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Thread: The "What IFS"

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    BIG RING Bikeophile's Avatar
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    The "What IFS"

    I've been thinking. With the Tour de France results of the past 6 years, I have been reading a lot of comments about some of the other competitors...

    If Mayo was healthy he could have beat Lance.
    A more fit Uhrich would have beat him.
    If it weren't for that crash, Beloki would have won.
    If Vino was there last year he would have won.

    So my question is....why haven't any of these guys even come close (with the exception of the 2003 Tour)?

    Is Lance just really lucky? Or is he more resiliant to last through sicknesses, distractions (like Divorce etc) and focus on the Tour?

    Some folks say that it was his TEAM that did it..and without that team he would have lost...No doubt that USPS has been a great team...but have they EVER won the Team Competition in the Tour? There has always been a "better" team. Perhaps just not a more dedicated team. Dedicated to getting Lance across the line in yellow. Definitely I would say that there is no team that is more self sacrificing than USPS.

    So I love the "I LOVE LANCE" and "I HATE LANCE" threads. But I wanted to see what you folks thought about why Lance seems to survive all these distractions, illnesses, and crashes...when his competitors consistently fall to them.

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    cab horn
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    Occams razor: because he's good...

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    raodmaster shaman
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    Quote Originally Posted by divekrb
    Jack Nicholas used to say "The more I practice, the luckier I get".

    Funny how that works.

    werd.


    the biggest what if of them all: what if lance didnt survive cancer. oh, he did. in light of that, "what ifing" for the other guys is closer to making excuses.

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    Is Lance just really lucky? Or is he more resiliant to last through sicknesses, distractions (like Divorce etc) and focus on the Tour?

    Both. No other team rides solely for ONE leader. Not a single USPS rider has won a stage since Lance's reign began. That team is/was built around Lance winning the Tour. It really existed for no other reason (until this year and the Pro Tour of course). It is a text book example of how committing to a single objective will produce results. On the other hand, he has been lucky to never have been caught in a really big crash either.

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    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Lance has been both Lucky and good. Contributing to both has been great tactics by his team, which includes a lot of tactics on the road by Lance.

    To me his biggest piece of luck was 1999. One has tol go back a long ways to find a tour so open. No, as in ZERO returning winners. Only a couple of men who have enve been on the podium before. Very lucky, the door was wide open. Of course everyone else in that tour had the same piece of luck. LAnce is the one who grabbed it with both hands. In 1999 Lance did not have a great team, that year the win has to be given to Lance not a better team. I have to wonder, if he had not won would he have gotten the team he has today or would he still be trying for that first win and losing out to other riders with stronger teams.

    One year the tour went across a bay on a one lane road for a few miles. There was a crash. Lance lost a key team member in the crash, but a major contender was caught behind the crash, lost several minutes and was now no longer a threat. Good tactics to have Lance up front paid off. Example of good and bad at the same time.

    When Beloki crashed Lance could well have gone over the top of him. Good luck he was not a foot or two closer. But an example of handling skill and quick thinking by Lance. Again a bit of both. (or for that matter Lance could well have hit a bad spot at the same time and have been helpless to use his skills). At the time of the crash Lance looked vunerable in the mountians, if the attacks had kept coming the next day. But someone had to start, Beloki seemed the most inclined to do that, but now he was gone. Lucky, but also the residue of Lance showing great tactics in the past, every one else seemed afraid to attack.

    And of course the luck of staying out af any major crash. His team has done well in minimizing that risk, but they can not eliminate it.

    On his tactics remember the year a group on 'non contenders' got away for over 20 minutes early on? As time was getting made up there came a point where it was clear that Lance would make up all that time, but it was not so sure for the other podium contenders. Lance and Postal were content to force the teams with riders in second and thrid position to do work on several stages to pull back that time.

    Today his team is the best in terms of being able and willing to support a run for the yellow. I see that as a residual of individual effort in years past. Remember the team competition is a minor prize. Of course a truely great rider with a truely great team should be able to win both at least once in a while. But perhaps this is where Lance's luck has run out.

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    In addition to his meticulous preparation and awesome conditioning, I think Lance has hit on a certain combination of skills that allows him to win -- strong individual and team TT efforts, basically keeping up on the flats, and dominating on the climbs. Having a strong team helps keep him in the running every day with the team TT and flat sections, but he's basically winning these things on his own in the mountains. It also helps to have good equipment, good team management, etc.

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    BIG RING Bikeophile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Moto
    In addition to his meticulous preparation and awesome conditioning, I think Lance has hit on a certain combination of skills that allows him to win -- strong individual and team TT efforts, basically keeping up on the flats, and dominating on the climbs. Having a strong team helps keep him in the running every day with the team TT and flat sections, but he's basically winning these things on his own in the mountains. It also helps to have good equipment, good team management, etc.
    well I wouldn't say he wins it ALONE in the mountains...I mean he DOES win the stages...but without his domestique climbers leading him up the mountain he wouldn't be in a position to sprint and eat up the field the last kilometer like he tends too...

    I do think that the thought that goes into selecting the team for the tour is as meticulous as the training and preparation though. That team is perfectly tailored to get Lance across the line in yellow.

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    Nut Job jedi_rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadgator
    werd.


    the biggest what if of them all: what if lance didnt survive cancer. oh, he did. in light of that, "what ifing" for the other guys is closer to making excuses.
    i'm gonna agree with roadgator on this one. no one can make any excuses that equal lance's near fatal cancer condition.

    having gone through my own life threatening circumstance, though non-cancerous, i don't have much sympathy for excuse makers, cry-babies, etc.

    my own experiences have taught me to always give it your best shot...even on your worst days...no crying allowed.
    Any time I'm going up a hill, I know I'm headed in the right direction.

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    and the thing is...Lance has never used this as an excuse...not that he has needed to since coming back

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    Lance is good yes but he has one thing that the other's do not; a team that is completely dedicated to his winning the Tour. Everyother team, including T-Mobile, goes to the TdF to win stages in hopes of winning the GC. Postal/Discovery go to Tour to win the GC and maybe pick up a few stages on the way. In the six years of LA's domination of the TdF his teams rarely if ever contest a stage unless it will further the GC goal. T-Mobile works very hard in early flat stages to get Zabel wins as do other "GC" teams for their sprinters.

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