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Today's NY Times: Lance interview(5 posts)

Today's NY Times: Lance interviewohmk1
Jun 9, 2003 6:36 AM


June 9, 2003

Armstrong Chasing Next Milestone

ILLARD-DE-LANS, France, June 8 - Lance Armstrong is upset about Funny Cide. He does not normally follow horse racing, but he became a big fan of Funny Cide's after spurious charges were raised against the jockey, Jose Santos, after the Kentucky Derby.

"I've been through some stuff like that myself," Armstrong said tonight, referring to the equally unfounded charges in France that he must have used drugs to win his first Tour de France after his desperate battle with cancer.

From afar, Armstrong bonded with Funny Cide, who finished third in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. Here, deep in the Alps, or anywhere on the cycling circuit, Armstrong is up to date. He keeps up.

Funny Cide did not win the Triple Crown of American horse racing. Now Armstrong is facing his own version of history. He will begin the Tour de France in less than four weeks, trying to win his fifth consecutive title, which only Miguel Indurain has done.

Armstrong is taking on 100 years of Tour history - it will be the centennial race - but he cannot begin the day by staring up at some vicious mountain and thinking of the four legendary cyclists who won the Tour five times each.

"The athlete focuses on the event itself," Armstrong insisted early today. "For me, it's the 2003 Tour de France." He was visiting this modest and beautiful resort town for the brief three-mile prologue of the Dauphiné Liberé, an eight-day race through the Alps that teams use to train for the main event.

Armstrong is just easing into his Tour schedule and he did not even think of doing well as he warmed up, but then his considerable life force kicked in and he finished a surprising third.

"A short effort like that isn't easy," Armstrong said in an interview after a late dinner, sitting at a charming little hotel facing the craggy mountains.

He said he was tired, but he chatted easily. He has put on a lot of miles, not even counting the cancer and the chemotherapy and the rebuilding of his ravaged body. He is 31 years old.

"I definitely feel it," he said, "starting with my feet hitting the ground in the morning. I don't get to the coffee pot quite as fast as I used to. I feel it in the lower back when my kids jump on me."

His training machines indicate that he still pedals with the same fury he had 5 or 10 years ago, but he may depend more on wisdom now.

"There may come a day when I run into a young guy with acceleration and strength, and he's probably going to take it," Armstrong said.

Armstrong is going through the same process that superstars like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Martina Navratilova and now Roger Clemens have as they chased the next milestone. Cycling seems even more excruciatingly personal than all the other sports, what with people standing inches away and witnessing a man gritting his way up the mountain.

He is chasing Indurain of Spain, Eddy Merckx of Belgium and two Frenchmen, Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, all five-time winners. Somewhat unbelievably, no Frenchman has won the Tour since Hinault in 1985.

In this year of years, Armstrong rides for a team sponsored by the United States Postal Service, which deploys two red-white-and-blue support vans all over France, the profound heart of cycling. Only a few months ago, these two nations begged to differ about the conflict in Iraq.

Today at a morning news conference, a journalist asked Armstrong if he was afraid of riding around France, given the political climate.

"This was much more of a concern six or eight weeks ago, before and during the conflict," Armstrong said with an expressive smile and a shrug. "I haven't thought that much about it since, and I haven't heard much about Bush or the war or
It must make the organizers of theDwayne Barry
Jun 9, 2003 6:50 AM
Dauphine feel good that their quite prestigious event is really just a training race for the Tour. More fuel to fire the view that most non-cyclists, and far too many cyclists have that the TdF is the only race that matters.
It's the only one that matters to LA. (nm)53T
Jun 9, 2003 7:24 AM
Yeah,Dwayne Barry
Jun 9, 2003 7:45 AM
the article doesn't say that's why the Dauphine is just a training race for him, it says teams use the Dauphine as a training race for the Tour. I'm sure if you asked the DS's of the teams you'd find this to not be true for the vast majority of them.
he's baiting the competition, as usual (nm)JS Haiku Shop
Jun 9, 2003 7:30 AM