July 27, 2007
Armstrong may exit RAGBRAI for Tour
Lance Armstrong was riding with presidential candidate John Edwards at RAGBRAI on Wedensday, where he also appeared on Hardball (look for “Lance Armstrong plays Hardball”) (and had a RAGBRAI rider propose marriage). Armstrong and Hardball host Chris Matthews will co-host the Presidential Candidates Cancer Forum in Cedar Rapids August 27th (Democrats) and 28th (Republicans).
And what does Armstrong make of the ongoing Tour de Farce? Armstrong told Matthews it shows that cycling “has done more than any other sport ... It shows the controls work.” Note that his appearance was before the Rasmussen withdrawal.
Bike Hugger's got a post by Hed Cycling's Andy Tetmyer on building Armstrong's LiveStrong RAGBRAI bus. The Postal Bus it's not: It's a modified 1979 schoolbus, with storage for 12 bikes and seating and gear space for 12 riders, and a Texas-sized barbecue grill out on the back deck (All bus photos).
Current news reports suggest Armstrong will leave Iowa tonight, and head to France, where Discovery Channel could have riders finish as high as 1st and 2nd. That would be a perfect time for the team to announce a new sponsor, as well -- if they've been able to nail one down.
He'll also keynote an event for Kids on Bikes in Colorado Springs August 9th.
May 30, 2005
Armstrong picks Ullrich as Tour "big threat"
In an audio interview with Eurosport, Lance Armstrong said he's facing an "especially strong" field in the 2005 Tour de France.
Apparently, Discovery Channel has 7 members of its Tour squad nailed down: Armstrong, Azevedo, Beltran, Hincapie, Popovych, Rubiera, and Savoldelli, with 2 spots still to be determined.
Next up is the Dauphiné Libéré, starting Saturday, expected to be Armstrong's final tune-up for the Tour in July.
"Jan is the big threat," Armstrong told Eurosport. "He's the one who wakes me up early every morning. He says he wants to beat me in the Tour de France.
"Well, this is his last chance."
September 22, 2004
Ferrari's case nears end
Prosecutors have presented their final arguments in the case against Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, suggesting a 14-month sentence and a 1-year suspension from medicine.
Of more interest to American cycling fans:
One interested observer of the Ferrari case, the performance guru’s most famous client, Lance Armstrong, is currently embroiled in a legal battle of an altogether different kind. After the revelation that Armstrong is suing insurance company SCA Promotions for withholding payment of a $5 million bonus, SCA is now vowing to donate all interest generated by the outstanding fee to the American Cycling Federation.
Sources close to procycling have indicated that, under the supervision of SCA Promotions legal representative Chris Copton, private investigators are currently working hard in Europe to compile evidence against Armstrong.
SCA have confirmed that their reluctance to pay Armstrong owes to suspicions that he may have used performance- enhancing drugs. Armstrong has always firmly rejected any such accusations.
It's a hell of a time to be a US cycling fan.
August 18, 2004
Atlanta Olympics TT photo gallery - Men's
In celebration of the Athens Olympic Time Trials later today, here are some photos from the Atlanta TTs in 1996. The time trial is great for spectators: All the riders pass by multiple times, the crowds are smaller than for the road race, and the follow cars make it very easy to ID the riders.
The Atlanta Olympics marked a watershed in cycling, as Miguel Indurain won his last major race during the time trial. He had just lost the 1996 Tour de France to Bjarne Riis, and his countryman Abraham Olano took silver. Great Britain's Chris Boardman was the bronze medalist. Spain's terrific showing led to about a 45 minute delay in the medal ceremony, since IOC czar Juan-Antonio Samaranch had decreed that he would personally award any gold medals won by Spaniards.
And bronze medalist Chris Boardman:
Competing for the US were Steve Hegg, then of Chevy-LA Sherriffs, and Lance Armstrong, just a few months from discovering his testicular cancer (Armstrong is warming up):
Here's Bjarne Riis, the Great Dane, riding in the invisible yellow jersey the reigning Tour champ radiates:
Here's France's Laurent Jalabert, but what's with the face?
And I wonder what ever became of this guy?
August 04, 2004
Axel Merckx, Roger Hammond to join Discovery?
Belgian newspaper Het Niewsblad reports that Axel "son of Eddy" Merckx will join Discovery Channel (formerly US Postal) for the 2005 season.
Britain's Roger Hammond, currently riding for Mr. Bookmaker.com, is also reportedly joining the US-based squad.
Merckx previously rode for Motorola alongside Lance Armstrong, back when they rode bikes from Eddy Merckx.
They'll join Armstrong and Ukraine's Yaroslav Popovych, who signed a 3-year contract with Tailwind Sports earlier this week.
July 28, 2004
That finish line story? Puh-leeze....
The entire US press seems to be piling on to this story, suggesting that OLN blundered on the last day by not showing Armstrong cross the finish line during its live broadcast.
I've seen several comments that fall into the "typical French anti-Americanism" mold, but I think it's a lot simpler than that: There was a race going on, and Armstrong wasn't in it.
For the live coverage, OLN was given a TdF feed provided by French TV, which was focused on the action in the day's stage (and there was a surprising amount of that). In the tape-delayed broadcasts, OLN was able to supplement that footage with its own, and showed Armstrong's finish.
The sting of OLN's delayed finish was lessened somewhat when OLN executives learned Tuesday that Sunday's conclusion provided the nine-year-old network with its highest ratings ever. Three times during the race, OLN broke viewership records, according to Nielsen Media Research.
OLN was watched by 1.37 million viewers during the race's final stage, Nielsen said. On a typical day this year, the Outdoor Life Network is watched by an average of 56,580 viewers -- barely enough to fill a baseball stadium. The network is available in 60 million homes, a little more than half the country.
What will OLN do if Armstrong skips the 2005 Tour, or when he eventually retires?
Harvey says he doesn't necessarily wake up in a cold sweat thinking of future tours with Armstrong on the sidelines.
"We are the home of professional cycling on television," he said. "We love the fact that Lance has brought so many eyeballs and attention to the sport of cycling. But it's not just Lance."
