Archive for the ‘Armstrong’ Category
Scary, bewildering, genius, medically possible?
First, there were was the startling news that Armstrong had ordered up some bizarre body scan work. Why, for what purpose? Was this another competitive edge he was trying to find, another high tech way to perfect his aerodynamic position on the bike?
Knowing Lance is relentlessly focused on the destruction of Alberto Contador, what was the scan really about? Then Nike released the new “human chain” video and the pieces began to fall into place. The conclusion was at once terrifying and brilliant.
Since the end of the 2009 Tour de France Armstrong repeatedly said he can’t beat Contador man-to-man. Even best friend and Radio Shack director Johan Bruyneel said it would be nearly impossible.
We thought we understood the new strategy when Radio Shack stripped Contador of all his best tour riders. If the Spaniard was dominant then make his team weak– a game of nine against one.
That appears just a smoke screen for the mind blowing tactic the Texan now has in prototype form. As the Nike video made startlingly clear, Armstrong has decided to clone himself and build a super team of Armstrongs to win the 2010 Tour de France.
Once the shock wears off the logic and bold thinking seems inevitable. Since his battle with cancer Lance has become an expert in bio-chemistry and physiology and a master at evaluating the best protocols and what cutting edge procedures give him the best odds.
Then consider his close and long standing relationship with pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb. There should be no doubt whatsoever that Bristol is deep into gene splicing and chromosomal manipulation. Wen Lance asks Trek to build a faster time trial bike, they jump. Did he ask Bristol to clone him a dozen indentical tour winner copies — a fair question, we think.
There are even rumors that Armstrong plans to put his body into cryogenic hibernation for unfreezing in the year 2103. He wants to win the 200th anniversary edition of the Tour de France. Bold, brilliant and cool in more ways than one.
And finally, admit that the seven time tour winner is a master of psychological games designed to confuse, weaken and destabilize his opponents. The mere threat of cloning of an army of Armstrongs, multiple copies of Lance, hangs over the tour and Alberto Contador is a seriously worried man.
Setting aside the ethical questions and Tour regulations, imagine a Radio Shack squad with nine Lance Armstrongs. Who to follow, who to chase and half of them are always rested — a nightmare for Alberto’s weak Astana team.
Picture this scenario in the Alps: three to four Armstrongs pacing Armstrong up the mountain, relentless attacking the Pistelero who is out of bullets because there are too many Lances to shoot. Which one is the original Lance? Kill one and Lacne simply pulls another version out of the Shack bus. Things may get crowded on that top step of the podium, but rest assured Lance will fit them all on.
From what we saw in the Nike propaganda piece, Lance Armstrong now has a working prototype version of himself, in fact, according to our count, at least 20.
The implications boggle the mind: are they ready, can they talk, are they up to the rigors of a three weak tour? What generation are they and how close is Armstrong to unleashing them all? Radio Shack replicants, is what we’re dealing with here.
All we know for sure is that when Alberto Contador saw the Nike video of twenty Lance Armstrongs riding at warp speed in a tight pace-line, he nearly choked on his tapas.
When Twisted Spoke signed up for twitter we were given the option of following some famous people right away. The starter celeb kit.
Cycling being our particular obsession, we naturally chose Lance Armstrong. But there was another name on the list of possibilities that caught our eye: the funkster himself Bootsy Collins.
We couldn’t resist the comedy in following just two people with such contrasting personalities as the 7 time Tour de France winner and the bass player for James Brown and later the genius behind arguably the greatest party band of all time, Parliment Funkadelic.
So it’s been a few months on twitter, each day reading with amusement what the famous Lance and funky Bootsy were up to. Gradually, we began to see similarities and started doing research. These fellas have plenty in common:
The JB connection. Lance Armstrong toured the world and rode for master tactician Johan Bruyneel while Bootsy toured the world and played for groove-king James Brown.
When Booty formed his Rubber Band, he brought in the Horny Horns. Lance is a big fan of the Texas Longhorns.
Bootsy hob-knobs with fellow funkateer George Clinton while Armstrong has hung out with ex-president Bill Clinton.
Bootsy has been at the top of the R&B charts many times and Lance is usually at the top of the UCI charts.
