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Lance for Governor? (Oh, and he's racing again too)

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 9th, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Lance at NAHBS-2.jpg
Lance Armstrong, shown here at
the Oregon Convention Center
in February, is no stranger
to Portland's bike-friendliness.
(Photos © J. Maus)

By now, I'm sure many of you have read the story heard 'round the world about Lance Armstrong's rumored return to bike racing.

VeloNews posted a story about it yesterday, and now the rumors have been confirmed by Lance himself.

I'm excited about this because his presence can be nothing but good, not just for the sport of bike racing, which is in dire need of drug-free heroes (at least that's what many Americans see him as), but for the bike movement in general.

How can Lance's return to racing help energize the bike movement?

We already know he is familiar with what Portland has done to become a bike-friendly city (he paid us a visit back in February).

When he opened a bike shop earlier this year he said it would focus on commuting. Lance also went one step further and told his local newspaper that he hopes the shop can help spur Austin's bike advocacy movement with the ultimate goal to "evolve into a place like Portland."

And today, in a story that was just published by Vanity Fair, Armstrong says he's considering a run for Governor of Texas in 2014. In that position (I can't imagine him losing) he would be able to have an even greater impact on the bike movement.

Currently, Texas ranks 30th in the League of American Bicyclist's Bike Friendly State rankings. That leaves a lot of room for improvement and we all know that Lance doesn't like to finish mid-pack.

Lance, I know you already have the global fight on cancer and the future of bike racing on your shoulders, but if you can possibly add the work of bike advocacy to that load you'd become even more of a hero to the millions of everyday riders fending for their lives on American roadways.

For more analysis and scuttlebutt on Lance's return, read Joe Lindsey's coverage on Bicycling.com.

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Comments
  • peejay September 9, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I can imagine him losing, if he runs as anything but a Republican in Texas! Of course, I don\'t know that he would, given his frequent \"play dates\" with our imbecile-in-chief. Lance, if you care about bikes, you ought not mess around with the Grand Oil Party.

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  • tonyt September 9, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Lance a \"drug-free hero.\"

    aaahuh.

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  • Mmann September 9, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    I agree that his return is a good thing on a couple fronts, especially if he\'s competitive with guys 10 or more years younger. The earlier blurb I read also mentioned he\'d maybe be racing some cross. How cool would it be to see him out at PIR for the Grand Prix in December?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) September 9, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    \"Lance, if you care about bikes, you ought not mess around with the Grand Oil Party.\"

    The Vanity Fair piece says he is most likely to run as a Democrat (he hangs with John Kerry).

    \"Lance a \"drug-free hero.\"

    Giving him the benefit of the doubt. Don\'t you think he\'d be nailed by now if there was any solid evidence?

    \"The earlier blurb I read also mentioned he\'d maybe be racing some cross.\"

    oh yeah. I would not be surprised if we get a visit from him this year.

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  • a.O September 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Peejay, ever heard of Anne Richards?

    Tonyt, Lance says he will post his drug test results while he\'s going for his 8th TdF - what do you think of that?

    Jonathan, Lance is going to show up at a cross race (maybe)? I\'m racing then. Yall betta watch out!

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  • Hart September 9, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Anne Richards should be honored with a National holiday.

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  • bahueh September 9, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Lance isn\'t RED enough to win that state..most folks there would rather run over the road queer riding in his underwear with their pickup than perceive him as their leader..

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  • BURR September 9, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    yawn

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  • Chilly Willy September 9, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Drug Free?
    Hero?

    Well, at least we can let Mr. Roarke know what you want when you visit the island.

    Anyone who has had to spend any time at all dealing with Lance away from a camera probably wouldn\'t tout his people skills- last time I checked, that was a prerequisite for being a politician.

    The last thing we need is even more political debate driven by celebrity instead of competence.

