Marcus, as you have seen, there is a range of opinion on this subject. I agree with Phil here. I've experienced cracks both at the spider and at the pedal hole, but I have never seen such failures proven to be "sudden and catastropic". In my experience, the cracks are evident on careful inspection well before the crank fails. In my opinion, instances of catastropic failure are the result of near total failure to inspect the cranks, and are not really "sudden".
The likelihood of cracks increases with crank age, rider weight, and hard use. I have no doubt that in the NR era some hotshot US amateur racers probably suffered some spectacular crank failures, occasionally involving injuries. Given the popularity of Criteriums in the US, these guys were often the muscular sprinter types and hammered the pedals hard. A lot were also basically jocks with little knowledge of or concern for the equipment, who probably never inspected anything. And unlike the European pros, they often lacked competent team mechanics to look after things for them.
Considering a lot of us old farts on the list don't hammer that hard and have a lot more concern for the equipment than the average racer, I don't think there is any need here to get paranoid about Campy cranks. Regular inspection should prevent any real problems.
> In a message dated 6/23/03 8:12:07 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> >At the risk of sounding like that Gilda Radnor character on SNL, what's
> >this I hear about Campagnolo cranks being subject to sudden catastrophic
> >failure? Is it true? Do I really need to closely inspect my cranks before
> >each ride?
> They don't fail suddenly. Cracks are present before failure so inspect them
> every once in a while.
> Phil Brown
> No marine layer in San Rafael, Ca