Bill Strickland (Bicycling magazine): Why Lance will win

May 13, 2009
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Ninety5rpm said:
I expected this to be fluff and hype, but it's actually a compelling argument based on the observation that

a) The last week is key
b) Lance has a history of getting stronger in the 3rd week of a Tour
c) Alberto has a history of getting weaker in the 3rd week of a Tour

Can you refute this argument?

Read it here:

http://www.bicycling.com/tourdefrance/article/0,6802,s1-7-123-20007-1,00.html
Why should I refute when reality does it much better. :p
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Bill Strickland is a close friend of Lance. I would expect this article to be written and appear in a US bike mag during July. No big deal. It's going to be a classic final week.
 
Ninety5rpm said:
I expected this to be fluff and hype, but it's actually a compelling argument based on the observation that

a) The last week is key
b) Lance has a history of getting stronger in the 3rd week of a Tour
c) Alberto has a history of getting weaker in the 3rd week of a Tour

Can you refute this argument?

Read it here:

http://www.bicycling.com/tourdefrance/article/0,6802,s1-7-123-20007-1,00.html
I'll give it a shot:

(a) It's true, so nothing to refute.

(b) I think the operative word here is "history". Almost 4 years away from active competition and obviously almost 4 years older means one would be wise to discount his history. How much one should discount is debatable at this point. There are still plenty of questions regarding his climbing form which will be answered possible as early as Friday or Sunday.

(c) On Contador, I'm not going to make excuses for 2007 or the Vuelta 2008, since in the former case, I don't think he specifically targeted the Tour they way he did this year. As for the Vuelta, Levi couldn't have won, because of what happened on [I forget that name of monsterous mountain stage with 20%+ grades]. Also, Contador claims he was sick on the last TT (take it for what it is worth). Finally, Contador specifically didn't peak coming into this Tour (see effort at the Dauphine) and not racing in May. The first week has been suprisingly light on actual climbing and frankly the 3rd week features his BEST terrain. So like Armstrong's history, I think you have to discount Contador's "history". How much of a discount of course is also a debatable point.

I think this is where he loses me :

Somewhere in there, Contador will falter and Armstrong won't.
That's not analysis, that's hope. He expects the 139 pound best climber in the world to falter on his best terrain, but not the 38 year old who's climbing more like a diesel engine than he did in his pre-retirement days with no explanation why based on their current form that would be the case.
 

Eva Maria

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May 24, 2009
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Bill Stickland co-wrote the Douchebag bible "We Might As Well Win" with the Hog. It is no surprise that he has chosen this rather myopic position.
 
Apr 9, 2009
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Publicus said:
I'll give it a shot:

(a) It's true, so nothing to refute.

(b) I think the operative word here is "history". Almost 4 years away from active competition and obviously almost 4 years older means one would be wise to discount his history. How much one should discount is debatable at this point. There are still plenty of questions regarding his climbing form which will be answered possible as early as Friday or Sunday.

(c) On Contador, I'm not going to make excuses for 2007 or the Vuelta 2008, since in the former case, I don't think he specifically targeted the Tour they way he did this year. As for the Vuelta, Levi couldn't have won, because of what happened on [I forget that name of monsterous mountain stage with 20%+ grades]. Also, Contador claims he was sick on the last TT (take it for what it is worth). Finally, Contador specifically didn't peak coming into this Tour (see effort at the Dauphine) and not racing in May. The first week has been suprisingly light on actual climbing and frankly the 3rd week features his BEST terrain. So like Armstrong's history, I think you have to discount Contador's "history". How much of a discount of course is also a debatable point.

I think this is where he loses me :



That's not analysis, that's hope. He expects the 139 pound best climber in the world to falter on his best terrain, but not the 38 year old who's climbing more like a diesel engine than he did in his pre-retirement days with no explanation why based on their current form that would be the case.
Hey you should be writing for Bicycling mag Publicus, you just owned Strickland. Oh wait, Bicycling is a terrible magazine for American first-year bike riders, my bad, I can see why you wouldn't want to be associated with them.
 