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  • peejay September 9, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Ann Richards on GHWB: \"George Bush was born on third base and he thinks he hit a triple!\"

    Applies quite well to his son, who nonetheless beat Richards for the Texas governorship, right around when almost all Democrats were voted out down there. While the trend is reversing a little, the state (outside of Austin) is still a truck-drivin\' bible-thumpin\' zone. Don\'t know what Lance could do to appeal to them without renouncing everything we admire about him.

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  • Donald September 9, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Lemond for Lt. Gov! (residency can merely be a formality, right?)

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  • spotter September 9, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    on coming out of retirement: so much to lose. nothing to gain.

    on the drug free issue: in the 1990\'s? even now? that is a laugh. been racing much?

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  • spotter September 9, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    I\'m sorry. My comment re: drugs was a knee-jerk reaction. What I meant to say is that drug taking is part of sport. It always has been and always will be. It\'s not always a negative thing. I\'ve seen it from afar and first-hand. Let\'s just not fool ourselves. Thanks!

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  • joel September 9, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    jonathan:

    \"Lance, if you care about bikes, you ought not mess around with the Grand Oil Party.\"

    The Vanity Fair piece says he is most likely to run as a Democrat (he hangs with John Kerry).

    wacky, that - i would squarely place him as more an R than a D. but hey, thats just me.

    \"Lance a \"drug-free hero.\"

    Giving him the benefit of the doubt. Don\'t you think he\'d be nailed by now if there was any solid evidence?

    weak argument. drug testing is only now beginning to catch up with whats out there, and most of the tests still being used are flawed - nevermind the shoddy work most of the wada/uci labs do. i desperately hope it cant ever be proven, because it would be catastrophic, but it wouldnt surprise me in the slightest.

    this whole \"lance returning to racing\" thing gets a big WHAT-ever from me. doing it for cancer is great, but beyond that, what benefit to the sport is there? a big star returning to stroke his ego once more. someone coming back to prove they were clean in the past by racing clean now? whoop de doo.

    im over the lance years. i dont miss em. big yawn here.

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  • Yawn September 9, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    At least he could nut up and try the Giro or the Vuelta. Incidentally, neither of those tours are under AFLD and its anti-doping measures, which are plausibly better than the UCI/WADA. I\'m just sayin\'...

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  • Joshua Hunt September 9, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Mr. Maus,
    I highly recommend that you read the excellent \"From Lance to Landis\" book by David Walsh. I think it will become quite clear to you that Lance Armstrong is anything but a \'drug free hero.\' His return to bicycle racing is going to set the anti-doping movement back a decade. It\'s as though he can\'t stand to see a clean Tour de France. In the Vanity Fair piece he seemed genuinely disgusted by the \"slow\" (ie, non EPO fueled) pace of last years Tour. He will post his blood profiles and he\'ll get away with another fast one, because catching EPO cheats is incredibly difficult, and because he may not need to dope much at all with the long term benefits he\'ll likely enjoy from his years of human growth hormone, testosterone & EPO use which have allowed him to train at a higher level than his physiology would normally allow, and have likely enlarged his heart, etc.
    Joshua Hunt
    Ironclad Performance Wear Cycling Team Member

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  • Peter September 9, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    not so sure about the \'drug free\' part. and i was starting to think any decline in \'bicycling as sport\' could actually be a good thing for \'bicycling as transportation\', because manufacturers would actually have to start competing to produce real transportation products instead of colluding to raise prices.

    Ben Johnson had the definitive quote on the drugs subject, though I can\'t find the link:

    \"It was a level playing field, it just wasn\'t the field that some fans thought it was.\"

    In other words, everyone was/is cheating. Or, those who actually want to win.

    Even the last American to win (forget his name) went on the late-night talk shows and had a good laugh about it all with Leno and all those folks. The host, the guest, the audience - everyone was in on it - it\'s just a game, and you have to play if you want to win. That\'s the unfortunate state of affairs right now. And it has very little to do with individual athletes - they have to take if they want to succeed, it\'s that simple. The questions are, why do they have to take, and who is in a position to do something about it? That goes to the powerful institutions that exist in pro sports today - the NFL, MLB, USA Cycling, Congress, all the players\' unions, etc. - they have every right and ability and duty to fix this situation, but they haven\'t yet. Athletes who get busted are easy targets - and we fans are at least as much to blame for not demanding real testing, with concessions from both the leagues and the players unions. Next time an athlete gets busted, if you want to spill hate, look in the mirror before you get started.

    So, to me, whether Lance is or isn\'t taking is not all that important. I kinda hope it never comes out, just because he\'s doing heroic work for cancer survivors. It would be nice, though, if we could get to some resolution on drugs in sport - too many kids doing that stuff is a bit scary.

    I\'d be shocked if Lance ran as anything but a Republican.

    One thing I like about Lance is, as a hero-type figure, he has the ability to inspire and unite people like nobody else I can think of. Part of that is because he\'s stayed out of politics. And sometimes inspiring and uniting people actually makes a difference - e.g., the bicycle cause could benefit from a Lance governorship. Then again, Texas is the oil state.

    Lance is like Obama without the \'Dem\' label. It will kinda suck when Lance slaps that big \'R\' on his chest in a few years.

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  • Ryan September 9, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    \"It\'s Not About the Bike\" has a sequel: \"It\'s about me\".
    Maybe he just wants to be able to look chemo patients in the eye and them he is for real this time.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) September 9, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    thanks everyone for the input about my \"drug free hero\" line.

    I think that\'s how most America\'s see him and I was really trying to make a characterization... not so much a factual statement about a conclusion I had made after careful deliberation and research.

    i will re-read the story and perhaps make an edit.

    thanks.

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  • BikerinNE September 9, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Lance Armstrong, racing for cancer awareness? I support that, but i\'m not sure what else it does besides bring in more money to the sport, which is a good thing, I guess... I\'m about 50 - 50 on that. What happens when he leaves again? Will he do another Tour De France, Lance doesn\'t like to lose, and he very well could. But, as for American money in the vastly euro sport of cycling, when Lance goes it\'s going to be tough to get American sponsors like it\'s been... So, Lance back in the racing limelight, good or bad, either way, it just pushes the inevitable back, the sport needs to shine without him.

    I think Lance Armstrong\'s presence would be better put to use in the Utility Cycling world. Not just in Austin, but everywhere. Car Free America. Build up not out. Eat to Live, Live to Bike, Bike to Work.

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  • BURR September 9, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    America is full of hypocrisy

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  • Adam September 9, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    I hope Lance runs as a Democrat. If there is anyone who can unearth the skeletons in his closet, it\'s the professional dirt-diggers in the GOP.

    And not that anybody here mentioned it, but I wish there was a way to put to rest the commonly-held (by Americans, at least) opinion that Lance is the greatest cyclist of all time. Eddy Merckx is still the best, and anyone who disagrees with that is wrong.

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  • David September 9, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Next he\'ll be running for prez. Oh man. Never been a better time to be Canadian!

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  • wsbob September 9, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    I note some of the comments about Lance Armstrong with a lot of interest. There was a discussion in the forums some time back about the Tour, and subsequently, Lance. After that, I\'m kind of resigned to the idea that he has somehow enhanced his performance by substances that wouldn\'t be approved of they were known. Maybe not as flagrantly as others have, but has never the less.

    If it\'s true, that\'s too bad. My ethic on this issue is, \'better to lose, drug free, then win, amped up on crap\'. I\'d love to be following bike racing, knowing that a corp of athletes with the rocks to give it their all without the aid of illegal, dangerous, drugs is prepared to go up against pro bike racers, and possibly lose to the junkies in that competitive sport, as a result.

    I think we need drug free people to assume some leadership responsibilities in government. If Lance is one of those, great. If not, we surely don\'t need another person to set us up for a fall.

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  • ian September 9, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Jonathan,
    You need to do a little research before you take one writers statement and quote is a though it is fact.
    Lance is a registered Republican and always has been, also he gave 2k to GW in 2000 and 2004.
    If he really runs as a democrat, its because he is at least smart enough to distance himself from the GOP.
    I have talked with him three times. Could be the most pretentious, self centered jerk off I have ever met. He owned a chunk of a company I used to work for. Just because the guy rides a bike doesn\'t mean he is a good guy.

    Adam, I have this argument all the time, Lance is a super bowl quarterback. Try racing the Giro, Paris roubaix, flanders and all the other tours that every guy he is racing against has to do.

    Last thing, most drug testing is actually looking for masking agents. The tests are looking for drugs used 5 years ago to mask the real drugs. its a sham, and most \"americans\" dont think he is clean. Only the people who have never tried to be a Cat 1 think he is clean.

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  • ian September 9, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    I meant there are plenty of people who dont think that he is clean, AND anyone who has tried to make a life of bike racing knows that you can\'t get above a CAT 1 without taking performance enhancing products.

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  • K September 10, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Jake Gyllenhaal rides a bicycle regularly, is a celebrity, an advocate for cycling, and is frickin hot.

    Can we have him for Governor of somewhere. Soon. Pretty please?

    *swoon!*

    ;-)

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  • Pete September 10, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Lance as doping free: innocent until proven guilty.
    I know that is not how the doping agencies prosecute nor is it how the US\'s tabloid brainwashed court of public opinion works, bu it is the law of the land.

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  • Anonymous September 10, 2008 at 8:48 am

    This really great news!

    Go Lance Go.

    R.

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  • Kt September 10, 2008 at 8:49 am

    I saw the original velonews article, and the confirmation article on cyclingnews with Lance\'s video press release about it.

    All the articles said that he wasn\'t going to race for a salary or for bonuses... but for cancer awareness.

    I gotta give him props for that.

    I also have to say that I\'m glad he\'s going to un-retire and return to racing; I enjoyed the Lance years, I think he did a lot for American cycling as a brand and as a legitimate sport.

    All racers are pretentious jerks; half the battle of racing is believing that you are better than the other guys. It doesn\'t surprise me. And I don\'t care.

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  • Kt September 10, 2008 at 9:05 am

    A follow up:

    The VF article leads off with a picture that may not be suitable for some work sites... What is it with Annie Liebowitz and nudity??

    I\'m not saying it\'s a bad picture... it\'s very artistic... but...

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  • Fred September 10, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Lance has a lot of work to do before he is ready for the Tour. He rode that Leadville 100 MTB race and got beat by the local favorite, on the hills no less. Lance looked a bit over weight and soft.

    I just hope he doesn\'t fail miserably in the Tour. Come backs are tough in most cases, especially after a few years off.

    It’s interesting that he is not going to be part of Team Columbia. An American backed team that has proclaimed themselves to be drug free.

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  • bahueh September 10, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Newsflash: bored milloinaire wants to come out of retirement to satiate ego under the guise of cancer \"awareness\"...

    does anyone know cancer doesn\'t exist to the extent that it does and kills millions each year? seriously?

    LA is a tool...I know nurses who work/worked at OHSU Oncology when he visited for posttreatment checkups with Dr. Nichols....treated them like garbage.
    some cancer advocate....

    his own ego allows him to verbally state he\'s riding for Astana without the knowledge of Astana and the training plan they\'ve established for their already employed two tour contenders (Contador and Leipheimer)..
    for him to just try to bounce the spotlight off of those guys is selfish to say the least...

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  • potestio September 10, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Lance: drug free?
    How do you explain his testicular cancer? Is there any coincidence with the high occurrence of this cancer in steroid using athletes? My sources say he is anything but drug free, but better to see what those who know him best have to say. Frankie Andrieu for example.

    But that is not what insults me about his \"return\" to racing, or in reality, his return to The One Race ( as he does not participate in the season to the measure of his competition ). What insults me is that he is so selfish that he is willing to take back the opportunities opened up by his retirement. Let the next generation have the podium. Let the next heros rise up. Let someone who really is drug free have a shot a shot at the race. Let a more evenly competitive field battle to some exciting finishes. Let someone who races the whole season emerge to win the TDF.

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  • Zaphod September 10, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I\'m happy that Lance is coming back. I\'m aware of all the reasons why this is a good & bad idea and I\'m still cool with it.

    What I think would be the perfect play would be for Lance to focus on winning some select races and then run as SuperDomestique in the TdF. He\'d get all the glory he could ask for and an unbelievable amount of respect from his peers and fans.

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  • steve September 10, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I heartily agree with both Ian and bahueh.

    Ive met Lance several times and he is a total prick. And he is a registered Republican, so there is that.

    Remind me how a clean rider beats a field of doped up supermen again? Just sayin.

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  • poser September 10, 2008 at 10:56 am

    on the subject of whether LA is a doper: we\'ve had this conversation in the forums a while back. It\'s a fun conversation to follow, here\'s the link:

    http://bikeportland.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1799&highlight=tour

    ...and, as a 20+year fan of professional cycling, here\'s my response to everyone who thinks that a \"clean\" LA won 7 Tours vs. a group the most talented cyclists in the world, most of whom were doping at the time:

    (cut and pasted from the forums)

    ...For those of us that actually HAVE been students of the sport for decades and who have watched the progression of professional road cycling from the scrappy days of Lemond to the domination of Armstrong – the fact that there was doping in the peloton has never been a question, it’s been a given. Sure, none of us devotees to the sport have seen proof in a court of law that LA doped, but the evidence is there for anyone who’s interested enough pay attention.

    Aside from the obvious smoking gun: the unofficial POSITIVE EPO tests from the ’99 tour – we have simple math. EPO doesn’t improve an athlete’s ability a hair - it boosts it significantly. Look at this year’s Paris-Nice where the average wattage output was significantly lower than last year. This year happens to be the first year that the teams are forcing real doping control on their own riders, and guess what? Suddenly everyone in the peloton’s wattage output is in the double digit percentiles lower? Golly, what a coincidence. I hear the fact that LA never failed a drug test bandied around so much – I have to chuckle about that. Neither did Jan, neither did Bjarne Riis, and neither did so many other acknowledged dopers. For me, I just think of how for years I\'ve been watching the genetically-gifted super-stars (Ivan & Jan for example) regularly danced away from the rest of the peloton with seemingly little effort – only to be squashed like bugs by super-Lance. Since cancer, he has always been exponentially better than the entire peloton. So what you are expecting me to believe is that even without using EPO he could naturally push significantly more wattage than the most genetically gifted dopers in the peloton.

    Right.

    Before anyone accuses me of being an LA hater – I\'ll out myself as one of the biggest Lance fans here. Being a former top-amateur triathlete, originally from Texas – I guarantee that I had a picture of Lance up on my wall 5 years before anyone here ever heard of him. (The picture was clipped from triathlete magazine - LA after winning his first triathlon junior champs. For years I tapped it for luck before every work-out). During his reign at the tour, when people used to ask me if I’d still be a fan if I found out he was doping my answer was always the same, \"he IS doping, and so is everyone else. If none of them doped, he’d still be kicking all their asses all over France.\"

    I do believe LA was a doper. Feel free to disagree – most Americans do. But I\'ll defend him too - it’s a moot point. Because I also believe that, regardless, LA is hands-down the best cyclist of our generation.

    By the way – Barry Bonds never failed a drug test. How many life-long, die-hard, baseball fanatics think he’s clean?

    on Lance coming out of retirement

    This seems like a clever ploy to me. What better way to cement into history that you were a \"clean\" rider than to come out of retirement into the new and improved and clean pro-cycling peloton (that now has exponentially more strict doping controls), actually ride clean for a year, then retire at the end of the year after what I\'m sure would be a successful season; maybe not a TDF win, but he\'ll still win something against a clean peloton - he is, after all, the greatest cyclist of our generation. History will judge him based on the one year when there was visibility into his blood counts. Nice strategy.

    on Lance as Governor:

    It doesn\'t matter what party he runs with, Texans will love him. They vote for just about anyone who has the chops to get into Texas politics - and Texans love their celebrities. I\'ve heard him say pretty loudly that his politics and GW\'s are very different. I\'d be surprised if he ran as a Republican, no matter what he\'s registered as.

