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Hickok SportsThoughts

Sports historian and author Ralph Hickok of www.hickoksports.com sometimes meanders on about current happenings in sports and sometimes looks back in languor.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Armstrong: Amazing but Not a Dominator

There's no question that Lance Armstrong's seven consecutive wins in the Tour de France was a remarkable accomplishment.
But that's not what I came here to tell you about. It's merely a disclaimer, so less attentive readers don't get the idea that I'm knocking Armstrong.
I have to take issue with the notion that Armstrong somehow dominated his sport over that seven-year period. That's popped up in several places.
Winning one event seven times doesn't constitute dominance of an entire sport. Armstrong has won just one Olympic medal, and it was bronze, not gold. He won one world championship, way back in 1993. He's never won a U. S. national championship.
In fact, aside from those seven Tours de France, Armstrong hasn't win many races at all. Eddie Merckx, whom many consider the greatest cyclist ever, won the Tour de France "only" five times. But he also won the Tour of Italy five times and the Tour of Belgium and Tour of Lombardy twice each, to go with single victories in the Tour of Spain and Tour of Switzerland. In all, Merckx won more than 500 races in his 14-year career. Armstrong has won about 25 races in 14 years.
The golfing equivalent of Lance Armstrong would be someone who won the British Open seven years in a row without winning another tournament. You could hardly say that he dominated his sport over that period.