Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tour de What?

In case you haven't noticed (and judging by the TV ratings you haven't) the Tour de France ended it's 3 week run this past Sunday 7-29-07. For the first time in 9 years someone other than an American won: Alberto Contador of Spain. But for the 8th time in 9 years a rider from Lance Armstrong's Discovery Chanel team won: Alberto Contador. Kudos, also, to Levi Leipheimer from Discovery for finishing on the podium in 3rd place overall. Discovery won the overall team championship for the first time too.

Congratulations for a hard fought, 3-week long, 2200 mile journey across hot flat land and up some of the steepest mountains on the planet...even the ones who didn't win but managed to finish deserve congrats. I can't imagine what kind of condition you have to be in to accomplish something like this.

I don't quite understand why pro cycling hasn't caught on here in the US more than it has. You have a sport where, believe it or not, teamwork is more important than in football, baseball or basketball. You have winners for each day's stage as well as over the long haul. There's strategy, drafting, you can root for a sponsor, a team or any number of individual racers...all very similar to NASCAR. Maybe it's because all the 'big' events happen in Europe like the tours of Italy, France and Spain (called the Grand Tours...each 3 weeks long) and the dozens of 1-6 day races all over Europe from March through September. The Tour of California and the Tour de Georgia seem to be very popular here. The Tour of Missouri goes off for the first time in September, but they don't get the attention or coverage from the traditional sports outlets.

Instead we hear about athletes who think they're above the law. Jeremy is right. The NFL is going Ghetto. Although when you look at the supposed drug problems in cycling the same could be said about it too. This years tour was rocked by too many drug controversies to keep track of. I can't imagine these guys being stupid enough to think they can get away with it.

Cycling has vastly tighter tolerance for failed tests of testosterone than sports in this country. Plus they test way more often and for things other sports don't like EPO (used on cancer patients to boost the body's production of red blood cells), artificial blood and blood transfusions (a guy takes on an extra pint and he has greater endurance). While each of these can cause health problems and even death some athletes think the risks are worth it.

Could the one's doing the testing have it out for certain riders? That's one claim from last year's disgraced winner Floyd Landis. Could it be the testing isn't as reliable as they want everyone to think? That's another (and to me more believable) claim from the Floyd Landis camp. The tests for testosterone are so tight that I doubt most people off the street who take allergy medicine on occasion or certain over-the-counter dietary supplements (DHEA for example...used to boost the bodies ability to produce testosterone and promote faster recovery after training) could ever hope to pass.

Maybe these guys really are that stupid...the pressure and desire to win can be awfully strong. I hope they get it worked out soon. This is about the last sport that I care to keep up with. I've gotten to really like some of them and I've seen too many of them die from giving in to the pressure to win.

On a lighter note: I snuck off to France to catch the finish of one of the stages and someone snapped my picture while I was waiting...does this oufit make me look fat???

[Hat tip to Yam for the pic]



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home