Collins has several alter egos including Casper the Funky Ghost and Bootzilla — “the world’s only rhinestone rockstar monster of a doll.” Lance is known to some as Mellow Johnny, The Boss and Juan Pelota.
Bootsy did a TV commercial for the Motorola ROKR phone. Armstrong is sponsored by major cell phone re-seller Radio Shack.
Collins has his a signature Bootsy Collins model bass called the “Bootzilla” made by Traben. As cycling fans know, Trek makes a special time trial bike just for Armstrong.
Bootsy served as “Heineken’s Amsterdam 2005″ curator and master of ceremonies. Lance is of course a Michelob Ultra pitchman.
Parliment Funkadelic was THE dominant funk outfit in the world in the 70’s. US Postal was THE dominant cycling squad from ’99 to 2004.
In 1997 Bootsy was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. When Armstrong does retire for good he’s a lock for the Bicycling Hall of Fame.
Bootsy survived 11 months playing with the volatile and violent James Brown. Not to be outdone, Armstrong survived cancer.
Bootsy claims to be the “P-Master of the Universe” and has a legion of “funkaholics.” Armstrong is the most famous cyclist on the planet with an army of followers.
Allegations of drug use surround both Bootsy and Lance — however Bootsy is happy to report that yeah, he was funked up most of the time.
Bootsy has a crazy yellow suit and hat for stage shows. Armstrong has a closet full of yellow jerseys from the Tour de France.
Bootsy contributed to the movie soundtrack for Superbad and Armstrong did a cameo in Dodgeball.
In some deep, cosmic sense, Bootsy and Lance are soul brothers, separated at birth. One is funky and the other is hyper fit. In their own way, they’re both freak-azoids, baby.
Meet my new boss, the boss, Lance Armstrong. Well maybe.
Count me among the, what, suspected legions of Armstrong tweet followers who responded to his job posting. Livestrong is looking for writers who are experts in the fields of health, fitness, sports, senior care, diet and nutrition. Look at me write, right now, it’s like instant proof.
Is Twisted Spoke not a serious and irreverent writer in the athletic domain of cycling, a sport in any definition of the word? In fact, in the eyes of the boss, my future boss, it is THE sport. I’m already half way in and I could bring over some of my people.
Plus, I’m 52 and have an AARP card so I’m right in the senior care demo despite my deceptively youthful appearance and excellent health. And there is nothing in our Norcal fridge that isn’t certified organic, so I’ve also got diet and nutrition covered. I’m off to a good start and that probably puts me mid pack in what is likely 100,000 resumes.
Still, I can dream. A bi-weekly paycheck for all approved articles! And I’ll “receive exposure on one of the web’s top health destination sites.” All the yellow livestrong wrist bands I can fit on my arms and initiation into the World of Lancedom. As a fall back position I’ve also applied to work for Johan Bruyneel’s sports marketing company. I got my fingers crossed but I’m keeping my day blog.
You know Armstrong will run for president someday. This could be a ground floor opportunity. This year I could be writing about fitness and in another four years I could be Lance’s personal speech writer. “A yellow jersey in the White House” would be my campaign slogan.
That’s how it goes with my future boss, Lance. Loyalty is everything and once you’re in, you’re in all the way. Trusted circle, part of the team, running flack, getting crap done, moving mountains, killing cancer, destroying Alberto, tweeking the planet’s orbit. You work with Lance, you’re in The Show.
I’m hoping the HR person on this candidate search just happens to be a Twisted Spoke reader. It’s really my only hope of rising to the top.
Radio Shack without star power?
Spanish website and Johan Bruyneel mind reader Biciciclismo.com has listed the Shack riders on the long list for this years’ Tour de France.
There are no surprises — Kloden, Leiphiemer, Horner, Zubeldia and that immensely famous Texan who does well in the long stage race held in France in July. What’s his name — Larry, Lucas, Leroy? No, that guy Lance Armstrong. Sorry, we had a momentary twitter blackout.
The startling omission was no celebrities or Hollywood types for the Shack tour armada. Previous tours have included Ben Stiller and Robin Williams to keep the team psychologically loose. Brought on for her evocative country western music, Sheryl Crow was a powerful addition to the 2005 squad.
