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Tour de France - What the Papers Say
By Podofdonny
Date: 7/26/2003
Tour de France - What the Papers Say

Another look at how the worlds papers see the Tour de France.

We start today with an article from ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome, which spotlights the bravery of a Tour de France winner, Gino Bartali. Bartali, a legendary cyclist and devout Catholic, used his training rides during World War 2 for a far nobler aim than just to improve his fitness as the article explains -

To read the original article click here.

Tour De France Champion Saved Hundreds Of Jewish Lives

Gino Bartali Was a Tertiary of the Order of Discalced Carmelites

ROME, JULY 25, 2003 ( After concluding the 100th Tour de France, Italy will remember disclaced Carmelite Gino Bartali, one-time winner of the race and protector of the lives of hundred of Jews during the Nazi persecution.

Italian Radio and Television (RAI) is preparing a film to be released in 2004 showing Bartali's triumphs, as well as his Christian commitment in the service of the persecuted.

According to some estimates, the network of Jew Giorgio Nissim -- who counted on the collaboration of Gino Bartali, the Oblate priests of the city of Lucca, the archbishop of Genoa, Franciscan friars, cloistered nuns, and Catholic politicians -- helped to save 800 Jews from extermination.

Bartali would make trips between Florence and Rome, carrying valuable false documents hidden in the tube of his bicycle.

Then a hero in Italy, as he had won the Tour de France in 1938, and the Giro d'Italia three times (1936, 1937), Bartali was an active member of Catholic Action, wore the scapular of the Virgin Mary, and was a Tertiary of the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

"His role was to take photos and paper to clandestine printing presses to produce the false documents. He was also a guide to indicate the less known roads to arrive at central areas of Italy without being seen," his son, Andrea, explained.

"When the police stopped him, he said he was training. In fact, the fascists of the area had their doubts, but did not dare arrest him, as they ran the risk of causing a popular rising," Andrea said.

The municipal council of Florence has established a "Garden of the Righteous of the World," trees that commemorate the men who dedicated themselves to save lives. According to, the first one was planted in honor of Gino Bartali.

Tuscany, the region where Florence is located, also conferred its highest distinction of "Gonfalone d'Argento" on Giorgio Nissim, the coordinator of the network in which Bartali collaborated to save some 800 Jews from Nazi deportation between 1943 and 1944.

In 1999, the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, paid homage for this same reason to Father Arturo Paoli and the Oblate Priests of the city of Lucca, without whom Nissim would not have been able to create his network of assistance. At present, Father Paoli who is over 90 years old, is a missionary in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.

© Copyright france-cyclisme

Trek Bikes

Of course the Tour is the greatest advertising window in the world for cycling products and it is no surprise that firms local to newspapers use the attention to get their products valuable column space. From Milwaukee USA, Cartherine Nangini compares the Trek and Bianchi bikes in an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -

To read the original article click here.

Trek's carbon fibers offer edge


Last Updated: July 25, 2003

Lance Armstrong is pitting strength, endurance and willpower against rival Jan Ullrich in a bid for a fifth consecutive win in the Tour de France. But beneath the battle of the cyclists is the battle of bike-frame technology.

Armstrong rides a carbon-fiber bike designed and built by Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle Corp. Ullrich is banking on Bianchi's Italian-made aluminum alloy frame. Both materials are super light, but that's about all they have in common.

Weight is the driving force behind bike design, which led to high-end carbon fiber and new aluminum alloys.

"They're all very similar frame weights," said Glenn Daehn, professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State University, but each has its own unique response.

"In a bike frame you need something that's pretty stiff," said Bruce Pletka, professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. But what really matters is toughness, strength and how many times a material can withstand small stresses before failing, he said.

Aluminum has a reputation for being stiff, which can be hard on the rider over long distances because it doesn't absorb shock very well, Daehn said. But too much springiness in a frame makes the bike less efficient for the rider.

A carbon-fiber frame is stiffer than aluminum but can better absorb the vibrations of the road, said Steve Swenson, a technician at Trek. "It transmits vibration less harshly than aluminum," which translates into a more comfortable ride.

More riders are choosing to enter the Tour de France with carbon-fiber bikes than ever before, said Jim Colegrove, a manufacturing engineer of composites at Trek. Aluminum, though, still remains a popular favorite.

For non-professional riders, evaluating a bike frame involves many factors. Some are technical, and some purely subjective, such as ride quality and feel.

And some are purely financial. A carbon-fiber bike can cost almost 11/2 times as much as an aluminum bike with the same components, Swenson said.

For elite cyclists, however, it's all about weight and performance - as well as personal preference.

Armstrong has turned out to be the perfect experimenter for Trek. When he wants a new bike or has an idea about a new bike, Trek ends up building one the public can buy at the store, Swenson said.

