An American made me love the Tour

Read these, they’re much of the reason I’m a cycling fan.

Eight Seconds. 1989. I was 17 and I thought Greg LeMond was cool as fuck.

I watch cycling through Indrurain and into Armstrong’s era of dominance. I’ve was up Alp D’Huez the day Pantani won there. I enjoyed the era of Zulle, Ullrich, Rijs, Virenque and Armstrong.

The ’98 tour and the Festina Doping Scandal shook me, I think I believed before it happened that the cycling authorities had a handle on it and doping/epo was the odd rider. I thought teams were straight.

The Festina affair made my interest in cycling die off. I watched the odd stage of subsequent tours and Armstrong winning his back to back tours didn’t boost my interest.

Older and wiser, I’ve got back into watching cycling but I’m more cynical over it.

Armstrong, I remember him emerging as a new rider, the cancer, the comeback where he was better and stronger, more of a contender in the GC.

I never thought him a doper at that time, I never saw the link back then, my interest cooled after the Festina affair and at the end of Armstrong’s back to back tours, I percieved a slightly different character to the emerging cyclist, by that time he was a ‘patron’ especially in the tour, he controlled the race. I thought he interviewed differently, his French was flawless, he controlled the media too, through his performances where he rarely put a foot wrong, he timed the shows of strength against the clock and in the mountains perfectly. He let go the ‘no threat’ specialist sprinters or climbers on their days, much like Indurain had before him.

Tonight, Oprah has that interview, it’s on Discovery (funnily enough) in the UK and I’ll record and digest tomorrow.

There’s been no leaks, but we know, just know that he’ll confess to Oprah.

But what?

“Oprah, I doped.” “But I doped in an era of doping, I did what the rest did.”

If he goes down that line, then we can’t argue, his career certainly spanned the lowest era of doping/epo in cycling, cause and effect, maybe those bad cynical Europeans ground down our Texan hero.

It’s gives him an out, he maybe follows with a line or two about how he tried not to or how he was pressured by fame and sponsorship and leading an American Cycling Team.

We’ll see how that interview goes, I’ve read some wonderful pieces in the Wall Street Journal covering Armstrong and that’ll be my first stop on Friday Morning.

I think he’ll get popular support in America after a limited confession, he’ll get the “redemption” that he’s after.

” oh it was so long ago”
” he’s our boy”
“They’re after him”

All that sort of thing, I don’t think we’ll get to the team, the peloton, the so called omertà and allegations of bullying and his pull with the UCI.

If Oprah really pulls it off, maybe we will.

Maybe she might get Armstrong to apologise to my hero and the only American winner of the Tour de France, Greg LeMond.

This covers it and more..



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