OLN made a conscious effort this year to highlight some of the other American riders and explain the sport to viewers, he said.
"We're prepared" for a tour without Armstrong, he said. "We know the day is going to come."
July 27, 2004
Simeoni to laugh last?
Apparently, investigators want to determine whether Armstrong's on-the-road attacks to keep Simeoni out of an attack rise to the level of intimidating a witness.
The investigators grilled Simeoni for three hours about what happened when Armstrong chased down an early attack by the Italian on the 18th stage of the Tour earlier this month.
Investigators are considering whether to open legal proceedings against Armstrong for sporting fraud, violence, and intimidation of a witness.
Particularly damning, it would seem, was Armstrong's "zip the lips" gesture.
Daily Peloton offers an indepth look at Simeoni, his involvement with Michele Ferrari, and the lawsuit against Lance Armstrong. Careful -- you might wind up liking him.
More on Armstrong's Giro plans
Italian organizers are encouraging Lance Armstrong to race in the 2005 Giro d'Italia.
“To give more weight to his career, Armstrong absolutely must ride the Giro, also for the affection he has for Italy,” said Franco Ballerini, a former professional rider and current coach of the Italian national team.
Armstrong has never raced the Giro, because its scheduling, in late May and early June, makes it difficult to reach a fitness peak that includes the Giro and the Tour. Riders who compete in both, like Gilberto Simoni, often have very weak Tours de France.
Interestingly, following the Simeoni business at the Tour, not all Italians are so enthusiastic. The Globe and Mail quotes Claudio Chiapucchi, who finished on the Tour podium 3 times:
Chiapucci said Armstrong “behaved liked a baby” with Simeoni.
“The Texan leaves me indifferent and it would be that way also on the streets of the Giro d'Italia,” said El Diablo — the devil — as Chiapucci was known in his competitive days.
Italian cycling president Gian Carlo Ceruti also denounced Armstrong's treatment of Simeoni as “unsportsmanlike.”
However, 1984 Giro winner Francesco Moser said having Armstrong at the Giro “wouldn't be bad, especially since he lived in Italy when he rode for Motorola and he had a great friend like Fabio Casartelli,” referring to Armstrong's former team and teammate, who died in a fall at the 1995 Tour.
Alfredo Martini, Italy's national cycling team coach from 1975 to 1997, said Armstrong could ride both the Giro and the Tour.
“A champion like him, with a team as strong as his, could do it easily,” Martini said.
Armstrong has already done some research, riding the Mortirolo in the Italian Alps in May.
US vs. Them: The tiresome conventional wisdom on Armstrong
Susan Daniels checks in with a quick review of international coverage of Lance Armstrong's 6th Tour de France victory. She pulls four stories out of hundreds that she accuses of "sour grapes," explaining that with:
"Maybe it's not national but personal," speculated Alastair Campbell in the London Times. "[A]nti-Armstrongism, anti the fact that he keeps winning their game. They respect him. They admire the way he came back from cancer. They see in him a strong character who has devoted his life to their Tour. But Chirac's France wants French winners and, if it can't have them, other Europeans. But Americans? Non, merci."
I think this whole line, which I've heard repeated a lot over the last 3 weeks, is total, 100% hokum. There are many Americans looking for reasons to be pissed at the French right now, and they'll happily hoot and holler about what a fine stomping Lance Armstrong gave those Frogs, wooooooiiieeee!
As far as I can tell, French attitudes to Armstrong are as complex and nuanced as American fan reactions to baseball stars or other athletes. Nobody hates Roger Clemens because he's from Texas; if they do, it may because of his tantrum with Mike Piazza, or because he swiped a Cy Young from a pitcher they were pulling for.
If a French cycling fan wants to boo Armstrong because they think it's time for new blood in the race, well that's part of sports, and doesn't really mean squat in the geopolitical milieu.
Sally Jenkins online chat
Sally Jenkins was Lance Armstrong's co-author on both books. She's also covered the Tour de France for the Washington Post, where she did an online chat yesterday concerning Armstrong, doping, the future of US Postal, Sheryl Crow, Armstrong's kids, and what he'll do next year; all topics that have come up right here over the last few weeks. Jenkins (unsurprisingly, I guess) has no kind words for Greg LeMond.
Here's an excerpt on doping:
Crofton, Md.: Don't you think that Lance Armstrong's run in the Tour de France is more about his impact upon the sport because he really believes that "every second" does count. It is one heck of a motivator to be told you have the big "C" and your chances to become immortal are really tied to a defining memorable event as opposed to anything else. That is precisely why I do not believe that he uses any drugs - he is afraid of that image being tarnished. Do you agree? - CSP
Sally Jenkins: He once told me, two years out from chemotherapy, how poisoned the cancer and the chemo made him feel, and that he was just starting to feel "clean again." I've never forgotten that, and how seriously he said it. For that reason it's very hard for me to believe he'd put anything dangerous in his body. I've said it before and I'll say it again:
I believe in Lance Armstrong as a man and as an athlete. He beat cancer straight up, fair and square, and I believe he has won six Tours exactly the same way.
Also, I love him as a friend.
LA by AL
Annie Leibovitz did a photo shoot with Lance Armstrong way back in 1999. Above is the result, possibly not work safe though not indecent.
Seen at Fleshbot.
July 26, 2004
Looking at Lance Inc.
Bloomberg looks at Armstrong's empire off the bike. He'll make about $16.5 million in endorsements this year, behind only Tiger Woods, Lebron James, and Andre Agassi in the world of sport.
Cyrile Guimard, who was sports director for Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond, says he's amazed at Armstrong's business success:
“Armstrong is on another planet,” said Cyril Guimard, a former rider and manager who guided Hinault and Greg LeMond to Tour de France wins. “What he's made from a poor man's sport is incredible.”
July 25, 2004
BBC: Armstrong's career in pictures
Armstrong to race post-Tour criteriums; Voigt stays with CSC
Traditionally, Tour riders can pad their pocketbooks by racing in criteriums around Europe, and demanding an appearance fee from the race sponsors.
Lance Armstrong will participate in two such races this week, in the Netherlands and in the Czech Republic. Armstrong's appearance fee is reportedly 110,000 euros.
