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Cycling: Lance all but wins the tour

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posted on Jul, 24 2004 @ 12:23 PM
Lance Armstrong capped his most dominant Tour de France with another impressive win in the final time trial Saturday, guaranteeing that he will ride into history as the first six-time champion in the race's 101-year history.

Pedaling furiously toward a stage victory that he didn't even need, Armstrong overpowered his rivals yet again, quickly building a gaping lead that he carried past cheering crowds to the finish line of the individual race against the clock.

Riding a high-tech aerodynamic bike and wearing the bright yellow leader's jersey, the Texan finished 61 seconds faster than Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour champion and a five-time overall runner-up.

The stage win was Armstrong's fifth of this Tour, his most since the 1999 race, when he won cycling's most prestigious event for the first time.

Only a crippling crash or other catastrophe will prevent Sunday's closing ride into Paris from being a lap of honor for Armstrong.

"I'm always careful to say that we have another day to go, and if you crash on the Champs Elysee and don't finish tomorrow, then you don't win. So I have to be careful and hope it works out," Armstrong said.

"What does it mean to me [to]win six Tours? It's very difficult to say. You'll have to ask me in a couple weeks, I think. When I won the first one, I thought I could die and go away a happy man. To win six is very hard to put into words.

Andreas Kloden, Ullrich's teammate, was third Saturday and rode so fast that he surpassed Ivan Basso for second in the overall standings.

Basso is third, with Ullrich a career-worst fourth.

Basso, the only rider other than Armstrong to win a stage in the Pyrenees this year, is 6:59 behind. Ullrich is 9:09 back.

Armstrong's overall lead of 6:38 over Kloden is one of his biggest. Last year, he beat Ullrich by just 61 seconds and swore that he would improve on that in 2004.

"I'm happy, because it's finished," he said. "I'm tired mentally, have tired legs."

He has proved insatiable. His latest Tour title will cap six years in which Armstrong helped transform the event, bringing American brashness, determination and know-how to a race that is almost as much a part of French lore as wine, the baguette and the Eiffel Tower

Saturday's 34.1-mile time trial route carved an elongated loop south of Besancon, the birthplace of "Les Miserables" author Victor Hugo, through villages, up and down hills and on roads lined with crowds.

The top 20 riders started three minutes apart, starting in the inverse order of their place in the overall standings. That meant Armstrong set out last -- a big advantage because it allowed him to know how rivals were faring up ahead.

He started the day with a lead of 4:09 over Basso and didn't need to go flat-out. But he couldn't resist the chance for another win. Armstrong said his crown was not just a solo effort, thanking the team that was the muscle behind his campaign.

"It's a group effort," he said. "It's not just me."

But even with six crowns, the debate will continue as to whether Armstrong is a cut above the four five-time champions he will eclipse Sunday.

Eddy Merckx of Belgium, for example, holds the record of 34 Tour stage wins, 13 more than Armstrong.

And Merckx, nicknamed "The Cannibal" because of how he devoured rivals on the road, and five-time champion Bernard Hinault of France both collected more yellow jerseys that are awarded each day to the race's overall leader.

Armstrong will earn his 66th yellow jersey on Sunday and, on this Tour, overtook five-time champion Miguel Indurain of Spain, who won 60, for third place in the standings. Merckx won 96, Hinault 78.

Armstrong's single-minded focus on the Tour, his attention to detail, his use of new technologies to save seconds and his ability to recruit, keep and motivate teammates have raised the bar for how to win the three-week cycling marathon.

"It's an improvement in the method of approaching the Tour de France -- more professional, more rigorous, more methodical," race director Jean-Marie Leblanc said. "In a word, more American."

posted on Jul, 24 2004 @ 08:49 PM
Lance is in a league of his own.

posted on Jul, 24 2004 @ 10:28 PM
I heard that Lance won't be entering the tour next year. Whats up with that?

posted on Jul, 24 2004 @ 11:58 PM
Likely 6-time winner wants to focus on other cycling events

Originally posted by sniper474
I heard that Lance won't be entering the tour next year. Whats up with that?

