September 8, 2008

Lance Armstrong Coming Out of Retirement for 2009 Tour

In the biggest cycling news of the year, Lance Armstrong has decided to forego the pleasures of retirement and the company of hot celebrities to race the 2009 Tour de France. Reportedly, he will join the Astana team, and race a pretty full spring schedule including both major American races (California and Georgia) prior to the Tour next July. There are so many angles on this, it's hard to decide where to begin.

Get tired of kissing Kate Hudson, Lance?

First, can Lance still win? He's 37, and has been out of cycling for 3 years now. I know he's been doing marathons and mountain bike races, but it's not the same as road racing non-stop. That said, he's the best rider of our generation, and if he's back even close to his best form, he'll win next year.

Why is Lance coming back? Was Favre's victory in Week 1 that convincing? Or maybe the lack of a dominant star in the sport convinced him he could still win? Or maybe he wants to prove that he will pass the better drug tests? Or maybe he wants to give cycling another shot at his star power, to help it recover from all the doping scandals. Maybe we'll find out in the Vanity Fair article later this month, maybe never.

Lance might race until he runs out of fingers for his Tour titles.

Why team Astana? Astana is either the best or second-best professional cycling team right now, possibly behind CSC, but it did not ride in this year's Tour because of past doping issues, even though the current set of riders are clean. That current set of riders includes Alberto Contador, 2007 Tour champion, and Levi Leipheimer, perennial top-5 finisher and best American in the absence of Lance and Floyd. How will Lance fit in on a team with 2 stars already? Will he be a domestique for one of them, or will they pull the old man up Alpe d'Huez? Will it be an ongoing saga like it could have been this year for CSC with 3 riders in the top 6?

If this all happens, don't be swayed by poor results in the early races next year. Even in his prime, Lance never performed well in the warmup races, saving his best for the Tour. We won't know until the first mountain stages next July whether he still has it, but I can't wait.

8 Responses:

J-Red said...

Ok, I'll ask the important question. How did Lance blow all that money from Dodgeball so quickly?

Jeremy said...

Fucking J-Red and I think way too much alike. The second I saw this post, I found this quote:

Lance Armstrong: Hey, aren't you Peter La Fleur?
Peter La Fleur: Lance Armstrong!
Lance Armstrong: Ya, that's me. But I'm a big fan of yours.
Peter La Fleur: Really?
Lance Armstrong: Ya, I've been watching the dodgeball tournament on the Ocho. ESPN 8. I just can't get enough of it. Good luck in the tournament. I'm really pulling for you against those jerks from Globo Gym. I think you better hurry up or you're gonna be late.
Peter La Fleur: Uh, actually I decided to quit... Lance.
Lance Armstrong: Quit? You know, once I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying of that's keeping you from the finals?
Peter La Fleur: Right now it feels a little bit like... shame.
Lance Armstrong: Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't anything to regret for the rest of their life. Well good luck to you Peter. I'm sure this decision won't haunt you forever.

Brien said...

Get ready for rampant unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. People will claim that Lance coming out of retirement means that Astana has found an undetectable way of doping.

Others will claim that the fact he went to Astana instead of Columbia or Garmin-Chipotle is proof that he was doping (those two American teams have the strictest testing regiments).

I can't decide whether it's a good thing or not. It's definitely a travesty for Contador, who was the clear favorite going into next year's Tour. It definitely has the feeling of MJ with the Wizards, though.

Brien said...

Astana is denying the rumors.

Anonymous said...

The real reason that Lance wants to come back is to prove that he can win dope free. Too many of his old teammates have been busted or confessed (Haras, Landis, Andreau, Beltran, Hamilton) and a cloud hangs over Lance.

J-Red said...

How does coming back prove he's doing it dope-free? What if he doesn't win after sitting out and getting a year older? Doesn't that make it seem more like he was doping before?

big tuna said...

The first thought I had was that this retirement now seems fishy. Maybe he was giving those roids time to get out of his system.

Anyway, go team CSC! Company email says I have to cheer for them.

"ben" said...

"How does coming back prove he's doing it dope-free?"

Obviously, he'd have to win or do very, very well. Of course, if he did, I'd assume he simply found a new, undectable drug.

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