Also, Jens Voigt has extended his CSC contract for another 2 years. The post-Tour period is traditionally a very active one for rider contract signings.
One signing I won't be expecting is Michele Bartoli re-upping with CSC.
Wristbands "must-have" accessory in New York
The New York Post reports that the LiveStrong wristband is "the must-have accessory of the moment.
Reported wearers are Ben Affleck, Matt Damon (who wore his on Letterman last week), Ashley Judd, Tom Hanks, and Sheryl (duh!) Crow.
It will be interesting to see if the Lance Armstrong Foundation expands the numbers of wristbands made, given the incredible interest in them.
Armstrong 3rd least popular in France
In a poll published Sunday in Le Journal du Dimanche, Armstrong ranked 3rd from least popular among athletes, ahead of F1 driver Michael Schumacher and soccer player Nicolas Anelka.
"They don't know what they want, what kind of champion they want," Armstrong said.
"Why do they stand there and boo me and cheer for a guy who's been involved in the greatest doping scandal in cycling history? It does not make sense," he added.
Rupert Guinness chimes in on the same subject:
He cited two previous five-time Tour champions as examples of riders who faced similarly hostile receptions – Frenchman Jacques Anquetil and Belgian Eddy Merckx.
"If Anquetil were alive today, he'd say they booed him all the time. Eddy Merckx was booed every day. If I'm in that company, I'm OK," Armstrong said.
"For me it's comforting to know that all the past champions were booed. We race in a country that sometimes likes the man who comes second a lot more than the one who comes first."
What makes Armstrong so strong in the Tour?
"I know it's a mix of talent and work," he said. "It's a question about not being 10kg overweight six weeks before the Tour. It's a full-year commitment. That's our secret."
Bush to Armstrong: 'You're awesome'
Bush "congratulated him on behalf of the nation, and told him his country was proud of him and that he was an outstanding athlete," said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.
I note that Bush apparently couldn't be bothered to watch the live coverage, but instead spent the morning clearing brush, and "watched TV coverage after the race's finish."
Bush must have the brushiest ranch in Texas.
More fun with Flippo
A little more detail on Simeoni's 4 attacks today, which earned him the most aggressive rider award for the stage:
Normally a procession until it reaches the first circuit of the Champs Elysées from whichever Parisian suburb gets the nod for the start, today’s concluding moments were hectic and controversial right from the first kilometre. The man responsible was Domina Vacanze’s Filippo Simeoni, who seemed determined to do whatever he could to rain on Armstrong’s parade after the American had so publicly chastised him on stage 18.
Simeoni’s attack caught the whole bunch by surprise, and US Postal’s immediate pursuit of the ltalian caused a split in the pack, most of whom assumed that the pressure would be off until the final few kilometres. Once caught, Simeoni was welcomed back to the bunch by a number of riders pointing to the side of their head to indicate what they thought of him, as he slunk to the back of the field.
Armstrong: Where among the greats?
The Texan's place in cycling's hall of fame will continue to be debated long after today. True, he has not won as many races as Eddy Merckx - who was also victorious in the Giro d'Italia and numerous classics - but then the great Belgian never underwent chemotherapy or brain surgery.
As well-worn as the tale of Armstrong's illness is, it remains a story as compelling as Muhammad Ali's return to glory, drawing in millions around the world who would never consider watching a bike race.
And that is Armstrong's achievement, like Ali, like Donald Bradman, like Pele, he has transcended the ultimately inconsequential world of sport.
Armstrong alone as 1st Tour six-timer
Armstrong said his US Postal team had an easier time delivering win number 6 than he imagined:
"We never had a sense of crisis, only the stress of the rain and the crashes in the first week," he said.
"I was surprised that some of the rivals were not better. Some of them just completely disappeared."
Stage 20: Boonen tops the sprinters, Armstrong wraps 6th Tour
Tom Boonen of Quick Step took his 2nd stage win of the 2004 Tour, beating the surviving sprinters over the line on the Champs-Elysees.
Boonen got a great lead-out from teammate Stefano Zanini after teammate Paolo Bettini spent several laps animating a 10-man breakaway that gained 40 seconds on the Champs-Elysees.
Lotto-Domo's Robbie McEwen will take the green jersey with a 4th place finish on the day.
Stage 20 Top 10:
1) Tom Boonen (QuickStep)
2) Jean-Patrick Nazon (AG2R)
3) Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner)
4) McEwen (Lotto-Domo)
5) Zabel (T-Mobile)
6) Casper (Cofidis)
7) Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis)
8) Baden Cooke (fdjeux.com)
9) Massimiliano Mori (Domina Vacanze)
10) De Groot (Rabobank)
In the GC, Lance Armstrong has closed out his unprecedented win number 6. His mother is on hand to see it in a beautiful yellow dress, Robin Williams and Sheryl Crow are there, and a big enthusiastic crowd is there to see it. Also on hand are Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Richard Virenque has also set an all-time record, with his 7th King of the Mountains title.
Awarded the overall combativity prize for the entire Tour is also Virenque, so Quick Step has quite a day going. Filippo Simeoni doesn't finish empty-handed, as he was named the most aggressive rider of the final stage.
The white jersey goes to Russia's 13th-placed Vladimir Karpets of Illes Balears-Banesto, who won this contest last year with Denis Menchov.
The overall Top 10:
1) Lance Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) at 6:19
3) Ivan Basso (CSC) at 6:40
4) Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 8:50
5) Jose Azevedo (US Postal) at 14:30
6) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 18:01
7) Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 18:27
8) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 19:51
9) Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 20:12
10) Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) 22:54
Complete overall standings are available over at RoadCycling.com.
T-Mobile goes home without a stage win, but did win the team standings, ahead of US Postal, then CSC.
July 24, 2004
Armstrong's 5th win nails down 6th Tour
Armstrong stomped his name all over this Tour today, taking his 5th individual stage win and nailing down an all-time record 6th consecutive Tour win.
