Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lance to Taste the Joy of Six

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lance to Taste the Joy of Six

Article excerpt


A RECORD sixth victory in the Tour de France is almost secure in the saddlebag and Lance Armstrong is about to take his place in the peloton of those giants of sport for whom the figures one to five were mere milestones on the route to further glory.

Oh, the joy of six.

Like six consecutive Wimbledon singles titles served up by Martina Navratilova from 1982. And the six successive European Championships won by ice queen Katarina Witt from 1983.

Or the six Formula One world championships claimed by Michael Schumacher, the six vaulted by Sergey Bubka, and even the six consecutive first-class centuries scored by Sir Donald Bradman.

Armstrong will find he has much in common with those other members of this exclusive club.

"He was greedy, and that's how you should be," said Geoffrey Boycott of Bradman whose knocks of 118, 143, 225, 107, 186 and 135 between 25 December 1938 and 9 January 1939 were, in reality, mere trifles among the feast of records served up by the world's greatest batsman.

South Africa's Graeme Pollock added: "People become sceptical whenever a sportsman is hailed as 'the greatest', but Sir Donald's stature has never been doubted or queried."

That sentiment may make Armstrong's champagne taste flat.

There are those who regard him as a hero, for his cycling prowess and the intense preparation that goes into each Tour, and for overcoming the grim uncertainty of testicular cancer.

But there are others who refuse to accept Armstrong's protestations that he never joined the chemical clan that has stuck a spoke in cycling's image.

Over the next few days Armstrong will hear accusations that he is a drug cheat. And elation will make way for other, more testing, emotions.

Schumacher displayed his customary exuberance when he roared to his sixth title in Japan last October. …

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