May 13, 2009
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The lack of mountain stages has to favor LA. It lowers the attempts by AC to put time into LA. It also gives LA more time to get into shape.
It should make for some great fireworks for the last week of the tour.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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Publicus said:
I'll give it a shot:

(a) It's true, so nothing to refute.

(b) I think the operative word here is "history". Almost 4 years away from active competition and obviously almost 4 years older means one would be wise to discount his history. How much one should discount is debatable at this point. There are still plenty of questions regarding his climbing form which will be answered possible as early as Friday or Sunday.

(c) On Contador, I'm not going to make excuses for 2007 or the Vuelta 2008, since in the former case, I don't think he specifically targeted the Tour they way he did this year. As for the Vuelta, Levi couldn't have won, because of what happened on [I forget that name of monsterous mountain stage with 20%+ grades]. Also, Contador claims he was sick on the last TT (take it for what it is worth). Finally, Contador specifically didn't peak coming into this Tour (see effort at the Dauphine) and not racing in May. The first week has been suprisingly light on actual climbing and frankly the 3rd week features his BEST terrain. So like Armstrong's history, I think you have to discount Contador's "history". How much of a discount of course is also a debatable point.

I think this is where he loses me :



That's not analysis, that's hope. He expects the 139 pound best climber in the world to falter on his best terrain, but not the 38 year old who's climbing more like a diesel engine than he did in his pre-retirement days with no explanation why based on their current form that would be the case.
...we have only a small indication of how 37 year old Armstrong will ultimately climb in the Alps...it must be noted that Armstrong has already ridden a three week grand tour this year...Contador has not...and Armstrong was going better at the end of the Giro than the beginning, even climbing better than Leipheimer in the final week...Armstrong is not the same climber he was at the start of the Giro, where he was probably 5-7 lbs. heavier than he is currently...

...Andy Schleck is right about one thing, Lance is VERY thin...the Giro pared him down to below his normal racing weight...

...that said, if Arcalis did'nt convince you that Armstrong has good form then Verbier, which is 2km shorter, probably won't change your perceptions either...unless the other favorites decide that they can no longer be content to follow wheels...

...i agree that Strickland offers nothing more than his opinion based on Armstrong's seven tour victories, but if Lance improves the way he improved in the Giro then he'll be amongst the best by the end...will that be good enough to win is another story...
 
vrusimov said:
...we have only a small indication of how 37 year old Armstrong will ultimately climb in the Alps...it must be noted that Armstrong has already ridden a three week grand tour this year...Contador has not...and Armstrong was going better at the end of the Giro than the beginning, even climbing better than Leipheimer in the final week...Armstrong is not the same climber he was at the start of the Giro, where he was probably 5-7 lbs. heavier than he is currently...

...Andy Schleck is right about one thing, Lance is VERY thin...the Giro pared him down to below his normal racing weight...

...that said, if Arcalis did'nt convince you that Armstrong has good form then Verbier, which is 2km shorter, probably won't change your perceptions either...unless the other favorites decide that they can no longer be content to follow wheels...

...i agree that Strickland offers nothing more than his opinion based on Armstrong's seven tour victories, but if Lance improves the way he improved in the Giro then he'll be amongst the best by the end...will that be good enough to win is another story...
My observations about his climbing style were from the 11 stages of the Tour that have been completed, not the Giro. He climbs much more like Levi than he does Contador (or Lance 2001).

As for having done the Giro, means he probably has as many race kilometers in his leg as Contador who had a more complete pre-Tour race schedule. So I'm not sure what difference that makes.

As to his form, I don't think it is going to get any better. It is what it is at this point. We just don't know what it is at this point. If that makes sense. The other competitors are running out of opportunities to grab time so I expect more action on Stage 13 and 15 than we saw on Arcalis.
 
frizzlefry said:
The lack of mountain stages has to favor LA. It lowers the attempts by AC to put time into LA. It also gives LA more time to get into shape.
It should make for some great fireworks for the last week of the tour.
According to Lance he was in great shape at the start of the Tour--lightest weight he's ever been as I understand it. Similar to his 2001/2004 fitness level and I don't recall ANYONE talking about him building into form those years (not saying that wasn't the case, I just don't recall it being the subject of discussion like say Ullrich's off season weight problems, etc.).
 
