Lance, Allez, Allez

The Los Angeles Times ponders Lance Armstrong’s legacy as a cancer survivor and a seven-time winner of The Tour de France.

"Lance brought a new level of professionalism, a different level of professionalism to the sport," said Bjarne Riis, the 1996 Tour winner who is director of the CSC team. "He also brought about the idea of focusing everything on the Tour de France and using every other race as just a preparation for the Tour. "Is this good for the sport? I don’t know. … But in the way he trained, the way he paid attention to details, that would be what I would think of as Lance Armstrong’s legacy to the sport of cycling."

Brendan Gallagher in The Telegraph writes that "perhaps his brave and ultimately successful battle against cancer
finally enabled Armstrong to make sense of everything and released an
unstoppable life force." Yet Gallagher says the focus on Armstrong’s cancer detracts from the fact that Armstrong won because he was simply one of the toughest hombres in cycling.

Some Armstrong myths need to be debunked, or at least modified, notably that his phenomenal success on the Tour is totally down to massive changes in lifestyle and a hardening in attitude after his recovery from cancer. Winning that war affected him profoundly and kick-started his career, but there is every possibility that Armstrong would have been a high achiever anyway. He has a resting pulse in the low 30s and nearly seven litres of lung capacity, one of the highest ever recorded, and his body also produces almost negligible lactic acid, hence his ability to ride harder and longer than anybody else. In other words, he is a freak.

"People have the false impression that Lance was a regular guy who got cancer and then came back to win the Tour de France," says trainer Chris Carmichael. "The truth is that he was one in a million before and he’s one in a million now."

Part of Armstrong’s legacy is the strong backbench of U.S. cyclists he leaves behind, says The Christian Science Monitor. See also Matt Seaton’s Top 10 Books about Cycling at The Guardian.

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