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“It wasn't EPO that made Lance the greatest cyclist. It was something far bigger.”...

Actor Ben Foster says that preparing for the role of Lance Armstrong in a forthcoming movie has given him new-found respect for cyclists and, perhaps surprisingly, for the disgraced rider himself.

He will star as Armstrong in a forthcoming movie based on David Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong, directed by Stephen Frears.

Foster told entertainment website IGN that Armstrong was “one of the greatest athletes that's ever lived”, not just for his physical ability but for his “focus”.

Foster says he spent time among cyclists and on the bike in preparation for the role. He has certainly managed to look the part. A publicity still of Foster released last year has cropped up a couple of times mistakenly used in stories about Armstrong.

Of pro cyclists, Foster said: “Those guys suffer in a very specific way. It was really interesting to spend time in that community. I had no idea what it took to push the body that way.

“It's about being eight hours in the saddle. That's a lonely, ritualized -- it's in circles. You're making circles. You're pushing past hunger. You're pushing past clarity of thought. It's a wild way to suffer. Your feet aren't going anywhere. You're going in circles up these impossible mountains.”

As for Armstrong himself, Foster seems to have developed an admiration for the rider who was stripped of seven Tour de France titles after the full extent of his and his team’s doping was uncovered.

He said: “In terms of his athletic ability, there aren't many like him. That's a combination of focus. It's as much will as being a physical body. He's one of the greatest athletes that's ever lived.”

The as-yet-untitled movie will co-star Chris O’Dowd as journalist David Walsh whose dogged pursuit of Armstrong contributed to his downfall.

But despite the revelations about doping, Foster thinks Armstrong was still something special. He said: “He came up in a time of doping, and it's my opinion, if you look at the statistics, you have to go down 17 or 18 guys for those seven years retroactively, at least, to find a clean rider.

“So it wasn't EPO [Erythropoietin] that made Lance the greatest cyclist. It was something far bigger. How he handled that ability, how he handled his will, that story's not over yet.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

25 comments

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farrell [1946 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

“So it wasn't EPO [Erythropoietin] that made Lance the greatest cyclist. It was something far bigger."

And in Five, Four, Three, Two......

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Leviathan [2731 posts] 3 years ago
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I think we all know Lance was a great athlete; he was the best of his 'era.' It is a good sign for the film that Foster is so absorbed in his character. Lets hope the Director is more objective though.

He certainly looks the part. I hope we don't need two more Lance movies after this one.

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mbrads72 [212 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm beginning to wonder if Armstrong stories should have the comments locked like in progress legal cases...

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 3 years ago
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As always - no story is black and white - the drugs may have been part of it, but by no means the whole tale

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Mr Jono [102 posts] 3 years ago
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I swear I have read somewhere in the mountain of Lance stories that the first year he won the tour only 14% of riders' samples retroactively tested were positive for EPO? If that is true it's difficult to say he came up in an era of doping. You could argue that winning his first and subsequent tours on EPO with the peleton's full knowledge that he actually encouraged the whole situation

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bashthebox [752 posts] 3 years ago
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Yep, '99 was relatively clean thanks to Festina the year before. There wasn't a test for EPO at that time so riders didn't need to be micro dosing to evade detection, they just boshed back the EPO of an evening during the Tour. The samples were tested anonymously in 2005(?) but a journo from l'Equipe got hold of the bit of paper which matched sample numbers up to riders and published it, though thinking aobut that it must have been more than 8 years down the line since they couldn't charge anyone with doping.
Anyway, Postal coming in all doped up in 99 made the next 6 years ever dopier though, I guess.
That's an extremely simplistic way of looking at things, but I really ought to get back to work.

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Joelsim [1975 posts] 3 years ago
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When you look at the facts.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19912623

And then add those who have been linked to Ferrari, Conconi et al i.e. Evans, Roche, Delgado, Indurain

And there aren't many left.

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Nick T [1086 posts] 3 years ago
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He's got the most un-Lance legs ever, I thought actors beefed up for roles? If Jackman can turn himself into Wolverine, surely you could do a few squats for this, Foster.

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cmcg867 [20 posts] 3 years ago
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Nick T wrote:

He's got the most un-Lance legs ever, I thought actors beefed up for roles? If Jackman can turn himself into Wolverine, surely you could do a few squats for this, Foster.

Hey, he's got tan lines though!  3

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Beaufort [270 posts] 3 years ago
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In other news, the sun will rise tomorrow morning.

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Leviathan [2731 posts] 3 years ago
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The Sun doesn't rise, it's just an illusion caused by the Earth spinning around.

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Leviathan [2731 posts] 3 years ago
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The Sun doesn't rise, it's just an illusion caused by the Earth spinning around.

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Stumps [3496 posts] 3 years ago
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There has to be a huge amount of natural ability to actually get to the stage of being a professional cyclist, just like all other sports and lance had probably more than his fair share but the EPO took him to another level.

I hope Foster protrays him well so that people can judge lance for themselves.

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curdins [46 posts] 3 years ago
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Looks like they've tried really hard with all the details, but thats a shoe #fail. Sidis in '99? I think not. Already with Nike, no?

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Weiman [6 posts] 3 years ago
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"Fastest" - sure.
"Greatest" - not so much...

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Colin Peyresourde [1818 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm surprised that road.cc haven't done any reviews of the Pantani film, and the 'Lance Armstrong Lie'. I have seen both, and both give very sympathetic accounts of the respective riders.

