Clueless: Armstrong Rides Tour de France Course

Lance Armstrong in FranceOne of the foundational elements in regard to correcting ethical mistakes and bad choices is the ability to learn from those mistakes, do the hard work required to make amends and earn the right at a second chance.

Second chances do not automatically kick in after a year or two of aging; second chances are not PR-hyped; second chances are not appropriately made on the backs of other people. These are lessons most of us can understand. For those unable to come to those realizations, the stink of the situation can actually be made worse by trying to fake emotions and “understanding.”

Lance Armstrong is at it again. Just ahead of the Tour de France, he and a group of amateur cyclists rode two stages of the very same route. They were doing this, presumably, to raise money for cancer research. Off the top of my head, this is akin to Pete Rose and 17 amateur baseball players taking the field at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati about an hour before the MLB All-Star Game at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, and playing two innings. The only possible difference is that Pete Rose has apologized to baseball and to his fans for his actions and Lance is still pretending that the sport of cycling cares what he has to say. It does not.

It is true, the Tour de France roadway is open to anyone before the race. I could ride it if I so desired – and so could my neighbor’s seven and nine year old kids. It would be fun.

Armstrong is not fun. He is not riding this for fun. He is riding this out of pride and arrogance and to shove something in the face of his former teammates, the sport of cycling, his former sponsors and the very race, the Tour de France, that has stripped him of seven winning titles.

Fake awards and fake purpose

Armstrong’s participation in this fun ride is presumably to raise $1.5 million for cancer research. Even in this altruistic act I see problems. The nine other cyclists riding with him have raised about $920,000 through sponsorships. They have raised a bunch of money for the privilege of riding with Lance and making a lot of French people angry. I cannot blame them. He mocked them. For years, he mocked them, their culture and their prized race.

I am reminded of those made for television award shows, where a group of sponsors get together to create something like “The 1st Annual Good Citizens Mascot Costumes Awards.”

Sponsors pay a lot of money for the fake award and the show is packaged as something it really isn’t. Lance has created the “Almost Tour de France for Unethical Cyclists.”

Why couldn’t Lance do a ride around the State of Texas, or Rhode Island for that matter? No, that would not happen and that is not what this is about, and despite all of his protestations to the contrary, he pushed ahead and rode part of the course anyway.

The idea for this event was apparently created by an international soccer player who himself is a cancer survivor and he “convinced” Lance to join them. No one in the country of France or the cycling federation wanted him there. Why would that stop him?

Lance talked about the unfortunate era that he rode in, and once again used the defense that everyone was doing it. Everyone was not doing it and a lot of good people who believed him, and believed in him, suffered. He talked about his great affection for the French people. Maybe he truly feels that way; maybe not. If he truly loved France he would visit towns, villages and cities on foot, make amends and publicly apologize. Fat chance.

This is simply another bad choice with more lousy consequences.

I hate cancer. I am a survivor myself. It is an awful, terrible disease, but these antics are not the way to work toward a cure. There could have been a much more ethical and honest way of doing it; maybe a thousand better ways. Perhaps humility and not arrogance could have been tried in this case but I don’t believe that is his style. I also don’t believe anything good will come of this.


Chuck Gallagher

(828) 244-1400





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