Lance Armstrong will race again in the Tour de France, although maybe not next year.

The Texan is on the verge of becoming the only rider to win the showcase event six straight times. He would like to focus on other races but is not prepared to turn his back on the 101-year-old Tour for good.

"I would do it. I'm not saying I'd never do it again," he said after Friday's 18th stage. "I'll do it again before I stop. It's a special race. It's everything. You can't have this intensity in any other event."

Asked if he would skip next year's Tour to focus on other events, Armstrong said: "It's too hard to say."

The key factor would appear to hinge on sponsor demands. Before the Tour, his team signed a three-year, multimillion-dollar sponsorship deal with the Discovery Channel, which will replace U.S. Postal Service.

"He is doubtless the greatest rider ever in the Tour de France. He is proving that," said Patrice Clerc, president of the Tour. "Now does he want a seventh, or an eighth? I have no idea."

According to the paper, the official said Armstrong saw no point in trying for a seventh title and that this was a gesture of respect for the four cyclists who have won five times.

Tour de France standings

After 18 stages

Place-cyclist-country-team.............................. Time
1. Lance Armstrong (U.S.) US Postal....................79:27:17
2. Andreas Kloeden (Germany) T-Mobile..............6:38 behind
3. Ivan Basso (Italy) Team CSC...........................6:59
4. Jan Ullrich (Germany) T-Mobile.........................9:09
5. Jose Azevedo (Portugal)US Postal..................14:30
6. Francisco Mancebo (Spain) Illes Balears.........18:20
7. Georg Totschnig (Austria) Gerolsteiner...........18:46
8. Carlos Sastre (Spain) Team CSC.....................20:10
9. Levi Leipheimer (U.S.) Rabobank....................20:31
10. Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain) Phonak.................23:13

Keep on ridin' Lance!!

[Edited on 7-25-2004 by ProudAmerican]

posted on Jul, 25 2004 @ 12:57 AM
I just read an article about Lance Armstrong and his conditioning is like no other. This guys not human.

For original article click here

Lance Armstrong is, quite simply, not a normal human being. Poised to win his sixth consecutive Tour de France -- an unprecedented feat -- it is clear his unique body and mind give him clear advantages over his competitors.

His heart, thighs, lungs and brain seem as if they were specially built for cycling, giving the champion incredible strength and endurance. And some athletes suggest his life-threatening battle with cancer, which forced him off the pedals in the 1990s, actually streamlined his body and made him an even stronger cyclist.

"Looking at Lance, if you did that prehistoric man chain, he would so far advanced it would be unreal," said Beth Wress-Estes, executive director of the American Cycling Association. "There is really something going on that makes him superhuman when he gets on a bike."

It starts with the legs. According to Men's Journal magazine, the 32-year-old Armstrong has exceptionally long thigh bones that allow him to deliver more power to his pedals. This, in turn, contributes to his extraordinary "pedal cadence" -- he rotates his pedals between 95 and 115 times a minute, even up hills.

In contrast, other professional cyclists crank their pedals about 75 to 95 times a minute, while the average city cyclist does not even come close, completing only 40 to 60 revolutions per minute.

Dr. Ed Coyle, director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas, said Armstrong can produce between 400 and 500 watts of leg power an hour.

"He's going fast," said Dr. Coyle, who has tested the cyclist's abilities extensively since 1989. "A normal male could produce about 200 watts during one hour.

"Even professional hockey players -- they're pretty tough and strong and big -- it's rare that they can generate more than 250 or 300 watts in one hour."

Armstrong's lungs are also crucial to his success. When he was just 16 and training as a triathlete, a Dallas clinic tested his "VO2 Max" (the maximum volume of oxygen a person's body consumes every minute during exercise). The results were off the charts -- his numbers were the highest the clinic had ever recorded, approximately double those of a regular man.

When he got sick in the 1990s, his testicular cancer spread to his brain and lungs, threatening his lung capacity. But the athlete agreed to an aggressive form of chemotherapy that does not appear to have affected his cardiovascular system.

Men's Journal says his ability to consume oxygen under exertion was recently measured at 85, more than double the 40 expected from healthy non-athletes.

