Sun Breaks Through to Shine on Armstrong’s Final Day
Riding through a storm to finish in the sunlight was a fitting way for Lance Armstrong to end his cycling career. He’s already weathered a lot of storms during his life, and today not only marked the end of his cycling career, but hopefully also the end of struggle.
The commitment Lance Armstrong has shown since the moment he decided to go for his first yellow jersey has been immense, and exhausting. The race itself is stressful, emotionally and physically, but that only lasts three weeks. The year-round preparation for the event is where the majority of the stress resides. Now that his cycling career is over, he can wake up in the morning and not think about how that day will affect his chances to win the Tour de France several months down the road.
The end of Lance’s career also offers many new opportunities. As a professional racer, he had to be careful not to injure himself in other activities. He would go mountain biking, but he rode conservatively to reduce the risk of breaking bones or sustaining injuries that could derail his Tour de France preparation. He still enjoys swimming and running, but he limited his participation in those sports because he was devoting so much energy to pursuing his cycling goals. Now, Lance can go out and enjoy a much wider range of activities because there is no pressure to be in top condition every July.
Lance’s success in racing also means the end of financial struggles. He’s made a good living and worked very hard for everything he has. He’s done what all parents seek to do; he’s made sure his children can lead a life more comfortable than his. And after spending so much time apart over the past few years, he is excited to turn his undivided attention to his children. They are the reason he returned to the Tour de France this year, and the reason this Tour was his last.
The end of his cycling career also means I’ve written my last training program for Lance Armstrong. Our relationship has spanned more than 15 years already, and I’m confident we’ll be involved in each other’s lives for years to come. His retirement from cycling is a transition, part of the natural progression of life. He continues to set and work towards goals, and so will I. We may not speak to each other every day the way we have in the months leading up to the Tour de France, but after all these years, we’ll continue to play roles in each other’s lives.
Lance has achieved exactly what he set out to. He’s won the race he loves most for a seventh time, in front of his children, and he’s retiring at the top of his game. It’s the right time to retire because he’s decided it’s the right time. No one can or needs to tell an elite athlete when it’s time to go, it’s something each athlete has to find for himself. Lance is fortunate to be able to choose the time and place for his exit. Many before and after him will be forced into retirement by injuries or diminished health, but Lance is going out on his terms, at the pinnacle of his athletic achievements. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
As this is the end of the Tour de France, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Outside Online for their excellent coverage of the 2005 Tour de France. I’ve enjoyed writing updates and sharing them with all of you and I’ve appreciated your feedback. I hope you enjoyed the Tour de France this year and will follow the race again in 2006 and beyond.
Chris Carmichael is Lance Armstrong’s personal coach and founder of Carmichael Training Systems, Inc. (CTS). His latest book, Chris Carmichael’s Fitness Cookbook, is now available and you can register for a chance to win a ride with the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team at www.trainright.com.