More US Taxpayer's Money Down the Toilet

Started Jun 18, 2012 | Discussions thread
Mike Worley
Mike Worley Senior Member • Posts: 1,486
Legitimate reasons for winning

Winning seven Tours is not some impossible thing that only drugs can explain. Lance had good fortune, unusual physical abilities, and the selfless assistance of many teammates who sacrificed themselves for him.

There are other things to keep in mind as well.

Cycling is a team sport and Lance always had a fantastic team around him. The team manager, Johan Bruyneel, made it clear to the team that its sole duty was to help Lance win the Tour. This is why some riders were on the team with Lance for only a year.

The team’s mission was never confused by having other specialists on it. For example, there were no sprinters that the team would also have had to support by leading them out in the sprint stages. Lance’s team just had to keep him in contact with the peleton on the sprint stages so he could finish in the bunch and not lose time.

The team always kept Lance at the head of the peleton. This was critical because he was never involved in any of the serious accidents and crashes that took other riders out of contention due to injury or loss of time.

Lance crashed only once, on the climb on Luz Ardiden. Miraculously, he and his bike were not damaged. He was immediately back on his bike, caught up and won the stage.

Lance never got sick or injured. This is mildly amazing in itself. A contender for this year’s Tour, Andy Schleck, just announced his withdrawal from the Tour because he had fractured his pelvis in a crash in the recent Critérium du Dauphiné.

Lance recorded an aerobic capacity of 83.8 mL/kg/min (VO2 max), roughly twice that of the average person. Other riders, like Indurain (5 consecutive Tour victories) and LeMond (3 Tour victories) had higher capacities, but they preceded Lance.

Of the 19 teams in the Tour, few have a rider capable of winning the Tour, or even thinking about it. This year’s favorite is Cadel Evans. Andy Schleck was also a contender. Instead, riders hope to distinguish themselves in other ways, like winning a stage, a time trial, or a climb, to name a few.

Finally, Greg LeMond, one of Lance’s greatest detractors and one who insists he knows Lance took drugs, could have won five or six Tours himself.

LeMond would have won the 1985 Tour if he hadn’t been ordered to hang back and help Bernard Hinault.

In 1986, without any help from Hinault, LeMond became the first American to win the Tour. He missed the 1987 and 1988 Tours due to a serious hunting accident. The winners in those years were not serious contenders if LeMond had been in the race.

LeMond returned to the Tour in 1989 and won it in dramatic style, coming from 50 seconds down on Laurent Fignon to beat him by eight seconds in a time trial, one of the most dramatic sports finishes ever. LeMond won again in 1990, while likely suffering from mitochondrial myopathy, which led to his retirement from the sport.

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