Jun 18, 2009
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Publicus said:
That's not analysis, that's hope. He expects the 139 pound best climber in the world to falter on his best terrain, but not the 38 year old who's climbing more like a diesel engine than he did in his pre-retirement days with no explanation why based on their current form that would be the case.
Perfect description of LA's climbing these days. Takes a while to get his old engine revved up.

Great final week coming up.
 
May 21, 2009
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The analysis may be sound. But it simply means Contador goes from being much stronger than Lance to stronger than Lance. Also consider Contador is national time trialing champion of Spain, whereas Lance has yet to show he's at the top level in time trials since his return, including this Tour. I think Lance remains insurance in case Contador falters.
 
richwagmn said:
Perfect description of LA's climbing these days. Takes a while to get his old engine revved up.

Great final week coming up.
What makes you say that? I assume you are basing it on some historical fact about his climbing style but I don't recall that being the case.
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Armstrong was great in that final 2005 time trial when he beat Ullrich, Vino, Basso and Landis.
 
May 13, 2009
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Publicus said:
According to Lance he was in great shape at the start of the Tour--lightest weight he's ever been as I understand it. Similar to his 2001/2004 fitness level and I don't recall ANYONE talking about him building into form those years (not saying that wasn't the case, I just don't recall it being the subject of discussion like say Ullrich's off season weight problems, etc.).
For a 37 year old compared to a 26 year old is a world of difference. Every day and every ounce of weight means alot more to a 37 year old. I am 39 and cant come close to the things I did when I was in the 25-30 year old range. And yea it sucks.
 
Jul 3, 2009
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frizzlefry said:
For a 37 year old compared to a 26 year old is a world of difference. Every day and every ounce of weight means alot more to a 37 year old. I am 39 and cant come close to the things I did when I was in the 25-30 year old range. And yea it sucks.
In the world of triathlon (yes, it's a different sport, but not that far off) we have here in Minnesota some 40-50+ year old masters winning races and setting course records (NOT master's records--outright course records.)

There's also Jeannie Longo, Dara Torres, and a whole bunch of others for examples.

So, yeah, most of us fall off the wagon pretty hard, :( but that's not an absolute across the human race.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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frizzlefry said:
For a 37 year old compared to a 26 year old is a world of difference. Every day and every ounce of weight means alot more to a 37 year old. I am 39 and cant come close to the things I did when I was in the 25-30 year old range. And yea it sucks.
I'm gonna stay out of the Armstrong prediction business, but as a fellow 39-year old, I have to agree with you here. The thing is, I very occasionally still have workouts that seem close to what they were a decade ago, so I suspect it is possible to approach those levels in theory. Alas for me, it remains a theory.
 
frizzlefry said:
For a 37 year old compared to a 26 year old is a world of difference. Every day and every ounce of weight means alot more to a 37 year old. I am 39 and cant come close to the things I did when I was in the 25-30 year old range. And yea it sucks.
I'm not sure if I follow the point you are trying to make. Are you saying that at 38 every day of racing is more meaningful to building his form for the final week than it is to a 26 year old? Or that every day of racing has a more profound impact on his final week form?

In either event, your comment raised an important point: recovery. I'm soon to be 38 myself and recovering from a major workout or injury just isn't the same when I was in my physical prime (different sport (American football)). Not to say that I can in any way compare myself to LA, but I would think relative to Contador he will take longer to recover, which may profoundly impact the last week.
 
