Six Days Of The Worlds – Pharmacology

Americans, I think, generally feel they play just on the far side of the boundaries; that perhaps history doesn’t apply to us. We are quick to forget the past and our sights are always focused away from today and towards tomorrow. We are a country who feels it deserves it’s place in the World Order and we carry about us an air that suggests we we will do what we want, when we want.  I think most of the world refers to this behavior as that of “entitlement”.

When Lance Armstrong stormed onto the Pro racing scene, he exhibited all these characteristics – and more – and I can only imagine what the European Pros, steeped in the traditions of La Vie Velominatus, thought of this brash, cocky youngster who raced with open contempt of the history and culture of the Sport of Cycling – on a frame bearing the name of The Prophet, Eddy Merckx.

I didn’t always hate Lance Armstrong.  In fact, I quite liked him in his BC days (Before COTHO); he was fun, young, aggressive, and always willing to light up a race. His ego drove him to fight relentlessly and his salutes were emotional releases of all the tension and aggression he felt during the training that led up to the races. He exhibited all the qualities that make me love a cyclist: he looked good on the bike, knew how to suffer, was willing to attack, and won races no one expected him to win.

While on one hand a massive fuck knuckle, he was also an impressionable kid who was eager to learn le métier. Old sage Sean Yates took him under his wing when he joined Motorola and mentored the little whipper-snapper. Willing to learn and a quick study, he absorbed everything The Great Man could share: the disciplined approach to training, the glory in suffering, the diet and life befitting a professional. Indeed, Young Lancelette even adopted the Rule-breaking practice of wearing shorts of non-Goldilocks length.  (Throughout his career, he would never observe Rule #27.)

In his first full season as a pro, Huevos set his sights firmly on earning the Rainbow bands of World Champion. In the pouring rain on the streets of Oslo, Norway, he fired the Howitzers across a group including the likes of Miguel Indurain and Olaf Ludwig, never to be seen again until the finish. These were the days when races like the World Championships were fought out by the best in the world; when the winner of the Tour’s Yellow Jersey could beat a winner of the Tour’s Green Jersey in a sprint for the silver medal. Armstrong won his title against the best riders in the world: a deserved World Champion.

Riding for the Motorola trade team, Lance raced aboard a steel Eddy Merckx built of the Columbus Max tubeset, perhaps the finest steel tubes every made – and my personal favorite.  This was at a time when The Prophet himself was very much involved in the company and the frames were still hand-built in Belgium.  Merckx also had great influence in determining the geometry of the rider’s frames and in working out their position on the bike. When I look at the pictures of the 1993 World Road Race Championships, I see a completely different rider – one with a powerful stroke and position that bears the influence of a great champion; his style here is vastly different from that which would become the trademark of  Modernicus COTHOticus.

Armstrong always exhibited the characteristics that would later make him a COTHO, but in the early bits of his career, he also demonstrated that he was a determined rider who could read a race, and who could win when he set his mind to it. For that, I give a tip of my Cycling Cap.


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24 Replies to “Six Days Of The Worlds – Pharmacology”

  1. Nice one Frank. That’s the first video of that race I’ve ever seen, he made the move at the right time. Chapeau Lance. Facing all those tough boys and leaving them all behind, nothing wrong with that.

    In that first pro season Argentin called him Andy(thinking he was Andy Bishop) and Lance took it as a slight, went nuts, cussed out Argentin right there during the race. He was fueled by anger back then, out to prove everything to everybody. That and a V-12 motor will get you places.

  2. The chap on the motorcycle has a seriously impressive stache. That thing puts Magnum PI’s to shame. Do I sound jealous?

  3. Tchmil, Riis, Indurain, Museeuw, Jeebus. Not a whole lot more you could ask for in that bunch. It’s a veritable who’s who. I suppose the irony is obvious what with the mechanical industrialization of winning the TdF and all. But shit, I’ve watched that clip a few times over the years and it still turns my cranks.

  4. and what’s more, recent history suggests that he was clean in ’93 as well. Not so sure about all his rivals.

    Still past glories don’t lessen the fact he is a massive CoTHO – no matter what Taylor Whiney says to get Uncle Lance to phone him and take him to the seaside for ice-cream again.

