Posted by: 4pack | July 7, 2009

“Ideal Shape”: Lance Armstrong, 37, Demonstrates A Tenacity And Determination That Has Never Been Seen Before As He Surges Near Lead In Tour de France

LANCE ARMSTRONG IS BACK…THEY ARE TESTING HIM EVERYDAY…THE FRENCH WANT TO HAVE A POSITIVE DRUG TEST SO BADLY…BUT, HE JUST MAY BE THE TOUGHEST  MAN TO EVER COMPETE IN ONE OF THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST SPORTING EVENTS…WHAT AN INSPIRATION….

 TOPSHOTS-CYCLING-FRA-TDF-2009-ASTANA-TRAINING-ARMSTRONGThe real face of Lance Armstrong, screamed the headline of one of France’s national newspapers yesterday, before devoting pages 2-6 to ‘The Boss’.

They could just as easily have substituted ‘Le Tour de France’ for Armstrong’s name.

His craggy 37-year-old features stare out of the backdrop for bulletins on the nation’s television news broadcasts too.

Until any of the other 179 cyclists who will roll down the ramp at the start of today’s prologue time trial in Monte Carlo prove otherwise, the Texan is the only story in town 

France is once more under the spell of the man who has conquered the most fearsome bike race in the world seven times, more than anyone in history.

And while history itself insists he will not make it eight – Armstrong is almost two years older than the Tour’s oldest winner in 95 previous runnings – you simply cannot rule the man out.

The millions who line the 2,200-mile route as it winds its way from the Cote d'Azur into Spain, the Pyrenees to the Alps and finally the extraordinary Mont Ventoux to the cobbles of the Champs-Elysees in Paris over the next three weeks will crane their necks just a little further to catch a glimpse of a man who transcends his sport and its signature event.

The millions who line the 2,200-mile route as it winds its way from the Cote d'Azur into Spain, the Pyrenees to the Alps and finally the extraordinary Mont Ventoux to the cobbles of the Champs-Elysees in Paris over the next three weeks will crane their necks just a little further to catch a glimpse of a man who transcends his sport and its signature event.

He may inspire respect and suspicion in equal measure in a country in which his haughtiness has been viewed with disdain and in which insinuations about doping have swirled around him, yet France remains in awe.

As a survivor of brain and testicular cancer, Armstrong announced he was returning to the saddle to help promote Livestrong, the global cancer campaign launched by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

He said: ‘I’m not riding the Tour for money or to win or for fame. I already have all that. I want to help my foundation and I want to ride. I can’t say it strongly enough. I’m doing the Tour de France for free, for nothing. My intention is pure, believe me.’

Except that no one does quite believe him. He knows no other way but winning.

This year’s favourite for the Tour is his own Astana team leader, Alberto Contador. The remarkable 26-year-old Spaniard won in 2007, but could not defend his crown last year when Astana were not invited, having been involved in a doping scandal before Contador joined them.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-1197393/Lance-riding-high-Armstrong-returns-Tour-France-doubts-hang-intentions.html

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