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Tour de France: Lance Armstrong finishes, Greg LeMond surprised

Tour6_300 It was fitting that even though Lance Armstrong was not in contention for any individual prizes Sunday when the Tour de France ended in Paris, he still was big news.

Armstrong and his RadioShack teammates came to the start line of the final, and mostly ceremonial, stage wearing black cycling outfits with the yellow number 28 on the back. The 28 was symbolic of 28 million cancer survivors in the world.

The start of the stage was delayed by 15 minutes however because officials said the RadioShack riders, by rule, had to wear what they had worn throughout the Tour. So the team became quick-change artists, putting back on their grey and red RadioShack clothes. However RadioShack won the team title so when they climbed the Paris podium Armstrong (pictured at right), Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner, as well as others, were back in the black to receive their award.

One person who was surprised that Armstrong finished the race at all is his nemesis and former three-time champion Greg LeMond, who has given outspoken support to Floyd Landis and his accusations that Armstrong engaged in the use of performance-enhancing drugs during his seven years of consecutive wins at the Tour.

LeMond wrote a blog for cyclingnews.com during the Tour and his final one was a bit curious.

LeMond expressed surprise that Armstrong finished the race, suggesting that a man facing the accusations that began with the release of several Landis e-mails referencing Armstrong's alleged doping behavior and is continuing with a federal investigation into the Landis accusations should not be able to compete. He wrote, "I could not have started a Tour de France with something like that hanging over my head. I was wrong in my predictions."

That statement seems such a miscalculation of Armstrong. Whatever is, or isn't, revealed about whether Armstrong has used illegal or banned substances (and he has never failed a drug test), anyone who has watched Armstrong beat cancer and win seven straight Tours should have noticed he is not a quitter. Or one to back away from critics. And, what the heck, maybe he's even innocent of the charges. Would LeMond have not competed if he were innocent of charges that might have been made against him? You've at least got to consider the possibility.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo credit: Eric Gaillard / Reuters

 
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