Archive for July 3rd, 2010

Well, it’s that time of year when the skinny guys with big legs start pedaling across France, through the fields of lavender and up and down the sheer precipices of the Alps and Pyrenees.  Yes, it’s the annual Tour de France which is a  big deal in our house.  Don’t call when the tour is on in the morning because, chances are, you will only get the answering machine.  My wife is an avid sports fan for only baseball and cycling, scouring the papers for any mention of races throughout the year, so that when the Tour begins it has her undivided attention.  It’s her Super Bowl, or World Cup for you soccer fans out there.

This year looks to be a great race filled with drama and several storylines.  The most obvious is the Lance Armstrong versus defending champion Alberto Contador story.  Lance is the seven time Tour champ  who is making this his last effort in the fabled race and Contador is the two-time champion from Spain who has had a running feud wiith Lance since they teammates (in the most strained sense of the word) in last year’s race.   There is a constant snipe stream running between the two.  Lance is ancient by cycling standards, 38 years old and Contador is in his prime at 27 so youth is definitely on the side of the Spaniard.  He is also the finest hill climber in the world which he made truly evident last year with incredible  dashes up inclines that were just outside being called cliffs. 

 However, the deciding factor in their showdown may come down to their teams because even though this is an event for the individual rider, it is also a team effort based on cooperation and strategy.  Lance’s RadioShack team is deep and experienced with many of the same riders that set up Contador for his victory ( and Lance’s third place finish) last year.  Contador is still with last years Team Astana but with a host of new and less experienced riders.  There are a number of stages where this may cost him valuable time.

Lost in this showdown is the presence of the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank.  Both are very talented riders and climbers and may benefit from the spotlight shining so brightly on Lance and Contador.  Andy Schleck has been on the verge of breaking through as a champion for a couple of years now and this may be his chance to climb to the top. 

Who am I rooting for?  It’s the Fourth of July weekend.  How could any red-blooded American not root for someone with a name like Lance Armstrong?  That is an American hero name, even if you didn’t know his accomplishments.   He would be the same character if he were a cartoon with that name.  But can he finish his last tour with the yellow jersey?  Stay tuned.

Anyway, it should be a great race for the next couple of weeks.  Enjoy the race and enjoy your Fourth…

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