Monday, July 20, 2009

Get used to it, big boy...

The Lance Armstrong Era is officially over. It has been since he stepped off in July of 2005 with the last of his seven consecutive Tour de France victories. In a compelling speech delivered from the the top step of the podium he chastised us, the skeptical viewing public, for not believing what we were seeing for those last seven years.

We were remonstrated for daring to question the myth, the tightly woven inspirational tale of his comeback from testicular cancer all the way to record holder for most overall Tour victories with 7, shattering the record shared by the giants of the sport-they, Miguel Induran, Jaques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and the greatest cyclist that ever lived-Eddy Mercxx, all left behind with 5 each. This is the miracle Armstrong wants us all to believe but fails to mention he owes his success more to the genius of Dr. Michele Ferarri than to hard work, determination and talent.

Here is a quote from his farewell speech-

Podium farewell speech, Tour de France, July 24, 2005

"But finally the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the skeptics. I'm sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event and you should stand around and believe it. You should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people. I'll be a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live. And there are no secrets - this is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it."

Dr. Ferarri is a mysterious, powerful figure in pro cycling, one arm of the "UnHoly Trinity" of infamous Italian doctors/trainers ("preparatori" in Italian, meaning one who helps to "prepare") along with Dr. Cechinni and the Godfather himself Dr. Conconi sitting at the head of the table. Armstrong had a "non-compete" clause with Ferarri during his run of Tour wins, which meant the good doctor was not allowed to counsel or train any other cyclist competing against him at the Tour de France. Armstrong's exclusive involvement with Ferarri, one of the popes of modern-day doping in pro cycling, assured his success at the one and only race guaranteed to bring him the type of wealth and recognition beyond the grasp of any other pro cyclist who ever lived.

Yes, there were racers throughout cycling history with more distinguished and diverse palmeres. But Armstrong, with his singular laser-like focus, became the Gordon Gekko of the cycling world. He eschewed the Spring Classics, the other two grand tours of Italy and Spain and whatever happened after that last week of July. For him and his rabid fans, the cycling calendar began and ended within the three week span of the Tour de France. Any race leading up to the Tour was seen as preparation/training, and any race after it was...well quite frankly it wasn't.

Funny enough, his two companions on the podium that day in 2005, second place Ivan Basso of Italy and third place Jan Ulrich of Germany went on to cement their own infamous legacies with their involvement in doping scandals. Ulrich, deciding he'd had enough, retired before the hammer fell on his head while Basso took his 2-year ban like a man after lying through his teeth and getting caught.

Yet there is Armstrong, telling us we are too cynical to believe in miracles, especially his. For those of you who don't know about doctors like Ferarri, the only thing you need to know is these guys get paid a king's ransom for one thing and one thing only-to set up a doping programs that will:

A) Provide maximum efficiency for a rider's target races throughout the year, and most importantly...

B) Keep the rider in question from tripping up the doping tests, thus risking a two-year ban for a first offense.

This is what this man Ferarri has dedicated his life to, he and many other nefarious figures that operate outside the confines of sporting law. This is the man Armstrong had paid to make him rich and famous, the most recognizable cyclist on the planet.

Yet at the same time he was admonishing us, he had already left the wife of his three children. The man who made such a commotion over the importance of family left his behind to strut around with b-list has-been rock star Sheryl Crowe. Never in the history of the Tour has a rider paraded his girlfriend around like this guy did, only to unceremoniously dump her and then beg the public to respect his privacy during this difficult time.

Much more dignified was Miguel Indurains' wife, who always avoided the media at the Tour out of respect to the work her husband was engaged in, while Crowe never once turned down an interview or an opportunity to get face time in a sport she knew nothing about.

So after 4 years Armstrong comes back to try to dislodge the young Spaniard Alberto Contador from a team in which leadership should of unquestioningly gone to him and him only. The sheer hubris of the guy to try to take something that did not belong to him, while every day he would make thinly veiled comments about his own ambitions...

Well that is now officially over. Contador took off on an attack in the mountains last Sunday that Armstrong could not respond to and even though he is holding second place he no longer has the form to cut the mustard as top dog.

So get used to seeing this, Lance...

and this...

Lance, if your monumental ego won't allow you to do the right thing and help the leader of the Tour all the way to Paris, do us all a favor and just get the fuck out of his way. You had your time. Alberto Contador is younger and stronger than you are. Deal with it and move on with your life.

Isn't there some anorexic b-list Hollywood celubu-whore you could be banging instead of making a fool of yourself like this?

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