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Merckx on Armstrong (from Velonews) (spoiler)(50 posts)

Merckx on Armstrong (from Velonews) (spoiler)JS Haiku Shop
Apr 29, 2003 9:17 AM
i'm sticking to my conspiracy theorism, so of course i think this is another spin fabricated to throw TdF competition off the scent...meaning Eduardo and Lance are in cahoots. but is my thinking really all that eccentric?


Tuesday's Euro-File: Merckx critical of Armstrong after Liège

By Andrew Hood
VeloNews European correspondent

This report filed April 29, 2003

Click image to enlarge
Photo By AFP (file photo)

Eddy Merckx

The warm ties between Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx and Lance Armstrong appear to have hit a rough stretch following Sunday's Liège-Bastogne-Liège World Cup race.

Merckx, who won the Tour de France five times over a career that included three world titles, seven victories at Milan-San Remo and five wins at La Doyenne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, said that Armstrong may have "overestimated" his abilities.

"He was supposed to sail to victory. To have listened to him, it was a formality and his rivals never even had a look in," said Merckx, in a story published in Tuesday's edition of L'Equipe.

"The fact is, he failed," Merckx said. "I think he overestimated himself. Armstrong was not as strong as he thought. In any case, he didn't impress me."

The strong words are something of a surprise from a man who is normally considered to be a close confidante of Armstrong's. Indeed, Merckx's comments may well have stemmed from Armstrong's actions as he caught Merckx's son Axel on the Tilff, one of the final climbs of the one-day classic.

The younger Merckx had made a futile breakaway attempt, and Armstrong's apparent acceleration as he rode past the 30-year-old rider was seen as a sign of disrespect.

For Merckx, who was watching as a television consultant, the gesture - similar to the one Armstrong dealt out to rival Jan Ullrich during the climb to Alpe d'Huez in the 2001 Tour - was enough to alter his opinion on the man to whom he has been a close friend since the American contracted cancer in 1996.

"Armstrong did the same thing to Axel during the Sydney Olympic Games," Merckx said. "He came up behind him with 200 meters to go to finally finish fourth.

"I can't understand his logic. By leaving Axel in his trail on Sunday, he effectively ended his own hopes of winning. Armstrong rode badly."

Armstrong, having twice finished runner-up, looked en route to winning his first Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the oldest of the one-day classics, after successfully chasing down Axel Merckx in the final 20 kilometers.

However, the 31-year-old American was then caught by a strong chase group driven in large part by the CSC team of former teammate Tyler Hamilton, who became the first American to win the classic.

Despite Merckx's opinion that Armstrong has lost some of his humility, the 57-year-old Belgian added that the American's bid to equal Miguel Indurain's record streak of five Tour wins in a row in July has not been compromised.

"I think he (Armstrong) is surrounded by people who are always telling him how great he is that he believes he can say and do everything," Merckx said. "And, while he's American and it's in his mentality to believe all that, that's more dangerous than he thinks.

"As for the Tour, that's something else. But his team might cause him a few problems. (Viatcheslav) Ekimov (37 years old) is not getting any younger and (George) Hincapie is having trouble getting back from his injuries.

"That said, Armstrong is still Armstrong," Merckx added, "and when it comes to the Tour, he's got the advantage."
(Copyright AFP2003)
re: Merckx on Armstrong (from Velonews)The Human G-Nome
Apr 29, 2003 9:24 AM
that's sour grapes. if it wasn't his son being passed he would never have made that comment. further, that jibe against americans is typical of the rampant anti-americanism that currently sweeps the globe. euros watch an episode of bay watch and figure they have 250 million americans pegged. we're all the same right? no matter that we're the most diverse country in the world able to offer up the most varied ideologies and viewpoints on any subject. american = bad. the stereotyping is just out of control.
Rampant Anti-AmericanismGalibier
Apr 29, 2003 9:57 AM
Gee . . . I wonder why so many people are down on America. Could it be because our leadership accuses those who disagree with it of being irrelevant traitors, cowards, and fools?
People were down on America WAY before Bush.......nmTower
Apr 29, 2003 10:02 AM
nope, wrong.dotkaye
Apr 29, 2003 10:09 AM
no administration in history has treated the rest of the world with such contempt as the Bush administration. Actions have consequences.
Apr 29, 2003 10:13 AM
please limit incessant political "discussion" to the non-cycling forum, thank you.
agree - moderator nmDougSloan
Apr 29, 2003 10:15 AM
nope, wrong.The Human G-Nome
Apr 29, 2003 12:51 PM
no administration in history has treated the rest of the world with such contempt as the Bush administration. Actions have consequences.>>>

