The return of Lance Armstrong

September 25th, 2008 by

So Lance is Back: Is he bored? Does he think the level isn’t moving on enough? – Did he think when the groupe maillot Jaune took 42 minutes to ascend Alpe Duez during this years Tour, ‘that’s not very quick, I can do that again‘? Has he got a point to prove regarding the plethora of doping allegations levelled against him over the course of his record breaking 7 Tour de France titles? Hmm…. who knows, but it sure isn’t for the Benjamin’s – for he is racing for free! No, at 37, Lance is racing for cancer. Simple as that he says.

Although he never once tested positive, it would seem more than amazing that so many of his greatest rivals have gone on to admit to using performance enhancing drugs, or quite simply, been caught. Mind you, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso never tested positive for PEDs either….. so how does Lance go about shifting this opinion? Well by getting back on the bike of course. In a completely open and fully transparent way. – By bringing a film crew along to record everything. – Including his independant anti-doping plan, which involves anti-doping expert Don Catlin supervising biological monitoring of him throughout his training and racing schedule. – Not that a film crew is able to edit anything of course? Is that too cynical of me?

The risk would seem to be great. There appears to be a lot to lose, and not so much to gain – on a competitive level. The driving force behind much of the previous hype was that he represented some form of natural phenom, with this massive engine; a huge VO2 max the likes of which was never seem before or after…. Sure, his highest value of 85ml/kg/min is significant, but not compared to Greg Lemonds’ monster 92.5ml/kg/min. In fact, none other than Lance’s controversial coach Michele Ferrari described it as “an excellent value, but common to many other pro athletes that obtained far inferior results in their careers”.

However, the flip side of all of this is the huge exposure cycling is now about to gain, plus the much bigger picture; the prospective benefits for cancer research.  He has stated that his primary focus is on the cancer campaign, and that alone is his major motivation for returning to the professional peleton. Already he has instigated much change in his home State of Texas – he has secured $3 Billion to support the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. His hope is to secure money all over globe to continue this work; “with this campaign we feel that by racing the bicylce all over the world, starting in Australia, and ending in France, it is the best way to promote this initiative, it’s the best way to get the word out”.

Despite everything, I, like many, see Lance as a massive inspiration. I’ve even got a poster of him on my wall that says “I rode, and I rode, and I rode. I rode like I had never riddden, punishing my body up and down every hill I could find….. I rode when noone else would ride”.