Long road to composites

Bikes have come a long way from the wooden "bone shakers" of the mid-nineteenth century. In 1870, new metallurgy made possible the first all-metal bicycle, known as the high wheel, which tipped riders headfirst when the bike's large front wheel stopped unexpectedly. Developments a couple of decades later produced the familiar parts that endure today, such as chains and gears. Tour de France bikes have changed radically in the race's 100 years. In the early 1980s, the era of light bikes began, starting with aluminum models. Aluminum is a handy material of choice, being the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust.

At first glance, carbon fibers - about five times thinner than a human hair - seem unlikely candidates to withstand the grueling demands of the world's best cyclists. "For its weight, it's about the strongest material you can find," said George Sines, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California-Los Angeles.

"Carbon fiber comes to us in a sheet-like form," said Trek's Colegrove, so areas of the bike that need more strength can be given more layers, for example. "That is some of the beauty of carbon fiber," he said. Aluminum bikes can be strengthened by a combination of the right alloys and shape, with wide tubes for stiffness that are thicker near joints and thinner in the middle where stresses are weaker. "Pure aluminum you can bend in your hand," Pletka said, so zinc or magnesium often is mixed in. Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de France champion, is probably not worrying about the strength of his Bianchi frame as he plans his race strategy, nor should he.

One square millimeter of aluminum wire can suspend 40 kilograms, said Stefano Locatelli, an engineer with Dedacciai in Italy, which supplies Bianchi. That's like supporting a 12-year-old boy on a wire as thick as the tip of a ballpoint pen. "It means that this aluminum is better than some steel."

What materials will go in to the future Tour de France bikes? No one really knows. "It's constantly evolving," said Marc Muller, design engineer for Waterford Precision Cycles in Wisconsin. "That's what's fun."

© Copyright Trek

Meanwhile Tour fans may well remember Marcel Russenberger, the Swiss rider helped Beat Breu win on the Alpe d’Huez in 1982. Apparently the former Cilo-Aufina rider is alive and well and living in Central Oregon at the appropriately named Bend (presumably there are 21 of them all going up hill). Keith Ridler caught up with him in this article on team tactics.

To read the original article click here.

Cycling stars can't do it alone

Published: July 25, 2003

By Keith Ridler

The Bulletin

To most spectators, road bike racing is a spectacle of whirring legs and wheels in which individual riders try to leave each other gasping in the breeze.

In reality, these competitions are as much a team sport as football or baseball, and individual riders sacrifice their own chances at a high finish to help propel a teammate to the top of the podium.

"Because the whole team is organized, they hire helpers for the team," said cyclist Marcel Russenberger of Bend, who competed in the Tour de France from 1982 to 1984. "Some guys are hired just (to help) one or two guys on the team."

These helpers are also often referred to as "domestiques."

"It's way a team sport," said Gary Bonacker of Sunnyside Sports in Bend, who competed in regional races in the Northwest up to the mid-1980s. "Team tactics take place in even one-day races. In a stage race, when they're racing day after day after day, the team plays an even bigger role." In stage races, many teams have a "GC" rider, someone capable of winning the general classification title. Lance Armstrong, for example, is the GC rider on the U.S. Postal Service Team.

"If it weren't for the team, he (Armstrong) wouldn't be in first place," said Bonacker.

At the very minimum, his lead would be smaller. In the team time trial in Stage 4, the U.S. Postal Service Team won, beating Team Bianchi by 43 seconds. Jan Ullrich, who trails Armstrong by 67 seconds in the race for the general classification title, rides for Team Bianchi.

"Ullrich this year, he has not really the strongest team," said Russenberger. "But he would let Lance and other teams do the work and he was up there all the time. It's not always the strongest who wins. It's sometimes the smartest."

Besides the team time trial, a team helps its GC contender in other ways.

"The team holds the pack together," said Russenberger. "Or chases breaks down. Or they can help you save energy by bringing food."

Riders also save energy by drafting other riders, expending much less energy by riding out of the wind. A team's GC rider is kept out of the wind behind other teammates until he's unleashed for an attack, typically up the side of a mountain.

Teammates will even give up their own bike to the GC rider if his malfunctions, as Jose Luis Rubiera did when he gave his bike to Armstrong after Armstrong crashed in the first stage of this year's Tour de France. "That's not unusual," said Bonacker. "Therein lies the role of the domestique."

But a team can take their GC rider only so far. At some point — usually in the mountains or an individual time trial — it's up to him to put his stamp on the race and leave the top GC riders from other teams behind.

"If someone wants to win a big stage race, then he has to be an overall rider," said Russenberger. "A good time-trial rider and strong climber. And then he has to survive all the other stages, and not crash. In the flat stages, the team has to hold the pack together."

