Lance leaving the stage at the 2012 Leadville 100 pre-race meeting.

Welcome back Lance

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He finally quit, let’s hope it’s not a habit. As celebrities go, Lance ranks high in my books. A fighter, he went abroad to win a race that only three times before had been won by an American (all by Greg LeMond), he did it seven times. He did it after a very serious fight with cancer that would have killed most. He used his fame to start a foundation to help others fight cancer. Through all this he did more for the American cycling industry than any single person…any.

Lance leaving the stage at the 2012 Leadville 100 pre-race meeting.
Lance leaving the stage at the 2012 Leadville 100 pre-race meeting.

While riding my bike non-cyclist drivers sometimes take their aggression out on me by hurling insults. Often the jabs involve the phrase, “Lance-wannabe!” This is important. They know his name. In a part of the country where the only recognized sports are high school football and college football, this mouth breather knows the name of a top cyclist. That’s what he has done for the sport.

After retiring from road racing and in particular the Tour de France he started racing in marathons, mountain biking and getting back into one of his original sports of choice, triathlon. He has performed at levels only dreamed of by us mere mortals. Sure, it’s what he does for a living. A lot of people do that for a living, they are not Lance. They, like me, are “Lance-wannabes.”

I don’t know Lance personally even though I have absolutely no problem referring to him by first name. I’ve seen him in person only once and he seemed like an okay guy. Everyone has opinions about him personally but like the charges against him, most of us will never really know him. I do know that as celebrity athletes go, there are a lot worse role models out there. He worked well with his team, he pushed through a lot of adversity, he was focused on his goals and he used his fame and money to create good in the world.

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Yesterday Lance released a statement. I don’t know why there are so many typos and misspellings in it. You’d think I wrote it. I didn’t. The last paragraph is important:

“Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances. I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities. This October, my Foundation will celebrate 15 years of service to cancer survivors and the milestone of raising nearly $500 million. We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to an end to this pointless distraction. I have a responsibility to all those who have stepped forward to devote their time and energy to the cancer cause. I will not stop fighting for that mission. Going forward, I am going to devote myself to raising my five beautiful (and energetic) kids, fighting cancer, and attempting to be the fittest 40-year old on the planet.”

So instead of spending time and resources to fight the USADA, Lance will be using his resources to support his family and fight cancer throughout the world. Lance has always been a climber (cycling) and I think yesterday, true to form, he took the high road. Thanks Lance.

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