I had been thinking about writing this for sometime…
Last week marked the end of an era in biking; slightly sad because a record seven time Tour de France winner couldn’t even manage a stage win on his 2.0 avatar (in his own words). Probably once the modern biking becomes sort of a history it will be divided as before Lance and after Lance. Here I am not trying to belittle the contributions of great guys like Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Greg Lemond, Marco Pantani. Well the list is too long…just that Lance was different. He always did the impossible.
For the 28 million cancer patients world over he is a crusader. For all those cancer survivors around the world he is the Bible of reference to how to get back and take control of life. How else will you explain a man who had just 3% chance of getting back to life and when he got back he did something which nobody could do. Winning the Tour De France 7 times consecutively! Incredible and I firmly believe this record is here to stay.
Lance has inspired hundreds of thousands of people around the world to take up biking. Livestrong Foundation through various fund raisers generates millions of dollars every year and donates it to cancer research. He is very committed to the cause and continues his good work through various fund raising events around the world.
When I started biking I didn’t know who Lance was but over the years the endless stories over the net, the books on him and his biographies have brought me much closer to competitive biking. Somewhere deep in my heart the respect for him grew and today if you ask, for me Lance is God! It is not Lance the person rather the phenomenon called Lance!!! Incredible!!!
A lot of people who rode with him describe Lance as a very reserved and arrogant character but whatever said and done he always respected the sport and fellow bikers. He was so disciplined and principled in the peloton that he made sure that he followed even all those unwritten rules. And any unruly behavior by any fellow biker was not tolerated and he had punished them with his pedal power earning him the name Don of the Peloton. (And look at what Contador did to Shleck this year).
Nobody in the current set of riders command this kind of respect from their fellow bikers.
For a lot of us Lance will always be a champ! He has nothing left to prove.
But the sad part is now we won’t be seeing him riding a bike in another Tour de France anymore. We all will miss him, I for sure will.
He will be riding a couple of Tours next year (Tour of California and Gila I guess) and will get back to Triathlon and maybe a half Ironman (he got in to sports as a triathlete as a teenager) again not to prove anything but to spread awareness about cancer and raise funds.