HARD-CHARGING’s BEST OF 2011: "The Twitter War on Lance Armstrong" by Grayson Schaffer. Outside, June 23.
The man above, cyclist Floyd Landis, perplexes me as much as any athlete in recent years. He’s one part Gilbert Arenas, one part Rafael Palmeiro, one part complete and total sociopath. And he had one strange year.
Cycling is a niche sport, one I mostly ignore. In fact, had I not discovered SportsFeat just a week or so before this article was published, I probably would have never stumbled across it at all. The sport doesn’t have much for me: It involves races stretching over many days at speeds that seem inconvenient at best to me. We built cars for a reason. Being the fastest cyclist is like being the best at long division: It’s cool when you’re 11, then you learn to drive and get to use calculators in class.
But the sport has this insane edge to its subculture. Cheating is rampant and the athletes are nasty, none more so than Landis. His crusade against Lance Armstrong would be riveting stuff even without Schaffer’s outstanding storytelling, which remains crisp and easy to follow even if you’d never heard of Floyd Landis, and deep sourcing and reporting.
There’s also some lesson about Twitter and social media lying in this whole scandal, if that’s your think. If not, follow along a twisting and turning dirt path that we promise moves faster than the Tour de France.
Editor’s note: Hard-Charging will spend December picking out favorite sports stories of 2011. We’ll post one story each weekday morning. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment or send me an idea on Twitter. This list isn’t meant to be authoritative or complete, just the best of what I read.