Armstrong says au revoir Tour de France on Aubisue

The boss. Back for a day.

Lance Armstrong said goodbye on the climbs of the Tourmalet and Col Aubisque. He bid farewell the most meaningful way he knew how: pedal to the metal, guns blazing, singing an executioners song.

The seven time winner of the tour de France showed his rivals he may be ancient, the victim of bad luck and days away from final retirement but he still came to win a race he’s dominated so many times.

Watching on a TV at an outdoor bar tent at the top of Aubisque, it was hard not to feel a surge of deja vu. Armstrong back where he belonged, punishing the best riders in the world, racing up impossible grades, turning a hard, fast cadence, focused, relentless and confident. It could have been any year from US Postal or Discovery.

In the breakaway, Armstrong was back in his element. Chris Horner had made the break too, a man that practically broke down in tears when Armstrong’s luck went south. Horner said he’d ride for Armstrong in any race, anywhere, anytime, front or back. Horner would give Armstrong a wheel, blood, a spare lung, anything.

Alberto Contador was on his way to a third tour title. Andy Schleck was learning what disappoint and delusion feel like. Armstrong was waving au revoir with as many watts as he could pump out. As one roadside banner read: “hope rides again.”

There would be no gifts and that’s exactly how Armstrong wanted the score. Nobody in the break handed any favors or pulls. You want to go out in style, a legend, hero, inspiration? Then do the work because we’re sucking your wheel.

Armstrong went out the way he came in: digging deeper, enjoying the pain and riding like a champion. He leaves a hole in the sport no rider will ever fill.

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  • Swllwmzn

    Well said. Chapeau Lance, live strong

  • David

    @LeGimpe–Wow. Stay classy, dude. Stay classy.

  • LeGimpe

    I can fill the hole but it’ll require a lot more fiber in my diet than I’m accustomed to.

  • peter

    Pass the sickbag, fur fek’s sake. Can’t hide deepseated fanboyness, eh.

    He did less pulls in the break than the others – what race were you watching. Sheesh.

    Website removed from my rss list!

    • Peter, you're killing me. Dig in my archives for how many funny and critical things I've said about Big Tex. Still, give the man is due. He's a polarizing character but his positive impact on the sport and his even greater impact on the fight against cancer deserve respect. You don't have to like him. P.S. If you remove me from your rss they'll be nothing funny on your cycling reading list — your loss. Matt

  • Caren

    Chapeau, Matt, Chapeau!

    • Caren, my hair is falling out so a chapeau is more welcome than ever. Thanks, Matt

  • Senor Frog

    “Horner would give Armstrong … blood ….”

    No, you didn’t mean that.

    • Actually I did, knowing the double meaning and liking it. Matt

  • robert matthews

    Hell Matt…Just a few points…First, your blog; I have been following on occasion, and more so of late. I don't follow blogs much, mainly because the comments very quickly become acrimonious and profane-e.g. the crud on the 'V' channel that is better suited to bull riding and Tap Out….Yours, on the other hand, has added a lot of class to the open market of TDF commentary; I particularly respect the way you handle marginal comments, seemingly trying to stay rational rather than inciting mindless emotional responses from CNN-dependent participants who are half-way through their first beer. Your responses are relevant, cogent, and a compliment to the sport. Your observations are refreshingly different as is your photography.

    Next, I have never been a fan of Armstrong's, but your recent vignette is well put and well deserved (at least he waited for Ullrich – that's all I'm going to say…).

    Thanks for the very enjoyable and classy writing…You have added a lot to my tour this year-especially since we don't have cable…Best regards to Emmett………………Matthews

    • Thanks Robert, I finally got old enough to realize that it's pointless to slam somebody for an angry comment. In the old days I'd enjoy the hatchet job but now I prefer to listen, respond and keep it light. That's the best way to change a mind or at least keep them open to change — or simply to keep reading. I appreciate you taking the time to write. Matt