The Armstrong Story - Part II

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07/7/2003| 0 comments
by Ian Melvin

The Armstrong Story - Part II

Part II - A debut to remember.

1993 was Armstrong's first full season as a professional and to help adjust he moved in with fellow American and team-mate, Frankie Andreu, in an apartment in Como, Italy.   "He is definitely a lion out there.  And not everyone likes playing with a lion" was how his Director Sportif at Motorola, Jim Ochowicz, summed up the young Texan.  In addition to his raw aggression and lack of respect for Europe's star's Armstrong was quickly becoming labeled as cocky and brash, not helping his corner with comments such as ?I like to win races,? ?If I can win now that's super,? ?If I am not winning races when I'm thirty I won't be doing the sport,? and ?I'm not going to keep doing it if I am not winning, I will quit.?   In addition to his comments, he wasn't doing himself too many favors on the bike either with very public spats with both Moreno Argentin at the early season Lagueglia Trophy and Mario Cipollini at Milan-San Remo.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

 

Success in Paris-Nice and other early season races continued to mount the pressure on Armstrong but said the 21 year old, "I don't want to be the big star.  I don't want to be noted up.  I don't want to be bothered.  I want to be left alone really and allowed to race."  And as for the comparisons with <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
America
's first great cyclist, Greg Lemond, "I try not to give that too much thought.  In any case, they say that about anyone who wins a race in
America
.  I am my own person.  I am on my own schedule."


Back in early February of that year whilst at home with Andreu, Armstrong came across the headline
"Un Million Di Dolare" in Italy's daily sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport.  It turned out that one million dollars had been offered to any rider who could win the Pittsburgh Thrift Drug Classic, Kmart West Virginia Mountain Classic and the CoreStates US Pro Championship.  Backed by a super strong Motorola squad Armstrong defied all the opposition and was successful in claiming the first ever Million Dollar 'Triple Crown' and as a bonus the National Championships.

 

Armstrong returned to
Europe and a decision was made to defy every traditional belief in cycling and to throw the 21-year-old neo-pro into the Tour de France.  "We figured it to be a great experience and investment in the future, especially since I was only intending to ride 10 days to two weeks."   Proudly sporting his new stars and stripes Armstrong rode strongly early on in the race before team-mate Andreu declared one night, "Yo, man, I found your stage."   And there it was before them in the rider's handbook: 184km eighth stage into
Verdun


With little over 10km left of the stage before the finish a small group escaped over a short hill including Stephen Roche and Dominic Arnould.  It was now or never.  Armstrong jumped down the side of the road taking with him Raul Alcala and Ronan Pensac for company.  As the leading group

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