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I saw that Annemiek van Vleuten, the woman that crashed so horrifically on her way to winning the Olympics, won a stage race, the Belgium Tour last weekend.  She won the final stage, which finished on the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen. I guess her broken vertebra weren’t such an issue for her.

She still has to be smarting from being so close to winning the Olympics.  That will most likely haunt her for a while, if not the rest of her life.  But it is beautiful that she can put it behind her and focus on her current situation.  She hadn’t won a race since the Belgium Tour two years ago.  Pretty great comeback story.

Lance Armstrong’s  ban from a lifetime ban for all sanctioned sport has been lifted, sort of.  It has been 4 years since Lance had been banned for life, so there was a clause that allows him to compete in other sports, just not cycling.

“He can compete in a sanctioned event at a national or regional level in a sport other than cycling that does not qualify him… to compete in a national championship or international event,” USADA spokesman Ryan Madden.

Lance is downplaying the comeback possibilities, but I’ll bet you anything you’ll see Lance competing again.  He’s already been entering alternative triathlons, endurance trail runs and such, so I’m pretty sure he is stoked that he is free to play in alternative sport.

The comparison between the two examples of comebacks, or potential comebacks, is really vast. One is so pure, the definition of a comeback, and the other, you decide.

Annemiek van Vleuten after winning the Belgium Tour. She should be super happy and proud of herself.

Annemiek van Vleuten after winning the Belgium Tour. She should be super happy and proud of herself.

Lance jumped the gun a little, doing this privately promoted trail run last year. The two picture sizes represent the the different values of these two people.

Lance jumped the gun a little, doing this privately promoted trail run last year. The two picture sizes represent the the different pertinent values of these two individuals.


28 thoughts on “Comebacks

  1. Bryan Barber

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s completely ridiculous that you USADA(Travis Tygert) gets to determine whether or not the most pure endurance competitor of our time can compete in any sport?
    Gotta love someone who face plants on pavement then comes back, not only to compete again but to excel. Ala Stybar. Her comeback was simple. Just throw your leg over the top tube and pedal. Lance’ not so much.

  2. Jake

    There is nothing pure about Lance. I don’t care if he competes again, but the argument that he would have won anyway because everyone was doping is ridiculous.

  3. barb

    I don’t view the lifting of Lance’s ban in the same category as a comeback. He’s 45 and for all intents and purposes is not a contender in most real competitions. And are people going to keep demonizing him forever? I find people’s ongoing attacks pretty representative of the emotional viciousness and holier than thou nature of human beings in general.
    Lance lost almost everything, and is still not done, may end up paying $100 million in his latest challenge. How much punishment does any one person have to take? It’s not like he’s Saddam or Hitler and killed millions. So he cheated. Get over it, stop throwing rocks at the guy and move on, let him get on with his life. Not sure why people are so invested in crucifying the guy, except that it’s easy to do on the internet, so people keep doing it. And before you start attacking me, I don’t approve of what he did either, but IMHO he’s paid enough for his “crimes against humanity” hasn’t he? Others who are doping are still competing in cycling, so Lance is the scapegoat, which is generally thought to be an unfair attack and unwarranted character assassination of the chosen goat. Not showing our best side of humanity, doing this to anyone. Just my take.

  4. ALS

    Lance did more than just dope. He doped and then when people spoke out against him, he sued then for slander, even though they were telling the truth. He even blacklisted those that spoke out against him – for example, Floyd. That didn’t work out to well for Lance did it? If Lance had not been such an arrogant prick and sued folks for telling the truth he would’ve been fine but his prickish attitude got the best of him. And for that he hasn’t yet paid for his “crimes against humanity.”

  5. Dave King

    How is it ridiculous when it is USADA (and Tygart’s) job?

    And just how is LA pure? And don’t tell me it’s because he won 7 TdF’s. He lied for YEARS about his doping. Sued, shamed, insulted, and disenfranchised many to cover up his doping. He denied the validity of USADA to regulate him even though that’s you sign onto when you get a racing license. Finally, he admitted his doping. Where’s the gray area? And, please, spare me the “everyone was doing it so it was a level playing field.” Such an argument speaks only to an ignorance of the differential effects of PED’s on different people as well as being an insult to Bassons, Darren Baker, and Scott Mercier (and others).

  6. Dave King

    And he didn’t just black-list them, he attempted to take away their livelihood and initiated smear campaigns against them.

