Today saw the end of the 92nd Tour de France, and I just want to take a minute to salute Lance Armstrong, who has completed an unprecedented seventh victory. The Tour has got to be one of the toughest events in world sport: the race is 3,608km long and the route incorporates stages that take the riders over the Alps and the Pyrenees. Stage 10 of the race actually finished at the aerodrome in Courchevel. I went skiing in Courchevel this April, and the idea of cycling up that mountain just boggles my mind.
Armstrong's winning time was 86 hours 15 minutes & 2 seconds, and his average speed was 41.6km/h. To put that into perspective, I have a little speedometer attached to my road bike, and the fastest I have ever travelled is about 50km/h going down a pretty steep hill. My average speed is usually somewhere around 26km/h. I don't need to point out that I don't have any serious mountains on my usual cycle routes, do I?
In the history of the tour, only a few riders have been truly dominant:
Jacques Anquetil (1957, 60-4)
Eddy Merckx (1969-72, 74)
Bernard Hinault (1978, 79, 81, 82, 85)
Miguel Indurain (1991-5)
Armstrong stands alone in winning 7 tours.
As if this wasn't enough, let's not forget that Armstrong has achieved all of this after recovering from testicular cancer.
Truly one of the great sportsmen of any era.
...and he provided us with one of the great cinema cameos of all time, in Dodgeball...
Lance Armstrong: Hey, aren't you Peter La Fleur?
Peter La Fleur: Lance Armstrong!
Lance Armstrong: Ya, that's me. But I'm a big fan of yours.
Peter La Fleur: Really?
Lance Armstrong: Ya, I've been watching the dodgeball tournament on the Ocho. ESPN 8. I just can't get enough of it. Good luck in the tournament. I'm really pulling for you against those jerks from Globo Gym. I think you better hurry up or you're gonna be late.
Peter La Fleur: Uh, actually I decided to quit... Lance.
Lance Armstrong: Quit? You know, once I was thinking of quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying of that's keeping you from the finals?
Peter La Fleur: Right now it feels a little bit like... shame.
Lance Armstrong: Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn't anything to regret for the rest of their life. Well good luck to you Peter. I'm sure this decision won't haunt you forever.