Sentiment is calling for Armstrong to conquer the Ventoux this year. The realities of a 37 year old athlete up against a half dozen riders in their prime may spoil that storyline.
In his heyday, Armstrong had two occasions to triumph on the 13-mile ascent at an average gradient of 7.6 percent.
In 2000, when he won the Tour for a second time, he allowed Marco Pantani (photo left) of Italy to pass him at the finish line and later regretted having given away the victory. Two years later, Armstrong’s team reacted too late and failed to catch Frenchman Richard Virenque, settling for third place.
“It reinforces that I made mistakes the previous two times,” Armstrong recently told the Associated Press. “I should have raced differently in 2000 and we should have raced differently in 2002. The Ventoux deserves the strongest riders, the mountain asks for that.”