Exclusive Interview with Lance Armstrong
What can’t you say about Lance Armstrong? Cancer survivor, seven time Tour de France winner, and bestselling author. The man is so famous that he is simply known to most people by his first name. Associated Press has named him ‘Male Athlete of the Year’ no less than four times and Time Magazine nominated him as one of the 100 most influential people. He is on first name basis with several ex United States presidents, has dated a number of celebrity women but still manages to be ‘of the people.’
As he has said himself, if a Hollywood script writer penned his story, it would be thrown out as too fantastic. A young athlete, recently crowned World Champion is diagnosed with life threatening cancer. He is given a 20% chance of survival. He undergoes a savage course of chemotherapy and returns to the sport not only to win the greatest race in the world, but to win it a record seven times. It has to be one of the most wonderful stories of the twentieth century. So good that, his autobiography ‘It’s Not About the Bike’ went tonumber one on the New York Times bestseller list. With all this, seven Tour victories, which may never be beaten, a mansion in Texas, your own plane and a foundation to keep you occupied, why would you make a comeback? All the evidence points against its success. Look at Michael Jordan. Look at Tony Lockett. But Armstrong feels differently. He says the whole purpose of his comeback is to promote cancer awareness.
In an interview immediately after announcing the comeback he said “If you win an eighth Tour and have the Livestrong International Summit in Paris and nobody shows up and no commitments are made and we don’t effect change in terms of the global burden, then I’ve wasted everybody’s time. However, if you don’t do the Tour, or you do the Tour and you get fourth, and the summit is a smashing success and people participate, and world leaders make commitments that really go towards advancing this issue, then that’s a success.” Going through the pictures for this article, one thing really stands out and that is the look of determination in Lance’s eyes. Here is a man who knows what he is doing, is confident in his abilities and comfortable with his decision. Fortunately for us, Lance will begin his comeback at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide and the city is already buzzing. Cycling Australia report that an unprecedented number of international journalists and photographers have applied for accreditation to follow the Armstrong circus. Whichever way you look at it, this comeback beginning in Australia must raise the profile of the sport in this country. We caught up with Lance, just as he was getting into full training with long time coach and mentor, Chris Carmichael.
Lance Armstrong, thank you very much for your time.