Armstrong has won despite spectacular crashes, intense pain and flat-out bad luck.
You also may know that Armstrong serves as a good-luck charm for cancer patients, having survived his own horrifying case of testicular cancer. His message: “Be brave, and fight like hell.”
Armstrong practices what he preaches. Suffering is his stock in trade, on the theory that pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever. After surviving cancer, he realized that in his hotshot youth, he’d operated at only about half of his abilities. He decided he’d never trained enough, never focused enough.
So he trained. And trained.
After one high-speed head-butt into a brick wall knocked him out of commission for weeks, Armstrong resumed training by biking up a mountain near Lourdes.
He pedaled through a mixture of snow and sleet, studying the road and reaching the top in about an hour. His friend pulled up in a follow car and offered a hot drink. But Armstrong wasn’t satisfied. He said he didn’t “get” the climb. So he did it again. It made for a seven-hour day, seriously uphill. Another day, he pedaled 130miles over seven mountain passes.
Then, he won. And won.
He won the 1999 Tour de France by trying to prove he wasn’t a slacker. He won his second to prove that the first wasn’t a fluke. He won the third to answer a baseless and protracted drug investigation. He won the fourth by perfecting his amazing team of riders, “Big Blue.” He won the fifth, a roller coaster of disaster, on sheer guts.
“I’m just a regular guy,” Armstrong says. “And I’ll show you what a regular guy can do.”