Old Armstrong gone. Old, old Armstrong back.

Lance turns back clock in Switzerland.

Welcome back, Boss.

Yesterday in the Tour de Suisse, we saw the old, old Lance Armstrong. No, not the almost 39, geriatric former great who spends most of his time tweeting and hanging out with Hollywood stars and cancer fund raising and fending off doping allegations and doing commercials and starting new business ventures and running Livestrong and propping up dying races like Gila and generally strengthening his iron grip on the universe. No, we didn’t see that guy.

The guy we saw was the old, old Armstrong, the original and still champion, the bad-ass, the boss, Big Tex, Mr. Yellow Jersey, He Who Maketh Other Men In Lycra Tremble. Yes, Lance turns back the clock in Switzerland. He is now roughly 33 and getting younger by the moment. El Pistolero is running back to his home in Pinto for more bullets.

Who was driving the chase group up that nasty Albulapass climb but Lance Armstrong himself, Radio Shack Numero Uno. Who was taking names and hitting threshold and dropping Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck but cycling superhero Lance Armstrong.

When teammates Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kloden fell back, exhausted and out of rocket fuel, who said let’s go chase down that Gesink guy? Yeah, you know who I’m talking about — Ben Stiller’s sidekick, the man with four kids, the legend, LA, the fearsome cancer killer himself, Mr (standing ovation, please!) Lance (roar of crowd) Armstrong.

Yeah, we saw that old, old Armstrong that rides bikes up the highest mountains at near motorbike speed. The hors categorie Armstrong. Is Lance fast approaching peak fitness, is he ready to rape and pillage, is he ready to punch out El Pistolero? Only he and Johan know the answer to that one.

But we do have an answer — after all these months of tortured and flimsy hypothesis — to the question, will Lance be ready? He’s ready and he’s fighting mad and that’s always a scary thing.

He’s mad at Landis, he’s mad at Outside Magazine for airbrushing a graphic on his t-shirt, he’s mad at the Vuelta for excluding his Radio Shack team, he’s mad that anyone, ever, occasionally, in the universe, doubts him for one nano-second.

He’s lean, he’s bar-fight furious, his teeth are clenched, his Trek is a bazooka, he’s gathering his red and grey assassins. Bring on Le Tour de France. The old, old Armstrong is headed your way.

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  • jason

    My prediction for LA is 5th. Despite a strong showing in tour de Suisse, there are a lot of strong GC contenders that have more power to their punch. Contador, Basso, Evans, A. Schleck, etc. I do think though that he can keep pace with Menchov, CVV, Michael Rogers, to name a few.

    I think AC is just going to be too strong and explosive for LA to follow his wheel.

  • As one who sometimes gets annoyed by all the press and hype that goes with Lance, I just felt like standing up and pumping my fist and cheering a little bit after reading this.

    Setting the stage for July to be one very interesting month.

    • That's the power of Lance. Even when he bugs us, you still have to root for him.

  • gob

    He’s in 7th place. By your logic, the 6 guys in front of him are even meaner, angrier, faster, and furiouser. He’s 38. In spite of the massive doses of HGH and whatever else he’s ingesting, there’s no changing that.

    Top ten almost certainly in Paris, maybe top 5, but I’ll be surprised and more than a little suspicious if he Podiums.

    • I would bet plenty of money against Lance making the podium. His theird place last year was in many ways more inpressive than some of his wins. His team is strong and well-drilled. Yeah, somewhere between 10th and 5th is my guess, too. But it’s always dangerous to bet against Lance. Somehow and someway, he usually beats the odds.

  • He's looking better than he did last year around this time, but he still can't TT. I'd agree w/ 5th place but aside from Contador, I can't name anyone who will DEFINITELY finish ahead of him.

    This should make for a more interesting July than 2009, and hopefully one w/ more class & sportsmanship among rivals.

  • Markool

    This is the same Lance that was wheel sucking a lot of the time and then got dropped prior to the summit of the last climb?

    We must have been watching a different race unfold…

  • Ron

    At nearly 39 years old the Uni-Baller should be retired, sipping his favorite Mexican beer (I forgot the name of it), bouncing his peleton of children on his knees, and collecting $250,000 speaking fees corporations pay to inspire their lackluster employees.

    But no……Lance is on his bike doing what he does best–soaking up pain and dishing it out to his rivals like a Pez dispenser. Like our fav blogmaster says, his third place last year was probably even more impressive that his earlier wins. I never would have imagined Lance would achieve the podium last year, but I wont doubt him again.

    He wants more and he wants it bad. No one knows how to prepare for the Tour like Bruyneel and the Boss. Lance doing well will be great for the sport–it'll be watched by those who love to love Lance and for those who love to hate him. I was never an idiot Armstrong fan but one has to respect this effort of his comeback. I'll watch every pedal stroke and applaud the guy whatever position he ends up with. He's nearly 39 and he's ridding like he is 25. And down the line when he's paid to endorse Depends, Viagra, and three-wheeled bikes I'll be first in line to buy them…

  • RWhoutx

    There's no question that he has the desire. I don't know if it's natural or chemically enhanced, but that it's there is beyond doubt. (I think we – even his detractors – all hope it is indeed natural, of course…) There's also no doubt that his presence increases the sport's popularity or that he does a tremendous amount for cancer. Personally, I lost interest in him during last year's TdF when he found it impossible to relinquish the limelight to Senor Contador. I mean, really, Lance? Do you really need to select the middle of the TdF race as the gime to announce that you're leaving Astana to start your own team? You really can't let someone else (AC) be the focus of attention?

    • Thanks for the note. Sharing limelights it not something aging superstars often do well. Certainly not one of Amrmstrong's strengths. When push came to shove he still found it impossible to relinquish the top dog role. Matt

  • Ron

    Its obvious his desire is anything but natural, that is what has made him successful. If you're suggesting he is using more than sugar in his Cheerios then I defy you to, a: tell me when pro cycling was EVER free of drugs and, b: point out a time when pro cyclists (especially those under as much scrutiny as LA) were tested so extensively.

    Just an example: Do you every hear Merckx or anyone of his generation coming out against drug use? No? Hmm, I wonder why…

    I accept it dark side and the fact there is nothing natural about spending so much time training on a bike, living at altitude to thicken up the blood, and ridding for three weeks straight in the recent Giro without dropping dead.

    What I dont like is the hypocrisy. Why is it than an American footballer can pump himself up to the size of a refrigerator and no one says anything? Why is it that European footballers and tennis players were included in Operation Puerto yet all the attention is focused on pro cyclists?

    With all the testing now I like to think all pro cyclists are clean…until the next drug is invented they defies detection. But I accept this and I'll still love the sport and the guys who work so hard to do something that is so unnatural.

    • ROn, well said. The dark side will always be there. We can still celebrate the beauty of the sport and rightly argue that cycling is just as clean if nto cleaner than many toehr sports. Matt

  • Duck22

    If you take a close look at Lance Armstrong’s office furnishings in the Radio Shack spots, you’ll notice that there are nine (9) lemons growing on the lemon tree.

    What, does he have to hit people over the head with a 2×4? How could he signal more clearly that he intends to win two more tours?

    Sheesh, open your eyes, people!!

    • Very funny Duck. The lemon symbol is extremely powerful and you're wise to point it out. Please stay on top of this for us. Matt

  • Ricola

    "El Pistolero is running back to his home in Pinto for more bullets."

    Hahahahah epic!

  • Steve

    'He's lean'?? Are you kidding?