Lance Armstrong Returns to the Tour

Lance Armstrong Returns to the Tour

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Lance Armstrong is laser-locked on another Tour de France. But the 45-year-old ex-pro rider, who won seven consecutive Tours between 1999 and 2005 before those wins were voided for doping offenses, won’t race the 2017 edition. Instead, Armstrong will analyze, editorialize, and prognosticate via his new daily Stages podcast, addressing both the details and daily highlights of pro cycling’s iconic, three-week, mid-summer clash.

The Stages Podcast



Lance Armstrong shares is perspective on the 2017 TdF with a new daily podcast

Listen now 

“I’m approaching this as if I were in the race. I want to know every stage profile, every weather report, where the wind is coming from, even how far away the teams’ hotels are from the stage starts,” says Armstrong. “Just a couple things go wrong for you, and the Tour becomes a lot harder.”

Throughout the Tour, which runs from July 1 to 23, Armstrong will also share his thoughts on the Tour’s hyperbolic ups and downs here at Outside. As the world’s greatest riders prepare to put shoe to pedal, here’s what Armstrong has to say about his approach and expectations.

OUTSIDE: You remain persona non grata at the Tour, and not long ago you were more runner than cyclist. So why a podcast about the Tour de France?
LANCE ARMSTRONG: Two things: I found that I’ve really enjoyed hosting the Forward [Armstrong’s year-old, weekly podcast]. And not to sound corny, but not long ago I fell back in love with the bike. I’d been running a lot and overdid it. My left and right psoas muscles got really pissed off. I thought, I’ll start riding again, until the injury heals up. Then I got back on the bike and thought, “Wow, I’m digging this.”

Translation: You’re riding a lot?
When I’m in Austin [Armstrong’s hometown], it’s 90 percent road riding. When I’m in Aspen [Armstrong’s retreat], it’s 90 percent mountain biking. I enjoy riding with the young guys, too—like Nate Brown and Lawson Craddock. I can’t go toe-to-toe with them, but I can hang for six hours in the group. They’re fair to me. They’re sweet and respectable kids.

Apparently you’ve warmed back up to the Tour, too.
I spent several years not watching it at all. You won’t even hear my name mentioned by the announcers, which is so classic—and as a rider it’s such a grind. But then last year I watched some, and it was high entertainment. The huge banner falling down on the course one kilometer from the [Stage 7] finish. The complete lack of crowd control on Mont Ventoux, and Froome running. I mean shit, that is content gold.

Spoken like a true entertainment exec. Or, for that matter, an aspiring podcaster.
Yes, I think more that way. The actors who make up the play. The dynamics of the race. How the actors act.

How do you see the 2017 Tour de France unfolding?
It’s a very atypical Tour in that it lacks long time trials and a lot of uphill finishes. The total elevation gains are relatively low. That Düsseldorf prologue [Stage 1] could easily be in the pouring rain, and then they’re in Belgium and Luxembourg. Any time the Tour goes outside of France the crowds alongside the road are about 10x of what you find in France. Crazy. Then they’re in a part of France that’s a complicated place—twisty and rainy. In the first week, it’s going to be race over for some people who thought they’d be in contention.

So who will transcend all of those challenges, and shine for another two weeks? Your favorites?
The odds-on favorite is Richie Porte, if he can race smart. Plus, let’s see if his team can manage the race. I would bet my life on Sagan winning the green jersey.

Back to the yellow jersey for a sec. Porte, in a landslide?
No. Froome is number two, and very well may win. My dark horse, and he could certainly pull it out, is Alejandro Valverde. You can’t get rid of Valverde. He won’t have any difficulty navigating the first week’s highly technical parts. He knows what the fuck he’s doing.

You’re not showing much love for Valverde’s teammate, Colombian climbing great and 2013 Tour winner Nairo Quintana. No way?
I don’t know, this might be the kick in the ass Quintana needs to make true accelerations, not to be conservative. This is not a route for the conservative. Anybody that wants to be conservative in this Tour de France? They’re racing for 10th place.


Tour de France Preview

Why winning the Tour is "a mix of running a marathon, playing a game of chess, driving in NASCAR, and running for president"
 

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June 30, 2017 at 02:47PM

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