What's Cool In Road Cycling

Comment: Tired of Being (Re)Tired? Drink This…

OK, so the first thought I had was how big is the frikkin sign outside the bike shop going to be when they change the name from “Mellow Johnny’s” to “Mr. Restless Type ‘A’ Personality Jonathan’s”.

After that, there are a zillion opinions about why Lance is returning to pro racing and what it involves, and damn near all of them are, to some degree, valid. Here are a few…

First of all…


…Chopped pic folks, relax…

There are folks that think Lance is irked about being reduced to a simple “Celebrity” status. “Famous for being famous” is how it reads in one forum. That, to me brings to mind people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian…

My reply to that is “bullshit” as you simply can’t deny the accomplishments of Lance (not that Paris’ ability to sucksesfully fluff while taking a phone call isn’t an accomplishment). But even if it were the case, I would rather watch Kim or Paris get “enfamed” than watch another Tour like the last one where the most interesting breakaway involved Manuel Beltran fleeing from the dope testers, and even that got hauled back too quickly.

The next thought is that Lance simply couldn’t stand the accusations and challenge that he could not ride in today’s cleaned up peloton.

Maybe that’s a part of it and if so, I would thank the hater crowd that kept the drums beating. It’s not very often that simple negativity simultaneously does something positive and thumps the hammer down on haters.

Testing protocols differ quite a bit team to team. The only way Lance benefits is if he signs for a first tier team and not one the teams like LPR, the former Saunier Duval, AG2r etc that do not, in my opinion, properly account for their riders and seem to be the new destination for dopers.

This year’s tour may not have proved that the sport is cleaning up, but it did offer proof that the teams with the year round extensive testing protocols will at the very least do a better job of maintaining the sports image.

To maintain credibility Lance has to go to a team like Garmin/Chipotle or Columbia who are not only properly keeping house but are actually professional enough to bring sponsors in to the sport.

Then again… There are those that think it simply ego rather than anything upstanding.

While there’s no way to validate or deny that, there are simply more important things to look at as measures… The LAF has generated a couple hundred million dollars for cancer and Lance has pumped that number into cycling as well.

If you want to argue that, you’ll have to bring the number for the dollars in bicycle related sales as well as the dollars generated in and around racing events. I don’t have that number handy, and can’t directly quote something said over a beer (Pez just don’t play the “on the record / off the record” game with people in the sport) but an after hours conversation with a guy that heads a company that owns some of the largest events in the world stated he’s brought more than double the value to his race than he has to his own foundation in reference to hearing the LAF was over 200 million.

There’s not a single person in a bike related profession that doesn’t owe Lance a commission check due to increased interest in cycling. Maybe it’s ego. But it’s not “just” ego.

What about the mates?
Johan reminds me of Hogan’s Hero’s Sergeant Schultz: “I know NOSSINGK, I see NOSSINK!”

That makes a lot of sense if you’re Johan and have a couple of guys in Alberto Contador and Levi that might be scratching their heads wondering why they didn’t get consulted, but that’s being presumptuous on two fronts. First you would have to presume that Lance and Johan had the conversation, and then you would have to presume that Johan didn’t take Levi and Alberto aside and be professional about this whole thing.

Personally I think the conversations have been had, and we’ll see where Lance rides and how it all plays out (or at least have more to speculate on, depending on how clearly the story gets laid out after the fact). Contador and Levi are both exceptional riders and professional enough to make the best decision for themselves regardless.

He can’t do it
There’s the thought that Lance left on top and there is no possible way he can gain anything from a come back. He’ll wind up a sorry version of a past great self and old guys just can’t make it happen…

Ask George, and I don’t mean Hincapie…


Or ask Michael Moorer…

Play the age thing at your peril folks. Not only would I not be surprised at all about Lance crushing the peloton, but, should he finally settle down with one or more of his recent female companions, it might be fun to see if Lance will have six more kids and name them all “Lance”…

But this whole thing could boil down to a very simple answer as to why Lance wants to come back…

Lance is one of “those people”.
Tiger Woods is. Michael Jordan is too.

There are people that have an abnormal ability to focus and an unnatural desire to win.

Super-champions are virtually all the same at their core. Look at any of them closely, even at a publicity or charity event and you’re likely to see them smile and be polite and cordial, but, as happens in every event, the second one of the punters says a playful version of “I’m going to whip you” you’ll catch Michael or Tiger or Jerry or Lance’s eyes twitch… Even if it’s for a split second, not one of these guys wants to give an inch regardless of the fact that their opponent is no match…

Sure there’s speculation and complication, but for guys like Armstrong it’s never purely the publicity… For every hour we see them, these guys spend a thousand-plus hours off camera, breaking themselves down and working their ass off in a fashion that I found, first hand for a couple of these guys, to literally be frightening. There’s something that sets these guys apart from even other great athletes…

They do it because there is a fire within them rather than a spotlight cast upon them.

Love or hate them, win or lose, individuals like that make you want to watch…

CM…


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