Archive for July, 2009

Will Lance Armstrong create the surprise in the Tour de France 2009?

Lance Armstrong was an extraordinary cyclist, winning the Tour de France seven years in a row from 1999 to 2005. This prowess surpassed anyone else before him.

But is Lance Armstrong still an extraordinary racer, or rather an even more extraordinary racer than previously thought?

Traditionally there is always a cyclist who dominates the rest, like in most sports such as tennis or golf. But in the Tour de France the best cyclists in history could never exceed five victories: Jacques Anquetil (1957-1964), Eddy Merckx (1969-1974), Bernard Hinault (1978-1985) and Miguel Induran (1991-1995) are the only bicycle racers who won the Tour five times.

The Tour de France is a traditional event celebrated all over France each month of July since 1903. It is the most famous bicycle race in the World. It lasts about 3 weeks and encompasses racing more than 2,000 miles over France and neighboring countries. Amazingly this most prestigious bike race of all was started at the beginning of the twentieth Century as a promotional event for the French car industry.

Before Greg LeMond’s victory in 1986, no non-European biker had ever won the Tour de France. But since 1986, the Americans have won ten times (three times for Greg LeMond and seven times for Lance Amstrong), nearly fifty percent of the time.

Let us just say that the Europeans and in particular the French (dominating the Tour historically with 36 victories) do not find this funny. At all.

So now after a 3 years break, Lance got tired of promoting anti-fatigue pills and he is back in the race at 37 years old, almost 38 (as he is born in September). Just for the record, he oldest winner so far was Firmin Lambot who won at 36 years of age in 1922.

The Tour de France 2009 has started and for now Lance Armstrong is doing impressively well, at 8 seconds only behind the leader. It is still early but could the impossible occur? Let us remember that Lance had cancer a few years ago, by the way.

If you do not believe in miracles, this is going to be as close as you get.