Tour de Fake
So the Tour de France finished up over the weekend. I’m a pretty big fan of the race. For some reason I tend to gravitate towards the lesser sports (at least as far as the US viewership is concerned) like Formula 1, biking, rugby, curling, etc. I enjoyed watching the Tour once again this year, but it was certainly tinged with controversy.
I think that Lance Armstrong did a lot for the popularity of bike racing in the US. It obviously hasn’t ever been on par with the major sports, but for a while it seemed like you could at least talk with most other sports people about at least Lance’s progress and perhaps a few of the other riders or factors in the race. Then last year we had Floyd Landis to cheer for as well. This year again a rider from the American Team Discovery Channel won. Granted he’s Spanish, but it’s at least it’s the same team Lance was on, right?
The much greater problem for the sport is the circumstances surrounding Alberto Contador’s rise to the top of the leaderboard, as well as the other rider controversies this year (and Landis of last year). This year’s Tour has been full of doping and steroid scandals. The rider at the top of the standings 3/4 of the way through the race was removed just because of small rules infractions a month ago, and the mere suspicion of doping. I’m not going to claim innocence or guilt of any rider. That’s not for any but the race and sport officials to do. But that’s where much of the problem lies. Most involved with the sport agree that there is not enough support from sport officials to clean up shop. Arguably the majority of riders are clean, and would like greater controls and stricter punishments for those breaking the rules. Sponsors and teams are calling for this as well, as proven by the removal of Rasmussen. None of the race or sport officials had considered removing him even though they all knew of the rules infractions. Rasmussen was ultimately removed because the team sponsor called for it!
I hope that the sport officials wake up in time to save the sport. I would like to see it restored to it’s former glory before the newer American fans get fed up and stop caring.
My favorite ride of the tour was Levi Leipheimer’s timetrial run, even though it didn’t affect his overall finishing place. It was a phenomenal ride, easily in the top 5 sports moments of this year for me.
My favorite laugh of the Tour this year: