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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Lance says it's so

Lance's Comeback to Cycling in 2009 -- powered by http://www.livestrong.com

Lance Armstrong is back, as you can see from the video from LiveStrong.com.

Based upon sources, VeloNews first reported Armstrong would try for an eighth Tour de France title last year, and other media outlets picked up on the story.

In a story posted today at Vanity Fair, Armstrong confided to writer Douglas Brinkley -- a neighbor of his in Austin, Texas -- that he will race. Here's an excerpt:
As we sat in our terrace chairs overlooking the manicured vista, Armstrong nervously fingered the yellow band on his wrist. He insisted he had something on his mind. “Something huge,” as he put it. I braced for the worst.

Then, in almost robotic fashion, he said, “I’m going back to professional cycling. I’m going to try and win an eighth Tour de France.”

For a moment I gaped at him. Was I being punked? (Armstrong would later tell Doug Ulman, the president and C.E.O. of L.A.F., that my eyes bulged into saucers, like some boinged-out character in a Ralph Steadman illustration.) As the news sank in, though, I realized he was deadly serious. I knew from Armstrong’s memoir, "It’s Not About the Bike," that his VO2 max (the gauge by which the human body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen is measured) is superhuman, his ship-sail lungs uncommonly efficient.

But at age 37? A 2,000-mile, 23-day race, much of it uphill? By next July? I asked him, rather ungraciously, if he wasn’t too old to get back into shape that quickly.

He laughed. And he was off and running. “Look at the Olympics. You have a swimmer like Dara Torres. Even in the 50-meter event [freestyle], the 41-year-old mother proved you can do it. The woman who won the marathon [Constantina Tomescu-Dita, of Romania] was 38. Older athletes are performing very well. Ask serious sports physiologists and they’ll tell you age is a wives’ tale. Athletes at 30, 35 mentally get tired. They’ve done their sport for 20, 25 years and they’re like, I’ve had enough. But there’s no evidence to support that when you’re 38 you’re any slower than when you were 32.

“Ultimately, I’m the guy that gets up. I mean, I get up out of bed a little slow. I mean, I’m not going to lie. I mean, my back gets tired quicker than it used to and I get out of bed a little slower than I used to. But when I’m going, when I’m on the bike—I feel just as good as I did before.”
Armstrong said he is "100 percent" committed to competing next year.

Armstrong doesn't have a team, yet, and his camp acknowledges there's still a lot of work to do. But given Armstrong drive, I have no doubt he will find a way to be in France.

The Vanity Fair article covers a wide range of topics, including speculation he will run for governor of Texas and his ongoing work with cancer research. It's a rather length story and spends a lot of time setting the scene, but the article is worth the effort.

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