While fighting cancer left Armstrong weak and frustrated, it also allowed him to rebuild his body into the perfect shape for a cyclist. He had developed a strong upper body through swimming, but lost nine kilograms of muscle during his illness.

When he gained the weight back, it was in the appropriate areas for cycling -- he developed powerful legs, but remained slim in his arms and chest, explained Steve Merker, executive director of the Ontario Cycling Association.

"The person who wins the Tour de France is classically the person who can win in the mountains," Merker said. "Lance, because he's so slim, he can just sail up those mountains like a mountain goat. Weight is not an issue."

Armstrong also has heart -- lots of it. According to Coyle, the champion's heart is about 50% larger than that of a normal person and is capable of beating 200 times per minute.

"He can pump a lot of blood, and therefore oxygen, to his leg muscles," Coyle said. Indeed, his heart could fill about 34 one-litre pop bottles with blood in a mere 60 seconds.

Because Armstrong's powerful muscles are getting so much oxygen, they do not produce as much lactic acid as other athletes' bodies do. Lactic acid makes muscles burn, contract and fail. Producing less lactic acid means Armstrong's body needs less recovery time overall.

Coyle says Armstrong produces only about a third of the lactic acid a normal person does. Not even he can fully explain why. Part of the phenomenon is probably genetic, and part is probably the way Armstrong's body has adapted to rigorous training.

"Lance has all these remarkable abilities. No one ability is superhuman," Dr. Coyle said.

"But he has very high levels of all of these. ... He's really been able to put all of the important factors together."


posted on Jul, 25 2004 @ 03:38 AM
Lance is unreal and it looks like he is definatly going to win again. It will be some feat to do it. If he does race again in the tour will he be able to win it again? I can't remember how old he is but if he takes time out will he be able to come back?

posted on Jul, 25 2004 @ 03:41 AM

Originally posted by TRD
If he does race again in the tour will he be able to win it again? I can't remember how old he is but if he takes time out will he be able to come back?

He's only 32, and I dont think he would come back unless he thought he was sure he was going to win. I think he has quite a few really good years left, he's in phenomenal shape. He mentioned stopping at 6 out of respect of all the previous riders that won 5.


posted on Jul, 25 2004 @ 03:44 AM
I guess he has nothing left to prove if he wins this tour. He has to be one of the 'Sporting Greats' that we will see in our lifetime. I don't think anyone will get close to the record if he manages to do it.

posted on Jul, 25 2004 @ 07:55 PM

Originally posted by TRD
I guess he has nothing left to prove if he wins this tour. He has to be one of the 'Sporting Greats' that we will see in our lifetime. I don't think anyone will get close to the record if he manages to do it.

Definately a sporting great, it will take a long time for anyone to come close, that's for sure.

posted on Jul, 25 2004 @ 11:08 PM
6 in a row, that may never happen again.


posted on Jul, 26 2004 @ 12:18 PM
He may be only 32- but this is the most endurance needed sport out there, to ride your bike 100 odd some miles a day at 30 mph, for 20 days is something else, and to do that 7 min ahead and also to beat your top competeros in the tour on stage 19 in the indiviual time trial by a min iss just insane.

He is not human

posted on Jul, 26 2004 @ 12:21 PM
TSN gave LAnce the second best induvidual streak of all time, right behing Joe DiMaggios 56 game hitting streak. Ripkens consecutive games was three, and Gretzkys 51 game point streak was 4th.

posted on Feb, 25 2005 @ 03:01 PM
Lance is an example of what focus and dedication can acheive within sport. His remarkable althletic abilities have been built up over many years and he the sheer amount of extra-curricular training that he does literally means that he lives his sport in almost every aspect.

It would be interesting to find out whether there is actually such a thing as having the ideal genetics for a given sport.
Many might argue that there is, as there are people who would argue that it is merely a question of how much you are willing to dedicate yourself(assuming good health of course). Nevertheless, it was interesting to hear about his exact attributes. Thank you.

That aside, I think we will be hearing about Lance Armstrong for a long time to come.

[Edited on 2/25/05 by MountainMan]

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