Damn, this has been a helluva Tour de France. Like many Americans my wife and I became followers of the Tour after following the career of of Lance Armstrong. In fact, after reading his book FrankenKristin was so inspired that she went from being a non-athlete to completing a triathlon. Thanks to my friend Jordan, we had a chance to travel to France in 2002 and witness the final day of the Tour as the riders circled the Champs Elysees. We were there, along with Sophia, to witness Lance's 4th Tour victory. This picture was taken during Lance's victory lap.
Even though the winner had already been determined, it was still one of the most exciting events I’ve ever attended. The beuaty of the Tour de France is that it's the only major world sporting event you can attend without a ticket.
In the absence of Lance Armstrong, there is no doubt that interest in the U.S. has dropped off a bit but it also proved to be a much more competitive race with no overall favorite. My pre-race pick was Ivan Basso but he, along with several other riders including Jan Ulrich, were disqualified just days before the race began because their names were mentioned in connection to a major doping scandal. FrankenKristin’s favorite Alexander Vinakourov also had to drop out because to many of his team members were implicated so they were unable to field a full squad.
With the field wide open and no clear favorite it was anyone’s guess who would win. Early on we were both intrigued by Tom Boonen as much for his cycling as his camel toe.
But he proved unable to meet the challenge and abandoned the race a few days ago. Earlier this week there was a spectacular crash which sent a few riders over the gaurd rail and into the ditch but it paled in comparison to the crash of Joseba Beloki in the 2003 Tour which left him with a broken femur.
During the last few days the commentators have all but annointed Floyd Landis as the eventual winner of the Tour when it reaches Paris on Sunday. However, Wednesday he sucked so bad that he all but gave away the lead and any hope of making it to the podium. Today he came out like Meatloaf and stomped the rest of the field like a Narc at a biker rally. Not only did he win the stage he made up almost all of the time the lost day before. A great performance to be sure but it's a bit premature to put him in the same catergory as Lance Armstrong or Eddy Merckx. The funniest part of the post-race show was listening to Landis' coach give a typical sports interview. Whether Landis can maintain the same pace over the next few days remains to be seen. He does fancy himself a good time trial rider but who knows...
Either way, it beats the hell out of NASCAR and it's a helluva a lot better for the environment.
Either way these next few stages should prove very exciting.