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Cycling: The Curse Strikes Again

Outside Magazine, November 1994

Cycling: The Curse Strikes Again
By Todd Balf (with Jim Hage)

Before the start of the season, Motorola star Lance Armstrong reasoned that the world champion's curse, a malady coined by the European tabloids after a succession of recent winners followed up with disastrous seasons, was nonsense. He was healthy, focused, and not the least bit superstitious. But after losing his rainbow jersey on the last lap of the highly tactical 156-mile world-championship road race at Agrigento, Sicily, last August, the 23-year-old Texan may be reconsidering. In the latest in a series of fluky missteps that helped cost him major wins, Armstrong missed the decisive break by Frenchman Luc Leblanc when his derailleur slipped, his foot yanked off the pedal, and he fell forward on the handlebar. "By the time I got back together," said Armstrong, whose best results in '94 were second-place finishes in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège and San Sebastian one-day classics, "I was completely wasted." An attack never materialized. Claudio Chiapucci's sprint in the final straightaway won him the silver medal, nine seconds back, while Armstrong ended up an unhappy seventh. As for the 28-year-old Leblanc, he was overjoyed: The win gives France its first men's road title since Bernard Hinault 14 years ago.

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