Getting back to the original thread... - where you and RChung mention the calculations are flawed, it's hard to compare, assumptions are wrong-, weights are wrong, winds aren't right, people hit publish way too quickly. etc. LA, himself- confirms that at HIS BEST- Contador would have kicked his butt. Lance is a data / power nut. LA KNOWS CONTADORS power. He KNOWS his POWER and he knows both riders weights. Lance knows his W/Kg... case closed. Which tree do you want to pick apart on this one? :) I know it will be hard for you and RCHUNG to read this interview- so feel free to pass... ;)
Lance is taking a page out of Lemond's book, too- he won a virtual 8 tours- if he raced in 2008. http://www.timesonline.co.uk:80/...g/article6725620.ece
July 24, 2009
That, at least, was the preconception. For the first time since he started winning this race, the seven-times champion has had his athletic limitations unarguably exposed. And yes, he is a 37-year-old on a comeback and his achievements here, by normal standards, would be considered astounding. Over the course of an hour, he makes some fairly astonishing claims: that he mistimed his comeback by a year because his present form would have won him the Tour in 2008; that Alberto Contador, with whom he has done battle this year and to whom he now concedes defeat, is a faster climber than he ever was.
Most astonishing of all, though, is not his bright, delighted-to-see-you, post-race demeanour, but the contention that losing does not really hurt.
“I think people expect me to be devastated when I was ridden away from,” he said. “It's not that way. You see, despite being two minutes down, it wasn't life or death like it perhaps was before. Interesting perspective from the team that night after Verbier [on Sunday, when he could not keep pace with Contador]: people expected me to be just devastated. And the messages I got on my phone: 'Is it OK?'
“Of course I'd like to be winning. I came with the intention of winning, but we did the race, we went up hard hills and people rode away. I'm cool with that.”
But you cannot be, comes the contention. You are the alpha male of alpha males, seven unbeaten and now fallible, this is surely hell on two wheels? “For those seven years it would have been, but not now,” he said. “I have no regrets at all. I've got no reason to lie.”
The yellow jersey out of reach and Armstrong happy; chew on that as you will, we will return to the subject. But this is how it felt to concede defeat; there were shreds of evidence, but none as conclusive as Sunday up to Verbier.
“That was the first true test,” he said. “I followed a couple of attacks and I was on the ropes. I knew that I was just going to be surviving. And in this game when you get on the ropes, you get into debt and, on an uphill finish, it's hard to come back.
“My problem - not that it's a problem - the issue has been the red line, the fifth gear, for whatever reason, age, time away, or you could theorise. Today, when I get on the bike, I feel fresh, but I don't have that punch. I don't have that acceleration, that high-end speed on the climbs which I had before. So the last two mountain stages [after Verbier] I just followed my tempo and not those attacks.”
Were you therein admitting that you could no longer win? “I'm not going to do an Alpe d'Huez 2001 [one of his great climbs], not this year, it's just not going to happen,”
he said. “I'll be 38 next year so there's no promises then, but I'll give it a shot.”
Next year, indeed, is fascinating, as is Armstrong's candour on the subject of Contador. The Texan's decision to return was based largely on watching last year's Tour, from which Contador was absent - “the level I have today would have won '08,” he said
- but on that road to Verbier, he encountered a man who “was faster than I ever was. That performance would have ridden away from me on Alpe d'Huez 2001. He's very hard to beat.”
So if you acknowledge that there is now another rider - Contador - indisputably superior, why put yourself through more punishment? “I think the smartest guys in the room would say that next year I ought to be better because I'll have a season under my belt and I don't think between 37 and 38 is the tipping point where you head for the nursing home,” he said.
Armstrong says that the time away might have cost him that fifth gear. “Perhaps I'm just being optimistic,” he said. And he feels that Aspen, Colorado, was not the ideal training ground, “but that might be me dreaming s*** up”. “But look, I'll work hard for next year and if I get ridden away from again, it's all right,” he said.
While it may not need to be accentuated that this all-smiling global icon is not exactly behaving to type, bear in mind that it is not only here in the Palace de Menthon that the charm offensive has been waged.
In the past, he concedes, he has been pretty hard on people who got in his way. “Definitely in the past,” he said. “Before, I would tell the guys in the team, 'You're not talking to anybody. We're here to race, three weeks; you can talk to your friends afterwards.' Now the rest of the peloton see me and think, 'He actually talks to us!' ”
A reminder of Armstrong's old standing in the Tour de France is his acknowledgement of the reaction of ASO, the French owner of the Tour, to his desire to return to the event. “I wouldn't say that they were thrilled with the idea,” he said. “If Patrice Clerc [head of the Tour until January] was still in charge of ASO, it's safe to say I wouldn't be here.”
The starkest example of how far Armstrong has gone to cuddle old enemies was his insistence that his pre-stage daily interviews on Versus TV, the American broadcaster, be with Frankie Andreu. This raises interesting questions: Armstrong and Andreu had been long-term team-mates but, in 2006, when called as a witness in a case that Armstrong had taken against a company over a $5 million (now about £3 million) bonus they were refusing to pay, Andreu gave evidence against Armstrong.
The litigation raised the question whether Armstrong might have used illegal performance-enhancing drugs and Andreu gave evidence about what appeared to have been a mea culpa by Armstrong while he was ill in hospital with cancer. Armstrong vehemently denied Andreu's claims and won the case. But the fact was that, from two years before the case until the present Tour, Armstrong and Andreu barely exchanged a word.
Why, then, ask Andreu to interview him daily? “I don't have anything against Frankie, personally,” Armstrong said. “It's been a pleasure. Frankie's a good guy.”
Is it not the case that it looks good for you to be seen being friendly with Andreu? “If he called me off the record and said, 'Hey, let's go have a beer, I'd say yeah,' ” he said. “Maybe it's part of the same thing that's changed from before. I'm more relaxed about this stuff and that's an authentic answer, it's not a game