  5. @pakrat
    There is another whole post there about that righteous ‘stash. I hope you are not jealous as the guy looks like a right proper fuck-knuckle(if that is the proper use of the expression).

  6. Consision, no wasted moves, an economy of effort resulting in perspicuity and an esoteric level of articulitoryness – it’s fucknuckle.

  7. @Oli Brooke-White

    Damned by faint praise?

    Yup, definitely. It’s like describing an ex; despite the good times in past, it’s hard to remember them fondly due to more recent events. He was cool back then, but it’s hard to really praise him for his douchery later on.

  8. @pakrat, @john
    I noticed that Stash (capital S) as well, and even felt tempted to change the entire piece to an Anatomy of a Photo based on that guy alone.

    Either that thing is fake, or Norwegians have wicked Stash fertilizer.

  9. @john

    He was fueled by anger back then, out to prove everything to everybody. That and a V-12 motor will get you places.

    I guess it doesn’t really seem like that ever changed. The only difference between his early career and later career was the quality of the drugs.

  10. @Jarvis

    recent history suggests that he was clean in ’93 as well. Not so sure about all his rivals

    What’s that based on? I always assumed he was doped then, too – especially based on the accounts of what he told his doctor.

  11. @frank

    based on the reports of team-mates about team meetings in, I think, ’95 where they discussed getting into a team programme because they were getting a kicking.

  12. I’d love to see the ad campaign for Fuck-knuckle’s Norwegian Stache Fertilizer.

  13. @Shannon
    “Do you want to look like you have a long haired ferret attached to your upper lip? Girls think it’s disgusting, your friends will mock you behind your back, but if you think it makes up for your small cock…then try Fuck-Knuckle’s Norwegian Stashe Fertilizer, a potent blend of ground herring, pubic hair and contact cement”

  14. Armstrong in the finishing straight at the 1993 Worlds is the most American thing:

    “Oooooh, c’mon! Look… look at this!! They say he’s a bit of a show off…”

    He went FULL KANYE on those Euros.

  15. Great piece of commentary by David ‘Duffers’ Duffield on the clip. Eurosports UK commentatator par excelance! I miss his eccentric views and ramblings while watching the tour and other races live on TV, he could fill hours of airtime with all sorts of anecdotes and stories; his favourite subject was cats! straight up! viewers would send in pictures of their pet cats to him!. Now we have Dave Harmon and Sean Elliot commentating on Eurosport; they wont ever match duffers !……. anyways; Fair play to Lance for giving it Rule #5 and riding away from his rivals to win the World Champions jersey.

  16. BTW, a great interview with the ‘other’ Andy – Hampsten, that is.

    The thing about Huevo’s anger motive here reminded of this quote from the interview:

    During your time as a professional, you were teammates with Hinault, Lemond, Armstrong and Indurain. While being around these individuals, did you notice any commonalities in their personalities or approach to the sport that might explain their high levels of success?

    They are all pretty different. Indurain was always calm at a race, Lemond couldn’t sit still. Hinault talked all night with journalists or anyone who wanted to listen, Armstrong needed to be mad at someone to focus.

  17. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me earlier, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that Armstrong wasn’t riding a Max Merckx, he was riding a painted Litespeed.

  18. @Oli

    I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me earlier, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t point out that Armstrong wasn’t riding a Max Merckx, he was riding a painted Litespeed.

    Right you are. There was a point where he rode the Max, though, but he famously also rode the Litespeed. I’ll take your word on which he rode at this particular race, though, cuz je ne c’est pas.

    I’ll point out, though, that the Merckx-branded Titanium frames that were available to consumers were built by Litespeed to Merckx’s specifications, including – I believe – a proprietary tubeset which mimic’d the shape of the MX Leader’s tubes. Litespeed originally ONLY made frames for other companies and only after they realized there was a market for frames under their name did they start building them for the public…more or less like the old Italian framebuilders like Pegoretti.

    Those Ti frames are bulletproof, by the way. My Dad’s Ti Merckx was bought in maybe 1994 and, not only is it still in perfect shape after being my dad’s beater bike, but also survived an entire summer with my brother who, despite my deep love for him, is murder on bikes.

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