Jake Gyllenhaal has coached Armstrong on “method cycling,” as a way to get deeper into his yellow jersey character. Johan Bruyneel have always been proactive on getting whoever they think will give them an edge — and Hollywood is the mother-lode of star power and motivation.
So who are the stars Armstrong will invite to Le Shack for the Tour de France? The rumors circulating at this time have the Texan amping up the mind games with Alberto Contador. This is psychological warfare and Armstrong is going with the heavy guns on the A-list. He’s already stripped the Astana roster bare, now he’s about to attack Contador closer to home.
The plan is to bring in top Spanish celebrities this year to root for Lance and by implication to critically undermine the support for Contador in his own country. Actresses Paz Vegas and superstar Penelope Cruz have indicated they might be joining Lance on the Shack bus.
Spanish actor Javier Bardem will apparently fly in and reprise his role as the homicidal killer in No Country For Old Men. An informed source says Bardem will take a position outside the Astana bus in an attempt to unhinge El Pistelero. And Soccer star Fernando Torrez had already agreed to kick a few balls with Armstrong on the rest day.
Lance Armstrong always brings the strongest team to the Tour de France and Hollywood plays a decisive role. This year it’s El Hollywood.
News that the Passage du Gois will be on the route of the 2011 Tour de France reminded us that it’s not much of a passage. Various accounts describe it as wet and slippery and dangerous and even seaweed-covered. You could call it the Passage du Gall, as in who would dare pull this kind of stunt?
Imagine crashing out of the tour on the passage because your tire slid on a beached sardine or pelobate cultipede — the local species of toad. Sacre blue, mes amis. This place is for sailing and not cycling.
It’s also proof that the Gallic sense of humor does exist. The term passage would be generous and a part-time lie — twice a day the 4.5km cobblestone paved sandbank causeway, which connects the Noirtmoutier island to mainland France, is under water thanks to the Atlantic tides.
The tall post you see in the distance is called a “balise.” There are a good number and they serve as a self-rescue option — if you’re trapped by the fast rising tide, you climb up and wait a few hours for the waters to recede. The passage is better suited to snorkel gear than a titanium race bike.
Armstrong started as a triathlete so the man can handle a potential swim portion of the Tour de France — if he’s still unretired. But what about Schleck and Contador? How will they deal with swimming their way to Paris? There’s been much talk about practicing for the cobblestone sections that open the 2010 tour. The year after promises a new menace –beware the water park excursion.
Twisted Spoke says, bring the speedo. And stay on top of this passage du gois deal — it even has a facebook page.
Has Floyd Landis finally tapped back into his fiery core, the dark maelstrom of vengeance, indignation and plain orneriness?
And why, after so much time lost in post suspension Hell, has Floyd relocated his furious mojo in a sun-drenched, happy-go-lucky tropical island in the Bahamas? Strange meets weird and they’ve got some explaining to do.
First, the story: Landis won the time trial in the sunny island — which given the relatively weak field and oddball location might seem un-newsworthy. Except for two things.
One, Landis broke the record his pal Dave Zabriske set two years ago on the exact same course and two, he’s pissed off about it. His exact words were: “I was on somebody else’s road bike with clinchers and no aero clothes. Take that f@*#ers.”
Fast and angry is the two word personality profile of Landis back in his super-human days, when he led Armstrong up the mountains of the Tour de France. It was what drove him to win the 2006 tour when his hip joint was rotting away in a sclerotic mess. (We’re discarding that synthetic testosterone charge just for story flow.)
So, maybe, just possibly, you-never-know-with-Floyd, his anger is back. Hooray.
Now, Landis needs someone to channel and focus his anger and that man is Armstrong. Give the man a Radio Shack jersey, a free Trek race bike and point him at Alberto Contador and say the words “kill.” Floyd will froth, steam will blow from both ears, tires will screech and the Spaniard will be chasing the mad Mennonite up the Alps.