ya, exactly. no matter that i voted for Gore, i deserve to be discriminated against based on my nationality. nice reasoning.
trailer park mentalitycyclopathic
Apr 30, 2003 4:31 AM
when you see daily examples of BTTPA Big Texan Trailer Park Attitude in either political or cycling arena /which btw LA demonstrated in LBL so bluntly and Eddy objected to/, it isn't hard make that assumption. And yes it is your fault, stand up
trailer park mentalityThe Human G-Nome
Apr 30, 2003 7:25 AM
yes, because LA passed Axel and didn't try to join him in what wouldn't have been a winning move anyway, that means he displayed a "trailer park mentality". brilliant observation cyclo. if Eddy says it, it must be true. sheep.
Apr 29, 2003 5:33 PM
I was stationed in England in the early 1960's, and the sentiment about Americans was:
a) Over fed.
b) Over paid.
c) Over sexed.
d) Over here.

Sorry about the non-cycle comment...but just wanted you young folks to know that the American attitude of "better than you" has been around for a long time and has been resented by the rest of the world. I promise no more n-c comments.
Apr 29, 2003 10:21 AM

That is absolutely the way we feel ... !
And by the way there is no Anti-Americanism here - it is just Anti-Bushism!
Even linking that comment about Armstrong to Anti-Americanism is pretty much the stupidest thing I have ever heard! I repeat myself now: European cycling fans don't respect Lance because he never seems to "want to die for victory" ... that is all! We couldn't care less where he comes from - hell if he would be a freaking Eskimo he would still get crap from some ... ! Lance is a great cyclist first and then he is an american! The only problem is that he is way too boring ... !

So you admit itpurplepaul
Apr 29, 2003 10:33 AM
"That is absolutely the way we feel"

Sour grapes. I highly doubt if Armstrong were from your country that you would be accusing him of being "too boring" as he won Tour after Tour.
still boring?wilki5
Apr 29, 2003 11:32 AM
While it is amazing what Lance has done in the Tour and not to take away from his abilities and accomplishments. He does not carry that dominance into other events. The world of cycling is not only the TdF. It would be nice to see Lance really go after some of the other classic races. When you look at Merckx accomplishments they are punctuated with multiple wins in a variety of races. Granted the country of origin comment is probably true.
still boring?purplepaul
Apr 29, 2003 11:45 AM
I guess it just makes sense to me that he would concentrate on a race that ends up bringing him over $20 million every year. Nevertheless, does that mean that when he does race in the Tour, he's boring? I don't see it.
still boring?wilki5
Apr 29, 2003 12:29 PM
It makes $20 mil worth of sense for him and he will still build a name as one of the great riders. But it will do so more as a great Tour rider and not as much so as an all around great. It doesn't mean he's boring in the Tour, he's quite exciting but it does lend support to the idea of him being boring during the rest of the (non-Tour) season.
still boring?The Human G-Nome
Apr 29, 2003 12:35 PM
When you look at Merckx accomplishments they are punctuated with multiple wins in a variety of races. >>>

Armstrong has never compared hiself to Merckx, nor any other legend of cycling. it is the media, and more poignantly, the euro media which needs to find reason to fault Lance. and yes, that is sour grapes.
the greats!wilki5
Apr 29, 2003 12:49 PM
Ultimately it is the fans who make the decision. Someone who can win the Tour 4 times in a row is a gerat rider. However an even better and truly dominant rider is one who has the all around ability to win a variety of events. If bike racing was only about the Tour then there would be no other races.
Excellent!The Human G-Nome
Apr 29, 2003 12:34 PM
Even linking that comment about Armstrong to Anti-Americanism is pretty much the stupidest thing I have ever heard! >>>>

