Lance Armstrong did a twitter fashion show Tuesday, modeling a possible design for his new Radio Shack cycling team.
The jersey is two-toned and bold — Radio Shack red across the chest and Armstrong grey on the shoulders. The grey being a nice touch that symbolizes the Texan’s greying hair and 38 years of age.
The real question is what the prominent circled R means? The easy answer is that it stands for Radio Shack but the analysts, iconographers and symbolist experts here at Twisted Spoke think not.
A few theories: The R stands for retirement since Lance will be almost 39 when the Tour de France rolls around again.
The R might also be a subliminal message to Alberto Contador: Revenge. And also a sign to all Radio Shack teammates and support staff that Armstrong is out to kill Kid Contador. The circle would seem to indicate a determined unity in the battle to defeat the Spaniard.
The R might also represent an open ended question, a kind of Twitter-esque philosophical question. R as in R U ready? R U Strong. R is both inquisition and query, from a man who demands answers.
Digging even deeper, note also the order and placement of the R in the alphabet. R comes before S, the R is in first position with the S calling to mind both Schleck and Spaniard. Again, a subtle but undeniably forceful statement to his competitors that he will not finish second.
The R is rife with allusion and metaphor and menace. After consulting with astrological experts, it appears the R represents possibility (an 8th Tour win, perhaps). According to the literature, the letter is “tolerant and humane but has a tendency to become short tempered.” As even casual cycling fans know, Mellow Johnny is anything but mellow when he’s out to win that big Frenchie bike race.
Obviously the letter R contains many hidden messages and Armstrong is not afraid to send them. Probing into the Latin origins, the R is referred to as the littera canina, the canine letter. There is no mistaking the jersey statement to one skinny Spaniard in particular — Lance will dog Contador like a snarling junkyard pitbull.
Finally, there is the possible story hiding on the arm, where the circle R makes a double impression. What is the Texan telling us? The R, Armed, Arms, Arm…strong. Yes, once again, a reaffirmation of force. The upper arm R is shorthand for Armed, a kind of pictogram of power.
It is just a Radio Shack jersey or is it a lycra manifesto?