Quest for 6 - Lance and the Le Tour
July 3, 2004 12:07 AM   Subscribe

Lance Armstrong - Le Tour de France It is that time of the year again T-Minus 8 Hours until the kick off of the Greatest Cycling Event in the World.....2004 Le Tour De France. Lance Armstrong is the Favored again to Win his 6TH Title in a row! In order to watch, listen and follow the race check out: Lance's official Fan club website or Le Tour's Official Daily Posting and Standing, lastly those of you who will need their daily fix without a computer Daily Results can be sent to your wireless phone via text messages. This will be a very exciting time from July 3 to July 25, one prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,390 kilometers or 2,106.5 miles. Go Lance.....Wear Yellow Live Strong!
posted by Max's Daddy (28 comments total)
Hmm... Dosn't the fact that lance is basicaly a genetic freak detract a little from the sport? I mean, the vast majority of us could never achive that performance, no matter how hard we worked.
posted by delmoi at 1:39 AM on July 3, 2004

The same was true of Miguel Indurain the other 5 time in a row winner. And for that matter it is true of basically the entire NBA and NFL: genetic freaks doing amazing thing for our pleasure.

I don't think that Lance would have won last year's tour if it weren't for Joseba Beloki's accident, he seemed vulnerable to me, even Ulrich, who has no heart, almost caught him in the end (but for a rainy day).

Still, Lance is a great cyclist, spectacular at times. I just hope we have another competitive tour. Prior to last year, the tours had gotten really boring with only one possible winner...
posted by sic at 2:13 AM on July 3, 2004

But they've changed the rules and some think it was to keep Lance from winning a 6th tour.
posted by whatever at 3:15 AM on July 3, 2004

Doesn't the fact that lance is basically a genetic freak detract a little from the sport?

At least that's not as bad as all the doping going on in professional cycling. I don't know any other sport that's plagued as much by doping scandals.
posted by rainking at 5:16 AM on July 3, 2004

For more tour results:
Cycling News
BBC cycling
posted by caddis at 5:24 AM on July 3, 2004

Oh, and let's not forget the official Tour de France site.
posted by caddis at 5:27 AM on July 3, 2004

Listened to a report on the CBC yesterday about drug use by Tour cyclists. One estimate suggested that more than 90% of these guys are doping. "Is it cheating?" one was asked. "No, not if everyone is doing it," he said.
posted by at 5:53 AM on July 3, 2004

related, tagline "women just don't get it'" -ad for tour de france crazy people QT here.
posted by dabitch at 5:57 AM on July 3, 2004

Speaking of crazy people, don't forget to watch for everyone's favorite, the Devil.
posted by caddis at 6:05 AM on July 3, 2004

Genetic Freak?
You need to catch up on the history of this guy. He used to have a strong upper body, going back about 9 or 10 years ago. Let a little problem called cancer came along and solved that. During his battle he became a stick figure, basically losing all of the muscle mass in the upper body. Lovely little disease.
So, he beats cancer and gets back on the pro circuit. He admits with a new attitude, and with a new body. It is questioned if he would be at this level without the cancer. Who knows.
There is a short article in Esquire this month, unfortunately the pictures are not online. Has a shot of the back of his legs, covered in veins like a weight lifters arms.
Whomever wins, it's a great race! Thanks for the post!
(buy some yellow for the battle against cancer - sorry mom you didn't make it...)
posted by fluffycreature at 6:20 AM on July 3, 2004

It should be a great tour this year (and last years was pretty amazing, who can forget Tyler Hamilton's race?). And for those new to the sport you could do worse than read up on the amazing battles between Jaques Anquetil, a man who stated his trainiing regime consisted of "A few whiskies, blonde cigarettes and a woman" , and the eternal second, raymond poulidor.

