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Point/Counterpoint: Was Lance Armstrong’s finish a success?

BY DI SPORTS STAFF | JULY 28, 2009 7:07 AM

YES

So what? Lance Armstrong didn’t win the Tour De France in his latest comeback. Yes, it’s a strange sight to see a Tour that he was a part of and didn’t win.

But given Armstrong’s circumstances and decorated career, his third-place finish was a success without a doubt.

At 37 years old, and after a 3 1/2-year hiatus from cycling, it’s impressive that he even finished in the top three. He is also the second-oldest rider to stand on the Tour De France winner’s podium — a feat in itself.

Alberto Contador, 26, and 24-year-old Andy Schleck finished before Armstrong. Contador’s credentials, which include Grand Tour wins of France, Italy, and Spain, make him arguably a cycling great already.

Officials with the tour awarded Schleck the white jersey, given to the best young rider on the tour.

After those facts, third doesn’t seem so bad, especially for a man nearing the age of 40.

It’s a possibility that viewers take Armstrong for granted. They are accustomed to him winning the Tour, and they had seen it seven years in a row. After taking the time off, and the years weighing on his body, placing third is a good consolation prize.

That only two riders finished ahead of him, in my opinion, can in no way be perceived a failure. To be 37 years old, and take that long of an absence from cycling, and still stand on the winner’s podium is impressive.

Armstrong is a sporting icon, and this third-place finish won’t even come close to taking that away from him.

Would it even be a failure if he finished in the 30s or 40s with the given circumstances? The fact is, he has more first-place Tour finishes than anyone, and tacking on another bronze isn’t too shabby.

— by Zach Chriswell

NO

Lance Armstrong’s return to the Tour de France was a poor decision.

He is a seven-time Tour de France winner, a cancer survivor, and one of the leading advocates for cancer research in the world. He’s a truly, a magnificent individual. And it pains me to say that he has failed.

He never should have returned to competitive cycling.

Watching the Tour this year, I saw a man who looked weathered, old, and tired. He never looked as though he could win. He never won a stage. Never donned the yellow jersey. Armstrong was beaten.

I’m not alone. Others saw a different Armstrong, as well. ESPN continually put up graphics comparing this year’s ride with his seven title rides. Announcers talked about how he never trailed after a specific stage in the competition. Analysts wondered when he was going to make his move, but he never did.

Famously dominant in the mountain stages of the tour, people eagerly waited for those paths to arrive. When the riders hit the Alps, Lance showed glimpses of life but ultimately failed.

Alberto Contador, this year’s champion, proved to be too much.

I appreciate Armstrong’s determination and the effort, but the hill was too tough to climb. He’s 37 years old, ancient for a competitive cyclist. He has not competed in the Tour de France since 2005, and it was impossible for him to win.

Armstrong, ignoring the doubters and the skeptics, recently announced via his Twitter feed that he will be returning in 2010.

What is he trying to prove?

Many consider him the greatest cyclist of all-time, so why is he risking his legacy by competing? He eluded to the fact that Contador is so talented, he may not have been able to beat the Spaniard even in his prime — then why comeback?

I loved watching Armstrong compete. He put competitive cycling on the map. But it is time for him to retire forever. He is not the cyclist he once was, and I don’t think he can beat Contador.

Walk away, Lance — your time has come.

— by Travis Varner


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