In the words of the local sportscasters, it wasn't even that close. Armstrong missed two other stage wins by less than a second, coming second to Fabian Cancellara in the prologue, and finishing less than a bike length behind CSC's Ivan Basso at La Mongie. His US Postal team also took the team time trial.
As for Basso, he was unable to hold off Andreas Klöden of T-Mobile, who looks certain to continue T-Mobile's string of 2nd place Tour finishes. Basso trails Klöden by 21 seconds, but didn't lose enough time to fall from the podium, and will finish 3rd overall.
Jan Ullrich, locked in 4th, will finally learn what it's like to finish off the podium; in 6 prior appearances, Ullrich has a win and 5 2nd-place finishes.
French hero Thomas Voeckler will have to content himself with a closet full of white and yellow jerseys earned during the Tour. Illes Balears-Banesto's Vladimir Karpets beat him by 6+ minutes in the time trial to take over the white jersey for best rider 25 or under.
US Postal looks ready to ride another week, as 5 Postal riders were in the top 11 on the day: Armstrong 1st, Floyd Landis 4th, Jose Rubiera 9th, Jose Azevedo 10th, and George Hincapie 11th. Only Rabobank and US Postal still have all 9 riders in the race.
Armstrong still hasn't completely put to bed the rumor that he won't be back for next year's race:
After Stage 19 Saturday, Armstrong admitted that next year's calendar had yet to be determined.
But he also said this: "The Tour de France is the race that matters the most. And it's the one that I love the most."
"I can't imagine not being here."
And how about Bobby Julich, 5th on the day?
Posted by Frank Steele on July 24, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Bobby Julich, Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Stage results, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack
As the Wheel Turns: Armstrong-Simeoni soap opera
Rupert Guinness offers the definitive account of Lance Armstrong's contretemps with Filippo Simeoni from Friday, with after-stage comments from both riders, and both coaches.
Apparently, Simeoni was near tears after the incident and considered dropping out of the race.
Unstoppable Armstrong takes TT
Armstrong by more than a minute; Klöden up to 2nd overall, but Basso holds 3rd. Voeckler loses white jersey to Vladimir Karpets. More later.
July 23, 2004
Armstrong gets new bike, and all the frosting he can eat
Lance will get a new bike for the last day. It’s a TREK, but it has gold leaf wrapped around the down tube and seat tube. It’s says “Livestrong.” The gold and black colors really make the bike stand out and it will be interesting to see what the rest of the team will get.
Armstrong: frosting by the fistful?
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska:
Top Ten Signs Lance Armstrong Is Getting Cocky
10. Race starts at 9, Lance rolls out of bed around noon.
9. Has already figured out that the trophy can hold a 3-gallon margarita.
8. He eats frosting by the fistful.
7. For the last leg, he rode one of those crazy 1920s bikes with the big front wheel.
6. Deliberately crashing into things to get more air time on SportsCenter.
5. Making a couple extra bucks delivering pizzas during the race.
4. After the starter pistol is fired, he hangs around hitting on French babes.
3. Turns to the other riders and says, "Oooh, I'm sooooo scared."
2. Instead of training, spent last 2 months pimping his bike.
1. Has started selling ad space on his ass.
Spotted at VeloNews.
Armstrong leaves doors open to ride, not ride 2005 Tour
In favor of Armstrong going for a 7th win:
"I'm not saying I won't do it again," added the 32-year-old who has previously declared that he thought he would end his career after a Sixth Tour win.
"On the other hand, it is fair to say there are still a lot of things I still want to do in cycling like the classics and the hour record and other things that would require a different kind of focus."
"However, I also understand I have a new sponsor and that the Tour de France is the biggest race in the world so I have to discuss it with them.
And it sounds like Johan Bruyneel's vote is clear:
"We haven't yet discussed our program for next season but one thing is sure, he will ride next season and it would be very difficult for Lance to motivate himself without the Tour de France," the Belgian said on French television.
Of course, whether it's next season or 5 years from now, at some point, Armstrong will step aside. I wonder if he's thinking about riding the 2005 Tour in support of a new team leader, while focusing on perhaps the Giro and the hour. He would make one hell of a domestique.
"He is doubtless the greatest rider ever in the Tour de France. He is proving that," said Patrice Clerc, president of the Tour. "Now does he want a seventh, or an eighth? I have no idea."
Armstrong's team still officially says Armstrong's schedule won't be decided until December. Dan Osipow at Tailwind Sports, which owns the Postal squad:
"To say he's out right now is way too speculative. He is going to race a full season, we just can't say what events they will be," he said.
"He's clearly insatiable. This race means more to him than anything (else) in sport," Osipow added."
For his part, Armstrong says he's definitely coming back:
"I would do it. I'm not saying I'd never do it again," he said after Friday's 18th stage. "I'll do it again before I stop. It's a special race. It's everything. You can't have this intensity in any other event."
Stage 18 underway
No big surprises today, as a break of 6 men is 11 minutes ahead of the peloton with less than 20 kilometers/12 miles to race. Nobody in the break is a real threat, and it looks like they'll stay away.
Juan Miguel Mercado (Quick Step)
Vincente Garcia-Acosta (Illes Balears-Banesto)
Dmitriy Fofonov (Cofidis)
Marc Lotz (Rabobank)
Sebastian Joly (Credit Agricole)
Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo)
Flecha and Garcia-Acosta have won stages in the past (Flecha's last year). Joly was the last-placed rider for much of the race, and is 2nd-to-last now; if the move survives, he'll move out of contention for the lanterne rouge.
Joly makes a quick attack, is brought back, and Mercado goes for it; Fofonov, then Garcia-Acosta went after him. Only Garcia-Acosta gets across, and he and Mercado are a few seonds ahead. Joly fell off the back, then caught back up, so Fofonov, Flecha, Lotz, and Joly are chasing Mercado and Garcia-Acosta, who have about 25 seconds in hand.
Fofonov is falling off the chasers, who are 17 seconds behind with 1 kilometer to ride. Garcia-Acosta leads Mercado with 500 meters, Juan Miguel Mercado starts the sprint, and he holds off Garcia-Acosta at the line!
Fofonov 3rd, Joly 4th.
