Lance is back. I'm glad of it because nobody else comes close to generating the attention to the sport of cycling that Lance does. That attention comes in the form of admiration and scorn, hero-worship and Hellfire, record-breaking crowds and broken-record accusations of doping. People love him. People hate him. After 8 years of Bush, people somehow still blame Bill Clinton for all of our problems. After seven Tour wins and a three year absence from the sport, some people still think Lance represents everything that is wrong with cycling. Sleazy Euro sports journalists make careers attacking and dogging him. Irish journalist and Lance-chaser Paul Kimmage described Armstrong's return as "the return of the cancer that had been in remission" (paraphrase, probably but close!), yet the only reason I've ever heard of Paul Kimmage is because of his exchange with the man at a Tour of California press conference.
Kimmage must be thanking God that his high-profile target is back on the radar. Armstrong is a lot like Bill Clinton, in that to some people he can do no wrong. I mean, people just love the man and will go to great lengths just to be in his presence. Clinton and Armstrong are both charismatic and charming, something that really angers the more cranky among us. I'd like to think that the record crowds at the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California were there due to a sudden explosion of interest in professional cycling, but let's face it, most of the incremental numbers were there to see the only rider of our times that has an image of heroic proportion. Ask your neighbor who Levi Leipheimer is and you'll likely get a puzzled look. Most were there to cheer and some, like this pinhead, were there to disparage (and maybe get on TV for 11 seconds), but they showed up by the thousands.
That photo series is truly hilarious, by the way!
Bill Clinton has made tens of millions of dollars giving speeches, often to people who don't even speak English, I think, but they are awed by his persona. The haters think he should be hung for lying about a BJ and his admirers regard him as a great leader of our times. He was hounded by political attack dogs for most of his tenure, yet managed to not only survive, but actually do a good job in the objective view. He's revered around the world, something which further pisses off his detractors for some reason.
Lance is taking his cancer message to the masses in the best way he can. I don't really care if he's doing for his ego or for the good of mankind, he's doing it and I appreciate that. He seems relaxed and really funny at times. The man has got style, like it or not. Cycling will be the better for him. The yellow jounalists will get a readership bump. Versus will cover bike racing for another year. Some epic battles are shaping up on the race courses for the coming season and I'm excited.