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Archive for July 2nd, 2011

Another Tour

Well, it’s the first weekend in July which means  we’ll be eating breakfast with the Tour de France, which kicks off this morning,  in our house for the next few weeks.  My wife is a huge fan of the fabled bike race and avidly keeps up with the standings, although I suspect it is the stunning scenery of some of the climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees that are the real attraction. 

It’s going to be a different Tour this year.  Lance Armstrong has retired and is under constant attack for purported use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).  Three time champion Alberto Contador is under close scrutiny following a positive result for PEDs in last year’s tour, one that he blamed on steroids in Spanish steaks.  He was booed loudly at the team introductions and has taken over as the most reviled rider in the Tour.  Andy Schleck seems poised to finally win the Tour.  He came in second in last year’s Tour, his margin of defeat exactly matching the time he lost in an incident where his chain came off on a climb– 39  seconds.

As far as I know, Schleck has no PEDs rumors hovering around him. 

I believe that PEDs have been part of the Tour for many years now.  I don’t doubt that Lance Armstrong used them just as I don’t doubt that every team competing has at least two or three riders, most likely their best, who are doing exactly the same thing.  It is a very competitive sport with pretty high stakes for those who race near the front and that usually means that whatever it takes to be first when they cross the finish line will be done, even if it skirts the rules.  This is a race over 19 days that stretches for around 2000 miles, over peaks that are ridiculously steep and  high, in heat that is often extreme with the top riders often finisihing mere seconds apart.  You would be naive to think that riders aren’t trying to achieve some sort of edge over their competitors. 

I tend to believe they all are.  This way I can simply watch the race and enjoy that gorgeous scenery and the struggles of my favorite riders.  Go, Andy!

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