It is cycling season once again. Giro d’Italia is starting this week. This is the 100th year of this annual cycle tournament that consists of eight stages totaling 2,448 kilometers (approximately 1,521 miles). And Lance Armstrong will be right in the middle of it.
Everybody knows who Lance Armstrong is unless you’ve been living in a cave all these years. He is one of, if not the best cyclists of all time. He is also one of the most well-known (and inspiring) cancer survivors and advocates.
Lance Armstrong, the sportsman
According to the Sports Injury Bulletin, Lance Armstrong is an exceptional endurance athlete. His vital statistics are unusually strong even for an endurance athlete and include
- a resting heart rate of 32 to 34 bpm [beats per minute]
- a VO2max (the standard measure of aerobic fitness based on the body’s ability to take up oxygen) of 83.8ml/kg/min
- a lactate threshold heart-rate of 178 bpm (beyond the lactate threshold, lactic acid begins to flood the muscles and induce rapid fatigue).
Lance Armstrong holds the record for winning the Tour de France seven times – consecutively from 1999 to 2005. The Tour is considered to be the toughest of all endurance sports. It lasts for about 20 days covering a distance between 3,000 and 4,000 kilometers.
I have been to the Pyrenees and have the seen some of the roads which are part of the Tour de France stages. They were really awesome.
Lance Armstrong, the cancer victim
Armstrong was 25 when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. He had an aggressive form of the disease which consisted of “60% choriocarcinoma, 40% embryonal and less than 1% teratoma.” The cancer has metastasized to his brain and lungs. His prognosis was poor.
His treatment consisted of
- 2 surgeries to remove one cancerous testicle and lesions in the brain.
- 4 rounds of chemotherapy
Lance Armstrong, the cancer advocate
Against all odds, Armstrong recovered from cancer and became a legendary sportsman. But the story doesn’t end there. He founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation even before he would make a full recovery. The foundation’s motto is “we unite people to fight cancer believing that unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.”
After retiring from professional cycling in 2005, he decided to make a comeback this year to raise awareness of the global cancer burden. The LIVESTRONG Global Cancer Campaign was launched on May 5 in Italy in cooperation with Italian cancer organizations. You can also participate (by walking, running, or cycling) in your own LiveStrong Challenge. Check put fo an event near you!
This week, Lance Armstrong takes on Giro d’Italia in the name of cancer awareness. Let’s cheer him on.