Can Personality Make You a Champion?


This year’s Tour de France has just begun, but before it even got going there were predictions that Alberto Contador could very well take it once again.  If so, this would be his fourth TdF victory in the past five years….but why don’t people like to label him a Champion?  As they introduced him at the team introductions last Thursday….he was booed, and I’ve also seen a whole lot of smiles following the rough start he’s had in this year’s tour.  Yep, people just don’t want to give him that “Champion” title now do they?

If you’re a Contador fan, let me apologize right now for the little bit of slamming I’m going to do on him today…it’s nothing personal, but he’s the perfect subject to go along with the topic of today’s post.  But chances are, you’re one of those people who don’t really dig the guy.  What is it about this incredible cyclist that makes us dislike him?


You know how you see this super hot girl (or guy for our female readers), and once you get to know them a little better and see that they may be a 10, but their personality is more like a 3….they’re all of a sudden not so hot anymore.  The flipside is also true.  I don’t know about you, but I think that a good personality can increase the attractiveness factor of anyone.

Okay, so back to Contador….the dude is just not a likeable guy.  Whether it’s his cheesy shooter fingers that he likes to flash to the television camera, his lack of having a gentleman’s presence (made famous last year when he refrained from waiting for Schleck and his dropped chain), his doping allegations, or just the aura he gives off….his personality brings him down from a 10 to a 3 pretty easily in my books.

There’s no denying that he knows how to win cycling races, but I’m never going to remember him as a cycling champion or legend.

Then there’s our friend, Jens Voigt.  He’s never won any major race, but he is more of a champion than Contador will ever be.  How can you not like this guy? Jens is just a likeable kind of guy, and it’s pretty hard to resist his unique charm and personality.  He’s got heart, guts, and a way about him that makes people look at him like a champion….and that is how we’ll remember him when his cycling career is over.

Yes, personality can make you a champion….and it can also take it away as well.  Sure Contador might win yet another Tour de France, but it will be people like Jens Voigt who we remember.

Let’s hear what you have to say.  Is Contador a champion?  Is it his personality that takes it away for a lot of us?  Let us hear it.

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34 Responses to “ Can Personality Make You a Champion? ”

  1. Clive Chapman on July 7, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Winners and/or Champions, can you be both? I’m an Englishman and as such my main sports are Rugby and Cricket, although I always watch the tour.

    In Cricket you have Ian Botham from the 80s and 90s, definately a winner. But a bit of a spikey personality, but unquestionably the greatest Cricketer of his time. Arguably ever. Would I want to meet him? Probably not. It was always about him when ever he played or appears on TV now as a pundit.

    My favourite sport of Rugby has (among others) Jonny Wilkinson and he is a true Champion in every sense. A Rugby World Cup Winner and a humble humble guy. His work ethic is revered by his peers and his example in life is worthy of anyones attention.

    But as with everything there are as many variables as there are people. But I’d support the Jonny Wilkinson type over the Ian Botham type every time.

    But strangely, just watching the tour as my only ever cycling event as a spectator on TV, I did take an instant and irrational dislike to Contador. It must be just him.

    • Jonathan Davis on July 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Jonny Wilkson is also a practising Buddhist, I understand. That gets big kudos from me!

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      There’s just something about him, huh?  Thanks for your input and relating this same idea to Cricket and Rugby.

  2. MacKenzie on July 6, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I have never liked Contador.  He’s always rubbed me the wrong way and has never seemed like a nice guy.  That’s how I felt about him up until last year when he blew past Andy when his chain popped off.  I lost all of what little respect I had left for the guy.  Lance Armstrong said it best when he tweeted, “There’s no I in team, pistolero.”  I think the only reason he has riders willing to ride for him in the Tour is because he has a very high chance of winning.  I have a hard time believing he’s well liked among riders…

  3. Jonathan Davis on July 6, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I’m definitely in the Jens Voight camp and not a fan of Contador’s presence as a pro-cyclist. He never gave off the right kind of energy that you’d expect from some of the great champions of cycling (like The Professor for example. Sad as it was to read of Fignon’s passing earlier this year, reading his exploits as a pro made him instantly likeable). There are plenty more riders in the current peleton showcasing more class than Contador holds in his little pistol finger. That does sound very biased, but I don’t believe he won any followers with the drama that unfolded between him and Armstrong in 2009, and then Chaingate in 2010.

    Look at the current Yellow Jersey holder (Hushovd). Thor was and is my favourite rider since I started following professional cycling, even as current leader he still played his role perfectly in giving Tyler Farrar his first TDF stage win. No doubt about his actions following his win, in tribute to his training partner Wouter Weylandt.

    Let’s assess our pro riders by the actions they perform on the road and not necessarily on their palmares.

  4. Jen on July 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Contador gets a lot of criticism, deserved or not. He could have thanked his teammates even if the team dynamics were difficult for him. As for chaingate-damned if you do, damned if you don’t. But he did apologize. He could definitely be more gracious. But you know what? Really? Who cares what people think? He needs to relax, exude some confidence, and enjoy the ride. He’s increidibly insecure and defensive for the great champion that he is. And he is a great champion.

    But I adore Jens Voight. He’s a real character. Fun, fun, fun!

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      Good stuff, Jen.  I like your analysis of Contador….and definitely am with you on Voigt.

