Let me back track a bit here. When I started watching the tour with regular necessity Lance Armstrong was the man of the moment. The man who'd been on the brink of death from cancer and who's prowess on a bike was like no other. His domination in the mountains against the best climbers and his nearest rivals was just so impressive to watch. I think many fans will all hold that image of him eyeballing Jan Ulrick before pedalling off into the distance. He appeared immortal, unstoppable. It was like a fairy tale. He became an instant hero to millions including even non cycling fans. Me included. What was there not to like about such an excellent bike rider.
The book Its not about a bike was a welcome present and I was keen to learn more about this hero figure. The book itself is as the title suggests not about his riding but talks about his discovery and battle with cancer and his eventual win of his first tour.
It was the first book I'd stopped reading half way through.
By all rights I should have absorbed this and read it in a matter of days like I have other cycling books since. However, I just didn't. It's not that this is bad book. By all means his fight is impressive inspirational even. Its because something in me stirred (no I didn't need the toilet) I had grown to actually dislike Lance. At the time saying that out loud amongst cyclists I feared some kind of mad persecution......crucifixion even. Seriously though, he just came across so arrogant, forceful, aggressive. It was his way, selfless in his battle and determined to get his own way at all costs. What an arse. This is the kind of person in real life I would just avoid and not want to be around. OK, this is probably what it takes to get over cancer or become a champion. But this type of person could no longer be a hero to me.
I have ever since been an Armstrong cynic. I don't care whether or not he took drugs or if others think he did. Even if he did, he still beat others behind him who were also taking stuff so it would have been a fairly level playing field. It's his aggressive nature and take no prisoner attitude that grate. Take his unnecessary chase down of Filippo Simeoni on stage 18 of 2004 Tour de France. He didn't have to chase down this group attack but purely did because Filippo had spoken out against Michele Ferrari in an allegation to do with drugs and Lances association with him. Armstrong later said he did it with the approval of the peleton for speaking out. A peleton no doubt to afraid to speak out in case of receiving similar treatment. Armstrongs hold on the Peleton was strong and he took no crap from anyone. To get a taste of this type of pelton, Jeremy Whittle in his book Bad Blood (a really good read) talks about the last stage of this 2004 tour. Filippo not happy attacks early in the race whilst The Jersey leaders are supping champagne. (odd I know) Lance has to throw his away to get his team to chase down this attack. Filippo is eventually caught but is given bad treatment even by his Italian team mates, he is shouted and abused at and eventually comes over the lines spit from other riders covering his body. Grim.
I like Simeonis saddle he used to have. A picture of Lances face on it so he could shove his arse on it when he went riding. I liked to think he still rides that saddle.