    What he is receiving from the world is but a small taste of what he dished out to those who defied him or accused him.

    I might agree with you that he has been punished enough. But he hasn’t truly apologized or been remorseful for what he has done. Look closely at what he has said in interviews. In one interview he said that if he had to do it all over again he would still dope. I’m sorry but don’t get a pass when you say “I’m sorry I doped and I’m sorry I accused people and if I had the chance I would do the same again.”

  7. Jim

    Based on what you write, I could bet a lot of money that you never competed against him or lost money at a race because of him. You might not be quite so forgiving if it affected you.

  8. Dave King

    I know that you weren’t replying to me, I did compete against LA. In the last race he is now credited with winning: the 1998 Cascade Classic. I finished around 50th overall but did witness an otherworldly attack by LA.

  9. Wild Bill

    I won’t presume to answer for anyone but myself. Sorry for the length.

    Lance got me into cycling. He inspired me by beating cancer and becoming a great Tour champion.

    He didn’t just cheat, he moulded himself into an international icon. Many of us watched every Tour and cheered him on and defended him when people like Greg Lemond (the ONLY American to actually win a Tour) and the French and others questioned him. Lemond was almost ruined.

    Others were. Think of all the people he stomped on on the way up, let alone all the cyclists who never got into the peloton because they played by the rules. Everything mentioned above. And his holier than thou attitude. It appears he defrauded us, the taxpayers, by defrauding the PO.

    When he finally gets nailed he fights it by continuing to try to destroy the people who were truthful, the people who charged him and anyone who dared question him.

    He still has never been really apologetic or shown any remorse.

    If he had just doped that’s one thing. I have tried to be forgiving of these individuals like Levi and George and others.

    But Lance is a different kettle of fish. His offense extends well beyond doping.

    I don’t think I’m a small person for this, I just feel until the federal case is decided he hasn’t cleared justice.

    Many of us may be able to move on after this last case is resolved–I plan to. But there’s one more alleged crime he must be held accountable for.

    Wild Bill

  10. barb

    Thank you for your very informative correction, however most people (including myself) have been aware of those facts from the beginning. He was outed and got burned because he was an asshole and that’s why everyone turned against him. If he were a nice guy, he’d still have his titles. Well, a lot of people are complete assholes, but they don’t get burned at the stake do they? We could start with Wall St big bankers, whose actions ruined millions and none of them are being crucified by the public and none lost their personal fortunes and none went to jail. If you had another target, you’d be vilifying that person too wouldn’t you. You missed the point and continue to viciously attack, and that says more about you than about Lance. Why are YOU so invested in hating the guy? And I would ask that of all the other haters out there too. Did he damage YOUR life at all? No. It’s just that a lot of people need a target to vent their own inner shit on. That’s what a scapegoat is, and what Lance became. I stay my original course of enough is enough. I’m personally tired of the hateful vitriol.

  11. barb

    Ok, so he didn’t apologize. So what? Why does it friggin matter? Unless you were one of those that he personally wronged. Geez.

  12. barb

    I know all that. We all know all that. How long are you going to viciously beat the horse is my question. Don’t you have anyone else to focus on and kick in the shins at every opportunity. Maybe go kick the dog a few times, cause that’s what Lance has become.
    I’m not defending him. I’m not arguing or ignorant about what he did, I’m very familiar with all of it.
    My questions is, why are people so PERSONALLY INVESTED in viciously attacking him at every opportunity. 99.9% of the people on the internet, never raced against him. So he didn’t turn out to be your hero, well, there’s no Santa Clause and no tooth fairy either, do you hang them in effigy on every holiday and hit the dummy hanging up there with a bat? Geez.

  13. Bill Stevenson

    Barb, aka Linda Armstrong,

    Lance was and is a pushy assed sociopathic motherfucking bully and that is and will forever be my opinion of him.
    What he did does not and has never affected me at all. That being said he needs to just go away and not pine for the public spotlight.

  14. mark

    PED’s seem to benefit some more than others. Everybody is a little different and it generally takes a strong rider to start with, but some did some out of nowhere and show quite an improvement in a short period of time. In the 1994 Fleche Wallonne, The 3 Gewiss teammates, all “coached” by Michele Ferrari, rode everyone, including Lance in the Worlds stripes, right off their wheel on the Mur de Huy like it was a Saturday morning coffee ride and they rode then entire last circuit by themselves. Lance apparently (according to the movie The Program) approched Michele in his motorhome after the race and said he wanted to be on whatever they were. The rest is of course history.