The Tour de France begs for this scenario. It’s mandatory story telling and people should refuse to buy any gizmos from Radio Shack until the corporate sponsors cry uncle … Floyd. Lance needs every high powered weapon he can get his mitts on to even have a shot at El Pistelero. Landis is a shotgun filled with buck shot and nails.
Twisted Spoke has plans to convince the stiff shirts at the Tour de France to accept Floyd back into the fold. But one faux pas at a time. First, Bahamas, then Radio Shack, then world domination.
Now, Landis was wearing his freebie Rock Racing kit down in the Bahamas. But Michael Ball’s team just whiffed on their UCI license and nobody knows what’s happening to the team. The jeans looks great and the strung-out hipster models are cool but, skull logo aside, is this really a home for the Pennsylvania farm boy?
Consider the core fact: Floyd is on record that he simply can’t motivate himself unless he’s back in Europe raising havoc — and do you know why? Landis doesn’t hate Americans; it’s not in his DNA, he can’t get worked up about nice domestic American races and friendly competition from easy-going American riders.
Landis hates pretension and regulations and snobs and strange food and little tiny cars: he hates Europeans. That’s what makes his volcano blow and the lava explode down the mountainside. Floyd needs Europe for motivation — it’s the only place that makes him train like an animal and ride like a demon.
So where are we? Open letter to Lance, that’s where. Strike against Radio Shack until invitation is issued. Then we’ll work on France — and as a French major, I promise the full package of carrots and bull whips. The ship has left the Bahamas and it is heading for France.
Man the Twitter machine. We have much work do to between now and July.
Numbers, baby, it’s all in the numbers.
Who believes Lance Armstrong will beat Alberto Contador and win the 2010 Tour de France? If you read the cycling press, it’s a long shot for the creaky rider who will be almost 39 when the tour begins in Rotterdam.
His Radio Shack master tactician and best friend Johan Bruyneel says Contador has no weaknesses on the bike. The Belgian claims to have little idea how to beat the Spaniard beyond psychological warfare and throwing cobblestones at Alberto.
Saxo Bank mastermind Bjarne Riis had much the same opinion of Armstrong’s odds. “I think he can do well, but it will be difficult for him to get on the podium,” said Riis. “So he must really do much better, and I do not think he can. He is getting older.”
In an interview with Spanish daily Marca, Armstrong himself questioned his chances. “If I were Contador I wouldn’t be afraid of Lance,” he responded.
The odds look daunting but maybe it’s time to poll the real experts, the guys with big money on the line. In other words, the bookies.
Sites Blue Square calculates Armstrong at 11 to 1 odds while William Hill has him on the board at 8 to 1. The “Lance Armstrong Special” at Skybet has him at 7 to 2 to finish ahead of Contador and 7 to 4 to finish on the podium.
Over at BetBrain, Lance is at 10 to 1 and 9 to 1 at BetInternet and Iasbet. SportingBet puts his chances at 6 to 4 to finish on the podium. Do you have your credit card ready because finally you canmake some money with your cycling addiction.
And remember, these are professional gambling experts who spend their lives in dark smokey rooms figuring this out — they’re not just lowly cycling fans or deluded director sportifs. This is gospel.
It’s also important to understand that odds mean nothing to Armstrong except as motivational fuel. After beating cancer and winning seven tours, anyone else’s diagnosis is just misguided and uninformed speculation.
In his mind, Lance Armstrong will start the 2010 Tour de France at 1 to 1 odds. “This Tour is different. It’s technical and I’ve already said that I can win it,” said Armstrong recently. The boss has spoken.
The Twisted Spoke line: put your savings on Contador but throw some bones down on Lance, just in case.
Andre Geipel spent the last few days before the 2010 Tour Down Under telling journalists he wasn’t the favorite and had no idea what his form was.
This fabrication despite the fact he’d won the 2008 edition and was well positioned to win in 2009 before he crashed out. The HTC-Columbia sprinter practically gave himself a new twist on his nickname: Andre the Not-So-Giant.
Consider the downplay over. The German rider from Rostock out-sprinted Gert Steegmans (Team RadioShack) and Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) to take the opening day honors. Add the 141k stage from Clare to Tanunda to Greipel’s haul of six Tour Down Under stage wins. He starts his season off in high lycra style with the yellow jersey of race leader.
