Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Armstrong's Following Reaches Peak

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Armstrong's Following Reaches Peak

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Woods, Times-Union sports columnist

You just knew it was coming.

He wasn't in the lead. But you knew it was only a matter of time before it happened, before the American who had traveled across the Atlantic, decked out in the familiar logo of an American company, burst to the front and left the world in his wake, adding one more chapter to the best story of the year.

Tiger Woods?

No, Lance Armstrong.

They tried to make things interesting this year. They shortened the Tour de France course to a mere 2,046 miles, thinking that would help the rest of the pack hang with the 30-year-old Texan and his U.S. Postal Service team.

Call it Lance-proofing.

Call it futile.

He is doing it again. He's on his way to a cycling Grand Slam. Four in a row. One week remains. But it's like Luke, his 2 1/2-year-old son, keeps saying: "Daddy makes 'em suffer in mountains."

And he makes them cheer in the valleys, from France to Florida.

Outside Orlando, Margot Metts is in her fourth week of stem cell transplant procedures. She thought she was close to going home. Then came the lung problems. The day she got the news, her sister brought in a newspaper and showed her the picture.

"You in the yellow jersey," she wrote.

This was after yesterday's stage, after Armstrong maintained his 2 1/2-minute lead and headed into today's epic test -- a climb up a dormant volcano that has been known to break even the world's toughest cyclists.

"Never give up," she wrote. "I will be pushing you up these mountains as you are pulling me up mine."

She posted this in the "guest book" on Armstrong's web site ( And there it became like a patch in a giant good-luck quilt. One that changes every day and is replaced by another quilt, equally as remarkable, equally as humbling. …

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