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Old 04-11-09, 07:43 AM   #1
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Why doesn't Armstrong ride the spring classics

Armstrong is obviously the greatest TdF rider, but he's a "one trick pony". I'd respect him more if he rode the spring classics. Hincapie gets my vote as the US cyclist i respect the most because he's in it for the love of it more than anything else. Any insights into why Armstrong avoids them
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Old 04-11-09, 08:11 AM   #2
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Old 04-11-09, 08:18 AM   #3
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He rode Milan-Sanremo this year. I think he was about 125th.

He was second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège back in the day, but that may be a scheduling conflict with him wanting to ride the Giro.

Granted it isn't spring, but Lombardy is still a monument and he could be competitive. I'd like him to race that one.
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Old 04-11-09, 10:01 AM   #4
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Because he is a one trick pony. His whole carrer has been built around one race and that is it. And that is why he will never be one of the truely great riders
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Old 04-11-09, 02:03 PM   #5
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In the last 10 years, has he ever raced after July?

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Old 04-11-09, 04:28 PM   #6
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If you read his book "It's not about the Bike", you get the impression that Lance did not like the lifestyle of living on the road in Europe which is essentially what you do when you have a heavy spring classic race schedule. Not only did he concentrate his effort on the TDF after his cancer because he found he was a good climber, but he could train more at home and spend less time on the road going from race to race with this kind of a training schedule.

There is far more to the whole equation than most people realize. He found his nitch and what he could do well and concentrated on that. Why so many bike racers criticize this I don't know. Of course, money would have been a strong incentive for winning the TDF and I'm sure it factored in to his decision process. It also is obvious from the book that Lance does not like to race in bad weather very much. Though he trains in it without too much complaint.

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Old 04-11-09, 11:21 PM   #7
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Armstrong is obviously the greatest TdF rider, but he's a "one trick pony". I'd respect him more if he rode the spring classics.
Your respect is not what he's after. Tour is what his sponsors wanted, Tour is where the US publicity was, Tour is was got him famous, Tour is money.

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Old 04-12-09, 03:50 AM   #8
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I can't remember if it was three or four years ago but I was at the top of a burg in Belgium when the Tour of Flanders went by and Lance was sharing the lead with someone. He was riding in support of Hincapie but not competitive.

Lance makes his money on (mostly US) advertising and those advertising dollars are based upon wins at TdF which is the only race the US public has heard of. Other riders get their money (mostly) from teams and the teams determine their schedules.

Be assured that this one race focus more than anything else (including country of origin) is why European cycling fans don't take to Lance like the US public does.

Its also why its impossible to rank Lance against current or past pro riders. For instance you can compare a long dead racer like Coppi to Hincapie because they ride (or rode) many of the same races in a season. But what other racer focused only on the TdF?
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Old 04-13-09, 05:09 AM   #9
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I can't remember if it was three or four years ago but I was at the top of a burg in Belgium when the Tour of Flanders went by and Lance was sharing the lead with someone. He was riding in support of Hincapie but not competitive.

Lance makes his money on (mostly US) advertising and those advertising dollars are based upon wins at TdF which is the only race the US public has heard of. Other riders get their money (mostly) from teams and the teams determine their schedules.
Be assured that this one race focus more than anything else (including country of origin) is why European cycling fans don't take to Lance like the US public does.

Its also why its impossible to rank Lance against current or past pro riders. For instance you can compare a long dead racer like Coppi to Hincapie because they ride (or rode) many of the same races in a season. But what other racer focused only on the TdF?

First, Lance gets or got most of his money from private contracts with sponsors that he has had for a very long time. For example, when he had cancer and Cofidis let him go, much of his medical costs were paid by Nike and Oakley.

Second, and this is something lost on many current bike fans that have only come to the sport, say in the last 10 years, or less...and that's the fact that older riders (like Merckx) were not specialists. And they were racing against other guys that were not specialists. Now, riders are specialists. For example you don't see riders like Basso (before his suspension), Contador, Sastre, before that Indurain and Pantani (just to pick a few names off the top of my head) now or in the past being big on classics. The last Grand Tour GC rider I can recall doing a lot of classics was Hinault, and he stopped that when he was in the midst of winning Tours. He won L-B-L twice, Paris Roubaix once as I recall and the Amstel Gold, both in 1981.

The last GT rider I can recall winning a classic was DiLuca winning L-B-L right before his Giro win.

Did European cycling fans hate Cippolini because he pulled out of the Tour as soon as the road turned upward? McEwen because he leaves the Giro when the sprint stages end to prep for the Tour?

Don't forget that Lance used to ride Amstel.

This is like saying that pitchers today are unloved because they rarely throw complete games. Now we have reliever specialists.

Anyway, this has been going on for a while. Lance did not invent specialities. What he and Bruyneel did was develop the preparation for Grand Tour racing.

