Okay...So I'm reading Every Second Counts and it occurs to me that Lance Armstrong has to win the 2004 Tour de France. He has to.
I'm a fan, I'll admit. But I don't believe that Lance is either a god or Superman. He looked especially vulnerable in the 2003 TdF. The hounds will be snapping at his heels next year, but Lance has to win.
Lance Armstrong is probably the most focused and dedicated competitor in professional cycling. His career is based on le Tour. He is criticized for being a one race rider and there is something to that. Despite the criticism, Lance owns the Tour de France.
As remarkable as Lance's acheivements in the TdF have been, he still has something to prove. To date, he has done nothing that hasn't been done before. He is not the first American to win the Tour. He is not the first American to have won multiple tours. He is not the first rider to come back from the brink of death to win the Tour. Greg Lemond did all of these things first.
This year, Lance joined an elite group of champions who have won five Tours de France, but he is not the first to have done so. He won five consecutive Tours, but Indurain already held that record. There is nothing that Lance has done that hasn't been done before.
Lance Armstrong had to win the 1999 Tour de France after coming back from cancer, just to prove that he could. He had to win the 2000 Tour de France when Pantani and Ullrich re-entered the competition, just to prove that '99 wasn't a fluke. He had to win in '01, '02 and '03 to show that he could be a five-timer. He especially had to win in '03 because it was harder than ever.
Now, he has to win in 2004. He still has something to prove.
Rumors have been flying around linking him romantically to Sandra Bullock and Sheryl Crow. Has Lance gone Hollywood? Personally, I doubt it. I don't think Lance has the time or the inclination to let his head be turned. Not now. Not yet. Maybe next August.
Lance still has to win the Tour de France in 2004. The only question is...can he?