Back with the field, Sandy Casar is on the attack, with about 10 kms to ride, looking to move up in the white jersey, where he's 3rd behind Voeckler and Vladimir Karpets.
Lance Armstrong went on a little sight-seeing expedition this morning, when Filippo Simeoni, the rider who has said he will sue Armstrong for defamation, tried to bridge to the leaders. Armstrong went with him and the two rode across to the lead group, which then was only about 2 minutes ahead of the peloton. Once they caught the leaders, the two rode along briefly, then sat up and dropped back to the field.
Phonak's Nicolas Jalabert was in the break when it got away, but has fallen back through the field and is suffering at the rear of the peloton now.
Apparently, yesterday's abandon by Michele Bartoli of CSC was a little more colorful than reported. Bartoli, who will ride for Italy in the Olympics, got in the early break, but Bjarne Riis ordered him to come back to help protect Ivan Basso. Bartoli came back, but was so displeased he abandoned, and threw his bike in a ditch at the feed zone! As Liggett said, "Looks like he won't be back with CSC next year."
More on Armstrong's last Tour rumors
This morning's editions of the New York Times and International Herald Tribune carry a story by Samuel Abt quoting an unnamed Tour official that Lance Armstrong won't ride next year's Tour.
Apparently, on Thursday, Armstrong said:
"At some point, I have to start to look at other races in cycling. There's still a lot of things I want to do in the sport," the 32-year-old said.
On Friday, after the story broke, US Postal spokesman Jogi Muller said:
"It's 50-50. There's a chance he won't come back. There is no decision yet."
"He will definitely race next year. He just needs to decide which races."
Diana Nyad on Lance Armstrong
An accomplished endurance athlete herself, Diana Nyad talked about Lance Armstrong and his TT performance on Alpe d'Huez during her Thursday KCRW edition of The Score:
Much has been written about the need for a great champion to have at least one worthy rival. Well, Lance Armstrong has none. There will be no guessing, betting, analyzing who might come into Paris wearing the signature maillot jaune. You might admire Lance for his courage in the face of multiple cancers. You might not like him for leaving his wife for Sheryl Crowe. You might suspect him of taking illegal performance drugs. All I know is I forgot any other opinions I have had about Lance Armstrong yesterday. Watching him clearly dominate both the talented field and the formidable L’Alpe d’Huez threw me into a new gear of appreciation. This man is not only the king of the climbs. He’s the king, period.
The ubiquitous wristband
How hot are they?
Niketown in Denver can barely keep them in stock. At 69 Foley's stores, they're selling "steadily," spokeswoman Priscilla Tinsley says, and the parent company for the five Bicycle Village stores in Colorado has ordered them in lots of 1,000 to keep its locations supplied.
"I way underestimated how many we would need," says Jon Jeunette, division merchandise manager for Specialty Sports, which owns Bicycle Village. "I originally ordered 100 for two stores and they were gone in five minutes. Then I ordered 500; then 1,000. We're supposed to get more tomorrow."
Apparently, 2 million of the wristbands have been sold ONLINE alone since they went on sale May 17th.
BBC Sport offers a paean to the Postals, who look almost certain to finish 9-strong with yellow on their captain on Sunday.
They've made the rest of the field look sluggish by pushing the pace from hard, up to harder, then all the way past hardest. Not even the strongest guys in the peloton think they can put any serious time into the Blue Train this year.
Armstrong was given an armchair ride by trusted lieutenants over succesive climbs.
Over the tortuous Col de la Madeleine, at 2,000m the highest peak in the race, Pavel Padrnos hit the pedals in a relentless routine at the front.
George Hincapie, who has ridden with Armstrong in each of his Tour victories, took his turn to set the tempo on the the day's shortest, but steepest slope, the Col de la Forclaz.
Jose Azevedo, who has been by Armstrong's side on all the Tour's long drags, was never far away, but when he fell off the pace on the Col de la Croix Fry, Jan Ullrich and co must have sensed an opportunity to pounce.
The only problem was that Azevedo fell off the pace that was being set by Floyd Landis, a "Postie" who prefers to leave climbing to Azevedo, Manuel Beltran or Jose Luis Rubiera.
But there he was, setting a tempo that reduced the field to five - a feat even Armstrong admitted he has rarely seen. He stayed with his leader until the bitter and brilliant end.
And as the US Postal team comes to its bitter and brilliant end, let's lift a few to the Blue Train.
If Bruyneel and Armstrong can keep most of these guys together, we can probably lift a few again next year, to the new Discovery Channel squad.
Tip for the other teams: Here's the strategy to finally beat them: Somebody's got to bring a team (not 2-3 guys, but a top-to-bottom team) that can ride US Postal right off their wheels.
July 22, 2004
Six and out for Armstrong?
In a story that will also appear in tomorrow's New York Times, Samuel Abt quotes an unnamed Tour official that Lance Armstrong will NOT return to the Tour de France next year.
If he wins for a record sixth consecutive time, as seems certain, Armstrong will not return next year, the official said, but will focus instead on at least one of the two other big Tours, the Giro d'Italia in May and the Vuelta a España in September, plus many one-day classics.
Armstrong's camp says that's not so. Bill Stapleton, whose Tailwind Sports owns the Postal team, says next year hasn't even been discussed.
"It would be definitely incorrect to say he won't be back next year," he insisted.
Dan Osipow of Tailwind provides a few details on the new Discovery Channel sponsorship:
Osipow added that, under the new sponsorship by Discovery Channel next year, the team was obligated to ride in the Tour de France, although he was unsure whether Armstrong was.
The unnamed Tour official said Armstrong didn't want to seek a 7th Tour win, "out of respect for the four other riders who have won five times," and that he plans to participate more fully in the UCI's Pro Tour.
Armstrong didn't comment for the story, while Johan Bruyneel confirmed only that Armstrong would race next year: "A lot of things can change," Bruyneel told Abt.
Armstrong dedicates stage to Landis
Armstrong had nothing but praise for Landis, who really put on a show today, and is rumored to be in discussions to leave US Postal and head his own team next season:
No gifts - though perhaps a hint of regret as he dedicated the win to Landis, whom he called "the man of the day."
