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5 reasons Lance shouldn’t ride in the 2009 Tour

Posted by ZA on September 28, 2008

So it ain’t so, Lance.  Tell me that you are only kidding, and not planning planning to comeback and ride the Tour de France again.  Say that you’ve reconsidered and are going to stay retired.  That you are going to be the anti-Favre and continue to enjoy life as a retiree from professional cycling.

I want to start by saying that I’m a huge Lance Armstrong fan.  I great admire the man; his character, drive and athletic ability.  I cheered for him during all of his Tour wins, and even volunteered for a time at his Lance Armstong Foundation.  That being said, I do not want Lance to return and ride again.  I think Lance should stay retired.  Before we examine the reasons I think Lance shouldn’t ride again, let’s consider a few reasons that Lance is making this comeback to competitive cycling.

Below a few reasons why Lance might be coming back to ride again.  Lance has said publicly it is to raise awareness on a global level for cancer prevention.  Certainly a worthy reason, but is that really why he is coming back now.  Let’s look at a few reasons why Lance is riding again in 2009.

Why is Lance Armstrong returning to cycling?
* Ego.
* Competitive spirit.
* To raise awareness for cancer.
* Boredom.
* To prove those who claim he doped wrong.
* Love of the sport.
* Money.
* To sell more Nikes.
* He wants to kick the French’s ass again.

Hard to tell what the single motivating factor is behind this un-retirement, although it’s most likely a combination of some of those reasons above.  The bigger question now is why shouldn’t Lance ride again?  Why am I opposed to him trying to capture an 8th Tour de France trophy?  Remember, I like the guy – but still think he shouldn’t be riding professionally again.

Five reasons that Lance Armstrong should not return to competitive cycling.

1. Lance has nothing to prove.  He won seven consecutive Tour de France races, one of the most grueling sporting events in the World.  Lance’s seven Tour victories surpasses the previous record, and is a mark that is unlikely to be broken anytime soon.  Lance is already in mentioned in the same conversations with other cycling legends like Eddy Merckx.  Sure there are some people (many of them French) who are still trying to claim Lance’s winning was fueled by drug use, but none of them have proved sh#t yet.  Accusations that they make have continued to be struck down, so Lance shouldn’t feel the need to prove himself to those people flinging accusations.

2. Lance already went out on top.  Too many athletes stick around after their prime and lessen or even taint their legacy.  Think Michael Jordan wearing a Washington Wizards uniform or Emmit Smith running the football for the Arizona Cardinals.  Muhammad Ali is a legend that still transcends sports, but many think he did himself physical damage by not retiring sooner.  I prefer the image of Lance riding down the Champs Elysees sipping champaign with the American flag draped around him, to one of Lance finishing in the middle of the pack at the 2009 Tour.  There’s even a chance that Lance could embarrass himself by coming back.

3. Cycling has already moved on without Lance.  Yes, the last decade has been a harsh one to the sport of competitive bicycle racing, (with the exception of Lance Armstrong).  The sport has been plagued by doping scandals that have tainted the sport.  Lance’s miraculous comeback from cancer to win the Tour de France seven times was the gigantic exception to those issues the sport faced, he kept the World interested in cycling during one of it’s darkest times.  Then Lance retired.  The sport has continued to take some black eyes, but it has also had plenty of positive moments since Lances hung up his pedals.  The sport has moved on without him.  Carlos Sastre is the new champion, as the winner of the 2008 Tour de France.  There are new young stars like Taylor Phinney ready to carry the mantle for cycling.  Then the greatest rider in history steps back in and suddenly all of those story lines, and new stars, get buried under the weight of Lance.  If Lance truly loves the sport, he could support it as a coach, team owner, or fan.  But by riding in another Tour he is going to steal the spotlight from the sports next generation of stars.

4. Lance should be riding for an American cycling team.  Lance is United States Postal Service, even if the Discovery Channel did rent him for a year.  So it just doesn’t seem right now that Lance is going to ride for a Spanish racing team, Astana.  It’s like American apple pie and curry chicken, they just don’t go together.  I understand why Lance picked that team, to be reunited with his old coach.  It’s just not going to feel right watching Lance ride under the “colors” of a foreign corporation.

