My guess: You don’t live the life Lance Armstrong has unless you have a godly amount of will power, self control, pride, and the ability to hold a grudge.
Last year Armstrong was dissed by fellow Astana teammate Alberto Contador. Worse, Armstrong was dissed on worldwide TV. The definitive dis occurred during the seventh stage, a 139-mile trot from Barcelona to Andorra, finishing with a beyond-category climb to the Arcalis summit. Armstrong was in second place, 19 seconds ahead of Contador. With two kilometers to go, Contador, ignoring his team’s plan, ignoring the sport’s code that says never chase down a teammate on a summit finish, bolted ahead of Armstrong and ended the day two seconds ahead of his rival.
Contador won the 2009 Tour. Armstrong finished third, at the age of 37, after laying off racing for three and a half years and three months after collarbone surgery. A sensational performance. But, he’d been dissed.
It may not be a coincidence that three days before the 2009 Tour ended, Radio Shack announced they would sponsor a new Lance Armstrong team. Very shortly, seven of the eight Astana riders who rode the 2009 Tour de France with Armstrong joined the Radio Shack team. So did Astana’s team manager, Johan Bruyneel. So did Trek and Nike.
That should tell us something about Lance’s 2010 Tour prospects. The Radio Shack team is loaded. Levi Leipheimer described it as a “Crazy strong team. It’s ridiculous.” Three members have stood on the Tour de France podium and one won this year’s Criterium du Dauphine. Lance would not be Lance if he hasn’t been planning this year’s Tour from the moment he realized what a pain in the ass Contador would be.
As to drugs, it’s impossible for me to believe Armstrong hasn’t used; everyone around him has, but he’s never been caught despite being tested more often than any other ten riders combined. Putting all else aside, Armstrong has the not-getting-caught part figured out. (The Box is offering an over/under proposition on the number of times Lance will be drug tested before the Tour ends on July 25. Over/under is 27 ½.)
It makes the French media crazy that Lance is still out there raking in the adulation when they damn well know he’s used drugs but can’t prove it. Driven crazier still is Floyd Landis.
Note we were nine paragraphs into this before Floyd Landis is mentioned. Not good for Floyd. His next volley will receive less consideration here and in Corporate Media World.
On the morning this year’s Tour began, the Wall Street Journal ran a long piece featuring Floyd’s previous doping charges but with new details. No proof is offered and the story is riddled with unnamed sources. What is new is what Floyd says about himself.
2001: Landis thought about selling his house so he could pay bills.
Late 2001: Landis is invited to Lance Armstrong’s training camp in Austin. He reports that one night Armstrong took team members to a tittie bar. On the way there he drove too fast. While at the tittie bar, team members drank alcohol and mingled with dancers. The party moved to another location where some participants snorted what looked to be cocaine.
During camp, Landis spoke with the team’s director, Johan Bruyneel, and said he would do “whatever he needed to do to improve beyond the typical training...” Landis said both men understood he was volunteering to use dope.
May 2002: Landis swanks it up in St. Moritz and trains with Armstrong. Selected to race in the Tour de France.
July 2002: Lance wins the Tour, Landis receives a $40,000 bonus and a two-year, $200,000-a-year contract. It’s been nine months since his, jeez-maybe-I-should-sell-my-house epiphany.
2004: Landis complains that the team is putting Armstrong first; specifically, Armstrong gets the best bikes, he gets hand-me-downs. Landis investigates, calls the bike manufacturer. Oops — this is new — Landis says 60 custom-built bikes were skimmed and sold to raise drug money.
2005: Landis signs with Phonak Cycling Team for $500,000, learns Phonak doesn’t have a doping program. Landis complains that he had to create one, that it took up a lot of time and was expensive.
2006: Landis asked for and received drug money from his sponsor.
July, 2010: Landis is not a member of any racing team, one presumes because no racing team will have him. His connection to professional bike racing consists of watching it on TV and ratting out former teammates to federal police agencies.
Saying all the above, I’ll still give good odds that what he now says is true, but (Floyd, listen up), there comes a point when the truth doesn’t matter.