This is an interview with Daniel Coyle, author of “On All Things Lance.”<br><br>Q: What’s our biggest misconception about Armstrong?<br>A: That he’s a nice guy. Lance is smart, charismatic, incredibly hardworking, and he does a lot of good works, especially within the cancer community. All that has led most of us to the misimpression that he’s saintlike or even cuddly. He’s not, by a long shot. Like DiMaggio, like Sinatra, like Babe Ruth, Armstrong is one of those who lives life all the way up. When it comes to his sport, and especially winning the Tour, niceness is just not part of his decision-making<br><br>Q: What gives Armstrong his edge over his rivals?<br>A His mind. He doesn’t just want to win, he needs to win, and so he tries to win every single interaction with his opponents. Armstrong is the kind of guy who wants to win not only the race, he wants to win the handshake. He wants to have a faster bike. He wants to have a cooler-looking uniform. As his coach, Chris Carmichael, puts it, he’s not interested in making history as much as he’s interested in showing up every year and kicking the [censored] out of everybody in the big race. <br>Armstrong spends hours reconning the roads, but he spends more time reconning his rivals. He trolls the news every day for items about them—he calls it “doing homework.”<br><br>Q: What surprised you most about him? <br>A: How much control he likes to have, over everything. He calls every shot—not just with the bike, but with what backroad-route the training ride was going to follow, what brand coffee was on the team bus. You name it, he controls it. <br><br>Q: How strong is Lance Armstrong, really? <br>A: Here’s a primitive test: Take two five-gallon buckets and fill them with water. Then lift them from the floor to waist height in one second—a move which requires about 500 watts of power. Most fit people can last a minute or so. When he’s in top shape, Armstrong can produce around 500 watts for an hour.<br>The secret does not lie in his muscles—in fact, plenty of athletes could beat him in the leg-press. Rather, it’s in Armstrong’s amazing ability to transport oxygen to those muscles. He can work very hard for a very long time—a function of his heart and his blood. He’s got a great motor, and the world’s greatest fuel-delivery system. <br><br>Q:How hard is the Tour de France?<br>A: It’s the hardest event on the planet: nothing comes close. Studies have shown that Tour riders spend more daily energy than Everest climbers. During those three weeks they spend energy at a rate that exceeds the capabilities of all but four animal species. Imagine running a marathon a day for twenty days. The food alone is ridiculous: on big days, they eat the equivalent of 28 cheeseburgers. Watching them eat is like watching a cartoon: they lean forward, inhale, and the food disappears.<br><br>Q:What about the allegations of Armstrong’s doping? Are people out to get him, or is there actually something to these charges?<br>A: Going into the book, I hadn’t hoped or planned on spending much time on the doping question. Doping is part of the shadow-side of bike racing or any sport—facts are often murky, contentious, hard-to-prove, and stories tend to end up in a courtroom or a lab. Plus, I had the sense that I probably wouldn’t find anything new. As a relative outsider to the sport, I thought I knew the routine. People—sneaky French journalists, it seemed—accuse Armstrong, Armstrong denies, there’s no proof. It didn’t exactly increase my interest to know that Armstrong had a well-practiced habit of suing people who questioned his integrity on the subject.<br>The facts fall into two categories. On the one hand, you’ve got Armstrong’s spotless record: 150-odd doping tests over the past six years, all clean. You’ve got the fact that he donates money to testing programs, that he’s probably the most-tested athlete in the history of sports, that his $20 million in endorsements would end if he tested positive. You’ve got the fact that some journalists would clearly love to nail Armstrong. You’ve also got the sheer epic stakes of the present situation. As Armstrong’s agent, Bill Stapleton, put it, “Can you imagine what would happen if Lance tested positive? Can you imagine what would happen if it turns out we’re screwing with people on this?”<br>On the other hand, you’ve got the fact that doping is inseparable from bike racing. <br>In 2004 alone, three current and former world champions were busted for dope, one team was nearly disbanded, and several pro cyclists went public with detailed, harrowing stories of doping practices on their teams, including one who said he was given a substance designed for anemic dogs.<br><br>
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