5. Lance could get caught cheating.  There…I said it.  I didn’t want to because my admiration for Lance makes it nearly impossible for me to fathom that he might have bent a rule during his career.  But the elephant in the room that many people don’t want to talk about is if Lance did cheat to win, won’t he have to do the same now to compete?  The odds of this are pretty slim, first because there is no hard evidence to prove that Lance has ever cheated.  Plus, Lance has taken the unprecedented step to hire his own antidoping scientist, Don Catlin, to oversee his comeback.  You’d have to be pretty dumb to cheat with the scrutiny Lance will face, and with his own private antidoping agent watching his every move…but the fact remains there is he might cheat and get caught.  If that happened, it would forever change his legacy. 


Tell me what you think – should Lance Armstrong ride in the tour again?

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9 Responses to “5 reasons Lance shouldn’t ride in the 2009 Tour”

  1. Mike said

    Lance also had a bit of luck in those previous tours. Check out the videos in the blog post at http://bicyclespokesman.com/lance-needs-to-be-good-and-lucky/ to see how close he came to losing. Will he be as lucky going for win number 8?

  2. ZA said

    Mike-
    I agree. Every year it takes a certain amount of good fortune to win a race like Le Tour. Lance has had his close calls in the past. I hope he can continue to avert trouble as he rides on the 2009 Tour.

    ZA

  3. HedgeHog said

    So if you had only $5 left to your name at the start of the 09 Tour and had to bet on one rider to win – yea you’d bet on Armstrong. So why shouldn’t he come back and try to win it if you, myself, and probably 99% of the cycling watching public would still bet on Lance? It’s what he does for a living – and if he helps save one more cancer victim’s life because of this comeback doesn’t it make it all worth it??? Even if he loses bad, has to drop out mid-way through it – if it raises awareness further for cancer and helps save one life – his comeback is worth it and successful.

    • lumbertruck said

      Well said, Hedgehog. What, exactly, is wrong with Lance Armstrong giving it his all one more time? He recovered from his accident to come back one more time. Even if he doesn’t win, he’s made a huge contribution to cyclists and cancer survivors worldwide.

      I had testicular cancer last year and this year have taken up cycling again. I feel better than I have in ten years! I say go, Lance! Kick French ass!

      • ZA said

        lumbertruck
        Lance Armstrong’s performance in this year’s Tour is definitely changing my view. I am a huge Lance fan and appreciate all he’s done for cancer survivors. My concern was him returning to his sport past his prime and potentially tarnishing his legacy in some way. OBVIOUSLY underestimating Lance was foolish on my part, because he looks phenomenal so far in the 2009 tour. I’m cheering with everything I’ve got for Lance to win the 2009 Tour de France.

        ZA

  4. ZA said

    HedgeHog-
    Lance is an excellent ambassador for the LAF and all cancer programs. The work he’s doing there is beyond reproach, and I applaud him for it. But Lance is raising cancer awareness whether he’s on his bike or not.

    My issue is with him coming back to ride the Tour again at 37. From a sports brand perspective I think Lance has very little upside in riding again.

    You could even make an argument that the time he will need to devote to training will take away time he could have used to lobby and raise awareness for cancer. But I’m not going to critcize a man who has already done so much to raise awareness. Again, I think he’s beyond reproach there.

    I hope he wins, but wouldn’t bet on it at this point. Let’s see if he has the time to devote to training that he did a few years ago.

    ZA

  5. halfyhalf said

    Lance returning to the Tour smells so much like Jordan returning to the NBA in 2001. Please Lance, just retire on the highest note one could possibly achieve.

  6. ZA said

    Halfyhalf-
    Could not agree more. Funny you mention Jordan, because like Lance, he’s one of my favorite athletes of all-time.

    Hard to retire when you’re one of the best.

    ZA

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