"I hoped he could ride a fast descent and win the stage. But it did not happen," Armstrong said. "Floyd seems to be getting better and better every day. Today was his best day ever. That's why I really wanted him to win the stage, I think he wanted it and needed it.
"For me he deserved to win, and for that matter I should dedicate this win to him."
Full results are over at RoadCycling.com.
Quote of the day
From the official Tour site:
Lance Armstrong to Floyd Landis, as they crested the day's last climb, with 8 miles to ride:
“How bad do you want to win a stage of the Tour de France?”
“Real bad,” came Floyd’s reply.
“How fast can you go down a hill?”
“So,” concluded Armstrong, “run like you stole something!”
Armstrong his 4th win; mark this one over
An incredible finish, as the hard climbs eliminated all but the contenders, and they had to shoot it out on the run-in to the finish.
Landis was the 1st to go, but the T-Mobiles saw a chance to gain on Basso, and pounced with 1 km to go. At 500 meters, Klöden sprinted for the line, but Armstrong was too strong, as he has been for the entire field, and took him at the line.
4) Basso at :01
5) Landis at :13
6) Merckx at 1:01
7) Leipheimer at 1:01
8) Sastre at 1:02
9) Rasmussen at 1:02
10) Totschnig at 1:02
11) Azevedo at 1:02
2) Basso at 4:09
3) Kloden at 5:11
4) Ullrich at 8:08
5) Azevedo at 10:41
Thomas Voeckler, at 21:12 back, has 45 seconds on Vladimir Karpets in the white jersey competition.
Based on the strong finish by Azevedo, Landis, and Armstrong, US Postal is now 2nd in the team competition to T-Mobile, who took over the lead from CSC, now 3rd, after yesterday's time trial.
There's also a new lanterne rouge, as Jimmy Casper of Cofidis now trails Armstrong by 3:43:48, slipping behind Credit Agricole's Sébastian Joly, who is 3:42:24 back. That's a closer race than for the race lead...
The selfish patron: Armstrong yet again!
Lance Armstrong chased down a late-stage attack by Andreas Klöden to take Stage 17; more soon.
Update: To everyone who doesn't like the headline, it was intended to convey Armstrong's dominance of this race; it seems like he's not even leaving crumbs for the other riders. Pretty much like Petacchi's Giro d'Italia run this year.
The very idea of a race "patron" is one rooted in noblesse oblige: The patron is a sort of an overlord with obligations (to those weaker than himself) that come along with the position. In the same way that Merckx was branded a "cannibal" for essentially eating his opponents alive, we've seen an Armstrong that just won't play defense: they're all mine.
To many of us, it's great to see Armstrong playing it a little more passionate, and less calculating.
July 21, 2004
Leblanc: Alpe d'Huez TT 'not a good idea'
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc is echoing Lance Armstrong's opinion that a TT up Alpe d'Huez is not such a great idea.
"There were lots of aggressive fans surrounding the riders," Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc said after Stage 16's finish.
"I even saw two idiots spit at Lance Armstrong."
ASO had tried to ensure rider safety by placing barricades on both sides of the top 7 kilometers of the climb, and assigning 650 policeman with 90 motorcycles to patrol the course.
Don't look for an Alpe d'Huez TT to become a regular part of the Tour:
"Until [Wednesday] morning, everybody thought this time-trial was a good idea," race director Jean-Marie Leblanc said.
"It was not a good idea."
The crowds were insane from the start of the climb all the way to the top. At times it was scary, as I didn't really know if I would make it through the crazy screaming fans. By the time we started racing the fans had finished their lunches, finished their bottles of red, cans of beer and topped it all off with shots of grappa. When people are drunk, reaction times are slow and the noise is deafening-good and bad when you're racing up a hill with sweat in your eyes.
Christian Vande Velde says the peloton is concerned about tomorrow's stage, the last mountainous stage of the Tour, and that many riders were conserving energy today to charge up for tomorrow.
Also, he wants to know who's painting all those penises on the road: "I get a little chuckle every time I roll over one."
More on Armstrong's Stage 16 victory
Lance flew out of the start house and hit the first 9% slope of the Alpe revving at what looked like an even higher cadence than normal. Basso looked good for a while, but it wasn’t long before he was losing time. Up [a]head on the road, Ullrich was back to his old self as he used 177.5mm cranks to turn huge gears, his teeth gritted and the sweat pouring off [h]is 6ft body. Jan set the fast times at all checks, but his destiny is second place behind Lance.
Also some good photos, including one of a black banner dedicated to Marco Pantani, whose 1997 record Lance Armstrong came 1 second from matching today.
Armstrong takes Stage 16, concerned about fans
Armstrong reiterated the danger he sees in having a TT on Alpe d'Huez, even though riders have escort cars that provide some shielding.
I had to listen to the stage instead of watching OLN, but one person commented that there were a lot of anti-Armstrong messages painted on the roads.
Hundreds of thousands of cycling fans and partygoers had lined the 15.5km route, making it hard for most of the riders to push their way through the flags and fans, some of whom insisted on running alongside the riders.
At one point Ullrich was even given a gentle push, however it simply served to destabilise the 30-year-old German rider and he had to correct himself in order not to fall.
However despite enjoying the win, Armstrong did not have kind words for some of the fans on the road.
"I don't think it's a good idea to have a time trial on the Alpe. It was scary. There were too many people, a lot of Germans, a lot of Belgians who weren't being too nice," he told French television.
"There were a lot of Americans as well."
Armstrong wins Alpe d'Huez TT; 3rd stage win of the Tour
Lance Armstrong absolutely scorched the climb to L'Alpe d'Huez, putting time into every rival with a 39:41 ride up the 15.5 km course. It was Armstrong's 19th individual career Tour win (21 with team time trials), and 3rd of this Tour.
The records for the climb of L'Alpe d'Huez actually cover just 13.9km of the climb, and Armstrong's time over that section was a 37:36, 1 second slower than the late Marco Pantani's record from 1997, and about 30 seconds faster than Armstrong's previous best time (both on road stages).
