Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Greatness of Lance

I should paint Lance Armstrong.  The greatest cyclist of his time.

The question, in the aftermath of him having been stripped of his titles, is, of course, to whom should we award the gold medals?  Who actually won all those Tours de France?  These are, as we say, questions.

It should be noted that there have been 21 finishing spots on the final podium in Paris during the seven Tours Armstrong won.  Lance on the top step seven times and some number of men variously beneath him (not 14, since there was some duplication over the years).  And lo and behold, of the men occupying those 14 positions, only one has avoided being directly linked to doping.

So who's the big dog?  Lance is the big dog.

Next year is the 100th riding of the Tour.  It will probably be won by Alberto Contador, an amazing cyclist who just recently became eligible to ride again after having been caught red-blooded (so to speak) for doping during the 2010 Tour.  Which he won (and was subsequently disqualified from).

Of the 21 guys, who was the clean one?
A guy named Fernando Escartin.
Bravo!

This should be said:  In the 2001 Tour, about half way up Alpe-D'Huez (one of the iconic climbs in cycling), Lance turned around and stared into the eyes of my then favorite cyclist, arch-rival Jan Ulrich.  He stared him right in the eyes, took the measure of the man and, finding him wanting, turned back around, downshifted and rode away to eventual victory.

View it here.

Me?  I still get goosebumps.

Wow.  Whatever happened to Ulrich?
They caught him doping, stripped him of his 1997 Tour title.  I think he's designing bikes.
Boy, what a sport.
Dog!  This is what I'm telling you.

For you obsessives, here's a fun, slightly impressionistic take on the same ride.  5 minutes-plus, though, so you decide for yourself.  Interesting to note the lack of helmets.  Yikes.

And this, of course, is the route to the top of L'Alpe D'Huez, with it's 21 famous switchbacks:
I've owned cars that couldn't get up this hill.

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