Oprah and Lance Armstrong: Panache’s thoughts

Panache avatar

Like many of you, I took the time to watch Oprah, two nights in a row. (Yes, it’s hard to admit that I watched Oprah. The next thing you know, I’ll be watching the Twilight movies.) [Steady on, there’s no need to commit the ultimate sacrifice – Ed.]

With apologies to George Lucas, here are my thoughts on both parts of the saga.

Doprah 1: A Glimmer of False Hope

This was where Lance was supposed to reveal all his sins and tell the truth, the whole truth, so help me, Fausto Coppi. We expected him to describe how he was going to try to restore balance to the Force by admitting everything, truly apologising and starting to provide a bit of restitution.

We got a Glimmer of False Hope.

Yeah, Lance admitted to blood transfusions, using EPO, human growth hormone, testosterone, cortisone, et cetera, all in the first five minutes. He even confirmed the existence of Motoman! I was impressed with Oprah’s direct questioning up to that point in the programme but then it digressed into a muddled mess of half-truths and typical Lance obfuscation (a.k.a. Semantic Doping):

  • He said he hadn’t read Tyler Hamilton’s book. We all called B.S. because we know Lance and all his lawyers have read it. Okay, maybe Lance listened to the audio version while he was on his couch surrounded by those yellow jersey
  • He told us he cared for Christian Vande Velde after saying he had lied in his sworn deposition to USADA. Personally, Christian, “I like your word, I like your credibility.”
  • He stated he did not dope during Comeback 2.0, even though his blood values said otherwise and blood doping kits were found in a search of Armstrong’s Astana team equipment at the 2009 Tour.
  • And finally, refusing to discuss Betsy Andreu’s account of the 1996 hospital incident. I fully understood why Betsy was having an aneurysm on Anderson Cooper. She exclaimed:

If he’s not going to tell the truth. If he can’t say, “Yes, the hospital room happened” then how are we to believe everything else that he’s saying? We’re already questioning him … If it didn’t happen, just say it didn’t happen. But he won’t do it, because it did happen.

This tweet summed up how I felt after watching episode one:

Panache Lance tweet 1

Doprah 2: Revenge of the Cancer Shield

Unfortunately this episode was designed to provide Lance the opportunity to generate public sympathy. Here is how the plot played out:

Lance started by telling Oprah about how much money he’s lost because all his sponsors walked away. Obviously we mere mortals can empathise with having millions of dollars in endorsements … NOT! The funniest part was when Lance described losing $75 million in one day. Oprah didn’t bat an eye. I guess that’s because she spent that much last week on home decor and cupcakes.

He then deployed the Cancer Shield by describing how he was asked to cut ties with Livestrong. He said it was lowest point in the saga. It could have worked because of the number of people affected by cancer but Lance blew it when he showed more remorse about losing his position than disappointing millions of cancer patients and their families.

Panache Lance tweet 2When asked if the purpose of his confession was so that he can compete in the future, Lance described how he would love to compete in sanctioned endurance events like the Chicago marathon. He described how he had been issued a death sentence and that he was treated differently than those who worked with USADA. My sympathy meter went to negative-20 at this point. Lance was given that opportunity but refused, knowing full well a lifetime ban would be the result.

Panache Lance tweet 3Finally he talked about dealing with his ex-wife and children. He described interacting with his son Luke and telling him he shouldn’t defend Lance to his friends any longer. This is the only point where I felt sympathy. I felt it for his children. They will have to come to terms with their father’s legacy and it won’t be easy.

Panache Lance tweet 4The interview ended with Oprah asking Lance what he thought the moral of the story was.  He was incapable of answering because right now he has no currency in his moral bank account. So Oprah loaned him an answer and closed with this:

The truth shall set you free.

I just about lost my lunch. Refund please! Hopefully the DVD has an alternate ending.

Panache Lance tweet 5

Panache Lance tweet 6

Oprah and Lance Armstrong

Tim’s initial thoughts

Kitty’s thoughts

Tim’s final thoughts

Ant’s thoughts

Oprah and Lance Armstrong: Ant’s thoughts

Ant avatar

Here are the thoughts of our newest VeloVoice, Ant, on you-know-who.

I used to be a fan of the Texan drug baron back when it was still feasible to think he wasn’t a doper. I enjoyed watching him race and admired him as a rider. He never struck me as somebody who I’d actually like as a person but I understood that winners need that element of arrogance and selfishness. It didn’t dawn on me how far that arrogance, selfishness and desire to win had pushed him. Thankfully the truth has been exposed and we’re in no doubt as to what lengths this obsessive, almost crazed bully – I can call him crazy, as long as I don’t call him fat – would go to in order to win. Some of the stories that have been unveiled are nothing short of shocking, and his behaviour in recent months nothing short of bizarre.

