Similar with Froome and even Contador, he stopped putting those monster single climb efforts in, I wonder how much that takes out of your body over a career when you ride at that high level.Really like to revisit those old days, reading old threads about it gives me maybe even more than rewatching the races.
That 2003 Stage to ADH was certainly something else, I got into cycling 1999, LAs first year of dominance, from the start I disliked him, was rooting for Zülle the first year, later for Ulrich and anyone who challenged him.
So by 2003 LA had won the TdF 4 times and each and every year made he pretty much decided the Tour in his favor already on the first major mountain stage, raising out of his saddle, attacking and putting 1 to 2 mins between him and the best of the rest. This continued for the rest of the mountains (yes he had a bad day in 1999 and 2000, but near the end of the tour and he was leading comfortably by then and could afford it, never being in real danger to lose the Tour). In 2001 and 2002 he was at his peak IMO, setting attack after attack and at the worst finish with his best competitors. Then 2003 and the ADP stage came along a for the first time it looked different, going into the climb and with USP accelerating early I expected nothing less than another attack with him easily winning the Stage (and pretty much the entire race ) but then his team was spent and that attack didn't come, he was riding along with Vino and Hamilton. Normally being isolated, he would leave those two behind and they would see him at the finish line. This time he wasn't better than the best after 5,6 GC contenders, that already was smth completely new. Sometime later Beloki, Mayo and a few others made it back into the first group and they started attacking, Beloki and Hamilton didn't get any real separation, but then Mayo did, a bit later also Vino. That was the first time I have seen some riders climbing genuinely better than LA. I believe LA wasn't really expecting it, otherwise he wouldn't have spent his entire team so early in the climb, they were clearly going all in, he was thinking to pull off the exact same thing he did in ADH 2001, when he went on the attack early and put 2 mins between him and Ulrich.
Later that Tour, when he won in Luz Ardiden, was the last time I have seen LA pulling off one of those attacks. The following years he was always staying with the best in the Mountains, while never really attacking before the finish line, relying on his superior TT- and TTT-ability of his teams.
Similar with Froome and even Contador, he stopped putting those monster single climb efforts in, I wonder how much that takes out of your body over a career when you ride at that high level.
I don't think it's about longevity. I think it's about consistency throughout a GT. Froome suffered in the last week of both the 2013 and 2015 Tours. I think you perhaps go in a little lighter or a little less rested into a GT than is optimally safe.Similar with Froome and even Contador, he stopped putting those monster single climb efforts in, I wonder how much that takes out of your body over a career when you ride at that high level.
Ferrari always claims that 2005 was Lance's best year and he easily won the Tour without breaking a sweat, so I will go with his word.
LA IMO peaked in 2001 and 2002. 2003 was a bit of an off-year, he was clearly worse than before and slightly worse than the years after that. So 2004 and after he was somewhat of a diesel climber, never attacking before getting close to the finish line. Maybe it was cos he didn't feel the need to do so? After all, his main competitors 2004 and 2005 in the mountains were much worse in TT than he was, however, that was also the case 2002, where he attacked all the time with no need. So yes, I guess he just declined slightly. Interesting though, I believe he really never even tried to attack those 2 years, no instance where he rode away just to get caught shortly after.
Lance couldn't stand anyone who didn't get with the script - Pantani, Mayo, Garzelli, Contador, Vino (to a lesser extent). He didn't mind Basso, but that seemed to be because Basso wasn't trying to target him.Old post, but in Richard Moore's Etape, LA claims he over-rode himself in the 2003 Dauphine because he was ticked off that Mayo was hanging with him on the climbs. He clearly still hated the guy, in typical Lance style.
Armstrong had it over Mayo mentally unfortunately. He basically goaded Mayo into going too deep at the Dauphine, and eliminated one of his main TDF contenders a month before the grand departMayo certainly was impressive during 2004 Dauphine. Won it too! As a huge fan of his at the time, how the Tour fell apart for him that year was horrible given he smashed Armstrong by 2 minutes up Ventoux ITT. Could have had a very different ending to his career without that crash I always felt.
I think the heatwave had a big effect in 2003, Lance always disliked the heat and many of his most impressive wins came after a hard stage with bad weater. Ullrich IMO should have stayed at Bianchi, one year away from Telekom/T-Mobile and he suddenly was great again, I don't think that the environment on that team did him any good.Pretty sure peak shape Armstrong was 2001 TdF. Ullrich was pretty good that year, but he just obliterated everyone. 2002 insane as well. 2003 a bit of an off year, but better competition made him look weaker as well. 2004 a bit decline from peak years, and 2005 a bit more decline, but obviously still the best with quite a margin, although at that point Basso was as good as a climber as he was. After all that was only one year before Robobasso. Imagine if the Basso and Ullrich versions of 2006 had met LA in the TdF, that would have been fun.
Unfortunately that didnt happen.. Ullrich 2003 without a doubt the closest, Beloko was nowhere near 2000-2002, but I feel he was extremely good in 2003 when he crashed. Basso was also whatever compared to LA, at least in 2004, in 2005 he was better. Then you have Vino and Mayo versions of 2003, Vino not enough of a climber and Mayo too inconsistent and bad TT'er. Zulle 1999 lost the race before the race had started. Pantani 2000, but not a real threat. 1999 Pantani, yes, probably also 1998 had been a major threat.
The americans? Landis and Tyler was nowhere near close.