I had a chance to talk to Ex-US Postal rider Frankie Andreu on the rest day in Morzine. Hincapie might know Lance better but Cranky Frankie, as they used to call him, spent many hard and successful days riding for Armstrong in his early Tour victories. A good man to talk to about where Lance heads now and what’s in his head.
TS: Yesterday I realized how important Lance was to me. Suddenly it was over and I felt surprisingly, deeply sad. You know him well — how was it for you on a personal level?
Andreu: Well somebody else said it’s like the end of an era. It was sad to see the bad luck that affected him because I’d still would have liked to see him in there for the hunt and to try to get a tour title because it makes the race more exciting. He’s worked hard to get to this point and to go out the way he went out, with the bad luck, it’s almost like it wasn’t fair.
TS: Was there a moment when it sunk in, what happened, and you had an emotion maybe you didn’t’ expert?
Andreu: When he was off the back about a minute, he still had a chance but when he got to the last climb I knew that was gonna be it. I knew he was gonna lose more time and his tour was over. So it was like the middle of the race and holy cow, his whole race is gonna disappear because of some bad crashes and some bad luck. And he’s had such good luck for so many years, so much good karma but it came back and bit him. It’s happened to other guys but it was just eerie and weird that it happened to him. Almost like it wasn’t supposed to.
TS: It was such a shock. Did you feel like wow, as a commentator now I gotta figure out what this all means, his legacy…
Andreu: No, he’s a big GC rider that all of a sudden wasn’t there. It’s happened hundreds of times before, people sacrifice an entire year and boom, in a second it’s gone, it’s vanished and it’s just that this time it was Lance Armstrong. And I think that personally if Lance knew how difficult this comeback was gonna be — because when he was racing before, it was easy for him — this was a lot more difficult than he had imagined. I don’t think he would have done it. This will be his final retirement for sure.
TS: Knowing him as you do, what do you think his mental state is today? Is he mad, is he sad, depressed, philosophical?
Andreu: He’s a fighter, we all know that, and he’s one that doesn’t quit or give up so he’s committed to his team. I think he’ll be there to help his team. This gives him some freedom — I would love to see him attack and go for a stage win. And he has a reputation to uphold. I don’t think he wants to quit his last tour — he doesn’t want to be known that way. I see him making it to the end.
TS: What would you like to see him do now? Does he make this a Tour de Goodbye now, just relax and soak in all the love from the roadside?
Andreu: I could see that he deserves to enjoy that but it’s the tour. There’s no time to enjoy the tour. It’s the biggest bike race in the world. I’d like to see him have freedom and for him to attack and race the bike that we know Lance Armstrong is capable of racing. What we saw yesterday was not a normal Lance Armstrong. If anything, I think in his mind, to show that he’s not as bad as what it appeared, he’ll look for a day to show he still has some kick.