As I type this Sir Armstrong is in an all day break at the Tour de France giving the race its respect and due. I don't know yet if he wins but it brought me to thinking...and here is what those thoughts are:
First, from 1999 to now cycling technology and investment in the sport has EXPLODED. From fringe sport to the cusp of mainstream in North America cycling technology has evolved so rapidy it rivals Apple! Who benefits? ALL OF US, from your kids to the high end investment banker dropping $15K on a carbon bling-bling; we all benefit from great bikes for superior performance and most importantly, TONNES OF FUN!
Second, as a fan of the sport since my teens watching LeMond I cannot recall a rider most tactically astute. From the 1999 tour where he ensured he was up front before the crash on the Passage De - something or other, to last year where he hopped a curb to be up front before the cross winds came and gapped the field, LA always knew where to be.
Third, 80+ VO2 max is other world numbers; but like Jordan in basketball genetics alone do not make a champion. LA is a rare breed of athlete one part genetic, one part talent, one part commitment, one part unrivaled cunning capacity to close the deal when it matters most. Brazil, England, Argentina...where are their closers on the pitch?
Fourth, controversial yes but lets not forget some of the scenes where he was beyond a winner and a graceful champion. Letting Pantani win on Ventoux; not attacking Ullrich when he crashed; bonking on the Jaune Plane in 2001; dropped in 2003 multiple times to dig deep and win; domestique to Tyler in the Dauphine, to Levi in the Giro and TOC, and loyal as loyal can be to those who stand by him: Oakley, Nike, Trek, Steve Hed, Bruyneel to name a few.
Fifth, Livestrong - what else needs to be said there.
Sixth, as a fan boy was he fun to watch race! Cunning; skillfull; dominate; one part gracious, one part arrogant. It was all so much fun to watch!
I hope his swan song this year is remember as much for luck finally catching up with him AND HOW HE REACTED to it by staying in the race, supporting his teammates & sponsors, and how he graced the race by getting in a break and paying his respects, as he is for 7 wins.
Last, the questions always gets asked; "was or is he doped?"
Honestly, I don't much care.
LA is a champion and philanthropist...and just came in 5th for today's stage. Not bad old man, not bad!