Second piano falls on Armstrong. The Hincapie grand.

Hincapie, Lance and EPO.

Yesterday, it was the Hamilton upright, 500 pounds, pretty scratched with some questionable history. Today the man with the “20+ year career, 500 drug controls worldwide” was hit by the 880 pound Big George Hincapie grand.

That’s gotta hurt and indeed there’s been no response so far from Armstrong and his A team spin crew. The Legend is dead, the Myth is destroyed and now it’s just a matter of watching how and when the building collapses.

When Tyler Hamilton testified to the FDA that he’d seen Lance Armstrong inject EPO, there was still the possibility of a counter-attack, a variation of the Landis debunk that the Texan had employed with success last year. Landis jealous, crazy, a serial liar, an angry, bitter and vengeful failure. Armstrong spin-master Fabiani checked all those boxes and many people bought the show.

George Hincapie is a different story and a far more damning one. He’s practically Lance’s brother, best friend, long time teammates, from Postal through Discovery. There’s no jealousy, book deal or craziness with big George. He has the credibility and likeablility that Hamilton lost years ago. You can’t not like George who is unsparing in his friendlessness with fans and willingness to do anything to promote US cycling.

When George Hincapie has something to say, people listen and take it as truth. What the news stories claim he said in testimony about Armstrong and performance enhancing drugs is nothing less than the end, the sledgehammer, the death-knell for the Armstrong mythology.

It’s poignant and sad and perhaps inevitable. Grand juries and bible oaths have a way of extracting the truth. The immediate future for Lance Armstrong will be perhaps the most painful time in his life other than chemo. He will crawl on the floor in agony before this is over. He’s a tough and intelligent and self-aware man and he’ll find a way through it. We don’t envy the soul searching or his options.

We can’t actually imagine the outcome but you can be sure the Armstrong legal team, a crack squad as strong as any of Lance’s Tour rosters, is stumped right now. There is no Postal Blue Train to pull him through this with flying colors and thunderous applause. Their public response to the Hincapie claims is probably in revision 28 right now and Lance is still agonizing and indecisive. Because the only right response is the truth and Lance has been adamant that he would fight this to his grave.

In our mind, there really is no way out. This isn’t something Lance Armstrong can train for, he can’t simply ride away from it like it was Ullrich or Joseba Beloki or Ivan Basso. You can’t “drop” this kind of misery. There isn’t enough spin in the world to take this off the front page.

Lance Armstrong has done everything possible to protect his image. His tale is one of the greatest stories in sports, cancer survivor wins seven Tour de Frances, red, white and blue, hope and courage and confidence. The best people in Hollywood would have trouble topping that screenplay. That said, you can watch a legacy melt in 60 Minutes on Sunday.

There’s a fascinating transformation about to happen. If Armstrong retired twice, you could also say his triumphant image is about to be retired and rewritten. The role reversal will be something to watch: Landis is now the honest one and Armstrong, well, we’ll just have to watch for the final chapter.

It ain’t over until the last piano falls.

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  • Henkio

    I won't be happy until Bruyneel is removed from the sport.
    And Saiz comes back, but that's a different story 🙂

  • Jon M Holmes

    One of the purest things to come out of this era of cycling is Chris Horner!

    • As a 53 year old cyclist who packs 210 pounds on a 6' 4" frame, we say GO CHRIS. You gotta love him. Matt

  • goober b. davis

    Looks the Armstrong is FUKKED. I didn't believe the FLyler Hamildis, but Hincapie, there's a guy with credibility.

    So it turns out everyone is doped.

    Fuck you cycling.

  • goober b. davis

    http://www.5min.com/Video/George-Hincapie-on-Dopi

    watch George say nothing for 2:18… now the no comments are screaming I DOPED TOO!

  • goober b. davis

    Went to cyclingnews, they completely retracted the "George Tells All". Looks like its not so clear…

  • Pal

    We knew this day would come, maybe it really is 'Judgment Day' for Lance. If he is smart, he will come clean, and simply ask forgiveness for trying to protect the image of Livestrong, American cycling, and his own legend. History teaches us that forgiveness can be given but there is a critical time to flip that switch. Let's se what happens in the next few days.

    • Henkio

      It's to late for that.
      It hasn't been just denying in LA's case. He sued, discredited people, bought himself out of positives, tried to ruin the careers of guys who testified ans kept up his 'never tested positive' mantra even when it made no sense whatsoever. The way he lashed out against Greg, Betsy, Christophe, Filippo, Floyd etc etc will all be brought up against.
      Plus people think if you has cancer and do all those things afterwards, you're an idiot beyond belief for taking risks with a body you already almost lost.

      Nope, I think his legacy is/will be completely destroyed.
      Once (more of) all the details come out, I wouldn't be surprised if the general opinion of him becomes 'Scumbag extraordinaire'.

      • Pal

        I don't know… Look at Nixon… Or maybe look at someone like Mark McGuire… He will never be seen as the 'hero' he once was, but through Livestrong he can write a redeeming chapter for himself… We Americans have pretty short attention spans and we love a good story of the 'dirtbag' who made good…

      • Americans do have a short memory and raising a few billion for cancer research sure helps erase things. I'm fascinated to see what happens with his legacy as far as ordinary folks are concerned. Matt

      • Henkio, I don't think his image will suffer to that degree. He's raised too many millions to fight cancer and he's too much of an inspiration to many people, drugs or not. But I don't think anybody really knows what will happen. You know that many Americans still believe that we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a big lie told by the US government. The facts don't always have the impact you think they do. I wish I could predict what Lance will say in the next few weeks. Once the Hincapie testimony is out, he is dead but just how dead, nobody really knows. Matt

    • Yes, it's just fascinating to try to predict how Lance will handle this. I think the damage will be less than a good number of people think. Nobody truly wants to punish a guy who raises that much money to fight cancer. There is a window here and he's going to have to jump thru quickly. Matt

  • IdeaStormer Jorge

    Lance will call the world liars and un-credible if they convict him,
    he'll go kicking and screaming possibly tossing his yellow wristband at the judge,
    repeating he's never failed a drug test as the jury reads out his guilty verdict,
    he'll tweet his finger out to the world stating he's never tested positive as his tweet follower count reduces exponentially,
    he'll renounce the rest of the USPS team as they backup all the accusations,
    he'll write a book on how he never tested positive recalling each sample donating all proceeds to his anti-Lance-ism's,
    he'll tell us how he helped out cycling by contributing to the UCI anti-doping program when no one else would even think it possible,
    he'll start a new website for each accusation, doping test ever done,
    he'll stand out on an Island without a boat to get back to the mainland.

    He'll never give up! I think we've seen this scenario haven't we?

    • That's one of the trillion ironies. Here's another: Lance is becoming what Landis was — a marginalized crazy man shouting things nobody believes anymore. Landis is the normal guy now. His new website facts4Lance reminds me of fairnessforfloyd. Desperation is setting in. Matt

      • IdeaStormer Jorge

        Rumor is Floyd took the twitter name to facts4Lance and has been having some good old fun. Big "Full Retard Moment" by the Lance group. Check it out. Actually took both facts4lance and Facts4Lance.

      • The irony of a Facts4Lance is so rich I barely know where to start. It's Fairness for Floyd with a bizarre twist. Matt