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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tour de France 2009


We are well into this year’s Tour de France with two members of the Astana team sitting high in the standings. Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong are teammates and seem to be at each other’s throats if you believe the press coverage, especially here in Spain where Armstrong is seen as a sort of unwanted stowaway on the Astana express. Which rider will come out as the overall leader after 21 stages? All I have to say is that there aren’t too many folks who have made money betting against Lance Armstrong.

I think that Armstrong’s relative lack of cycle training in the past couple of years is going to work to his favor as the race grinds on. He is going to find himself in better and better form as the kilometers pile up. He will use the early stages like a training regimen and when the race turns once again to the grueling mountain stages in the Alps he will give Contador the fight of his life—or vice versa.

As much as I would love to see Lance win another Tour, what I most want to see is an exciting race. This is what the Tour desperately needs after the last three years of doping scandals. This was what the Tour needed when Armstrong won his first Tour which came in the wake of a drug scandal. He ushered in a lot of great publicity for the Tour by winning after his successful fight with cancer. His subsequent victories created an interest in the Tour in the vast and theretofore untapped American public. Many Americans followed the Tour on a day-to-day basis for the first time—at least in Seattle. I’m sure that many Americans have tuned in again this summer.

I think Lance will win it on the penultimate stage of this year’s Tour on Mount Ventoux, with a final climb of 21.1 kilometers (13.1 miles) at average grade of 7.6%. That last uphill should be a desperate struggle between the two teammates and one that I hope will go down as one of the finest moments in Tour de France history.

(If you are a bike fan and have important things to do today, things more important than watching video clips of past Tour de France moments, then do yourself a huge favor and don’t follow the link I provided.)