Icarus in Lycra

Icarus in Lycra, originally uploaded by john m flores.
Lance Armstrong, 2004-07-21 on L'Alpe D'Huez

If Lance Armstrong was as clean as he claims, he was one step away from complete and total vindication. One. Step. Away. For a man that beat cancer and fought his way to victory in the Tour de France seven times, I find it odd that he "gives up" so close to victory. Something must have stopped Lance in his tracks. Something that he saw up the road that he could not beat this time. I don't believe for a second that it was fatigue; not Lance. I believe it was the truth. USADA had managed to line up ten credible witnesses, ten former teammates that were about to blow the lid off a dark, drug-filled period in cycling history, and Lance was going to go down with the ship.

Don't dismiss me as a hater. I was a huge fan of his. I flew to the French Alps to watch him make Tour de France history in 2004. I stood on the side of a mountain (THE mountain, L'Alpe D'Huez), US flag pinned to my backpack, and cheered him on. I have DVDs of other Tours de France that he competed in. I read the book. I even have a LiveStrong bracelet or two lying around. I have been an ardent follower of professional cycling since the mid 1980s, and have always cheered on the Americans, from Greg Lemond, to Lance, and now the current generation.

But my love for the sport of cycling is greater than my admiration of any single cyclist - including Lance. If we let Lance off the hook, then we tell every stressed out junior racer - children, basically, with a unique ability to suffer on a bicycle - that it's ok to cheat as long as you don't get caught.

Sorry Lance, but it just doesn't add up. I wish it were otherwise.

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