Lance Armstrong, the disgraced former winner of seven Tour de France titles, has finally decided to fix cycling.
Now it would be easy to assume that means that Armstrong has told investigators at the UCI Independent Commission everything about his doping practices.
After all, Armstrong has promised on several occasions that he’d be the first man through the door to testify — in return, of course, for a significant reduction in his death sentence, lifetime ban.
The expectation would be that Armstrong has finally opened up and named names, implicated guilty parties and detailed the organizational corruption on former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggan and Patrick McQuaid.
However, that story line would be incorrect because the former champion has done none of those things.
That’s because, as befits a man who once dominated the sport of pro cycling, Lance Armstrong is thinking bigger and bolder and at a higher level than anybody else with a bike and a brain.
No, Mr, Armstrong has now taken steps to oversee the fundamental overhaul of the entire structure of cycling from the grass roots level all the way to UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland.
What’s become apparent is that Armstrong has decided to take a leadership role in fixing the sport that he himself has severely damaged. The plan — which launched today in Easton, Pennsylvania — presents Armstrong as the one man with the core skills to restore credibility.
As is always the case with Armstrong, he’s prepared to do the hard work and his preparation is both meticulous and deeply symbolic. The man understand the power of story and narrative drive, the core memes that re-ignite the imagination.
Today, Tuesday, April 15th, Lance showed us how to fix a flat tire.
Wearing a vintage Coors cycling cap and a simple Park Tools shop apron, Armstrong, in an act both humble and inspiring, gave his own personal demonstration on how to replace a punctured tube. Without fanfare, the man who drank champagne in Paris on the Champs Elysees, has gotten his hands dirty, a fallen messiah turned mechanic.
The power of the message is in the zen simplicity: Lance Armstrong is getting us all on the road again.
It won’t be easy and the workload will be enormous, but according to some of Armstrong closest advisors, he is prepared to go all the way. A steady and relentless progression from fixing tires to adjusting brakes to fine-tuning dope testing to overhauling the UCI to re-imagining the financial structure of the entire sport.
It’s a profound, visionary move that sidesteps the UCI and USADA’s Travis Tygart and brings his new mission directly to the people. He’s come full circle, an amazing ride that’s taken him from yellow jersey to horrendous black mark and the story has never been more true: It’s All About The Bike — beginning with the flat tire.
The mission begins in the workshop of a bike store in Easton, Pennsylvania but that is just the first fix in a thousand that Armstrong will present. This is his penance, his vision, his life’s work, his genius.
In both words and deeds and how-to video, Armstrong has taken on the greatest challenge he can possibly imagine: He intends to fix everything in the cycling world.