So the 2008 Tour de France is nearing its finish in Paris on Sunday. Top reasons most of you aren't even aware of this:
- Lance Armstrong has retired after winning SEVEN of these things and now gets more press for canoodling with Kate Hudson than getting on a bike
- Another American winner, Floyd Landis, was disqualified and failed in his appeal to clear his name from doping charges.
- It's in France, and you're probably more likely to know about the big WNBA brawl between Los Angeles and Detroit than a bunch of guys riding bikes.
- The only real coverage for it is on Versus, a tertiary cable sports station and its website (http://www.versus.com/tdf/)
Here are a few reasons why you should pay attention:
- These guys ride over 2,000 miles in three weeks with only two rest days
- Each stage (save the two time trials) is around 100 miles and the insane mountain stages include climbs that most of us wouldn't want to walk, let alone ride up on a bike
- It's not only an individual sport, but there are teams of nine riders each who work together to help their lead rider win
- The coverage on Versus is great. The announcers are fantastic and really make it interesting. If you catch yourself ever watching the travel channel, this is as good or better for promoting the French mountains and countryside
- The fans are nuts and love it. I'm really hoping to go see one in person in the future
I believe Lawman said he got to witness this awesome spectacle in person once. I'd love to hear more. These guys get going at speeds of over 50 miles an hour on their descents. They eat, drink and even piss on their bikes. They have arms leaner than a supermodel, but their legs can crank out wattage like you wouldn't believe. It's incredible. And regarding the whole doping mess that's practically brought down the Tour, they are more strict than ever and have a no-tolerance policy where they are actively seeking out anyone suspicious and subjecting them to random testing. A few riders were booted this year. It's crazy. Why if you know they're doing this would you put yourself in that situation. These riders have been fired from their teams without pay and banned from riding for the forseeable future.
Cadel Evans, from Australia, looks like he's going to overtake Carlos Sastre of Spain to win this, but he'll have to make up a 1:34 gap in Saturday's time trial. They say he's a better time trial rider. Sunday's final stage into Paris and the Champs-Elysees is more ceremonial than anything, where tradition has it that the rider that starts the day in the lead gets to finish with it.
I'm just getting more and more into cycling myself, but would love to hear other riders and fans comment and talk about their thoughts with the Tour and professional cycling.