You have to credit Lance Armstrong on one point: He doesn’t make excuses. Since declaring his shoulder a non-factor just a couple of weeks after “Home Depot” hardware surgery drilled and screwed and plated it together again, the subject has not even come back up.
Watching videos of interviews and the Tour, however, I thought his shoulder was quite a bit less than 100 percent. In conversation, he used his left arm and hand more in gesticulating, etc., and never raised his right arm above his shoulder.
On the Tour’s wrenching climbs, Lance stayed more in the saddle than the Lance of old. And he never attacked, either. Maybe his riding style has changed. But a reluctance to sprint or attack would also indicate not wanting to stress the shoulder, since out of the saddle requires more pulling on the bars.
It may well be that the shoulder is virtually healed by now (it’s been more than 3 months). But if there’s any test to tell for sure, it would be this Saturday’s Leadville 100. Nearly seven hours of up and down riding on uneven surfaces takes a toll on perfectly healthy shoulders. If anything’s askew, Lance should start feeling it about hour 4 or 5.
The subject of his shoulder hasn’t come up anywhere in news coverage lately, and I imagine that if asked, Lance would brush it aside. And let’s hope the shoulder isn’t a factor, because we all want a level playing field (so to speak!). But it remains an X-factor at Leadville, because this race is a different beast from what he’s been doing.
Don’t forget you’ll be able to see a live Webcast of the race and get full updates from the Leadville 100 site. As for news coverage, still no rundown on Lance’s prototype Trek Fuel full-suspension bike, and nobody’s apparently talking to Dave Wiens about all this. One problem: Crankworx’s signature event, the Slopestyle competition, is the same day, sucking a lot of mountain bike journalists to Whistler. Let’s hope The New York Times gets on Leadville…Juliet Macur are you there?