The Skeptical Liberal: A Toast to Lance

The Skeptical Liberal

How can we live together in peace, prosperity, and harmony, while retaining our liberties as autonomous individuals who can, and must, create our own values? -- J.M. Buchanan


A Toast to Lance

I know the title of the blog includes the word "skeptical," but today I'll offer a toast to Lance. Raise your glasses!

I fell in love with Le Tour de France in 1996, on the day when the torch was passed from Bjarne Riis to his younger teammate Jan Ullrich. Jan came in second that year, and won Le Tour in 1997. At that point, Lance was recuperating from cancer, and no one knew that the Armstrong - Ullrich battle would reach epic proportions in the years to come.

When Lance beat Jan in 1999, winning Le Tour for the first time, I had mixed feelings. I was still a fan of the German, but it was clear that Armstrong's strategy for the Tour was (and would probably remain) better than Ullrich's. Armstrong knew that all one had to do to win the Tour was have one or two massive challenges in the mountains, win the time trials, and put together a strong team that can control the pelaton so you can ride with your chief opponents for the remainder of the race. Why hadn't others figured that out? For seven years now, hard training to carry out that strategy has brought him victory. Amazing.

The moment I knew that Lance was for the ages was that day in 2001 on L'Alpe d'Huez when Lance caught the lead group of riders, started a new challenge, and then took a long look back at Jan to see if he was going to come along with him. When Jan couldn't, Lance took off. The domination was total. Armstrong, not Ullrich, was going to be the rider of the new century.

Lance, of course, says his greatest accomplishment is the recovery from cancer, and I applaud him for his work on behalf of cancer research and cancer survivors. But it's always been about the racing for me. I guess I like to cheer for people (and teams) who win -- a lot (some will say that's the easy thing to do, but winning again and again isn't easy). I've cheered for Lance now for seven years, and will continue to watch his endeavors, even though they won't be on a bike.

Riding this morning up to the "M," I found myself singing the words of a song that, appropriately, is by Sheryl Crow. The refrain is a good anthem for riders!

"Everyday is a winding road
I get a little bit closer
Everyday is a faded sign
I get a little bit closer to feeling fine."
-- Sheryl Crow


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