Return of the Magnificent Seven
Apart from a couple of Post Tour Criteriums, six time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong was last seen racing in Europe way back in July 2004 when he won the Tour de France setting a new record.
Back in Paris, with an even stronger team than last year, the Texan is once again stealing the sporting headlines as he prepares for his first race of the season, Paris Nice.
Unlike previous years, when Armstrong has started the season earlier in February, this year Armstrong has made a late arrival, landing in Paris on Thursday. Talking to French Television Armstrong admitted that might disadvantage him in the race:
“Of course Paris Nice is a great race in the history of cycling. At one time to win this race was an objective of mine. Today that’s not the case. I am riding this race to find my legs and see how the form is. Paris Nice is a preparation race for me this year, and I am certainly not in the best of condition at the moment. I have spent more time than usual in the United States and I only arrived in Europe on Thursday. So I might feel a little fatigue, and the first few days might be difficult, still at least we will know how I’m going…”
Armstrong has bittersweet memories of the race. In 1998 it was his first comeback race after cancer, and when he quit on stage 2 many thought his career was over.
Armstrong describes the moment between Mintereau and Sens in his book “It's Not About The Bike”:
I pulled over. I quit. I abandoned the race. I took off my number, I thought, This is not how I want to spend my life, freezing and soaked in the gutter.”
Since that day, Armstrong’s racing career has rarely been in the gutter, but rather it has soared the Alpes and Cols to achieve new records and legends.
Cycling sport is built upon legends and myths. It is good to see a living legend back in the peloton where he belongs, and not on chat show TV.