Chris Carmichael

Final push to the Tour

2009-07-02 09:21
Chris Carmichael (File)
Chris Carmichael

After the 2009 Giro d'Italia, Lance headed to Aspen, Colorado for one more altitude exposure before the Tour de France. Well, that and the birth of his fourth child, Max.

The Giro was good for Lance, and it's had a tremendous impact on his power output. He's very strong on the climbs around Aspen - even considering the elevation - and he's getting his ability to accelerate explosively back again, too. Some of that has to do with the unique stress from racing, and some has to do with his weight, which is getting down close to his normal Tour de France level.

Ten months ago when this whole comeback started, his muscle weight was one of my biggest concerns. With his weight getting close to what it was in 2005, and with his recent win in Nevada City, I think he's going to have a solid Tour de France.

The big question, of course, is: Will he win number eight? He's definitely not a favourite; that distinction goes to riders like Alberto Contador, Carlos Sastre, Levi Leipheimer, Cadel Evans and Denis Menchov.

Lance will be good, and a great asset to his team, which will ride in support of its strongest athlete. But people often forget is how intelligent Lance is on the bike. He didn't win the Tour de France seven times just because Johan Bruyneel was talking to him from the team car (although that helped). I've been around racing almost all my life and it's rare that you see anyone who understands tactics and strategy as well as Lance does. He knows how to win better than anyone in the peloton, and if he's anywhere close to the lead it would be a mistake to count him out.

I rode with Lance, Leipheimer, Chris Horner and Simon Gerrans in the week before the Nevada City race. Thankfully, it was a recovery ride for them in preparation for the lactate threshold testing we performed the following day. Lance tested well and there were two big things I was looking for: that he was recovered from the Giro, and that his power at LT was higher than his test from April 19. The numbers indicated that he is indeed recovered sufficiently and that his power at LT has gone up a few percentage points.

Now, Lance is focusing more climbing efforts that mimic race conditions. Lance and Levi cruised over to Carbondale, Colorado for a local 16km time trial. Mostly they were there to test out new time-trial rigs, the same set-up Contador used during the Dauphine Libere.

Feedback on the bikes was good, and the new bike shows an even more minimal profile to the wind than the previous time-trial bikes.

Chris Carmichael is the personal coach of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

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