Jul 15, 2009
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I am new to this forum and find that the arguments for LA winning or losing the tour are interesting; however, everyone is assuming that LA's and Contador's climbing and time trial abilities are compared like they are climbing and or time trialing side by side. No one is taking into consideration tactics and which one will attack and will the other counter. Contador has already shown that etiquette is not as important as winning or even making a point, so there truly is no way to determine which one will win until one of them attacks. Will the other be able to follow? This brings back thoughts of '85 when Lemond was pulled back from the break to help Hinault. Who was truly the strongest that year? We can assume Lemond, but we will never know.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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frizzlefry said:
For a 37 year old compared to a 26 year old is a world of difference. Every day and every ounce of weight means alot more to a 37 year old. I am 39 and cant come close to the things I did when I was in the 25-30 year old range. And yea it sucks.
...but you have'nt won 7 Tours and been a professional bike rider for 20 years...the adaptations that have taken place both in the heart and skeletal muscle take a long time to erode in a professional athlete...Armstrong was out of bike racing but he was running several Boston Marathons, mountain biking, speed skating, etc. etc...and the guy has an engine like few on this planet...i can show you results in race after race where 26 year olds are getting their butts handed to them by guys twice their age...sure there is a decline in maximal heart rate and weight gain with years which act to reduce VO2 Max, but Armstrong ain't your average 37 year old, and he's lighter now than he's ever been at the Tour...
 
Jul 8, 2009
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Publicus said:
According to Lance he was in great shape at the start of the Tour--lightest weight he's ever been as I understand it. Similar to his 2001/2004 fitness level and I don't recall ANYONE talking about him building into form those years (not saying that wasn't the case, I just don't recall it being the subject of discussion like say Ullrich's off season weight problems, etc.).
...the collarbone threw off the schedule but i don't think he would've challenged in the Giro anyway...just too early in the year and his weight was too high...either the time trial in Monaco indicated that he was short of form which would mean he will be better in the third week or he has'nt recovered from his Giro efforts which contradicts the findings of Carmichael and the field tests in Aspen...

...the Monaco time trial result is probably the reason that this type of talk has surfaced...Lance stated that he's better than 2003 but not quite 04-05-01...if he's basing this on his field data from past years then he must've started this tour conservatively or else he's lying...to us and to himself...

...it would mean he's around at least 475 watts at threshold, and that's lowballing it because Lance has always been around 500 watts before the tour [493w in 2004]...he was reportedly 2% off in 2003 or about 480 watts...475w puts him at 6.6 w/kg and Ferrari's magic number is 6.7 ...he was an average of 28 watts off Menchov at the Giro as weighted for a 78kilo rider/bike combination...since then, Carmichael has stated that his threshold numbers had improved and he'd gone under his previous tour starting weight...it's been nine weeks since the start of of the Giro in May and one telling insight was Armstrong stating that "of course i'm better climbing than the Giro" in his post race comments after Arcalis...

...Carmichael has been hedging but after Arcalis he must be wondering just what it is possible for Lance at this years tour...he said beforehand that Armstrong has "a chance", while in previous years he was pretty confident going in that Lance would be victorious in the end...

...the x-factor in all this is Lance's perceived slight by Contador...whether real or imagined, right or wrong, nothing, and i mean nothing gets Armstrong's blood up like betrayal...he's got some rage to meet out before this tour ends...whether it will do him any good is questionable but Contador has unleashed something with his exploits at Arcalis...two alpha males who resist authority...we should hope that "if" it does come down to the two of them that Bruyneel will let it play out...nothing could do more for Contador's mettle then putting Armstrong to pasture and in a way that makes him understand that future tours won't be anymore fruitful for him...
 
vrusimov said:
...the collarbone threw off the schedule but i don't think he would've challenged in the Giro anyway...just too early in the year and his weight was too high...either the time trial in Monaco indicated that he was short of form which would mean he will be better in the third week or he has'nt recovered from his Giro efforts which contradicts the findings of Carmichael and the field tests in Aspen...

...the Monaco time trial result is probably the reason that this type of talk has surfaced...Lance stated that he's better than 2003 but not quite 04-05-01...if he's basing this on his field data from past years then he must've started this tour conservatively or else he's lying...to us and to himself...

...it would mean he's around at least 475 watts at threshold, and that's lowballing it because Lance has always been around 500 watts before the tour [493w in 2004]...he was reportedly 2% off in 2003 or about 480 watts...475w puts him at 6.6 w/kg and Ferrari's magic number is 6.7 ...he was an average of 35 watts off Menchov at the Giro as weighted for a 78kilo rider/bike combination...since then, Carmichael has stated that his threshold numbers had improved and he'd gone under his previous tour starting weight...it's been nine weeks since the start of of the Giro in May and one telling insight was Armstrong stating that "of course i'm better climbing than the Giro" in his post race comments after Arcalis...