Armstrong is also being helped in the mountain stages, particularly by teammate Roberto Heras, who has been setting the pace while Armstrong follows.

Bonacker said Heras falls in the category of "super domestique," strong enough to be the GC rider on some other teams.

Russenberger performed Heras' role one year when he pulled teammate Beat Breu halfway up L'Alpe d'Huez — perhaps the most notable climb in the Tour de France — so that Breu had enough energy left to go on and win the stage.

Other teams keep careful track of opposing GC riders, particularly if they happen to be struggling as Armstrong has in some of this year's stages.

"This year other teams saw he's not in top shape,'' said Russenberger, ‘‘so they really tried to attack him, and make it much harder for him and his team to control the pack because there was always an attack.

"The leader still has to be strong. When Lance didn't have his best days, he had the strongest team around and he couldn't take advantage like he did years ago. In the end it's up to the team captain."

There are only a handful of riders in the world with the kind of stamina available to challenge Armstrong when it's crunch time heading toward the finish at the top of a mountain pass. At that point, teammates can't be of much assistance.

"If a rider is not really strong, a team can't bring him to win a big stage race," said Russenberger. "It's still an individual sport. Don't forget that."

At this point in the Tour de France, individual determination is probably as important as any help a teammate can offer, said Russenberger, recalling racing over the Pyrenees in Spain during brutally hot weather, much like this year's tour riders have faced.

"By this stage, everybody is digging deep to get the last energy out," Russenberger said. "You start in the morning and you never really know how much energy is left. No one is really sure how much fuel is left to go hard, especially this year with the heat."

Keith Ridler can be contacted at 383-0393 or

© Copyright Daily Peloton

Meanwhile the economic ripples of the worlds largest annual sporting event find there way back to Tullahoma, Tennessee. Candice Brooks reports on the economic success of a local firm who supply Cannondale bikes.

To read the original article click here.

Tullahoma company has stake in Tour de France


Staff Writer

Tullahoma, Tenn.-based Worth Inc. has rolled its way into the premier cycling competition in the world — the Tour de France.

Three years ago, the company began making custom formed metal parts for high performance bikes. It began with two clients, and now has seven, including Cannondale Bicycle Corp.

As cyclists ride down the Champs-Elysees in Paris tomorrow for the finish of the race, the folks at Worth are rooting for Team Saeco because its members ride Cannondale bikes, which are made with Worth tubing.

France is a long reach for the company in the Tennessee town primarily known for sports products like baseballs, softballs and aluminum bats.

''Our association with Cannondale is quite an accomplishment for a company headquartered here in Tullahoma,'' said Charles Parish, vice president of the company, which has 400 employees.

''We are just very excited that we picked up quite a few high-end bike manufacturers as customers so quickly.''

© Copyright Saeco

So as not to be accused of selecting articles with yellow tinted glasses the last two reflect the scepticism that the Tour also generates. The first, from the Scotsman, is a glorious throwback to former cycling journalist lows and could well have been written in the 1960’s -

To read the original article click here.

…The Tour de France, which they promise me will finish this weekend, is that rare phenomenon, a sport with an essentially socialistic ethos, despite all the sponsorship.

While it is difficult to envision Lance Armstrong or Jan Ullrich as a people’s champion, the structure of the race is about the sacrifice of the proletarian peloton in the interests of the team.

Of course, being a French cultural invention, the socialism is tempered with sex, existentialism and lots of drugs, but you get the gist.

Ironically, it is the USA which leads the world in cynicism towards the Tour in general and cycling generally. “Betting Fool” of the SF Gate typifies a small cottage industry of USA writers who earn their living by endorsing prejudice and refusing to acknowledge that Cycling is even a sport.

To read the original article click here.

Sorry, people, cycling is not a sport

The buzz moved throughout the office like a very small wildfire.

Lance Armstrong was making a move in the Tour de France. Left for dead, and fearing that evil German Jan Ullrich was about to pass him in Stage 15, "Our Man Lance" defied the experts and overcame an attack by a French handbag to take control of the race.

"This has to be one of the best stories in sports this year," said one cycling enthusiast.

My head began to hurt. Something was terribly wrong. Oh, that's right. Cycling is not a sport.

You heard me. For many reasons, the thing Lance Armstrong does so well is not a sport. It's an activity, a hobby. It's no different than darts, or lawn bowling or kayaking or rock climbing.

Golf is a sport. Hockey is a sport. Real bowling is a sport. Cycling is not.

Why? Glad you asked.

My basic premise is that given a couple years training and a cool bike, I could be a professional cyclist. I might not be able to compete in the Tour de France, but I'd get close. Come on, pretty much everyone can pedal a bike..."

By the way, here's the Betting Fool's email

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