SI story on Armstrong


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SI story on Armstrong

Postby BillVol » Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:24 am

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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby no one » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:13 pm

I wonder, if Lance wonders ... how good he could have been ... without ...
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby jazzcyclist » Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:17 am

no one wrote:I wonder, if Lance wonders ... how good he could have been ... without ...

He couldn't have won any grand tourm much less the Tour de France, without PED's, of that I'm certain.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby catson52 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:34 am

jazzcyclist wrote:
no one wrote:I wonder, if Lance wonders ... how good he could have been ... without ...

He couldn't have won any grand tourm much less the Tour de France, without PED's, of that I'm certain.


Hi, I gather from these threads that you are the expert on cycling and cyclists. I wonder if you could give me your opinion/take on Charly Gaul of Luxembourg. He was a big name from the late fifties/sixties and was regarded as the King of the Mountains on the TdF etc.. I remember that he won one TdF, and often was many minutes behind going into the mountain stages, but would make up huge amounts in those sections. He boasted that if he had the top French riders peloton working for him, he would be almost unbeatable. Any take? - Thanks
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby jazzcyclist » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:05 am

catson52 wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote:
no one wrote:I wonder, if Lance wonders ... how good he could have been ... without ...

He couldn't have won any grand tourm much less the Tour de France, without PED's, of that I'm certain.


Hi, I gather from these threads that you are the expert on cycling and cyclists. I wonder if you could give me your opinion/take on Charly Gaul of Luxembourg. He was a big name from the late fifties/sixties and was regarded as the King of the Mountains on the TdF etc.. I remember that he won one TdF, and often was many minutes behind going into the mountain stages, but would make up huge amounts in those sections. He boasted that if he had the top French riders peloton working for him, he would be almost unbeatable. Any take? - Thanks

Unfortunately he was before my time. Perhaps bambam or 26mi can weigh in.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby bambam » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:39 am

jazzcyclist wrote:Unfortunately he was before my time. Perhaps bambam or 26mi can weigh in.


From a book on the history of cycling that I co-authored last year:

GAUL, CHARLY (LUX). B. 18 December 1932; Ash, Luxembourg. D. 6 December 2005; Luxembourg City, Luxembourg. Charly Gaul is considered as the greatest cyclist ever produced by Luxembourg and one of the greatest climbers produced by any nation. Known as “The Angel of the Mountains” for his skill as a grimpeur, he earned the nickname in the 1955 Tour de France when, in a mountain stage crossing the cols of Aravis, Telegraphe, and Galibier, he won by 14 minutes. Gaul was also renowned for riding very well in bad weather conditions. Gaul won the Tour in 1958 and added victories in the Giro d’Italia in 1956 and 1959. He won the mountain classification at the Tour in 1955-56 and at the Giro in 1959. He was also talented in cyclo-cross, winning the 1954 and 1962 Luxembourg championship in that discipline. He was road champion for Luxembourg in 1956-57 and 1959-62. Gaul retired after the 1965 track season to a small hut in the Ardennes’ forest, where he became reclusive. He occasionally appeared at the side of the road during the Tour de France but, overweight with a beard and long hair, he was rarely recognized. After a third marriage in 1983, Gaul came out of his forced absence from society and was honored for many of his cycling achievements in both Luxembourg and France.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby bambam » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:41 am

jazzcyclist wrote:
no one wrote:I wonder, if Lance wonders ... how good he could have been ... without ...

He couldn't have won any grand tourm much less the Tour de France, without PED's, of that I'm certain.


Actually I'll differ with jazzy on this one. I think Armstrong still would have won grand tours without PEDs, as long the playing field was equal, and nobody else was using either. He was pretty talented, and probably only needed the PEDs because everybody was using.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby jazzcyclist » Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:06 pm

bambam wrote:
jazzcyclist wrote:
no one wrote:I wonder, if Lance wonders ... how good he could have been ... without ...

He couldn't have won any grand tourm much less the Tour de France, without PED's, of that I'm certain.


Actually I'll differ with jazzy on this one. I think Armstrong still would have won grand tours without PEDs, as long the playing field was equal, and nobody else was using either. He was pretty talented, and probably only needed the PEDs because everybody was using.

