Lance Armstrong Has Something to Get off His Chest

He doesn’t use performance-enhancing drugs, he insists, no matter what his critics in the European press and elsewhere say. And yet the accusations keep coming. How much scrutiny can the two-time Tour de France winner stand?

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  1. In May of last year, Lance Armstrong was riding in the Pyrenees, preparing for the upcoming Tour de France. He had just completed the seven-and-a-half-mile ride up Hautacam, a treacherous mountain that rises 4,978 feet above the French countryside. It was 36 degrees and raining, and his team’s director, Johan Bruyneel, was waiting with a jacket and a ride back to the training camp. But Lance wasn’t ready to go. “It was one of those moments in my life I’ll never forget,” he told me. “Just the two of us. I said, ‘You know what, I don’t think I got it. I don’t understand it.’ Johan said, ‘What do you mean? Of course you got it. Let’s go.’ I said, ‘No, I’m gonna ride all the way down, and I’m gonna do it again.’ He was speechless. And I did it again.” Lance got it; he understood Hautacam—in a way that would soon become very clear. It’s a story Lance likes to tell, and for good reason. If there’s one thing that sets him apart from the dozens of elite cyclists he has beaten in the past two Tours de France, it’s that he trains the hardest of all, especially in the spring, when he and the team he leads, US Postal Service Pro Cycling, ride up and down the Alps and the Pyrenees. He calls these rides a trade secret, something that no other team does; they’re a major part of a rigorous training program. Lance quite possibly wants to win more than anyone else in the world.

    Two months later, in the middle of the 2000 Tour de France, French journalists thought they had found another secre...