...Carmichael has been hedging but after Arcalis he must be wondering just what it is possible for Lance at this years tour...he said beforehand that Armstrong has "a chance", while in previous years he was pretty confident going in that Lance would be victorious in the end...

...the x-factor in all this is Lance's perceived slight by Contador...whether real or imagined, right or wrong, nothing, and i mean nothing gets Armstrong's blood up like betrayal...he's got some rage to meet out before this tour ends...whether it will do him any good is questionable but Contador has unleashed something with his exploits at Arcalis...two alpha males who resist authority...we should hope that "if" it does come down to the two of them that Bruyneel will let it play out...nothing could do more for Contador's mettle then putting Armstrong to pasture and in a way that makes him understand that future tours won't be anymore fruitful for him...
My first thought is: Lance was the one talking up his form, how he was here to win, etc. Post Stage 1, he trotted out the excuses from he's almost 38, 4 years out of competition, hadn't raced in a month (conveniently forgetting his dominating performance at the Nevada City Crit), etc. I have no idea about his wattage and so I'll accept them as truthful.

As for your 'x' factor, I think what you say is entirely possible. Actually, I expect it to be the truth. Lance's feelings were hurt (he even alluded to it the day after) and he wants to show the young kid who's the Boss. But I think you are, and Lance may be as well, overlooking the 'y and z' factors: Lance has insulted Contador at every turn possible. That he's ****ed Contador off. That he now has on his hand the world's best climber and one of the best TT's motivated like no other to stomp a mudhole in his ***. Armstrong has behaved in a way that he would have never tolerated from one of his US Postal or Disco teammates. Imagine Heras saying that he was at the Tour to win . . . but I digress.

Just based on their media comments, I'd said Armstrong is, not quite afraid, but unsure of himself vis a vis Contador. He's always proclaiming his leadership to the media or playing up the tension between the two (yet maintaining that it is mostly a media driven phenomenon). I've not heard Contador say much more than the leadership will be decided on the road--even when JB was proclaiming him leader. I just don't think Contador is intimidated by Armstrong. Of course that's just my opinion and I'm obviously partial to Contador, so take it for what it is worth.

Btw, you should check out this article by Carmichael written after Arcalis:

http://www.bicycling.com/tourdefrance/article/0,6802,s1-7-403-19954-1,00.html

Given your numbers on Armstrong, you might be interested in what he had to say.
 
vrusimov said:
...but you have'nt won 7 Tours and been a professional bike rider for 20 years...the adaptations that have taken place both in the heart and skeletal muscle take a long time to erode in a professional athlete...Armstrong was out of bike racing but he was running several Boston Marathons, mountain biking, speed skating, etc. etc...and the guy has an engine like few on this planet...i can show you results in race after race where 26 year olds are getting their butts handed to them by guys twice their age...sure there is a decline in maximal heart rate and weight gain with years which act to reduce VO2 Max, but Armstrong ain't your average 37 year old, and he's lighter now than he's ever been at the Tour...
Im sure you can, but you can't seriously expect to extend that analogy to the situation between Contador and Armstrong. Sure Armstrong ain't your average 38 year old, but Contador ain't your average 26 year old either.

Moreover, something has definitely changed in Armstrong's climbing cadence. At least based on his ride through the Pyrenees. He climbs more like Levi than he does Lance 2001 or Contador. I'm not doubting his considerable physical talents. I'm just not discounting/dismissing Contador's.
 
Jul 8, 2009
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Publicus said:
My first thought is: Lance was the one talking up his form, how he was here to win, etc. Post Stage 1, he trotted out the excuses from he's almost 38, 4 years out of competition, hadn't raced in a month (conveniently forgetting his dominating performance at the Nevada City Crit), etc. I have no idea about his wattage and so I'll accept them as truthful.

