Thursday, September 11, 2008
The Lance Chronicles
As most of my friends' "cycling friend" I've been asked a lot about the Texan's big return. I'll comment further on but, in general, I'm psyched. I've already bet a couple bottles of bourbon with Josh and Reed that he never lines up for the Tour. This is based on athletic precedent. I don't see Armstrong playing Ali and getting beat up by Trevor Berbick. If he can't win he won't race. I hope I lose, as seeing him, Basso, Contador et al next would be fantastic. Landis should also sign with an international squad. Even Ullrich has joked about his return but, um, I don't think so. He wasn't that motivated when he was young. But the more the merrier. Lance will bring a lot of money, coverage, and enthusiasm, and all will be good for the sport.
At 37, Lance isn't too old. It's a question of motivation. He sounds psyched now but let's see how that plays out over the winter. He's sacrificing a pretty good life and this, historically, has not gone well for athletes.
Here is the Vanity Fair article announcing his comeback.
The dirt is already flying:
David Walsh's perspective sounds like pretty straight talk to me.
Some of the French authorities.
Contador is gracious. And, oddly enough, we already see a lie in the VF piece. LA states that Bruyneel will be his DS, but Bruyneel hadn't even heard of the plan.
As is most of the peloton.
When it all comes down to it, this is about training and motivation. I see how Armstrong misses the template; the challenge. Now he has a new template to both contemplate and then test. From an athletic perspective, this is what it's all about. The training. Lance won all those tours by training harder than everyone else. Those long hours suffering anonymously in the middle on nowhere when the weather's bad and you just know that you competitors are all in bed or at the pub are pretty much the most meaningful times in any athletes career. If you don't love those times than you aren't a champion. I think Big Tex revels in them.
This is the essence of all of this, at least from my perspective.
“Then Leadville, this kind of obscure bike race, totally kick-started my engine. For me it’s always been about the process.… The process of getting there is the best part. You start the season a little out of shape, a little heavy. You get in better shape. You lose some weight. I mean you’re just crafting this perfect program. For several weeks I [had] trained [for Leadville] and went riding by myself. Obviously beautiful territory and fresh air, just feeling fit, losing weight, getting strong—living a very healthy lifestyle. I thought, This might be fun to try again.”