According to the latest damning quote from Greg Lemond, Lance Armstrong is no better a rider than Daniel Atienza, Stephane Goubert or Alexandre Botcharov.
Who are those relative unknowns? Riders who finished well down in the standings of the Tour de France when Armstrong was winning the sevens Tours he later lost because of doping charges.
“I know his physical capabilities, he’s a top-30 [Tour finisher] at best no matter what. If he’s clean, everybody’s clean, he’s a top-30 at best. He’s not capable of winning the Tour, he’s not capable of the top five,” LeMond told CNN.
So congrats and chapeau to Armin Meier (31st in the 1999 TDF), David Cañada (33rd in the 2000 TDF), Benoit Salmon (35th in the 2001 TDF), Marcos Serrano (35th in the 2002 TDF), Inigo Chaurreau (31st in the 2003 TDF), David Moncoutié (34th in the 2004 TDF) and a much-younger-back-then Chris Horner (33rd in the 2005 Tour.)
These riders can make room for Lance Gunderson Armstrong in the Thirties on Tour de France GC club. That’s got to be pretty exciting — especially for a clean rider like the Frenchman Moncoutié — David, you were fast and as talented as the Texan! At this very moment, the evil Dr. Ferrari is sputtering with madness, incoherent with rage — what? — his prize subject Armstrong no better than that pathetic Frenchman?
Those were dirty times and just because you finished up the Tour about an hour down on the winner — who is no longer Mr. Armstrong — doesn’t mean you were off the secret sauce. Down in the 30’s in the Tour de France GC you’ll find the likes of Alexander Vinokourov, Abraham Olano, Jorg Jaksche, Roberto Heras, Michael Boogerd and Michele Scarponi. Armstrong’s future nemesis and future Tour winner Alberto Contador was also down in 31st in what would be Lance’s final, seventh stripped title.
Maybe Greg Lemond was right about Armstrong being no better than a top 30 Tour rider but we’re still going to give him some physiological credit: He has to rate better than Laurent Madouas, 35th in the 2000 TDF.
Then again ….
1999 TDF 30 -35
François Simon (Fra) Crédit Agricole Armin Meier (Swi) Saeco-Cannondale Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Mercatone Uno-Bianchi Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) Cofidis Alexandre Vinokoerov (Kaz) Casino
2000 TDF 30-35
30 Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) Banesto 1.09.27 31 Javier Pascual Llorente (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca 1.16.33 32 Andrei Kivilev (Kaz) Ag2R Prevoyance 1.17.28 33 David Cañada (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 1.17.44 34 Abraham Olano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank 1.19.44 35 Laurent Madouas (Fra) Festina 1.20.40
2001 TDF 30-35
30 Daniel Atienza (Spa) Cofidis 1.07.10 31 Stephane Goubert (Fra) Jean Delatour 1.08.40 32 Luis Perez (Spa) Festina 1.11.07 33 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 1.13.05 34 David Etxebarria (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 1.15.57 35 Benoit Salmon (Fra) Ag2R-Prevoyance 1.17.07
2002 TDF 30-35
30 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Ag2R Prevoyance 51.52 31 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski 56.05 32 Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra) FDJeux.com 57.35 33 Marcos A.Serrano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 1.00.52 34 Laurent Lefèvre (Fra) Jean Delatour 1.07.00 35 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 1.07.50
2003 TDF 30-35
30 Inigo Chaurreau (Spa) Ag2R Prevoyance 1.03.35 31 Stephane Goubert (Fra) Jean Delatour 1.05.38 32 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 1.07.55 33 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 1.09.35 34 Roberto Heras (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor 1.14.17 35 Giuseppe Guerini (Ita) Team Telekom 1.16.43
2004 TDF 30-35
30 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangère 54.43 31 Santos Gonzalez (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.01.01 32 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze 1.03.01 33 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal p/b Berry Floor 1.04.09 34 David Moncoutié (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit Par Téléphone 1.04.37 35 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 1.07.07
2005 TDF 30-35
30 Jose Azevedo (Por) Benfica 00:59:48
31 Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana 1:03:25
32 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 1:03:25
33 Chris Horner (USA) Predictor-Lotto 01:07:57
34 Stephané Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 01:10:53
35 José Rubiera (Spa) Astana 1:11:48