I understand the culture of doping and difficulties of being a professional in this era. However, having watched 'The Armstrong Lie' Armstrong's chief talent is for crafting the narrative of his own story. He talks about doing 2009 clean, we he almost certainly wasn't. He also claims to have be dope free on the Hautacam, but conveniently cloaking the fact that he was likely to have doped in his run up to the Tour.

Ultimately his focus and drive took him to the top. But it is the ruthless and illegitimate manner in which he did that counts him down as an athlete and a human being.

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Colin Peyresourde [1818 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm surprised that road.cc haven't done any reviews of the Pantani film, and the 'Lance Armstrong Lie'. I have seen both, and both give very sympathetic accounts of the respective riders.

I understand the culture of doping and difficulties of being a professional in this era. However, having watched 'The Armstrong Lie' Armstrong's chief talent is for crafting the narrative of his own story. He talks about doing 2009 clean, we he almost certainly wasn't. He also claims to have be dope free on the Hautacam, but conveniently cloaking the fact that he was likely to have doped in his run up to the Tour.

Ultimately his focus and drive took him to the top. But it is the ruthless and illegitimate manner in which he did that counts him down as an athlete and a human being.

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Ducci [95 posts] 3 years ago
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Perhaps Ben should actually read the book the film he's starring in is based on  3

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giobox [361 posts] 3 years ago
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Doping was never really the issue. Look at Pantani, it's still possible, rightly or wrongly, to admire an athlete who doped.

Ben ignores the real issue with Lance: they bullying, intimidation and abuse of his power within the sport. The careers he destroyed simply because he disagreed with people (Le Mond, Andreu, Emma O'Reilly...). This is the real reason Lance should be vilified. The doping is a sideshow.

Clever move by Ben to promote the movie though, and I suspect the real motive for his comments - this remark just bought the film a ton of free advertising!

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robgeje [8 posts] 3 years ago
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"Ben ignores the real issue with Lance: they bullying, intimidation and abuse of his power within the sport. The careers he destroyed simply because he disagreed with people (Le Mond, Andreu, Emma O'Reilly...). This is the real reason Lance should be vilified. The doping is a sideshow."

Spot on , took the words out of my mouth, so to speak. Its his vile contempt for the lives of other people that that got in his way or disagreed with him, and his abuse of his position of power to bully and threaten them make him beneath contempt for me.

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chiv30 [987 posts] 3 years ago
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Yes he was a bully but the fact stands he was a phenomenal athlete , anyone on here who simply see his name and spouts off about the doping really need to look at themselves and think ..... "Do I still cheer on Contador,valverde, Rogers, Millar, schleck etc etc " if the answer is yes to any rider who has served a doping ban then you are highly hypocritical and in my eyes jumping on the let's hate LA bandwagon.

My opinion..... fantastic athlete at a time when the vast majority of top riders were doping but yes a control freak and bully

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HarrogateSpa [480 posts] 3 years ago
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The problem with all the 'he was a phenomenal athlete, and everyone else was on drugs too' stuff is this: different people react to EPO differently, depending on their natural haematocrit levels. It can help some athletes much, much more than others. So there's no such thing as a level playing field if everyone is doping.

This point has been made a hundred times in the debates over Armstrong, but it remains true. Some people ignore it, but they are wrong to do so.

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crazy-legs [896 posts] 3 years ago
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HarrogateSpa wrote:

This point has been made a hundred times in the debates over Armstrong, but it remains true. Some people ignore it, but they are wrong to do so.

And most people ignore the fact that the entire peloton allowed this to happen. LA was just a slightly bigger fish in a small pond - vilifying him doesn't really serve a whole load of purpose to be honest, in fact it hides the true scale of the deceit - Lance wasn't the beginning or end of doping by any means but it makes a slightly better story than most because of the aura and persona that existed around it. He's far from the only rider to lie, cheat, bully, intimidate. The entire peloton, the doctors, team managers, sponsors were all doing exactly the same to one degree or another.

A few years ago, Cycling Weekly printed a frankly laughable editorial where they claimed they knew all about Lance all along but they couldn't publish because they'd be sued. So they rode the Lance bandwagon, devoting pages of copy to how wonderful he was - which naturally sold them loads of magazines. If true, even the media were in on it. If not true, they were just trying to cover their own arse for fawning all over Lance for the previous 7 years...

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giobox [361 posts] 3 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:

A few years ago, Cycling Weekly printed a frankly laughable editorial where they claimed they knew all about Lance all along but they couldn't publish because they'd be sued.

That's not laughable, it's pretty much what happened. Look at Lance vs The Sunday Times, Lance vs the LA Confidential book... Lance successfully sued for libel in all these cases, and it did have a chilling effect on sports journalists covering the Lance story.

Walsh explains this aspect of Lance's power pretty well in his books. This was much more of an issue in the UK and US legal systems. LA Confidential for example, was still able to be published in France. This is a big part of why UK cycling fans were so poorly informed about lance.

Lets face it, if the Sunday Times legal team, who have a great deal of libel litigation experience, couldn't successfully defend an honest article about Lance, what chance did small cycling publications have?

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sq225917 [32 posts] 3 years ago
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2nd rate actor in 'uses press controversy to stir up some hype about film no one wants to see shocker'..

Lance who f-in cares, starve him all oxygen of publicity.