Wow! The racing has barely begun but the fireworks has already started. At the pre-race press conference for the Tour of California, their was an exchange between Paul Kimmage and Lance Armstrong that has to be seen to be believed.
Now to set this up properly, one needs to know that Kimmage is a former Professional cyclist himself and is an award winning sports journalist who currently writes for the London Times Sunday Magazine. He is perhaps best known for his book, Rough Ride, which was one of the first books ever written that really exposed the behind the scenes drug use in Professional cycling and the hard life and indeed rough ride, that is the life of a professional cyclist. Kimmage has been an outspoken critic of drug use in cycling and is a bit of an outlier in the sport since he retired from racing and wrote the book. But much of what he talked about in Rough Ride has proven to be true, as the years have gone by, and rider after rider either was caught using drugs, confessed or retired with controversey swirling around them.
Then their is Lance Armstrong - his story is well known and his comeback out of retirement has many people again focussed on the seven time Tour de France Champion. In a radio interview last fall when he learned of Armstrong's return, this is what Kimmage had to say: "The Cancer of the peloton has returned. It has come out of remission". Have a look at the exchange between Kimmage and Armstrong:
Ironic that another big anti-Armstrong proponent, Greg Lemond introduces the news-clip on the VeloNews web site!
It's an extraordinary exchange. In particular, it shows Armstrong at his best, when the heat is on and backed into a corner, is when he takes his performance, be it on the race course or even in a press- conference, to another level. I am guessing that most other athletes under similar circumstance would be absolutly dumb-founded, but Armstromg takes it all in stride and does not miss a beat - even making the whole thing a bit of a joke. Indeed, the look on George Hincapie's face to Armstrong's right is telling - he doesn't know what to make of it all!
The season has barely started and already, the stakes and the excitment is at a high-level. Bring it on!