Just about every presidential candidate of this campaign has called him- or herself ‘comeback kid’, which in just as many cases seemed highly inappropriate for a bunch of, well, ‘old’ people (sorry about that). A true come back kid should, of course, have something youthful. Like a professional athlete. Pélé was a come back kid. So were Cruyff, Micheal Jordan and George Foreman. Great athletes, great comebacks. The tile ‘comeback kid of the third milennium’ can only be given to the greatest athlete of the millennium change; Lance Armstrong.
N.B. It’s easy to confuse a post on Lance as a post on ‘sports’. This point has been argued here earlier. In contradiction with most other sports, cycling in general and specifically the Tour is pure, emotional, dramatic and heroic art.
Lance was never well-loved among Tour followers. He was too organised, too confident and… well, too good. The only suspense in the Tour was: who will finish second? and many people didn’t like the fact that for Lance only one race per year mattered: the Tour de France. He treated all the great classics as mere training stages, which is a smack in the face of the cycling fans who are a very traditional crowd. This sort of robbed him of the legendary status he deserved. And now Lance has found a way to become that legend after all. Should Lance win the Tour next year, and no one in his right mind would doubt that he at least stands a good change of doing great, he will indisputably become the greatest Tour winner of all time. Greater than Mercx, greater than Coppi, Hinault, LeMond and Indurain. And for the first time I will find myself cheering for Lance.
Chances are good that Lance will ride with his old team manager Johan Bruyneel for the Kazach formation Astana (which is also sponsored by Trek, the cycle company that Lance also has a sponsorship contract with). However, I would prefer to Lance compete with Spanish rider and former Tour winner Alberto Contador than see them riding on the same team.
What would make for even more interesting viewing is if the rumours that another former American ‘Tour-winner’ would make his comeback to the Tour next year. Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 title after he tested positive on a testosterone dope test in stage 17, Oscar Perreiro was then named winner. The Health Net- Maxxis team (which will have a new name in the 2009 season) appears to have signed Landis. Whether he will make it the Tour however, remains doubtful.