Sunday, July 26, 2009
VIVA "EL PISTOLERO"!!!
Today Alberto Contador stood on the top step of the Tour de France podium for the second time in his illustrious career. At the age of 26, he has accomplished a feat that has eluded the giants of the sport-he won all three grand tours(France, Italy and Spain) in the span of only 18 months.
No doubt this would of been his third Tour win had his team been allowed to participate last year, but he made the best of the exclusion by winning the other two grand tours with panache and style.
But this is not just a matter of celebrating the great Spaniard's victory so much as it highlights the obvious personal and professional shortcomings of one "Juan Pelota", aka Lance Armstrong.
Armstrong comes equipped with an army of crushingly dim-witted and jingoistic American fans who have gravitated towards his story like maggots to roadkill and hold him up on a pedestal that rivals Gandhi.
The Armstrong cult is rabid, and voraciously chomp down the rancid chum thrown out by his propaganda machine as the gospel truth. Lance leads them to the Kool-Aid and they slurp up in mighty, heaping gulps all the bullshit that has become a staple of his media-contrived persona.
He lied about his testing program with Dr. Caitlin. He lied about the support role he was willing to play on the team, talking up his possibilities deep into the third and final week of the race, still harboring ambitions for the top spot when the yellow jersey was already on Contador's back with team protocol clearly dictating that he had to work for the leader.
He whined about Contador not following team orders as if Alberto was supposed to lay down, play dead and acquiesce to his ambitions of winning an eighth Tour. Even the television commentators jumped on the bandwagon, admonishing Contador for daring to drop a teammate of his who could not keep up on a mountain stage. This is the first time since I've been following the sport that I've heard anyone say the team and race leader had responsibilities to the riders who are paid to help HIM win the race. But no matter. The road dictated who was stronger, and with quiet dignity Contador went about the job of staking claim to the leadership of the race.
Armstrong was an absolutely disgraceful teammate. He disregarded the blind and unflinching loyalty that is due the race leader and disrespected Contador with thinly veiled, passive-aggressive remarks in TV interviews and on his Twitter page. All the while heaping phony, disingenuous praise that clearly resembled hypocritical bitchiness.
But Armstrong was unable to ride his own race because he simply was not strong enough. Yet the fanboys demanded miracles. They wanted to party like it was 1999, the year of his first win-you know, the one where a few years later lab technicians re-tested samples of all the top-ten riders and could not find one clean sample out of the whole bunch, including those given by Lance himself?
Bob Roll, the VS channel cycling commentator(who sharply resembles the disgusted, constipated visage of a shaved gerbil prior to insertion into Richard Gere's rear end)continued with the man-crush and slated Armstrong to win the last time trial, disregarding all common sense and the fact that he clearly was not the rider he once was. He came in 16th place that day. And still he would not concede defeat.
Well, that is all over now. Armstrong is off to form his own team with a manager willing to put all his eggs into the basket of a rider who is past his sell-by date. Next year he will be 39 and Contador 27, heading into his peak years as a rider while Armstrong has 2 years left tops. The years he has left are no longer at the top level of competition. But the fanboys declare that for Lance all things impossible are mere obstacles that us mere mortals clearly do not understand.
This is going to be the scene on the last day of the Tour for the foreseeable future-
You can hate all you want, Lance-it's not going to change reality...
And this is why-the photo below shows Contador and Andy Schleck coming in together on the Mont Ventoux stage the day before the Tour ended. In the background, on the right in the blue and white uniform is Mr. Livestrong himself with his younger competition ahead of him. There is no way next year that this picture somehow reverses itself next year, when he'll be racing in the Tour a couple of months shy of his 39th birthday.
For the sheer lack of class Armstrong has displayed towards his teammate all year, from patronizingly assessing that Contador has "a lot to learn" when he lost the Paris-Nice stage race earlier in March, to disputing team leadership almost until the very last day of the Tour, to the verbal attacks and criticism in the media over how Contador was racing against team orders, to not attending the Astana team party meant to honor Contador on his triumph, to holding the cancer community hostage with his "comback" message that was 100% about his ego and not about them, and for disrupting a team that was doing fine without him to the point where it will be disbanded and left in tatters, Lance Armstrong receives the prestigious Busting Chops first annual "Asshole of the Year" award in sports, narrowly beating out Manny Ramirez which in and of itself is quite a feat.
Congratulations, Lance-you worked hard for this award. You need to leave the racing to the younger generation. They can "Livestrong" without you.