Michael van der Galien

Lance Armstrong’s Tour is “Finished,” but the Modern Day Hero Stays in the Race

Posted on July 12 2010 11:00 am
Michael van der Galien was born in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden in 1984. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with the United States. When he was 17 years old, he started blogging - of course about America. His articles have been published at Big Hollywood, Pajamas Media, Hot Air (the GreenRoom) and Right Across The Atlantic. He's also an editor for the Dutch conservative blog, De Dagelijkse Standaard.
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Lance Armstrong is having a Tour de France from hell

The seven-time winner of the most difficult, heroic and popular cycling competition in the world (the Tour de France), Lance Armstrong, had a day from hell yesterday. It was the first mountain stage of this year’s Tour, and it proved to be the end of the famous cancer survivor’s ambitions to win the it for an unprecedented eighth time. He crossed the finish line a shocking eleven minutes behind his main rivals for the title: too much to take a comeback even remotely seriously. Afterwards the exhausted Armstrong told journalists that this Tour was “finished” for him. He can’t win, we know it, he knows it, and he’s perfectly honest and open about it.

Although he has already lost, Armstrong once again proved himself to be a great athlete (and man) nonetheless: other champions often quit after such a horrendous day. Armstrong won’t. “I’m going to enjoy the rest of the Tour,” he said. He’ll also use it to continue drawing attention to his cancer charity and, of course, to help his teammate Levi Leipheimer put up a fight for the podium in Paris.

His team leader, Johan Bruyneel, said afterwards that Armstrong could’ve done better, but that his hip was seriously injured during a crash. The pain prevented him from following his rivals. Although this is what a manager should do – protect his athletes – there’s no doubt in my mind that Bruyneel is bending the truth a tad bit. If Armstrong hadn’t crashed, he may have lost less, but he would still have lost many valuable minutes. He simply wasn’t good enough.

Being a big Armstrong fan, I was shocked to see him truly collapse yesterday. I had never seen him being so weak in the Tour. Not only could he not attack – as was the case last year – he couldn’t even follow his rivals. It was clear from his facial expressions that he wanted to do better, but that he simply couldn’t. His mind was strong, but he had pushed his body to its limit. It was, for those of us who look at Armstrong as a near godlike figure, frankly almost a traumatizing event.

But then came the press conference afterwards. The man who was invincible a few years ago, and who was completely and utterly destroyed this time around, still proved himself to be a Champion – with a capital ‘c’ – after all. Years ago he defeated cancer, dealing with a bad performance in the Tour de France was, you could clearly see, no challenge at all for him. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise: he undoubtedly has the strongest spirit and will of any athlete in history.

The Tour may be finished for him, but by refusing to pack his bags and go home, Armstrong shows the world once again that he’s as great a champion as they come.

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