Congratulations to Lance Armstrong, his teammates, sponsors, friends, and family on an unbelievable seventh consecutive victory in the Tour de France. I wonder if Lance knew how well this story could possibly have ended when he decided to make his retirement announcement back in April in Augusta, Georgia?
It's great that Lance has achieved so much in life that he can afford to leave the stage while still at the top of his game. Now he'll have the opportunity to spend a lot more time with his children.
Apart from the rain on the last day of the Tour, the only thing that upset me about the Tour was the way Lance's victory was reported. The mainstream media placed so much focus on Lance's dominance of the Tour, it was as if Lance won because he focused on winning at the exclusion of everything else. If you take Lance's comments about missing his kids and wanting to spend more time with them out of context, the mainstream media's portrayal makes even more sense.
The idea that Lance needed total focus on the Tour de France in order to win doesn't ring true for me anymore. That would mean that all of the success that the Lance Armstrong Foundation has achieved has just magically happened. The truth is that Lance has been deeply involved in the LAF. You can see the intensity of his focus on developing the charity in its constantly improving fundraising programs, its outreach to cancer victims, and its funding of programs that are making a difference in the lives of cancer victims and their families.
I guess it was a year ago when I stopped thinking of Lance Armstrong as a great athlete and began thinking of him as the world's greatest advocate for the cancer cause who also happens to be a great athlete. I think that the LiveStrong wristband program probably was the turning point for me.
I began wearing a LiveStrong wristband on June 9, 2004 and I haven't taken mine off since. I did this initially to honor my friend Peter Andreas Frank who died of brain cancer in 2003 and to honor people who survived testicular, prostate, breast cancer, and leukemia who are close to my wife and me.
I bought and gave away several dozen LiveStrong wristbands to people who sponsored my ride in the Tour of Hope Washington DC Fundraising Ride in October 2004. Every time I did this, people told me stories of friends or family whose lives had been touched by cancer. This caused me to become more and more passionate about the cancer cause and committed to supporting people who have the disease. More than anything else, this is what has caused me to identify with Lance Armstrong.
A couple of hours after we celebrated watching Lance's seventh victory on the Champs-Elysees, I received an email from a fellow ice hockey official telling me of the death of another official. He had a brain tumor since sometime in 2003 and literally died at about the same time that the final stage of this year's Tour de France began.
When I heard this sad news I realized that the Tour de France is over, but the race goes on. For Lance Armstrong and all of us who truly support him, the race will continue for years to come. It won't end until everyone struck by cancer can be cured and helped to regain their quality-of-life.
Lance Armstrong can't personally know every cancer victim; That's up to people like us who support the Lance Armstrong Foundation at a grassroots level. We're part of a peloton that stretches out to the horizon.
Lance retired to spend more time with his kids and the rest of his family, but he's planning to spend more time with all of us as well. Ride on, Lance. I'll meet you at The Ellipse in October.
Thanks for reading Operation Gadget's coverage of the 2005 Tour de France. I hope you'll continue to stop by for our coverage of electronic gadgets, fitness gadgets, endurance athletic events, and the technology used in sports.