He will be at the Tour this month. The plan is the same as last year, to have him ride until he is tired and then retire. He will concentrate on defending his world title in Sicily in August. He will ride other races. Half the year he will be based outside Milan in an apartment near Lake Como, the other half he'll be based in Austin. But most of the time he'll be traveling, collecting miles toward the future.
"One of the first times he went away on his own was when he was 15." Linda says as she waits for the call. "He went up for the Chicago Triathlon. The reservations were made, perfect, but when he got to the hotel they said there were no rooms and there was nothing they could do. He called, and I said, 'Get me the manager,' and I started screaming. A while later Lance called back. Mom,' he said, "you won't believe it. I have a room on the top floor. There's a phone in the bathroom.' "
"You look at athletes in all sports, and it takes them some time." Linda says. "There are things they have to learn. That's part of the job. Troy Aikman, he must have been about 22 when he came to Dallas. He didn't win a game his first season.... I go out to see Lance when he asks me to. There are times he needs me. I can be his buffer. We just sit and talk for hours, talk about anything except racing."
"I thought for three days before naming him," Linda says. "I had a name picked out if he had been a girl. I wasn't expecting a boy. I picked Lance because I liked the sound of it and no one else was named Lance. I wanted him to be special."
The phone does not ring again until the next morning. Lance is apologetic. The race in Pittsburgh finished late. The team had to go directly to the next race in West Virginia, so the vans had to be packed and there was a drive through the night. There really wasn't time or a chance to call.
"Well...," Linda says.
"Oh, I won in Pittsburgh." Lance says. More miles, Good miles.