Actually I agree with you 100%. My point is that Armstrong couldn't have won any grand tours if he had chosen to unilaterally disarm. However, if the entire peleton was clean, I think he would have won grand tours.

I like the Bonds-Clemens analogy. in the mid-1980's before steroids became prevalent in baseball, Barry Bonds was winning MVP's and Roger Clemens was winning Cy Young awards. As the 1990's rolled around and steroids became prevalent in baseball, Bonds and Clemens began to fall back to the pack. Finally in the late 90's and early 00's, Bonds and Clemens leveled the PED playing field for themselves, and once again they were winning MVP's and Cy Young awards.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby bambam » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:03 pm

Glad we agree. I think he could have won grand tours, but without PEDs I think it is highly unlikely he would have 7 in a row at the Tour.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby jazzcyclist » Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:39 pm

bambam wrote:Glad we agree. I think he could have won grand tours, but without PEDs I think it is highly unlikely he would have 7 in a row at the Tour.

To win seven Tours in a row takes some luck. It's amazing that he never had any serious crashes in those Tours or pre-Tour injuries.

Also, I think there was very strong possibility that Ullrich might have beaten him 2003 if it hadn't rained on the day of the last time trial, because Ullrich was stronger than Armstrong that year and I think it was possible for him to take a minute out of Armstrong based on the results of the first time trial. Armstrong also benefitted from a team trial that year which U.S. Postal won by 43 seconds over Ullrich's team. Finally there was Ullrich's decision to wait for Armstrong on the stage to Luz Ardiden when Armstrong caused himself to crash by riding too close to the side of a wide open road. If you look at the video, that was definitely Armstrong's fault, not the little girl's fault. Both Phil Liggett and Eddie Merckx think Ullrich showed too much sportsmanship on that occasion. Waiting for the Yellow Jersey 5K from the finish after the hammer has already gone down and he crashes due to careless bike handling isn't the same as waiting for the Yellow Jersey 100K from the finish after he has a flat tire while the peleton is riding tempo.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby bambam » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:01 pm

Probably true in 2003 but probably not really Ullrich's decision. Hamilton went up the road to tell him to back off, even though Hamilton was no longer Armstrong's teammate. Prior to that Ullrich had tried to put some distance between them. You're right though that Armstrong was riding too close to the side of the road there.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby bambam » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:02 pm

Also in 2003 I think Armstrong might have caught Ullrich even if he had kept pressing, despite the fall. Witness the way Armstrong dropped him after he caught back up - he made it seem easy.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby jazzcyclist » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:35 pm

bambam wrote:Probably true in 2003 but probably not really Ullrich's decision. Hamilton went up the road to tell him to back off, even though Hamilton was no longer Armstrong's teammate. Prior to that Ullrich had tried to put some distance between them. You're right though that Armstrong was riding too close to the side of the road there.

I was watching that stage live and I still have the live DVD recording (which has no time gaps in it despite that fact that Versus started jumping around to different camera feeds after Armstrong went down), and after watching that stage several times with a stopwatch in hand, there's no doubt in my mind that Hamilton's contention that he got Ullrich to wait is bullshit, although he did act nobly and may actually believe he was responsible for Ullrich waiting. The bottom line is that Hamilton had been dropped by Amstrong, Mayo and Ullrich, and based on how much ground he'd lost when Armstrong and Mayo went down and how fast they were pulling away from him, there's no way that Hamilton could have gotten back up to Ullrich that quickly unless Ullrich took his foot off the pedal. Also, by the time Hamilton caught up to Ullrich, Lance had almost caught back up anyway. I'll get the precise timeline for you later on but Armstrong spent approximately 40 seconds going nowhere, between his initial fall and coming unclipped from his pedals afterwards. However, once he got going it only took him about 15 seconds to catch back up. If Ullrich and been pedaling at full throttle for the entire 40 seconds, Armstrong wouldn't have caught back up that quickly.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby catson52 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:45 pm

