Omnium, tire pressures and Contador

Our readers pipe up about rescuing track races, the proper pressure for ’cross clinchers and Contador's decision to stick with Astana.

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Lose the omnium, save pursuit and points

Regarding John Wilcockson’s article on how to rescue the individual pursuit: Finally, a thorough explanation — that still reaches the wrong conclusion.

The omnium is the problem. It is a huge event that will take days of heats in five disciplines to contest, and that doesn’t make for good, broad-appeal spectating.

It can be replaced by two stand-alone events for both genders. With six events for each gender, three slow-twitch and three fast twitch, we can save both pursuit and points — a showcase event for six-day racers — and sprinters can decide whether they want team sprint or the return of the kilo/500 (still a sore point for many).

Even if takes until 2016 this is worth fighting for.

Robert Black
Albrightsville, Pennsylvania

No, lose swimming, save Madison, points and kilo/500

The latest announcement from the IOC re-arranging the Olympic track cycling events follows cancellation of the Kilo (men) and 500m (women) events for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in favor of BMX events. I believe that the IOC has explicitly stated that this is a zero-sum game, no net change in the number of events, in order to keep the number of athletes at the games manageable.

If those are the ground rules, let the cannibalization begin. We need to find other sports that might have bloated event lists. Swimming comes immediately to mind. At Beijing the men contested 17 events and the women the same number. I swam in my youth and enjoyed it but the only justification I can imagine for this number of events is more opportunities for medals. Note, however, that at the Beijing games this didn’t work out quite as expected; Michael Phelps won almost half of the men’s gold medals. His performances were great athletics but they were indistinguishable from each other begging the question: why eight events? I have talked to swimming aficionados who insist that each event is unique; I don’t buy it.

So, my modest proposal: Let’s trade three swimming events for three track bicycle racing events. That still leaves 14 swimming events each for men and women (still too many, but I’m not greedy) and eight track bicycle racing events each for men and women. We get the Madison, points race, and kilo/500 events back and I suspect that hardly anyone, in particular spectators, would notice the loss of swimming events.

David Thimsen
St. Paul, Minnesota

What about pressure for ’cross clinchers?

Test editor Matt Pacocha wrote a very good article regarding clincher-tire choice for cyclocross; however, there was no mention of suggested tire pressure.

It has been my understanding that one should run low pressure even with clinchers. Can you comment on recommended tire pressure for clinchers, and also if it is OK to use pressures below the suggested minimum of the manufacturer?

Another concern would be rider weight. For example, I weigh 175 pounds and wouldn’t expect to be able to run the same pressure as someone that weighs 150 pounds.

Jason Karew
Cincinnati, Ohio

Matt Pacocha replies: Jason, in 2001, Tim Johnson, riding clinchers, lost the national championships to Todd Wells, who was on tubulars, due to running pressure lower than that recommended by the manufacturer. He thought he could get away with it if he rode smoothly, and it undoubtedly offered more traction, but he flatted on a transition from grass to concrete when he was away solo with just a lap or so to go. That was all Wells’ needed to take his first national cross title. Moral of the story: It’s easy to pinch-flat a ’cross clincher at low pressure. Unlike tubulars, a clincher should not touch the rim at any time. If it does, then you run a good chance of pinch-flatting. As for the exact pressure, it’s very personal. I would say that a smooth 175-pounder could run less than a 150-pounder who rides like a bag of anvils. I weigh 150 pounds and rarely dip below 35psi.

Contador must have a death wish

Okay, legal minds — you write that Armstrong and Bruyneel were able to break free of Astana, but Contador was not.

If I understand the UCI rules, Contador was free to leave Astana when they failed the recent paperwork test. Yet he did not. Are they holding his love child hostage in Kazakhstan? He complained all year about wanting out, then when the out seemed to present itself, his management team seemed unable to execute. Was it enhanced signing techniques on the part of Astana, or lack of business acumen on the part of hermano Fran?

Or maybe it’s just a good old-fashioned love of living dangerously. Re-upping with the team that got him banned twice, and failed to pay him for part of this year, and in which a toxic Vino’ holds pride of national place? Sure seems like a death wish to me.

Jane Kyle
Portland, Oregon

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