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COL Armstrong the story

Tour de France champ critical of coverage

On Sunday Lance Armstrong once again won the Tour de France. It was one for the record books, but it was just an update of his own mark. It was his seventh consecutive title, eighth if beating cancer counts.

In the shadow of the Arc de Triumph, (why does "de" not become "of" but "Triomphe" is translated?) the victory podium was Armstrong's to savor. The French played the Star Spangled Banner. It was the Olympics, only better -- at least for American television viewers.

No victorious rider had ever been given a chance to make a podium victory speech, but no rider had so dominated the quintessential European sport. With microphone in hand, Armstrong praised the race, "Vive le Tour."

Armstrong also took verbal umbrage at what was certainly how U.S. sports reporters and U.S. news organizations cover the Tour.

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Essentially, he said they just don't understand what the race is about, the quality of individual athleticism and team strategy. Armstrong had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but he was not far off the mark.

Other than the Outdoor Life Network, which covered the Tour live, all 21 stages, there was no U.S. live action, even though several U.S. cyclists held high positions throughout the different Tour stages. Maybe it was for the better.

OLN did an excellent job presenting the race as a sports event. Yes, coverage was Armstrong-centric, but that was inevitable and probably correct. Armstrong was "the" story of the race.

OLN did not fall into the smarmy, jingoistic "personality features" that dilutes the Olympic coverage -- or any international sports events -- by mainstream U.S. networks. In this narcissistic style, the event becomes an also-ran and athletes from other nations, even if they dominate, are ignored. To its credit, OLN focused on the race, its various leaders and important participants, regardless of nationality.

Armstrong said this year's race will be his last. It seems the right time to step out. Armstrong did not eclipse the race's other top riders like he has in the past. He is 33 years-old.

In 2003, Armstrong made up more than 30 minutes in an eventual win. This year, Armstrong finished 4 minutes, 40 seconds ahead of the second place rider, Italian Ivan Basso.

Armstrong's recovery from cancer eight years ago and his subsequent seven Tour victories is a tale of greatness.

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