Posted by Editor on 05/21/00
Letter From Eric Wohlberg
Eric Wohlberg, victim of a controversial disqualification after winning the time trial at the U.S. Olympic trials, has sent us a letter that he has given us permission to reprint:
Seems like my DQ at Jackson has created some excitement in the Canadian Cycling Community. In order to clarify what happened, I'll give you my account of the affair. Many people know of my association with Cervelo Cycles. They have been behind me for many years. I feel that they are the cutting edge of bike technology and make great bicycles. I have been racing an older P2K frameset which has a extended seat tube ,a sharkfin wheel fairing and a rear wheel cutout for the past three seasons. This bike has seen numerous Nat'l Champs, 1 Olympic Competition, 3 World Champs, plus a Commonwealth Games and Pan Am wins. In all cases, the bike was inspected and passed. This same set-up was also used in Redlands and Monterery Sea Otter this season (both events were UCI Sanctioned) and not a word was mentioned.
For the US Champs, I was concerned about the extended seat tube and the sharkfin fairing, as I understood that these parts of the bike were not in compliance with the UCI. Cervelo sent me a new P3 frameset (which has the UCI's OK) a couple days before the race. I spent two full days building the bike in my hotel room so I could be UCI legal. I figured that I was good to go.
Since I have a fear of missing tt starts, I'm always in the staging area with 8 to 10 minutes to go. I did the same in Jackson. My minute man was clipped in and ready to head down the ramp when one of the Officials (Sean Farrell) said that my wheel was too deep into my seat tube cutout. He said that he needed to see daylight between the leading edge of the tire and the trailing edge of the cutout. I dismounted and pulled my wheel back and asked him if he was happy. Since he didn't have a tool (if one exists) to check the spacing I assumed that he eyeballed it and was happy with the adjustment I made. He gave me a nod and I figured everything was fine. I would have pulled the wheel 3 feet back if he wanted. My minute countdown was already in progress, so I proceeded to the start ramp.
Apparently, he radio'd to the moto commissaires to follow me all race and make sure I didn't do a bike change over the course of the event. Once I crossed the line, I was immediately brought back to the finish line and my bike was thoroughly inspected. Handle bar extension, seat position, etc. were checked. Then they proceeded to inspect my rear wheel clearance. On the P3, there are horizontal drop outs which allow for rear wheel adjustment in the seat cutout. In the UCI picture, the diagram depicts a fairing which actually extends around the leading edge of the wheel. This is not the case with the P3. Due to the curvature of a 26in wheel and the curvature of the cutout it would be difficult to extend a credit card through the opening at the best of times. They first tried to slide a hotel card between the wheel and cut out. It wouldn't fit. They then tried a business card which did go through and I breathed a sigh of relief. They said they needed to have a panel meeting about my tire spacing and ultimately deciced to DQ me. I appealed and brought forth three witnesses who were there at the start of the race and saw me move the wheel back, ask for approval and noted the Commissaire's seemingly favourable reply. They interrogated each of the three, but at that time a public announcement had already been made about my disqualification. I was beside myself as I was shafted by one person who didn't have the guts to either disqualify me on the spot before the ride or was too weak to tell the other referees that he gave me the OK to do the ride and passed the bike.
Since this commissaire is so knowledgeable I figured that he should be capable of adjusting my time to reflect the benefit I had by having my rear wheel 1-2 mm too close to the cutout and apply if to my time. The underlying question which most people should ask is did I win the race by 1 min because of my wheel placement? Their decision stripped my team of the prize money (I also won the Saturn teamwork challenge for the best 20km split),the Saturn Cup Points and me of UCI points. They have also slandered Cervelo Cycles by falsely stating that the Cervelo P3 is illegal.
