Next July can’t get here soon enough.
The Tour de France ended yesterday, and I’m already feeling the void. The Versus channel does a most excellent job of covering the three-week race, and I can never seem to get enough of the pageantry of the whole event — blood, sweat and gears in a constant, colorful motion across breathtaking landscapes.
Lance Armstrong — whom I admire greatly as a champion of champions, clean or not — didn’t win as I had predicted. But he more than held his own, finishing third in his first Tour since 2005, and gave the race more drama and intrigue than it’d had since 2006, when Pennsylvania native Floyd Landis came back from the dead to capture the title (which, as we know, he unfortunately didn’t keep for long).
Maybe Floyd will return next year to mix it up with Armstrong and two-time champ Alberto Contador, who blasted Armstrong earlier today. Man, I can hardly wait.
So it was announced today (read here) that Lance Armstrong will be a support rider — or domestique — for Astana teammate Alberto Contador at the upcoming Tour de France.
I don’t buy it for a second.
Alpha males like Armstrong — a SEVEN-time Tour de France champion — don’t come out of retirement to fetch water bottles or block wind.
I definitely predict some team turmoil in July. It certainly will be interesting to follow.
I also predict an eighth victory for Armstrong.
Lance vs. Floyd in 2009.
Both athletes are scary good with lots to prove, although I’m not sure which of the above photos is more intimidating.
One of the things I love most about the Tour de France is that Bob Roll (click play) gets to tell us all about it on TV.
You only live once, as these guys always remind us.
So I understand the Tour de France has lost a lot of its appeal and interest because of all the recent doping allegations, charges and suspensions.
You’d never know that if you hung out this month at my house, where the TdF is constantly on TV.
While I certainly have my doubts that there’s been a truly clean Tour champ in the past 10 years, I believe this year’s winner will be dope-free.
A lot of professional sports could actually learn a lot from cycling, where riders face a two-year ban for doping (and MLB thought it was being harsh with its 50-game punishment). And, in this year’s Tour, riders had to submit DNA samples and agree to pay a year’s salary if busted.
Those are extreme measures, but seemingly necessary these days.
Through six stages of this year’s Tour, the average speed of the race is 5 mph slower than it was through six stages in 2005, when Lance Armstrong won his seventh straight title.
Some people are blaming headwinds for the decrease in speed.
I’m blaming the decrease in doping for the lack of tailwinds.
Thank God for the Versus (formerly OLN) channel in July.
For at least one month every baseball season, I can almost forget about the Baltimore Orioles, who usually should be completely forgotten about long before then.
This year’s Tour de France runs from July 7-29, beginning in London and ending in Paris.
Before last year’s race, I accurately predicted that Floyd Landis would wear the yellow jersey on the final day.
This year, with Floyd gone, my money’s on Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. I also like Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan. And I’ll be rooting for Levi Leipheimer, America’s only hope for a ninth straight title.
While performance-enhancing drugs have made a big mess of cycling, it’s because of that this year’s Tour should be one of the cleanest rides in ages.
And maybe when I flip back to MASN in August, the O’s won’t be in the mess they’re in in June. Few events inspire me the way the TdF does, so maybe that’s where I get my hope.
Maybe Lance Armstrong doesn’t want a piece of Floyd Landis after all — or is afraid he won’t be able to get it at the Leadville Trail 100-mile mountain-bike race this August.
After Lance announced his plans to compete in the race, Floyd announced his about a month later on Dec. 19.
On Dec. 27, I mentioned the showdown, which I was greatly looking forward to, in my blog (below).
On Dec. 28, Lance backed out due to a “scheduling conflict,” according to his manager, Mark Higgins.
What the heck?
I guess we’ll just have to wait now for the computer-simulated fight.
You can throw the doping suspicions out the window when former teammates-turned-rivals Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis square off again this summer.
You can also throw out the skinny tires.
In case you haven’t heard, Armstrong and Landis, the past two champions of the Tour de France, are set to duke it out on mountain bikes this August at the gruelling Leadville Trail 100-Miler in Colorado.
The winner of the race receives an ore cart trophy.
Say what you will about either man, but showdowns like this are what it’s all about.