Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Armstrong Retirement, Take Two

They say timing is everything. And because I have an inquisitive mind, I am puzzling and theorizing over the timing of Lance's second retirement from professional cycling.
Lance Armstrong Retires From Cycling

From what I can gather, the plan at the beginning of the season was to make the Tour Down Under Lance's final race on the international stage, and he was [at least] signed up to start several domestic races over the spring and summer.

So, what happened?

It could be any number of things. First of all, Lance isn't the spring chicken he used to be. He's approaching an age where racers are either already retired or are certainly considering retirement. The wear and tear on the body is just too much to keep making it do as you please and expect it to hold up.

Second, he's been riding professionally for many years, spending time based in Europe, away from his home and family in Texas. And while it's exciting to get to ride your bike for a living in some of the most beautiful places on earth, I'm sure life on the road has got to take it's toll, too.

And, of course, some theorize that Lance's most recent retirement was due to the recent allegations of doping that has been levelled against him and his former U.S. Postal team. Personally, I doubt it. Lance has one of the coolest heads in professional sports and a killer business sense. He has also never tested positive for a banned substance. I doubt he would let these more recent allegations ruffle his feathers.

My sense is that he just felt it was time. When he retired in 2005, he was at the top of his sport. He'd won seven consecutive Tour de France maillot jaune and I think felt he had nothing left to prove to himself or to the sport. These past three seasons, I believe, didn't go quite as he wanted. He wanted an eighth yellow jersey and finished third in 2009 and 23rd last year. He didn't complain about it or make excuses, only saying that was the way sport played out sometimes.

Thanks again, Lance, for another great ride. Kick your feet up a bit and enjoy life in the slow(er) lane.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

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