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Old 04-13-09, 05:54 AM   #10
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...(including country of origin) is why European cycling fans don't take to Lance like the US public does.
Honestly, if you're not American, there aren't many reasons to actually like Lance.

That said, though, nowadays, to be competitive in a given race, you pretty much have to prepare is a dedicated fashion for that particular race. Tom Boonen prepares specially for the Roubaix and Flanders, at least half of the Italian pros prep specially for the Giro.

What Lance does differently is not ride races he doesn't care about at all because he prefers to stay home in Texas and train rather than train on the road or be a good team-mate and help those who actually want to win the smaller races.
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Old 04-13-09, 06:54 AM   #11
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I understand the concept of "specialists" like climbers and sprinters and such. Lance seems to have taken this to a new level as (post cancer and previous to this year) he specialized in one grand tour not grand tours in general (like say Contador does). I would say he became a specialized specialist which I think is quite unique.

And there are some people who actually dislike the fact that pitchers don't pitch whole games or don't get up to bat at all.

Maybe this is splitting hairs but I think you can appreciate an athletes' athletic performance but still dislike a system that allows for such acute specialization that it becomes impossible to compare athletes from the past to current athletes.
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Old 04-13-09, 08:03 AM   #12
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Honestly, if you're not American, there aren't many reasons to actually like Lance.

That said, though, nowadays, to be competitive in a given race, you pretty much have to prepare is a dedicated fashion for that particular race. Tom Boonen prepares specially for the Roubaix and Flanders, at least half of the Italian pros prep specially for the Giro.

What Lance does differently is not ride races he doesn't care about at all because he prefers to stay home in Texas and train rather than train on the road or be a good team-mate and help those who actually want to win the smaller races.
I don't see half the TdF GC contenders in the spring classics; he's not the only one skips out on races. I'm not even sure if I were a team manager I'd want my GC contenders in those races. I certainly wouldn't put Contador out to support someone in Paris-Roubaix.
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Old 04-13-09, 08:18 AM   #13
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I understand the concept of "specialists" like climbers and sprinters and such. Lance seems to have taken this to a new level as (post cancer and previous to this year) he specialized in one grand tour not grand tours in general (like say Contador does). I would say he became a specialized specialist which I think is quite unique.

And there are some people who actually dislike the fact that pitchers don't pitch whole games or don't get up to bat at all.

Maybe this is splitting hairs but I think you can appreciate an athletes' athletic performance but still dislike a system that allows for such acute specialization that it becomes impossible to compare athletes from the past to current athletes.

Well, pre "Pro Tour" teams were not forced to ride all the Grand Tours and all the classics, etc. Most of Lance's career that many would be familiar with was pre Pro Tour.

USPS did not ride the Giro. They allowed for another Spanish rider to win the Vuelta, Heras. Nothing wrong with that. Why not give someone else a chance?

Your last paragraph is well said, but you must consider that they really don't care if you can compare riders, or any athletes for that matter.

In fact we were talking baseball and I was telling my nephews that I saw something they'd never see again...a 10 inning complete game win for a starting pitcher in the World Series (1969), which in this case was Tom Seaver.
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Old 04-13-09, 08:24 AM   #14
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Honestly, if you're not American, there aren't many reasons to actually like Lance.

That said, though, nowadays, to be competitive in a given race, you pretty much have to prepare is a dedicated fashion for that particular race. Tom Boonen prepares specially for the Roubaix and Flanders, at least half of the Italian pros prep specially for the Giro.

What Lance does differently is not ride races he doesn't care about at all because he prefers to stay home in Texas and train rather than train on the road or be a good team-mate and help those who actually want to win the smaller races.
USPS, and I am assuming you are referring to them as the Disco years were so short they don't really merit discussion here, was set up as a Grand Tour team. Dirk Demol actually was the guy that "discovered" Boonen and you may recall him trying to help Hincapie (at Paris Roubaix) when George crashed into a ditch. As I recall, Boonen finished on the podium (then told USPS he wanted out of his contract and ended upw ith Quick Step). On the other hand, Quick Step sucks in Grand Tours. Why? They are built around Boonen who is a classics rider who tries to survive the TdF.

The point is that team was so strong that they did not need Lance all the time. He was there for one reason. And the other riders got paid well to support that.

This really is not that hard to understand.

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Old 04-13-09, 08:36 AM   #15
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Well, pre "Pro Tour" teams were not forced to ride all the Grand Tours and all the classics, etc. Most of Lance's career that many would be familiar with was pre Pro Tour.

USPS did not ride the Giro. They allowed for another Spanish rider to win the Vuelta, Heras. Nothing wrong with that. Why not give someone else a chance?

Your last paragraph is well said, but you must consider that they really don't care if you can compare riders, or any athletes for that matter.

