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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, July 24, 2005
    Arch of Triumph

    Lance wins again. His seventh tour victory and his last - today, he retired from professional cycling, at the very top. One thing missing from this photo - the bike. Now, Lance himself has famously said, It's not about the bike. It wouldn't happen without the bikes, but he's right, it's all about the epic struggles of the men who ride hundreds of gruelling kilometres, mentally driven; driven to reach the end of each stage where to any ordinary mortal each stage would carry what seemed like a lifetime of pain and mental torment. Armstrong's epic struggle has included many massive stage wins in the Alps and Pyrenees which have made him the champion he is, and that victory over cancer which has totally redefined him.

    Everyday is a winding road, sang Lance's girlfriend Sheryl Crow, before they ever met. I wonder if it amazes her now to realize now just how true those words are to the cycling life, the greatest sport, where true athleticism meets flesh-tearing tarmac, where cunning and guile connect with extraordinary selflessness and exceptional comradeship. Everyday is a winding road - it's brutally real for the racers involved, and it's a tremendous metaphor for the rest of us who follow their exploits. Lance's out of it now, God bless him, but as he said on the podium this afternoon, the race goes on - "Vive le Tour!"