Notebook > Sports

Life and Lance after the Tour

Sports | While Lance Armstrong insists his pro cycling days are over, he maintains his athletic days are not

Issue: "Superheroes strike again," Aug. 6, 2005

A few years ago, Jason Sager of Austin, Tex., met his ultimate match. It was 2002 and Mr. Sager was an elite racer in an event called cyclocross-a combination of trail running and mountain biking. Mr. Sager was becoming a legend in the Texas cyclocross world. He hadn't lost a race in four years.

That was, until cycling legend Lance Armstrong entered the Austin Dirty Duathlon in December 2002, a cyclocross race featuring a 12.3-mile mountain bike ride sandwiched between two 3-mile trail runs.

Amazingly, Mr. Sager had built a 30-second lead over the Tour de France champion by the end of the technical ride. But Mr. Armstrong's legs-and lungs-carried him past Mr. Sager during the final 3-mile run. "It's kind of like being stalked by a shark," Mr. Sager told reporters after the race. "You know it's coming, so you don't want to look back. But there's nothing wrong with being passed by Lance."

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After winning his seventh Tour de France, the American cycling legend now begins his long retirement. The numbers suggest Mr. Armstrong is in peak physical shape. In his Tour victory this year, he averaged 25.88 mph-a record. Even so, Mr. Armstrong insists he's done racing in the Tour. But can an elite athlete at the prime of his career really just lay down his bike and quit forever?

While Mr. Armstrong insists his pro cycling days are over, he maintains his athletic days are not. "I'm an athlete," said Mr. Armstrong before his victory ride in Paris. "I've been an athlete my entire life. I'm not going to sit around and be a fat slob now. I have to do something.'

Democratic Senator and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry suggested Mr. Armstrong would make a great political candidate, but would it be for Mr. Kerry's party? The Texas cyclist has been known to pal around with President Bush.

But it's hard to imagine Lance Armstrong not finding a way to employ the biological machine he spent years creating. So while his motor is still hot, amateurs in cyclocross, triathlon, and mountain biking races would do well to look over their shoulders.

"These guys think I'm crazy for taking them out here to do this in the off-season, but this is stuff I'll do for the rest of my life," Mr. Armstrong said after the Austin Dirty Duathlon in 2002. "I'll only do the Tour for another couple years and then after that I'll never do it. But these kinds of things I suspect I'll do, hopefully, until I'm an old man."

Around the Horn

  • In the race to amass strikeouts, Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux was the tortoise. In his 20th season, Mr. Maddux has finally picked up his 3,000th strikeout, becoming just the 13th pitcher ever to do so. The pitching legend has done it not with a blazing fastball or nasty curve, but with a precision that has baffled National League batters for two decades. Mr. Maddux's 3,000th came like many of his others: living precipitously on the corners with a called third strike.
  • Even before training camp opened, the Arizona Cardinals were retreating. Concerned by the outbreak of a virus on the campus of Northern Arizona University, the Cardinals decided to abandon their plans. Instead of opening training camp in Flagstaff, the Cardinals shipped south to Prescott, opening camp July 31.
  • First ABC used former New York Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer in the hit reality-TV series, The Bachelor; now CBS is ready to employ a former NFL quarterback in a reality show. According to reports in the Detroit Free-Press and New York Post, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Gary Hogeboom will star in the upcoming season of Survivor set in Guatemala. Mr. Hogeboom, now 46, played 10 seasons in the league.


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