Post-stage, Armstrong said he thinks it's a bad idea to run the time trial on Alpe d'Huez, because of the number of campers and drinkers who could be dangerous.
Jan Ullrich, who couldn't know what Armstrong's time would be, led the way at every intermediate check, but Armstrong smoked those numbers, and Ullrich lost more than a minute on the stage, with a 2nd-best 40:42.
Armstrong actually passed Ivan Basso, who started 2 minutes ahead of him and clocked a 42:04.
T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden made up 42 seconds on Basso, and still might knock him out of 2nd.
Stage Top 10:
1) Lance Armstrong (US Postal) 39:41
2) Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 1:01
3) Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) at 1:41
4) José Azevedo (US Postal) at 1:45
5) Santos Gonzalez (Phonak) at 2:10
6) Giuseppe Guerini (T-Mobile) at 2:11
7) Vladimir Karpets (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 2:14
8) Ivan Basso (CSC) at 2:22
9) David Moncoutié (Cofidis) at 2:22
10) Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 2:27
Two riders finished outside the time limit for the stage: Quick Step's Davide Bramati and Lotto-Domo's Aart Vierhouten, leaving 155 riders in the Tour.
Also under attack is Thomas Voeckler's white jersey. Voeckler now leads Vladimir Karpets of Illes Balears-Banesto by 3:33, and judging by their respective time-trial performances today, I doubt that will be enough in the long time-trial of Stage 19. Sandy Casar is also lurking, 4:24 back of Voeckler.
The new overall Top 10:
2) Basso at 3:48
3) Klöden at 5:03
4) Ullrich at 7:55
5) Azevedo at 9:19
6) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 9:20
7) Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 11:34
8) Sastre at 13:52
9) Pietro Caucchioli at 14:08
10) Levi Leipheimer at 15:04
Alpe d'Huez time trial underway
Robbie McEwen came in at 47:22, which is unlikely to get him disqualified. He popped a wheelie over the finish line.
Lance Armstrong's bike failed the weigh-in by 180 grams. The team had to add some ballast before he took off. Coming soon, I'm sure, to a Trek commercial near you.
Mikel Astarloza of AG2R was the early leader in 43:06, but now David Moncoutié drops the time to a 42:04. Santos Gonzalez of Phonak drops the time to 41:52, matched by Giuseppe Guerini of T-Mobile, about a half-second slower. Now José Azevedo sets a new mark with a 41:26! But then, here comes Ullrich in 40:42! Look above for more on Armstrong, who wins the day with a 39:41!
Armstrong has caught Basso, his 2-minute man, and ridden by him! His last time check is 56 seconds faster than Ullrich. Looks like Armstrong will take his 3rd individual stage win of the 2004 Tour today.
Andreas Klöden: 41:23
Vladimir Karpets: 41:56
Carlos Sastre: 42:08
Michael Rogers: 42:15
Georg Totschnig: 42:56
Christophe Moreau: 43:06
Richard Virenque: 44:11
Bobby Julich: 44:23
Stuart O'Grady: 45:12
Roberto Heras: 45:19 (!!!)
Viatcheslav Ekimov: 45:56
Christian Vande Velde: 46:12
Thomas Voeckler finished with a 46:something. Vladimir Karpets will take a big chunk out of the white jersey.
Azevedo has set the top time at the 2nd time check with a 24:40, but now Jan Ullrich comes through even faster, a 24:07; Basso rode a 24:43 to the checkpoint, and Armstrong demolishes all their times with a 23:28 to the checkpoint!
Sheryl Crow is in the US Postal pace car. Take that, Robin Williams!
Posted by Frank Steele on July 21, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Christian Vande Velde, Christophe Moreau, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque, Robbie McEwen, Sheryl Crow, Stuart O'Grady | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Armstrong coach on Alpe d'Huez TT
Over at RoadCycling.com, Chris Carmichael gives an overview of the Wednesday time trial up Alpe d'Huez, the first in Tour de France history.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the top three riders were within 30 seconds, and the top five with one minute. Since the individual climbing abilities of the top riders are somewhat similar, the most critical task on Stage 16 may be avoiding having a bad day. If the scenario from the Stage 13 individual time trial last year had occurred on Alpe d’Huez, Lance Armstrong would most likely have lost five minutes or more. He is in better condition this year, and he is not suffering from chronic dehydration either, so I expect him to finish in the top three on Stage 16 and ride faster than several of his main rivals in the process.
Carmichael details Armstrong's pre-TT eating and warmup (including a special vest developed by Nike to "pre-cool" Armstrong), then covers the tactics Armstrong will use on the ride, considering the steeper lower part of the climb and the geography of the switchbacks.
July 20, 2004
The rider and the rocker
Armstrong in familiar yellow
Rather than rise to the bait, and ride one-on-one with Ullrich, Armstrong stayed in a select group with teammates and other elite riders, gradually reeled in Ullrich, Richard Virenque, Michael Rasmussen, and other riders who had gotten up the road, then matched the tempo set by Ullrich and T-Mobile teammate Andreas Klöden on the final climb before finally riding away from the pair, along with CSC's Ivan Basso, in the last 300 meters of the day.
"Johan Bruyneel (the US Postal team boss) said to me this morning he expected Jan to break," said Armstrong afterwards.
"But it was harder than I expected - more aggressive. But it's great to be back in yellow today."
Ullrich has clawed his way back into the Top 5 on the race, but hasn't put significant time into either CSC's Ivan Basso or Ullrich's teammate Andreas Klöden, and it looks like he will have to unseat one of them to move onto the podium.
Thomas Voeckler was finally unseated from the race lead, a lead that seemed precarious when he took it but led to the 25-year-old becoming the toast of France. He can take comfort in the white jersey awarded to the best rider 25 or under, a competition he currently leads by 7:41 over fdjeux.com's Sandy Casar.
Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong 2004, Photo galleries, Thomas Voeckler, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Armstrong takes 2nd stage win, moves into yellow
10 men with a chance:
Armstrong and Azevedo of Postal, Basso, Sastre, and Voigt for CSC, Kloden and Ullrich of T-Mobile, Rasmussen and Leipheimer of Rabobank, Richard Virenque of Quick Step.