As for your 'x' factor, I think what you say is entirely possible. Actually, I expect it to be the truth. Lance's feelings were hurt (he even alluded to it the day after) and he wants to show the young kid who's the Boss. But I think you are, and Lance may be as well, overlooking the 'y and z' factors: Lance has insulted Contador at every turn possible. That he's ****ed Contador off. That he now has on his hand the world's best climber and one of the best TT's motivated like no other to stomp a mudhole in his ***. Armstrong has behaved in a way that he would have never tolerated from one of his US Postal or Disco teammates. Imagine Heras saying that he was at the Tour to win . . . but I digress.

Just based on their media comments, I'd said Armstrong is, not quite afraid, but unsure of himself vis a vis Contador. He's always proclaiming his leadership to the media or playing up the tension between the two (yet maintaining that it is mostly a media driven phenomenon). I've not heard Contador say much more than the leadership will be decided on the road--even when JB was proclaiming him leader. I just don't think Contador is intimidated by Armstrong. Of course that's just my opinion and I'm obviously partial to Contador, so take it for what it is worth.

Btw, you should check out this article by Carmichael written after Arcalis:

http://www.bicycling.com/tourdefrance/article/0,6802,s1-7-403-19954-1,00.html

Given your numbers on Armstrong, you might be interested in what he had to say.
...good points on all accounts...certainly Contador does'nt fear Armstrong and Arcalis proved the point...he sees the Tour as his party now and Lance the guy who's had too much to drink and unwilling to hail a cab...and i never was really comfortable with Lance coming back to Astana...i think everyone knew it would be trouble from the start and here we are...i think Lance could'nt resist the path of least resistance and he knew that he would need guys he could trust and a team with the horsepower and experience of Astana for the TTT...

...i do feel for Contador, who's been put into this situation by Bruyneel...if you ask me, i'm less inclined to believe that Armstrong's sole focus was the Giro this year, given his weight at the time, and the minute he broke his collarbone, that ship sailed and he's been talking Tour ever since...Armstrong and Bruyneel just go too far back, they seem drawn to one another like moths to a flame...too much history and nostalgia...

...Contador's bonk in Paris-Nice gave Bruyneel an opening whereby he could coddle Armstrong in the guise of feigned consternation at Contador's lack of experience...the rift has grown every day since, with Armstrong's inflammatory rhetoric serving as further fuel to the fire...

...Arcalis saw Contador's pent up rage at the situation in full force...it's in his DNA to be champion, just like Armstrong...but Lance wants to see the proof that he's off the pace and so Contador will likely have to provide him with it...i do know this...Contador will not likely meet another rider with the mental and physical resolve of Armstrong until such time that he himself has faded from relevance...

...Lance would never admit it but he is Hinault reincarnated...they both tend toward confrontation and conflict...they both have an open hostility to the press and a mistrust of institutions...they demand loyalty even when they themselves seems less than capable in reciprocation...extremely outspoken and opinionated...they both reach for control/power unless someone happens to beat them to it...they don't function well as subordinates and are team players as long as it is they who chiefly benefit...what it would've been like to have these two race against one another...

...i'm also wondering if Leipheimer is'nt having a touch of regret in his service of Contador...he's been directly involved in both his Tour win in 2007 and the Vuelta last year...he's has commented, along with Johan and Lance about Arcalis but i don't recall reading anything from the other riders...
 
Jul 8, 2009
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Publicus said:
Im sure you can, but you can't seriously expect to extend that analogy to the situation between Contador and Armstrong. Sure Armstrong ain't your average 38 year old, but Contador ain't your average 26 year old either.

Moreover, something has definitely changed in Armstrong's climbing cadence. At least based on his ride through the Pyrenees. He climbs more like Levi than he does Lance 2001 or Contador. I'm not doubting his considerable physical talents. I'm just not discounting/dismissing Contador's.
...i don't look for Armstrong to handle the accelerations of Contador, which seem more potent than those once made by Iban Mayo...he'll have to go the diesel route like Ulrich did throughout his career and hope to close the gap once he settles down...if he settles down...and you would never think that someone with Armstrong's cadence would be forced into such a situation though he is giving away ~10 kilos to Contador...no matter, hopefully we'll get to see these two go blow for blow...
 
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