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Another incredible Armstrong

Dale Amon on these pages rightly notes the anniversary of the Moon landings of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Well, it seems that another Armstrong is pushing back the boundaries of the possible on a slightly lower-altitude setting, in the current Tour de France.

Yes, I know, and before any churlish types feel the urge to carp, cycling is not exactly the most visually exciting sport around. But anyone who has actually taken part in competitive cycling, or seen, as I have, such folk shoot past on a French mountain pass, can only gasp in astonishment at what Lance Armstrong has achieved.

And being nice to the French, there can be few doubts that the Tour is one of the most physically demanding sports events known to Man.

Mind you, the next time I go to France, I am taking the autoroute.

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11 comments to Another incredible Armstrong

  • T. Hartin

    The relatively low-rent gavel-to-gavel coverage that I am watching on the Outdoor Life Network in the states is pretty riveting. Cycling lends itself pretty well to TV, actually, because the camera can follow the racers around. The whole thing has made me want to visit France, I must say – the scenery has been spectacular. Even more incredible is the tradition of sportsmanship – both Armstrong and his rival Ullrich have actually stopped and waited for the other to recover from a fall before continuing on.

  • Matt

    I have never been one to follow cycling, but since being here the passion has developed.

    Yesterdays stage in particular was edge of seat nail biting stuff.

    Even though they are all doped up to the eyeballs, the physical strength and determination to be able to average 37km/h uphill leaves me breathless. To win five times is an amazing acheivement – I hope Armstrong does it.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    T. Hartin:

    I agree with you about OLN’s coverage. The scenery, especially in the mountains, can be stunning too.

    I do have to admit, however, that the flat stages, where the entire field crosses the line in one bunch, aren’t the most exciting.

  • T. Hartin

    I’ve decided what I like about the OLN coverage is the fact that they obvioulsy don’t have much of a budget, so they haven’t hired production teams to come up with a bunch of soft-focus “human interest” crap to clutter up the broadcast. All OLN can afford to show us is the race itself, which is all I want to watch anyway.

    This is in sharp contrast to the Olympics, where in an hour of broadcasting you will get about 15-20 minutes of commercials, 30 minutes of fluffy “feature” garbage, and at best 15 minutes of actual competition.

  • Josh

    Agreed with T Hartin on the TdF/Olympics dichotomy. Whereas NBC seems to think that the only way to get anyone to watch the Olympics is hour after hour of schlocky human interest crap, OLN concentrates on the best human interest story, the race itself. There’s plenty of drama in the competition, and they seem to understand that. Hell, they have the temptation of doing the cancer comeback story, and they still do just the race. Fantastic.

  • T. Hartin

    One wonders just how they would, er, position the, um, tale of Lance’s missing testicle. Do you suppose they would be accused of “sexing up” the story?

  • Duncan

    Even more amazing than Armstrong’s performance is the way that Tyler Hamilton has cycled for two weeks with a broken collarbone – read this Observer article here It’s not even the first time he’s done something like this – he came second in the Tour of Italy with a cracked shoulderblade last year, and had had to grind his teeth so hard that 11 needed replacing. Unbelievable.

  • erp

    Why on earth would you want to go to France?

  • Eamon Brennan

    Armstrong is indeed a god amongst men.

    Beating Ullrich is not easy feat. I’ve cycled most of Europes mountains (dolomites being the best) and what Armstrong did yesterday was beyond belief. When you consider the damage done to his lead Ullrich, the early crash and illness that followed it and above all the crash on the stage itself. All in all it was an extraordinary achievement.

    As to the “sporting gesture” from Ullrich, no rider ever does attack a fallen opponent, which is weird when you think how far they are preapred to go with stimulants.

    Eamon Brennan

  • Byron

    One wonders just how they would, er, position the, um, tale of Lance’s missing testicle. Do you suppose they would be accused of “sexing up” the story?

    Funnily, on the OLN coverage of Stage 15, Phil Liggett said something to that effect. Shortly after Armstrong recovered from his fall, he nearly fell again when his right foot slipped out of the cleat. He avoided the fall, but almost busted his nut on the saddle or top tube. Phil Liggett said, “… he almost lost his manhood right there…” A buddy I was watching it with pointed out that’s a big deal for Armstrong, since he’s only got one manhood left…

  • Antoine Clarke

    erp wrote:
    Why on earth would you want to go to France?

    To eat unpateurised cheese, rare meat, hunt boar, smoke in a shop, buy alcohol 24 hours a day (including from petrol stations), drive at 80mph legally on a motorway, visit the birthplaces of Bastiat, Say, Voltaire, De Toqueville. All at a lower tax burden than NYC and with the best healthcare system on the planet.

    Oh, and the Tour de France is something else.