This blog item is also on TourdaFarce blog
Personalities are undoubtedly ammunition for the media at the Tour de France each year, but normally all we see is "El Diablo" jumping up and down and "Antler Man" running alongside the race as just two of so many examples of the antics that people get upto so as to appear on the TV.
Consider those who quietly go about their mission and Liam Flanagan and his father are head and shoulders above the scrum.
So many occasions i have come across this pair at the Tour that i wonder if there is a magnet. At Rotterdam i found them near the "Permanence" but on the sunday i went to their hotel. At Morzine i found them on the road as an artist was finishing his artwork which you can read about in their blog. Passed them days later after the climb from Sisteron and at the finish in Bordeaux as i was looking around for georgethecyclist . There are many more sightings as i don't get off the bike each time i see someone that i need to speak with, Fignon & Indurain to name a couple but then my recognition skills aren't instant and braking distance and returning in a one way situation is not always possible.
Lifted item the folowing from Procyclinglive who was describing the visit for racing to "Assen Youth Races".
"In his yellow and black shirt Liam Flanagan stands out in the category 3 peloton. On the cycling track around the campsite people are already calling him Mr. Armstrong. He is not Armstrong yet but is from the same country as the seven fold Tour de France winner.
How does a rider from California end up in Assen? “In Bordeaux where we were for the Tour de France time trial we met the parents of Canadian pro Michael Barry who rides for Team Sky,” Liam’s dad Bill explains. “They told Liam about the youth tour which Michael had done when he was young and Liam got more excited by the minute.” “When I heard about it I knew that I wanted to go there immediately,” Liam says with a big smile.
“First we thought the tour had already been but when we were in Paris and looked it up on the internet, Liam saw that it was still to come. We quickly arranged an UCI license which is only possible from 10 years on in the US. Liam turned ten a week before we arrived in Assen,” Bill continues. “When I was at the start Monday I could hardly believe I really was in this race,” Liam says.
Liam trains a lot with his dad who did triathlons himself. Father and son have followed the 2009 Tour de France and in 2010 they did a recon of 7 stages too. The list of mountains Liam has climbed is impressive: Joux Plane, Mont Ventoux, Col de la Colombière, Col de Madeleine, Col d’Aravis, Morzine-Avoriaz, Andorra-Arcalis and Col de Tourmalet. “I think the Mont Ventoux was the hardest,” Liam says. It seems only the first and HC category mountains are good enough for the 10-year-old.
Despite all his cycling experience, he started at age 4, Liam has never raced against his peers. “That was something different,” Bill says. “The pace of these girls in category 3 has astounded me. Liam has great stamina but copes less well with the changes in tempo.”
Liam rides in the Livestrong shirt. Last year they met Lance Armstrong at the foot of the Colombière. He wanted to race with Liam. “It was awesome,” Liam remembers as we watch the YouTube clip of that day. After this encounter Bill and Liam got more and more interested in Livestrong and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. During the Livestrong Challenge 2009 we raised $2000 and this year the amount raised is above $1000 already. “We met a lot of survivors. They are incredibly strong people,” Bill says. He has taken a year off but worked with cancer patients before that.
Liam will live in France for the next year with his brother Aidan, Roan and his parents. “I hope there is a club where I can learn to sprint and then I will be back in Assen next year, for sure,” he promises.
The young rider wants to add one more thing. “I ride for all people who have and have had cancer. Livestrong is far more than just Lance Armstrong. My dream is to win the Tour de France one day but my biggest dream is to wake up one day in a cancer free world.”
Follow news and videos from father and son Flanagan on www.fathersontour.com and make a donation too.