Christophe Bassons was once ostracized for his comments regarding the performance of Lance Armstrong says he now feels "sorry" for the man that has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
"And the worst part is that he is always so sure of himself, and is still not embarrassed to have cheated," said Bassons in an interview with Le Monde.
While riding the Tour de France in 1999, Bassons, riding for La Française des Jeux wrote about his experiences in a daily column for Le Parisien. In one such column, he announced he had been "shocked" by Armstrong's stage-win at Sestriere. The Frenchman was then confronted by Armstrong where he was told to either stop his line of commentary or leave the sport. Bassons retired from cycling two years later, aged 27.
Bassons said he was not surprised that Armstrong, explaining that he was tired of defending himself, chose not to fight USADA's allegations of doping and conspiracy
"The illusion of control is paramount," Bassons told Le Monde of Armstrong's statement. "Armstrong, through his financial resources and his political support can afford to behave like that. He lives only to put himself above mortals. I am more sorry for him than anything else. This need to feel superior, to crush the competition, certainly has its source in his past."
Many current members of the professional peloton and management have declined to comment on the latest developments in the long-running Armstrong saga, and as far as Bassons is concerned much of the silence is due to fear.
"Armstrong has always seen himself as the boss," said Bassons. "But I think he did not exercise the same authority as Bernard Hinault in his time. Many cyclists including the French thought and think like me. However, they reflect on their careers and know very well that it is very easy to lose as a cyclist. If you break the law of silence, you can assume that you will never win a race again."
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