  15. Jake

    Barb-I raced against him on several occasions as well as many others who doped. I had teammates and former teammates test positive. It’s the “everyone’s doing it” attitude that pisses me off. I wasn’t doing it, and I know I’m not alone.

  16. markK

    I think the problem is that the “horse” is not dead, but it is still very sick and people do not want the sick horse to infect other areas of sport.
    Until the horse is healed from his sickness, he should lovingly be put out to pasture.

  17. dog

    Its just cycling folks. Not like any body is going to war to serve their country or choosing to be a Doctor to save lives. Its just cycling.

  18. jon

    I may be an average cyclist, but I did serve in combat, and I think Lance is a dirtbag. Your argument is invalid.

  19. Chris C

    MarkK: re: “sick horse affecting others should be put out to pasture…”

    I’d venture to say there is no World Tour team without multiple former dopers and doping enablers on the payroll. Every Team.

    Likely the majority of pro continental teams as well.

    And that’s just management. I think cleaning out the former dopers in management (and team doctors) is too impossible of a task. There’d be nobody left to run the teams!

    As for the riders, doping provides much to gain in $$ and glory, nearly impossible to get caught… No wonder riders can get physically stronger over a 3 week tour. Welcome to the new normal.

  20. Andrew Ross

    I got in to cycling when Greg Lemond was turning pro. He was my first hero and had a truly miraculous recovery from his near-death experience.

    Lemond was one of the first one’s to express doubts about Lance, and it cost him his bike line, his relationship with Trek, and made him almost an outcast in the sport.

    Greg was a true hero, and Lance was an asshole to him.

    Am I supposed to forgive him when he hasn’t properly asked for forgiveness?

  21. Jay

    Wild Bill,

    My feelings about Lance are varied, but I never felt he defrauded the PO; to the contrary, they got a lot of great publicity from the team for several years–it would have certainly been less publicity if Lance had competed completely clean.Their sponsorship was done and over but the time the fit finally hit the shan.

  22. Bryan

    I didn’t even so much as imply such an argument. However, the fact is, the vast majority of contenders(top20) in the race have either been caught or admitted to doping.

  23. Bryan

    Tygart(USADA) is an employee of a federal gov. or quasi-fed gov. org. who, unless his job description states otherwise, is responsibility for overseeing US sport doping. If he would have appropriated just half of the money used to hang LA he could have nabbed (100) NFL, MLB, NBA, USTA, MLS heroes.
    “How is lance pure?”
    LA went to greater lengths than anyone to win. That makes him the purest of competitors. Doesn’t mean he isn’t a dick or immoral but that’s simply not the issue. He trained smarter than anyone and his results led to revolutionary changes in the way cyclist train today in regards to cadence and power.

  24. Dave King


    1. USADA is not a federal govt agency or a govt agency. It is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization. They do receive funding from the U.S. govt – but you can say that about A LOT of organizations that are not govt agency or a “quasi” one. In the end, I’m not sure how this is relevant anyone,

    And they are NOT responsible for overseeing “US sport doping.” Their jurisdiction is over US Olympic and Pan-Am Games sports and their athletes. MLB, NFL, NBA, and others are not part of the IOC charter. So complaining that USADA and Tygart aren’t doing their job is not only moot but factually mistaken.

    2. Ok, I can see your point about him being the most “pure” athlete in that he would do anything to win, in an “argument over semantics” kind of way. However, I think it’s a mistaken value to attach to him and a misuse of the word “pure.” Would you find it “pure” if a rider used motorized doping? Also, at some point doping takes sport into the realm of professional wrestling – a spectacle, entertainment, but not a competition where the outcome is uncertain. Instead, it becomes based upon who has the best access to drugs and doctors and who is willing to take the greatest risk to their health OUTSIDE the playing field. LA did that and more – bribed the UCI, snitched on ex-teammates who became rivals, required that Ferrari work only with him (and not any other GC contenders), and bullied his colleagues.

    Stating that he “trained smarter than others” and that his results lead to “revolutionary changes in regards to cadence and power” is quite a claim. I don’t know where you have evidence that others were training dumber or less hard (and please don’t use the claim that his results are the “proof” – his results came as a result of his doping, which if anything allowed harder training). I can kind of see the cadence point you are trying to make but training with power has been around awhile and we don’t really know how LA or Ferrari used that data. You also don’t see a power meter on very many of his LA’s bikes in races.

