Coach Tried To Rein Him In
The U.S. team coach, Chris Carmichael, recognized Armstrong's aggressive, headstrong nature and sought to rein it in and teach him the skills of international cycling competition. At the 1990 World Championships, his first race with the national team, Armstrong ignored Carmichael, who had instructed him to pace himself and remain with the "peloton," or pack of cyclists, on the 115-mile course. Armstrong went full force, and pulled far ahead of the peloton. As he tired though, the pack caught up with him and the riders who had conserved their energy pulled ahead. Still, Armstrong finished a respectable 11th, the best finish ever for an American in the race. Armstrong, who was nicknamed the Texas Bull, had many similar experiences, but never seemed to be able to learn from them.
In 1992, Armstrong won his first two major races, the First Union Grand Prix in Atlanta and Thrift Drug Classic in Pittsburgh. He also raced on the U.S. Olympic team at the Games in Barcelona, Spain, finishing 14th in the road race. Soon after, he entered his first professional European race, a tough, one-day race called the San Sebastian Classic, which was also held in Spain. The crowd laughed at him as he finished last, 27 minutes behind the winner, in the driving rain. Two weeks later, he took second place in a World Cup race in Zurich, Switzerland. Armstrong plowed ahead in the international circuit, competing well in races, but not winning favor. His brash and disrespectful attitude offended many European riders and fans. "I raced with no respect. Absolutely none," he admitted in his autobiography. "I paraded, mouthed off, shoved my fists in the air. I was still the kid from Plano with a chip on my shoulder, riding headlong, pedaling out of anger." In 1993, he won the Thrift Drug Triple Crown: first place in Thrift Drug Classic, K-Mart Classic, and Core States and took first place in the U.S. Pro Road Race.
Armstrong was becoming proficient in daylong events, and had placed second in the eleven-day Tour DuPont. With this respectable but meager experience behind him, Armstrong plowed into his first Tour de France. The 21-year-old, first-year pro had no concept of the respect that the grueling, 21-day, 2,300-plus-mile race through the French and Belgian countryside and mountains deserved. He lasted eleven days, dropping out in 62nd place. He came back one month later to win the 1993 World Championships in Oslo, Norway. At the awards ceremony, he pulled his mother up onto the podium with him. His first big, international win fueled Armstrong to work harder. His team, Team Motorola, finished the season ranked in the top five in the world—a first for an American team.
- Lance Armstrong - Chronology
- Lance Armstrong - Saw His Future In Grueling Race
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