Mailbag: Lance Armstrong
I never knew that one athlete could touch me so much. Never a cycling fan before Lance, he made me a believer. There is something marvelous about watching the very best work. The drive, the determination, the never-quit attitude -- it is something we will witness perhaps only once in a lifetime. If only we all had the fire of Lance. I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to watch him work.
Lance has done so much for the cycling world, and his leaving has people looking for a new hero. But no new hero is necessary. He showed us that the hero is in the everyday. He states that his most important accomplishment was beating cancer, a struggle that millions of people around the world are battling through at this very moment. He has proven to us that this is where we find heroes. Lance's tremendous athletic ability and drive have given people everywhere hope that they themselves can do something great. Cheers to you, Lance!
Lance showed his unequivocal quality and pure honesty as a person when the question was posed by someone hoping for an eloquent and moving response on faith and the power of God. However, Lance replied, "Everyone should believe in something, and I believed in surgery, chemotherapy, and my doctors."
Todd Stuart (Fla.)
While some who have never competed in cycling may debate his athletic greatness, there is no debating the class, dignity, positive attitude, and desire Lance Armstrong has shown in his personal and athletic achievements. These attributes, and his hope and influence, are why he is truly the definition of a champion of life.
Mark (Maple Grove, Minn.)
I watched the Tour before Lance and will continue to watch the Tour in the post-Armstrong era, but my July's will never quite the same without Lance. There are very few sporting events that capture my attention for a few hours, let alone 21 days. He has clearly shown that even when gifted with great talent and physical attributes, we are all still human. No matter who we are, we are not immune to disease and misfortune. He has shown us how strong the human will can be to fight to regain health, but he has also shown us about learning what is important in life. He has shown how to be the best at his sport and still maintain a genuine respect for sportsmanship. These are lessons that not only apply to athletes, but to every human being.
Kevin (Addison, VT)
Lance is a true hero to younger Americans who are fighting cancer. I'm 22 years old and since being diagnosed with cancer at 18, I've been reading all of Lance's books and following him during the Tours. I've always been an athlete but got into biking when I came down with testicular cancer, and found that it helped me get through the days if I could take a little ride every day. So thank you, Lance and keep up the good work with the LAF organization.
Anonymous Lance Armstrong critic
LANCE ARMSTRONG IS NOT ONE OF THE GREATEST ATHLETES OF ALL TIME. If he was in a contest of the best-conditioned people of all time he might win, but he is far from being a top notch ATHLETE. What it takes to win the Tour de France is not amazing athletic ability, although you need some, but rather amazing conditioning. Mostly anyone could practice their whole life for ONE EVENT A YEAR. Plus any of the top-notch athletes of today could probably compete in the Tour de France, but Armstrong could not compete in one of the three major sports, the NBA, NFL, and MLB. Also Armstrong also races one race a year. Back 15-20 years ago, the elite cyclists would race multiple events. If Armstrong was biking then he would be laughed at as a one-trick pony. Face the facts. LANCE ARMSTRONG IS NOT AN ATHLETE.
Brett Crouch (Lexington Ky.)
Legends are created by their rivals. I reckon Lance should honor Jan Ullrich by helping him train and prepare for next year's Tour De France.
I will not forget the image of a race official removing the jersey number from Lance Armstrong's back (he was then with Motorola) in the pelting rain after he withdrew from the Tour de France - weeks before learning of his cancer diagnosis. The sharp contrast between that miserable day and this sun-lit final day of the 2005 Tour illustrates for me just how far he has come - and how far he has brought us along the way.
Juwon Yang (Los Angeles)
If Michael Jordan represented and defined my youth, Lance Armstrong is the athlete that now inspires and motivates me in my adulthood. I will never forget his story and it will always serve to inspire me and I will someday tell my children about his story more than any other athlete's story.
CB (San Francisco)
My brother and I are both cancer survivors. Lance gave us inspiration and strength. It is not about the bike, and it is not about the sports anymore. It is the can-do spirit. I don't know why some writers start debating whether he is the best athlete of all time. You can't compare one sport against another. It is different.
Lance definitely deserves to be considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, but relative to his sport. Like comparing Jordan, Ali and Tiger. The three are completely different but dominated their era and sport. With so much emphasis on "ball" sports as having the best athletes because of the coordination and skill, we might as well include bowling and billiards in the equation. Both require extreme amounts of skill and coordination to be at the top of each game. I play golf, and am a club cyclist, but you can be a 350 lb. pro golfer. Is he a great athlete ? I believe an athlete should have some kind of conditioning. Just my opinion.
Lance Armstrong is a testimony to survival. As a fellow cyclist (not a very good one), I can appreciate what he has accomplished. There is nothing easy about climbing a one-mile hill and you look at these guys climbing 15k. It is insane! Lance has inspired not only cancer patients to fight for their lives, but an enormous amount of people to change their lifestyles and be healthy by exercising. Our population is so overcome by obesity that we need a few more role models like Lance to inspire some of us to try to be healthy.
Joe (St George,Utah)
I don't know what my July's from now on will be like, without seeing the most inspirational athlete in my lifetime pedaling through the countryside and mountains of France. He's given all of us so many unforgettable moments, and I will miss him terribly.
Jeremy Repanich (Seattle)
I've watched almost every stage of Lance's Tours, read his books and intently followed his career. It was absolutely amazing to witness three stages at this year's Tour de France, meet great people and cheer on a sporting giant. It was especially moving to be on the Champs-Elysees to see his final day of competitive cycling conclude triumphantly; truly a fitting end to an inspirational career and I'll always remember being there to see him on the podium one last time.
Al (Hong Kong)
A cancer survivor myself, Lance Armstrong has been a model for me in aspiring to be the best I can be despite being afflicted by that dreadful disease. I have conquered it like Lance and live each day to the fullest. Thank you, Lance! Enjoy the rest of your life!
Mike Nelson (Cupertino, Calif.)
It really is amazing seeing what Lance has done in his life - simply surviving cancer is astounding in itself. Much less the fact that he's won seven Tour de France titles, most of them in dominating fashion. He has truly been an inspiration to everyone, from the tremendous success of his Foundation and his "Livestrong" wristbands to his great personal story. This is the first year that I really watched the tour stages from start to finish, and it made me realize how hard it is to win one; much less seven in a row. One wrong move, one crash and it can be all over. I have to say that Lance's seven Tour wins are the greatest feat in the history of sports.
Cycling is not so popular in India, but I happened to see it in 2003 on television and was hooked on Lance and Tour de France for life. It would be difficult to imagine the Tour without him, but it would be equally exciting to see who will be his successor. I feel specially sorry for Jan Ullrich. It is never easy to be in the same era as a legend like Lance. Such people are God-sent. Everyone around them, their contemporaries always suffer in their shadows.