The Electric Commentary

Monday, July 26, 2004

Andrew Sullivan plays the "Anti-American Card"

Here,in response to a BBC story on Lance Armstrong which claims that Armstrong is great but others, Eddie Merckx in particular, were greater. I think that Sullivan either knows nothing about cycling or didn't read the article. Maybe its a little back-handed to print an article comparing him to other greats the day after Lance won his sixth tour but its not uncommon. These articles pop up around every major sporting event. Is Phelps as good as Spitz? Is Kobe as good as Jordan? Sports commentators are constantly comparing today's greats with yesterday's. This article was actually a fair commentary on how Lance stacks up against Merckx.

In sum the article says Lance is the greatest rider in Tour de France history but Merckx is still the greatest rider in cycling history. Both are probably true but since the two could never race on common ground who knows for sure. Lance has one tour on Merckx who won five. Merckx has several Giro d'Italias and a Vuelta d'Espana to go with his five tours while Lance has little else. Merckx also held the hour record for some time. Being able to dominate a pure speed hour race and several-week-long tours at the same time is no easy task. Merckx also didn't have the benefits that come with technology. He didn't always know where his competitors were. He was forced to ride all out for the entire race, every race. And he'd do several in the same year. He didn't just save himself for the Tour.

I don't mean to take away from Lance's achievements. He is amazing. He went from having a 40% chance of surviving to being the the most physically fit person on the planet right now. And, he's not done yet. He may still make the debate less debatable in the next few years. I'm simply saying that the article was fair and by no means "anti-American" as Andrew Sullivan claims.


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