The sad part of this whole issue is that the rules are in place so the competiton is fair. There are many fast bikes on the courses but I still haven't seen one that pedals itself. When I crossed the line a minute+ up on the rest of the field I was congratulated many team directors and riders on a great ride. They all felt that I was the legitimate winner. There were other P3's in the race and none were scrutinized like mine and if the bikes are indeed so much quicker, why were they so far behind me? I have fell victim to a poor decision. Hope this sheds some light on the matter.
Where the hell has Chris been seem to be the question I was answering this weekend at the first stop of the NORBA National Series. Europe? BC Cups? Asheville North Carolina (with Willow)? No to all the above. Chris has been living at his homestead in Kamloops, collecting himself and trying to heal the rusty hinge he has for a right knee!
Those who are close to me can skip this paragraph because they know what I have been going through and all have been very supportive.... thanks everyone! A quick summary......watch yourself when you do lunges! A minor lean to the left while doing lunges is what led to my eventual demise four months later in March. Not much thought was put into the click I heard that fateful day in the sweaty prison I call the gym. As the miles increased, particularly the uphill ones done in New Mexico, things started to get sore....then came the mountain bike racing. Sea Otter was a great race for me but for the knee it spelled the end of good results. 5th in the crit, 8th in the tt and 10th in the cross country and 8th overall. Not bad while racing against some damn tough Euros and the other raging Canucks.....but after the cross country the knee all but seized. "Ok take three, four days off the bike it will all be good by the weekend", I thought. I was wrong. Not only were the legs flatter than pancakes but the bumps on the Napa course were like pins being pressed into my patella! Forget that I dropped out (which is something I pride myself in not doing). The Mexican World Cup hurt, which really sucked as my family made their way down to watch. How depressing. And what does one do when depressed? Naturally drink!
OK so that's what happened up until April. I could have just wrote down the diagnosis but I thought I would make everyone read my drivel and take note of many grammatical errors! (Editors Note: We fixed 'em Chris...) Went back to Kamloops and saw the doc. What I have is a quadriceps tendon strain, pre-patellar bursitis, and a little bit of good old tendonitis. Wow that's a mouthful! Almost two weeks off the bike, physiotherapy every other day, golf (used a powered cart), carousing with the friends, N 64, directing the contractors on what to do with the house and yard, boozing (for the first week)....anything to take my mind off the bike and get me out of my depression. Then I started to build doing hour rides in the morning and evening. Each week I increased the volume, and intensity but nothing into the race zones. So no Europe or any hard racing for that matter. At the beginning of May I did a Washington State race which was mellow and let me race just below race pace. Then there was the Toonie cross country in Kelowna....same thing.....and then there was Big Bear. My prep had been more focused on the World's and Vermont but I figured if World's were at altitude, hell, I might as well get climatised for Big Bear. To Silver Star I went for a segregated training camp where I climbed over 20,000...then to Big Bear early where climbed that heinous, torturing ascent 8 times, and then the race which you will read more about on the next forward. Sorry for the long, boring write up but I though I would let everyone know what the dill-e-o is! Thanks especially to my hero Brian Walton for the cleat help, words of encouragement and the great advice, Brian from Haro (and Brad for not pressuring me to do anything that would be detrimental)...and to my physiotherapist Olav Stana who has worked on the knee and helped with a program that will help keep my knee strong.
Over and out!!
Norba National Short Track - Big Bear
1. Greg Randolph (USA) Team GT
2. Pavel Tcherkassov (Rus) Gary Fisher-Saab
3. Kashi Leuchs (NZL) Volvo-Cannondale
4. Geoff Kabush (Can) Kona
5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Gary Fisher-Saab
7. Roland Green (Can) Team GT
9. Mathieu Toulouse (Can) Team Ford Devinci
1. Mary Grigson (Aus) Gary Fisher-Saab
2. Ann Trombley (USA) Koulius Zaard
3. Chrissy Redden (Can) Gary Fisher-Saab
4. Jimena Florit (Arg) RLX Polo Sport
5. Melanie Dorion (Can) Team Ford Devinci
9. Amber Chorney (Can) Team Ford Devinci
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