Tour de Lance
“Do you think you can run 5 km in less than 17 minutes?” – I asked Lance.
“How fast would it be every mile?”
“5’20”, more or less”.
“Sure, I can do it!”
With wary skepticism I asked him: “But, have you trained recently for running?”
“I played tennis 3-4 times…”
“Then it is impossible for you to run below 17 minutes with no training for such a run!”
A little pause – pondering.
“Well, I think I can do it.”
“Wanna bet a thousand bucks you won’t?” – I replied, sure of myself.
Thank God that, in front of my certainty, Lance Armstrong did not take the bet.
It was some day in the beginning of December 2002 and we were at the start of the Dirty Duathlon: 5 km running, 20 km MTB and another 5 km running somewhere in the desolate Texan country, one and a half hours drive from Austin.
Needless to say that Lance literally crushed the record of that race, thanks to some excellent running fractions, well ahead of all the good duathletes that had come from any part of Texas to win and beat Lance Armstrong.
To see him race is always an amazing experience: it is pure unconditional competition spirit, enjoying the challenge at its fullest.
To see him running up and down among the rocks of the course was just spectacular: Johann (Bruyneel) and I were exchanging stupefied looks to each other, getting a little worried for the integrity of his muscle joints over such a harsh ground.
But this is Lance.
He undoubtedly suffered atrocious pain in the legs for a good week afterwards, but he would never admit it.
Armstrong has won and enjoyed this year’s Tour de France with the same spirit he had when he crushed the Dirty Duathlon in the Texan country: and this despite an enormous pressure and a definitely not-so idyllic atmosphere around the Grande Boucle.
Lance confirmed the level of his best performances on both climbing and time trialing, either strategically or emotionally.