    Also, thank you for not claiming that doping created a level playing field. Anyone who has looked at this in any serious way knows how false that claim is.

    A good friend of mine from college worked with LA on his second comeback and said that he was very traditional in his training and resistant to trying new things (as were many but not all of his colleagues and team managers/DS’s). Several people have argued that doping in the 90’s and 2000’s were a set back for advances in training because it worked so well, it used up a lot of resources, and because the artificial effects of doping basically change the rules when it comes to training theory and practice (e.g., that one can continue to train when doping while a clean athlete would need to rest).

    I will leave you with this final thought: “The essence of sport is matching the natural ability of men. When you start using drugs, money or anything else surreptitiously to gain an unnatural advantage , you have corrupted the purpose of sports as well as the individuals involved in the practice.”

  25. Dave King


    The reality is that most people did NOT know the facts from the very beginning, which is why LA remained so popular for so long. Even by those who suspected him for a long time, many of us were surprised at the depths and the lengths to which he went.

    Re: Wall St bankers and other high level crooks. Just because they are not mentioned on a cycling blog doesn’t mean that people don’t vilify them. And just because their transgressions and behavior were worse than LA, doesn’t mean LA gets a pass.

    You ask why it friggin matters and why people continue to vilify him and why should they care if it never affected them? It matters because justice was served but the guilty still wants his place on the public pedestal but once again without the hard and authentic work of being truly apologetic and full explanatory. They vilify him because he is not apologetic, he would do it again and because he lied for so long and people feel betrayed by that. People care about a lot of things don’t affect them: if we didn’t, we’d be very selfish indeed not mention lacking empathy or moral courage.

  26. Dave King


    That’s cool. As long as it’s not war, or a doctor saving lives, or whatever you decide is worthwhile or not, then people should get a pass when they cheat and lie.

    It is “just cycling.” It was also people’s lives and health at risk not to mention their ability to work and earn a living. I don’t know what you do for a living, but if someone cheated their way ahead of you to get a promotion or if you lost your job because of it, you would just say “it’s just my profession, folks.” I also don’t think you’d feel this way if you child wanted to become a professional athlete in a sport they loved and had to face these kinds of choices. I suspect you might feel at least a little bit differently.

  27. Bryan Barber

    I’d like to see an attribution of that final quote. So I can make it a point not to ever read anything that person writes. “The essence of sport is matching the natural ability of men.” On the contrary. The essence of sport is COMPETITION!
    USADA is funded by, protected by, answers to, and colludes with the Fed but they’re not a quasi-gov org.? I wasn’t complaining that tygart wasn’t doing his job, that would be like complaining about the sun setting. I’m very ignorant as to USADA’s jurisdiction and the IOC’s Charter. So all the MLB, USTA, NBA stars that competed in the olympics had less scrutinization than the cyclists, runners and the like?
    The rest of your response was quite jumbled, mixing facts and presumptions and insinuations and your feelings about him as a person. Oh, and unsubstantiable third hand recollections.
    You are defining pure as wholesome that’s a big part of your problem. I used the common def. of pure to mean undiluted; 100%; or singular in purpose. You want me to produce evidence that every one in the peleton was training dumber than Lance, or my point isn’t valid? Better yet ask Scott mercier and lim who trained smarter I’ll rescind my statement if they refute it.
    On the “level playing field” matter, Ullrich was more physically gifted, rode for Stapletons Telekom, and had the same access to the shit that LA had. LA beat him repeatedly because he was more competitive(trained smarter). LA used an unusually high cadence and JA an unusually low cadence. Since then, everyone uses a cadence similar to what LA used and was at that time, considered strange. Can you “kinda see that”? Power has been around for a while but didn’t become significant or useful until LAs time.(when software was developed to coalate and assess the data) Since you were pro in 1998 you must know this firsthand.
    I’m sure your college roommate who helped LA train for his second comeback is smart and credible but he was telling the most advanced and accomplished endurance athlete in the world that he should try something different. That’s a tough sell.
    The “several people that argued that doping was a setback for advancements in training in the 90’s/2000’s…” are ignorant. Exactly the opposite thing happened.
    Did you quit cycling after 1998? You seem incredibly out of touch with the realities of bike racing over the last 15 years.


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