Sastre, Voigt, Azevedo, Rasmussen, and Virenque have fallen off the back.
Down to Kloden, Ullrich, Basso, Armstrong, and Leipheimer.
500 meters to go; Leipheimer is off the back. The T-Mobile's are pushing the pace, now Basso has sprinted away, and Armstrong turns on full steam. Basso can't hold him off; Armstrong has his 2nd stage win of the 2004 Tour.
1) Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Basso (CSC)
3) Ullrich (T-Mobile) at :03
4) Klöden (T-Mobile) at :06
5) Leiphimer (Rabobank) at :13
6) Virenque (Quick Step) at :48
7) Rasmussen (Rabobank) at :49
8) Azevedo (US Postal) at :53
9) Voigt (CSC) at 1:04
10) Sastre (CSC) at 1:24
It's Armstrong's 20th career stage win. Voeckler finished down 9:29, so Armstrong will take the 61st yellow jersey of his career, and start last in tomorrow's individual time trial up l'Alpe d'Huez.
Armstrong gains a little time on Ivan Basso based on the time bonus for the stage win.
GC Top 10:
1) Armstrong (US Postal)
2) Basso (CSC) at 1:25
3) Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile) at 3:22
4) Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears-Banesto) at 5:39
5) Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) at 6:54
6) José Azevedo (US Postal) at 7:34
7) Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) at 8:19
8) Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere) at 9:28
9) Pietro Caucchioli (Alessio-Bianchi) at 10:10
10) Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) at 10:58
Stage 15 underway: Jan attacks!
With nearly 40 miles to go, Jan Ullrich accelerated out of Lance Armstrong's group. He's caught and rode with Santos Gonzalez, who was on an attack, and former world champion Laurent Brochard of AG2R. Ullrich had more than a minute advantage at one point, but was captured with 27 kilometers/17 miles to ride.
Richard Virenque and Michael Rasmussen led for much of the stage. Ullrich's attack never quite bridged up to them, but as Armstrong closed in on Rasmussen/Virenque, Levi Leipheimer jumped across the gap, tried to join with Rasmussen and Virenque, but Rasmussen couldn't hang. Leipheimer and Virenque tried to make a move, but the higher tempo of Armstrong's group dropped some riders off the back, including Brochard and CSC's Jens Voigt and Postal's Floyd Landis and Jose-Luis Rubiera. Now Leipheimer and Virenque have been recaptured, and all the contenders are together: Armstrong with Azevedo, Ullrich and Kloden for T-Mobile, Basso and Sastre for CSC, Virenque of Quick Step, and Leipheimer of Rabobank.
On the day's last descent, Michael Rasmussen of Rabobank and CSC's Jens Voigt have rejoined the elite group. Sabaliuskas of Saeco has climbed back up to join the leaders, so there are 11 riders in the elite group.
Armstrong is "yellow jersey on the road," since he leads Voeckler by more than the 22 seconds between them: The gap to the main peloton is 7 minutes+.
Stuart O'Grady has picked up 6 green jersey points by taking the 2nd intermediate sprint of the day, ahead of Thor Hushovd and Laurent Brochard.
Virenque has picked up 20+ points in the polka-dot jersey competition.
Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2004 in Andreas Klöden, Floyd Landis, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Lance Armstrong 2004, Levi Leipheimer, Richard Virenque, Stuart O'Grady, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd | Permalink | Comments (0)
July 19, 2004
Bruyneel issues smackdown on pre-race favorites
"It's mainly the others who are not strong enough to win the Tour and make believe that Lance is stronger," said the U.S. Postal team director, hinting at Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton or Iban Mayo.
Bruyneel carefully exempted CSC's Ivan Basso from that loaded "others", saying Basso "was the best young rider in the Tour two years ago and he has improved a lot because he's a real professional and works hard."
On the other hand, Bruyneel was more than willing to comment on Jan Ullrich's difficulties so far in this Tour de France, who he said was "very far" from the shape he needed three months ago if he was to compete in the Tour.
Of Armstrong, Bruyneel said his inability to solo off the front on the Pyrenean climbs was evidence that he's well prepared, but "not stronger" than he was in 2001 and 2002.
Basso: If there's one chance, I'll take it
Ivan Basso isn't conceding this year's Tour de France to five-time winner Lance Armstrong.
"I've never been as strong in my life and if there's just one chance of winning I'll take it but I won't attack just to gain 10 or 15 seconds," Basso told reporters at a news conference on Monday.
"I won't attack just to tease Armstrong. If I attack it'll be to try and land the knockout blow, to win the Tour."
Looking at the course profile, it's hard to see Basso riding 1:17 faster than Armstrong over the rest of the race, especially with the Stage 19 time trial being 55 km, much longer than normal. Even if Basso pulls back 4 minutes on stages 16 (the Alpe d'Huez TT) and 17, he would lead Armstrong by about 2:40 going into the ITT on Stage 19, and that doesn't sound like enough to me.
Basso's manager, Bjarne Riis, was the only holdout of 21 sporting directors asked by procycling.com who didn't pick Armstrong to win the 2004 Tour. On the other hand, Riis didn't pick Basso, either, preferring to opt out of the informal survey.
All but 1 director chose Basso 2nd overall, with T-Mobile's Walter Godefroot and others choosing Andreas Klöden 3rd overall.
Four chose Francisco Mancebo to round out the podium, but Vincenzo Santoni of Domina Vacanze echoed how everyone is feeling by making a "sentimental rather than realistic choice" of current yellow jersey Thomas Voeckler to take 3rd. “My heart leans towards Voeckler,” said Santoni.
Coke signs Armstrong through 2006
As expected, Coca-Cola has renewed its promotional agreement with Lance Armstrong, currently promoting the company's bottled water brand, Dasani.
Coke has sponsored Armstrong since 2000, and the new deal runs through 2006, when Armstrong will be 35.
"The decision to re-sign with Lance was an easy one," said Javier Benito, chief marketing officer of Coca-Cola North America. "Lance is an incredible inspiration for his spirit and confidence on and off the bike, which is a perfect fit with the active, optimistic personality of the Dasani brand."