After they both retired the two great rivals became friends until Anquetil died of stomach cancer in 1987. According to legend when Poulidor saw his great rival on his death bed Anquetil turned to him and said "my friend, now you will come second once again". Not a dry eye in the house.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:22 AM on July 3, 2004

Armstrong is amazing. He is almost a machine. From reading the press, however, it appears that popular opinion is starting to turn, probably because of the divorce and new rockstar girlfriend, combined with his coldness and temper.

I miss reading his ex's blog. I hope she scored major dollars in the divorce [/soap opera voyeurism]
posted by mecran01 at 6:26 AM on July 3, 2004

What's the deal with Armstrong? He's got some kind of super-blood or something as a result of the cancer (or the therapy), right?
posted by mkultra at 6:44 AM on July 3, 2004

Well some say his "super blood" is just regular blood doped to the gills.

I remember back when Indurain made his run the organizers also made rule changes, designed tour routes, etc. all to the disadvantage of Indurain's strengths. The reason is that it's not good for the Tour to have one man dominate it for so long. People get bored. The reason that the last tour was so exciting was because Armstrong almost (and probably should have) lost. The previous two years the Podium was exactly the same...
posted by sic at 7:08 AM on July 3, 2004

The best source of cycling links I've found (including an OPML listing of RSS feeds) is at
posted by cbrody at 7:22 AM on July 3, 2004

The take on Armstrong and his freakish body and recovery from cancer: he endured such incredible pain from the cancer and the treatment that the pain of training cannot compare. Therefore, he is able to train harder than his rivals. There have been many rumors about him doping, but nothing is substantiated. I do not believe he does. I think he is just the most anal, compulsive rider who wills away the pain of training. He is also reputed to weigh every bit of food to get just enough but not too many calories (weight matters when climbing) and to sleep in a hypoxic tent which mimics living at high altitude. He sometimes seems more like a robot than a man. He has also shown quite a bit of arrogance, especially when he was younger. A lot of fans root against him because of his arrogance, because of his machine like aura, and probably because he is American, Texan at that.
posted by caddis at 7:22 AM on July 3, 2004

One estimate suggested that more than 90% of these guys are doping.

Yeah, I heard that one. He later went on to say that 90% was a generous underestimate of how many of them rely on pharmaceutical assitance.

I sort of want to believe it, since it'd be a handy rationalization to explain why I still have to take a break in the middle of the kind of hill climb these guys could do three times a day at 30kph.
posted by sfenders at 7:58 AM on July 3, 2004

Another reason for Armstrong's ascent (ahem) -- form. Before his fight with cancer, he was a pure power rider. Those guys are great in short sprints and criteriums, but on the long races, they always fall.

Worse, Armstrong's ego was in the way. He tended to ignore coaching. He "knew" he was great.

After his recovery, he found that he didn't have power anymore -- he tried a couple of things, and he was humiliated. There wasn't anything there. So, he finally starts training, as opposed to working out. His average cadence goes from 85 rpm to 120, he finds he's spending less energy per mile -- and he's going faster. He finally gets the hint, and becomes a fanatic about form.

The upper body mass he lost in the cancer fight actually helped him -- you need some upper body strength, mostly in the back, to race long courses, but a large amount of upper body strength means there's a bunch of upper body mass you're carrying. In the top ranks, that's a penalty you cannot accept -- every extra pound on you is a pound you need to haul up the mountain.

So, after a couple of years of training, Armstrong emerges, his legs almost as strong as before, some thirty (!) pounds lighter, and with nigh-on perfect form. The combination is unbeatable.

Jan Ulrich had a similar problem. In terms of pure power, Ulrich blows away Armstrong -- or anybody. His cadence is the slowest on the tour, he rides incredibly long cranks, and in his early days, he'd burn out fast. His biggest problem was learning to hold back and save something for the next day. Once he did, he became competitive -- won the Tour once, and if Armstrong hadn't made it back from cancer, we'd be arguing about how that Ulrich guy keeps winning, and why is the Tour designing the race against him.