EARTH TO YOU. i didn't link this to americanism. Merckx did you freak. buy yourself a clue. he said he was surprised Armstrong acted so poorly because he's an american. as if being "american" means you act a certain way. EARTH TO YOU X2. what does the way lance races have ANYTHING TO DO with George Bush or american foreign policy?
I think thats exactly whybyker
Apr 29, 2003 11:19 AM
I don't think so...filtersweep
Apr 29, 2003 11:14 AM
...maybe I'm warped since all my in-laws live in Europe, but the level of what you describe as "anti-americanism" has been in place in Europe forever. It is the type of stereotype that exists for a reason: it is largely true.

Frankly, the comments were less perjorative and more descriptive than you make out. Cycling is largely a european sport- and certainly it has a much thicker history in europe than in the US....

Stereotypes? This gets a bit off topic- but why is it that a generation of american youth have been playing soccer, yet the US is wholey underwhelming as a contender in any men's "football" competition? Many europeans feel it is because of the US' model for commercial TV (unlike europe)- that we cannot interrupt the game to show commercials like we can with other sports. Hence there is no big money, no legitimate pro teams (apologies to MLS) and on and on... but overall, there is no history, and the sport is not embedded in our value system.

Merckx didn't say anything that appears too out of line- if you believe the line that LA's own conceit cost him the race... it happens all the time. Armstrong isn't sacred, you know?

Stereotypes? Saying something mildly "negative" about LA isn't saying something negative about the US as a whole.
I don't think so...The Human G-Nome
Apr 29, 2003 12:38 PM
Stereotypes? Saying something mildly "negative" about LA isn't saying something negative about the US as a whole.>>>

again, re-read the quote and then tell me he didn't say that he wasn't surprised by the poor tactic specifically because Lance is an american. why not say, "i'm not surprised he smelled, afterall he's french." it's the same thing.
If he rode badly, then he rode badly...Matno
Apr 29, 2003 11:34 AM
Nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade. Of course, what qualifies as "badly" for Lance is probably very different than it is for other riders. I hope he doesn't get over confident for the tour too, but as an American, I'll be pulling for him.

As for Baywatch and Euros, have you seen how popular that show is over there? I think they actually don't like us because we're NOT like Baywatch. David Hasselhoff is a huge hit as a SINGER in Europe, for crying out loud! (And if you've ever seen him live, you would know that he would NEVER be a hit here... Don't ask me how I know).
re: Merckx on Armstrong (from Velonews)weiwentg
Apr 29, 2003 5:30 PM
>american = bad.

how does that have anything to do with what Merckx said? sorry, but that seems way off base to me. I don't agree with what Merckx said, but as far as I can tell it didn't have anything to do with the fact that Armstrong is American; remember, he and Lance were (are still, hopefully) good friends.

> no matter that we're the most diverse country in the world able to offer up the most varied ideologies and viewpoints on any subject.

I'd hate to get political here. this statement is, actually, very true!! unfortunately, the statements the rest of the world is shown by the media are generally made by rich, White males. the media is only as liberal as the conservative corporations that own it. I think there was a bumper sticker to that effect.
re: Merckx on Armstrong (from Velonews)weiwentg
Apr 29, 2003 5:47 PM
ok, I just read through what Merckx said. my bad. still, I do think a lot of people - most Europeans, I'm sure - distinguish between Americans who aren't arrogant and Americans that are. some think this is "anti-Americanism", but it is not. I think, personally, that Merckx wrongly perceived Armstrong as being arrogant.
bet LeMond is cheering (nm)synapselapse
Apr 29, 2003 9:31 AM
Just curious...... Is Le Equipe an accurate Sorce for info? "nm"CARBON110
Apr 29, 2003 9:43 AM
Armstrong thrives on this stuffDougSloan
Apr 29, 2003 9:49 AM
My take on Armstrong is that any comments like these, assuming he cares at all, only serve to further motivate him. Tell him he can't and he certainly will.