As Tim suggested, ‘Doprah’ was most likely just the first move in a strategy to turn this PR freefall around. I haven’t watched the chat show confession but I’d be a hypocrite if I said I had no interest in it as I’m writing about it – I just couldn’t bring myself to watch him being indulged. In my ten wishes for 2013, I wished for Lance to man up and confess or fight. He’s sort of done that, but this is not really enough. I don’t think his repentance is genuine. I think that he’s saying what he knows he needs to say, without meaning it. I also don’t see any honesty about what motivated his confession and see his ‘need to compete’ thing as a smokescreen. Yes, he’s ultra-competitive, but how many years of top-flight triathlon competition has he got in him? Two? Five? After being obstinate for so long, would that be enough to get him to u-turn away from his strategy of aggressive denial? I doubt it and I fully believe that there is an alternative endgame.

Can Lance redeem himself? He has an interesting psychological make-up and certain aspects, such as the desire to win, will be consistent amongst many cyclists, as will the circumstances that led him to dope. I want him to use the insight gained from his own demise to help others and to help the sport clean itself up.

Lance was a big part cycling’s problems, and remains so with this continued pantomime. But certain individuals out in the crowd heckling the bad guy are also part of the pantomime, and neither party is currently producing a solution. I don’t like him and I don’t like where he’s at right now, but his demise and destruction is not a cause for celebration. If he goes down, we’ve all gone through pain for nothing. There are no winners from that outcome. He’ll never repair what he’s done but a romantic part of me believes in redemption, and there is still a chance that he can salvage something good from the disgrace that has been his career.

Oprah and Lance Armstrong

Tim’s initial thoughts

Kitty’s thoughts

Tim’s final thoughts

Rider profiles: Jens Voigt, Tejay van Garderen and Adam Hansen

This season I’ve decided to keep an eye on three riders at very different stages in their careers. Firstly there’s the mighty Jens Voigt in what will quite probably be his final season. I’ll also be following young Tejay van Garderen after he single-handedly salvaged my Fantasy Tour de France team last year. The final member of my triumvirate is Adam Hansen, assuming he survives the Lotto-Belisol training camp.

Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Leopard)

Image courtesy of RadioShack-Leopard

Image courtesy of RadioShack-Leopard

Age: 41.

Nationality: German.

Role: Destroyer (Domestique).

2012 WorldTour ranking: 159th, 10pts.

2012 highlights:

  • Won one stage at USA Pro Cycling Challenge, 1st in mountains classification.
  • 2nd in one stage at Paris-Nice.

Why I’m following him:

It’s not really a secret that I’m a big fan of Jens. I admire his dedication to his teammates and his willingness to drive himself into the ground for the cause. He also strikes me as a great guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously, and is an absolute goldmine when it comes to Twitter.

His role as an enforcer somewhat limits his race victories. A 100km solo break to take stage four of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge was a rare success in 2012. However, he’s never far from the sharp end of the action and had a number of near misses over the course of the season including a second place to Luis Leon Sanchez in stage six of Paris-Nice. With this probably being his last season, I really hope to see the big man pick up a victory or two along the way.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC)

Image courtesy of BMC/Tim De Waele

Image courtesy of BMC/Tim De Waele

Age: 24.

Nationality: American.

Role: Technically a domestique, but strong enough to contend for major honours.

2012 WorldTour ranking: 32nd, 160 pts.

2012 highlights:

  • 5th overall at Tour de France, 1st in young rider classification.
  • 5th overall at Paris-Nice, 1st in young rider classification.
  • 2nd overall and won one stage at USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
  • 4th overall at Tour of California.
  • 4th in Road World Championships individual time trial.

Why I’m following him:

Tejay is a rider who is on the up after his fifth place at the Tour, where he even found himself taking over from Cadel Evans as BMC’s lead prospect in the latter stages. A fantastic 2012 saw him take the best young rider classification at both the Tour de France and Paris-Nice. He’s a strong time-trialist and can climb, so I’m expecting some good performances this season. In particular, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the podium at the Giro, assuming he goes for it. It will also be interesting to see how things pan out between him and Cadel if they are both on form, and I’ll be keeping an eye on how the team balances having these two talents in its ranks.

Adam Hansen (Lotto-Belisol)

Image courtesy of Lotto-Belisol

Image courtesy of Lotto-Belisol

Age: 31.

Nationality: Australian.

Role: Domestique.

2012 WorldTour ranking: Not ranked, 0 pts.

2012 highlights:

  • The only rider to complete all three Grand Tours in 2012 (and only the 32nd ever to do so).

Why I’m following him:

Another hard-working domestique, the fruits of Adam Hansen’s labour are not represented by victories against his name, but in his teammates’ successes, and you’ve only got to glance at Andre ‘Gorilla’ Greipel to get an idea of the sort of season he had. Competing in and completing all three Grand Tours, he put more miles into his legs than I care to contemplate, and as only the 32nd rider ever to do this, that’s a proud addition to anybody’s CV.

I feel compelled to follow a rider who managed to hit all three Grand Tours last season, and is planning to do the same this time around. This guy is moulded out of similar stuff to Jens Voigt, and is another tireless workhorse. I’m hoping that through following him, I will be able to pick up a good insight into what makes a team work, and what life is like for the unsung heroes. The clincher was the string of tweets from the Lotto-Belisol training camp which we previously featured in Tweets of the Week.

Websites: Adam Hansen

Twitter: @thejensie@TejayVan@HansenAdam