Bambam. Thanks for the post on Charly Gaul. I tried to post this reply earlier but it wouldn't go up. Before seeing your posting, I had been to Wikip and note that much/some of their stuff was obviously taken from your book. Having always been a strong supporter of the underdog, I was very favorably disposed towards Charly when I first read about him in the early 1960s. Wikip claims that there is strong circumstantial evidence that he used amphetamines - not illegal at that time. And their final comment - written some time back ? - that Lance Armstrong reminded some of Charly, somehow left a bad taste in the mouth.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby 26mi235 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:41 pm

Almost too many good things here to comment on them all. Gaul was before my time of real interest; I just knew of him as a past great rider. He rode in a different era and from what bambam wrote, it seems like if he had the advantages that Eddy had (he not only was the best rider but had the best team as well, is my understanding) he would have won even more (but not more than Eddy).

I too think that Armstrong would have won a number of Tours on an even playing field. His 'luck' was enhanced many times by his preparation and his skill (cutting across that sloping mountain meadow, jumping the drop....) as well has his single-minded focus.

My sense is that he doped more effectively and probably in a more 'titrated' manner that might have given him less advantage than some other competitors but we will never know.

The relatively few people that I know that met Armstrong more than a little bit liked him; those that I knew that knew Bear Bryant hated him. Small sample properties, for what it is worth.

I agree with the observations on Bonds/Clemens

I think Armstrong wins that stage, but not by so much; I did not get out the stopwatch as much as jazz, so it is just my impression. Did not see it live.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby bambam » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:40 am

catson52 wrote:Bambam. Thanks for the post on Charly Gaul. I tried to post this reply earlier but it wouldn't go up. Before seeing your posting, I had been to Wikip and note that much/some of their stuff was obviously taken from your book. Having always been a strong supporter of the underdog, I was very favorably disposed towards Charly when I first read about him in the early 1960s. Wikip claims that there is strong circumstantial evidence that he used amphetamines - not illegal at that time. And their final comment - written some time back ? - that Lance Armstrong reminded some of Charly, somehow left a bad taste in the mouth.


Thanx, Catson52, but it may be the other way around. We used a lot of web sources when we wrote that book. I have tons of cycling books but fell back on the web as needed.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby bambam » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:43 am

26mi235 wrote:The relatively few people that I know that met Armstrong more than a little bit liked him; those that I knew that knew Bear Bryant hated him. Small sample properties, for what it is worth.


I also know a few people who know Armstrong and really like him. But I know a similar number who can't stand the guy.

Frank Bassett, long-time head of sports med at Duke, and one of my mentors when I was a resident, played football for Bear Bryant at Kentucky (b4 Texas A&M and Alabama), and told me he was the meanest man he had ever met. He hated him. And if you knew Frank Bassett, that's good data.
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Re: SI story on Armstrong

Postby bambam » Sat Oct 27, 2012 8:45 am

jazzcyclist wrote:I was watching that stage live and I still have the live DVD recording (which has no time gaps in it despite that fact that Versus started jumping around to different camera feeds after Armstrong went down), and after watching that stage several times with a stopwatch in hand, there's no doubt in my mind that Hamilton's contention that he got Ullrich to wait is bullshit, although he did act nobly and may actually believe he was responsible for Ullrich waiting. The bottom line is that Hamilton had been dropped by Amstrong, Mayo and Ullrich, and based on how much ground he'd lost when Armstrong and Mayo went down and how fast they were pulling away from him, there's no way that Hamilton could have gotten back up to Ullrich that quickly unless Ullrich took his foot off the pedal. Also, by the time Hamilton caught up to Ullrich, Lance had almost caught back up anyway. I'll get the precise timeline for you later on but Armstrong spent approximately 40 seconds going nowhere, between his initial fall and coming unclipped from his pedals afterwards. However, once he got going it only took him about 15 seconds to catch back up. If Ullrich and been pedaling at full throttle for the entire 40 seconds, Armstrong wouldn't have caught back up that quickly.


You may be right. Hamilton does mention him helping in his recent book, The Secret Race. But the way Armstrong dropped Ullrich after catching back on, leads me to be very certain he would have won that stage no matter hard Ullrich went after him on the fall.
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