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Monday, April 25, 2005

Go Popo

Many cycling magazines are doing "Who's The Next Armstrong?" pieces in light of the big guy's forthcoming retirement.

I don't know who the hell the next Armstrong is. And, actually, there never will be another Armstrong. Not just because of his immense record - and the fact he's a cancer survivor - but because there are never two champion cyclists who are alike. So it's not a case of figuring out who the next Armstrong is. It's a case of figuring out which cyclist has the chance to make the sport their own, the way Armstrong made things his own.

One of my favourite young cyclists is Yaroslav Popovych. I've been following him for a couple of seasons, since he did well in the Giro D'Italia, and was delighted when he was signed by Discovery Channel. I'm slightly disturbed by the fact he's a year younger than me - I guess you can tell when you're getting on when policeman look young, and cyclists do too - but I'm excited to see where his career takes him.

When Armstrong started to do well in his career, many journalists asked him if he was the next Greg LeMond. Often, he replied that he didn't know if he was the next LeMond, but he knew for sure he was the first Lance Armstrong. I don't know if Popovych is the next Lance Armstrong, but he is the first Yaroslav Popovych, and - in light of his performances - that's pretty exciting.

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