Plus, the whole planet knows that he plans everything around the Tour, and peaks accordingly. These are nothing but training rides for him now.

Lance on L-B-L (& Shimano 10-speed)velocity
Apr 29, 2003 10:38 AM
I've yet to see the race but a little shocked at Eddy's comments. A broken seatpost was a factor for Lance. And even though I think he would have loved a win at L-B-L, Lance's main objective, of course, is to peak for and WIN the TdF.

Q&A from Lance's website.
A few questions for LA after Liege...

Q. You've done L-B-L a few times now - what are your immediate impressions of this event?
A. Well, first of all, it's a great race. a true classic. It's tough, long, and there are a ton of spectators along the route. I really like it and would like to win it some day.

Q. On Sunday you'd ridden 250 km - 16 kms left to the line, Axel (Merckx) is away on the Côte du Sart-Tilman, and you hit the gas. Was this your preferred time to attack, or did the situation just warrant action?
A. It just felt like the time to me. Things were not looking to be that organized in the back and I was fed up with the lack of aggressive racing that we've seen the past 2 weeks.

Q. When Shefer and Sanchez went with you on the attack, that was all about they did. As the break came back, you hit it again with 8 kms left - did you feel this was this your last chance to break things up? Johan said you were have probs with your saddle and that you felt a loss of energy after 250 kms...
A. I hate to say it but they were really useless... there are not many times you get to ride to win a race like L-B-L and they chose not to take it. They will probably never get that chance again... Oh well, that's bike racing and they were trying to ride a team race. I went one last time on St. Nicholas to see if we could make it, but we were caught. Not that I want in any way to make excuses but the seat post did break and was swimming side-to-side pretty bad. C'est la vie..

Q. L-B-L had plenty of high drama, highlighted I think of course by Tyler's victory and what seems to be a very capable Jan Ullrich - your thoughts on these 2 riders?
A. They're both threats and ones that we look to as favorites for the Tour. Both can climb AND both can time trial. But it's good - the Tour needs more favorites and more drama...

Q. You debuted your new Trek ride and this was the second race with the Shimano 10 Speed Dura Ace components. How'd things go with the new gear?
A. The stuff is good, real good. It's light, stiff, and functions very well. They have made a big step again...
good info, thanks. nmJS Haiku Shop
Apr 29, 2003 11:15 AM
Eddy is just ticked off that Armstrong busted his kid's chance.MR_GRUMPY
Apr 29, 2003 10:50 AM
Eddy forgets that the classics are just part of Armstrong's training for the tour, and I think that, deep down, Eddy thinks that Armstrong is lazy, and that he should be able to win classics AND the Tour.
i dont know muuch about this but..Gall
Apr 29, 2003 10:57 AM
Do you think Armstrong was helping out someone else on a different team. Scratch my back now and maybe i ll scratch yours in July ??????

just a THOUGHT...
I had the same thought.purplepaul
Apr 29, 2003 11:01 AM
Can you say... mafia.
i dont know muuch about this but..Rich_Racer
Apr 29, 2003 11:03 AM
Well I'm not sure it was that complicated - I do somehow feel that he decided not to win rather than couldn't. He doesn't care about any other race than the TDF and he's not prepared to show people what shape he's in. You could even read Merkx comments as a smokescreen to support that plan. That maybe even more 'conspiracy theory'-esque' though!
this is exactly what i meant. thanks. nmJS Haiku Shop
Apr 29, 2003 11:16 AM
Can someone explain to me....Mazinger
Apr 29, 2003 11:20 AM
I don't know too much in regards to pro cycling.

So is Eddy pissed because Lance passed Axel when he didn't need to? Is this about gaining points in races?
Apr 29, 2003 11:52 AM
Eddy is pissed because Eddy didn't win the race, because Eddy is too old and fat to win anymore. Everything else is secondary.
I love intellectuals!CARBON110
Apr 29, 2003 12:58 PM
Good stuff chaps....keep the ball rolling eh!

