LIGGETT: Welcome to the Tour de France – the most epic race in the world! With the new rule changes this year’s edition promises to be one of the most exciting ever. I’m Phil Liggett – and I’m proud to welcome my new commentating partner, Lance Armstrong!
ARMSTRONG: Thank you Phil. I’m very happy to be back at the Tour.
LIGGETT: We’re happy to have you back. I think the whole cycling community owes you an apology for how you were treated a few years ago.
ARMSTRONG: Well, that’s all in the past. I just feel fortunate that the public has supported me through some difficult times.
LIGGETT: Not only did the public support you – but I think everyone would agree that we have your popularity to thank for the new exciting racing we have this year.
ARMSTRONG: Cycling surely is more popular than ever Phil. As a fan of the cycling – it’s great to see UCI taking a leading role in showing how science can help give us a more exciting and entertaining sport.
LIGGETT: That’s for sure. It was only a matter of time before everyone realized how outdated and biased our anti-drugs in sports views were. How can you possibly be against substances that improve health and performance?
ARMSTRONG: Absolutely Phil. Many of these drugs are simply substances already found in the human body. They just give these guys a helping hand and makes the sport more entertaining for everyone.
LIGGETT: Entertaining is the word! Why, these boys travel up these mountains nearly at the speed that you used to go down them!
ARMSTRONG: Ha! (laughing) You aren’t kidding Phil. It’s pretty incredible what these guys are doing this year. Unbelievable performances.
LIGGETT: Of course – no changes come without some controversy. Today at the start the peloton was blocked by a group of protestors claiming to be former cyclists who refused to continue to compete under the new rules. They say that they don’t think it’s fair for them to risk their “health”.
ARMSTRONG: These people are the worst. To borrow my friend Bradley Wiggins’ word – they are truly “wankers.” These medications improve health! They are just a bunch of bitter and jealous people – who don’t have what it takes to compete in the world’s toughest sport. They should just shut up and get out there and train!
LIGGETT: Well said Lance. If they love the sport so much, than maybe they should spend more time on their bikes instead of running their mouths all the time.
Enough of that rubbish – let’s get back to what matters – today’s stage. We have our first mountain stage of the Tour today – which should be interesting because it will be the first time we see use of the new “Easy-IV’s”.
ARMSTRONG: Yes. Earlier in the year we saw some riders have a difficult time injecting epinephrine directly into their hearts during the climbs. I’ve tried it Phil – it is really difficult to provide enough force while on a bike to get that needle all the way into the heart.
LIGGETT: I bet! Now, if I’m not mistaken – you’ve got one of these “Easy-IV’s” installed on yourself – right?
ARMSTRONG: That’s right Phil. As you can see (unbuttoning his shirt) – it’s a simple lightweight plastic tube. It’s hardly noticeable. All you need to do is take off the top – wipe with some alcohol and inject the epinephrine. It’s goes straight to your heart. What’s really nice is that with this new system there isn’t the need for any needles.
LIGGETT: Yes, that was an early complaint from the environmental crowd. They worried about all the syringes the boys were throwing off into the weeds. I always said – don’t worry about them – the fans will gobble them up in no time! What a great souvenir!
ARMSTRONG: (laughing) Well – regardless Phil – folks don’t have to worry about that anymore.
LIGGETT: I heard that you also had a pace maker installed?
ARMSTRONG: That’s right Phil. It’s great to have that little bit extra control over heart rate – the medications are helpful – but it’s hard to make small changes to heart rate.
LIGGETT: Although the drugs are powerful stuff! I followed your advice and had a consult with Dr. Ferrari. I haven’t felt this good in years! I tell you – I might be out on the tour next year! (laughing)
ARMSTRONG: The man is a miracle worker. I’m so glad he’s been welcomed back into the sport – he has so much to teach these young men.
LIGGETT: Lance, let’s answer some questions from the fans. Ted from Seattle writes – “I have son who loves to ride his three wheeler in the neighborhood. Racing is obviously several years away, but I was curious when I should start him on EPO?”
ARMSTRONG: Great question Ted. I know many parents are nervous about medicating their children from an early age – but, that’s exactly when you need to do it. The developmental stages of life are when these medications can make the most difference. EPO is a great one to start with. As everybody knows – EPO is a substance your body makes anyways – it’s completely natural. And the younger you start – the more of a chance your body has to get used to pumping thicker blood. Back when I was riding we were told to keep our hematocrit under 50 – well, some of these guys who have been taking EPO since they were kids can safely get close to 60. Pretty amazing stuff.
LIGGETT: Agreed. Well Ted - there’s your answer. The sooner the better. And remember – all the other smart parents of future Tour winners are doing the same.
LIGGETT: Frank from Houston writes, “One thing I’ve been disappointed with the new rules is that we don’t know what these guys are taking. I was hoping to find out what the latest and greatest drugs are so that I can kick some butt in my local 5k!”
ARMSTRONG: (laughing) Well Frank – I certainly understand your frustration. But, you have to remember that there’s a lot of money and prestige at stake for these teams. They can’t just make their specific medication cocktails public – it’s what gives their guys an edge. However, the science is changing so quickly – whatever the guys are using this year will be considered like “water and bread” on the tour next year. I’m in talks with some of the teams to make the cocktail of the winning team available to the public after the Tour. That way guys like you can “kick butt” at your local 5k’s and the teams can keep their secrets.
LIGGETT: I think it’s obvious that the main winner with these new changes is the general public. Scientists are learning incredible new things about the human body and our ability to improve it through these competitions.
ARMSTRONG: That’s right Phil. It might sound crazy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the cure for cancer came directly from research done on these bike riders. It’s all about overcoming the limitations of the human body. Truly inspirational stuff.
LIGGETT: Well, that’s all the time we have for e-mails. The boys are just about at the base of the big climb. Join us after this word from our sponsor Easy IV’s for what promises to be an epic conclusion to today’s stage!
(cut to commercial)
LIGGETT: (off mike) Let’s just hope for no more heart attacks!
ARMSTRONG: (off mike) It’s all part of the race these days. Guys always took risks on descents. It’s the same thing. Although some of these guys are technically having “myocardial infarctions” – it’s not like they’re 55 years old and 300 pounds. They’re healthy enough to take it. And it sure does make the racing exciting!
LIGGETT: I’ll say it does! I think I about had a heart attack the first time I saw I guy just plop down off his bike on the middle of a climb! (laughing)
ARMSTRONG: (laughing) I know – it almost seems normal now.