Monday, July 20, 2009

SportsJudge.com PTI: The 2009 Tour de France


Lance Armstrong returned to the Tour de France this year after a 3 ½ year absence from professional cycling in an effort to win his eighth title. Today, Chris and Adam are examining some questions about the 2009 Tour de France.

1) Can Lance win?

Adam

Lance still has the ability to win. He has been in the top 3 or 4 riders within a minute for most of the Tour so far. Going into Stage 15 on Sunday, Lance was 4th, but he was only 8 seconds back of the lead. After Alberto Contador won Stage 15 in the Alps, Lance was now second, but 1 minute and 37 seconds back from his Astana teammate. With his ability to stay near the top and his heart, Lance still has the talent and drive to win, and he is close enough to the yellow jersey where the lead is not insurmountable, although Contador did just extend the lead by quite a bit. The question regarding whether Armstrong can win is more about whether he will take a backseat to Contador as a teammate or if he will try to overtake him for a personal victory.

Chris

We are talking about Lance Armstrong, a name that is synonymous with winning. I place a lot of value in the heart and will to win of athletes, and Lance has more than almost anyone. He is a little older and a little out of practice, but don't kid yourself into believing that Lance wont be competing in whatever it is he tries. Lance will finish strong at the Tour de France, and whether or not he wins, you can guarantee that his heart will show through as always. I personally think that Contador's lead is too much for Lance to come back. Contador and Lance are the 2 riders to watch the rest of the Tour, and Contador has over a minute and a half lead. It will be very diffifult for him to come back, but if anyone can do it Lance can.

2) How well does Lance have to do for his return to the Tour de France for it to be a success?

Adam

I already consider Armstrong’s return a success. He is 37 years old and he has been able to stay with the top cyclers in the world, most of them 10 years younger (Contador is 26). True, Armstrong is a 7 time Tour winner and is also one of the top riders in the world, so he should be able to compete regardless of age, but he has also been retired for over 3 years. The rest of the field has been training consistently and has not taken the time off that Armstrong has. For Armstrong to beat the front of the pack in second place despite being so much older and being away from cycling for such an extended period of time is impressive. To me, staying in the top 5, especially 2nd place, would make Armstrong’s return to the Tour de France a success. I do not feel that winning is the only way for Lance to make his return a success.

Chris

I personally feel that Lance will be disappointed with anything short of victory. Lance didn't come back to place 2nd in the Tour de France. He came back to take home the prize. Most people would be happy coming off of a hiatus and finishing 2nd place in the Tour de France, but I think Lance wants more. Anything less than victory for Lance is not good enough, because he sets the bar that high.

3) If Alberto Contador, Armstrong’s teammate, wins, does that make Lance’s return a success?

Adam

Contador winning would also be a victory for Armstrong. Despite some tension between the two earlier in the Tour, Lance said yesterday that “Alberto is the best rider. He is the best climber … [his performance in Stage 15] is how you win the Tour.” Armstrong continued to say that he is “happy to be [Contador’s] domestique. I am proud of him.” The domestique (French for servant) is a rider who works for the benefit of the team and the leader, such as leading the team leader so the team leader wouldn’t have to ride directly into the wind. If Armstrong embraces this role and it leads to a Tour win for Contador, you have to consider that a victory for Armstrong. Putting his individual desire to win and differences with Contador aside would not only lead to a victory for Armstong’s team Astana, which to me is enough to consider Armstrong’s return a success, but it will also show that Armstrong is not too arrogant to put aside his personal goals for the benefit of his team. From a cycling perspective, this leads to a team victory which makes the return a success. From a public relations perspective, not only will Armstrong finish near the top of the field showing that he can still race with the best in the world, but he will also look a the humble team player that is willing to step aside for the benefit of his teammate. This may also be seen as Armstrong passing the best cyclist in the world torch to Contador to carry in future Tours. If Contador wins and Armstrong can hang onto second place while embracing his role as domestique for team Astana, his return to the Tour de France and cycling has to be considered a success even though he won’t walk away with the yellow jersey.

Chris

No. If Contador wins, guess what, Armstrong loses. I don't care about this Tour de France team stuff. No matter what Contador and Armstrong tell the media, they want to win for themselves. These guys are on the same team, but they are more like rivals than teammates. If Contador beats Lance this year, Lance will be able to feel like he contributed to the victory, and that he did the right thing to help Contador win. That being said, Lance does not beleive that Contador is the best rider out there. I think Lance is slowly discovering that the rest of the pack in cycling is catching up to him, and I think that bothers him. I don't think he holds a serious grudge against anyone, or wishes anyone any misfortune. I think there is healthy competition between Lance and his rival, and for this reason Lance does not want to finish 2nd. If he must finish 2nd, having his teammate win is obviously better than losing to anyone else, but still not a good result.





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2 comments:

Jesmi said...

Reports are coming out now that nothing has come from the meeting between former New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre and Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress.
Reports are coming out now that nothing has come from the meeting between former New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre and Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress.

Past Expiry said...

Here's a cartoon about the Tour de France!

http://pastexpiry.blogspot.com/2009/08/cartoon-tour-de-france.html