Anger Can Focus or Distract Riders from Their Larger Goals

Martin Dugard has picked up on the antipathy that exists between Lance Armstrong and some of his American challengers. In a posting from today, Dugard said:

I�ve written quite a bit about the fractured relations between the American riders. But as the Tour marches on its merry way to Paris, the schism is widening.... Floyd Landis can�t seem to mention the Discovery Team without dropping an f-bomb before the word "Discovery"; Levi Leipheimer is tight-lipped about the American presence, preferring to say nothing rather than speak his mind; and, Lance Armstrong has precise opinions on each of them. Some of these feelings can be chalked up to gamesmanship. Some of them have to do with being highly competitive individuals competing for the same vaunted crown. But a lot has to do with the intense and personal nature of elite cycling. These guys have spent a lot of time in the saddle together. Sometimes they just get on each other�s nerves.

Take a look at Lance Armstrong's War and I think you'll agree that Lance is a master at using anger as a personal motivator and using anger against those riders who have trouble with their tempers. If Dugard is correct in his observation of Floyd Landis, I'd suggest that anger distracts Landis to a point where he loses his focus.

Consider the behavior of Lance Armstrong toward Floyd Landis at the finish of Stage 5 of the Dodge Tour de Georgia. I was there and I said at the time that, "Lance Armstrong finished strongly in third place, pointing defiantly down the hill, presumably at Floyd Landis who had been the overall race leader until today."

Team Discovery isolated Landis that day and made him respond personally to their attacks. Eventually Tom Danielson made a move that Floyd couldn't respond to. Lance marked Floyd without giving him any help to reintegrate with the leaders. At the last moment before the finish line, Lance rode away from Floyd, then pointed back at him before pointing at the clock above the finish line.

The animosity between Armstrong and Landis hadn't begun there. Landis had reportedly said "Discover this" within earshot of some DCPCT personnel after Landis won the Stage 3 Time Trial at Rome. I conclude that Lance Armstrong didn't get mad-- he got even, and Landis hasn't been able to up the ante.

If Floyd Landis is still in a state where he is letting Discovery's head games affect him to the extent that he is using the F-word as an intensifier, he's probably not as focused as he could be on leading Team Phonak in the Tour de France.

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