  5. Katie on July 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    A Champion doesn’t always win the race.

  6. Katie on July 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    A Champion doesn’t always win the race.

  7. PedalmanTO on July 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    A Champion is an individual that gives 110% of themself regardless of who crosses the finish line first. They are also humble and the first to shake a competitors hand when beaten. A Champion lets bygones be bygones and understands the true meaning of Sportsmanship.
    A true Champion moves the spotlight towards the people that got them in that position.
    Contador?- No.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      If there is someone who knows a little something about how personality can help create a champion….it is you, my friend.

  8. PedalmanTO on July 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    A Champion is an individual that gives 110% of themself regardless of who crosses the finish line first. They are also humble and the first to shake a competitors hand when beaten. A Champion lets bygones be bygones and understands the true meaning of Sportsmanship.
    A true Champion moves the spotlight towards the people that got them in that position.
    Contador?- No.

  9. Bob A on July 6, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Great post, Darryl! And an interesting perspective.

    Contador will always be a race champion.  That is an objective statement. And it cannot be taken from him.

    But through his actions and attitude, he has demonstrated that he is no champion in life. And that is a subjective statement. 

    And this is where Jens (and Fabian, among others) rule. They are not only incredible athletes who make watching the sport an experience, but their approach to sport, to the fans, to life make them champions that we admire.

  10. Joel Phillips on July 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Attitude, attitude and attitude, the true barometer of a champion.  Greatness during competition, gratefulness after.  Look at guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Barry Bonds and LaBron James, all ridiculously talented, but none would you consider a champion, Why?  Attitude.  Conversely take athletes like Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, Peyton Manning and even Tim Tebow, I don’t think anyone would disagree these men are all champions, Why?  Attitude.

    A champion makes everyone around them better through their actions and attitude, both during and after competition.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet Jerry Rice and Tim Tebow and I feel I am a better man because of it.  I wouldn’t even say hi to a Randy Moss or a LaBron James if we were standing in the same line to use a restroom, because of all the drama that surrounds them.  

    I am not as familiar with the sport of cycling or its champions, but the point is the same actions alone do not make one great or a champion, but also how they act.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks for your comments, Joel.  Your right….it doesn’t matter what the sport (or really in any area of life), attitude is what makes the champion.

  11. Heather on July 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Great post Darryl! Pretty much sums up my feelings about Contador, have to admit, I was extremely happy to see him lose yesterday 🙂 I kinda think that if a more personable cyclist had slight traces of clenbuterol in a sample and was cleared of the charges in court, it wouldn’t be a huge deal, but since Contador comes across as a jerk, people are happy to boo him and make a big deal of it. Love this time of year, can’t wait to go home and watch the Tour tonight!

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      It’s been a great tour so far, and we’re in for a very interesting couple of weeks.  Best of all, it’s looking like someone other than Contador will be wearing the yellow at the end of the tour.

  12. Aaronthestrong on July 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    On the subject of Contador…I just read the interview in Bicycling with Jens interviewing the Schlecks, and they talk about Contador attacking to take the yellow jersey from Andy after Andy had mechanical trouble a couple years back…that sums up all I nead to hear about him.

  13. Aaronthestrong on July 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    An AWESOME post Darryl! I am having such a blast watching my first Tour. There are SO many champions making huge plays already…I can’t even pick one team or one person to root for! What a sport!

  14. Dave Boyd on July 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I like your points on this post Darryl. There is much more than crossing the line first. Like so many things, it’s not just about the finish. It’s about what you along the journey.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm

      I guess that’s why we say to Enjoy the Ride over here at Loving the Bike.  It really is about the journey, and being a cool and fun loving person along the way.  You are definitely one of those living the “champion” life, my friend.

  15. Drivers of Change on July 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I’d like to nominate another cycling champion … Steve Bauer of Canada. Look at his riding career in the 80s and 90s, and look at his cycling promotion career now: Team Spidertech exists because of his passion and hard work. Gets top champion points from me!

  16. Tim Starry on July 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

    You forgot to mention Spartacus.  Did you see him lead out his teammate for the final climb.  Now’s that a champion. 

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      Yes, there have been a few champions emerging.  Good stuff.

    • Anonymous on July 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      I know George Hincapie has become slightly embroiled in the whole Lance fiasco but I was really impressed how he pulled the peloton the last couple of Ks before the final climb. He kept checking on where Cadel was and turned himself inside out. He may not be entirely innocent (most of the riders probably aren’t) but I’ve always like how he rode in support of the team.

  17. Tim Starry on July 6, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I with you.  Jens will be remembered for a long time.  That other guy?  meh

  18. Bryan on July 6, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Totally agree. I just can’t stand the Pistolero’s smug attitude and personality. The finger bang drives me nuts. He gave us another great example yesterday on stage four with his victory salute that was just a little bit early.

    I consider Jens to be one of the classiest and most likeable guys on the peloton. His attitude and work ethic are second to none. He hasn’t won any major tours but has won his fair share of races including five Criterium Internationals. He’s all about helping his teammates though and it shows.

    On stage 3 Jens cracked me up. He’s riding in the group leading 3 of his teammates. He’s talking away to some dude on his left from another team like he’s out for a Sunday recovery spin. The guy he’s talking to looks like he’s about to have a heart attack due to the pace. Classic.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike on July 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      Thanks Bryan……you’ve added more fuel to both points I was trying to make.  Awesome.

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