Over the days he spent with 2002 Sportsman of the Year Lance
Armstrong reporting the story for this issue, senior writer Rick
Reilly frequently saw Armstrong's soft side. People who probably
didn't know much about cycling but recognized Armstrong would
approach to ask if they might simply touch the inspiring cancer
survivor. Armstrong always obliged. But once Reilly and Armstrong
got onto the road for a little cycling, Reilly found out that
when it comes to competition Armstrong isn't so affable. The two
were riding side by side one morning when Reilly challenged
Armstrong to race about 100 yards to a car. "Suddenly," says
Reilly, "he was in a Lamborghini Diablo and I was in cement
shoes." Of course Reilly shouldn't have been surprised; Armstrong
has made a habit of whipping the world's elite cyclists, winning
the Tour de France the last four years--arguably as dominant a
performance as any by any athlete in any sport ever. Reilly, who
had never before been on a bike with toe clips on the pedals,
ended up falling over when he stopped. "It was like Arte Johnson
used to do on a tricycle on Laugh-In," says Reilly. "Lance
delighted in that. He said, 'I told you to never stop pedaling,'
which is sort of a motto for his life."
Though he's had many accomplished subjects in his 20 years as a
professional photographer, Jonas Karlsson seized the chance to
shoot Lance Armstrong, heading out immediately from his home in
Stockholm to Austin for the assignment. Karlsson was a natural
choice to photograph the cyclist he so admires. Some of his
finest work for Vanity Fair has focused on athletes from outside
mainstream sports, be they pioneers such as Sir Edmund Hillary or
the Generation X hero Tony Hawk.
The summer before his senior year at Williams College, reporter
Pete McEntegart became, he believes, the first person to read
Sweet Lou, the Lou Piniella story, and Louie: In Season, a
biography of St. John's basketball coach Lou Carnesecca, in
succession. Neither of those lulus made our list of the greatest
sports books, but 100 others did. Says McEntegart, who wrote the
synopses for most of them, "One of the best things about this
assignment is that my desk now qualifies as the fourth-best
sports library on the East Coast."
COLOR PHOTO: JONAS KARLSSON THE WHEEL DEAL Reilly (right) learned that Armstrong takes no challenge lightly.
COLOR PHOTO: MAGNUS OLSSOM
COLOR PHOTO: MEL LEVINE