Let’s Talk Tour

I wasn’t expecting to blog much about international sports, but then I realized that I’ve been following every stage of the Tour de France.

So for a moment I’ll strike that condescending tone that the few Americans who follow sports important in other countries have earned the right to take. 

And this may be shocking to some, but in the four years since Lance Armstrong retired, the Tour has still been held.

Now he’s back, so all the American news outlets have been asking, Can he win again?  But that wasn’t his reason for coming back to cycling.  He wanted to bring more attention to his charitable organization, a worthy goal.  That’s why he did not solely focus on the Tour de France, as he did when he won seven consecutive times.  This year, he rode in the Giro d’Italia, another intense weeks-long cycling adventure across Italy.  This decision, however, cost him: he came away with a broken collarbone. 

And, listen: this man is absolutely a phenomenal athlete.  After an injury as serious as that, he was back training within a month and ready to ride in this year’s Tour.  He sits right now in second place and could very well end up with a spot on the podium. For a thirty-seven year old who has gone through what Lance has, this feat is basically unimaginable. 

But, unless some unpredictable intervention takes place, Armstrong won’t win this year.  His team partner Alberto Contador took the lead after Sunday’s climbing stage and isn’t likely to relinquish the yellow jersey.  Contador is known as the world’s best climber, and it showed Sunday.  The guy climbed away from the pack, and not a single other rider could come close to stopping him.  And these are the world’s best cyclists riding for the world’s most sought after cycling title.

But it’s funny– that night, there was no link to the story on the NY Times’ homepage.  I had to dig a little to read about it after the newspaper had posted front-page links about Armstrong almost every other day of the race. 

Americans can root for Armstrong– I was– but there’s no reason not to be stunned or even interested in a show of talent like Contador displayed last weekend.  

Photo of Alberto Contador from AP via the New York Times.

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