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Holm: Armstrong dying by his sword, but helped during cancer fight

  • By Matthew Beaudin
  • Published Jan. 17, 2013
Brian Holm remembers a time when Lance Armstrong helped him live. Photo: Gerard Cromwell

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — Brian Holm took a long pause after talking about the classics and offering some season predictions, and gradually said, “Sooner or later, I would like to say something nice about Lance.”

“Bad” things to say about Lance Armstrong haven’t been in short supply over the last several months, as the cycling and cancer-fighting icon’s legacy is in ruins after a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report indicated that Armstrong had used drugs to win his record seven Tours de France, tours that now belong to no one. Sponsors have left, and those who Armstrong bullied into silence have found their voices again.

“Like I said: you live by the sword, you die by it. You choose your battles in life. And when you’re riding with a big sword you’re going to die by it,” Holm, an Omega Pharma-Quick Step director sportif, said of Armstrong earlier this month.

But there’s something else on Holm’s mind when it comes to the former world champion.

“I remember back in 2004, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was very nasty. I was going to die from it. Had less than 50/50 to survive that shit you know?” he said. “One thing I remember very clearly was when it was in the public in February of 2004, right when it became public, one of the first guys to call me … was Lance Armstrong. Later, he was e-mailing me. He said if we were struggling he would take care of my treatment… he really made the effort to help me. Trying to support me. Somehow, it helped me in my head. It really helped me.”

Later that year he called Holm, sent him a yellow bracelet and invited him the to the Tour — a race Holm himself finished seven times.

Asked if it’s been too easy to make Armstrong into a bad guy these days, Holm isn’t so sure.

“I wouldn’t’ touch on that. I just keep in mind, especially for me, that he did something good also. And that’s when I was very much on my knees,” he said. “I mean. He did something good also, huh? Like I said, he did what he did, he paid the price. That’s life. He did something for people with cancer. He did something for me.”

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Matthew Beaudin

Matthew Beaudin

Matthew Beaudin graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder's journalism school in 2005 and immediately moved to Telluride, Colorado, to write and ski, though the order is fuzzy. Beaudin was the editor of the Telluride Daily Planet for five years. He now lives in Boulder, where he joined VeloNews in the spring of 2012. Music. Coffee. Bikes. His dog, Anabelle. That about sums it up. Follow him on Twitter @matthewcbeaudin.

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