Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lance Reaction: Spill 'Em If You've Got 'Em

Beans, that is. I'm talking to you, Jonathan Vaughters. And any other of those former Posties you hang with who might be able to enlighten us. Or Kevin Livingston. Or Frankie Andreu. I know, Frankie, you gave at the office, but it's all hands on deck. There's strength in numbers. If you all have the truth I think you have, and speak as one, his smear machine won't work.

As long as Lance was leaving well enough alone, and the sport was moving forward, I was fine with Vaughters' coyness. But JV, the time for coyness is over. I haven't walked a mile in your shoes, so I have no right to demand you say anything. But I can ask, plead, beg. You and everyone at Garmin-Chipotle have done so much, so much more than others, to save this sport and to make the fan experience richer than we could imagine. But this is the moment. This is the moment you stand up for your sport like never before. The moment we either take a huge, painful, ugly step forward or a huge, painful, ugly slide backwards.

Tyler Hamilton winning the US Pro was bad enough, but it's a bike race, s*** happens. I know the Garmin boys tried. But this, this would be such a slap in the face. Next year the American press should be all about Christian Vande Velde going for that podium, Danny Pate and/or Will Frischkorn going one better than this year and getting that stage win, Tom Danielson's triumph at long last (a girl can dream…). Or Lucas or Tyler or whoever is doing great things at any given moment. But it won't, it'll all be about him. Whether he's clipping his toenails or actually racing, it'll all be about him. To borrow a word from Barack Obama, Enough.

Why am I dumping this all at Garmin's feet? Because they have made us feel the pain of those years. They have shown us the struggle. They have shown us how you find a new way. They have shown us how free and joyful and fulfilling that way can be, for rider and fan alike. They are the ones on whose behalf I am most angry and sad tonight. And they are the ones chock-a-block full of people who probably/maybe/perhaps know about such things.

I don't know what Lance took. I don't know if anyone at Garmin does either. But I'm a diehard fan, and this is where my head's at and I feel so strongly that if there is something to be done, it must be done. Now. Don't let this go an inch further, we have come too far and are having too much fun for that.

Ironically, I finally got my hands on the latest Bicycling magazine this evening, to see what excerpt they used from my Johan rant. I picked up the latest Men's Journal, too, for the Garmin article rather than the guy on the front. In a vaguely cathartic act, I immediately ripped off the cover and tore it into little pieces. I say this not out of pride or defiance, but for the point of the reaction itself. This is how deep it cuts, this is how wrenched my heart is at the thought. This is how much I love this sport and how painful it is when the clouds return.

Back in the day, I would've bought the thing because he was on the cover. And carefully clipped and saved it. But once you've read and heard enough, you just can't go back. I've got a family full of cancer, including some very tough battles as we speak. I wore the wristband before anyone knew what it was, didn't leave my arm for four years. I appreciate what the man has done for cancer. He says this is about cancer, but really? This is the only way he can do something big for cancer? Or is that supposed to make us skeptics keep quiet - well, it's for cancer, so we can't protest too much. Sure, it's for the cancer work, but it's also because he loves to beat people and needs another fix.

And to prove he can win clean. Hmmm, prove to himself maybe. Though I always wondered if that's what 2003 was about, doing honor to number five and all that. But maybe he was just unlucky that year. Funny how you can envision different perspectives, though - there, see, I proved I can win clean, so I deserve to win every time out, so let's go back to the old program to make sure I do. Because, you know, we might as well win.

But of course the idea is to prove to everyone else. But as people have already pointed out, it doesn't work that way. Proving he can win one clean doesn't mean all the rest were. Lance is an extremely talented bike racer. He prepares tirelessly and meticulously and has the killer instinct of all killer instincts. So sure, he can win. It's the winning every time, the body almost never breaking down, that raises the eyebrows. If he wants to prove the past wins, let's see some blood values from then. Surely Ferrari has a stack of them somewhere. I know, he passed all the official tests (sort of), but I'm talking the day-in day-out stuff.

Racing again is such a tremendous risk - of crashing with serious injury, of finding you're not the big bad boss anymore, of losing. Why would he possibly want to risk all that? Okay, he loves risks, but still. It doesn't prove the past was clean, so it could only prove this one was clean. And the only logical reason to risk it all and do one clean is because the others weren't. Not that logic is a given.

Speaking of logic, one can hope the Tour won't take him back. It's not like they've needed a real reason to choose who they like in the past, so why not? You'll only tick off the same people who were ticked off about Astana this year, so it's a wash.

And then there's George Hincapie. I sincerely hope Lance does not try to get him back. And that George doesn't want to go back. One of my most treasured memories of this year is how Hincapie guided his young team and delivered them to the line again and again. He is exactly where he belongs.

Winning isn't a given either. A lot of things can happen, and it's likely things won't come as easily as they used to, for whatever reason. It would be very sweet to see Garmin beat him - whoever, at whichever race. But it wouldn't be worth the renewal of Lance-o-Rama in the coverage. Who would've thought, I'm nostalgic for the days of being appalled by his dating habits or how much water he's wasting. I'll take that news over this any day.

Oh, yeah, and what CFA said.

6 comments:

Amy H said...

Okay, now I see why you're mad......

Anonymous said...

What IS your problem? If people who have "sinned" have done their time ( I am speaking specifically of TH) then why shouldn't they be allowed to compete? Sheesh ex-cons in the USA get to go out and live their lives, according to you they should all be banned to a island somewhere. Who made YOU God anyway? I am so disgusted and disappointed by your extreme intolerance that you are gone from my bloglines list.

Julie said...

anon, I'm not sure where you're getting all that from what I said. I just said I wasn't happy about him winning. I was delighted for David Millar, no problem with second chances. And I don't hate Tyler, just didn't particularly want him to win, given the documentary evidence and his continued denial. Not dictating that to anyone, just my opinion.

sauscony said...

Julie, I totally agree with every word you wrote above.

SB said...

WORD. There's no way anything I say or write could be more succinct. There are SO many of us out here who feel the same way. It's too bad no one "in the know" can say anything without getting their asses sued off.

Mike said...

Lance has his work cut out for him - his age, the new competitors and the possible conflicts within his Astana team. He needs a dedicated team to do his best with teammates like George who were dedicated to supporting him. I think Lance needs to recruit Hincapie if he wants to win the Tour and Lance needs to consider how the comeback can change his reputation