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  • Dave Evil September 10, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Just re-read Potestio\'s comment in spot #34.

    That\'s pretty much the real crux of the bisquit.

    The last thing pro cycling needs is the return of the biggest cheat and fraud of them all.

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  • Natty September 10, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Do you think he\'ll stay at the renewed career any longer then Cippo?

    While Lance won\'t be the only old man in the peloton - O\'Grady, Voigt, and McKewn are all about the same age .. and then there\'s Zabel ... the difference is those old men have been racing the past three years. He went out on-top (if your cycling world only includes Le Tour), but he more apt to have his ass handed to him then win an eighth maillot.

    That said, the presumption is that he will ride with Bruyneel ... if any team is strong enough to push Lance back onto the podium it\'s Astana ... wonder how Contador will feel being super domestique to the Texas ego than trying for his second jersey?

    If nothing else, Lance\'s attempt at an eighth Tour will bring the boring back to the event.

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  • 007 September 11, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Big deal if Lance used and lied about it. Get over it. Every single one of them that has been caught has lied about it. So, why shouldn\'t those who haven\'t been caught, lie?

    GOP = Gas-Oil-Petroleum

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  • Mmann September 11, 2008 at 10:45 am

    A couple things,

    Doper or not, Lance is a super elite athlete the level of which most mortals can\'t even dream of, including the posters on this site. Part of it\'s simple genetics, but part is a mental and emotional toughness that even in elite cycling makes Lance feared. Like Michael Jordan and Brett Favre, I imagine \"retirement\" just drives him crazy. He knows he\'s got more to give and he wants back in and I think it\'s that simple. Lance being back in isn\'t keeping anyone else from winning. You win the tour by being the best rider over the course. I\'m not saying I admire him as a human being, or will root for him to win, but I get it.
    Will it be good for cycling? I have no idea, but I think we\'ll see a reversal of the sponsorship dry-up we watched over the past couple years, especially in regard to U.S. sponsors. (kudos to Columbia for taking the risk when others wouldn\'t.)
    I know nothing about his politics, but I do know Texas has a long Democratic tradition and has plenty of Dems left. Anyone who knows anything about the Armstrong \"mafia\" knows he\'s got plenty of executive and leadership experience. Like California\'s \"gubernator.\" Lance is more than an athlete and celebrity; he\'s got business savy and has cultivated plenty of powerful connections.
    Which is not to say I\'d vote for him.

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  • wsbob September 11, 2008 at 11:07 am

    \"So, why shouldn\'t those who haven\'t been caught, lie?\" 007

    We rightfully honor people that are truthful. Lying is dishonorable. Yes, everybody does it from time to time, but this isn\'t something we should aspire to do unless civilization decides to fully embrace a notion that criminals are the true heroes of humanity.

    I really admire people that work as hard as they can with what they\'ve got, to maximize their potential and excel, especially when they turn that excellence into something great for people on a common level. That kind of effort has the potential for making everyone\'s life better. When a person masquerades as being something they\'re not, having claimed to have made an accomplishment by honorable means when it turns out they haven\'t, that undermines the significance of their accomplishment and the potential it might have had to achieve a loftier, worthy goal for everyone.

    What really bugs me about all this doping nonsense, is that if all this substance related performance enhancement is in play as alleged, as long as it is, we may never know just what level of excellence people could achieve without it.

    Here\'s to the true winners, that did it without dope!! All you doped up, so called winners can head for the showers.

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  • BURR September 12, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    just in case anyone missed it...

    [img]http://www.vanityfair.com/images/culture/2008/09/cuar01_armstrong0809.jpg[/img]

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  • Aka September 13, 2008 at 12:17 am

    IMO I don\'t really think Texas (at least most of them) would appreciate a guy wearing spandex as a living to run for their states.

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