"I’m Trying to Level the Playing Field," Says Six-Time Tour Champ
Paris, July 10 (Fat Cyclist News Service / www.fatcyclist.com) – Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong stunned the cycling world today when he arrived at a press conference with his left hand tied behind his back.
Armstrong quickly dismissed concerns that he had injured himself, proclaiming, "During the first eight stages of this race, I’ve taken a good hard look at my opponents’ fitness, riding styles and racing strategies. I have concluded that I can win the Tour de France this year with one hand tied behind my back. So that’s what I’m going to do."
Amid gasps from the crowd, Lance said, "Really, this is not so much a boast of my own personal fitness and capability — as admittedly prodigious as they are — as a comment on how disappointed I am with everyone else."
Armstrong continued, "I have tried to make this an interesting race. On the first stage, once I had passed Ullrich — for crying out loud — I practically sat up and rode no-handed to the finish line, so as to give Zabriskie the jersey."
"I guess I could’ve thrown a bungee cord out to Jan," said Armstrong. "But after that thing with Pantani a few years ago, I’m reluctant to make friendly gestures like that."
Gathering steam, Armstrong continued, "And then I reined my team in on the Team Time Trial, yelling ‘Let’s keep it close, boys!’ at them over and over. Our finishing time was a masterstroke. We went fast enough to keep things suspenseful, but slow enough that CSC could beat us by about five seconds."
"And then that kid falls off his bike. Am I the only one here who doesn’t need training wheels?" Armstrong said, shaking his head in amazed disappointment. "At least back in the day when Hamilton was always crashing his bike, he’d turn it into something dramatic."
"Yesterday (Stage 8), though, was the worst," said the visibly-frustrated champion. "I’d been thinking the whole week, ‘How am I going to turn this into a race?’ So I gave my team the day off. ‘Rest up, take it easy,’ I said, ‘I’ll take everyone on myself.’"
"The thing is, though, everyone’s so servile now. Every time Vinokourov wanted to attack yesterday, he’d ask permission first. That sort of takes the surprise out of it, Vino," said Armstrong, rolling his eyes. "I mean, I know I’m the patron and everything, but at least pretend to make me earn it, OK?"
"And you want to know what takes the cake? I actually told Ullrich to attack, to go win the stage. I’d pretend to counter, we’d drop the peloton, and then we’d duke it out at the finish line. Great show, right? But Jan just shook his head — I guess he thought I was playing mind games. So I let Kloden go instead. At that point, I was just, you know, ‘Whatever.’"
"And then today. Man, don’t even get me started," said Armstrong, his face reddening. "I mean, nobody attacked me. Nobody. The whole day. They just rode behind at a respectful distance, making whimpering noises. What a bunch of pansies. If I were at home watching, I would’ve changed the channel."
Armstrong then closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and unclenched his fist. "So I’m going to win this Tour with one hand tied behind my back — literally. As stages progress, I’ll evaluate whether I need to implement other measures I’m considering, including donating a pint of blood before each stage, riding the mountain stages on a unicycle, and giving everyone a fifteen minute head start."
"Please," said Armstrong, sounding desperate. "I don’t want it to end this way. Someone, anyone. Step up to the plate."