The bst yet is the above....can't believe Eddy lovers have not retorted yet nor Republicans.....perhaps that's due to being to preoccupied defending Bush on the NON-cycling board. Hey TJ was it ""political genius"" for Lance to help Tyler/CSC out for a win. it's not unhead of for teams to help eachother out in Europe and in the USA as we all know. Sounds like an ol'school move to me as Lance quietly left the media for Tyler...I can see Bjarne Riis now calling Johan on the telly.... Johan Ol boy.....lets talk about July

more Drival for ya LoL :P
The definition of Political Genius for Some is any act that gives a projected meaning in return for a preconceived personal advantage to/in the public view at the expense of ethics. Hard to rocognize one must read between the lines to find it. By the way TJ hope ya caught 60 minutes Sunday my man..........
I feel Merckx's words are valid.sacheson
Apr 29, 2003 2:29 PM
Lance raced like crap. He used his team too early, attacked at the wrong points, went with the wrong people, and let the wrong group bridge up to him ... but you know what? That's bike racing. It could have just as easily worked - but this time it didn't. Not everything goes as planned every time, not even for Lance. I don't hold it against him for pulling the wrong move at the wrong time, but Eddy shouldn't be bashed for pointing out his flaws.

I think Lance's "dissing" of Axel hurt Eddy and I think Eddy should have taken it as a compliment - athletes will always shake those who threaten them. Also remember, Axel was hunting down the Posties during his time of uncertainty in the Lotto/Domo/Quickstep stuff. They didn't want to have anything to do with him and that might have hurt daddy's feelings as well.

Personally, I think it's above any Anti-US sentiment and I think individuals that want to make an issue out of someone not talking in pure praise of Lance should crawl back under their rock.
I feel Merckx's words are valid.The Human G-Nome
Apr 29, 2003 2:50 PM
geessshhhh. since i'm the one he started all of this, i'm sure i'm the one you wish would go "crawl back under my rock."

THIS is the quote in question: "I think he (Armstrong) is surrounded by people who are always telling him how great he is that he believes he can say and do everything," Merckx said. "And, while he's American and it's in his mentality to believe all that, that's more dangerous than he thinks."

get it? simply because he's American, it's in his nature to be arrogant, disrespectful and lacking in class. this is the ONLY part of the article of which i took exception. like you, i think much of what Merckx said is justified. still Merckx can only speculate what Armstrong's motives were in relation to his race tactics. and that being considered, his comments were over the top IMO as he let his emotions get the best of him because his son was the one he was defending. i'm not speculating that he judged Armstrong simply because he's an american. it's HIS quote. not mine. how does anybody not understand that? the ironic part is that the same quote could have been used to describe Merckx in his heyday. he believed he could say and do just about anything (and he almost did!).

further, please research my posts from the past 2 years and find me just one, single post where i praise Lance Armstrong.
Whoa, Trigger ...sacheson
Apr 29, 2003 3:40 PM
... I wasn't referring to you at all. I was more referring to the person who just got into cycling because they thought Lance Armstrong is cool, defends Lance to the hilt on this site, and sees nothing more out of the road calendar than 3 weeks in July. The person who has the "if you disagree with Lance, then you disagree with the US" attitude. I thank you for trying to direct my argument to you personally, but that's not where I was going. Sorry.

And for what it's worth, if I'd responded to you I'd point out Eddy has mentored Lance Armstrong since his professional career started, was with him at times during his cancer bout, and advised him on his return to cycling. He's hardly someone who would make a generalistic "I hate Americans" comment to, or about, Lance.
Whoa, Trigger ...The Human G-Nome
Apr 29, 2003 6:15 PM
Personally, I think it's above any Anti-US sentiment and I think individuals that want to make an issue >>>

