Okay...I have to admit -- I am a huge cycling fan in general...and of the Tour de France in particular. They just completed the 96th version of the marathon 21 day race. For the first time in 8 tries, Lance Armstrong was not wearing the yellow jersey (maillot jaun, for you French lovers :-). But, Lance was still on the podium...having finished third. This is pretty remarkable since Lance hasn't raced in the grueling race since 2006, when he last won. Lance, as most of the riders, have been under a lot of scrutiny, particularly in recent years, because some cyclists have been found guilty of blood doping, aka...cheating. Lance has never been guilty of such, but because he was so dominant from 1999 through 2006, winning TdF's in a row, he has been a suspect...particularly by some in French press. He has never tested positive for anything in all that time, mind you...and, he has been tested over and over leading up to and during the 2009 TdF. I believe that Lance has proven himself...and should be honored -- especially after fighting so hard and doing so well this year. Plus, he is doing this, not only to prove himself, but for his Livestrong cancer foundation. He is raising millions and millions of dollars for research -- God bless him. I am not saying he is perfect -- he has had his share of problems and made some mistakes along the way, but we need to give credit where credit is due.
I have waited this long to say...I am not a fan of this year's winner -- Alberto Contador. He and Lance were teammates on Team Astana this year. It was pretty apparent that the rivalry was alive and well this year between former winner, Lance and the 2007 winner, Alberto. The team tried to keep matters hush, hush, but too many snippets were leaking out to the press about how much angst there was on Team Astana. Alberto was going to have things his way...and he showed little respect to Lance, or to anyone else on his team during this year's race -- it was all about him. Even when he had opportunity to help teammates move up in the standings, he shirked his responsibility to the team. Lance, however, humbled himself and played the role of team servant (domestique, again for you French lovers). He stayed back with Bradley Wiggins of Britain on at least one stage, costing himself time, all so that Contador could gain ground on other riders and lengthen his lead.
So...at the end of the race, Contador had won, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg was second and Lance, third. After the race, yesterday, Contador revealed his disdain for Lance and vice-versa. Today, Contador just flat through Lance under the bus...saying he had no respect for him -- ever. It has been pretty apparent for a few weeks that Lance is not going to abide by the competition with Contador on Team Astana after this summer...in short, there is not room for the both of them. Lance plans to start another U.S. cycling team next year -- Team Radio Shack. With the drama of the rivalry now in full bloom, it is going to make the 2010 Tour de France, perhaps, the most highly anticipated event of the sports summer. I guarantee you that it will be the fodder of all of the sports talking heads for weeks leading up to the race. Cycling is now alive and well again -- with the specter of the major drug issues a couple of years behind, and the Contador/Armstrong battle on separate teams next year looming, cycling is back on track and will be more popular than ever...at least, here is hoping that it is the case. :-) Blessings,