“We came here to win a stage and now we’ve won one, so our main goal has been reached. Everything else is now on top of that,” said Greipel. “We waited and spoke with the other teams but nobody wanted to ride with us, so Bert Grabsch chased them down just like he does in time trials.
“Of course it’s just the first stage, we have to take the responsibility to win every race now as we have in the last two years. So for sure that’s the focus now again. And no crashes,” said Greipel, referring the the collision with a parked police bike that forced him out of the race last year.
Not a mechanical, a technological.
Defending champion Allan Davis had a rough day out, the out being any hope of winning the general classification. The Australian had a technological break down. His Astana team neglected to bring radios so when the peloton split on the Megler climb, Davis was in the dark.
“It was just a bit of a miscommunication, we didn’t have radios,” said Davis. “I was just riding within myself up the climb and found myself 50 meters behind my teammates and they didn’t realize. They just started pulling and I didn’t realize I was on the back so it left me behind.” Twisted Spoke notes that the Post-Bruyneel Astana is already off to a disorganized start.
Radio dispatch from The Shack: “Almost.”
Lance Armstrong made it clear he had high expectations for his new team. Corporate sponsors flew in, expensive brunches were served and the Texan talked up the fitness level of their sprinter, Gert Steegmans.
The former Katusha rider hadn’t raced for six months but after the Shack training camp, Armstrong had declared him ready to rock. Well, almost. Steegmans was well-positioned for the final sprint but was no match for Greipel.
The 38 year old Armstrong finished the stage in good spirits and more importantly, in one piece.
The Rocky Rainbow.
World Road Champion Cadel Evans had a decidedly rocky start to his season. Riding for his new team, BMC Racing, Evans wasn’t as lucky as Armstrong. Barely 300 meters into the race, an Euskaltel-Euskadi rider went down taking out half the peloton with him.
“I started on the front row and still managed to get in the middle of it, but that happens and from there on in everyone was a bit nervous of course,” said Evans. “I had a one in two chance of being in it.” Perhaps Evans was distracted by trying to memorize the names of his new teammates.
A massive crash, forgotten radios, a favorite who pretended not to be. The 2010 racing season is off to an exciting start. Andre the Still Giant is as fast as ever.
Lance Armstrong created a monster.
The tech savvy, media master himself was the first to take charge of the cycling universe and then expand into world dominance. But the teacher has a student about to surpass him. Johan Bruyneel is now an always live, 24/7 media creature.
The Belgian has taken every digital page from the Lance Armstrong playbook. Bruyneel has his own youtube channel, facebook fan page, web site, an on-going video show, his book (available in 9 languages), charity foundation, a blog and newsletter. He’s working the channels like a seasoned Hollywood star. It’s the full tour de media and Bruyneel has the white jersey for best newcomer.
Like all media creatures that morph into human product, Bruyneel has his own logo and theme line — “Win Your Race.” Bruyneel is a global brand. He’s a life coach, he leads business seminars, according to Phil Liggett, the voice of the Tour de France, he could “inspire a tortoise to sprint.” His book We Might As Well Win earns 4 1/2 stars from readers on Amazon.
Lance showed Johan Bruyneel the magical world of new media and the Belgian dove in head first. Johan already has the tweets down, firing them off from his house, car, office and wherever he finds himself on the cycling globe.
According to his web site, Johan is ready for your next corporate event with a 45 minute speech on motivation plus Q & A and a short film. He leads a sports management and consulting company to help your team reach its maximum global potential. The words genius and mastermind are used to describe himself.
Then there’s his charity work. Along with Trek and SRAM, Bruyneel has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for World Bicycle Relief, an organization that provides bikes to poor people in undeveloped regions of the world. He doesn’t have his own bracelet but you know it’s on the drawing board.
He’s slimmed down, there’s a hairstylist, media advisors, his tweets post to his facebook page which updates his website. What other team manager has all this technology dialed in — not even the argyle genius Jonathan Vaughters. His photo gallery covers everything from the personal pics of kids and family to his book tour and many tour wins.
