Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Cycling Greek Tragedy

Next year, Hollywood will be releasing its version of Lance Armstrong's fall from grace. Currently in post-production, the film is helmed by Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen) and stars Ben Foster (Lone Survivor, The Messenger) as Armstrong. While the story will no doubt focus on the drama of the doping scandal, it will also be exciting to see the re-creation of key stages of the Tour.

But before the biopic hits the silver screen, there is a fantastic documentary currently available that sheds more light into why this story is so captivating. Stop At Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story features many key figures that include well-known names (at least within the cycling community) like Tyler Hamilton, Floyd Landis, Frankie Andreu, and Greg LeMond. Then there are other compelling interviews with Jeff Tillotson (attorney for SCA), Travis Tygart (USADA), and Emma O'Reilly (masseuse for USPS team).

One of the most memorable comments came from David Walsh of The Sunday Times, who was one of Armstrong's early detractors. Not long after Floyd Landis tested positive for testosterone and stripped of his 2006 Tour "victory", he desperately wanted to return to racing and asked former teammate Armstrong for a job. When Armstrong and his camp refused a spot to Landis, he no longer felt any loyalty to Armstrong. Walsh observed that Armstrong lacked the emotional intelligence to understand that Landis was a ticking time bomb. Had Armstrong given Landis some small, even menial, role on the team, it could have been just enough for Landis to keep his mouth shut. Alas, Landis would eventually out Armstrong and his many secrets and pile onto the mountain of suspicions around his victories.

Double-Take: Ben Foster a la Hollywood
You don't have to be a racing fan to see the draw of Lance Armstrong's tale. Take away the athlete and you still have a man whose life embodies that of a modern Greek tragedy. The rise and fall of any central character has been a Hollywood staple for as long as stories have been told. And of course, the greater the hubris, the more fantastic the tale.

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