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Cycling News and Opinions
Unfair and Unbalanced
April, 2013

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

April 30: The Giro starts in just a couple of days. I was just interviewed on-line by Podium Cafe regarding my history of the Giro d'Italia and the Giro in general.

And on BikeRaceInfo: I've got maps and profiles for every stage of the 2013 Giro posted. I'll have the startlist with backnumbers up late Friday. Last year I posted more than 400 giro race photos taken by Fotoreporter Sirotti. I'll try to keep up that pace this year. And of course I'll try to get results posted for each stage as soon as the Giro organization makes them available.

Are you a cycling history nut? I've got results posted for every stage of every edition of the Giro d'Italia plus hundred of historical photos.

April 29: I'm late with this sad news. Audrey McElmury passed away March 26, 2013. She was the first American World Cycling Champion since Frank Kramer became World Pro Sprint Champion in 1912 and the first ever, man or woman, World Road Champion.

She rode 1968 World Road Championships in Rome, taking fifth in the sprint won by Dutchwoman Keetie Hage. In 1969 the championships were held in Brno, Czechoslovakia and in a stunning, dominating ride, she became World Road Champion.

That day there was a cold rain and after escaping the pack she crashed on a descent. By the time she remounted,the peloton had caught her. Bleeding and bruised, on the last lap she again escaped and this time she made it stick. McElmury crossed the finish line 1 minute and 10 seconds ahead of second-place Bernadette Swinnerton of the U.K. 

The results of that incredible day: 33 riders finished

  1. Audrey McElmury (USA) 69.705 km in 2hr 4min 27sec
  2. Bernadette Swinnerton (UK) @ 1min 10sec
  3. Nina Trofimova (USSR) s.t.
  4. Nicole Van den Broeck (Belgium) s.t.
  5. Carla Casio (Italy) s.t.
  6. Baybe Tsaune (USSR) s.t.
  7. Elisabeta Maffeis s.t.
  8. Lyubov Zadorozhnaya (USSR) s.t.
  9. Ann Horswell (UK) s.t.
  10. Valetnina Sergeieva (USSR) s.t.

Her victory was so unexpected the organizers needed a half-hour to come up with the music to play the Star Spangled Banner. Americans simply didn't win rainbow jerseys back then.

She was also the U.S. 1970 Road and Pursuit Champion as well as the holder of the American Women's World hour Record from 1970 to 1990.

Because cycling was a backwater sport in the U.S. in 1969, Ms. McElmury didn't get her fair share of recognition. She was one of the finest athletes the U.S. ever produced and mostly at her own expense (riding the 1969 World Championships cost her $10,000 when a new Chevy Impala could be had for $2,200), she beat the best of the rest of the world. The cycling world shouldn't let her passing go unnoticed.

April 24: The deadline for the federal government to join Floyd Landis' whistleblower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong and US Postal team director Johan Bruyneel was Tuesday. The feds met the deadline and also named the team's owners, Tailwind Sports and its former president Barton Knaggs, Armstrong's agent Bill Stapleton and team financial backer Thomas Weisel.

The lawsuit asserts ''Defendants were unjustly enriched to the extent of the payments and other benefits they received from the USPS, either directly or indirectly,'' when they violated the contract by doping to win bicycle races. The sponsorship contract between the US Postal Service and Tailwind Sports forbade doping.

The money involved is huge. The Postal Service paid the team around $40 million over the sponsorship's life and the lawsuit is seeking triple damages. According to the complaint, the team's drug use and cover-up constituted fraud against the U.S. Government

Armstrong has confessed to doping and has been stripped of his post-cancer race victories (including his seven Tour de France wins) and has tried and failed so far to negotiate a settlement. He is fighting back against this lawsuit. His attorney Elliot Peters argued ''The U.S. Postal Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship of the cycling team. Its own studies repeatedly and conclusively prove this. The USPS was never the victim of fraud. Lance Armstrong rode his heart out for the USPS team, and gave the brand tremendous exposure during the sponsorship years.''

Floyd Landis's attorney scoffed at this, noting that even if the Postal service received some transient benefit from Armstrong's race wins, it will be forever tainted by "the largest doping scandal in the history of sports."

And as the guy on late-night TV says, wait...there's more. Armstrong is also fending of other lawsuits related to his career of cheating. He successfully sued the Sunday Times of London for libel related to assertions that Armstrong's race wins were less than clean and now Times owner Rupert Murdoch wants his money back (hard to pick someone to cheer for in this fight). Also SCA, a firm that paid Armstrong $12 million in bonuses after his Tour victories, is trying to claw its money back as well.

Armstrong seemed to enjoy his time in court pursuing innocent people and ruining their lives. It looks like he'll have plenty of time in the years to come to savor the justice system.

April 23: Looks like Alessandro Petacchi is hanging up the chamois. Here's a press release I just received from Lampre-Merida:

Alessandro Petacchi chose to publish on team website an important choice about his career ad pro cyclist.

“Paris-Roubaix closed an early part of the season in which I raced a lot, trying to be protagonist in traditional appointments, such Milano-Sanremo, and in competition for me less usual as Paris-Roubaix.

I approached all these races in the whole professional way, driven by the enthusiasm that Galbusera family and the new sponsors gave to the team.
I’m aware I gave my best, as I always did in the 18 seasons as professional cyclist.

My career has been full of satisfactions and enriched by all the most important victories that a rider like me could ever aimed to.
At the threshold of the 200 victories in career, I feel my life reaches a peculiar moment, a turning point in which I perceive the need to find a new dimension and to have more time to dedicate to my family.
These considerations induce me to the decision to pause my career.

I always put first the professional side of my job, honoring the efforts made by sponsors, such Lampre, Merida and all the other partner of the team: I really thank them for the trust they gave me in these marvelous years. 

I feel it’s time to dedicate time for myself and to go in search for new spurs.

By now, I want to say goodbye to all the cycling fans, considering that maybe there will be the chance to come back some day to be part on the world that gave me so much, offering my experience to the new cycling generations.

I’d like to thank the team, the sponsors, the management, the staff and athletes and everyone that supported me during my career, confirming by now my availability to support, when necessary, my mates and the team with advices and my experience.

Your sincerely,

Alessandro Petacchi”.

Team LAMPRE-MERIDA thanks Petacchi for the winning years spent together: 14 victories and the green jersey in Tour de France contributed to enrich a human and professional relation.
Respecting the cyclist choice, the team and its sponsor are aware that the relation between AleJet and the blue-fuchsia-green colors will continue to be strong, considering the will by Petacchi to give his availability to offer the team its experience and his image of top sprinter.

Soon, the team will organize initiatives in order to give tribute to the extraordinary career of Petacchi

April 16: Red Kite Prayer (What?!? You haven't bookmarked this site?) honcho Pat Brady sent me the text of his latest book, Why We Ride. It is a lovely, thoughtful, well-written book. Pat is a fine writer and Why We Ride is Pat at his best.

But this book means something bigger. Pat's new son Matthew spent more than a month in the NICU. Little Matthew is home now. But needless to say, a month of modern high-tech medicine has left the Bradys with a mountain of bills.

So Pat has launched a Kickstarter campaign to launch Why We Ride. Why not give it a look-see and watch his video? Just click here and become part of this worthy project.