The Armstrong Story - Part III

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07/18/2003| 0 comments
by Ian Melvin

The Armstrong Story - Part III

Part III - Times get tough.

Part III - times get tough. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

A million dollar Triple Crown, a stage of the Tour de France and World Champion.  1993 was the year that Lance Armstrong arrived in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Europe.  1994 was the year he had to prove he was for real.

After a tough year living in
Italy
, Lance initially intended to move to Nice to be near two of his closes friends in the pro peloton and teammates, Sean Yates and Phil Anderson.  But as the Texan explained shortly before the season began, "I was moving but now I'm not.  I don't want to change a thing; I want to keep as many things the same as last year.  Why mess with success?"

Lance arrived back in
Como
having spent a hard winter training back in
Austin
"I'm eager to do it all again," he said.  "I want to prove that you can win big races in the rainbow jersey.  You know a lot of people think it's just a curse.  If I don't win a classic I'm going to be seriously disappointed."

That spring Armstrong set about proving his doubters wrong and finished an impressive second behind Russian Evgeni Berzin in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.  This and a second place in the San Sebastian Classic were to prove to be the highlight's for the American who found himself closely marked in other races throughout the season.  His only notable successes coming in the
US
with victory in the Thrift drug Classic and a stage in the Tour DuPont, a race he finished second overall in.  He failed to finish in that years Tour and there were even rumblings of unrest from within the Motorola squad.  Mutterings of "too much too soon" were very easy to imagine.

Later, looking back at the season Armstrong said, "I was pleased with the year.  I felt I was a lot stronger physically and was probably a better bike racer, but obviously it wasn't as awesome as my '93 season.  Things went OK last year, but the cards just didn't fall into place."

1995 arrived with Armstrong feeling good about the forth-coming season.  "Let's just say that I'm ready to go," he said shortly before the start.  Now in his third year with the Motorola team he added, "I'd say this team was probably built around me."   Asked about his goals for the year he continued, "The classics are important, and the Tour DuPont and CoreStates."

A stage victory in Paris-Nice was followed by another disappointing spring campaign; Armstrong headed back state side where after winning the West Virginia Classic he headed to the Tour DuPont.  Asked for his thoughts on this race earlier in the year he had said, "I can't afford to finish second again."   Seemingly starting the race weighed down with pressure and expectation, Armstrong came through at the mid-way point, winning the stage to
Blacksburg
and taking enough time out of the other riders to take the leaders jersey.  Two more stage victories in the individual time trial and at the summit of
Beech
Mountain
gave him

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