In fact we were talking baseball and I was telling my nephews that I saw something they'd never see again...a 10 inning complete game win for a starting pitcher in the World Series (1969), which in this case was Tom Seaver.
Jack Morris, Minnesota Twins. 1991 World Series, pitched 10 shutout innings beating the Atlanta Braves in Game 7. Arguably one of the greatest pitching performances ever.
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Old 04-13-09, 08:49 AM   #16
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Jack Morris, Minnesota Twins. 1991 World Series, pitched 10 shutout innings beating the Atlanta Braves in Game 7. Arguably one of the greatest pitching performances ever.
Yeah, but you can't compare the Orioles of that era, to the Braves...10 innings against the '69 Orioles does not compare to 10 innings against the Braves.



I'd forgotten about that.

But my point was that, in today's game of pitch counts you'd probably never see that again. Note, "I saw something they'd never see again..." is a forward looking statement. I did not say, "It's never happened since."

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Old 04-13-09, 11:48 AM   #17
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Armstrong is obviously the greatest TdF rider, but he's a "one trick pony". I'd respect him more if he rode the spring classics. Hincapie gets my vote as the US cyclist i respect the most because he's in it for the love of it more than anything else. Any insights into why Armstrong avoids them
Because they don't (didn't) fit his training schedule. So long as Le Tour was the single goal, a GT contender (vs. rider) should not be in the shape required to do well in the Classics at the time of the Classics. Big George, although a wonderful rider, has never been considered a GT contender.

Now, whether Le Tour should have been the single goal is a different debate. And before respondents start talking about how a truly great rider should be able to do both, let everyone remember just how impossible Armstrong's feat of making it look easy really is. If it hadn't been the single goal, he wouldn't have had that success. So what will you argue, that Classic wins are just as good as GT wins?
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Old 04-13-09, 01:31 PM   #18
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Because he is a one trick pony. His whole carrer has been built around one race and that is it. And that is why he will never be one of the truely great riders
The Second half of his career was built around one race.

You're dismissing winning: World Champion Road Race,
Classico San Sebastion,
US Pro Championship,
Flech Wallone,
Tour Of Switzerland,
Tour Dupont,
Dauphine Libere (twice),
Gran Prix de Nations,
Triple Crown (still the largest cash prize won in cycling), , amongst others,

and second place in Classico San Sebastian,
and Liege Bastogne Liege.

And you don't win 7 consecutive TDFs without going down as one of the truly great cyclists.
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Old 04-15-09, 10:17 AM   #19
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Watching the spring classics for the first time this year, I would think that injury would be a major concern. Why risk a TDF victory getting injured riding on a crappy road in a classic?
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Old 04-15-09, 10:26 AM   #20
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Because riders are specializing no one will ever ever beat Eddy Merckx. He always will be 'the cannibal'.

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Old 04-15-09, 02:13 PM   #21
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Watching the spring classics for the first time this year, I would think that injury would be a major concern. Why risk a TDF victory getting injured riding on a crappy road in a classic?
Because winning Paris-Roubaix is almost as big a win?

Hinault is reputed to have hated classics becasue it was a bit of a crap shoot. He still wanted and got his P-R win. (Over a pretty fair cyclist in second).
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Old 04-15-09, 02:32 PM   #22
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Because winning Paris-Roubaix is almost as big a win?
Its not even close to the TDF in terms of global recognition. Even non-cyclists are familiar with the tour de france.

http://www.google.com/trends?q=Paris...our+de+france+

Why risk injury for a race that not many people care about?
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Old 04-15-09, 03:08 PM   #23
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Before 1996, Armstrong was mostly a Classics racer. After cancer, he found a new aptitude and focused on the Tour, and stage races that prepared him for the Tour.

Back in Mercxx's day, to make a living as a bike racer you had to toe the line in every race you could make it to. The pay scale is a little better now, and riders can often afford to specialize in certain races.
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Old 04-15-09, 04:43 PM   #24
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Why risk injury for a race that not many people care about?
Not that many people in America care about these races. In Europe these are huge events.

There is much much more to bike racing than the TDF. Outside of the U.S. that is.
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Old 04-15-09, 05:36 PM   #25
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Before 1996, Armstrong was mostly a Classics racer. After cancer, he found a new aptitude and focused on the Tour, and stage races that prepared him for the Tour.

Back in Mercxx's day, to make a living as a bike racer you had to toe the line in every race you could make it to. The pay scale is a little better now, and riders can often afford to specialize in certain races.
Pretty much true, but not entirely. Often riders made their money riding little races. The money was often appearance fees, not prize money, at least for the good riders.

A bit of irony. At least some sources report that Merckx was at least in part riding in the track race where he was seriously injured in '69 because if Merckx was riding the purses were about double and that extra meant a lot to other riders.
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