Along with all the other accolades he has received…. He has to be the world’s greatest self-hypnotist, doesn’t he? I am writing about Lance Armstrong today.

The Tour de France looks so grueling when I watch it on the television… It has had slightly better UK coverage this year because our man Bradley Wiggins came fourth which is fabulous!

Let me put this in perspective… Over a period of three weeks, cyclists bike just over 2,000 miles!! Whoa! Lance Armstrong retired following his record seven consecutive Tour de France victories between 1999 and 2005. Instead of putting his feet up and relaxing, he decided to run three marathons whilst simulataneously raising millions of dollars for cancer research.

Following that, he came out of retirement and took third in the 2009 Tour de France that concluded this week.

Most people know what an incredible and fascinating man Lance Armstrong is…. He is a cancer survivor who overcame his illness and became the most successful rider in Tour de France history. The reason I mention that he must be the greatest self-hypnotist on the planet is because of his seemingly unparalleled competitiveness and drive.

Take this for example, in Armstrong’s book, It’s not about the bike: My journey back to life, he tells of training at levels that wear me out just reading them! Armstrong mentions biking through wind and rain up a steep hill that took him four hours to complete…. I got pooped reading that much and imagining doing it…

However, at the end of the grueling ride, he felt that he “hadn’t fully mastered it; I wasn’t comfortable that I could cope with how difficult it was.” So he decided to mosey on down the hill and bike four more hours up it, so that he could properly master the hill!!

Armstrong, with this drive, desire, and determination has inspired countless people, myself included. There are millions of people who wear the “Live Strong” wrist bands that raise money for cancer research.

The way Lance Armstrong is has resulted in some descenters… Not only has he had to fight alleged doping allegations, he has many people refer to him as arrogant.

The way team dynamics go in the Tour de France is unlike any other sport really… Typically each team has a lead rider who is the team’s best chance at victory. When machester United won the Premier League title last season, they did not have a street parade for just Cristiano Ronaldo, did they? He is a great player, but he is not given the crown.

In cycling, only the lead rider is crowned the champion. During this year’s Tour de France, Armstrong and his teammate Alberto Contador were both considered contenders for the title. Contador won it, with Armstrong coming in third, and there was some tension within the team byall accounts. Even after the race, Contador lashed out at Armstrong, saying, “My relationship with Lance Armstrong is zero. He’s a great rider and he did a great Tour. Another thing is on a personal level, where I have never admired him and never will.”

Armstrong responded, “Seeing these comments from AC (Alberto Contador), if I were him I’d drop this drivel and start thanking his team. Without them, he doesn’t win. A champion is also measured on how much he respect his teammates and opponents.”

I have always been a firm believer of winning with class and losing with dignity. As you’d expect from a competitor such as Armstrong, he was clearly unhappy with his third-place finish, yet for the most part he kept his mouth shut and spoke humbly about defeat.

I’m realistic, I did everything I could. For me, and even more for my kids, it’s probably a healthy thing for them to see, because they saw their dad that never lost, and the kids in their class say ‘your dad never loses’, so it’s good for them to see dad get third and still be cool with that and still be happy.” I really like that. Armstrong has dealt with his defeat humbly and away from the glare of the media spotlight.

The media of course want to write about the troubled relationship between the men. Though I think other valuable lessons can be learnt here…

If we are members of a team, sometimes that means making sacrifices for the team, even if it’s not what we want to do… Do our best not to gloat, or be critical of others following a victory. Rather, give credit to our opponents, and be honest about what we can do better, that is, learn from our victories… I mean, just look at Roger Federer.

I think we can all learn from our disappointments and failures and subsequently resolve to come back stronger and better… And feel really good if we did the best we possibly could have.

I am really going to enjoy watching out for what happens next year in the Tour de France, and watching those amazing self-hypnosis expert cyclists who must endure such physical demands and compete with themselves, their own bodies and minds… Marvellous stuff.