It is the eve of the 92nd Tour de France. I love cycling. I think it is the best sport in the world, and the Tour de France is the biggest event in it. A lot of friends have asked me what I think of Lance's chances in this years tour, and I don't have a very quick answer. Here is why. Lance is an amazing athlete. One of the best ever. He is a big part of why I'm even a cycling fan! Going to France to see him win his 6th tour and do something that has never been done in cycling was amazing. If I could have staged Lance's final years in cycling, this is what it would look like.
After winning six consecutive tours Lance decides to turn his attention elsewhere. He focuses his program on the spring classics. His huge popularity draws unprecedented attention in the US to races like Gent-Wevelgen, Paris-Roubaix, Milano - Sanremo and Paris - Nice. After winning a select set of the greatest classics Lance focuses on breaking the hour record. After adding these two great achievements to his dossier he forever puts to bed the complaints and comparisons to Eddy Merckx and decides to hang up the bike.
Instead of doing what I wanted (, c'mon!) Lance has decided to pursue another Tour de France victory. Part of me is simply worried that he is going to lose. He's old for cycling and if anyone can win, he can, but he has a legacy to lose. Additionally, I think it's just poor etiquette. Lance is a strong believer in the etiquette of the peloton, and how "ugly American" of him to not go for something new after shattering every record. Last is that I really think this is all about money at the end of the day. When the US Postal sponsorship went away they needed a new sponsor and if you remove Lance and the Tour de France the value of the team drops a lot. It's widely known that his contract with Discovery requires that he ride another tour, it just didn't say when. I really wonder if he would be riding this year if it weren't for this financial situation.
I'm going to be shouting for him to win tomorrow and the 22 days after that (it will be hard to compare to the kneeling-on-the-floor agony of watching Hincapie come into the velodrome in Roubaix!). I'll be on the edge of my seat on every mountain stage and wincing as they rocket down the descents. I really hope we have an amazing tour, and yes, I really hope that Lance wins, it's just complicated.