April 10/00 1:58 am - Letter From Italy, Saturn News, Canadians in Europe & More
Posted by Editor on 04/10/00
Letter From Italy
Canadian racer Paul Kelly sends us regular updates from Italy, talking about his experience of living and racing in Europe. This latest one should be required reading for anyone who has ambitions about being a pro racer...
I made an ethical choice today, and resigned from racing in Italy, after four long years.
Bicycle racing in Europe is difficult. The experience, knowledge, and the huge selection pool of young riders ensure that the competition is tough. That alone can demoralize a rider and send them packing. I surmounted this problem with years of tough training. Alone. In the wind. 1000 hours on the bike per year. I became competitive, had consistent top 10 results, and on two gratifying occasions, won. However, this success is secondary to the lessons learned in achieving it, the lessons which have founded my decision.
This year I saw riders who I had been dropping for months, and who had not finished a race yet this season, suddenly take a huge step forward, and win. These riders were my teammates, and I know how they managed this feat. As in the years before, they will continue to win for a couple months, and then perhaps turn pro, or perhaps have depleted their bodies to the point that they are unable to finish races once again. In addition, while they are enjoying winning through medicine alone, they are depriving those with natural talent of their due rewards.
Drug use which was once only in the job description of the pros, has filtered down to the Italian amateur, junior, and recreational racers. Sponsors funnel more and more money into the sport at any given level, while team management and doctors have to find a way of justifying this contribution. If they don't have a winning team, they don't make money. To get an edge, they put the riders (without education, alternatives, or morals) on performance enhancing drugs. The self-defeating part is that every team does it, so that it no longer becomes an edge, so much as a net increase in the base level of the field. Now, riders suffering from problems associated with years in the pro ranks (and drug use) have become common among the dilletanti. These "athletes" become so exhausted from pushing their bodies beyond their intended limits, that they no can longer progress in their sport. And it is these riders, the individuals on the verge of collapse, that are allowed to turn pro.
I do not want to be a part of this sport's destructive cycle. I cannot perpetuate a system that I am so morally opposed to. Nor do I see any glory in pursuing the thought of doing the same thing as a European professional . A Resignation on Principle.
Upon returning to Canada in June, I have not yet decided whether I will continue to race. I have been riding really well, and am quite fit. The part of me that fell in love with the sport is still alive and well, only now the reality of racing in Europe has overcome the utopic dream. Searching for alternatives to drugs, I have developed an interest in natural health, healing, and nutrition, and believe that this may be the next path in my life.
Saturn Looks for New Team Director
Below is the official word from Saturn, however, it should be noted that Wenzel was asked to resign. The reason is because he notified the management company that he wanted to leave at the end of the season. The management company responded by saying that in that case, they would rather he left immediately. The word is that the riders are not at all happy with this abrupt removal of a person they are very comfortable with.
TROY, Mich.-After six seasons as the director of the Saturn Cycling Team, Rene Wenzel announced his resignation. "It has been a tremendously hard decision to reach and many factors have played a role," says Wenzel. "With our first baby on the way, I am more determined to return to my home and my wife Kendra's family in Oregon. In that way I'll be able to spend time with my wife and baby whenever I am not on the road. I will be looking forward to new challenges as well."
The Saturn Cycling Team wishes Rene the best of luck in his new endeavors. "All in all it has come to approximately 500 wins between 1995 and 2000 for the Saturn Men's and Women's teams and thousands of hours spent in the company of these good people," says Wenzel. "I am very proud to have been part of that."
Team Saturn General Manager Tom Schuler is actively pursuing a new Team Director who will complement the strong support staff currently in place. "We have a great support team," says Schuler. "And now I will be looking to hire a top-flight director who can step in and bring the same enthusiasm and commitment to our athletes and the Saturn Cycling program."
With the Saturn USPRO Cycling Tour underway and the Olympic Games approaching, we are in the midst of an important and exciting year. "We have many Saturn Cycling Team members who will be vying for Olympic medals in Sydney," says Schuler. "It is my highest priority to provide the positive environment the athletes need to achieve their Olympic dreams."
Tour of Pelham Enduro, Ontario
(courtesy Tim Lefebvre)
Sunday April 16th 11a.m start
Citizens Mountain Bike Race
One lap of 35km around picturesque Pelham (St.Catharines) Ontario
For more info check out - members.home.net/tourofpelham or phone 905-688-1296.
Canadians in Europe
On this just past weekend there were a few Canadians racing on the Continent. Michael Barry (Saturn) was 53rd (pack time) in the Tour of North Holland and Sylvain Beauchamp (Shaklee) was 15th at the Archer GP in Britain.
We are updating the results for the Paris-Ancaster, after a few discrepancies were pointed out. You can see the full results Here.
Event timers W.O.W. also has the results in their website, broken down by age categories.