In case you haven’t noticed, Johan Bruyneel is sporting an aura these days. Who’s in those celebrity photos besides Lance? You get one guess. That’s Johan with McConaughyy and Cheryl Crow and Ben Stiller and Robin Williams and Jake Gyllenhaal. Once upon a time, the only star was Lance and everybody else got a slice of dark shadow. That’s not the case anymore. People apparently want to know what’s on Bruyneel’s mind on a daily basis. Armstrong is the famous actor and Johan the renowned director.
Bruyneel watched Lace reach media sainthood and picked up a few pointers. He’s now in that famous person orbit where magazines want a photo spread of his house, they want to know what car he drives, what wine he recommends and they insist on asking what’s on his ipod. The true measure of celebrity status is that journalists, politicians and other stars just want to “hang” with him. He’s reached the mythic level where no last name is required: everyone knows who Johan is.
We at Twisted Spoke say, congratulations, welcome to the juicy world of stardom, baby. In all seriousness, the man both earned and deserved it. He’s the best in the business, the manager and director sportif behind an astonishing nine Tour de France wins.
He’s a motivational Jedi, master strategist, he speaks six languages, he’s chalked up several fortunes. Most men would have stopped there, coasting on their rep, but to his credit and with Armstrong as inspiration, Bruyneel widened his horizons. He’s fully involved in fund raising for Livestrong and is now also pumping major funds into World Bicycle Relief.
There’s plenty of dislike directed at Bruyneel and Armstrong. Their power and ego rub some people the wrong way but that criticism masks a lot of jealousy and cynicism. Yes, Armstrong gets some hefty “appearance fees” and yes, Bruyneel tagging himself with “genius” is a bit much.
Meta question: who cares? We’re talking about two super ambitious men who’ve raised millions for cancer research and humanitarian projects all over the world. If that hope and optimism and inspiration come with a side order of ego, well, so what? Name anyone else in the world of cycling trying to do anymore than win a bike race?
So what’s next for new media monster Johan Bruyneel? Hard to say. But you’ll be the first to know — on his tweet feed, web site, facebook page, pod-cast and newsletter.
Lance Armstrong is not afraid of anyone — on or off the carbon fiber race bike. This we know.
He’s not afraid of anybody in an Astana jersey or Saxo Bank. He sure as crapola isn’t sacred of anyone in a Caisse d’Epargne kit.
The man has faced down cancer, the big C, so skinny guys in lycra barely register on the fear meter. Contador, Schleck, Valverde and Menchov — come on, folks. Those guys don’t even rate compared to chemo. Nobody vomits and loses their hair over Cadel Evans.
Asked for comments on the gun attack on the Togo football team bus in Angola at the Africa Cup of Nations, Armstrong made his own opinion pretty crystal.
“As long as whoever they trust, whether it is the State Department, the police department … as long as someone says, ‘It is good to go, the stadium is safe, the roads are safe,’ then the mentality of athletes is to play the game. And I think that is what the mentality should be.”
It’s certainly Armstrong’s mentality. He’s endured death threats in the 2004 Tour de France, people spitting on him in the Alpe d’Huez time trial. He’s faced down muck racking journalists and doubters of every kind.
Wake up, folks. The man is from Texas, he grew on watching Clint Eastwood in those spaghetti westerns. The man doesn’t faze, ain’t fazable, has never been faze-prone. Armstrong has spent the whole winter shoveling dung on Alberto Contador. The flames couldn’t get any higher. Already thousands of crazed Basque fans are planning their revenge in the Pyrenees. Is Armstrong worried? Doubtful.
“That’s the world we are living in today. People use these high-profile opportunities to make a statement. Any time you have any occurrence where millions of people are watching, that is a target.”
This from a man who went through the 2004 tour with his own body guards plus agents of France’s crack Groupe d’Intervention de la Police Nationale. That’s French for bad ass dudes with hidden sub-machine guns. Lance has it covered — except for that fan’s musette bag that took him down in the 2003 Tour de France. Important distinction: tourist, no terrorist.
So the obvious truth is re-confirmed. Evil nemesis Spanish climber Alberto Contador, bomb throwing terrorist, it’s all the same. For Lance Armstrong, the category is basically the same. Yawn.