i was the one who originally made it an issue on this thread so it should be easy for you to see why i thought your comment was directed at me. as far as "the person who just got into cycling because they thought Lance Armstrong is cool" - well i think you'd agree that anything and everything that gets people into cycling is a positive no matter the motivation. the fact that the American media only ever focuses on the TDF is unfortunate, sure, but no more unfortunate than other countries who might only focus on the Superbowl, for example. cycling isn't our national pastime (although i wish it were). also, you don't have to point out Eddy's relationship with Lance. it is public knowledge and very well documented. that was half my point of in the original statement... the two have been close for a long time and Eddy let his emotions get the best of him on this one. if you re-read the exerpts, it was much less a criticism of racing tactics and much more a personal attic motivated by someone who just got their feelings hurt. he's already vowed that Axel would take "revenge". Axel on the other hand had the cooler head and agreed that "there is no friendship while racing". the kid has a good perspective. if he doesn't feel snubbed by Lance, why should Daddy?
Since you started it.....cyclequip
Apr 30, 2003 1:28 AM
EM was far from emotional. He was being EM. That stands for something. It means he was able to comment because he'd been in that same situation countless times before, and won!!! Not all the time, but a lot more than most. As a whole, and read in the original language, what comes across is more his comments on an 'American' style of racing. In European pro ranks, steeped in cycling tradition, respect is a discipline, consent is an art form. Fact is, Lance boobed and TH won! EM simply alluded to the fact that he would've regrouped, gathered up another strong rider and worked on consolidating the break. Then trusted his own legs for the win. If LA lacks that acumen, or those legs, EM sure as hell can point it out. He is one of the few who has earned that right.
Since you started it.....The Human G-Nome
Apr 30, 2003 7:28 AM
EM sure as hell can point it out. He is one of the few who has earned that right.

yes, he has the right to "point it out" as does anyone else minus his legend. and he also has the right to turn a critique into a personal attack which is what he did on this occasion. and that means anyone else has the right to say he was out of line. it's funny that his son Axel who is the only person who really matters in this situation doesn't even agree with his father's summation.
there's probably more there than any of us will know ...sacheson
Apr 30, 2003 8:43 AM
... I just disagree that it was bashing towards Americans due to the current state of international affairs.

We should also take into account what we heard was not first hand, or even second hand - he spoke to a reporter, the reporter submitted his story to an editor, and that got published and distributed. It *might* have lost a little of its relevance in the process.

And you make a good point - it is fair to feel he was out of line.
there's probably more there than any of us will know ...The Human G-Nome
Apr 30, 2003 9:27 AM
and you make an even better point. the media has a habit of taking anything and everything out of context. i have no reason to think Eddy was basing his statement on anything related to current affairs.
second it: Merckx's words are valid.cyclopathic
Apr 30, 2003 4:58 AM
LA did race like crap and he does show more of his "holier then thou" pre-cancer attitude.


PS and don't you get tired of that constructive criticism approach: "you criticize me because I am white/black/green/american?" no you're criticized b/c you're A-hole wake up.
second it: Merckx's words are valid.The Human G-Nome
Apr 30, 2003 7:33 AM
PS and don't you get tired of that constructive criticism approach: "you criticize me because I am white/black/green/american?" no you're criticized b/c you're A-hole wake up.

uh, ya. i agree with your statement whole heartedly. the problem is, Eddy in the one who mentioned he "wasn't surprised" because he was an american displaying a typical american attitude. he's the one who turned it into the argument of which you so despise. not the other way around. LA didn't say a word about the situation. if this is any other rider besides LA passing any other rider besides Axel it gets ZERO press coverage.
The only problem with your criticism ispurplepaul
Apr 30, 2003 9:33 AM
sometimes we are criticized just because we are Americans. Perhaps LA was out of line. Fine. Don't you think it's even a little possible that EM was angry because the dropped rider was his son? And that if it were anyone else, EM might have had different words or none at all for Armstrong?

No other rider seems to suffer from as much criticism as Armstrong. Some of that no doubt is due to his being the dominant rider in the most prestigous bike race. But perhaps some of it is due to his being a strong American in a European sport. After all, we Americans don't take too kindly to Japanese players coming over here and beating us at baseball.
whoops! never realized this was a spoiler! d'oh! nmJS Haiku Shop
Apr 30, 2003 5:18 AM