhardt's death at the BMC race in Boston. When I first read about the accident I couldn't believe that this happened here in America. In 1995, my teammate, Fabio Casartelli, died at the Tour and it was one of the hardest moments of my life to get through. This is the dark side of the sport that I wish would never expose itself. My feelings go out to the entire Saturn team and staff and especially Nicole's family.

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