He's still, by far, the most powerful rider on the tour on a given day. The way he humiliated Armstrong in the last ITT last year shows that. But power isn't everything. To win the Tour, you have to be good almost every day, and great on some days. Great on one day doesn't do it. There's been some discussion that Ulrich should have backed off a tad on the ITT, and saved something for later. Other argue that it was his best shot. It almost worked.

The guy I'd watch is Tyler Hamilton. If you think Armstrong ignores pain, note that Hamilton has made top 5 finishes in the Tour and the Giro after suffering a broken collarbone early in the race. The guy took up cycling to help recover from various skiing accidents. Of all three riders mention, Hamilton is the closest to be a natural rider. He just takes stupid risks too many times, and it cost him -- with a healthy shoulder, I think he wins both the Tour last year and the Giro two years ago.

He did pull a spectacular recovery from an incredibly boneheaded maneuver. Last year, on one of the last mountain stages, he gets dropped. This is wrong: A team leader does not get dropped. He's supposed to be better. He did. His teammates had to drop back, form up (you ride faster in a pace line or group than alone -- air resistance) and bring him back.

After that, to make amends, he makes a spectacular 90km solo break -- in the mountains -- to win the stage. The leaders didn't follow -- too risky. Tyler did it to apologize to his team.

posted by eriko at 8:48 AM on July 3, 2004

Oh yeah. For freaks, watch Richard Virenque. He's not that good in the flats, but nobody can climb like he can. He's won the King Of The Mountains jersey more times than I can remember.

It'll be weird seeing him competitive in a time trial -- but when the course is a 3,575 foot climb over 9.4 miles (average grade, 7.9%,) he'll be competitive.
posted by eriko at 8:57 AM on July 3, 2004

So many sports are all, all, all about the economics. Sure, there's big money in cycling these days, but without the great mass of competetive riders who never make any money at it, the "sport" wouldn't be anywhere.

I love riding, and these guys do stuff I'll never be able to do. That's just a fact, and I admire them for it. And I think it's pretty darn cool that the Tour is getting press.

Of course, I still think they're all nuts....
posted by lodurr at 11:50 AM on July 3, 2004

eriko, thanks for the education!
posted by donovan at 1:39 PM on July 3, 2004

Plastic Peloton People
posted by normy at 1:50 PM on July 3, 2004

eriko, thanks for the education!

ditto that. That was some post eriko. I like it !
posted by a3matrix at 2:07 PM on July 3, 2004

And I'm sure everyone's seen it, but just in case, if you loke cycling and love good movies then you absolutely must see breaking away. And it's set in my old home town. What a film.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:56 PM on July 3, 2004

Yup - eriko is MeFi's carbon-framed ninja - dude, your wheel sucking posse salutes you.
posted by Opus Dark at 7:46 PM on July 3, 2004

See the polar heartrate monitor readouts of the pros. For the other cycling-hearrate geeks out there, this is a neat treat. Check out the Stage 17 (of last years) for K. Servais, when he break at the end and wins the stage.
posted by H. Roark at 9:40 PM on July 3, 2004

speaking about cycling movies, Le VĂ©lo de Ghislain Lambert is a nice comedy exploring different aspects of a cyclist carreer
posted by nims at 2:53 AM on July 5, 2004

hmmm I had a post in here, but I must have screwed up. Anyway, no one has ever won 6 Tours de France. There have been some amazing cyclists in the past who have tried. It's almost like there is a curse against it. Look at the luck that Bernard Hinault, or Eddy Merckx had in their attempts. Lance is a great rider, no doubt, but one knock that I have against him which eriko doesn't point out is that he purely trains for the Tour de France. It's the only race he takes seriously in the season. I have more respect for men like Eddy Merckx who wanted to win every race, and every stage. My prediction for this year is Lance will not win, and it will have nothing to do with the rule changes.
posted by Eekacat at 4:09 AM on July 5, 2004

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