Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and France's reaction to his comeback

Dear France,

Please get off Lance Armstrong. The guy is a cancer survivor, a seven time Tour de France champion, and an inspiration to people all over the world. What is your problem? It was bad enough when you falsely accused him of doping and said his Tour de France legacy is tainted. But now during his historic comeback, you’ve come out and said he is unwelcome to compete in the Tour de France in 2009, and you’ve gone too far. Maybe the Tour de France is a big deal in your country but until Lance came across the pond and dominated it seven times in a row nobody over here gave a rat’s ass about your precious Tour. What Lance has done for cycling is analogous to what Tiger Woods (another American) has done for golf. And now after all he’s done for your beloved sport, you have the audacity to say he is not welcome to compete in the Superbowl of cycling? Polls conducted by a major French newspaper (L’Equipe) and a major French TV network (France 2) showed that 70% of your population does not want Lance to compete in the Tour de France in 2009. On the bright side at least 30% of your country doesn’t have their heads completely up their asses. What is wrong with you? Lance Armstrong stands for everything that is good about America. He’s competitive, ambitious, resilient, determined, and driven, not to mention the fact he’s filthy rich and bangs hot, famous chicks on a regular basis. Is it Lance Armstrong that you have a problem with or the fact that he’s an American? Or perhaps it's the fact that no Frenchman has won your coveted Tour de France championship for the past 23 years, and Lance came over there and did you seven times in a row? You say you don’t like his style – that he’s too methodical, too robotic, that he doesn’t show emotion or pain or suffering or ease. That’s because he's a winner when you’re a winner you don’t need to be flamboyant, clearly a concept you are not familiar with. Your fellow Euros have been quick to pile on. Just last week little known 26-year old German rider, Linus Gerdemann, called Armstrong’s return a bad thing. “This is not positive for cycling,” Gerdemann said. “But there’s nothing anyone can do about it.” He was underscoring comments made by German media executives in September when ARD, a large German TV network, announced it would not televise major cycling events because of continued doping scandals. “For us, Armstrong is a piece of the past we don’t want to see again,” Rolf-Dieter Ganz said in the Die Welt newspaper. “The future belongs to young riders, certainly not to Armstrong’s generation.” Lance’s response to this German criticism was classic. “I don’t even know who that is,” Armstrong said. “I am older. I am part of the older generation. I’ve been around a long time and I don’t know who the hell Linus Gerdemann is, but when I rolled up to the line in 1992 I started winning races and when I roll up in 2009 I’m going to be winning races. And so he better hope he doesn’t get in a breakaway with me because I’ve got a good hard drive.” Well done Germany, now you’ve pissed him off, like he needed any further motivation. Here’s something to think about during your excessive 5 week slacking sessions you like to call Holiday. While you’re over there lounging around in trendy cafes, drinking wine, eating cheese and pastries, and burning through countless packs of skinny cigarettes, just know that Lance is over here at a technology center, training in a wind tunnel , sculpting his body and perfecting his form, so that come the 2009 Tour de France he’ll be ready to kick your Euro asses… yet again. He might say he’s undecided about competing in the 2009 Tour and that he’s not sure he wants to deal with all the “tension” that exists between him and your country. But trust me he’ll be there. You see we Americans don’t back down, we fight our own battles, we rise in the face of adversity, and we play to win. And I’ll bet you dollars for doughnuts (or croissants in your case) that’s exactly what Lance is going to do. And after he does win the Tour de France for an unprecedented eighth time I hope he turns to Linus Gerdemann (and all the other haters) and drops the infamous Shaquille O’Neill to Kobe Bryant endearment on him: “Yo kid, tell me how my ass tastes.” But we all know he won’t because he’s Lance Armstrong and Lance Armstrong is a class act to the end. Besides he’s already been there seven times before, so no big deal.